Hearing to continue in Echols new trial motion | NevadaAppeal.com

Hearing to continue in Echols new trial motion

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer

A hearing to determine if a convicted killer will get a new trial will continue next week.

Anthony Echols, 43, claims the jury in his 2003 murder trial was affected by emotional outbursts and derogatory statements about him from the family of victim Rick Albrecht.

Echols was sentenced to two life terms without parole in the shooting death of Albrecht in 2001.

On Friday, Echols’ supporters testified before Judge Bill Maddox about things they overheard inside and outside the courtroom during the trial, claiming jurors were standing nearby when Albrecht’s family members made derogatory statements about Echols.

Lori Britton, a friend of the Echols family, said Friday that she was entering a public restroom in the courthouse during the 2003 trial when she passed a jury member. Inside the restroom, she said, she could hear Albrecht’s sister say to a group of women, “I’m not accepting anything but first. We had better get first-degree (murder).”

Britton said, on another day she overheard former Carson City Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Scott Burau, who was seated in the gallery, state loudly that Echols was lying during his testimony. Britton also said she was followed to her vehicle by a member of the Albrecht family and had to ask a man in the parking lot to keep an eye on her while she got into her vehicle.

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She said she never brought these allegations to the attention of the bailiffs or judge during the course of the trial. A month after Echols’ conviction on Jan. 15, Britton wrote a letter to Maddox detailing her accusations.

“Why didn’t you bring this to my attention while the trial was going on?” Maddox asked.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Britton said.

“I’m just befuddled why, if all of this is going on, nobody brought it to my attention,” Maddox said.

Britton was one of about four others, including Echols’ stepfather, Frank Carpenter, to testify for Echols on Friday.

When Carpenter said he overheard Albrecht family members in the hallway talking loudly in front of the jury assembly room, Langer pointed out the jury room was at an opposite end of the building, in a locked hallway.

Carpenter also said he thought a juror seated at the end of the row was nodding at Albrecht’s family.

“There was one male juror who perpetually hung around in the hall. He sat in front of the jury box and would lean back in his chair, as if he were whispering to the victim’s family and they were whispering to him,” Carpenter stated in his affidavit.

No members of the jury were called to testify in this hearing.

Carpenter said he never mentioned his concerns during the trial to the judge, bailiffs or attorney because when he and his wife were allegedly harassed by the Albrecht family during the preliminary hearing, nothing was done.

Testimony will continue Monday.

— Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.