Appeals court tosses man's conviction in ex-wife's slaying
Posted July 20, 2010 11:08 a.m. EDT
Updated July 20, 2010 12:07 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.