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Defense doubts man will be convicted in child’s death

Published 11:59am Thursday, October 18, 2012

Defense attorneys representing a man charged with murder in the death of a 5-month-old child don’t think the defendant will be convicted–even if there is another trial.

Patrick Compton, 29, stood accused of murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide earlier this month; but after deliberation, a mistrial was declared because the 12-person jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.

“The jury could likely have been leaning toward a ‘not guilty’ verdict, or certainly to one of the lesser charges,” Walter Hayden, who is representing Compton along with Ali Garrett, wrote in a letter to The Clanton Advertiser.

A child abuse charge against Compton was dropped before the trial began on Oct. 1 at the Chilton County Courthouse.

Judge Sibley Reynolds declared the mistrial on Oct. 5.

The incident that led to the child’s death occurred on Dec. 15, 2009 at Compton’s residence on County Road 969 in Jemison.

The child belonged to Compton’s girlfriend, Johnna Phillips.

“We would like to state that there was great conflict in the state’s testimony as to what happened, particularly in regard to the testimony of their expert witnesses, and we do not ever think that the charge as presented can sustain a conviction to murder,” Hayden wrote.

Compton took the stand in his defense at the trial, as well as other witnesses.

District Attorney Randall Houston’s office confirmed that prosecutors will continue to pursue the case to a second trial.

“We both consider representing Patrick one of the great honors of our legal careers and our lives,” Hayden wrote about himself and Garrett. “We wholly believe in the fundamental principles of justice, both having defended and prosecuted people over the years. We look forward to this case being presented to the court and people of Chilton County again.”

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