Christa Pike is back in court again! Apr 8, 2008 23:00:00 GMT -5
Post by tennessegirl23 on Apr 8, 2008 23:00:00 GMT -5
J. Miles Cary
Convicted killer Christa Gail Pike's sits in court as her defense team continuing bid for a new trial continued this morning with testimony from one of her former defense lawyers.
Convicted killer Christa Gail Pike's continuing bid for a new trial continued this morning with testimony from one of her former defense lawyers.
Attorney Julie Ann Martin Rice, who served as co-counsel with Knoxville attorney Bill Talman, was questioned for about two hours by post-conviction defender Donald Dawson.
While being questioned by Dawson about defense strategy during the intial trial, Rice responded mainly that she couldn't recall that far back.
Knox County Criminal Court Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz adjourned the hearing so Rice could review the 1996 trial.
Leibowitz said testimony will resume this afternoon. She said the hearing is expected to last about three days.
Pike is attempting to overturn her death sentence, and today's proceeding is a continuation of a hearing that began in December to determine if she was the victim of shoddy defense work when she was tried and convicted in the January 1995 slaying of Colleen Slemmer.
Slemmer, 19, was a fellow student of Pike 's in the now-defunct Job Corps training program in Knoxville and a romantic rival for the affections of Pike 's boyfriend, then-17-year-old Tadaryl D. Shipp.
Trial testimony showed that Pike, Shipp and Shadolla Peterson, then 18 and also a Job Corps student, lured Slemmer to a remote area on the University of Tennessee's agricultural campus and then attacked her. Slemmer was beaten and tortured, a pentagram carved on her chest, before a fatal blow was delivered to her skull by a rock.
Pike took a piece of the skull as a souvenir.
Peterson turned informant and walked away with probation. Shipp was sentenced to life in prison since state law bars
The post-conviction relief hearing is to determine whether Pike received a fair trial when she was convicted and sentenced to death in 1996 in the slaying of Slemmer.
Her case has dragged on for years in large part because Pike tried to withdraw her appeals and then flip-flopped at the last minute, a move that would lead to a landmark state Supreme Court ruling and a fresh round of appeals before Leibowitz.
In a bid to earn a new trial, Pike 's post-conviction defense team is trying to convince the judge, among other things, that her trial defenders failed to show Pike allegedly suffers from bipolar disorder.
She apparently is now being medicated for that condition. At the December hearing, Pike rested her head on the defense table and seemed largely unfocused and unconcerned about what was going on around her.
Leibowitz, who delayed the hearing until today, took note.
"By April, my question is should (her medication) be helping Ms. Pike?" Leibowitz asked.
"The important thing for us is that Ms. Pike be able to participate fully," Dawson responded in December. "Right now, she's sort of good for an hour and then not."
Leibowitz was forced to delay Pike 's last-ditch appeal after defense team member Catherine Brockenborough bowed out of the case at that hearing, citing "problems" with her law practice.
More details as they develop online and in Tuesday's News Sentinel.
Staff writer Jamie Satterfield contributed to this story.