Alabama court reverses death sentence
Birmingham News                                                                                                                        December 07, 2001

    An inmate who has been on death row nearly 16 years got his conviction reversed last Friday by a state appeals court because the prosecution withheld several pieces of evidence before his trial. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that James Lewis Martin Jr. must get a new trial for the robbery and shooting death of Allen Powell in Montgomery in
1985. "The verdict here was so tainted by the prosecutorial nondisclosure of material evidence that it was not 'worthy of confidence.' Martin was not convicted or sentenced in accordance with fundamental due process," Democratic Judge Sue Bell Cobb wrote.

    Martin, 40, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in February 1986 for killing Powell and stealing his wallet while Powell was test driving a vehicle in a new subdivision where homes were under construction. Martin came within 3 days of being executed in 1990 before the Alabama Supreme Court delayed his case so he could pursue additional appeals.
 The criminal appeals court said several key pieces of evidence were withheld from Martin's defense lawyer, including that a key witness gave police a statement while under hypnosis and that another witness had tentatively identified a different person in a police lineup.  "They would have had a difficult time trying this case 16 years ago if this evidence had been revealed," said
defense attorney Ken Rose, director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham, N.C.


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