Kentucky Supreme Court upholds conviction in high-profile case o - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky Supreme Court upholds conviction in high-profile case of murdered witness

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of Steven Pettway, who in 2013 was found guilty of shooting Troya Sheckles to prevent her from testifying in a trial.

Pettway's attorneys had asked the high court to throw out his conviction because the Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney's Office repeatedly failed to turn over evidence in the case in a timely manner.

The high court noted that prosecutors initially didn't provide some evidence until the second day of Pettway's first trial, which prompted the judge to declare a mistrial.

And additional evidence wasn't turned over until a week before the second trial in May 2013. The judge then excluded that evidence.

"In other words, (Pettway) contends that he is entitled to have this Court dismiss his indictment with prejudice to remedy the two discovery violations," according to the ruling.

But the Supreme Court ruled that the circuit judge properly penalized prosecutors with the mistrial and exclusion of evidence.

"There was no blunder that could not be appropriately addressed, as the trial court did here," the high court ruled. "To pile on would be nothing but arbitrary."

And, the court noted, Pettway chose to go forward with his second trial instead of asking for a delay, as his lawyer had suggested at the time.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Cooke, a spokesman for the office, said they have "always thought that Pettway’s rights were not violated during the prosecution of his case and that his murder conviction was sound."

Bruce Hackett, an attorney for Pettway, would only say they were disappointed with the ruling.

Still, Pettway's attorneys have a pending request for a new trial because the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office also acknowledged failing to properly turn over evidence in the 2014 trial of Pettway's co-defendant, Dejuan Hammond -- evidence which included information about Pettway.

The Supreme Court did not address that allegation because the incident took place after the appeal.

Pettway was sentenced to 55 years in prison for killing Sheckles in Shelby Park in 2009 to prevent her from testifying in a murder trial involving Hammond’s brother, Lloyd.

Assistant Public Defender Jay Lambert has accused former Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Van De Rostyne of intentionally removing a summary of an August 2009 interview with Princess Bolin, Hammond's former girlfriend, that contradicted her trial testimony against Pettway.

But Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Elizabeth Jones Brown has said the evidence would not have changed the outcome of Pettway's trial. She has argued that Bolin's trial testimony was "full of contradictions and reasons that she might not be telling the truth." The evidence "would have been unlikely to change any of this; rather it would simply have added to the confusion of Princess Bolin's testimony and motivations."

The motion for a new trial is pending in Jefferson Circuit Court.

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