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Judge Kevin Fine Tosses Out Jury's Murder Conviction and His Sentence

You can't say that state district judge Kevin Fine doesn't know how to grab attention.

Elected in the 2008 Democratic wave, the tattooed former drug addict has issued such pronouncements as doubting a woman was raped because she was on top at the time, not to mention throwing the Texas judicial system into a tizzy with a hearing on whether the state's methods of applying the death penalty were constitutional.

He's at it again: He has tossed out a jury's murder conviction and the life sentence he gave because a witness who might have exonerated the defendant didn't testify. Okay, maybe, but the witness in question didn't testify because the defense didn't call her.

"I have never experienced a similar decision like the one Judge Fine issued yesterday," that defense attorney, Murray Newman, told Hair Balls.

The Houston Chronicle was the first to report the story of Jeremy Thomas, 24, convicted and sent to prison for life earlier this year for a 2006 murder.

At a hearing to reconsider the case -- normally a routine step that yields nothing but moves the appeal process along -- Fine said he would call for a new trial.

The defense had argued that Thomas was not the man who pulled the trigger in the killing; two witnesses testified for the state that he was.

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A third woman, Fine was told, would have backed Thomas's story, but was not called to testify.

Newman said at the hearing that attorney-client privilege made him unable to explain why he didn't call that witness during trial.

But wouldn't the same problem present itself at a retrial?

"Regarding the retrial, there is very little I could say about who I would or wouldn't call in that situation," Newman says. "Every trial is different and sometimes even retrials of the same case are vastly different from the original trial."

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