Murder convictions overturned, lead prosecutor speaks out
Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Tom Van De Rostyne
Lloyd W. Hammond (Source: KY Dept of Corrections)
Judge Audra Eckerle
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The prosecutor who led the case against a suspected gang leader is opening up about the decision of Kentucky's highest court to overturn the convictions.
"We ran a good trial. We had a good trial," Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Tom Van De Rostyne said.
Van De Rostyne tried the case that convicted Lloyd Hammond of three murders. However, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that Jefferson Circuit Judge Audra Eckerle improperly allowed prosecutors to present all three deaths during the same trial. The court also ruled that testimony was improperly allowed at the trial.
"If we have to, we'll go back into Circuit Court and begin the process again," said Van De Rostyne, who also acknowledges the heartache the families of the murder victims may have to go through again. "We're just very disappointed for the families of the victims."
On June 28, 2010 a jury found Hammond guilty in the murders of William Sawyers and Terrell Cherry on June 3, 2006 and then shooting Kerry Williams in the head two weeks later. Prosecutors wanted a death sentence, but Hammond was sentenced to life without parole.
When the Kentucky Supreme Court reversed those convictions they stated Eckerle made mistakes by combining the three murders into one trial and by allowing statements from Troya Sheckles, who was another murdered witness. The high court ordered three new trials, one for each of the murders.
"We'll abide by the court's rulings," said Van De Rostyne. "If we have to, we'll rehear the issue and the two main issues of the opinion: which was the Troya Sheckles statement and then the joinder of the murders."
The convictions may be thrown out, but Hammond isn't going anywhere. He will stay locked up until the courts, Kentucky Attorney General's Office and Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney's Office move forward.