WICHITA – In 2008, Elgin Robinson was convicted of capital murder of his girlfriend, 14-year-old Chelsea Brooks.
Brooks was nine months pregnant when her body was discovered in a shallow grave in Butler County.
At issue in the case is Brady/Giglio disclosure. It refers to a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in Brady v. Maryland; Giglio v. United States. It requires the disclosure of information that could potentially compromise the testimony or evidence from the prosecution. It typically includes information that could impeach a witness, including law enforcement, or disclose some sort of a conviction or dishonesty in their past.
In Robinson’s case, attorneys are asking specifically if Detective Tim Relph was on a Brady/Giglio list at the time he testified in the Robinson murder case. In court proceedings today, it was not revealed if Det. Relph was ever on such a list. That is the issue that Robinson’s attorneys are asking to find out.
“Was detective Relph on Brady Giglio list at the time of Mr. Robinson’s trial?” asked Appellate Attorney Kristen Patty on Tuesday to Kansas Supreme Court justices.
Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett tried the Robinson case. He would not specifically talk about this case, but said he’s not surprised by a convicted murderer asking for new evidence.
“They’ve got a lot of time on their hands, and it’s not infrequent when we have people that are fairly litigious sitting in prison because they frankly don’t have much else to do,” said Bennett. “And so they will look for anything they can to breathe new life into their cases.”
Legal analyst and Wichita defense attorney Dan Monnat says there are many issues to be considered in a request like Robinson’s but, he says it’s an interesting legal question.
“If in this case law enforcement or the prosecution had evidence about police misconduct or the motivations for which witnesses might lie, or evidence that contradicted other prosecution witnesses and they failed to turn it over to the defense, that was a constitutional violation and Mr. Robinson could get a new trial,” said Monnat. “Brady/Giglio material has been litigated so much that it’s pretty well accepted that if Brady/Giglio material is discovered as new evidence post-trial, either the accused could win his or her appeal or obtain post-conviction relief.”
The Supreme Court justices asked questions for about a half hour of both the State and Patty. Justices are expected to have an answer in 60 to 90 days.