Kentucky Supreme Court upholds Dejuan Hammond conviction in case of murdered witness
High court did throw out Hammond’s conviction for intimidating a participant in a legal process, which carried a 10-year prison sentence.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of Dejuan Hammond, who in 2015 was found guilty for his role in the slaying of Troya Sheckles to prevent her from testifying in a trial.
However, the high court did throw out Hammond's conviction for intimidating a participant in a legal process, which carried a 10-year prison sentence, ruling it was "unreasonable" for a jury to find Hammond guilty on that charge.
Hammond was sentenced to a total of 35 years in prison -- 25 for the murder conviction -- in April 2015 for hiring another man, Steven Pettway, to shoot Sheckles while she was sitting with a friend in Shelby Park in March 2009.
Sheckles had agreed to testify in a murder trial involving Hammond's brother, Lloyd.
Defense attorneys asked the high court to throw out Hammond's conviction because the Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney's Office repeatedly failed to turn over evidence in the case in a timely manner.
Prosecutors acknowledged failing to properly turn over evidence, including a summary of an August 2009 interview with Princess Bolin, Hammond's former girlfriend, which provided a possible alibi.
But the Supreme Court found that Circuit Court Judge Angela McCormick Bisig properly handled the mistakes made by prosecutors and a dismissal of the case was not warranted.
Hammond’s attorneys also argued that Bisig erred by limiting how much the defense could tell jurors about an internal investigation by the commonwealth's attorney's office into the handling of the Hammond case by former prosecutor Tom Van De Rostyne.
The defense during the trial centered on the "overzealous pursuit" of Hammond by prosecutors and police, and the fact that there was an ongoing internal investigation was "critical to his defense," according to court records.
The high court, however, ruled that the defense was allowed to refer to the investigation, just not in as much detail as attorneys requested. Defense attorneys, however, "failed to indicate what specific evidence" they were not allowed to present, according to the ruling.
The court had previously upheld Pettway's murder conviction.
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