WESTON, W.Va. — A Lewis County judge did not grant the motion of Lena Lunsford Conaway requesting a new trial.
As a result of Thursday’s hearing, Lunsford’s sentencing hearing has been pushed back from it’s original date of June 28 to July 2.
Thursday’s hearing started nearly an hour after it was scheduled to begin, as her attorney, Tom Dyer, needed extra time to prepare requests to the court from Lunsford Conaway herself, including Brady violations, double jeopardy and juror misconduct.
Dyer requested a continuance in the case to review those requests. The state objected continuance, and Lewis County Circuit Judge Jake Reger denied Dyer’s motion saying, “I think it’s time to go forward with this.”
Dyer then proceeded with the two motions he filed earlier this month — one claiming that the State suppressed or withheld evidence from the defense and a second that the State is in violation of Brady v. Maryland.
Approximately one year ago, Dr. Mel Wright, a pediatric trauma specialist of WVU Medicine was approached by State Police Sgt. Shannon Loudin and briefed on the case. According to Dyer, Dr. Wright said the manner in which Lunsford Conaway hit Aliayah “may have” represented cause of death, but that it would be impossible to determine with certainty without a body.
While the State sought this expert opinion during pre-trial Dr. Wright did not testify on the stand, he added.
Without any expert testimony, Dyer said the bulk of the evidence presented during the trial was “circumstantial.
“We don’t have any evidence other than the story that’s related from the two sisters who are 9 and 11 at the time,” he said. “We don’t have any evidence to a cause of death.”
“This is a trial of physical abuse,” Dyer added. “It may or may not be a cause of death.”
Dyer also argued that by not offering this information to the defense, Dr. Wright’s expert witness is “exculpatory evidence,” to which the State denied.
Lewis County Prosecutor Christina Flanigan said that Dyer consulted his own physicians during pre-trial that were not used as witnesses during the trial. Additionally, once Wright’s name arose during the trial, that Dyer could have posed further questions about the discussions.
“I don’t think he was harmed in any way by that,” Flanigan said. “I think there’s different avenues he could have taken.”
Reger denied Dyer’s motion, stating he found that the state did present sufficient evidence to the jury during the trial.
Dyer also requested a new trial for his defendant, to which Reger also denied.
Lunsford Conaway’s sentencing will be 2 p.m. on July 2.