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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ind. Decisions - "Overturned murder case jumps to forefront of Howard County prosecutor election"

The 7th Circuit's May 3rd decision in the case of Goudy v. Basinger, Sup. -- see ILB summary here -- is the subject of a story today by Brandi Watters in the Anderson Herald Bulletin. Some quotes:

ANDERSON, Ind. — A 15-year-old murder conviction overturned by a federal court Monday has sparked a heated debate in the race for county prosecutor.

Walter Lee Goudy’s 1995 murder and attempted murder convictions were overturned Monday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago on Monday after judges determined that Goudy did not get a fair trial due to the actions of the prosecutor’s office.

Goudy was convicted in 1995 for being one of two gunmen in the Anderson shooting death of Marvin McCloud. He was also convicted of attempted murder for shooting McCloud’s passenger, Damon Nunn, several times.

Rodney Cummings, who is challenging Prosecutor Thomas Broderick in the November election, served as prosecutor during the Goudy trial, but did not try the case himself, Cummings told The Herald Bulletin on Wednesday.

Since Goudy’s conviction was overturned, Broderick has just 120 days to pursue a new case against Goudy or he will be released from the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility where he is being held.

Broderick had strong words for his opponent on Wednesday.

In a written statement, Broderick said errors made in the case by Cummings’ office were “among the worst of failure to disclose evidence cases that I have personally seen.”

The case was overturned by federal judges because the prosecutor’s office failed to provide material pieces of exculpatory evidence to the defense during Goudy’s trial.

Exculpatory evidence is evidence that tends to prove the innocence of a defendant.

In Goudy’s case, the evidence included a police line-up that fingered another man, witness Kaidi Harvell, as the shooter; a taped confession by the defendant’s brother implicating Harvell; and evidence that Goudy’s alibi witness may have been persuaded to change her testimony.

Goudy’s original defense attorney, Mark Maynard, said he’s long believed that Goudy didn’t get a fair trial due to the exclusion of the evidence.

Cummings responded to Broderick’s statement Wednesday by saying that Broderick doesn’t have the courage to pursue a case like the Goudy murder trial.

In 1994, then-prosecutor Bill Lawler dismissed the case against Goudy when alibis were provided for his whereabouts during the shooting.

Cummings said Broderick was Lawler’s chief deputy prosecutor at the time of the dismissal.

“It’s laughable that Broderick would even make a statement about the trial because the former prosecutor, for which he was the chief deputy for, dismissed the case. They didn’t have the courage to try it in the first case,” Cummings said.

Once elected, Cummings filed murder charges against Goudy and took the case to trial.

Though he acknowledges that mistakes may have been made, Cummings maintains that he did the right thing by pursuing a tough case to get justice for the victims.

“Those guys don’t have the courage to take on tough cases. It’s easier for them to let murderers walk. A murderer at least had some accountability for 15 years and he would have been on the street if it were left up to them,” he said.

Broderick said he wasn’t a member of the prosecutor’s office at the time of the dismissal, and in fact, had left the office three years prior.

Broderick said his decision regarding whether or not to put Goudy on trial again will depend on an investigation by his office and local police.

The existing evidence in the case is a factor, he said.

“What evidence may still exist, given the passage of time and faded memories and witnesses that may have came and went? What are these witnesses going to say now?”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 6, 2010 01:23 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions