Stanley Dishon attorneys claim prosecutors disregarded judge's order to turn over evidence
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Attorneys for Stanley Dishon say the Bullitt Commonwealth's Attorney's office "completely" disregarded a judge's order to turn over evidence in Dishon's murder case, failing to provide numerous pieces of key evidence, giving them incomplete documents and including testimony from the wrong case.
Attorneys Jennifer Wittmeyer and Melanie Foote Hollingsworth filed several motions in Bullitt Circuit Court on Tuesday, claiming prosecutors failed to turn over grand jury testimony, photographs, toxicology reports, audio or transcribed statements of interviews and evidence having to do with previous suspects in the 1999 murder of Jessica Dishon.
At a hearing on Jan. 30, the defense will ask special Judge Charles Simms III to order the Bullitt Commonwealth's Attorney's office to provide the missing evidence.
In October, Stanley Dishon pleaded not guilty in the kidnapping and murder of Jessica, his 17-year-old niece. Simms ordered prosecutors to turn over evidence in the case within 60 days.
But the defense claims prosecutors didn't fully follow that order and submitted a list several pages in length of what they claim is missing, including:
- Any promises or agreements given to two prison informants who told investigators Stanley Dishon confessed to killing Jessica as well as correspondence between these witnesses and investigators. The defense argues that one witness told Bullitt County Det. Lynn Hunt that he should be given something for providing the info and she responded, "We're working on it."
- Pictures of the crime scene, including Jessica's vehicle, and the area where her body was found 17 days after she went missing on Sept. 10, 1999. And any DNA evidence from a coke bottle and chip bag that were collected by investigators from a trash can after someone said they saw Jessica discard them after she was reported missing.
- The statements made during and results of polygraph tests taken by other suspects in the case, including three taken by David "Bucky" Brooks, who was initially charged with murdering Jessica, and those of Joshua Dunford and James Coulter, who were seen with Jessica the night before she disappeared. The defense claims a female confidential informant also took at least one polygraph in the case and neither her identity nor the results of the examination have been provided.
- The testimony presented to the grand jury that led to the indictment of Stanley Dishon. The defense was provided with grand jury testimony, but it was for the wrong case, according to the motion. There were also several blank or half "blacked-out" pages in the evidence, the defense said. The defense claims they were contacted in December by Assistant Bullitt Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Ferguson about the blank pages and he said he would provide a new copy of the evidence but has not done so.
- Investigative files from the FBI, which initially helped in the investigation, and files from the detectives who handled the Dishon murder case throughout the last decade, including a "complete investigation into the case around 2007" by Det. Larry Carroll.
Also, the attorneys claim Bullitt Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Mann has refused to turn over the grand jury testimony that led to the indictment of Brooks, who was initially charged with Jessica's 1999 murder before charges were dropped in 2003 after a mistrial. Mann told the attorneys he would not turn over that grand jury testimony unless "there was a court order ordering to do so," according to the motion filed Tuesday.
In a previous interview, Mann said he would not talk about evidence in the Stanley Dishon case and has not returned repeated phone messages since left at his office. Ferguson has also not responded to e-mails and phone calls seeking comment. A call to Ferguson's office on Tuesday was not answered.
Defense attorneys also have requested recordings of statements made by witnesses, including Jessica's father, Mike Dishon, several other family members and Sheriff David Greenwell, who as a rookie deputy was the first person on the scene in 1999. The evidence has included summaries of those interviews.
Jessica vanished from her driveway on Sept. 10, 1999. Police have said she was dragged from the front seat of her car as she was leaving for school.
Her body was found 17 days later about seven miles away in a site known as the Salt River bottoms, a dumping ground for trash, stolen vehicles and other contraband. She had been beaten and strangled.
In a recent interview, Wittmeyer said the evidence provided so far against Stanley Dishon is "weak," noting that only about 150 of the 1,128 pages of evidence turned over to the defense has anything to do with her client and relies heavily on statements from the two jailhouse informants.
The rest of the evidence, at least so far, is from past investigations into Brooks, Dunford and Coulter.
The informants claim Stanley Dishon told them he confronted and then strangled his niece, out of anger, jealousy and fear that she was going to reveal that he had been having sex with the 17-year-old.
Also among the evidence, family members of Stanley Dishon describe his odd behavior around the time the teen was killed and investigators say they caught Dishon in several lies during an interview in which he denied having anything to do with the murder.
Stanley Dishon also has a criminal history of sexually abusing young girls. He pleaded guilty in 2004 to two counts of sodomy, entering an Alford plea, meaning he maintained his innocence but acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict him. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2005.
Stanley Dishon repeatedly denied having any involvement during a nearly two- hour interview with investigators, saying the prison informants were lying. Detectives pushed Dishon, telling him they had evidence pointing to his involvement.
"I don't care what you got. I did not do anything to harm my niece," Dishon said. "I know that. … I did not murder my niece. I am innocent."
Investigators have long acknowledged there is missing evidence and problems with the initial investigation.
For example, in the recently released evidence, Greenwell, who as a rookie deputy was the first investigator on the scene when Jessica disappeared, said in an interview with investigators that he repeatedly asked then-Det. Charles Mann to come to the scene, after finding one of Jessica's shoes. Mann, who is now deceased, refused to come to the scene, saying Jessica would return home on her own.
It would be days before a detective saw the scene or Jessica's vehicle. By that point, family, neighbors and even some media had been in the vehicle, making it pointless to try to test for fingerprints.
And Greenwell said he turned over his photos of the scene and notes he took to the other detective at the time, Jim Adams. That evidence has never been located, according to a summary of his interview in court records.
But Greenwell told WDRB recently that "this is a new administration" and we have "made no mistakes."
"I do feel like when it is presented to a jury he will be convicted."
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