No decision yet on Thompson motion for new trial

Published On: Aug 31 2012 06:27:37 PM PDT
Karl Thompson
SPOKANE, Wash. -

The wait continues for former Spokane police officer Karl Thompson, who is appealing for a new trial in the wake of his conviction last November of using excessive force and violating Otto Zehm's civil rights in 2006.

Thompson was back in court Friday fighting for a new trial, alleging that prosecutors suppressed evidence, an allegation that first surfaced back in January after one of the government's expert witnesses wrote a letter to the court claiming his interpretation of surveillance video from the Zip Trip was vastly different from what prosecutors had told the jury during the trial.

That witness, Grant Fredericks, said he didn't see Thompson immediately hitting Zehm with a police baton after he entered the store and that put him at odds with the prosecution's theory of the case.

Furthermore, Fredericks complained to Judge Fred Van Sickle that his interpretation of what happened to Zehm had never been shared with the defense.

Thompson's attorneys say the government was required to provide that exculpatory evidence but did not do so until after the trial was over.

In court Friday, however, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's office said the defense was getting reports about Fredericks' interpretations back in 2009 and that if Fredericks had information that was so valuable to Thompson's case, why didn't the defense call him as one of their witnesses?

Judge Van Sickle has been concerned enough about these allegations to delay Thompson's sentencing the past nine months and did not rule on his motion for a new trial Friday.

Because it has been nine months since Thompson was convicted some people might think the judge is dragging his feet in sending this former police officer to prison. However the opposite may be true: By hearing every one of the defense's motions, the court is eliminating Thompson's possible avenues for an appeal in the future.