Todd Newmiller has begun a legal process meant to reverse his conviction in the slaying of Anthony Madril during a street fight more than two years ago.
Newmiller's opening brief in the state Court of Appeals argues he was "denied his right to a fair trial" and alleges his case was marred by mishandled evidence, prosecutorial misconduct and court errors.
Newmiller's attorney, Blain D. Myhre, asks the appeals court to dismiss the case or order a new trial.
Newmiller, 33, has maintained his innocence in the Nov. 20, 2004 stabbing of Madril on Conrad Street. The stabbing followed a confrontation between Newmiller's friends and Madril's over comments made to a dancer at a nearby strip club.
None of the six other men present that night saw Newmiller in contact with Madril on the dark street. Instead, their accounts indicated that Brad Orgill, a business associate of Newmiller's who agreed to testify in a deal to keep him out of prison fought with Madril just prior to the 22-year-old Ramah man's death.
Yet prosecutors convinced a jury in March 2006 that Newmiller had a moment to stab Madril. Judge Gilbert Martinez sentenced Newmiller to 31 years in state prison for second-degree murder.
The appeal questions proceedings, including a ruling by Martinez that Newmiller's defense was not harmed by possible mishandling of evidence, specifically his knife. Prosecutors claimed the knife was the murder weapon, citing trace amounts of Madril's blood on a 3-inch blade consistent with Madril's fatal wound.
El Paso County detectives initially identified a black substance on the blade and sent the knife to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for analysis. Yet when the knife was tested, the substance was missing.
That "troubled" Martinez in a pre-trial hearing. But the judge, unable to determine when and how the knife changed, still ruled Newmiller's constitutional rights were not violated, as defense lawyers argued.
Myhre argues the judge should have ruled otherwise. The missing debris, he writes, was "destruction of evidence" that violated his due process, warranting a reversal of the guilty verdict.
Without the debris intact, Myhre argues, the defense had trouble arguing that Madril's blood could have been transferred to the blade after the incident, like when he showed the knife to Orgill later that morning.
The substance, he adds, actually might have been tire debris, since Newmiller has admitted using the knife to puncture a tire of the truck in which Madril rode (csindy.com/csindy/2007-02-01/cover.html).
The appeal also states that prosecutors failed to give Newmiller's attorneys police reports containing "key witness interviews" until after the trial began and several witnesses had already testified.
The District Attorney's Office did not return a call. Orgill could not be reached.
Newmiller's father, Bill Newmiller, a former Air Force pilot and FBI employee, believes the criminal-justice system failed.
"There are important issues revealed in Todd's case about the system as a whole," he says, adding that he feels prosecutors pushed for a conviction instead of the truth.
Attorney General John Suthers' office is expected to file the state's first paperwork early next week.