Attorneys for Tim Masters on Thursday accused Adams County special prosecutors of delaying justice by trying "to protect" the original prosecutors who sent Masters to prison for Peggy Hettrick's murder.
The complaint was folded into a motion asking a judge to immediately set aside Masters' conviction in light of the special prosecutors' acknowledgment that Larimer County prosecutors violated discovery rules prior to his 1999 trial.
On Wednesday, Adams County District Attorney Don Quick revealed in a court motion that the original prosecutors should have given Masters' defense team four sets of evidence, including documented expert opinions on the surgical nature of the wounds and criticisms of the psychological theory used to implicate Masters.
But Quick's motion — legally referred to as "stipulations" for consideration by Masters' new attorneys and the judge — also stated that the evidence, in the custody of Fort Collins police, was not made available to the Larimer DA's office. Quick's team wants to put the prosecutors on the stand to testify this month as part of ongoing hearings linked to Masters' bid for a new trial.
But Masters attorneys David Wymore and Maria Liu argue in their new motion that the special prosecutors are clouding legal issues. Discovery law mandates that prosecutors have a duty to turn over all evidence in the possession of their investigators, regardless of whether they physically had it.
"Tim Masters should not be required to spend another day in prison because the present prosecutors endeavor to protect the trial prosecutors in ways that have nothing to do with whether Tim Masters should be granted relief."
The assertion that trial prosecutors never obtained much of the evidence also is without "factual basis," the defense attorneys say.
Quick said Thursday the key legal question now is whether the discovery violations were so material that if they had been provided, there would have been a reasonable probability of a different trial outcome.
"An informed and responsible answer to this question of materiality can only be made knowing all the facts — not just the defense version," he said.
It is unlikely the defense's motion will be heard quickly because Larimer County District Court is short on space and court reporters. The hearings are set to resume Jan. 22.
The Denver Post