In September of 2011, 45-year-old Rodney A. Slayton was found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder in the 1992 strangulation death of Lynette Gibson, a mother of five children who was 39 years old at the time of her death. It was 18 years after the murder, which had become a cold case, before Slayton was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It took the jury just 40 minutes to reach a verdict.
Slayton never confessed to the crime, although his ex-wife and her uncle testified at trial that he confessed to killing the woman by strangling Gibson with a seat belt as she sat in the passenger seat in his mother’s car.
While he has maintained his innocence in the murder, Slayton appealed his conviction arguing that his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination was violated, and that his Sixth Amendment right and two Michigan Department of Corrections prison rules were also violated in connection with a recorded interview with Sandra Slayton, his wife at the time, his ex-wife’s testimony, police questioning, and the evidence in general.
Sandra Slayton had participated as an agent willingly with the Cold Case Homicide Unit of the Saginaw Police Department’s Violent Crime Task Force, which is now defunct. Slayton argued in his appeal that prison rules regarding recorded conversations and eavesdropping were violated; he also challenged the testimony of his wife at the time the murder took place, Rachelle Carpenter. Carpenter testified that Slayton told her that he had killed Gibson, and that she assumed he was telling the truth. Carpenter also mentioned that Slayton had been arrested in the past for domestic violence, although the judge in the case instructed the jury to disregard that statement. It was on this point that Slayton argued his attorney should have motioned for a mistrial.
Ultimately, appellate judges Karen M. Fort Hood, Peter D. O’Connell, and E. Thomas Fitzgerald disagreed with Slayton’s arguments and upheld his conviction.
Michigan post-conviction defense lawyers know that winning an appeal is no easy task, and that without an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who is skilled in this area of the law, the chances of winning are slim.
If you feel that you have been wrongly convicted or that errors were made that resulted in harsher sentencing, choose a capable Michigan criminal appeals attorney with a proven track record for obtaining positive results.