A federal appeals court ruled today that Kevin Hensley got a fair trial and that he will spend the rest of his life in state prison for murdering his wife in their Byron Street home after she served him with divorce papers in 2002.
Hensley argued he was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers because the medical examiner who testified at his trial was not the one who performed the autopsy on his wife, Nancy. And, he continued, his right under that amendment to counsel was violated because his lawyer failed to provide effective representation because he failed to produce medical records - and a forensic psychiatrist - that would provide evidence of his major depression before the murder.
The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, however, said Hensley was wrong on both counts. The court noted that while the Supreme Court has ruled defendants in drug and gun cases have the right to question the technicians who prepare certificates on the nature of the drugs and guns presented as evidence, it didn't have much to say about autopsy results. And in any case, Hensley did not contest the medical examiner's basic statement - that his wife was strangled.
The court continued that Hensley's trial lawyer made a conscious decision not to introduce the medical records or have the psychiatrist testify because both had evidence that might actually bolster the case by prosecutors that Hensley knew what he was doing.
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