No Mistrial for Complicity in Murder

     FRANKFORT, Ky. (CN) – A woman convicted of complicity in murdering a man using a toilet tank lid is not entitled to a mistrial, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled.
     Samantha Mayse used a singles’ telephone chat line to lure Shawn Davis to her apartment under the guise of a sexual encounter, Justice Bill Cunningham wrote for the unanimous court.
     When Davis arrived, Mayse along with Mary Hartberger, Marion “Timmy” Parker and Patrick Cooke brutally beat and robbed him of $20.
     Parker hit Davis so hard in the head with a toilet tank lid that the lid shattered. Parker then strangled Davis. Parker, Hartberger and Cooke wrapped the body in a shower curtain, drove him under a bridge and set it on fire.
     A Kenton County jury convicted Mayse of complicity to murder and complicity to robbery.
     She was sentenced to life in prison without parole for at least 25 years on the murder count, and 20 years on the robbery count, with the sentences running concurrently.
     Mayse appealed, citing prosecutors’ references to her accomplices’ pleas and the admission of romantic letters between her and Parker from jail.
     The Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the conviction.
     The court found that the prosecution’s references were “not a blatant use of the co-indictee’s conviction as substantive evidence of Mayse’s guilt” and that the letters were admissible.
     “Here, the content of the letters demonstrates an intimate, friendly, and even romantic relationship between Mayse and Parker,” Cunningham wrote. “They were offered to rebut Mayse’s claim that she barely knew Parker, that Parker had ‘mental problems,’ and that she felt threatened by Parker.”
     Mayse also claimed that her Sixth Amendment right to present a defense was violated when Parker invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify, and that the jury saw inadmissible evidence.
     The state supreme court threw out those arguments because they conflicted.
     “The trial court’s decision is further reinforced because the exhibits inadvertently given to the jury were defense exhibits,” Cunningham wrote. “There is obvious irony in Mayse’s argument now on appeal. Exhibit #3 contained the very information that Mayse was attempting to get to the jury through the live testimony of Parker. When the trial court made the right decision in allowing Parker to opt out as a witness, Mayse submitted for us to consider all the exculpatory matters in the confession to which Parker would have testified. Mayse asserted to the trial court, and even to this court, on another issue all of the exculpatory content of Parker’s confession by citing numerous segments from the confession in support of an accompanying argument. Mayse now argues that for the jury to have seen this evidence, even though in a cursory glance, is reversible error. Mayse cannot have it both ways.”

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