Court of Appeals Upholds Dismissal of Homicide Case
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals rejected a request from the state to repeal a decision by Burnett County Circuit Court Judge James Babbitt to dismiss the second degree homicide charges against Minneapolis firefighter Kyle Huggett.
Huggett, 34, was accused of shooting 29-year-old Grantsburg resident John Peach on January 20th, 2008 in Rural Danbury.
The decision to reject the appeal was released Tuesday.
Huggett’s attorney Craig Mastantuono tells Red Rock Radio that upholding the dismissal is the proper decision by the court:
Babbitt found that Burnett County Officials improperly listen to and transcribed a series of voicemails exchanged between Peach and Huggett. Eventually, the messages were lost. The messages were said to contain threats made by Peach against Huggett.
Judge Babbitt stated that not having the messages as evidence prohibited Huggett from a fair trial.
Mastantuono said the voicemails make the case that his client acted in self defense and was a victim, as well.
The Court of Appeals said one of the reasons for upholding its decision was based on the fact that “A defendant’s due process rights are violated if the police: (1) failed to preserve the evidence that is apparently exculpatory; or (2) acted in bad faith by failing to preserve evidence which is potentially exculpatory.”
The State argued against the case’s dismissal, claiming Huggett was not entitled to any remedy because the voicemail messages were not in the State’s exclusive control and comparable evidence was available. Furthermore, they argued that the circuit court erroneously exercised its discretion by dismissing the case rather than ordering a less severe remedy.
The court of appeals rejected the State’s arguments.
Huggett is back with the Minneapolis Fire Department, according to Mastantuono, who adds that his client is now trying to get his life back in order.
Burnett County District Attorney William Norine tells Red Rock Radio that the Wisconsin Department of Justice does still have the option of appealing the case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He said it is undetermined whether or not the Department of Justice will take such actions.