LITTLE ROCK (KTHV) - Arkansas' top prosecutor is heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.
State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel will deliver an argument to our nation's highest court, hoping to retry a 2007 Little Rock murder case.
It's been at least 15 years since Arkansas saw its top prosecutor go before the U.S. Supreme Court. McDaniel will appear before the Justices Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. He's arguing against a Double Jeopardy challenge from the attorneys of Alex Blueford of Jacksonville.
Pulaski County prosecutors charged Blueford in the late 2007 murder of his girlfriend's toddler son, Matthew McFadden Jr. Little Rock Police reports say the boy was found unconscious at their apartment. In court briefs, Blueford says the boy picked up his cigarette and when he got too close, Blueford hit him but denied any intent to hurt the child.
During his trial, the jury forewoman told the judge that they were against the capital murder and first degree murder charges but deadlocked on the lesser manslaughter charge. The judge eventually declared a mistrial.
Blueford's attorneys argue, since the jury was against the two greater charges, it's an acquittal for their client, and Double Jeopardy prevents a retrial. But McDaniel disagrees.
"The trial court said that's not a verdict, the Arkansas Supreme Court said that's not a verdict, the United States Supreme Court wants us to talk about some questions about what constitutes a verdict, when does a verdict become final and whether or not partial verdicts should be required by the states," McDaniel said.
McDaniel will get 30 minutes to make his case before the U.S. Supreme Court and so will the other side. He tells us this is a definitely a rare opportunity with lots of preparation but a lawyer's dream at the same time.
We attempted to contact the attorney representing Blueford but he never returned our calls. In a court brief posted on the Supreme Court's Docket, Blueford's defense team wrote: "The state wishes to run the gauntlet yet again on those charges. The Double Jeopardy clause is designed to prevent such a spectacle."
Blueford is currently in custody at the Pulaski County Detention Center. Records there show he's been there since late June, 2008.
For more information on this case, check out this link to the U.S. Supreme Court Docket.