Monday, December 23, 2013
S.C. to Hear Claim That Prosecutor Has Conflict
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The California Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a Ventura Superior Court judge erred in denying a motion to disqualify a deputy district attorney from a death penalty case without an evidentiary hearing.
The justices, at their weekly conference in San Francisco Wednesday, unanimously granted Joshua Graham Packer’s petition for review. Div. Six of this district’s Court of Appeal denied Packer’s petition for writ of mandate in August.
Packer is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the May 2009 deaths of Davina Husted, her husband Brock, and the fetus Davina Husted was carrying. The killings occurred at the Husted’s house in Faria Beach.
Packer’s defense argues that Michael Frawley, a top deputy in the District Attorney’s Office, should be disqualified. Frawley, the defense argues, should be recused because the defense intends to call the prosecutor’s now-adult children—who participated in a youth group with the defendant—as witnesses, because his daughter once dated a potential witness in the case, and because he “appears to have known” Davina Husted through his former wife, who served on the board of a civic group when the murdered woman was its president.
Judge Patricia Murphy ruled that none of the allegations amounted to a viable claim that Frawley had a personal embroilment in the case that would lead him to treat the defendant unfairly.
The sole issue to be briefed, the Supreme Court said, is:
“Did the trial court abuse its discretion by denying a motion for recusal without an evidentiary hearing on the grounds that defendant failed to make a prima facie showing that recusal was warranted?”
The case is Packer v. Superior Court (People), B245923.
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company