Murder trial continues

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

The defense may have gained ground with the jury in the murder trial of Anthony Hardy at Wednesday’s proceedings.

Citing recordings received by the defense team &045; P. Vaughan Russell Sr. and Kyra Sparks &045; attorneys for Hardy, called Shan Lesure, a witness for the prosecution back to the stand.

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After hearing testimony from expert witnesses, they questioned Lesure again about the three statements he made to police. In the first statement, Lesure said he didn’t know anything or anyone involved in the April 2004 shooting death of Quincy Dudley, a 21-year-old Selma man.

In the third statement, he told police that he saw the crime, including watching Hardy pull the trigger at 304 Alabama Avenue.

After receiving a recording of the second statement, given on April 25, two days after the first statement, the Russell asked Lesure if it was fundamentally the same as the third statement, given to police on April 26.

Russell then played a digital recording – provided by the prosecution – of the April 25 interview.

In it, Lesure is heard telling police that he heard the shots, but didn’t see the crime occur.

While the jury listened, Lesure cover his face with his hands and closed his eyes.

Later in the interview, Det. Jimmy Martin – currently the Selma Police Chief – and Det. Tory Neely can be heard asking about the murder weapon.

After the recording ended, Russell resumed his questioning.

Russell rested, and Tracy Roberts, the prosecutor took over.

Roberts attempted to clarify why their was a difference in the case, retreading some areas of questioning that he’d gone over Tuesday with Lesure.

When Lesure called him to the stand as a witness for the prosecution, Lesure told the court that he was afraid to get involved at first.

At Wednesday’s proceedings, he again asked Lesure about his motivations for changing his story.

Russell again took over questioning the witness.

The discrepancies in Lesure’s statements to the police weren’t the only issues at hand.

Russell and Sparks also moved for a mistrial in the case at about 11 a.m.

They said the state handed provided proper discovery of evidence in the recordings provided to them yesterday at 8 a.m.

Including Lesure’s second statement – which hadn’t been reduced to writing – the recordings held about 11 hours of material, much of which the defense said they didn’t know about until today.

The recordings were part of police statements taken over the course of the investigation. At the end of Tuesday’s proceedings, Circuit Judge Thomas Jones told the prosecution to have the tapes before trial began at 8 a.m. Wednesday, an hour before the trial reconvened.

The defense learned of the tapes from a list of statements and the dates they were taken compiled by investigators.

On some of the entries on the list, an &8220;R&8221; and a &8220;W&8221; were written beside some of the names.

The defense questioned whether these indicated whether recordings existed. The prosecutions said he didn’t know at the time, but contacted investigators about the matter, who produced a CD with the information.

Russell and Sparks said the late disclosure hurt their case.

State and federal law grants all participants in a case the right to open access to evidence and other materials held by their opponent, called &8220;discovery&8221; rights.

Roberts argued that as witness statements, they aren’t subject to discovery under Alabama’s rules of court procedure.

Roberts also said the list of statements was provided in Feb. giving them ample time to request a copy of the recordings.

Jones expressed displeasure over the issue.

He said discovery has been a problem in Circuit Court cases.

Jones said he would take the motion under advisement at 11 a.m., but would recess the court until 2 p.m. allowing the defense time to review some of the recordings, particularly the statement from Lesure.

At 2, after reviewing some of the statements, Russell and Sparks added the CD with the recordings as evidence in their motion.

He said the statements may contain pertinent information, which would take too long to review.

Jones denied the motion for a mistrial.

Exculpatory evidence is beneficial evidence that prosecutors must disclose to the defense.

The recordings were later used by the defense in attempting to discredit Lesure’s testimony.

After the defense rested, Roberts began closing arguments.

Russell and Sparks’ closing hammered home the inconsistencies from the state’s only eyewitness to the crime, Lesure, along with the lack of physical evidence.

The jury began deliberations at 4:38 p.m. Shortly after 5 p.m., the jury decided to break for the night. Deliberations will begin again at 9 a.m. this morning.

Both the defense and the district attorney’s office felt good about the case.

Russell said the &8220;total collapse&8221; of Lesure’s testimony was shocking to him.

Sparks said she was disappointed about the motion for a mistrial.