Mineola Swingers Get Retrial
POSTED: Thursday, June 17, 2010 - 9:21pm
UPDATED: Monday, December 20, 2010 - 1:20pm
The 14th Court of Appeals in Houston heard the arguments of the first 3 defendents in the so-called Mineola swingers case.
They had all been sentenced to life. Now two of them will get a second chance...
The child sex cases against Shauntel Mayo, Jaimie Pittman and Patrick Kelly, involved an alleged swingers club where children were forced to perform sexual acts with each other for the entertainment of adults.
The evidence was shocking, graphic, and according to the 14th Court of Appeals, mishandled by Judge Jack Skeen and prosecutor Joe Murphy.
The Mineola swingers case was one of the most notorious in our area in years.
The cases produced three trials, three convictions, three life sentences.
Now a Houston appeals court has said, two of them, Kelly and Pittman, must be retried.
And the DA is putting the best possible spin on it.
“They can’t point to anywhere in those proceedings where the appellate court said we withheld evidence, engaged in misconduct,” said DA Matt Bingham.
The bulk of the criticism is of Skeen of the 241st District Court. The rules of evidence used amounted a denial of the defendant’s right to a complete defense, and the ability to confront their accusers.
“In my brief to the court, I raised 43 problems with the evidence in the case, and the Court of Appeals looked at those, and they agreed,” said appellate attorney Wes Volberding.
“I can’t ethically comment on any court, on any decision they make,” Bingham told us. “Only that they are all great lawyers, all fine people.”
Murphy was cited particularly for his closing arguments which violated legal restrictions on what can and can’t be said to a jury.
“In this case,’ Verberding said, “The court held that the prosecutor, a man named Joe Murphy went way outside of that by making improper arguments such as threatening to indict the children if the jurors did not come back with a guilty verdict. Or referencing what happened in other trials, other co-defendents with Patrick Kelly, and the court held that was an improper argument.”
Bingham concluded, “Did Joe Murphy do some things innocently, or in trial strategy that weren’t in accordance with the rules of evidence? He did, but they weren’t dishonest.”
Bingham would not comment on assistant DA Joe Murphy other than to say he made mistakes.
But perhaps more telling is the fact that Murphy will not handle the retrial…Bingham will.