Robert Halls attorneys may feel an Ada County jury got it wrong when it convicted Hall of second-degree murder last month, but the judge who presided over the trial said there was substantial evidence of second-degree murder.
Fourth District Judge Michael McLaughlin denied motions by Halls attorneys to throw out the verdict and grant Hall a new trial, saying I cant find that these jurors acted irritationally in their review of the facts. ... A reasonable tryer of fact could accept (the evidence) and rely upon it. .
The denial means Hall is still set for sentencing in early January, when he could be sent to prison for life.
The jury found Hall guilty in the shooting death of his wifes boss, Emmett Corrigan, on March 11, 2011, in the parking lot of a Meridian Walgreens, because Hall, then 42, suspected Corrigan and Halls wife Kandi were having an affair a suspicion that turned out to be true.
Prosecutors say Hall armed himself with a handgun and waited for his wife and Corrigan in the drugstore parking lot. They say Hall shot Corrigan twice before trying to shoot himself in the head but missing.
Halls attorneys insist that Corrigan shoved Hall that night and that a handgun fell out of Halls sweatshirt pocket during the struggle. Halls attorneys also say he has no memory of that night, but if he did fire a gun it would have been in self-defense. Since no one saw what happened other than Corrigan or Hall, they argue, a jury could not find him guilty.
In her motion, defense attorney Deb Kristal cited sections of Idaho code that allow a judge to grant a new trial when a verdict is contrary to law or evidence. The motion argued that the state has no eyewitness to the actual shootings nor can events be explained conclusively by the physical evidence. However, the evidence is entirely consistent with a struggle or fight taking place and that Corrigan was the initial aggressor.
McLaughlin disagreed, saying the jury had a substantial amount of evidence to consider, including the contradictory testimony from Kandi Hall.
Jurors heard from several witnesses that Kandi Hall told Meridian police and others in 2011 there was no physical contact between her husband and lover prior to the shooting. But Kandi Hall changed her story during the trial, telling jurors Corrigan shoved Hall first.
McLaughlin said Thursday jurors had every right to disregard that testimony (and), frankly, any testimony by Ms. Hall. In my 31 years on the bench, I dont think Ive seen a witness more thoroughly discredited over the course of proceeding.
McLaughlin spent about 10 minutes going over why the jury had enough information to make a decision. Those reasons included:
There was no evidence of a physical struggle between Hall or Corrigan other than the gunshot wounds.
Halls DNA was on the trigger of the gun; Corrigans was not.
Corrigans fingerprints were not on the gun.
There was much more gunpowder residue on Halls hands, and the minute amount of residue found on Corrigans hands was consistent with a shielding motion.
I think it was reasonable for the jury to believe it was consistent with someone aiming a firearm, not in the throes of a wrestling match (or) fist fight, where even the best of marksman might misfire because they are being pushed or shoved, McLaughlin said. These appear to be very well-aimed shots.
Hall sat silently and remained composed during Thursdays hearing. Kandi Hall sat in the courtroom, but Rob Hall did not look at her as he was led out.
Patrick Orr: 377-6219, Twitter: @IDS_Orr