Charles Birdshead, serving a 45-year-prison sentence for a 2013 fatal shooting in Rapid City, on Monday lost one bid in court for a new trial.
But a conflict between what the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled and what happened in Birdshead's July 2013 trial may open the possibility that Circuit Judge Wally Eklund could still order a new trial.
Birdshead was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in the killing of a man in a drug deal gone bad outside the South Dakota Rose Inn.
His defense attorney, Jamy Patterson, argued in court on Monday that Birdshead deserved a new trial because Eklund was supposed to review records of prospective witnesses, some of whom were suspected of being involved in drug crimes.
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The state Supreme Court ruled that Eklund had reviewed the records, but had not explained to Patterson why she was not allowed to see them.
But Eklund, in a December letter, said he had never received those records for review records. "(F)ailure of this court in ensuring it had review the ... records prior to Birdshead's trial violated ... the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution," Patterson argued in her motion for a new trial.
Ecklund said in court on Monday that he now will review the records and issue an opinion, opening the possibility of a new trial.
Patterson also asked for a new trial based on new evidence, saying that a witness in the trial had committed perjury. After court, she said she was "frustrated" that Eklund had denied her motions "without any process," such as an evidentiary hearing.