Louisville judge upholds conviction in high-profile case of murd - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville judge upholds conviction in high-profile case of murdered witness

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LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – A Jefferson Circuit Court judge has denied a new murder trial for Steven Pettway, ruling that evidence not turned over to defense attorneys wouldn’t have been enough to change the jury’s decision to convict him of killing Troya Sheckles.

Attorneys for Pettway had asked Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Angela McCormick Bisig for a new trial because the Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office failed to properly turn over evidence in the case of Pettway’s co-defendant, Dejuan Hammond.

Some of that evidence – which was discovered after Pettway had already been convicted and sentenced to 55 years in prison - included information about Pettway.

Defense attorneys had 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, which contradicted her trial testimony against Pettway.

In that summary, Bolin said Hammond was with her at the mall during the time Sheckles was killed and she denied knowing Pettway very well.

At Pettway's trial, however, Bolin implicated Hammond and Pettway in the planning and slaying of Sheckles.

Defense attorneys said they could not properly cross-examine Bolin because they did not know about the contradictory statements.

Bisig, however, ruled late last month that Bolin’s testimony was already "frustratingly rife with a plethora of contradictions."  The new information contained "information very remote from the issues related to Pettway," she ruled.

"The Court does not find the information would have changed the outcome of the jury’s decision," Bisig found.

It is unclear if defense attorneys will appeal Bisig’s latest ruling to a higher court. An attorney for Pettway, Jay Lambert, said he could not comment right now.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Elizabeth Jones Brown, who handled the case, is out of the office this week. A spokesman for the office said, "I am sure that she is pleased with the judge’s ruling."

However, the spokesman, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Cooke, said the defense has 30 days from the ruling to decide whether to appeal. 

Pettway and Hammond were convicted of murder for the shooting of Sheckles in Shelby Park in 2009 to prevent her from testifying in another trial.

In September, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld Pettway’s conviction for a separate failure by prosecutors to turn over evidence in his case.

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.

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

Bisig had previously ruled that the prosecution’s failure to turn over the Bolin interview was the result of a "mistake, sloppy review, and inadvertence, rather than a calculated attempt to force a mistrial."

Prosecutors argued Pettway received a fair trial and was convicted "based on evidence that sufficiently and overwhelmingly established his guilt," according to court records.

Bisig agreed, pointing out, for example, that a man sitting with Sheckles when she was shot told jurors Pettway was the killer.

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