Federal Public Defender Lisa Peebles claims â??prosecutorial misconductâ?? in her motion to release Gary Thibodeau from prison for wrongful conviction of the kidnapping and presumed murder of Heidi Allen.
The motion reveals that Oswego County Sheriffâ??s investigators had suspected five other people, including three who have recently surfaced as possible suspects; James Steen, Roger Breckenridge and Michael Bohrer. The 440 motion claims "the State intentionally suppressed these reports to divert trial counsel's attention and to prevent him from uncovering an alternative theory and motive for Allen's abduction."
The motion also claims the investigators actually interviewed the three after Allenâ??s disappearance in 1994, but that information was never turned over to Thibodeauâ??s defense.
Among the exhibits in the court papers, results of a lie detector test taken by Gary Thibodeau from prison in 1996. The certified polygraphist concludes there "are no significant reactions to the above questions that are indicative of deception."
There is also a sworn statement by current Onondaga County Court Judge Joseph Fahey, who represented Gary Thibodeau at trial, that acknowledges all the elements of evidence that were not disclosed to him during the discovery phase before the trial. Among the information, the revelation that Heidi Allen was a confidential informant to police about alleged drug activity in Oswego County as far back as 1991, and that, at one point, a sheriffâ??s investigator may have blown her cover when he dropped an index card with her name and picture, labeling her as a confidential informant.
When asked if she was alleging prosecutorial misconduct, Peebles said, "We are or at least misconduct on the part of the Sheriff's Department but we suspect the DA';s office had to know about it."
Bohrer recently told Post Standard reported John Oâ??Brien that he knew about the card being dropped in a parking lot, even though that information was never made public, nor was it ever turned over to defense attorneys.
Peebles had also included as part of the motion recent events in which sheriffâ??s deputies have been searching a cabin near Rice Road, in Mexico, in hopes of finding Heidi Allenâ??s remains.
Former Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon by phone, "There's not a lot I can say properly on the record if in fact there's a 440 motion that's been filed." Dodd said questions should be directed to the current District Attoney Gregory Oakes because it would up to him to officially respond to the motion to vacate Thibodeau's conviction.
As of Wednesday afternoon, members of the Onondaga County Medical Examinerâ??s Office were conducting a full forensic investigation of the cabin.
On Monday, a State Police cadaver dog was brought to the site, and reportedly alerted investigators twice at the scene.
Now, 19 years later, Gary Thibodeau could go free. Thibodeau has always claimed his innocence, but exhausted his appeals seven years ago.
The request to free Thibodeau claims that his conviction was reached through â??fraud and misrepresentations.â??
Lisa Buske, Heidi Allenâ??s sister, read a statement Wednesday, saying that this new evidence and possible new suspects is like â??pouring salt on an open wound.â??
You can read the full motion for release here.