The Walton County Examiner features an interview with Anthony Carter,
Joshua Hames’s original lawyer. Mr. Hames just had his conviction for felony murder related to a hunting accident over seven years ago, reversed on appeal In that interview, Mr. Carter explains
that the case still haunts him and that he followed it after he was
replaced by private counsel. Look closely, and you can see the irony
dripping from the page.
Mr. Carter was originally appointed to represent Mr. Hames when he was
charged with the shooting death of his brother while the two were
hunting in Walton County. When the lower court refused to
grant Mr. Hames a bond, the family went with private counsel.
It appears that the State believed that Mr. Hames intentionally shot
his brother because he was originally charged with malice murder and
various other charges. When the trial ended and the dust cleared, Mr.
Hames was acquitted of malice murder but convicted of felony murder
for a hunting violation that resulted in the alleged victim’s death.
The only problem was that the State failed to allege or prove an
essential element of the offense. Well, that’s not the ONLY problem.
The other problem is that trial counsel never noticed that there was
an element missing or that the State failed to put up any evidence to
prove it. And there’s another problem. Trial counsel did not notice
the problem on appeal either.
Mr. Hames set about challenging the conviction himself and learned,
apparently from digging around in the prison law library that he was
in prison for life for felony murder when the State was an essential
element shy of proving the felony. He filed a habeas corpus petition
on his own and won. The State appealed the grant of his habeas —
apparently not wishing to concede the impropriety of imprisoning a man
for life for an unintentional killing without a crime alleged or
proved as the underlying felony.
Justice Nahmias wrote the opinion (PDF) for a unanimous Supreme Court
ordering his release seven years after he began serving time for
Sounds to me like the wrong lawyer feels haunted.