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Jailhouse confession may lead to new trial in 2002 double homicide

A man who spent 37 years in state prison says he has evidence to set another man free.  "An innocent man is in prison," said Dolph Sturgis.

Sturgis testifies at a hearing for Charles "Teddy" Pierre, a man who says he was wrongly convicted of a double murder and arson from 2002.  "I just want him out, he needs to be out," said Mary Ann Wolfe who has visited Pierre regularly since his incarceration began.

The hearing will determine whether Pierre gets a new trial.  It centers on the statements of another convicted murder named Darrell Boyd.  For a short time in 2012 Boyd was in the Monroe County Jail with Dolph Sturgis.

Sturgis had earned a paralegal certificate while in prison.  Inmates often came to him for legal advice.  He says he helped Boyd out with one situation when he made a stunning admission about another crime.

"He said he committed the murder on First Street.  That he beat them with a baseball bat and set the house on fire," said Strugis.

In 2002 a suspected arson was quickly ruled a double homicide.  Clara Sconiers and Thomas Reed were bludgeoned to death, a weapon was never found.  Boyd, who lived upstairs in the house, knew another man had taken the blame.

Fast forward 10 years.

Police used DNA and other evidence to solve a cold case from 2007.  Boyd was convicted of raping another woman, beating her to death, then setting a fire to try to cover it up.   During his trial he came to inmate Dolph Sturgis for advice.

Sturgis says he then made the admissions about the First Street homicide.  'He was concerned about his wife turning him in.  She had told (police) and he was wondering if there was enough evidence to convict him on," said Strugis.

Prosecutors say they do not take much stock in the confession.  But Van White- who is representing Pierre- says Boyd stole jewelry from the crime scene which he later gave to his wife.  It lends truth to  the story.

Kathy Boyd went to police.  RPD Investigator John Brennan interviewed her for two hours - a session that was recorded.  "If you ask investigator Brennan what happened that day he will tell you," said attorney White.

The DVD copy of the interview has been turned over to Judge Doug Randall.  Yet the hearing was abruptly halted because Kathy Boyd was a no-show.  Prosecutors want to be able to cross examiner her. 

They left court without commenting but have suggested in the past that Boyd was simply using the story to frighten his wife and to bolster himself to other inmates.

In the meantime Pierre remains in a jail cell.  "He's a friend of the family, a good man!," said Mary Ann Wolfe.  She has visited Pierre in prison over the last 10 years.

"He knew those people who were murdered, he did not do this!  They were friends of his," she said.

The judge has issued a new order for Kathy Boyd to appear to testify on July 10th. Wolfe says every day Pierre in prison is a day he lives in fear.  "He sits in a cell afraid to go out because the violence is so bad," she said.  "I just want him out."

Sturgis is has done his time.  He says he is not receiving any benefit to come forward but has done so because it's the right thing to do.  "I know what it's like to be in prison.  It's bad enough when you did something.  When you did do something it's even harder."

 

 
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