Wis. court upholds conviction in ice pick slaying

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MILWAUKEE (AP) - A Wisconsin appeals court ruled Tuesday that a Milwaukee man was properly convicted of killing his girlfriend with an ice pick, rejecting his claim that he should have been permitted to testify the slaying was self-defense.

Eddie Lee Anthony, 66, has been serving a life sentence for the 2010 death of 43-year-old Sabrina R. Junior.

According to court records, Anthony stabbed Junior 45 times during an argument in their Milwaukee home. Their 11-year-old daughter, who was hiding in a closet with two other children, told police she saw her father follow her mother into the bedroom with a 10-inch ice pick and heard her mother scream. The child said after the screaming stopped, her father packed clothes in a suitcase and left.

Junior’s 17-year-old daughter, who left the house during the argument, came back and found her mother’s body.

Anthony claimed he acted in self-defense and planned to testify at trial. But the judge refused to let him take the stand after he insisted on bringing up a wrongful armed robbery conviction in 1966, despite begin told it was irrelevant to the homicide case.

Anthony’s appeal argued he should have been allowed to testify and that state prosecutors wrongly excluded an African-American minister from the jury.

A three-judge panel of the District 1 Court of Appeals rejected those claims. It noted that Junior could not grip a knife because she had rheumatoid arthritis, used a walker and sometimes limped. The mother of Anthony’s teenage son testified at trial that Anthony suspected Junior was having an affair, told her about the slaying and never mentioned self-defense.

“Even if Anthony had testified about his self-defense claim, an overwhelming amount of evidence would have undermined his theory,” the court decision said. “We are not persuaded that the result of Anthony’s trial would probably have been different had the jury heard his testimony.”

Anthony’s attorney, Kimberly Alderman, of Madison, described the decision as surprising and scary.

“Forbidding a criminal defendant from telling his side of the story should never be considered ‘harmless,’” she wrote in an email. “Eddie had a constitutional right to defend himself, but he wasn’t allowed to do so. What was the point of having a trial, then? To think you can be tried for murder but never be allowed to testify on what happened - that’s scary.”

The appeals court said state prosecutors could exclude the minister from the jury since the decision was not based on the man’s race but the likelihood that he would rely more on his faith than the evidence in deciding the case.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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