Louisville public defender's office accused of concealing more evidence in death penalty case
“Never in a million years would I have predicted something like this would ever happen,” Judge Gibson said.
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – Last month, James Mallory’s death penalty trial for the alleged 2012 murder of 15-year-old Gregory Holt was delayed when prosecutors found out an investigator and attorneys for a co-defendant, and key witness against Mallory, had for six years been in possession of bullet casings linked to the shooting -- without disclosing them.
On Tuesday, prosecutors revealed in court that Attorney Angela Elleman of the Louisville Public Defender’s office, has just recently turned over more evidence in the case, including the cell phone belonging to her client, Anthony Hogan, who was also charged in the murder of Holt but agreed to testify against Mallory as part of a plea deal.
And Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Dorislee Gilbert told Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Susan Schultz Gibson that Elleman has also provided notes between Hogan and a third suspect in the shooting while the two men were in custody.
“Never in a million years would I have predicted something like this would have happened,” Judge Gibson said.
Last month Gibson said she was “appalled” that the bullet casings were not turned over and questioned whether a crime may have been committed by employees with the public defender’s office.
“How is this not tampering with physical evidence?” Gibson asked twice in court on Feb. 23 after learning about the issue. Tampering with evidence is a felony. “I have a tremendous concern about that. … You can’t make this stuff up.”
Gilbert said on Tuesday that testing on the bullet casings match the gun recovered from the shooting.
Meanwhile, attorneys for Mallory have asked that the murder case against him be dismissed or at least that the death penalty be taken off the table, arguing the “shocking late disclosures of evidence in this matter” have shown negligence and bias by prosecutors, investigators and the public defender's office.
And Mallory’s attorneys, Darren Wolff and Mark Hall, have asked Judge Gibson to remove the Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office from the case, arguing the prosecutors have now become necessary witnesses for the trial.
Also, Wolff and Hall are asking the judge to set a "reasonable" bond for him due to "failures" by Louisville Public Defender's office to disclose evidence. Mallory is currently incarcerated on a $1 million bond.
Last month, Gilbert said prosecutors were talking with Hogan about his upcoming testimony that week when they learned about the shell casings.
Elleman and an investigator with the public defender's office dug up the shell casings buried in a tree stump outside a bar in Louisville just months after the April 11, 2012, murder.
The casings have been in a safe at the public defender’s office since being collected.
Dan Goyette, head of the public defender’s office, has said that "after a careful review of the rather complex legal and evidentiary situation that arose in this case, it’s clear that the actions of Mr. Hogan’s attorneys were directed in the best interests of their client and were consistent with their professional obligations."
Hogan allegedly claims he saw Mallory bury the shell casings after Holt was shot to death in his mother’s apartment near Dixie Highway and East Rockford Lane. The defense team dug them up in June 2012, after Hogan had been arrested.
Holt was a student at Farnsley Middle School. Prosecutors have said Holt’s mother, Kendra Wilson, participated in a robbery and attempted execution of Mallory hours earlier, and that Mallory shot the teen while trying to retaliate against Wilson.
Hogan was pulled over in April 2012 in possession of the gun, but he has accused Mallory of firing the shots that killed the teen. He told police the men drove to the apartment, Mallory kicked in the door, planning to attack Wilson, and fired shots into the darkened home, killing the teen.
Gibson delayed the trial until September.
As for whether prosecutors will seek charges against the defense attorneys or ask for any sanctions, Gilbert has said no decision has been made.
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