SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – James Wells, the man convicted of shooting and killing 15-year-old Eddie Stanley in 2011, could be on his way to a new trial.
Wells was found guilty of second degree murder in 2013, but now his attorney, Matthew Hug, is calling the validity of the ruling into question, telling an appellate court Monday that “there is no way” Wells received a fair trial.
Hug argued that the trial court allowed testimony which inappropriately elicited sympathy and introduced information not applicable to the crime in question.
Hug took particular issue with testimony from Stanley’s mother and basketball coach. The Schenectady County District Attorney’s office says that testimony provided important context to the central issue of the case.
Hug also argued that testimony from several of the prosecution’s key witnesses did not match and that information concerning Well’s alleged gang membership should not have been allowed into the trial.
“The trial here was what happened in that stairwell, not was the defendant in the Bloods street gang,” Hug argued in front of the appeals court.
“To allow this case to start to expand and expand and expand until we’re basically putting this evil character on trial,” Hug said, “deprived him of having the jury weigh just the evidence.”
Stanley, a Schenectady High School basketball star, was killed on June 12, 2011 during a house party at 730 Bridge Street in Schenectady..
Officials said a disagreement sparked a shootout in a stairwell at the party, during which Stanley was shot five times.
Police said Wells and several other men were accusing people at the party of stealing car keys which they had misplaced. Wells threatened to strip search the party-goers, and when Stanley objected to his friend being ordered to strip, Wells pulled out a handgun and fired “multiple shots at close range within the crowded interior stairwell, killing Eddie Stanley.
Peter Willis, of the Schenectady County DA’s office, defended the validity of the initial trial.
Willis argued that the judge gave the necessary instructions to the jury to eliminate sympathy, and that the important factual points in the case were consistent both across witness testimony and with the forensic evidence collected at the scene.
The Appellate Division is expected to decide in the coming months.