Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why Now?

Why do people always wait so long before coming forward?

Convicted killer fights to overturn verdict

POSTED: June 4, 2009

LISBON - Jurors who found Eric Dillard guilty of murder heard no evidence to prove the victim had a gun that night, but Dillard's attorneys say they may have evidence now in Highlandtown Lake.

Defense attorneys James Hartford and Doug King filed a motion for funds to hire investigators or divers "to search for the gun of Jamie Farley which is likely located in Highlandtown Lake in Columbiana County, Ohio."

They also filed a motion requesting a new trial or acquittal based on new evidence and what they alleged was misconduct by the prosecutor's office and abuse of discretion by the judge in the case.

Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike converted the sentencing hearing set for 10 a.m. June 29 to a motions hearing on the request for acquittal or new trial. He ruled that he would approve the motion for funds of $500 if the defendant filed an appropriate financial statement or affidavit of indigency. His attorneys claimed his funds were now depleted.

The 31-year-old Wellsville resident was found guilty last month on all charges against him in the indictment: murder, a gun specification and having weapons under disability in the April 22, 2008 shooting death of Farley, a 35-year-old East Liverpool resident.

Dillard claimed self-defense in the shooting, testifying that he was scared because he knew Farley carried a gun and was threatening to kill him. He said Farley approached him with his hand behind his back in a menacing manner, but Wellsville police officers found no gun on Farley after he fell out of a vehicle driven by his girlfriend, Shirley Jo Hackney, down the street from Dillard's house on Commerce Street.

With their motion alleging new evidence, Hartford and King attached an affidavit from David Crowe Jr., who they said contacted them the week after the jury reached its verdict. According to Crowe, he was fishing at Highlandtown Lake in late April 2008 with a friend when he saw Hackney and her mother, Andrea, pull into the parking lot.

He signed an affidavit saying he saw Andrea Hackney walk onto the pier adjacent to the parking lot carrying a white plastic bag which "appeared to have some weight to it," and when she reached the left corner area of the pier "she tossed the bag into Highlandtown Lake approximately 20 to 25 feet from the edge of the pier."

The attorneys also included an anonymous handwritten note addressed to them which they received. The writer, who didn't sign their name, claimed "Farley's gun was in the diaper bag." Another affidavit from Cagney Allen Springer, who was at the scene at 10th and Commerce where Farley fell out of the car, said Andrea Hackney was carrying a light blue diaper bag. Andrea Hackney was in the car with Farley and her daughter and two grandchildren at the time of the shooting, according to testimony at the trial.

When contacted for comment about the motions, Columbiana County Prosecutor Robert Herron said, "We'll file a written response."

The motions made several accusations of misconduct by the prosecutor's office related to dissemination of privileged information involving the Drug Enforcement Administration and Dillard, intimidation of witnesses and the defendant by county Chief Assistant John Gamble and misconduct related to discovery issues. Discovery is the process in which the prosecutor must divulge to the defense the evidence and witnesses against their client, including any evidence possibly favorable to their client. The defense is also supposed to provide discovery to the prosecution.

The motions also made reference to the way Pike answered a question posed by the jurors while they were deliberating, saying their client was prejudiced as a result. They also claimed he bowed to public pressure and pressure from the prosecutor on discovery issues.

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