- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A judge in Tennessee will determine if another judge’s addiction to prescription painkillers should result in a new trial for a woman convicted in her husband’s death.

The Knoxville News Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1MED3IN ) reports that Senior Judge Paul Summers wrapped up a three-day hearing Wednesday on Raynella Dossett Leath’s conviction.

“I think the most important issue in this case is what I have termed ‘ineffective assistance of judge,’” the newspaper quoted Summers as saying.

Leath was convicted in the 2003 shooting death of her second husband, David Leath. Her attorney, Rebecca Legrand, has argued that Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner’s drug addiction tainted the trial in 2010.

An investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation found that Baumgartner was addicted to opiates. Baumgartner’s last act in office was refusing to grant Leath’s motion for a new trial.

Legrand also argued that Baumgartner was asleep on the bench during the trial.

“His entire thought process was focused on how to obtain drugs,” Legrand argued Wednesday. “He wasn’t thinking about facts. He wasn’t thinking about protecting Ms. Leath’s rights. He was thinking about how to get his next fix or he was sleeping.”

Leath is currently serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole after a mandatory 51-year prison term.

Summers said he will issue a ruling in the coming weeks.


Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, https://www.knoxnews.com

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