James Mallory in court

James Mallory appears in Jefferson Circuit Court.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A special prosecutor has been assigned to investigate whether anyone with the Louisville Public Defender’s office committed a crime by concealing key evidence in a death penalty case.

Because of a conflict with local prosecutors, the Kentucky Attorney General’s office has tasked Kenton Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders with reviewing whether public defender Angela Elleman or anyone in her office broke the law by hiding bullet casings linked to the shooting of 15-year-old Gregory Holt for more than six years.

Elleman, who represents Anthony Hogan, and an investigator dug up the shell casings buried in a tree stump outside a bar in Louisville just months after the April 11, 2012 murder.

The Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office only discovered the existence of the casings last February when talking with Hogan about testifying against co-defendant James Mallory. At least one other attorney in the public defender’s office knew about the casings.

The Mallory trial has been delayed as both defense attorneys for Mallory and the judge presiding over the case, Susan Schultz Gibson, have questioned whether Elleman committed a crime, specifically tampering with physical evidence, a felony.

In a motion filed in November, Lexington attorney Gregory Coulson, who represents Mallory, asked Judge Gibson to investigate the issue by reviewing all of Elleman’s communications with her client and inspect the defense’s case file to “determine that the services of (the defense team) have been used in furtherance of a crime or fraud upon the court.”

In a Dec. 21 order, Gibson denied this request, writing that it is not her role in the case “as a neutral and detached entity” to conduct a criminal investigation.

“That investigation is appropriately carried out by either the Kentucky Bar Association or the prosecutor’s office,” Gibson wrote.

The head of the public defender’s office, Dan Goyette, has defended the actions in a previous statement to WDRB News:

“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."

A call to the public defender’s office on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

In the recent motion, Coulson, who recently took over representing Mallory, acknowledged that requesting an investigation by the judge of the public defender’s office is unusual, but argued that the “conduct is clearly felonious.”

The public defender's office represents defendants who cannot afford an attorney. 

After Elleman and an investigator dug up the shell casings, they were put in a safe at the public defender’s office.

Hogan 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.

Coulson said that Elleman posted a picture on social media in 2013 showing her in the tree stump with the evidence.

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.

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Digital Reporter

Jason Riley is a criminal justice reporter for WDRB.com. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after 14 years with The Courier-Journal. He graduated from Western Kentucky University. Jason can be reached at 502-585-0823 and jriley@wdrb.com.