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Published On: Wed, Mar 1st, 2017

Appeals Court Hearing Underway for 1994 Thibodeau Case

An Appeals Court hearing took place today in Rochester, New York for the 1994 case involving the kidnapping of Heidi Allen. Four appellate judges heard arguments in the case in Gary Thibodeau’s appeal.

Five judges were scheduled to hear the arguments, but one judge recused himself.

The appeals hearing comes after a lengthy hearing before the Oswego County Judge Daniel King, who decided not to give Thibodeau a new trial. But the appeals court in Rochester decided last summer to give the case another look.

“There are questions of law or fact which ought to be reviewed by this court,” wrote Judge Gerald Whalen in an order last July.

Thibodeau’s lawyer had 15 minutes to make arguments on behalf of her client. Gregory Oakes, Oswego County District Attorney, was also given 15 minutes for arguments.

gavel court scales justice ruling

photo via Pixabay user Succo

Gary Thibodeau is serving a prison sentence of 25 years to life for the kidnapping and alleged killing of Heidi Allen.

Thibodeau has been serving his sentence for more than two decades, and has maintained his innocence. Heidi Allen’s body has not been found.

Thibodeau’s lawyers argued that his kidnapping conviction should be overturned due to new evidence that implicated three men – Roger Breckenridge, James Steen and Michael Bohrer – in 1994. His lawyers also argued that prosecutors withheld evidence that may have benefited the defense prior to the trial in 1995.

William Pierce, a witness that came forward two years ago, stated that he saw James Steen force a woman into a van the same day Allen was kidnapped. Pierce initially though the kidnapper was Thibodeau, but says he realized it was Steen after seeing a photo of him in The Post-Standard.

The defense argued that Allen’s status as an informant was compromised two years before she was kidnapped, after a deputy dropped an index card with her photo in the parking lot of the store she was working in.

Both sides made their arguments over half an hour on Monday. DA Gary Oakes argued the appeals court upheld the 1999 conviction, and acting Judge Daniel King denied Thibodeau’s request for a new trial after carefully evaluating the evidence at a 2015 hearing.

The justices who heard the case will decide if the conviction should be overturned, or if Oswego County Judge Daniel King’s decision not to give grant a new trial was the correct decision. Four judges will decide the case. If there is a tie, the case will be reargued, Oakes said.

The court is not expected to make a decision for six to eight weeks.

Author: Jacob Maslow

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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