In June of 2014, Loretta Hawks, who was 35 years old at the time, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of 47-year-old Arthur Strozewski in August of 2012. News reports call the incident a “home invasion style murder.” Hawks allegedly participated with two others, all three charged with murder, kidnapping, and burglary.
Testimony at trial indicated that Hawks had lived with the victim, who threw her out of the home earlier on the day he was killed. She reportedly returned to the home later that evening with the two co-defendants. At the time the three went to Strozewski’s home, his two teenage children were also present. While the victim’s daughter was able to call 911, Strozewski and his son were allegedly bound with duct tape. The victim was then stabbed to death.
Earlier this week, Hawks’ conviction and life prison sentence were reversed by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, and a new trial ordered. Hawks claimed in her appeal that the evidence she aided the co-defendants or participated in the murder of the victim was insufficient. While the conviction and sentence were reversed, news reports do not reveal what the court based its decision on.
Even individuals who are convicted of murder may have the right to appeal a conviction, sentence, or both. Because someone is found guilty of a crime does not mean mistakes weren’t made during the criminal justice process. In some cases, the evidence may not support a conviction; in others, a defendant may have a defense attorney who was not effective in representing the client. Jurors and judges make mistakes; in some instances it may be that testimony or evidence was allowed that should not have been allowed. Basically, the appeals process presents an opportunity for a panel of judges to review every detail of a case to determine if mistakes may have been made, or a defendant’s rights violated.
If you have been wrongly convicted of a crime or believe you have strong grounds to appeal a verdict or sentence, consult with a highly experienced Michigan criminal appeals attorney.