Judge: Hammond murder case will proceed to trial - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Judge: Hammond murder case will proceed to trial

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The high-profile murder case against Dejuan Hammond will proceed to trial despite wrongful actions by prosecutors and allegations of misconduct, Judge Angela McCormick Bisig ruled Friday.

Bisig said dismissing the case would be "overly harsh" and the community has the right to see it resolved at trial, despite the fact that prosecutors were "wrongful" in withholding evidence from the defense. Bisig said the prosecution's failure to turn over a summary of an interview with Hammond's former girlfriend was the result of a "mistake, sloppy review, and inadvertence, rather than a calculated attempt to force a mistrial."

She said the prosecution's actions had a "legitimate purpose" of witness protection. Hammond's defense will be able to tell jurors about prosecutors' failure to turn over evidence for years, Bisig ruled.

Defense attorneys for Hammond said they will request a new trial as soon as possible.

"To say we are disappointed is an understatement," said attorney Annie O'Connell. "We are fired up and ready for trial."

Prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hammond has been indicted for the murder of Troya Sheckles, who was shot to death during the daytime in Shelby Park in 2009, allegedly to prevent her from testifying against Dejuan Hammond's brother, Lloyd Hammond.

"The allegation the Defendant Hammond faces in this case is one of murder, arguably the most serious of all crimes," Judge Bisig wrote. "Further, the allegation involves the killing and silencing of a witness that was forced by court subpoena to appear in court to give testimony against another alleged murderer."

In May 2013, a jury recommended that Hammond's co-defendant, Steven Pettway, be sentenced to 55 years in prison for shooting Sheckles.

Prosecutors have said Pettway was acting at the behest of Dejaun, because Sheckles, 31, had agreed weeks earlier to testify against Lloyd Hammond in the 2006 murder of her boyfriend and two other men.

Dejuan Hammond's trial was originally supposed to be last fall, but the case was dismissed without prejudice because two key witnesses against Hammond could not be found.

At the time, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Elizabeth Jones Brown said Hammond would be re-indicted if those witnesses were found. Hammond was indicted for the second time in January.

The latest trial in April ended in a mistrial after prosecutors acknowledged a report of an interview with Princess Bolin was mistakenly not turned over to the defense - a realization they discovered after Bolin testified in the case.

The interview with Bolin included a possible alibi for Hammond. She told police in 2009 that she and Hammond were at the mall when Troya Sheckles was shot to death in Shelby Park. Bolin later changed her story, testifying that Hammond sent her into the park to look for a woman and report back to him shortly before Sheckles was killed.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Lesousky told Bisig he was unsure why the report wasn't turned over to the defense sooner. Tom Van De Rostyne, the initial prosecutor on the case, testified earlier this month that he deleted the interview to protect Bolin's safety.

Ted Shouse, another attorney for Hammond, has said prosecutors and police have "manufactured evidence of guilty" against Hammond and "hid evidence of his innocence."

Asked about Judge Bisig's findings that the evidence was withheld by accident, Shouse declined to comment.

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