Local News

Prosecutors In Alan Gell Case May Face Disciplinary Action

Posted September 24, 2004

— The prosecutors who wrongly convicted an innocent man who spent years on death row may face punishment of their own.

David Hoke and Debra Graves, the prosecutors in the first case against Alan Gell were part of a disciplinary hearing Thursday at the State Bar. Gell was given a new trial after a judge ruled Hoke and Graves withheld key evidence in his first trial.

Both prosecutors said they thought they complied with a judge's order to hand over all witness statements.

"We believed they had everything and as I said in my deposition, we wanted them to have everything," Hoke said.

At Gell's 1998 trial, Hoke and Graves withheld a tape recording of the state's star witness saying she had to ``make up a story'' about the killing for police. The lawyers also failed to turn over eight witness statements indicating the slaying occurred while Gell was in jail.

The former prosecutors said they relied on an SBI agent assigned to the case to give them all the statements. They claim that did not happen. Neither attorneys remember ever reading the statements in question because they were in the agent's official file and not their working file.

"It is true that we didn't give them all to Judge Myers, even though we made, what we considered reasonable efforts to try to obtain them all," Graves said.

The panel will ultimately decide if the two attorneys, who admit they were inexperienced in trying capital murder cases, should be reprimanded or even disbarred.

Earlier this year, a new jury found Gell not guilty.

The State Bar panel is expected to make a decision Friday. Gell took a college exam Thursday and was not at the proceedings. He is in school studying to become a social worker.

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