Ruling Expected In Next Sixty
Days In Claude Russell Murder Case
Circuit Judge Woody Woodall says he will decide within the next 60 days whether to dismiss the indictment of Claude Russell for the murder of Chantel Humphries. Judge Woodall says he has begun reviewing motions from Defense Attorney John Stewart and Special Prosecutor Tim Coleman, with no other hearings in the 12 year old case to be held.
According to court records Stewart cites argues that the case against Russell should be dismissed because Russell's rights to due process of law and a fair trial were voilated. Stewart claims the Commonwealth knowingly witheld favorable evidence and denied the existence of evidence in the hands of it's agents.
Stewart also alleges that the Commonwealth shut down communications with Trigg County Sheriff Ray Burnam who tried numerous times to share relevant evidence about an alternate suspect and other details from the Sheriff's investigation. Stewart claims no new evidence, other than a time-line, was introduced from the time the original indictment was dropped in 2003 during a special session of the Trigg County Grand Jury, until a new murder indictment was handed down in 2011.
Special Prosecutor Tim Coleman says the motion to dismiss the charges against Russell should be denied. Coleman claims there was no violation of Russell's rights because Brady versus Maryland only applies to discovery evidence found after a conviction that the Commonwealth failed to introduce.
Coleman also says that a discovery violation does not justify setting aside a trial, unless the evidence would have likely resulted in a different outcome. And, Coleman says the declaration of a mistrial by the court does not mean a second trial would subject Russell to be unfairly tried a second time on a murder charge.
Russell is charged with the June 2002 shooting death of Chantell Humphries. Her body was located in a field off Barefield Road in Trigg County. Russell was tried for murder in August and September of 2012, with a mistrial declared after the jury could not reach a verdict.
Commonwealth Attorney G. L. Ovey filed a motion requesting a second trail, but decided to step down from the case after testimony in Trigg Circuit court in 2012 by Sheriff Ray Burnam that accused Ovey of not disclosing all of the evidence.