Saying important evidence was withheld in his case, a Green Bay police detective convicted in 1999 of murder is asking that the state be ordered to turn over autopsy slides and records of an arson test a state agent testified he performed but for which documentation has never been produced.
In the motion filed Monday in Brown County Circuit Court, La Crosse attorney John Brinckman asks that 79 previously undisclosed photographic slides of Sandra Maloney's autopsy be turned over to Dr. Gregory Schmunk, the former Brown County medical examiner.
Schmunk, whose testimony helped convict John Maloney, said in a Nov. 2 affidavit that he no longer stands by his ruling that Sandra Maloney was murdered because of "relevant information that may have been withheld and/or misrepresented by (Division of Criminal Investigation) agents" including former agent Greg Eggum. Schmunk is now the medical examiner for Polk County, Iowa, which includes Des Moines.
Maloney has always said he had no involvement in the death of his wife, whose body was found Feb. 11, 1998, on a burned couch in her Green Bay home. An autopsy found Sandra Maloney had been highly intoxicated,had suffered a blow to the head and was the victim of "probable manual strangulation."
Prosecutor Joseph Paulus, who was convicted in an unrelated bribery scheme, alleged Maloney strangled his wife and set fire to the floor in front of her couch. Maloney was convicted by a jury and is serving a life term at Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun.
The motion filed Monday also seeks documentation of a test Eggum testified he performed showing vodka could have been used as an accelerant. In response to an open-records request by the Wisconsin State Journal, DCI officials refused to search for the records, inviting a reporter to do the search.
A State Journal review in March of DCI's Maloney file failed to turn up any evidence the tests were done. Ira Sutow, a producer with CBS' "48 Hours," also told the State Journal that a representative of his investigative news program searched the Maloney files in 2005 and could find no documentation for the tests.
Department of Justice spokesman Kevin St. John declined to answer questions about whether Eggum conducted the tests or whether the records exist. "The records are what they are," he said.
St. John also declined to say what steps his agency has taken, if any, to locate the documentation. "There have been no allegations that call into question the rightness of the jury's conviction," he said.
Eggum also declined to comment, hanging up on a reporter before any questions could be posed.
Monday's motion isn't the first time questions have been raised about Eggum's truthfulness. Former Shawano Police Chief Norm Jahn said he raised similar concerns to DCI in phone calls and a letter following a 1998 police shooting in his community - a probe that Eggum was conducting at the same time he was investigating Maloney. (See related story.) Brinckman said in an interview that neither of Maloney's previous attorneys challenged the notion that Sandra Maloney was murdered or that the fire at her home was arson.
His motion notes that apparent suicide notes written by Sandra Maloney, her history of seizures and abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs and evidence that she was in the shower after hitting her head in the basement all were withheld from Schmunk and Dr. John Teggatz, the late Milwaukee County deputy medical examiner who conducted the autopsy.
"No prior defense counsel at either trial level or appellate level has investigated the issue of whether Sandra Maloney was in fact murdered," Brinckman wrote in his motion. "Additionally, the pathologists were informed that this absolutely was arson, a fact which has been the subject of much controversy since the trial."
Eggum said in his report declaring the fire an arson that he had test-burned a piece of Sandra Maloney's couch cushion and found it did not "run." Eggum used that finding to knock down the theory that the fire was started accidentally in the couch by a cigarette, and that the cushions melted, creating dark char patterns on the floor.
Instead, Eggum testified at trial that the burn marks were caused by vodka being set on fire. Eggum said he tested the theory by setting fire to vodka and that it burned "very, very clean and very hot."
But tests performed in 2005 by the former deputy fire marshal for Alabama, James Munger, disputed those findings. Munger videotaped the tests, which showed that burning polyeurathane couch cushions melt and run onto the floor. Munger also repeatedly lit vodka poured on a carpet and found the flame went out after a few seconds, leaving no marks on the carpet.
In his motion, Brinckman also seeks the entire Brown County arson task force report related to the fire. The task force had ruled the fire was accidentally caused by Sandra Maloney's careless use of smoking materials.
In a prison interview in February, Maloney, himself a former arson investigator, said he found it suspicious there appear to be no records of Eggum's disputed arson tests. He said documenting tests is "paramount" to any police investigation.
"He (Eggum) meticulously documented everything else in his investigation except that. They (DCI) don't have it (the documentation) because it (testing) wasn't done."
However, Carolyn Kelly, director of the special-assignments bureau at DCI, said her department has no policies spelling out how agents must conduct scientific testing.
Video: Watch the fire test that supports John Maloney's claim
Go to: This story at www.madison.com/wsj
Inside: Investigator also handled police shooting probe. Page B2
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