CAMPBELL COUNTY—The state appellate court agreed with Phillip Pack — the evidence in his second-degree murder conviction was insufficient and the prosecutor made “inappropriate remarks” during closing arguments.
The opinion, handed down late last week, reverses the conviction and dismisses the charges.
In 2008, Pack was charged with murder in the death of Jayne Love. The jury was told that Pack, his brother and Michael Wilson had been to Eagle Bluff — a popular mountain overlook near Jacksboro — with Love in April 2008. Love reportedly ingested “bad” methamphetamine prepared by Pack and died. It was Wilson’s testimony that claimed Pack had cooked the meth that reportedly killed Love.
Hunters found Love’s body on Eagle Bluff several weeks later.
Pack’s attorney, Greg Isaacs, argued several points before the court during a hearing in May.
“[Forensic examiners] were unable to, based on the analysis [determine the] cause of death,” Isaacs argued earlier this year.
Additionally, the state took no measures to determine how long Love’s body had been on Eagle Bluff, argued Isaacs.
“Did she die that night? Did she die a week later? Did she die two weeks later?” Isaacs asked.
The testimony that damned Phillip Pack came from a witness who should have been an accomplice, Isaacs continued.
“[Michael Wilson] never came forward until after the body was found,” Isaacs said during May arguments. “…You can’t have a body on a mountain and have somebody come in that was a participant and say here’s how the death happened.”
The court agreed that there wasn’t enough forensic evidence to support a conviction because it was unclear if Love had even ingested any methamphetamine.
The court agreed with Pack’s argument that the prosecution had made improper remarks when he argued “facts not in evidence.”
The prosecution also urged the jury to examine Pack’s demeanor during the original trial. This was improper according to the appellate court.
“Prosecutorial comment on a defendant’s non-testimonial behavior may impinge on that defendant’s fifth-amendment right not to testify,” the court opined. A 1987 federal case is the basis for that opinion.
Ultimately, because the prosecution did not establish a cause of Love’s death and could not link her death to a methamphetamine overdose, the court overturned Pack’s conviction.
He was originally sentenced to 25 years in prison at trial. It was unclear when he would be released from prison following the appellate court’s opinion.