NORMAN — The grandmother of a 10-year-old Purcell girl who was murdered in 2006 said she hopes the child won't be forgotten "among all the legalities."
Rose Fox said arguments over whether Jamie Rose Bolin's killer should get a new trial "is just nitpicking."
The child's mother, Jennifer Fox, and Rose Fox were among spectators Tuesday in an OU College of Law courtroom as a defense attorney for convicted killer Kevin Underwood, 31, argued before state appeals court judges that a juror failed to disclose that he previously had been involved in other court cases.
If defense attorneys had known that he withheld information, he probably would not have been chosen as a juror, said attorney William Luker.
"The defendant is entitled to 12 impartial jurors, not 11," Luker argued.
Underwood, who was the girl's neighbor, was convicted and sentenced to die in 2008 for Bolin's death. Luker argued his client was entitled to a new trial or at least an evidentiary hearing to show that mistakes were made in the trial.
Jennifer Dicksen, prosecutor from the state attorney general's office, argued a juror did not intentionally withhold information about being involved in past court action and that the information, even if disclosed, would not have indicated bias on the juror's part.
Dicksen also countered arguments from Luker that certain incriminating statements made by Underwood were coerced and that he was not properly read his rights before an investigator asked him about Bolin's whereabouts.
Underwood admitted to investigators he lured the child into his apartment, hit her over the head with a cutting board, suffocated her, sexually assaulted her and tried to cut off her head with a decorative dagger before hiding her body in a trunk.
Dicksen said investigators asked Underwood if they could look in a trunk in his apartment and that when he agreed, one of them opened it and saw a shirt belonging to Bolin.
The investigator then asked Underwood where the child was because he was concerned about her safety, Dicksen argued.
Luker said the investigator, after seeing the shirt, must have known the body was hidden in the trunk and should have stopped and read Underwood his rights before asking about Bolin's whereabouts.
"He just saw the girl's shirt, which prompted a question about where she might be. Not for one second did he think she was in the trunk," Dicksen said.
Luker also asked appeals judges to rule that incriminating statements Underwood made while waiting to be formally questioned in Bolin's death were made under duress.
Underwood was sitting in an outer office waiting to be interrogated when he "spontaneously started talking," Dicksen said. "He initiated the conversation. He was not coerced."
The appeals judges gave attorneys 15 days in which to submit case law in support of their arguments.
Jennifer Fox, Jamie's mother, said the hearing was upsetting because she heard details about her daughter's death that she hadn't known.
Her family shielded her during the trial, Rose Fox said, "so some of the things they talked about today she was hearing for the first time."
Jamie Bolin was named after her grandmother and also after her grandfather James, Rose Fox said.
"She was a treasured member of our family. We don't want her forgotten," the grandmother said.