A man who severely beat a 94-year-old woman to death while taking methamphetamine has had his murder conviction overturned after a sexual relationship emerged between the presiding judge and the prosecutor in the case.
In a 3-2 decision, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a new trial for defendant Robert Leon Hashagen III, who was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder in 2021.
Hashagen’s lawyers later appealed after new evidence emerged of an undisclosed sexual relationship between trial court judge Timothy Henderson and one of the prosecutors.
Hashagen’s case could see hundreds of others supervised by Henderson reexamined.
A first-degree murder conviction was thrown out due to a sexual relationship between Judge Timothy Henderson and a prosecutor in the case.
The majority opinion found that ‘the undisclosed relationship violated Hashagen’s due process rights.’
“It is no exaggeration to say that the very integrity of the Oklahoma judiciary is at stake here,” attorney James Lockard argued in a defense appeal brief.
“If a man can be found guilty and sentenced to die in prison in a trial before a judge and prosecutor who were literally in bed together, then no Oklahoman can or should hope to get a fair trial in any Oklahoma court.” .
On the morning of July 5, 2013, Evelyn Goodall, a 94-year-old gardener and avid bird watcher, was struck and later died at the hospital.
‘Go Go. I’m dying. Please send the police. Please, hurry up. I’m bleeding to death,” he told an emergency dispatcher according to the Oklahoma.
Two days after the attack, Goodall died at a hospital from blunt force trauma, according to the state medical examiner.
Hashagen, who was a former Goodall neighbor, was convicted of felony murder in the commission of a robbery in 2021.
Hashagen’s case could see hundreds of others supervised by Henderson re-examined
Hashagen was convicted of breaking into Goodall’s home and assaulting her before tying him up and burglarizing his home.
Investigators said that at around 6:30 a.m. on July 5, 2013, Goodall was sitting in the dining room of her home when a man walked in through the back door.
He hurled dust in her direction and then assaulted her, bandaging her arms and legs, then placed furniture on top of her to confine her, and walked through the house.
Goodall was later able to crawl to the phone and call police, but she was covered in “blood from head to toe” when responding officers arrived.
Witnesses described Hashagen as a “drug addict who was a stranger in the neighborhood who should be watched,” according to the affidavit written at the time of the incident.
Hashagen had previously been convicted in the past for methamphetamine and firearms offenses. He also has arrests related to allegations of domestic abuse, records show.
Hashagen admitted to using methamphetamine at the time of the killing and that he was a former police officer, authorities said.
His DNA was found on Goodall’s bra after a theft case in 2010 and again in 2013 on toilet paper, police said at the time.
Defense attorneys argued at the time that Hashagen’s DNA could have been transferred to Goodall’s home because he visited there multiple times.
Goodall used to borrow a fan from the house where Hashagen was staying.
“Just because your DNA is in a place doesn’t mean you were there,” defense attorney Clay Curtis told the jury during closing arguments at the time.
On the morning of July 5, 2013, Evelyn Goodall, a 94-year-old gardener and avid bird watcher, was beaten to death.
Hashagen, who was a former Goodall neighbor, was convicted of felony murder in the commission of a robbery in 2021. He admitted to using methamphetamine at the time.
Hashagen’s lawyers argued that the tape used to tie Goodall up is common to contractors and handymen, and that Hashagen’s possession of the tape did not prove that he murdered Goodall.
Now, Curtis said KWTV, CBS affiliate that your client is ‘presumed innocent once again’.
The co-counsel, Benjamin Munda, told the Washington Post that the ruling to vacate the conviction was ‘the only proper result’.
“It would call into question the integrity of the whole procedure,” Munda said. “So I think the court did the right thing.”
Henderson’s relationship with the prosecutor, who remains anonymous, ended before the trial began in 2021, but Judge William Musseman wrote in the majority opinion that it did not “remove our concern about the trial judge’s possible bias.” instance”.
The appeals effort made six different points, the appeals court noted, but the judges only needed one to order a new trial.
Henderson resigned in March 2021 after three female attorneys filed allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
He was never charged and described the sexual relationship with two of the women as consensual.
“My decisions were fair and supported by the evidence and facts presented by the attorneys,” Henderson said at an evidentiary hearing in November 2021.
A new date for Hashagen’s trial has not yet been set.
Henderson presided over a series of high-profile criminal trials as a judge, including that of former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, whom Henderson sentenced to life in prison in 2016 after being convicted of raping and sexually victimizing women. while he was on his round. in Oklahoma City.
The co-counsel, Benjamin Munda, said the ruling to vacate the conviction was ‘the only proper result’
Hashagen’s case could see hundreds of others supervised by Henderson re-examined, according to KFOR.
Attorney Robert Gifford, whose client Aaron Thomas Brock was sentenced to 35 years in prison for robbing a southwest Oklahoma City motel at knifepoint in 2015, also requested a new trial.
Gifford said Henderson oversaw the trial and the misconduct now casts doubt on hundreds of other cases because of possible violations of constitutional rights or due process.
‘Did anyone get all the rights they were entitled to? Were they able to go through the process and receive fair treatment? He [Brock] did not receive a fair trial [and] he did not receive a fair sentence,’ Gifford said.
The case was reassigned to a judge in Canadian County for post-conviction review.
“The Canadian County Judge found that due process had been violated, that the appearance of the sexual relationship between the prosecutor and the judge could not be sustained and reversed the conviction and set up a new trial,” it added.
“In fact, they made a recommendation for an appropriate sentence that should [have] received the first time,’ he continued.
“He ended up getting close to the time served, but it took him seven and a half years to get there.”
The Oklahoma County district attorney’s office said it notified other people whose cases were heard before Judge Henderson between 2016 and his retirement.
They said they plan to review requests for post-conviction relief as they come in.