Kentucky Supreme Court justice halts Louisville death penalty trial

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A Kentucky Supreme Court justice halted a death penalty trial Tuesday at the request of defense attorneys, who argued prosecutors turned over important evidence as the trial was getting underway. 

Justice Lisabeth Hughes overruled a decision by Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Darryl Lavery, who had allowed the trial to continue.  A hearing has been set for Sept. 4 to schedule a new trial date.

An both defendants will now ask the judge to exclude the death penalty. 

Guy Allen and his co-defendant, Eugene Mitchell, were on trial in Jefferson Circuit Court for the Nov. 12, 2013, murder of 61-year-old Sheila Devine. Jury selection in the case began Aug. 10.

Defense attorneys for Allen, Todd Lewis, Robert Boyd and Ryan Vantrease, claimed the Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office turned over “significant” evidence just in the last few weeks, including Allen’s phone records, which show calls were made on his phone during the time of the murder, according to court documents.

"Phone records from Allen's phone which were produced within one week of trial are inconsistent with previously produced phone records from the victim's phone for the timeframes relevant to the charged crimes," Hughes wrote in a court order.

Vantrease and Lewis argued they needed time to investigate the phone records and track down who Allen called.

“One or more of these witnesses could eventually provide alibi evidence for Mr. Allen,” according to the motion.

Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine said the office turned the information over as soon as it was discovered during trial preparation. 

"I regret they didn’t get that (evidence) earlier," he said in an interview. "We want to get it right."

The defense attorneys also said prosecutors identified three expert witnesses they planned to have testify during the trial just in the last few days. In addition, the defense argues there is new DNA that needs to be tested.

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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.