Sunday, December 8, 2002

Craven team preps for retrial

Prosecution mum after hung jury in murder case

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEXINGTON - After Friday's hung jury in the six-week complicity-to-murder trial of Edgewood homemaker Adele Craven, all parties in the case are regrouping for the retrial.

The defense attorney is claiming victory and predicting more victory.

The prosecution is not talking.

And though Fayette County jurors voted eight not guilty, three guilty and one undecided, the prosecution still has a chance at retrial, one of Kentucky's experts on criminal law says.

Veteran University of Kentucky law professor William Fortune says the prosecutors must find a jury with sympathetic ears, people who are not afraid to convict based on testimony from someone who talked in exchange for a plea agreement.

"There is always a suspicion of someone who got a deal," said Mr. Fortune, who has taught criminal law and procedure for 20 years and has experience as a defense attorney in the state and federal court systems.

"Some jurors are really reluctant to accept a witness's testimony under those circumstances," said Mr. Fortune, co-author of Psychology and The Legal System and Kentucky Criminal Law.

The backbone of the prosecution's case against Edgewood homemaker Adele Craven in the murder of her husband, Stephen, was the testimony of Russell "Rusty" McIntire.

The 34-year-old Erlanger man took the stand to testify against Ms. Craven, his former lover, in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years. He told the jury that Ms. Craven not only wanted Stephen Craven dead, but she supervised the "hit" carried out by Ronald Scott Pryor, who has already been convicted as the triggerman.

Mr. Craven, a Delta Air Lines pilot, was found beaten and shot to death in the basement of his Edgewood home on July 12, 2000.

Eight jurors were not persuaded by Mr. McIntire's testimony and said they could not be swayed after 15 hours of deliberation.

Mr. Fortune said prosecutors must take into account the high number of jurors siding with the defense when considering trying the case again, but the commonwealth isn't inclined to just drop a murder charge.

Under Kentucky law, the case may be retried, the prosecutors may withdraw the charges or the judge may dismiss the charges.

The prosecution's theory would have to be substantially the same, Mr. Fortune said, adding that witnesses can't deviate in their testimony from trial to trial.

Ms. Craven's co-defense attorney Deanna Dennison has experience trying cases a second time. She made a name for herself by successfully defending Michael Funk. He was ultimately acquitted in 1994 of murdering 7-year-old Jenny Sue Iles of Covington after three trials over a nearly five-year span.

As in the Funk case, she said, she will use the time until the retrial to collect more evidence her client is innocent.

"It's true the prosecution now knows our defense - we have played our cards - but I know the prosecution's strategy too," Ms. Dennison said Saturday.

She believes the case could be retried in Fayette County because it received little coverage by the Lexington media. The case was moved from Covington because of intense pretrial publicity in Cincinnati.

Prosecutors declined to comment, but Ms. Dennison calls the hung jury a victory for her client.

"They will never get a conviction," she said. "The case can't be shown beyond a reasonable doubt. It might be just one person who wants to acquit next time, but that's all we need."

Ms. Dennison said a new trial could be as early as this fall.

In the meantime, Ms. Dennison will ask that bail be set for Ms. Craven, who was been in custody since July 28, 2000.

"I don't believe the judge will grant bail," Ms. Dennison said. "And even if she did, Ms. Craven wouldn't be able to make it. She has no money."

During their 15 hours of deliberation, the jurors - 10 women and two men - asked to review statements from several witnesses, many of which appeared to support the defense.

They also asked the judge to define "reasonable doubt," but the law prohibits her from doing so.

Mr. Fortune said the jury in the first trial of Ms. Craven must have taken reasonable doubt very seriously in its deliberations, but that the defense can't count on another jury taking the legal concept as seriously.

Kenton Circuit Judge Patricia Summe has set a hearing for Jan. 13 to decide when and where the case will be retried.


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