Ex-death row inmate - Charles Bussell - will face yet anothe

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Ex-death row inmate - Charles Bussell - will face yet anothe

Post  Jennie on Fri Jul 25, 2008 2:00 pm

Ex-death row inmate - Charles Bussell - will face yet another trial-----1st retrial ended with hung jury


A Western Kentucky prosecutor said yesterday that he will retry a former death row inmate whose second murder trial ended with a hung jury Tuesday in Christian County.

Charles Wayne Bussell had spent 13 years on Kentucky's death row before a judge overturned his conviction in 2005 because of prosecutorial misconduct and an inept defense.

Special prosecutor Tim Coleman, the commonwealth's attorney for Butler, Edmonson, Hancock and Ohio counties, said he would seek to retry Bussell. But he said it was unclear when the trial might be held.

Bussell was convicted in the 1990 bludgeoning and strangling death of Sue Spears Lail, 65, of Hopkinsville, a former college professor for whom Bussell sometimes did odd jobs.

There was no proof directly linking Bussell to the crime -- no DNA, fingerprints or witnesses -- and Bussell has maintained his innocence.

Several neighbors had seen Bussell at Lail's house on the day she is believed to have disappeared.

Special Judge Charles Boteler threw out the conviction in 2005. He ruled that the original prosecutor in the case didn't turn over police reports that could have helped exonerate Bussell and that Bussell's lawyer in that trial, Joel R. Embry III, failed to adequately investigate or question prosecution witnesses.

He also said Embry gave a closing argument in the penalty phase of the trial that reminded him of a mock trial in law school.

Last year the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld Boteler's ruling. It was the 1st time since the death penalty was reinstated that the state's high court upheld a decision to overturn a death sentence based on a claim of ineffective counsel.

Coleman decided earlier this year not to seek the death penalty in the retrial.

Christian County Circuit Judge Andrew C. Self declared a mistrial in the case Tuesday when the jury deadlocked after deliberating for one day.

Coleman said that he still believes he has a strong case against Bussell but that trying him 18 years after the murder is difficult.

"Memories lapse," he said.

Self will hold a hearing next week to determine if Bussell's current lawyer, Ted Shouse, who is leaving the state Department of Public Advocacy at the end of the month, will continue as Bussell's lawyer.

He's also expected to determine whether to reduce Bussell's $100,000 bond.

Shouse said he plans to seek a change of venue -- a motion Coleman said he may not oppose.

"I'm evaluating it. There was significant publicity before the retrial," Coleman said, adding that the "blow-by-blow coverage" may have made it impossible to find an impartial jury in Christian County.

(source: Courier-Journal)
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