What a week. Between preparing for a murder trial, working on other cases which are set for trial later this year, coaching my son's 9 year old basketball and baseball teams, celebrating my 18th wedding anniversary (love you Wendy) and about a million other things, I forgot to blog! (You know who has been dropping subtle signs showing he's is not happy about my lack of blogging.) But today while I was updating my Facebook status, uh I mean, answering discovery on a serious personal injury case, it hit me what a great blog topic would be: notable criminal cases in Jackson, Mississippi this past week. So away we go...
Former Jackson police detective Natyyo Gray was tried and convicted for killing his one year old daughter this past week. This case raised concerns on several levels. First, why wasn't this a death penalty case? A person is accused of severely beating a one year old baby and somehow the death penalty is not a consideration? The Hinds County District Attorney's office has sought the death penalty is child abuse cases before. (See State v. Moffett for example). One has to wonder whether the defendant's former job as a Jackson police officer had anything to do with it.
The trial was pretty straight forward until Dr. Steven Hayne testified for the defense. Who is Dr. Hayne you might ask? Dr. Hayne was the former, self-described State medical examiner. Over the last several years, Dr. Hayne's testimony and qualifications have come under heavy scrutiny to say the least. The N.Y. Times has the most recent compilation on Dr. Hayne and here.
Dr. Hayne has testified numerous times for the Hinds County District Attorney's office including the Moffett case mentioned above. Yet, in the case this week, the Hinds County District Attorney's office sought to prevent Dr. Hayne from testifying claiming that he was not qualified to conduct or even to interpret autopsies. Dr. Hayne was cross examined extensively about his cases which have come under scrutiny as well as his qualifications. Dr. Hayne once stated that he did upwards of 1700 autopsies a year, nearly 7 times more than the National Association of Medical Examiners recommend. The assistant district attorney even accused Dr. Hayne of withholding this information from prosecutors to which Dr. Hayne responded "you knew".
They knew. They simply didn't care as long as they got convictions. Then when the cases came under scrutiny, prosecutors began distancing themselves from Dr. Hayne. But as my Dad liked to say "you dance with the one who brought you" and the prosecutors can't switch dance partners so easily.
For the number of people sitting on death row or in jail for life because of Dr. Hayne's testimony, the accusations leveled at Dr. Hayne by the Hinds County District Attorney may have breathed new life into their post conviction motions. IF there are Hinds County cases where the time of death is crucial or even the manner of death, these cases all need to be reviewed. Surely the Hinds County prosecutors cannot support Dr. Hayne after attacking his qualifications, right? Right? Oh wait, Dr. Hayne is actually scheduled to testify for the Hinds County District Attorney in a murder case I have set next month. Stay tuned...
In other local news, Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield was arrested on federal bribery charges. Sam Hall had a interesting take on Mr. Winfield in his blog yesterday. I have met Paul before and like him. I hope this was all a mistake.
In national news, Oscar Pistorius, the Blade Runner has been released on bail. The Judge found that he was not a threat to run. (rim shot please?). In all seriousness, this case is stranger than my partner Merrida Coxwell doing squirrel calls. (It's true, I caught Merrida doing a squirrel call at the office today. He claimed the squirrel was interested and approaching. I told him the squirrel was approaching because he was nuts.) Pistorius was charged with shooting his girlfriend. He claimed he thought she was an intruder in the bathroom and shot her. Four times. During the bail hearing, it was revealed that the police investigator who was the Government's main witness had just been charged with seven counts of attempted murder. He has been removed from the case.
Lastly, everyone's favorite love 'em and leave 'em ex-cop Drew Peterson has been denied a new trial. The former Chicago area sergeant was convicted of killing his third wife. His 4th wife is missing and presumed dead and guess who the primary suspect is? No, it's Drew Peterson, not Blade Runner. Peterson received 38 years for the killing. During sentencing, Peterson shrieked liked Axle Rose into the microphone "I did not kill Kathleen!" Peterson then rambled on for about 30 minutes (about the length of Guns and Roses "November Rain" video). Peterson promises to appeal his conviction and truth will light his way free. But Drew remember, it's "hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain".
Continue reading "Mississippi Criminal Law Weekly Roundup" »