Larry Gapen, on death row for killing three people in 2000, wants a new trial based on several claims that include allegations of juror misconduct.
A hearing on his request, which began Friday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, is to continue Oct. 10, Sharon Hicks, an assistant federal public defender and lead counsel for Gapen, said.
Gapen, 66, was convicted in 2001 of using an ax to fatally beat his former wife, Martha Madewell, her companion Nathan Marshall and her 13-year old daughter Jesica Young in September 2000.The slayings occurred in their Pleasant Hill Drive home.
The jury recommended death for Gapen in Young's killing and life without parole in the other slayings.
Hicks, in a prepared statement, said, "We're disturbed by evidence this court was unaware of and we're here to bring it to the court's attention."
According to the court filing asking for a new trial, Gapen's defense team claims:
- A juror emailed the trial judge prior to sentencing that was never disclosed to defense counsel.
- Another juror revealed during an interview with Gapen's lawyers in December 2011 that "an extremely violent crime had taken place on his property prior to his service as a juror, and the crime was similar in many respects to the charges Gapen faced at trial." Gapen's original post-conviction lawyer interviewed that juror, but the juror "apparently failed to divulge the information at that time" or during the selection of the jury in the guilt/innocence phase of trial.
- That second juror claimed the jury, during its deliberations, was in possession of evidence that had not been admitted at trial and that it influenced the verdict. One of the jurors "was biased against anything other than a death sentence before the penalty phase" of trial.
The Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office continues to oppose the hearing, arguing in its filings that there was no indication Gapen did anything to discover the information his counsel said they obtained from the jurors in question before December 2011.