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23-year-old violent crimes case moving toward retrial

Faced with a 120-day deadline, the state of Virginia is moving ahead with plans to mount a new trial of the suspect in a 1990 slaying. The latest action in the matter involving a violent crime charge of capital murder came today when a Newport News Circuit Court judge appointed two area lawyers to handle the defense in the case.

At the center of the proceeding is David W. Boyce. He has been incarcerated since his conviction of the May 1990 killing Timothy Kurt Askew. According to details of the case, Boyce and Askew were roommates, sharing an efficiency room at a Newport News motel. Askew was found sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in another room at the motel and

Boyce was convicted of the slaying and of robbery in a 1991 trial. He has been serving two life sentences since then. But last month a federal judge in Richmond overturned the convictions and ordered a new trial. He ruled that Boyce's rights had been violated because he had been denied access to a photograph that police investigators had taken that might have helped in his defense.

He also gave Virginia authorities six months to either retry Boyce, or let him go free. That move triggered a number of actions. First, a special prosecutor from Virginia Beach has been named to replace the Commonwealth's attorney in Newport News who originally prosecuted the case. And at a brief hearing today, Boyce had two attorneys appointed to represent him.

As one added precaution by the state, all judges in the Newport News jurisdiction have recused themselves from presiding over the retrial. A from some other jurisdiction will handle the case, though that jurist has not been identified.

Some might find these measures extreme, but in the interest of ensuring the right of the accused to a fair trial it might be argued that nothing less will do.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, "2 lawyers appointed for man whose capital murder conviction was thrown out," Frank Green, April 5, 2013

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