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No decision on new trial for convicted killer

By: Andy Cunningham Email
By: Andy Cunningham Email

A judge did not make a decision today on if a convicted killer will get a new trial.

Attorneys for Donald Southworth argued in court on Tuesday morning that his conviction should be overturned.

In January, a jury found Southworth guilty in the murder of his wife, Umi. Jurors also recommended he spend life in prison.

The arguments on Tuesday involved evidence presented in the case during the trial. Fayette Circuit Judge Kimberly Bunnell rejected three of the four arguments, Attorneys for Donald Southworth made in a motion to grant the convicted killer a new trial.

However, Judge Bunnell said, she needs more time with the defense's argument, that the Commonwealth provided the jury an inaccurate exhibit, jurors requested during deliberations.

"It's clear from the record they asked to see an exhibit, through nobody's fault, a different exhibit was given to them," said Defense Attorney Russell Baldani. "They immediately noticed it was different and then very shortly thereafter they reached a verdict."

The exhibit in question is a divorce document. Defense attorneys argue there are three differences from the original exhibit introduced into evidence during the trial and the one passed to jurors as they deliberated.

"The jury didn't seem to have a problem with anything," Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson said.

After the hearing, Larson said, he didn't believe any of the arguments raised by the defense will be enough to grant Southworth a new trial.

"The jury found him guilty of murder, came back shortly thereafter with a sentence of life," Larson said. "They (the jury) didn't seem to have the least bit of a problem and I don't think anything that's been raised in this motion for a new trial, will change anything."

Baldani said if Bunnell denies their request for a new trial. Donald Southworth will take that request to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Southworth is scheduled to be officially sentenced next Friday.

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