Withheld Evidence Leads to New Murder Trial

It took 25 years to remedy the prosecutorial misconduct that tainted Crossan Hoover's murder conviction. Hoover was convicted of beating a man to death when he was 17, at the direction of his employer, who hoped to turn Marin County "into King Arthur's court, with himself as king and teens as knights."

He might have been found insane if jurors had been given proper instructions and if the prosecutor had not withheld key information from a psychiatric witness, U.S. Magistrate James Larson said in a Sept. 7 ruling.

A court-appointed psychiatrist testified that Hoover was motivated by money, not by mental illness. But prosecutors didn't give the psychiatrist the facts he needed to make an informed judgment.

The psychiatrist, John Buehler, has since said his assessment of Hoover would have been different if he had known that information. "The prosecutor's manipulation of the evidence provided to his expert, Dr. Buehler, so distorted the expert's testimony as to amount to false evidence," Larson said.

If prosecutors decide to bring Hoover to trial again, perhaps this time they'll play by the rules.

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  • Display: Sort:
    If the issue is what information the prosecutor (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 12:40:20 PM EST
    provided to the court appointed expert psychiatrist,   why didn't the trial defense counsel impeach the expert; or didn't the prosecutor comply with Brady by turning over the information to the defense attorney?

    good question (none / 0) (#2)
    by txpublicdefender on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 06:14:03 PM EST
    I was confused by that, too.  Isn't that how you impeach an expert?  

    Q:  Dr. Know-it-all, when forming your opinion, did you consider the fact that the Defendant blah blah blahed?

    A:  No.  I did not know that to be the case.

    Q:  Really?  Who provided you with the information you used to form your opinion?

    A:  The prosecutor.

    Q:  I see.  And the prosecutor never told you blah blah blah?

    A:  No.

    Q:  If you were to find out that blah blah blah was, in fact, true, would that change your opinion?

    A:  Yes.

    Q:  So, what you are telling the court is that a piece of information that would have completely changed your opinion in this case was never given to you by the prosecutor?

    A:  Yes.

    Q:  No further questions.

    That said, it was wrong of the prosecutor not to disclose the information to its expert.  But it sounds like the attorney didn't do a bang-up job in cross-examining the expert either.

    The case does sound fascinating, though.  The ringleader wanted to turn Marin County into Camelot, with him being King Arthur, and teenagers being the knights?  Sounds interesting.


    Yes, that bit about Marin Co. and Camelot (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 06:45:13 PM EST
    merits further investigation.  Is Bin Laden behind this too?