Northwood homicide sentencing postponed

Published 9:46 am Thursday, August 27, 2015

Defendant asks for new trial

The sentencing of the Northwood man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend in August 2013 has been postponed after he requested a new trial earlier this week.

A jury in July found Tyrone Washington Jr. guilty of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Justina Smith.

Tyrone Washington Jr.

Tyrone Washington Jr.

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Washington, 41, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole. The sentencing hearing had been slated for Aug. 31.

Washington’s lawyer, Charles Kenville, in July said an appeal was likely. He argued his client was acting in self-defense when he stabbed Smith, 30, also of Northwood, in Swensrud Park.

According to a motion filed in Worth County District Court on Monday, Washington asked Judge Colleen Weiland for either a new trial or for her to issue no judgment against him.

“The verdict in this case is contrary to the law and evidence presented at trial,” the motion stated. “If the court reaches a conclusion that the verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence and that a miscarriage of justice may have resulted, the verdict may be set aside and a new trial granted.”

Kenville in the motion questioned the credibility of some of the prosecution’s witnesses. He said there was no evidence that established that Washington possessed the knife involved in the stabbing prior to the altercation with Smith, and he said there was insufficient evidence to show that Washington acted with premeditation.

In addition, the lawyer said the prosecution failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Washington did not act in self defense and that the court erred in not striking the jury panel prior to the trial.

Washington on Aug. 18 and on Tuesday wrote letters to Weiland, claiming he stabbed Smith in self defense and asking Weiland to reconsider his case.

“I’m begging for your understanding and time,” Washington wrote. “Can you please re-open my case for investigation?”

Worth County District Court records state the prosecution requested to continue the sentencing hearing from Aug. 31.