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Appeals court tosses man's conviction in ex-wife's slaying

Posted July 20, 2010

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— The state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Franklin County prosecutors didn't meet their burden of proof last year in convicting a Zebulon man in his former wife's 2006 death.

The body of Narskelsky Angelean Pastuer, 52, of Zebulon was found in the trunk of her car off U.S. Highway 1 near Franklinton on Dec. 7, 2006. Her daughter had reported her missing a month earlier.

A jury found Robert Pastuer, 51, guilty in April 2009 of murder in her death. He is serving a life sentence at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Appellate judges ruled, however, that Pastuer's motion to dismiss the case for insufficient evidence should have been allowed during his trial.

The judges noted that prosecutors had no evidence that placed Robert Pastuer at the scene of the crime or around his ex-wife's home or car anytime around the time of her death. DNA evidence presented at trial also failed to link him to the crime, according to the appeals court ruling.

"Viewing the entirety of the evidence presented to the jury in the light most favorable to the state, we agree that it 'excite(s) suspicion in the just mind that (the defendant) is guilty,' but it falls well short of the state’s burden to provide substantial evidence that defendant was the perpetrator of this crime," the judges wrote in their ruling.

Franklin County prosecutors must now determine if they want to try Pastuer a third time in the case. A mistrial was declared in the first trial in September 2008 after jurors couldn't reach a verdict.

23 Comments

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  • colliedave Jul 20, 2010

    Try him a third time? What about double jeopardy? OpenM1nd

    It would only be double jeopardy if he were to be found innocent of the crime.

  • OpenM1nd Jul 20, 2010

    Try him a third time? What about double jeopardy?

  • AnotherIgnoredComment Jul 20, 2010

    If he didn't do it, then whoever did is still out there still doing it, or a murderer is getting ready to go free....who knows anymore in our legal system

  • edith wharton Jul 20, 2010

    I think it's easy to read stories about crimes and be swayed by the information presented. Thankfully, our legal system requires proof to convict any of us of having committed a crime. Though there may be overwhelming circumstantial evidence in a case, there must still be actual hard evidence to support a conviction. This makes convicting someone more difficult, but that is a good thing for all of us.

  • Road-wearier Jul 20, 2010

    babedan, I want you to be the one to tell Robert Pasteur's family that even though the state failed twice to convict him, didn't have evidence that put him at the crime scene, and didn't have DNA evidence that connected him with the crime that 12 people plucked at random off the street think he did it and he'll be put away for life for a crime that no evidence indicates he committed. AND then I want you to tell the lady's family this very same information and that it's very likely that the creep that killed her is still on the street. Are you ready for that responsibility?

  • citygirl76 Jul 20, 2010

    I have to agree with EverythingTicksMeOff. Though I am not for letting murderers go free, I do believe that during some jury trials juries can become over run with emotions. I have served before where that very that has happened and I do not believe that is good for the trial or the judicial system as a whole. I am not familiar with this case but I believe judges are more familiar with the law than most average people such as myself. If the judges believe that there was insufficient evidence then I trust that. Sometimes, we just need someone to blame but we need to make sure we are blaming the right person.

  • EverythingTicksMeOff Jul 20, 2010

    "Apparently there was enough evidence to convince 12 people he was guilty. These judges are over stepping their ground on this one IMO. If convicted by the evidence then the Defense needs to come up with a better defense."

    You have it backwards. The jury clearly overstepped THEIR ground when they convicted a man without any evidence that met the legal standard for conviction.

  • babedan Jul 20, 2010

    Appellate judges ruled, however, that Pastuer's motion to dismiss the case for insufficient evidence should have been allowed during his trial.

    Apparently there was enough evidence to convince 12 people he was guilty. These judges are over stepping their ground on this one IMO. If convicted by the evidence then the Defense needs to come up with a better defense. I hope the judges have to look in the eyes of this ladies family the rest of their days and tell them, We didn't feel there was enough evidence even though a jury of 12 other did.

  • sbeavers Jul 20, 2010

    I have found that in this State and especially in Franklin County, there does not have to be any linking evidence for them to get a conviction.

  • Mona the Lisa Jul 20, 2010

    I can see why he's the main suspect...

    ""According to court records, Pastuer had taken out the protection order against her ex-husband, Robert Back, who authorities have named a person of interest in the case, in April. The two had been married for 10 years, family members said.

    On the domestic violence order, Pastuer wrote: "I'm afraid he might hurt me again."

    Court records indicate that Back also has been arrested in Wake County for assault."

    There needs to be evidence to place him at the scene of the crime and it appears that this time he put some thought into it.

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