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Midyette’s Appeal Would Set Precedent If She Wins

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Molly Midyette in court in October 2011 (credit: Boulder Daily Camera)

Molly Midyette in court in October 2011 (credit: Boulder Daily Camera)

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – A hearing on a high-profile child abuse case went deep into Friday evening as a mother in Boulder County is fighting for a new trial

Molly and Alex Midyette are both serving 16-year sentences for the death of their infant son, Jason. They were convicted in separate trials in 2007.

Molly Midyette’s appeal would set a precedent if she wins. She is arguing that she was incompetent to assist in her defense because of battered woman syndrome. It’s an argument Colorado courts have never previously addressed. It has been upheld in the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Her attorneys hope that will sway the judge.

Molly Midyette wiped away tears in court on Friday as her mother recalled her husband’s explosive temper. Attorneys claim Alex Midyette was a controlling, abusive husband who manipulated her testimony. Attorneys said Molly Midyette was unable to tell anybody, including her attorney, because of battered woman syndrome.

Former Adams County District Attorney Bob Grant said under Colorado law, that doesn’t mean she was incompetent.

“The law standard says, ‘If you don’t know what’s going on, you can’t assist at all. You can’t even talk to your lawyers.’ That’s the legal standard,” Grant said. “This is trying to break new ground after the fact.”

Molly Midyette’s attorneys are also relying on the opinion of a battered woman expert, Lenore Walker, from Florida. She testified via Skype that Molly Midyette had all the criteria of a battered woman. Walker said the abuse distorted her thinking and she was unable to analyze the case.

Grant said if the argument holds it would have far-reaching ramifications.

“If that’s in fact the case, as a matter of law, then almost every conviction is going to be overturned by somebody saying, ‘I didn’t tell my lawyer things,’ ” Grant said.

Molly Midyette’s attorneys are also arguing she received ineffective council at trial.

The judge can consider the Massachusetts case but is not bound by the decision.

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