A judge is once again considering whether to overturn the 2009 murder conviction of a southwest Missouri woman for the death of an elderly woman from Oldfield.
Wright County Judge John Moody, who was the judge who heard the case in Taney County on a change of venue, heard evidence Wednesday in Christian County during a hearing for 43-year-old Paula Hall of Sparta.
|Freda Heyn (family photo)|
A jury convicted Hall for the November 2003 murder of sixty eight year-old Freda Heyn and she was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Hall's attorney, Rita Sanders, argued that the conviction should be overturned because errors by the prosecutor violated Hill's due process rights. Prosecutors say the errors did not affect the outcome of the trial.
|Attorney Rita Sanders|
Moody allowed both sides to present evidence on Wednesday during a post-conviction hearing.
The witness that concerns Sanders most is Lisa Bonham, who served time in lockup with Hall. She told the jury she overheard Hall tell fellow inmates in the Christian County jail that she killed Heyn.
Sanders says prosecutor's failed to tell her that Bonham 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.
|Christian County Prosecutor Amy Fite|
Christian County Prosecutor Amy Fite, who was not in office at the time of Hall's trial, argued that regardless of Bonham's criminal history, the jury believed her when she told them that Hall told her she killed Heyn while they were both behind bars Christian County. Fite also says a clerical error in docketing contributed to the confusion.
Fite says 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."
Moody's decision should be announced within a few weeks, according to Sanders. "It's very clear they violated the Brady Law and when they did that they violated Paula's right to due process and a fair trial. If we don't get a new trial I will take it to the Court of Appeals."
|Billy Wayne Hall (mug shot CCSO)|