Politics & Government

Lawyers demand mistrial or dismissal over withholding of evidence

A judge on Friday took under submission a request by defense attorneys to either dismiss charges or declare a mistrial in a murder case where the prosecutor was late in turning over a jailhouse statement allegedly made by one of the defendants.

Lawyers for defendants Stacey Ann Perryman and Bryan David Denton demanded the action on grounds that they may have changed their trial strategies had Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall provided them with the statement before the trial began last week.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Russell L. Hom agreed with attorneys Jennifer Mouzis for Perryman and Laurance S. Smith for Denton that Denton’s jailhouse remarks relayed to authorities by a former cellmate were “exculpatory” for both defendants.

Now, Hom said, he must decide if they are “material” to the two defendants and whether Kindall violated laws that require prosecutors to turn over all evidence to defense lawyers. Kindall, who was called by Mouzis to testify Friday, said he was authorized to withhold the statement because it would reveal the identity of the informant now in state prison and place him in danger. He also said the new information was similar to another jailhouse informant’s account of Denton’s lockup talk.

Hom said he will rule on the mistrial and dismissal motions when the trial resumes Monday.

Perryman, 45, and Denton, 51, are accused in the May 19, 2012, stabbing death of Stephen Sieck, 60, in his Selby Ranch apartment. The killing took place while the two defendants were in the process of looting his apartment, the prosecution says.

In Perryman’s defense, Mouzis says her client was a prostitute who knew Sieck and whom he had put to work for him in the sex trade to make up for money she owed him. Denton, in his jailhouse statement to the informant that was turned over to the defense lawyers after opening statements last week, said that while he and Perryman were robbing Sieck’s apartment, he attacked the victim “in a burst” because Sieck “turned out my girl,” according to a detective’s account of the informant’s statement.

Mouzis argued Friday that the information proves that there had been no plan to kill Sieck and that her client had no idea what Denton was going to do. Hom said the statement also could help Denton by showing that the killing was “impulsive,” Smith agreed.

Kindall said that under the state’s felony murder rule, both clients are still guilty because the killing took place during the course of a burglary and robbery.