Willoughby to get a new trial
25-year-old murder case to be retried
by Bob Rule, KPIN 101.1 FM Radio
August 17, 2011
Troy Dean Willoughby will be getting a new trial. District Court Judge Timothy Day issued the ruling on Tuesday, August 16th, vacating Willoughby's murder conviction and ordering a new trial. Willoughby was convicted of the murder of Lisa Ehlers, who was shot to death outside her car in a turnout at the south end of the Hoback Canyon on June 21st, 1984.
In October of 2008, the Sublette County sheriff's office reinvestigated the murder of Ehlers, and on January 29, 2010 Willoughby was convicted of the first degree murder of Lisa Ehlers.
On June 10, 2011, the new Sublette County and Prosecuting Attorney-Neal Stelting, who had replaced Lucky McMahon who had lost re-election, gave notice to the defense team of previously undisclosed evidence, which could have assisted in Willoughby's defense.
The order signed by Judge Day stated, "The Defendant's Motion for New Trial was prompted by the disclosure of the report to the Defendant by the Sublette County & Prosecuting Attorney's Office. The current County Attorney was not involved in the prosecution of this matter. It appears the County Attorney acted promptly, dutifully, and ethically in disclosing the report to the Defendant once he become aware of its existence. This is a commendable action and one that should be expected from the State in its mission to seek justice, and not to merely convict."
The report goes on to state: "The Court suspects that the evidence withheld in this matter was done under a misguided zeal that the disclosure of the report may result in a failure of justice, in the eyes of the investigators, because they "knew" the Defendant was guilty. If this philosophy prevails, the danger is that there will be a failure of justice because of the mentality that the ends justify the means; justice as measured by the government and not by the jury."
Judge Day's order did not set a new date or place for the new trial.
Judge’s Order Granting Defendant’s Motion For New Trial August 16, 2011
Exculpatory evidence revealed in Troy Willoughby trial June 14, 2011
Update on Willoughby case June 22, 2011
Sublette County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Press Release June 14, 2011
Troy Willoughby sentenced to life March 26, 2010
Arrest made in 25-year old murder case March 1, 2009