A man convicted in 1999 of killing a South Bend police officer intends to ask a judge for a new trial, claiming there is evidence that might show he was wrongly convicted.
Gregory Dickens Jr. maintained his innocence during his murder trial for the 1997 killing of Cpl. Paul Deguch. But a jury found him guilty, and the then-19-year-old was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Dickens appealed the case to the Indiana Supreme Court in 2001, but his conviction was upheld.
Now 29, Dickens is using the final appeal option available to him under Indiana law to request a new trial.
On Friday, Dickens appeared before St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Jane Woodward Miller regarding his appeal, known as a petition for post-conviction relief.
His public defender, Steven Schutte, requested evidence from the state from the original trial, including a door from the porch where Deguch was shot four times while on-duty on Aug. 24, 1997.
Schutte said he wants to examine blood spatter on the door to see if it might have "evidentiary value."
At his trial, Dickens testified he was on the porch when Deguch was killed, but that another person on the porch shot Deguch.
Schutte also requested photographs from the crime scene that were not presented at trial, and spoke of retaining an expert in bullet-lead analysis from Washington, D.C.
The court set a tentative October 2011 date for a hearing in which Schutte will present evidence that "calls into question the fairness of Greg's trial," Schutte said.
Schutte said he will ask Miller for a new trial, and an amended sentence, if she does not grant the new trial.
The state will have an opportunity to counter Schutte's arguments, and Miller will eventually issue a written order on her decision.
Leon Liggett, representing the state, said Schutte was making a "seemingly voluminous request" for evidence that he said was already presented in the first trial.
Miller said she understood his concern but that Schutte's request was "not unduly burdensome."
About a dozen friends and relatives of Dickens attended Friday's hearing.
Dickens, shackled around his ankles and wrists, wore eyeglasses and an orange prison jumpsuit. He has been incarcerated at Miami Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Bunker Hill, Ind.
Schutte said Dickens recently earned his GED and is working toward a college degree.
Dickens' aunt, Ross Dickens, said he has been trying to stay in good spirits.
"The evidence is going to prove that he is innocent," she said after the hearing.
"We pray that the judge orders a new trial and that justice will be served."
Staff writer Mary Kate Malone: