ROCKVILLE, Conn. (AP) — A state judge is expected to rule in the fall on the appeal of a man who was freed from prison in 2010 but returned to custody last year after his murder conviction was reinstated.
Rockville Superior Court Judge Samuel Sferrazza heard 16 days of testimony over four months during the habeas corpus trial of 50-year-old George Gould. The Hartford Courant reports the trial ended Tuesday with Gould testifying that he is innocent.
Gould and co-defendant Ronald Taylor were both sentenced to 80 years in prison for the killing of New Haven grocery owner Eugenio Deleon Vega in 1993. After 16 years behind bars, they were freed in April 2010 after a key witness recanted her testimony. A judge declared them innocent and victims of "manifest injustice."
But the state Supreme Court overturned that ruling in July 2011, saying Gould and Taylor hadn't proved their innocence and ordering a new habeas corpus trial. Gould was sent back to prison last August. Taylor was allowed to remain free while he fought colon cancer, but died in October.
The key issue in the current appeal is whether Gould's lawyer presented enough evidence of his innocence.
A witness, Doreen Stiles, testified at the original trial that she saw Gould enter Deleon's store and heard him arguing with the shopkeeper about opening his safe, then heard a gunshot and saw Gould and Taylor leaving the store.
But Stiles testified before Judge Stanley Fuger Jr. in 2009 that she lied during the trial and wasn't at the murder scene. She said that she was "dopesick" when police interrogated her after the killing, and that a detective told her he would help her buy heroin if she told authorities what happened. Stiles testimony came at the first habeas corpus trial.
Stiles refused to testify during the trial that just ended after consulting a lawyer about the possibility of perjury charges, the Courant reported.
In May, an investigator with the public defender's office, Gerald O'Donnell, was arrested on allegations he pressured and bribed Stiles to recant her testimony.
Information from: The Hartford Courant
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