Ed Fletcher of The Sacramento Bee reports that Superior Court Judge Russell Hom has declared a mistrial in a murder case because the prosecutor waited too long to disclose the exculpatory statement of a jailhouse informant.
It was after opening statements when Bryan David Denton, the defendant accused of murder in the stabbing death of 60 year-old Stephen Sieck, received a copy of the statement of a jailhouse informant who said that Denton confessed to murdering Sieck while in prison.
Lawyers for Denton and his co-defendant, Stacey Ann Perryman, argued that they would have altered their courtroom strategy if they had known about the evidence. (The failure to disclose evidence only leads to a new trial if the withheld evidence is found to be both exculpatory and material – meaning it would likely have changed the outcome of the case. Read more about Brady violations here.)
The prosecutor who withheld the statement is Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall of the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. Kindall said he was trying to protect the identity of the jailhouse informant who was in state prison and, Kindall argued, would be placed in danger by the release of his statement.
Judge Hom agreed that the statement was exculpatory, but decided that it would only have impacted the trial strategy of Denton and not Perryman. Denton won a mistrial; Perryman did not.
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