Friday, October 26, 2007

Laura Hall Motion for New Trial Denied: Part 2

In a nutshell, Ken Mahaffey's arguments seemed to closely follow the language of the Motion for New Trial and Amended Motion for New Trial. He said that the most important Brady violations were in regards to witnesses Doug Conley, Henrietta Langenbach (who goes by some other first name, too) and Nora Sullivan. Assistant District Attorney Bill Bishop basically argued that none of these constituted harm.

Judge Flowers asked a few questions, challenging each side's positions. The argument made by Mahaffey that most caught my attention was regarding Nora Sullivan's testimony, which was not disclosed to the defense until she was minutes away from testifying, and which the State had known about for at least a week. Judge Flowers reminded Mahaffey that, at the time, he'd given the defense a full day to interview Sullivan before allowing her to testify.

When Sullivan did resume the stand, she testified that Laura Hall had accompanied her to visit Colton Pitonyak in jail and that Hall said she'd been annoyed at how Pitonyak was sitting around drinking beer and watching television instead of using the tools bought at Breed Hardware that afternoon before they fled to Mexico. This testimony from Sullivan had not come out in Pitonyak's trial.

Mahaffey argued that, since Sullivan's role had now changed from a background witness to a crucial witness who was now directly incriminating Hall, the defense strategy would probably have changed had they had more time to do more background research on Sullivan, e.g, interviewing Pitonyak's lawyers about her, etc. Judge Flowers pointed out that the defense never requested additional time and concluded, "if there's harm, I fail to find it."

Things seemed to be winding down, then Judge Flowers asked Mahaffey, "What about Mack?" Mahaffey said he didn't know what to do about that: the State hadn't interviewed Jason Mack, so they couldn't have turned anything over to the defense about him.

Laura Hall's fiance was not present today because he was out of town, but another 20-something male friend of Laura's (according to Laura's mother, Carol) was present. He was tall and kind of stocky, wearing shorts and a t-shirt. He sat with Laura's parents for a little while then left the courtroom.

When he returned, he saw that the seats by LH's parents were taken and walked over and sat at the end of the front row, where the Cave family and victims' services women were sitting. The guy was smiling allot, which seemed a little weird because the rest of us were concentrating on the attorneys' arguments and the judge's responses.

In the hallway outside the courtroom, several mainstream reporters later told me that this guy had flipped them off as he walked by them. So, I don't know what his deal was.

The usual local television and print press people were present, and some attorneys came in to listen for awhile, too.

1 comment:

egregious said...

FYI: The term "Brady Material" is a reference to the landmark United States Supreme Court decision in:
Brady v. Maryland 37 U.S. 83 (1963).

More information on the Brady decision is available here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brady_v._Maryland