Witness In Peggy Hettrick Murder Case May Testify Against Police
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) – A key prosecution witness against a Colorado man whose murder conviction was overturned now might testify against a police detective accused of lying during the trial.
Criminal psychologist Reid Meloy, who testified in 1999 about Timothy Masters’ violent writings and drawings, says in an affidavit that he wouldn’t have testified against Masters if police had given him all the information, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald. He says in the affidavit that he believes Fort Collins police Lt. Jim Broderick and prosecutors deliberately withheld evidence.
Masters’ conviction for Peggy Hettrick’s 1987 murder was overturned in 2008 after new DNA evidence was presented. He was released from prison after serving nearly a decade.
The fallout from the unraveling of the case included Broderick’s indictment on perjury charges. He has pleaded not guilty to the seven counts stemming from his investigation of Masters and his testimony during the trial.
Broderick’s attorneys contend the statute of limitations has run out on the perjury charges and want the case dismissed. Weld County District Judge James Hartmann said during a hearing Monday that he would consider the motion.
Prosecutors want Meloy’s statements about Broderick heard during the perjury trial. Meloy said in a recent court filing that he believes Broderick and the attorneys who prosecuted Masters withheld evidence “with the intent of ensuring Mr. Masters’ arrest and conviction for the Hettrick murder, regardless of whether the evidence as a whole supported finding of his guilt.”
Broderick’s attorney, Patrick Tooley, hasn’t filed a written response to Meloy’s statement be presented and declined to comment on it.
“I really think the case needs to be tried in the courtroom,” Tooley said.
Broderick investigated the stabbing death of 37-year-old Hettrick, whose body was found not far from Masters’ home.
Masters, who was 15 when Hettrick died, had walked by her body but didn’t immediately tell police. He was convicted in 1999 of killing her despite a lack of physical evidence, with prosecutors presenting testimony from Meloy.
Fort Collins and Larimer County agreed to pay Masters a total of $10 million to settle lawsuits alleging officials ignored, withheld or destroyed evidence pointing to his innocence. City officials said they believe the authorities but that settling the case was a business decision.
In November, voters ousted two judges who were the prosecutors in the Masters’ case. The former prosecutors, Terry Gilmore and Jolene Blair, were censured in 2008 by the Colorado Supreme Court for failing to turn over information to Masters’ attorneys. The two have defended their handling of the case.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)