Former Campbell County Commissioner and Gillette City Councilman Stephen F. Hughes, 66, was found dead inside his business, Landmark Inc., early Friday morning, according to information released by …
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The lawyer for a man convicted of sexual abuse of a minor told the Wyoming Supreme Court on Tuesday that it was improper for the trial judge to allow the jury to hear testimony from the man's previous sexual assault victim.
Kenneth James Huckfeldt, 59, was sentenced in Sweetwater County to life without parole this year on convictions of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl in 2007.
Lawyer Keith Goody, representing Huckfeldt on appeal, told the Wyoming Supreme Court that District Judge Nena James shouldn't have allowed testimony at his trial in February from the victim in a 1994 child sexual assault case in which Huckfeldt was convicted.
Goody said it was prejudicial for the jury to hear that Huckfeldt had been convicted of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl in 1994. He said allowing the victim, now an adult, to testify about Huckfeldt's assault was the same as James explicitly telling the jury to find Huckfeldt guilty.
"It's simply not fair to put that victim on from a 12-year-old case," Goody said. Once the decision was made to allow the woman to testify, he said there was no reason to continue with the rest of the trial.
Goody said it's a fundamental principle of law that it's impermissible to use character evidence against a defendant to try to prove that he committed a criminal act. He said the Wyoming Supreme Court should grant Huckfeldt a new trial.
Goody also argued that James should have allowed a delay in Huckfeldt's trial to give his trial lawyer time to find a witness who might have testified to inconsistencies in the most recent victim's testimony that Huckfeldt assaulted her.
Theodore Racines of the Wyoming Attorney General's Office argued that testimony from Huckfeldt's earlier victim was proper to show his motive and intent in dealing with the second girl.
Racines said allowing the first victim to testify about Huckfeldt's assaulting her in 1994 to shot that he was inclined to have sex with minors. He said Judge James' decision to allow the testimony was reasonable, and "a legitimate conclusion based on the facts of the case."
Racines said the Wyoming Supreme Court should uphold Huckfeldt's convictions. The court will issue a decision on the appeal later.