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Lawsuit filed in wrongful murder conviction

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Posted: Friday, December 27, 2013 12:51 pm

Another lawsuit has been filed against Stone County and several Stone County Sheriff’s Office personnel by a man who was wrongly convicted of the 2006 murder of a Hurley man.

The case was filed Nov. 27 on behalf of plaintiff Zackary Stewart, who was wrongly convicted and imprisoned along with Leo Connelly for the murder of David Dulin on Nov. 29, 2006, according to the complaint.

The complaint states detectives Karl Wagner and Orville Choate, former Stone County Sheriff Richard Hill, Stone County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Selby and Stone County Chief Deputy Tim Gideon were in violation and deprivation of Stewart’s constitutional rights, abused police and arrest powers, failed to investigate or reopen an underlying investigation and failed to take significant steps to prevent a known risk of wrongful arrest, prosecution and imprisonment.

Stewart was convicted by a Greene County jury in 2008 for Dulin’s murder and sentenced to life in prison in Licking without possibility of parole. The complaint alleges the evidence and investigation into the crime was poor, evidence was ignored, leads were not explored, and questionable and “manufactured” testimony was taken into account in the case.

Stewart’s first-degree murder conviction was reversed May 25, 2010, by the Missouri Supreme Court and it ruled substantial evidence existed to link Tim Seamen and John Mills to the murder.

Stewart’s conviction was reversed, but he was transferred back to Greene County Jail and remained in custody, court documents state. Stewart was scheduled to be tried for second-degree murder and wasn’t released until December 2010 when all charges were dropped by Stone County, the complaint states.

After Stewart was released, Mills admitted to the murder and agreed to be a witness to the state against Seamen. Seamen pleaded guilty to second-degree murder March 23, 2012.

Stewart is seeking damages against the defendants for “malicious prosecution, false arrest, use of unreliable and fraudulent investigatory techniques, procurement of unreliable and fabricated evidence, concealing material evidence, and wrongful conviction and imprisonment; suppression of exculpatory evidence; violative policies, practices, patterns and procedures; claim for common law negligence resulting in wrongful incarceration and continued detention; claim under Missouri common law for false arrest; claim under Missouri law for malicious prosecution; and claim for civil conspiracy.”

The complaint demands a jury trial for the plaintiff.

To see the full complaint, view the attached PDF.

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