Chip Moray Smith, a 43-year-old Golden Valley man who has been through three murder trials in connection the with the 2001 shooting death of Chris Darren Payton, has had his conviction upheld by an Arizona appellate court, according to a news article at the Mohave Valley Daily News.
Smith allegedly shot Payton in the head on the evening of August 12, 2001. Smith was driving in his vehicle with three other individuals when he passed Payton’s truck on Santa Maria Road. He retrieved a 9-mm rifle from his car, struck Peyton with the rifle, then shot him in the head, according to reports. Payton’s truck eventually flipped on its side after rolling up an embankment. Authorities allege that Smith got back into his vehicle, then left the scene without summoning help after circling the block to survey the scene one more time.
Payton was initially thought to have been killed in the truck crash, however the bullet wound was discovered during his autopsy. Smith was charged with first-degree murder. It is believed that he shot Payton because of a debt.
In 2002, Smith’s first trial ended in a mistrial. A second trial resulted in a conviction, however Smith won on appeal when the appellate court overturned his 2003 conviction and remanded the case back to court. Now, he has lost in appealing the verdict of his third murder trial. Smith’s attorney appealed the conviction, arguing that certain evidence should not have been admitted, that his client was deprived of a fair trial due to prosecutor misconduct, that Smith’s conviction should have been vacated by the judge, and that the judge imposed an aggravated sentence that was illegal. The appellate court did not agree.
Smith allegedly committed the murder while on release, so the Court of Appeals did not agree that the judge erred in handing down an aggravated sentence. Panel judges also did not agree that the prosecutor asked leading questions, or failed to disclose a witness’s plea agreement. In the end, the appellate court disagreed with every argument brought forth by the defendant’s appellate attorney.
Michigan criminal appeals attorneys know all too well that winning an appeal is not simple, and is in fact a complicated and difficult process. While those who have been found guilty of serious crimes do have the right to appeal a conviction or sentence, choosing a capable and experienced lawyer is critical to success. Even then, no appellate attorney can guarantee success. However, it is important to choose a knowledgeable and aggressive lawyer in order to have the best possible chance of having a conviction or sentence overturned.