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Murder convict granted new trial Appellate court faults jury selection

A man who has been imprisoned for more than four years for a 2001 murder has been granted a new trial by a state appellate court that faulted jury selection, officials said Friday.

David Wilmot, 31, was convicted on May 15, 2003, of the slaying of Patrick Bush on Smith Street and sentenced to 18 years to life. Wilmot was arrested in New Haven, Conn., on Oct. 4, 2002.

In a unanimous decision, the four judges of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester threw out the sentence State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang imposed on Aug. 26, 2003. However, the appellate ruling also noted that the conviction "is not against the weight of the evidence."

The Rochester tribunal agreed with Buffalo Legal Aid Bureau attorney Megan Misiti that Wolfgang should not have let prosecutor Thomas M. Finnerty remove from the jury a 19-year-old African-American man without cause, and after Wilmot's lawyer had objected to the removal. Finnerty said he removed the candidate from the jury because of his age and "lack of lifelong experience." But the court noted Finnerty neglected to exercise a similar challenge to a 22-year-old white male juror with a similar background.

Finnerty on Friday said the Erie County District Attorney's office is asking the State Court of Appeals, the state's high court in Albany, to review the case.


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