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Stenson Dissent

Stenson Dissent

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Published by levipulkkinen7372
The dissenting opinion issued Thursday, May 10, 2012 by Justice James M. Johnson of the Washington Supreme Court after an eight-judge majority found death row inmate Darold Stenson is due a new trial in the 1993 slayings of his wife and a business partner.
The dissenting opinion issued Thursday, May 10, 2012 by Justice James M. Johnson of the Washington Supreme Court after an eight-judge majority found death row inmate Darold Stenson is due a new trial in the 1993 slayings of his wife and a business partner.

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Published by: levipulkkinen7372 on May 10, 2012
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05/10/2012

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 In re Pers. Restraint of Stenson
, No. 83606-0Dissent by J.M. Johnson, J.
1
 Brady v. Maryland 
, 373U.S. 83, 83 S. Ct. 1194, 10 L. Ed. 2d 215 (1963).
No. 83606-0J.M. JOHNSON, J.(dissenting)—I respectfully disagree withthemajority opinion in this case and would deny Darold Stenson’s fifth and sixthpersonal restraint petitions. A jury heard weeks of testimony and in 1994unanimously found Stenson guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of theaggravated murder of his wife and business partner. This court has reviewedand affirmed both guilt and sentence over the intervening 18 years. The trial judge, Judge Williams, on two separate remandsfrom this court, held that thealleged nondisclosed
 Brady
1
evidence here did not meet the requirement of prejudice. Based on these findings, we must conclude that the elementsof the
 Brady
test are not met. Accordingly, we should deny Stenson’s fifth andsixth personal restraint petitions and uphold his conviction. The interestsof finality in justice to provide peace for the families of Stenson’s victimsargue
 
 In re Pers. Restraint of Stenson
, No. 83606-0-2-
for the same result.Thus, I dissent.A.Totality of EvidenceThe majority opinion fails to consider the totality of evidence beforethe jury and exaggeratesthe potential prejudice of a late-discovered photo of Stenson’s pants with the right pocket pulled out,where some gunshot residue(GSR)evidence was found.In March 1993, Stenson had arranged for both victims to be at hishome at 3:30 a.m. Shortly after the murders, Stenson made a 911 callsuggesting that his business partner, Frank Hoerner,murdered Stenson’s wifeand then committed suicide. However, thataccount was quickly proven false(and there has never been another viable suspect). The evidence indicatedthat the murder gun was placed on Hoerner’s hand after his death. Theevidence at trial also established that Hoerner “had been beaten unconscious,dragged into the [Stenson] house from the gravel driveway . . . where he wasshot in the head at close range.”
State v. Stenson
, 132 Wn.2d 688, 679, 940P.2d 1239 (1997). Stenson owed Hoerner $50,000that he could not pay.Further, Stensonhad insured his wife for more than $400,000. She was thesecond victim. These two crimes solveStenson’s financial problems, a
 
 In re Pers. Restraint of Stenson
, No. 83606-0-3-
powerful motive.The weapon used to beat Hoerner unconscious outside before he wasdragged inside and shot was consistent with a missing set of nunchakusticksthat were displayed on the wall of Stenson’s office. Investigation alsouncovered Hoerner’s blood in the driveway and laundry room and Stenson’sbloody fingerprint on the freezer inside the house. There was blood splatteron Stenson’s pants. Some of the blood spatter fit Hoerner’s blood profile andcould only have been deposited before Hoerner came to his final restingplace. This evidence flatly contradictedStenson’s claim to the jury thatHoerner went voluntarily into the house to use the restroom.Moreover, the reliability of the GSR evidence tangentially challengedhere had already been impeached before the jury with other evidence(Stenson had been restrained in the back of a sheriff’s car that had been usedby gun carrying officers). In light of all these considerations, the “new”question with respect to the GSR evidence cannot meet the
 Brady
requirement of prejudice. The trial court decision of a sworn jury and twoseparate reviews by Judge Williams should be upheld.B.Overwhelming Blood Spatter and Other Evidence

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