Local I-Team: Shelby County District Attorney Has Another Conviction Overturned

MEMPHIS, Tenn (localmemphis.com) - Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich is once again at the center of a murder conviction being overturned.

This time, the case in question isn't even in Shelby County.

The double murder happened in Lake County, Tennessee 115 miles north of Memphis.

The State Appeals Court calls the interference in the case inexplicable and improper.

According to the court decision, the pressure was put on a Memphis Police Lieutenant not to testify for the defense.

The court just ruled that Joshua Bargery will get a new trial. After being convicted of murdering an elderly couple 6 years ago.

The court cited prosecutorial misconduct as one of the reasons. In its ruling, the court says Weirich called then Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong after receiving a call from the Lake County District Attorney.  The call was about an MPD police lieutenant being an expert witness in the Bargery case.

Lt. Anthony Carter worked a second job as a private investigator and was going to testify for the defense about gang activity in West Tennessee.

After Weirich called Armstrong, the court ruling says several MPD commanders put pressure on Carter not to testify.

The appeals court found there was no valid reason for the Shelby County prosecutor to get involved and the behavior interfered with the case and violated Bargery's constitutional rights.

Two well-known criminal defense attorneys weighed in on the court's ruling:

"Certainly, if there is evidence that a lawyer on either side is putting pressure on someone to testify or not or say something or not say something that's very problematic," said Blake Ballin, a lawyer.

"If this had happened in reverse and the defense bar got caught doing this there would probably be criminal charges filed," said Claiborne Ferguson, a lawyer.

Earlier this year, a Harvard Law School project ranked Weirich the highest in Tennessee for prosecutorial misconduct, citing three cases in recent years.

One of those cases was the Noura Jackson case. Weirich was reprimanded by a state board Jackson’s murder conviction for the death of her mother was overturned.  The board found Weirich made inappropriate comments during closing arguments and failed to turn over a key witness statement.

 

As for the Bargery case, in a statement, DA Weirich said she simply made the Memphis Police Director aware one of his officers was going to testify but that she never talked to the officer.


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