Commonwealth's Attorney testifies about alleged misconduct in mu - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Commonwealth's Attorney testifies about alleged misconduct in murder case

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – In what both sides acknowledged was a legal rarity, Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine was in court Friday to testify about alleged prosecutorial misconduct in a high-profile murder case -- and he admitted mistakes were made.

Wine, a former judge, testified that his office had "clearly" concealed some evidence and not turned it over to defense attorneys for Dejuan Hammond, though he didn't know the reasoning behind the decision. "I can't imagine the circumstances that this was done accidentally," Wine told Judge Angela McCormick Bisig, who recently declined to dismiss the case despite what she has called "wrongful" actions by prosecutors in withholding evidence from the defense.

Bisig had 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."

But Bisig allowed Hammond's attorneys to question Wine by avowal, which means the judge would not give the testimony consideration in her decision on whether to dismiss the case but said it could be given for the record in case of an appeal.

Also on Friday, defense attorneys Ted Shouse and Annie O'Connell renewed their motion to dismiss Hammond's case in the wake of more recently found evidence turned over to the defense earlier this month.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Elizabeth Jones Brown has said prosecution did a thorough search of the Hammond police file after a mistrial was declared in April - when the report of an interview with a witness was mistakenly not turned over to the defense - and found 24 more pages.

Among the newly filed evidence was a summary of a 2009 interview with Gregory Jett, who was briefly a potential suspect and summaries of anonymous calls to investigators about who they believed was responsible for the murder of Troya Sheckles.

Shouse asked Bisig to either dismiss the case or allow the defense to look at the police file themselves.

"They are not to be trusted any longer," he said of prosecutors.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Dorislee Gilbert argued that the recently released evidence is not crucial to the defense and would not be exculpatory, saying that it was turned over out of an abundance of caution.

Bisig did not make a ruling Friday, saying she would give prosecutors an opportunity to respond in writing to Shouse's motion.

In his testimony, Wine said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney John Balliet was investigating the problems with the Hammond case and his review was ongoing. He testified he did not give Balliett a deadline. Hammond will be retried next month.

And Wine said other prosecutors were reviewing all of former prosecutor Tom Van De Rostyne's remaining active cases to make sure there are no other instances in which evidence was not turned over to the defense. Van De Rostyne was the prosecutor in the Hammond case for years before Wine fired him in 2012, shortly after beating him in the election for commonwealth's attorney.

When Shouse asked about the firing, Wine testified that, "Simply, I did not have confidence in Mr. Van De Rostyne," adding that it had nothing to do with the Hammond case. "I did not feel Mr. Van De Rostyne would be a good fit for me in the office."

Van De Rostyne, who has declined to comment about the Hammond case, was not in the courtroom Friday. He has testified previously that he deleted the interview to protect the witness's safety.

Shouse also accused prosecutors on Friday of burying and purposefully mislabeling the evidence, specifically a video interview of Jett.

Gilbert called these assertions "absurd' and told the judge there was no reason to allow the defense to see the police file.

After the hearing, Shouse and O'Connell said an outside agency should be investigating what happened with the Hammond case and looking at the rest of Van De Rostyne's files.

O'Connell said it is a "conflict of interest" to have former co-workers of Van De Rostyne investigate him.

"This whole case stinks to high heaven," Shouse said.

Hammond has been indicted for the murder of 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.

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 Dejuan, 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, 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.

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.

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