Lee Davis: 1969 Murder Conviction Reversed By Court of Criminal Appeals

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - by Attorney Lee Davis
Lee Davis
Lee Davis

Now this is a wild one. The original robbery and murder occurred at a Memphis liquor store in 1966 and a conviction against Ms. Freshwater was returned in 1969. The robbery and murder were committed by Attorney Glen Nash and his partner in crime Margo Freshwater. After her conviction, Margot Freshwater escaped from prison in 1970 and she was on the run until 2002. Now, 45 years after the crime, her case has been overturned on a Brady (withholding favorable evidence by the State) violation and sent back to Shelby County for a new trial.

The main issue was whether state prosecutors withheld from Ms. Freshwater's lawyer a statement of a witness, Johnny Box, that Ms. Freshwater's co-defendant, Glen Nash, told him that he, Nash, had been the lone shooter of the victim, which, had it been revealed to her lawyer, would most likely have resulted in a different judgment. The Court of Criminal Appeals thinks so and reversed the conviction.

The evidence in question is a four page written statement that details what Attorney Nash told to Johnny Box and was in the files of the District Attorney. The relevant part states that he, Nash, was the sole shooter. The statement provided in part to Freshwater's lawyer was missing that important part, intentionally.

While it is highly unlikely that the events here will repeat themselves, it is significant that it was through a petition for a writ of error coram nobis that Freshwater found relief. Typically the court is reluctant to hear arguments about evidence from trial and how the parties exchanged it at such a late date. But here a fundamental fair trial right was touched upon when it was shown that the state had the actual statement in its possession that this statement was at odds with the partial evidence disclosed by the state with the inference that Freshwater was the actual shooter in the murder.

As a point of interest, the lawyer Glen Nash was found to be insane in Mississippi where the couple was arrested and he remains committed there today.

(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at 266-0605.)

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