Joshua Kezer Deserves a New Trial

The evidence against Joshua Kezer was weak. No physical evidence connected him to the murder of Angela Lawless.

Key prosecution evidence included the trial testimony of Mark Abbott, who claimed he saw Kezer near the Interstate 55 off-ramp where Lawless' body was found. However, in an interview with Scott City police 10 days after Lawless' death, Abbott had identified a different man as being near the crime scene.

Kezer's defense lawyer wasn't told about Abbott's change of story. The other witnesses against Kezer had everything to gain by implicating him.
Update: Be sure to read Jeralyn's comment. [more ...]

Kezer also was implicated by three Cape Girardeau County jail inmates, some of whom received deals for leniency on their own charges. One of those witnesses recanted and testified for the defense at Kezer's trial, while another told Kezer he made up his account, yet still testified for the prosecution.

Given the slim and shady evidence against Kezer, it's reasonable to believe he would have been acquitted had the jury known that Abbott changed his story -- and continued to change it, eventually giving five different versions of what he allegedly witnessed. Prosecutor-turned-politician Kenny Hulshof apparently didn't want to risk losing a high profile case by divulging the full story.

The case was one of several high-profile prosecutions led by Kenny Hulshof when he worked for the attorney general's office. Hulshof went on to serve six terms in the U.S. House and was the Republican nominee for governor this year, losing to Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon.

Kezer's request for a new trial will be decided by Cole County Judge Richard Callahan in Jefferson City, Missouri.

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    just for the sake of discussion, (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:33:25 PM EST
    what if it turns out that mr. hulshof, in his capacity as the prosecutor in this case, indeed suborned perjury? what, if any, charges could or would be brought against him?

    my guess is, well.................none. in fact, in pretty much every case of wrongful conviction that i've read about, here and elsewhere, that overt acts by the prosecution and police were material, nothing has happened to any of those parties.

    the sole exception being the duke case, and that's because it was so screwed up right from the start, and received tons of publicity.

    given the nearly complete lack of any adverse consequences to the state, what incentive is there for either the police or prosecutors to follow the rules?

    There is precedent for reporting (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 01:20:16 AM EST
    a prosecutor to the state bar.  Also, not unprecedented to read an appellate opinion lambasting the prosecutor for misconduct.  

    to quote a great (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 07:42:23 AM EST
    philosopher (plato, i think), "so what?". the question wasn't "does the prosecutor get a stern talking to?", but rather, what tangible, adverse consequences can be meted out.

    it's one thing to wrongly prosecute and convict, based on a "good faith" reliance on the evidence at hand, quite another to do so knowing said evidence is false from the start. this would appear to be case in this, and many other instances.

    both the defendant and the state are entitled to a fair trial. when a prosecutor commits willful misconduct, both parties are denied that basic constitutional right.


    Not Hulsof's First (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 04:17:26 AM EST
    I did a double-take when I read Kenny Hulsof was the prosecutor. In 2000, TNT did a documentary, Was Justice Denied. (I was the "co-star." ) We spent weeks over several months in Jefferson City, Missouri and Virginia re-investigating two murder convictions where the defendants might be innocent and DNA wasn't available or wouldn't provide an answer. The case in Missouri, Dale Helmig, was prosecuted by Hulsof. I interviewed Hulsof (by then a Congressman) in the film (as well the Judge, the prosecutor who co-chaired the trial with Hulsof, the defense counsel, Helmig's family members and Helmig himself at the state penitentiary.)  It was so obvious to me Dale didn't do it. A few years later, his habeas was granted and his conviction and life sentence reversed. (The other case in Virginia was also later reversed.)

    I wouldn't trust any conviction obtained by Hulsof and the Judge wasn't much better. The back-door machinations and politics that went on behind the scenes were like something out of a John Grisham novel.

    I'd bet Kezer's lawyer already knows to check out Dale Helmig's case, but if not, maybe someone who knows him should send him an e-mail.

    Maybe if I can ever figure out how to hook up my new dvd recorder to my HD tv, I can record some clips from the film, and people can judge for themselves how "justice" is meted out in Jefferson City, Missouri.

    that can't possibly be jeralyn, (none / 0) (#5)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 07:44:29 AM EST
    juries in va (according to the recent republican candidate for the senate) never convict innocent parties. it just isn't done.

    Good work. (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 10:31:27 AM EST