A Deer Park man accused of murdering a witness in an assault case against him will avoid the death penalty because of prosecutors mismanaged the case, a judge ruled today.
Spokane County prosecutors failed to disclose for months pertinent statements from suspect Christopher H. Devlin’s alleged accomplice that raise questions about where the slaying occurred.
Although a legal technicality, the statements from co-defendant Carl A. Hoskins that the victim, 52-year-old Daniel D. Heily of Chattaroy, was killed in Stevens County instead of Spokane County are critical to the question of proper jurisdiction.
Devlin’s defense lawyers weren’t told of the discrepancy until months after he requested to move his case to Stevens County.
Meanwhile, the county spent tens of thousands of dollars on defense lawyers qualified for death penalty cases, and a legal debate raged over the proper county to hold the expensive trial.
Hoskin’s statements about the location of the murder could have been used to support Devlin’s change-of-venue request, lawyers Mark Vovos, of Spokane, and Roger Hunko, of Yakima, argued.
Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque agreed, ruling this morning that the mismanagement by prosecutors was inadvertent but affected Devlin’s right to a fair trial. Devlin’s trial is set for July 19.
Prosecutors are expecting to to take longer because Vovos, a longtime trial lawyer, is involved.
“Normally, I would say 1 to 2(weeks),” said Larry Steinmetz. “With Mr. Vovos, I would say 3 to 4.”
Read the rest of my story: No death penalty in Deer Park case
Read a declaration from John Rodgers, director of the Spokane County Public Defender’s Office, here.
Past coverage: County balks at case transfer