By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
The defense attorney for Michael Ian Palmer, the Baxter man charged with the first-degree murder of his father-in-law almost two years ago, wants a new prosecuting attorney assigned to the capital homicide case.
Sean Murphy presented this latest pretrial motion to Marion Circuit Judge Michael Aloi in a hearing Friday morning.
Palmer is scheduled to go on trial in late January for his alleged role in the shooting death of his father-in-law, Everett Wilson, on Dec. 11, 2011.
He and his wife, Kristyn Lorraine, were arrested, arraigned and indicted on the capital offense in June 2012. Both have remained at the North Central Regional Jail since. Each has had trials scheduled and continued numerous times.
Prosecutor Patrick Wilson has abandoned his duty to be “impartial and fair” by misleading a grand juror, presenting false statements, and delaying, manipulating and hiding evidence, Murphy said. This has helped the couple’s resolve wane, causing them to drift apart and turn against each other.
Other actions with witnesses has made Wilson a witness, Murphy said. “That adds to the conflict for him.” He added he was prepared to file an ethics complaint against the prosecutor.
Wilson defended himself by saying these allegations were “baseless assertions,” Murphy’s intention to file an ethics complaint “a baited trap.”
The hearing was a repeat of many issues from past match-ups of the two attorneys.
At heart is the question: Did the Palmers scheme to murder Everett Wilson for his money or property, or was Wilson “an abusive alcoholic,” as Murphy called him, whom Michael Palmer shot to death in self-defense as he broke into his daughter’s home?
Adding to the case is a voluminous amount of computer files, cellphone records, jail recordings and exchanged letters.
Both attorneys have jousted at each other since the first hearing in June 2012.
Murphy again discussed the volume of computer files that would “fill the courtroom” if printed out. He said Patrick Wilson had gotten hold of and kept hold of 66 letters written by Kristyn Palmer to fellow inmate Timothy Biggs, dating back to September. In the written motion, Murphy referred to Biggs as Palmer’s “jailhouse paramour.”
Wilson said when he got the letters, he gave them to Murphy.
“If I don’t give them evidence, I’m bad,” Wilson said. “If I give them evidence, they say it’s too much. Differing opinions are not grounds to disqualify me.”
“Kristyn Palmer wants her freedom and liberty. She wants out and will do whatever necessary to get out,” Murphy said. This includes writing to Biggs as to what she should say and how she should say it, to gain freedom.
“That is a red flag,” Murphy said.
Murphy said Patrick Wilson had tried to influence the court improperly, and his actions with potential witnesses actually made him a witness as well.
Murphy discussed old cases Wilson had been involved with, such as the Lincoln Taylor case, and Murphy’s own case, in which he is charged with the malicious assault of another Morgantown attorney.
Wilson said that neither has anything directly to do with this case.
“There is nothing to support his allegations.”
Next Murphy moved for Michael Palmer to be released from the North Central Regional Jail on his own recognizance.
“There is no reason for him to be in jail,” Murphy said. “This is a perversion of truth and justice, and the legal system. This is ‘charge first, get evidence later.’”
He said that Palmer was not a flight risk, that he intended only to go to relatives in Pennsylvania.
Wilson countered by saying that since Palmer has lost the support of his co-defendant and wife, he no longer has ties to West Virgina.
Murphy said that neither Palmer has a passport.
“They don’t have a penny to their names.”
They had no reason to murder Everett Wilson, he said.
They were not involved in drugs and did not need the money for drugs. They did not want his house; the transfer of the property to her name “was a mistake,” he said.
“Her father died needlessly. That was a tragedy. A marriage was destroyed.”
He said Everett Wilson, “an abusive alcoholic,” kicked in the door at the Palmers’ Baxter residence.
“There is no question this took place, but it was not planned.”
The shooting took place in December 2011. The Palmers were arrested in June 2012. During that time, neither left the area, Murphy said.
“They’ve been held at the regional jail against their will. The trial keeps being moved. This is outlandish.”
He said he has “no problem” with home confinement or any other method Aloi would order.
Patrick Wilson does.
“This is a first-degree murder, capital offense. He has no ties to West Virginia. He does not have the support of the co-defendant.”
Aloi set a hearing date for Dec. 5 and said he would take the motions under advisement until then. Murphy asked that Krystin Palmer have no contact with either the prosecuting attorney or his husband’s own defense team until then.
Email Debra Minor Wilson at email@example.com.