Oklahoma Defense Attorney Admits Mistakes, Supports Appeal for Convicted Client

The current attorneys for a man convicted of murder in 2009 gain support for his appeal after his former defense lawyer issued an affidavit admitting mistakes that deprived his former client of a fair trial. Clinton Riley Potts, 36, of Boynton, was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole in the 2004 death of his former friend Gregory Leroy Clark, 35. 

A New Trial

Potts's attorneys are petitioning for a new trial, alleging that evidence was withheld during the initial murder trial, and that their client's former attorney failed to adequately represent the accused man at trial. Stillwell defense lawyer Rex Earl Starr admits in an affidavit submitted to Muskogee County District Judge Tom Alford that he did not provide adequate defense for his former client and he made costly mistakes that led to the defendant's unjust conviction. 

Starr calls Potts's murder conviction "a gross miscarriage of justice." Among the grounds for appeal is the allegation that a jailhouse informant, Peter Williams, only testified against Potts in order to gain favor with prosecutors. 

A note was recently discovered that shows that a Department of Corrections employee filed a violation report against Williams, alleging that he received preferential treatment for his testimony against Potts.  However, First Assistant District Attorney Jeff Sheridan says that the strongest evidence supporting a new trial for Clinton Riley Potts is Starr's ineffective counsel affidavit.

In the affidavit, Potts's former Oklahoma defense attorney admits to failure to adequately investigate the case prior to trial, failure to interview state's witnesses, failure to subpoena eight witnesses with exculpatory statements, failure to move for mistrial when a witness was seen making prejudicial statements to jurors, failure to object to the witness's statements being admitted as evidence, failure to listen to or transcribe recorded interviews with state's witnesses, failure to move for a mistrial when he learned that a juror attended school with the victim's nephew who discovered the body, failure to present evidence and witnesses that showed another named individual committed the murder.

Starr's affidavit says that the attorney had "no strategic reasons" for his ineffective counsel. Judge Tom Alford will submit a proposed order to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, who will determine whether or not Potts will receive a new trial.

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