A deal could be in the works for accused child killer Patrick Cody McCormick to avoid retrial and not spend another day in prison.
McCormick is scheduled to appear back in Elko District court for a status hearing next week on March 4th.
McCormick who had his murder conviction overturned last November by the Nevada Supreme Court is now free on bail awaiting a possible retrial later this year.
McCormick was tried and convicted of the 1995 murder of then 14 month old Jacob Jones.
His trial gain notoriety not only because of the age of the victim but also because McCormick was represented by “rock star” attorney Ron Yengich of Salt Lake city and the fact that Yengich lost.
In addition to possibly freeing McCormick, the court’s finding that the Carlin miner deserved a new trial because his original attorney was grossly incompetent sent shock waves across the intermountain west.
“We aren’t talking about some inexperienced, under paid public defender,” said McCormick’s new attorney Rick Cornell. “This is Ron Yengich, who is promoted as the best defense attorney in the west.”
The winning appeal attorney, Cornell was supposed to have handed off the case to another lawyer after the bail hearing earlier this month. However according to court documents Cornell is still the attorney of record representing McCormick.
“It’s really not that hard,” Cornell said at the time. “McCormick signs an agreement not to sue the state for false imprisonment. He either takes a plea with the time served or the charges are dropped. He walks free and the state and county avoid an expensive trial and a trial they have a real good chance of losing.”
According to cornell and the Nevada Supreme Court agreed the “expert” testimony of Dr. Ellen Clark that sent McCormick to prison was extremely suspect and could have been easily challenged by another pathologist.
Part of the court’s ruling is reprinted below:
Opinions such as those of Dr. R. Gabriel, whom appellant
retained for the post-conviction proceedings, would have impeached Dr.
Clark’s testimony and provided a plausible, alternative cause of death that
did not implicate appellant. Dr. Gabriel opined based on the victim’s
medical records and the autopsy report that the victim died from
anaphylactic shock due to penicillin poisoning. He explained that it was
in fact not “unusual” that no penicillin was found in the victim’s system as
it would have been fully metabolized before death, an opinion with which
Dr. Clark agreed at the evidentiary hearing held for the instant petition.
Dr. Gabriel further opined that the medical records and autopsy report
contained insufficient evidence to support child abuse as a cause of death.
17 years later the burden for the state is even greater.
“A new trial with so much time passed would not be easy for the prosecution,” said retired District Judge Mike Memeo. “Witnesses forget, evidence is destroyed or ruined. It isn’t impossible getting another conviction but it isn’t easy.”
The prospect of McCormick walking free is even acceptable to Jacob Jones’ father Ben Jones under certain conditions.
In an emotional interview with the High Desert Advocate earlier this month, Ben Jones, the father of murdered toddler Jacob Jones agonized over his few options regarding the upcoming hearing of Patrick Cody McCormick.
“It would be hard to swallow,” said Ben Jones. “But I could live with McCormick not serving another day behind bars. What I could not take is if he walks out not guilty. That is completely unacceptable.”