Commonwealth's Attorney's office says thrown out murder convicti - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Commonwealth's Attorney's office says thrown out murder conviction a 'problem with the law'

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) – A ruling by Kentucky's Supreme Court says a murder conviction for woman after she left her child to die in a car must be thrown out and the Commonwealth's Attorney's office says that's a "problem with the law."

The high court found that the Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney's office was not allowed, under state law, to prosecute Shouse on the charge of wanton murder.

"This was error," according to the unanimous ruling.

Under a change in law by the General Assembly in 2000 – 12 years before the trial – Shouse should have been tried, at most, on a lesser charge of second degree manslaughter.

"We thought obviously that wanton murder was the correct charge," Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Cooke said.

"In 2000," Cooke said. "The legislature apparently became aware of infant fatality cases where children were left in cars and died and they felt that the statute as it existed, didn't cover that."

Cooke said there are "some issues with the statute in question" and prosecutors have tried previously to address them with the legislature. He said Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine would speak further on the issue on Friday.

"Once this appeal came up, it became apparent that this is a problem with the law," Cooke said. "We'd like to see it addressed sooner rather than later so we don't have this predicament again because obviously the possible penalties, are particularly different."

In the ruling, the Supreme Court theorized that legislators felt a murder charge was too harsh of a punishment for such a crime.

"While nonetheless reprehensible, the grief and self blame that follows such conduct could be viewed as strong punishment that calls for a lesser criminal offense than murder," according to the court's ruling.

The court ruled Shouse could be retried on a second degree manslaughter charge.

Attorney Mike Goodwin, who represents Shouse, said they were thrilled with the ruling.

"This was a case where Mollie tragically lost her child -- a situation which is ripe for an improper, overzealous prosecution based on emotion rather than a proper application of the law," he said.

In August 2012, a Jefferson Circuit Court jury recommended a 35-year sentence for Shouse, after finding her guilty of murder and other charges for the May 2011 death of her 2-year-old son, Kenton Brown.

Prosecutors argued Shouse was high on marijuana and Xanax when she left her son in a car for several hours and passed out in her Lyndon apartment.

The child was found hours later in his car seat. Neighbors tried to revive him but couldn't.

Mike Goodwin, an attorney for Shouse, said they were pleased with the ruling.

The jury's recommendation included 28 years for murder. The high court also threw out a wanton endangerment conviction, finding there was not enough evidence to support the finding.

"The facts in this case was pretty horrendous," Cooke said. "We felt, and the jury felt, more importantly that it merited that sort of punishment."

A conviction for 2nd degree criminal abuse was confirmed.

Previous: Jury recommends 35 years in prison for Mollie Shouse

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