David Bueno murder conviction vacated: 18th Judicial District asst. district attorney fires back

Last week, we told you about the vacating of a murder conviction for David Bueno, a prisoner found guilty of killing a fellow con in 2004. In the piece, attorney David Lane accused the 18th Judicial District DA's office, led by Carol Chambers, of hiding evidence in the case, described in the 2008 Alan Prendergast feature "Arapahoe County DA Charges Death-Penalty Fees to State." But Chambers's office plans to appeal, as assistant district attorney Leslie Hansen makes clear in a detailed assault on the ruling.

Look below to read Hansen's criticisms of our original post and Lane, as well as questions about the legitimacy of tactics employed by Bueno's defense team that will undoubtedly be part of the forthcoming appeal:

Some comments on your recent article on the Bueno murder case. David Lane is an anti-death penalty zealot who will take any opportunity to make unfair comment; more importantly, he does not have a working knowledge of the case and does not know what happened concerning this ABN letter. You mention that our office was kicked off of the Perez case but you do not mention that we were reinstated on the case for the second time on September 13th of this year; so twice now the Supreme Court has decided in favor of the prosecution.

With regard to the Bueno case, the ABN letter and report (the so called "newly discovered evidence) was made available to the defense in May 2007 -- well before the trial which took place in March and April 2008. They were given unfettered access to every incident report over a two yr. period 2003-2004, which is what they requested. They were allowed full and complete access with no restrictions, they could take as much time as they wanted and they could mark any document that they wanted a copy of and it would be provided. The incident reports were filed by date and grouped into folders for approximately a two week period; the original of the ABN letter was attached to a report dated March 28, 2004 and was in the March folders and a copy of the ABN letter was attached to another report dated April 2, 2004 and was in the April folders. The murder happened on March 28, 2004. It is reasonable to assume that out of two years worth of incident, the first couple of folders that would be examined would be the weeks and months immediately before and after the murder. (Colorado Supreme Court case law says that there is no violation of discovery when a defendant had access to the information or the information was within the defendant's actual knowledge.)

Even if the defense did not find the ABN letter during their search in May 2007 -- more likely they simply did not think it was relevant, which it really isn't -- defense counsel obtained a copy of the ABN letter on June 11, 2008; counsel made this admission in a court pleading. The motion for new trial based on 'newly discovered evidence" was not filed until July 19, 2009, more than a year later.

Rule 33 requires that a motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence "shall" be filed as soon as the facts supporting the motion become known to the defense. The simple fact is, there was no newly discovered evidence and more importantly, the ABN letter is NOT exculpatory and based on testimony at the hearing is probably bogus.

We think the judge's decision is incorrect and we have filed a Notice of Appeal. And, the District Attorney's Office remains committed to seeking justice in this case.

Leslie Hansen Assistant District Attorney

Here's another related report from our Follow That Story archive: "Carol Chambers seeks cheaper executions."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts