Former prosecutor accused of misconduct in a second case - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Former prosecutor accused of misconduct in a second case

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LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- A former Assistant Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney has been accused of prosecutorial misconduct for a second time, allegedly acting "improperly and vindictively" in trying to get a witness to testify.

Tom Van De Rostyne, who has already been accused of misconduct in the high-profile Dejuan Hammond murder case, allegedly went after Hammond's former girlfriend, Princess Bolin, when she initially refused to testify against Hammond, according to a motion filed Tuesday.

Besides treating her more harshly than other first time drug offenders, Van De Rostyne sought repeated indictments against Bolin, ensuring she was incarcerated or on home incarceration for years, according to defense attorney Ryan Vantrease.

And in a conversation with a detective, Van De Rostyne said the Hammond case "depends" on Bolin but "that b____ has been worthless," according to a transcript of a taped conversation, included in Vantrease's motion to set aside and dismiss several Bolin convictions.

Dejuan Hammond's murder trial began on Tuesday and Bolin is expected to testify. A previous trial ended in a mistrial when prosecutors turned over an old summary of an interview with Bolin during the trial. Hammond is accused of orchestrating the 2009 murder of Troya Sheckles, who was set to testify against Hammond's brother, Lloyd.

Defense attorneys for Hammond have accused prosecutors, specifically Van De Rostyne, of withholding evidence in the case multiple times.

Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine acknowledged earlier this year that his office made a mistake in not turning over to Hammond's attorneys the Bolin interview, which provided Hammond an alibi. Bolin later changed her story and is a key witness against Hammond.

Judge Angela McCormick Bisig has found that prosecutors have improperly withheld evidence but has allowed the case to continue against Hammond. Jury selection is underway.

According to Vantrease's motion, on June 11, 2011, Van De Rostyne took the "extraordinary" step of appearing in district court for Bolin's arraignment on a drug possession charge and later had those charged amended to trafficking.

"Finally, after numerous indictments, after numerous years of incarceration on HIP and in prison, Mr. Van De Rostyne convinced" Bolin to give police a statement that "presumably" led to the indictment of Hammond, Vantrease wrote in his motion.

After that, Van De Rostyne did not seek any more charges against Bolin, Vantrease wrote.

She is currently on probation with a potential 18-year prison sentence if she violates the conditions of her release.

"There are things that happened in this case that in 13 years I've never seen happen before," Vantrease said in an interview, noting, for example, that Bolin was kept on home incarceration for four years.

Van De Rostyne has repeatedly declined to comment on allegations of misconduct against him. He has been subpoenaed to testify in the Hammond trial.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Leland Hulbert, a spokesman for the office, said they had not yet seen the motion in the Bolin case.

Wine fired Van De Rostyne when he was elected in 2012, after the two both ran for the position.

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

Pettway's attorneys have asked for a new trial because the Bolin interview withheld by prosecutors also mentions him.

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.

During Pettway's trial, Bolin testified that "I've been punished for not cooperating with Tom Van De Rostyne is what I'm telling the jury," according to Vantrease's motion. "I was threatened" by Van De Rostyne and told "he was going to make my life a living hell."

Vantrease said Van De Rostyne's prosecution of Bolin was "driven by unyielding desire to pressure" Bolin into giving a statement to police about Hammond.

"Put simply, the defendant was a means to an end for Mr. Van De Rostyne and his actions reek of vindictiveness against the defendant," Vantrease wrote.

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