Austin man tries to flip murder conviction

Published 11:14 am Monday, September 6, 2010

In a tearful testimony Friday morning, Janet Hall, the half-sister of an Austin man convicted of murder 10 years ago, testified that her half-brother was not present during the fumbled robbery in which two men were shot and killed.

Friday’s hearing marks the fourth time David Kenneth Christian, 37, has tried to overturn his conviction.

His latest petition to overturn the conviction revolves around an affidavit filed by Hall, 28, last year.

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Hall testified against him during his trial, but in her latest affidavit she said her testimony was false and that Christian was not present while the robbery was being planned.

Hall said in her affidavit and in her most recent testimony that she originally gave false testimony because she felt pressured by local prosecutors and police.

Several officials who were involved in the initial investigation and interviewing of witnesses in 2000 testified that they never pressured Hall, but that she was informed that she could be charged with perjury if she gave false testimony.

In court Friday, Christian’s attorney, Beau McGraw, asked Hall to look over several transcripts of testimony she gave both in court and in closed interviews with investigative officials. Hall, who was taken into custody and charged with murder in the same case but later had the charges dropped, admitted that she lied in her testimony at the original trial because she felt like she would get into trouble if she was honest.

Hall expressed several times that Christian was not involved in the robbery or murder in any way and that he even tried not to listen when the prospect of committing a robbery was mentioned.

Friday’s hearing marked the first time Hall and Christian had encountered each other in person in 10 years; Hall said in her testimony that the two just recently began speaking again at all.

In June of 2001, a jury found Christian guilty of second-degree unintentional murder in a case that involved the deaths of two men at the now-closed Downtown Motel a year earlier. He is currently not expected to be released from the Stillwater state prison until 2027.

Two other men — Christian’s brother, Scot, and Vernon Powers — each received life terms in prison for shooting the men during a botched robbery attempt.

Mower County judge Donald Rysavy ordered that written closing arguments be submitted by Oct. 1. The matter would then go under advisement Oct. 4.