The FAQ: The Murder of Anastasia WitbolsFeugen
What appeals has Byron Case made since being sentenced?
Since his conviction for murder more than a decade ago, Byron Case has filed three appeals, all without success, his last petition denied by the Supreme Court of the United States. He has now exhausted all of his appeals, and it is pretty much certain that he will remain in prison for the rest of his life.
Case filed a motion for a new trial on May 22, 2002 and his motion was denied on June 28, 2002, the day of his sentencing. He also made a verbal appeal that day,1accusing the judge in his trial of having slept through much of the proceedings, but that appeal was rejected out of hand, as he offered no corroboration of his accusation.2
His appeals to higher courts were as follows:Top of page
According to the Office of the Missouri Attorney-General, Case has now exhausted all of his appeals.
- Case filed his first appeal on May 7, 2003 with the Missouri Court of Appeals (Western District). In it, he argued that his rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments had been violated.
He argued that allowing a tacit admission was allowing hearsay evidence, he further argued that his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination was violated when police used his ex-girlfriend to elicit the tacit admission.
The Appellate Court denied his appeal on April 13, 2004.3 It dismissed his Fifth Amendment argument,4 as he was not under any legal compulsion to incriminate himself at the time of his tacit admission. As noted in his brief, police might have had probable cause to arrest him before June 2001, but the court responded that there "is no constitutional right to be arrested" and that police "are under no constitutional duty to call a halt to a criminal investigation the moment they have the minimum evidence to establish probable cause."
Case also argued that "all of the state's evidence rested on the contradictory and uncorroborated testimony" of a single eyewitness, which the Court noted to be untrue.5 The Court pointed out that Kelly Moffett's testimony was not the sole basis upon which he was convicted, and that most of the inconsistencies he pointed out were:On August 24, 2004, The Missouri Supreme Court declined to review the Appellate Court's decision.
- from her original statements to police, when she was supporting his alibi (statements which she repudiated);
- inconsistent on minor points (e.g., how far away Anastasia's killer was standing from her when he fired);
- statements contradicted only by defense witnesses, which is an issue left to the jury to determine credibility.
- Case filed his second appeal on November 8, 2005 in Missouri 16th Circuit Court (where he had been convicted), an appeal arguing that he had receieved ineffective counsel (known as a "Rule 29.15" motion in the Missouri court system). His motion was denied October 7, 2005 on a number of grounds.6 His arguments on this topic are documented in another FAQ section7
Case appealed this ruling in 2006, with the same arguments and counter-arguments. A response from the prosecutor was filed in early 2007, and on February 26, 2008, the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District issued its decision affirming the lower court's ruling.8 His attorney quickly filed a motion for rehearing with the Missouri Supreme Court, which was rejected without comment on April 29, 2008.
- Case filed an habeas corpus appeal in the United States Court of Appeals 8th Circuit, which was rejected on February 26, 2010, with a rehearing denied on April 6, 2010.
Acting as his own attorney, he filed a petition before the Supreme Court of the United States on July 1, 2010 for a writ of certiorari. His petition was denied without comment by SCOTUS on October 4, 2010; a petition for rehearing was filed nine days later, and was likewise denied on Novemer 15, 2010.9
In October 2011, Case filed a petition with the Office of the Governor of Missouri for an "absolute pardon".10 Action on that petition is still pending after three years, though it should be noted that Jay Nixon, current Governor of the state, has NEVER in his term of office pardoned a felon currently serving a sentence. It should also be noted that the statistical probability of gaining such a pardon, considering Case's petition to be an average one, is much less than one percent (1%), and that Case's situation (convicted of First Degree Murder, turned down by all appeals, turned down without comment by SCOTUS) makes his chances of succeeding even more infinitesimal. As stated before, he will remain in prison for the rest of his life.
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