Bustamante's right to fair trial in jeopardy, defense attorneys say
By Ladd Egan
Thu, 18 Aug 2011 21:27:51 GMT — Alyssa Bustamante's trial could be in jeopardy even before it begins, according to her attorneys.Having already been pushed back once, Bustamante's trial is scheduled for Sept. 13th on charges of 1st degree murder and armed criminal action in the October 2009 stabbing and strangulation death of her 9-year-old neighbor Elizabeth Olten.In court documents filed on Tuesday, the 17-year-old's defense team argues that Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson has ignored a request for discovery and failed to turn over the names of witnesses he plans to call at trial.The State's failure to both endorse its witnesses and provide written responses to the defense Requests for Discovery in a timely manner deprives Alyssa of her rights to a fair trial, due process, effective assistance of counsel, to fairly confront the witnesses against her, to compulsory process of witnesses, and would render any resulting punishment cruel, unusual and capricious, defense attorneys Donald Catlett and Charles Moreland wrote in the court filing.In a phone interview with KRCG, Donald Catlett described the number of court filings from his office and prosecutor's office as "normal" back-and-forth proceedings as a trial draws near."We would like our motion granted and for the State to endorse its witnesses," Catlett said.Catlett said his office needs the witness list in order to conduct depositions. However, Catlett confirmed that his office has already conducted over a dozen depositions of people they assume the State will call as witnesses. The assumed witnesses were selected based on information contained in police reports and other documents, according to Catlett. While the prosecution has handed over nearly 1,500 pages of documents, Catlett and Moreland say they want formal, written communication from Richardson responding to the following requests:-Names and addresses of proposed witnesses and whether they have any prior criminal convictions.-A transcript of the grand jury proceedings that led to Bustamante being charged.-Reports of all physical, mental and/or scientific testing done in relation to the case.-Disclosure of books, papers, photographs and other objects that will be used as evidence.-Details about any surveillance of conducted on Bustamante.-Complete disclosure of all documents and digital media in the State's possession.-Details of all statements made to State agents by people in connection to the case.Also included in the Request for Discovery is a statement inside of a question that asserts that the defense team has possession of evidence showing Bustamante is not guilty as charged.Although documents and digital media previously provided by the State included information and material which ten to negate Alyssa's guilt as charged, mitigates the degree of the offense charged or reduces punishment, the defense reasonably believes that the State and/ore its agents possess additional such information, Catlett and Moreland write in the court filing. "The defense requests full and complete disclosure."The defense team reports that the only witness it is aware that the prosecution will call at trial is Sgt. David Rice of the Missouri Highway Patrol, and that is because his name was listed on the original indictment.It was Sgt. Rice who initially questioned Bustamante and testified to the grand jury that Bustamante confessed to the slaying and led authorities to Elizabeth's body in the woods west of Jefferson City.A judge has deemed a large portion of Bustamante's statement made during that videotaped interview as inadmissible in court because a juvenile officer wrongly participated in the questioning and used "deceptive tactics" to get Bustamante to speak.Bustamante's lawyers have requested to meet with Judge Patricia Joyce and the prosecution in a closed hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 23rd, to discuss the motions.Judge Joyce has agreed to the request and has barred the public and media from attending the hearing.
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