Ben Neary of the Associated Press reports that a wrongfully convicted Montana man has won a settlement against the State of Wyoming following the revelation that two sheriffs deputies and a county attorney’s office investigator conspired to withhold exculpatory evidence in his murder case.
Troy Willoughby was convicted of murder in 2010 after Sublette County prosecutors argued to his jury that he had followed a woman named Lisa Ehlers home from a party and shot her. However, a police report discovered by sheriffs deputies and a county investigator working on the case suggested that local officers had met with Willoughby at the time he was supposed to be partying with the victim.
Another deputy in the Sheriffs Office secretly recorded county investigators “saying they knew they should have turned over the police report to Willoughby’s trial lawyers but didn’t because they didn’t want Willoughby to go free.”
The Sublette County Attorney made a public statement about the withheld evidence just days after the Wyoming Supreme Court had affirmed Willoughby’s conviction on appeal. Based on the fact that the undisclosed evidence undermined the state’s theory of the case, Willoughby was granted a new trial. He was subsequently acquitted.
Willoughby then pursued a civil suit against the state for its misconduct, which he has now settled in exchange for an undisclosed amount of money. He had served three years in custody before being exonerated.
The Associated Press reports that Sheridan County Attorney Matt Redle is working as a special prosecutor with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation to examine the sheriffs deputies and investigators’ conduct. It is unknown when the investigation will conclude.