AP NEWS

Man seeking new trial in 2007 murder

March 19, 2019

HUNTINGTON - A Huntington defense attorney is seeking a new trial for a man sentenced to life without mercy after a jury found he killed a man over a lost dice game in Huntington in 2007.

Quinton Peterson, 36, had been convicted in the shooting death of Phillip “Slim” Sirmons in Huntington. Police found Sirmons’ body in an alley between the 1600 blocks of Doulton and 11th avenues, behind the former Simms Elementary School.

Witnesses had testified a dice game motivated the attack. They said Peterson had lost several hundred dollars a few days before the shooting and was losing more that day. They testified Peterson shot the victim and then looted money and crack cocaine from the body.

After the shooting, Peterson returned to a Columbus home where a pair of Timberline boots was later confiscated upon his arrest, although it has been disputed whether they belonged to Peterson and were his shoe size. At his trial, a West Virginia state trooper testified boots found at the home were identical with bloody impressions found at the crime scene.

Under West Virginia law, the request for a new trial can only be made directly after the trial or new evidence is discovered. In his motion for a new trial, Todd Meadows argued evidence of witness Donovan Wade stating Peterson had been wearing Air Force Ones on the night of the attack had been withheld from the defense prior to trial. He also argued that prosecutors used their own transcription error to paint Peterson as a liar when he testified at trial.

Arguments in the case were scheduled to take place Friday, but Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred E. Ferguson rescheduled the arguments to April 1.

According to Meadows in a written motion, Wade, who had been at the scene of the killing, had initially told Huntington police Peterson was wearing black Air Force Ones on the night of the slayings, despite the state arguing at trial that a pair of size 8 Timberlines had been identified as leaving marks in blood at the scene.

However, at trial Wade said he did not remember which shoes Peterson had on the night of the killing. Meadows argued Wade had been led by prosecutors to say the shoes had been the Timberlines.

Meadows said Wade’s original statement transcription had been missing in the evidence turned over to Peterson’s original attorneys and would have been cause for a reasonable doubt among jury members. The transcription said Wade’s comment about the shoes was inaudible.

In his argument, Cabell County assistant prosecutor Ryan Hamady said Wade’s original statement had been made available to Peterson’s original attorneys as an audio file before the trial took place and the defense attorney “had every opportunity to listen to the recording and decide if he wanted the jury to interpret what Wade said on the recording.” Hamady said although Wade indicated he had not remembered the shoes Peterson had been wearing, defense could have given him a chance to listen to the clip of his original interview to refresh his memory.

In addition, a transcription error had also shown Wade as saying a man named “Malcolm” had been in the alley the night of the death.

Meadows argued Peterson had used the inaccurate transcript when discussing Wade’s interview with police when testifying at trial. The prosecution in turn used his mention of “Malcom” to discredit his testimony and make him appear to be a liar to the jury by using its own error against the defendant, Meadows said.

Peterson’s conviction had previously been appealed on different grounds to the West Virginia Supreme Court by Meadows and Connor Robertson in 2017, but the judges ruled against them in a 4 to 1 ruling.

Peterson has also filed on his own an appeal with the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to have his conviction overturned.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.