(MARTINSVILLE) - In a case where two public defenders are trying to convince a judge to overturn a murder conviction based upon the incompetence of the defense trial attorney, a Morgan County judge admonished the two public defenders for failing to do their jobs properly.
Jay Hermacinski of WISH TV reports that deputies, State Public Defender Anne Burgess and Joanna Green were scolded in court for failing to follow the judges order to keep all witnesses separated.
Burgess and Green are representing convicted murderer John Myers. In 2006, a jury found Myers guilty of killing 19-year-old IU student Jill Behrman in May of 2000.
The defense lawyers are laying out a case to show how police had identified three possible suspects in the Behrman murder before Myers ever became a suspect. Myers and his defense team claim Myers' trial attorney failed to investigate and follow up on that information.
According to investigators, Wendy Owings confessed to police that she, Alisha Sowder, and Uriah Clouse were responsible for Behrman's murder. However, Owings recanted her confession after Behrman's bones were discovered in 2003.
Owings, who the judge described as being the star witness for the defense team, took the stand Wednesday afternoon.
During her testimony, Owings admitted she had changed some of her current testimony based upon talking to another witness the day before. The admission was in direct violation of the judge's order to keep witnesses from talking to one another.
Owings said no one had told her she wasn't supposed to talk to anyone about the case.
The admission led the state to ask that all of Owings testimony be removed from record and the witness be dismissed. After a 15 minute break, Judge Gray admonished both public defenders for failing to follow his order to keep all witnesses separated.
"I don't understand why you are jeopardizing four years of your work for something like this" said Gray.
The judge ruled all of the testimony given by Owings up to that point be removed from record. However, the defense team was allowed to continue questioning Owings without revisiting any of the previous questions.
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