An appeals court overturned a Rochester man’s conviction on Tuesday because, during his 1998 trial, prosecutors did not correct a witness when she lied on the stand.
Vance Haskell was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison after Antoinette Blue testified that she saw him enter an Erie, Pennsylvania bar and shoot a man 11 times with a machine gun.
During the trial, the Blue told the court she did not receive any incentives or help from prosecutors with her own criminal charges in exchange for her testimony. In fact, prosecutors struck a deal with Blue that allowed her to avoid serving prison time for the many criminal charges pending against her.
Because Erie County Assistant District Attorney Matthew R. Hayes did not correct Blue during the trial, allowing jurors to think she had no personal motives for testifying, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit granted Haskell’s petition for habeas corpus.
“Haskell has demonstrated that there is a reasonable likelihood that Blue’s false testimony could have affected the judgment of the jury,” Third Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro wrote in the ruling.
Prosecutors must now decide whether to retry or release Haskell.
Read the Delaware Law Weekly coverage here.