Kirby asking court to review case

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By Susan Sharp

Looking much thinner and visibly fidgeting Miranda Crystal Kirby appeared in Campbell County Criminal Court Monday.

After exhausting the appeal process she was back in the court where she had been found guilty of first-degree murder and robbery. She was asking the judge to reexamine her case.

At press time Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton had taken the case under advisement.

Kirby’s crimes occurred in 2006, according to court records.

They involved killing Jonathan Pierce and taking the cash that was in his wallet.

Her half- brother and co- defendant Travis Gaylor struck a deal with prosecutors and receiving 20 plus years for his part in the murder.

Sammy Miracle, the third alleged conspirator, faced a jury and walked away a free man.

But Kirby, the first of the trio to appear in court, didn’t fare as well. Instead the jury found her guilty of two felonies.

She is eligible for parole in 2064.

On Monday her new attorney Howard Ellis argued that new evidence has been unearthed since the trial. That evidence, had it been presented in 2008 could have brought Kirby a different outcome, he said.

The evidence was two videotapes police allegedly shot while interviewing Kirby about her part in Pierce’s death.

On one of the tapes, Kirby is seen walking police around what is believed to be the original crime scene, Ellis said. But it was later determined the events Kirby was describing hadn’t taken place on that spot on Caryville Mountain, he said.

Ellis argued the tapes were exculpatory because the contents of the tape were not true. Had the jury seen this, a different verdict could have been handed down, Ellis said. He further argued another tape showed a “distressed” Kirby as police interviewed her at the sheriff’s department.

“She spends the entire time fidgeting. She is just a mess,” Ellis said. He further pointed out that Kirby had a history of drug addiction. What is seen in the video is someone attempting to cope with narcotics withdrawal. That information could have been insightful to a jury, he said.

Senior Assistant District Attorney General Mike Ripley admitted the state had not provided the defense the videos. They weren’t available, he said.

“We would have played those in court,” Ripley said.

And despite their presence or lack of, Ripley contended the tapes had nothing on them that would have exonerated Kirby.

Ripley also attempted to discount what Ellis had described as withdrawal symptoms being displayed by Kirby on the video.

When Kirby took the stand she could have testified that was what she was doing during the video. She could have said she “was totally wigged out. But she didn’t,” Ripley said. Her lack of testimony on that subject made the point moot, he said.

The next prong of Ellis’ argument was directed at an assistant district attorney general.

Leif Jeffers, who had served as Kirby’s attorney at one time but now works as a prosecutor, was brought into the fray. His crossing into the state’s office cast doubt in Ellis’ mind of what information Jeffers may have shared with prosecutors.

On the stand, Jeffers testified that once he was hired by the district attorney’s office, he had no further knowledge of Kirby’s case.

In fact, his “insulation” from the case had “become a running joke” within the office Jeffers testified. He also told Ellis this had been the standard procedure not just for the trial but also through the appeal and post appeal process.

When Ellis asked Sexton to consider having another district’s prosecutor’s office handle the case if a new trial was granted, the judge halted that.

“Let me stop you. That is way down the line from where we are today,” Sexton said.

Sexton will issue a written opinion in the case.