Death row inmate seeks lawyer

2009-11-21T23:45:00Z 2011-12-20T12:17:07Z Death row inmate seeks lawyerBy TOM MORTON Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
November 21, 2009 11:45 pm  • 

CASPER — Convicted murderer Dale Wayne Eaton has filed a request for the Wyoming U.S. District Court to appoint an attorney for him while his case is under review by the Wyoming state courts.

Eaton has been on death row since 2004 after his conviction of first-degree premeditated murder, three counts of felony murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and first degree sexual assault in the 1988 killing of 18-year-old Lisa Marie Kimmell.

The Wyoming Supreme Court upheld his conviction and sentence last year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal in February, and in October Natrona County District Judge David Park denied a petition claiming Eaton did not receive a meaningful review from the state Supreme Court.

These appeals included stays of execution.

Eaton has since filed a petition with the Wyoming Supreme Court to review Park’s decision, which also rejected the claim that he lacked an effective appeals attorney and that he shouldn’t be executed because of his mental state.

That review is pending.

Meanwhile, Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen has filed a warrant to carry out the execution, as well as a request to have Eaton transported from the Wyoming State Penitentiary to Natrona County for the Dec. 14 hearing about this warrant.

On Tuesday, Eaton filed his response to the death warrant request with the help of Diane Courselle, director of the Defender Aid Program of the University of Wyoming’s College of Law.

The Wyoming Supreme Court has the jurisdiction over the stay of execution, according to Eaton’s response filed in Natrona County District Court.

“As the Wyoming Supreme Court granted the last stay of execution, any motion to issue a warrant of execution must be addressed to the Wyoming Supreme Court, not this Court.

“Moreover, Mr. Eaton currently has pending in the Wyoming Supreme Court a petition for writ of review seeking review of this Court’s decision on the post-conviction petition. Thus issuing a warrant of execution also would be premature,” according to Eaton’s response.

On Thursday, Eaton filed his request in federal court for an attorney to handle these issues, also with Courselle’s help.

“As there are no other state court avenues of relief for Mr. Eaton to pursue after the Wyoming Supreme Court rules on the pending petition, Mr. Eaton respectfully asks that this Court appoint counsel at the earliest opportunity,” according to his federal court motion.

Eaton also submitted a financial affidavit showing that he could not afford an attorney.

The filings are the latest round of court maneuvers in the case that started in 1988 when Kimmell disappeared while driving from Colorado to Cody. Eight days after she vanished, fishermen found her body floating in the North Platte River.

Prosecutors, with the help of DNA evidence, charged Eaton with the killing in 2003.

Eaton had raped Kimmell, hit her in the head and stabbed her multiple times before throwing her body from Government Bridge off Wyoming Highway 220.

Contact Tom Morton at tom.morton@trib.com or 307-266-0592.

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