"Federal judge sets two-week hearing for Dale Wayne Eaton," is Ben Neary's report for Associated Press. It's via the Casper Star-Tribune and is also available via the San Francisco Chronicle.
A federal judge has scheduled a two-week hearing on claims by Wyoming’s lone death row inmate that he didn’t get a fair trial before a state court jury sentenced him to death nearly 10 years ago.
Lawyers representing inmate Dale Wayne Eaton have listed scores of witnesses they intend to call at the hearing, set to start July 30 before U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson in Cheyenne.
Eaton, 68, is challenging in federal court the constitutionality of the 2004 death sentence he received in state court for the 1988 rape and murder of Lisa Marie Kimmell, 18, of Billings, Mont.
Eaton’s lawyers say the witnesses they intend to call will testify about different aspects of Eaton’s trial, criminal history and personal life. The lawyers intend to show that if Eaton’s trial team had painted a more complete portrait of his tortured life, at least one juror might have voted against putting him to death.
In the roughly five years since Eaton asked Johnson to review his case, the judge has whittled the issues in the case down to three basic questions:
- Whether Eaton’s defense team at trial failed to develop a workable attorney-client relationship.
- Whether Eaton’s defense team failed to investigate aspects of Eaton’s life that might persuade the jury to spare him the death penalty.
- And whether Eaton’s lawyers in his state court appeal were more interested in protecting the reputation of the Wyoming Public Defender’s Office than they were in proving that Eaton didn’t get a fair shake at trial.
Earlier coverage from Wyoming is at the link.