TN Supreme Court to review Judge Angel’s post-conviction ruling
An appeal from the State of Tennessee to reverse Judge Justin Angel’s post-conviction ruling granting Adam Braseel a new trial was heard by the state’s Supreme Court last week. The hearing, in Nashville, was just one more hurdle Braseel must overcome to right what he and his supporters feel was a crooked case from the beginning.
Accused of the 2006 murder of Malcolm Burrows, Braseel had been serving a life sentence at Riverbend Maximum Security Facility after being found guilty of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, attempt to commit first degree murder, aggravated assault, and assault. He was eight years into that sentence when Angel granted him a new trial at a post-conviction relief hearing earlier this year. Since Angel’s decision, Braseel has been out on bond.
The state appealed the post-conviction decision, questioning Angel’s interpretation of eyewitness statements and identifications. At last week’s appeal they argued that pre-trial identification statements by witnesses including Burrow’s sister Becky Hill were valid.
Court records from the original trial state that while in the hospital, Hill was shown a photo of Braseel. Eight days later, she identified him from a photo lineup consisting of men with large builds, black hair, and beards. Adam is 5’5”, 130 pounds, with red hair. The picture of Braseel was from his high school driver’s license, he did not currently wear earrings. Another witness was shown a photo lineup in then sheriff Brent Myers’ office, a lineup the defense is calling suggestive. Records indicate the witness could have been led by Myers in his identification.
Douglas Trant, Braseel’s lawyer, argued before the Supreme Court that the pre-trial lineups were flawed, and as such, offered ground for a new trial.
No decision was reached at the Supreme Court hearing last week. The justices will take the case under review and issue their decision at a later date. For Braseel, this means an ever longer wait to see if he will return to jail or be granted the new trial ordered by Angel.