A man who was stabbed near a St. Louis gas station is heading for a new trial in September, after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in January that a key defense witness lied during his first trial.
Phillip H. March alleges that Midwest St. Louis, the owner of the gas station, failed to keep its premises safe. The station, however, has denied that the attack took place on its property.
It’s unclear whether the April 2007 assault occurred next to a Dumpster on Midwest’s property or in an alley that was not on the company’s property. According to court documents, March’s intoxication at the time of the stabbing and the severity of his injuries left him unable to recall the exact events leading up to the stabbing.
At the original trial in St. Louis Circuit Court, Midwest presented evidence from Louis Akin, a blood spatter expert who said the photos from the crime scene proved March was not on Midwest’s property when he was stabbed. The jury found for the gas station owners.
After the trial, however, March presented new evidence that Akin had given incorrect information to the jury. On the stand, Akin implied that he had been retained by the U.S. government to reconstruct the scene of a 2009 gun massacre at Fort Hood, Texas. In fact, Akin had worked for the defense in that case.
The Supreme Court ruled Jan. 14 that the original trial judge, Edward W. Sweeney Jr., didn’t abuse his discretion in finding that Akin testified falsely, resulting in an improper verdict.
After the ruling, Midwest once again sought to certify Akin as an expert, but Judge David Dowd, who is now presiding over the case, refused. In a March 24 order, he wrote that doing so would “send the deleterious message that the presentation of perjured expert witness testimony will have no negative consequences for the perjurer or the party employing him.”
Dowd said the defense could find a different expert, but the parties subsequently agreed that neither will present a blood spatter expert. The trial is scheduled to start Sept. 2.
The case is March v. Midwest St. Louis LLC, 0722-CC07146-01.