CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Improperly Withheld Evidence May Boost Actual Innocence Claim

From Fort Collins, Colorado authorities violated evidence-discovery rules when they withheld expert opinions that conflicted with their theory that a 15-year-old Tim Masters murdered Peggy Hettrick in 1987, according to special prosecutors.

In a Wednesday court filing that legal experts say should boost Masters' bid for a new trial, Adams County District Attorney Don Quick's office acknowledged that four sets of evidence were kept from Masters' original attorneys prior to his 1999 trial.

They include a plastic surgeon's comments to Fort Collins police Detective Marsha Reed about the surgical nature of Hettrick's wounds. "None of the information from that conversation appears to have been memorialized by Det. Reed," the pleading states.

Other improperly withheld evidence includes:

• An FBI profiler's memos criticizing the psychological theory that Masters' violent art renderings revealed a fantasy motive to kill Hettrick.

• Details of an unsuccessful week-long surveillance of Masters a year after the 1987 murder.

• Almost 300 pages of research compiled by the prosecution's star witness, some referring to the surgical precision of wounds inflicted on her genitalia and breast. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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