10:25 AM
Paula Hall (mug shot MODOC)

The judge who presided over Paula Hall's murder trial has ruled that her rights were violated when the Christian County Prosecutor’s Office failed to provide her defense lawyer with correct information regarding a state’s witness.

Wright County Judge John Moody, who was the judge who heard the case in Taney County on a change of venue, heard evidence last week in Christian County during a hearing for 43-year-old Paula Hall of Sparta.

This is the second time Moody has overturned Hall's conviction.  In his latest ruling, Moody wrote, “Had ( Rita Sanders- Hall's attorney) known of the sentence, she could have sought further discovery regarding any agreements between the Christian County Prosecuting Attorney’s office and Ms. Bonham.”

Attorney Rita Sanders

“There is no question the information could have been useful in impeaching witness Lisa Bonham by demonstrating motive to lie,”  he wrote.

A jury convicted Hall in 2009 for the November 2003 murder of sixty eight year-old Freda Heyn and she was sentenced to twenty years in prison.

Moody allowed both sides to present evidence on September 21st  during a post-conviction hearing.
Sanders argued that the conviction should be overturned because errors by the prosecutor violated Hill’s due process rights when they did not provide her the correct information on one of the witnesses, Lisa Bonham. Prosecutors say the errors did not affect the outcome of the trial.

Bonham, who served time in lockup with Hall, told the jury she overheard Hall tell fellow inmates in the Christian County jail that she killed Heyn.

Sanders says prosecutor’s gave her discovery on another person named Lisa Bonahm and failed to tell her that the Lisa Bonham that was to testify had been convicted of passing bad checks, forgery and a probation violation in Christian County and had pending charges in Greene County at the time of Hall’s trial.
She says prosecutors in Christian County entered into a deal with Bonaham and asked Greene County prosecutors to go easy Bonaham because she testified for the state in Hall’s trial.  Sanders also questioned why Bonham’s Christian County sentence of five years probation was amended in April 2009, just two months after Hall’s conviction, to 120 days already served.

Chrisitan County prosecutor Amy Fite

Christian County prosecutor Amy Fite, who was not in office at the time of Hall's trial, said last week that the state now concedes that there was a discovery violation when they provided criminal information on another person named Lisa Bonahm to defense counsel.  "How did I get the wrong information...they use social security numbers to run things through NCIC and MULES," said Sanders.

Murder charges connected to Heyn's that were filed against Hall's former brother-in-law, Billy Wayne Hall, who has been in and out of prison several times over the last few years, were dismissed without prejudice in June so "investigator's can continue to gather potential evidence," according to Christian County chief assistant prosecutor Donovan Dobbs.  "We only get one shot.....we want to make sure it's a good one if we proceed to trial."

Billy Wayne Hall (mug shot CCSO)

Sanders has filed a motion with the court asking that the murder charges that were dismissed WITHOUT prejudice against Billy Wayne Hall (meaning the state can refile) be dismissed WITH prejudice because the state violated his right to a speedy trial.  "They needed to have him tried by July 29th and they've missed that date."

Another troubling aspect of the case for Sanders is that a man named Tommy Pettit, who allegedly admitted to his wife and others, that he Clint Ward and David Epperson beat Mrs. Heyn to death and then dismembered her body, fed it to hogs and tossed her skull into the Mark Twain National Forest has never been charged with anything in connection to Heyn's murder, "Why aren't the news media and Mrs. Heyn's family members asking prosecutors in Christian County why no charges have ever been brought against Pettit,?" said Sanders.

Fite will have 30 days to appeal the judge’s decision, which would then send the post-conviction relief to the Missouri Court of Appeals. Fite could also decide to skip the appeal and retry Hall or not retry the case against Hall at all.

Sanders says she will ask Moody to order Hall to be released on her own recognizance. "They can release her or go ahead and waste tax payers money again or go after the real people who murdered Mrs. Heyn," says Sanders.