A judge denied a request Wednesday to dismiss the case against an Oklahoma City man whose murder conviction was overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct.
Jurors convicted Billy Michael Thompson in March of first-degree murder in the Aug. 17, 2010, stabbing death of Manuel Leon Sanchez, 21.
The panel also convicted Thompson, 26, of assault and battery in the stabbing of Maxwell M. McIntyre, 19.
Defense attorneys who filed a motion to dismiss the case argued that subjecting Thompson to another trial would violate his constitutional right to fairness because two ex-prosecutors knowingly lied to gain a conviction.
“They knew Mr. Thompson had a shot to walk out of here … that his self-defense claim had merit,” Shea Smith, Oklahoma County assistant public defender, told District Judge Donald L. Deason.
Deason denied the request, saying the remedy “is to have a new trial.”
The judge vacated the conviction and set a new trial date after prosecutors in the case were found to have withheld critical evidence from Thompson's attorneys.
Assistant District Attorneys Pam Kimbrough and Stephanie Miller were fired by their boss, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, after Prater learned they withheld a witness statement that could have been favorable to Thompson's case.
Prater declined to comment Wednesday, but has said he doesn't think his office should be barred from retrying the case because of the actions of Kimbrough and Miller.
McIntyre testified during the trial that he and Sanchez left the house after an altercation and were walking up the street when Thompson came up behind them and stabbed them.
Kimbrough and Miller were accused of withholding a statement made by witness Jose Padilla that was “inconsistent” with what he previously told police about where the killing took place.
Padilla told investigators after the trial the stabbings occurred in the driveway of Thompson's house, which would have supported Thompson's self-defense claim, his attorneys contend.
“If this stabbing happened in the driveway, then it changes our argument,” Smith told the judge.
Thompson's attorneys said they will appeal the ruling to the state Court of Criminal Appeals, which could delay their client's Dec. 10 trial date.
Sanchez's stepgrandmother, flanked by the victim's mother and aunt, said she was pleased with the ruling.
“The only thing we're wanting is justice for Manuel,” said Tilda Scott-Harjo.