Attorney asks judge to toss client’s baby death verdict because jury’s ‘education level’ was below average
In an attempt to spare her client what turned out to be a six-year deferred sentence for the shaking death of his 3-month-old son, a Montana attorney asked the judge to set aside her client’s conviction maintaining the jury lacked the education to understand the case.
Gunner Dye was convicted in May in the death of his son, Shane Gabriel-Leon Dye, in 2014 after he reportedly shook the child leading to death by shaken-baby syndrome, reports the Missoulian.
As part of his defense, Dye claimed he shook his son because he thought he was choking on food. However, following an autopsy, a medical examiner ruled the death a homicide telling prosecutors the cause of death was “craniocerebral and cervical trauma,” and what Dye told authorities did not explain the injuries.
In a filing that was rejected by Judge James Manley, public defender Ashley Morigeau argued the judge should change the verdict to “not guilty” by citing statistics showing the educational level of citizens of Sanders County fall below Montana’s average.
“This case was extremely medically and scientifically complex and heard by jurors who are below the average educational level,” Morigeau wrote in her motion to set aside the verdict.
Prosecutors objected, attacking the public defender’s assertion about the jury members.
“The defendant now claims that this case was too complex for the uneducated folks of Sanders County,” prosecutors Bob Zimmerman and Catherine Truman responded in court documents, “but made no attempt during (jury selection) to parse out this idea, or why someone needs to be educated to understand this type of evidence. It did not involve complex financial or tax records or evidence extending over months or years, or multiple defendants with complex evidence going to each defendant.”
Judge Manley refused to set aside the verdict; however Dye won’t be seeing any more jail time after serving 466 days in jail. As a condition of his deferred sentence, Dye must pay for court costs for his trial ($16,463), and is banned from drinking and gambling during the six years he’s on probation.