ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Glennallen man convicted of murder claims his consitutional right were violated during his trial. Derek Sawyer's attorney told the Alaska Court of Appeals that his children should have been allowed to testify as character witnesses.
In 1997, Sawyer blamed his wife's death on his toddler, saying the 2-year-old got hold of his gun and accidentally shot and killed the boy's mother. It took 10 years for charges to be brought against Sawyer.
Sawyer also claims he was not present at a crucial hearing that could have swayed the jury’s decision. But the state says Sawyer waived his right to be present at the hearing. The state's attorney also points out the children's testimony would add nothing of relevance to the case.
“He speaks in his argument how the testimony was uncorroborated, but photos of the victim were admitted and photos of the happy family were admitted, and he was able to testify about his parenting of the children,” said state attorney Tamara de Lucia.
“Nobody else is in a position other than the children to testify convincingly in this way -- who else is left to the defense?” said Christine Schleuss, Sawyer’s attorney.
The Court of Appeals is now considering the arguments. It's unclear how long it will take for a decision to be made.
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