Wisconsin IP Wins New Trial for Seneca Malone…

From press release (briefs available here):

Seneca Malone Case
Decision on Friday, November 16, 2012 – Court Grants Malone a New Trial

After years of investigation, uncovering new evidence, drafting and filing motions, and attending hearings, the motion for a new trial for Seneca Malone will be decided on Friday, November 16, 2012 by Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge David Borowski. 

Summary

In August 2008, a jury convicted Seneca Malone for the death of Ricardo Mora, who on December 16, 2005, was gunned down on the streets of Milwaukee. At trial, the State’s case was based almost entirely on the statement of a man who told police he saw Malone shoot the victim. Malone was sentenced to life in prison. At sentencing, Malone expressed sympathy for the victim’s family, but also maintained his innocence.

Wisconsin Innocence Project Investigation & New Evidence

On appeal, Malone’s case was referred to the Wisconsin Innocence Project (WIP). Under the supervision of University of Wisconsin Law School professors Ion Meyn and Peter Moreno, law students conducted an independent investigation regarding the shooting and trial. WIP learned that trial counsel had not hired an investigator to check the veracity of an alternative suspect’s statement to police and had not called a single witness for Malone. In eight days of evidentiary hearings, WIP called over ten witnesses to the stand, including alibi witnesses. WIP presented evidence suggesting that the alternative suspect had lied to police about Malone’s involvement in the shooting, and that alternative suspect was in fact the shooter.  When called to the stand and faced with this new evidence, alternative suspect invoked his right against self-incrimination to most questions.

Decision to be issued November 16, 2012

After hearing the witnesses and examining new evidence, Judge Borowski scheduled a hearing on Friday, November 16, 2012 at 8:30 a.m., to issue his decision. If Judge Borowski decides the matter in Malone’s favor, Malone will be granted a new trial. The State will determine whether it would appeal and retry Malone, or instead dismiss charges. If Judge Borowski denies Malone relief, Malone will appeal.

New Trial Granted

The Court granted Malone a new trial, finding that his trial counsel was ineffective, that newly discovered evidence warranted a new trial, and that a new trial should be granted in the interest of justice.

Student Involvement

Law students in the Wisconsin Innocence Project have worked to free sixteen people, relying in some cases on cutting-edge DNA technology, in other cases on old-fashioned investigation. In the Seneca Malone case, law students Jamie Yoon, David Blinka, Scott Zehr, Andy Price, Nicolas Mittnacht, Colman Sutter and David Williams conducted an investigation into the shooting.  Knocking on doors in tough neighborhoods and scouring state records, law students uncovered new police records and found key witnesses. Law students also drafted motions, assisted in the preparation of witness testimony, and played significant roles at the evidentiary hearing. In fact, fielding objections from a Milwaukee Homicide Unit prosecutor, law student Andy Price examined a witness in court.  University of Wisconsin undergraduate students Adriana Salgado and Rebecca Loeb also provided critical assistance in the investigation and evidentiary hearing.

In attempting to prove innocence years after a conviction, the students gain insight into how a wrongful conviction can occur, and how it might have been prevented. These students embody the University of Wisconsin Law School’s commitment to law in action, justice, and attaining excellence in practice.

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