No, of course violations of Brady v. Maryland aren’t a problem; no, of course, no prosecutor ever would intentionally hide evidence that tended to show that the person accused may not be guilty; no, of course, the system that we have is great.
And yet. Yet again.
Say hello to Dejuan Hammond, who was 5 days into a trial accused of murder. Hammond had just finished sitting through the testimony of his ex-girlfriend, Princess Bolin, who gave two interviews to police implicating him.
[Defense attorney] Shouse was cross-examining Princess Bolin then and mentioned the two statements she was known to have given: one in June 2011 and the second the following month.
[Lead Detective] Stalvey noted to [prosecutors] Jones Brown and Lesousky that there was a third statement, the one given in August 2009, just months after Sheckles’ murder.
Prosecutors scrambled during the weekend to track down the interview. Stalvey apparently found a copy in his truck Sunday, according to prosecutors’ statements in court Monday morning.
Lesousky said he also found a copy that had been overlooked. Prosecutors alerted the defense first thing Monday.
Yeah, he just happened to find a copy “in his truck”. This missing interview was her first statement to the police, in which she provided an alibi for the defendant. This is particularly relevant in this case, because:
The years-long court proceedings have been fraught with allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and witness coercion. Shouse has blamed Louisville Metro Police Detective Roy Stalvey and former prosecutor Tom Van De Rostyne.
To make matters even worse, Van De Rostyne ran for district attorney and lost to Wise, the guy who took over and then immediately fired Van De Rostyne, who, as these things go, now works for the state Attorney General’s office.
Van De Rostyne, whom everyone is quick to blame, can’t remember why the exculpatory report wasn’t disclosed. But of course, every report that pointed to Hammond was and then there’s this:
Shouse told [Judge] Bisig the information was withheld on purpose and pointed out that the evidence right before and after the interview were given to the defense but there is a blank spot where the Bolin interview should be.
So whoever “accidentally” “forgot” to turn over the exculpatory report, conveniently managed to fortuitously and totally by accident I swear pick out the one report that exonerated Hammond and then it somehow by magic! ended up in the Detective’s truck.
In. His. Fucking. Truck.
Now Commonwealth Attorney Wise is going to launch an investigation into all cases Van De Rostyne handled to make sure nothing else like this is out there. No doubt he will be aided in this noble effort by Stalvey’s truck.
But if only this were all. If only. Meet Steven Pettway. Who’s he, you ask? He’s Hammond’s co-defendant, who was convicted last year and sentenced to 55 years in jail on the strength of Bolin’s testimony. Without the benefit of this exculpatory statement and magic of Stalvey’s truck. So while Hammond had the blind luck to get this report before he got convicted1, Pettway will have to fight an uphill battle against the monsters of finality to get his conviction reversed.
Maybe he’ll just take an apology instead, since, you know, all of this is just one big misunderstanding?
- Even more weird-er-ly, the case against Hammond was dismissed last year because the prosecution couldn’t find its witnesses. Thanks to the fact that murder has no statute of limitations, the charge was re-instituted this year. ↩