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Michael Scott Murder Conviction Overturned

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2007/06/07 11:48

Austin's most notorious killings, the Yogurt Shop murders, remain essentially unsolved. The Court of Criminal Appeals Wednesday morning overturned the conviction of Michael Scott, the only man still convicted for the 1991 Yogurt Shop murders. Amy Ayers, sisters Jennifer and Sarah Harbison and Eliza Thomas were all murdered in a North Austin yogurt shop 15 1/2 years ago on Dec. 6. The shop was then set on fire.

From the beginning, Scott, his family and attorneys have all insisted he is innocent. They say he had nothing to do with the murders. The court of appeals threw out his conviction, saying his right to a fair trial was violated.

In 2002, prosecutors used a videotaped statement from Scott's former friend, Robert Springsteen, to help convict him of murder. At the time Scott did not have an opportunity to challenge it in court.It was a decision the Court of Criminal Appeals now says violated Scott's constitutional rights to a fair trial.

"Because the statement was introduced without Springsteen being there, Scott never had a chance to cross examine the statement,” appellate defense attorney Ariel Payan said. “It was just introduced and there was nothing that could be done about it."

Scott's wife Jeannine has spent five years trying to set him free. "I'm thrilled that they really did look at this and decide there's something wrong with this case," Jeannine said. She says it's time police investigators focus their attention on someone else. "I would like them to find the actual perpetrators and stop wasting the county's and the city's money in this particular endeavor," she said.

State prosecutors admit this latest decision is a setback. They say they don't agree with the Appeals Court ruling.

"If in fact it stays as it is now, Michael Scott would be tried again, " assistant district attorney Bryan Case said.

But until the decision is declared final, Case says they will continue weighing all of their legal options. They could appeal the reversal to the U.S. Supreme Court, or take the case back to trial all over again.

Scott also insists his confession to police was coerced. He say he only agreed to it after several days of almost non-stop interrogation.


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