Internal review finds former Hammond prosecutor's actions sloppy - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Internal review finds former Hammond prosecutor's actions sloppy but 'inadvertent'

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Former Jefferson County prosecutor Tom Van De Rostyne's failure to turn over potentially exculpatory evidence in the Dejuan Hammond murder trial was sloppy but “inadvertent” and not “intentional misconduct,” according to an internal review by Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine's office.

Wine described the findings of the review, conducted by assistant Commonwealth's Attorney John Balliet, in a press release on Friday afternoon, which stated Wine wanted to “determine how such a serious lapse could have occurred.” Wine also wanted to determine if he needed to report any wrongdoing to the Kentucky Bar Association.

During the April 2014 trial of Dejuan Hammond, prosecutors discovered that Van De Rostyne had failed to provide the defense with a summary of an interview with Hammond's former girlfriend, where she gave him an alibi for the day Troya Sheckles was murdered in 2009.

According to the review, Van De Rostyne had previously filed a redacted version of the document in another trial. The review states “the redaction was proper in that case, it was not proper in the Dejuan Hammond case.”

But Hammond's lawyers immediately criticized the investigation, with defense attorney Annie O'Connell calling it a “whitewash.” When asked to elaborate, O'Connell said, “I've said all I need to say.”

Balliet interviewed the prosecutors involved in the Hammond case and three of Hammond's past attorneys, Ted Shouse, Scott Drabenstadt and Scott Barton. Shouse, who along with O'Connell represented Hammond in his murder trial, said Balliet talked to him only briefly and didn't write anything down.

“I hardly consider a casual conversation with John Balliet in a courthouse cafe where he took no notes an interview and the fact that the commonwealth does reflects poorly on this whole process,” Shouse said.

WDRB has requested a copy of the investigation and conclusion under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

A jury in December found Hammond guilty of orchestrating the murder of Sheckles to prevent her from testifying against his younger brother, Lloyd, who was charged with killing Sheckles' boyfriend and two other men. The jury recommended a sentence of 35 years in prison. Hammond is awaiting sentencing.

Shouse and O'Connell repeatedly accused prosecutors of withholding evidence in the Hammond case and Wine has acknowledged his office failed to turn over the summary of an interview with Princess Bolin, in which she said Hammond was with her at the mall when Sheckles was murdered.

Sheckles was gunned down in Shelby Park while sitting with a friend in March 2009, weeks after agreeing to testify against Hammond's brother, Lloyd, who was charged with killing Sheckles' boyfriend and two other men.

Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Angela Bisig had also determined that Van De Rostyne's actions were “sloppy” but inadvertent and she found no intentional misconduct. Wine has provided additional training to his staff regarding "prosecutors' obligations” as to turning over evidence and he has implemented procedures that will “assure any redactions from documents being provided in pretrial discovery will be clearly noted."

Because the violation was not intentional, Wine said his review concludes the matter and there will be no further review.

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