As reported this week in the Bradenton Herald, Delmer Smith will once again be in a Manatee County courtroom next week, seeking a new trial for his murder conviction in the slaying of Kathleen Briles.Bjorn Brunvand of this office will represent Smith.
Briles was beaten to death in her Terra Ceia home in August, 2009. Smith was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death.
Shortly after sentencing, Brunvand filed a motion for a new trial or, alternatively, a new penalty phase based on discovered evidence on his behalf.
The newspaper quoted Brunvand as saying,"The fact that the judge set a hearing I think means he felt that it was significant enough that it needed to be heard."
Smith's motion is based primarily on two factors. The first was a disclosure brought to the court's attention at the sentencing hearing by a prosecutor. Sarasota County Deputy John Thomas, one of the first responders in a kidnapping case of which Smith was convicted, admitted in a recent deposition that he lied about being asked by his employer to submit a personal DNA sample to eliminate himself as a witness.
The second claim for the motion for new trial is that there was a mutual "misperception" by the defense and the prosecution of a piece of evidence during the trial. The claim is that a medical encyclopedia that had been in Smith's possession was not the same one belonging to Briles' husband, as claimed in the trial.
Brunvand says he examined the photos again recently and noticed a difference in the logo on the spine of the book, which he previously had disregarded as a difference in lighting. "To me, the logo looks different," Brunvand said. "That is what the judge will have to look at and make his own conclusion."
The State Attorney's Office refutes both of the defense claims.