Friday, January 13 2017 11:51 AM EST2017-01-13 16:51:10 GMT
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(WMC) - Tennessee Supreme Court ordered a new trial for a Shelby County woman who was convicted five years ago in the second-degree murder of her own mother.
The court found constitutional errors over the course of Noura Jackson's proceedings during the 2009 trial. According to the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts, the lead prosecutor made improper argument and withheld evidence, which violated the defendant's constitutional rights.
The lead prosecutor is now the current Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich. Her alleged courtroom mistakes entitled Noura to a new trial, as announced Friday.
Noura's mother, Jennifer, was stabbed to death on June 5, 2005 in the East Memphis home they shared. She called police that day, saying she found her mother dead and stabbed more than 50 times.
Police say Noura gave conflicting information about her whereabouts around the time of the murder and how she had cut her hand.
When Noura was 20, a criminal court judge sentenced her to nearly 21 years in Tennessee Department of Corrections. Now, her attorney is hoping for a fair trial.
"There was no physical evidence to begin with," attorney Valerie Corder said. "To my knowledge there has been no investigating into whose blood that was mixed with Jennifer Jackson's at the murder scene."
Corder says her client should have never been convicted, and that investigators failed to look further into other DNA found in the home where Jennifer was found. The Tennessee Courts said that no DNA or scientific evidence implicated Noura; the prosecution's case was based on circumstantial evidence alone.
The courts' news release Friday said in part:
"The Supreme Court concluded that the prosecution had violated two of the defendant's constitutional rights: her right to remain silent and not testify at trial, and her right to due process of law. The Court explained that when constitutional errors occur in criminal trials, a new trial is required unless the State establishes that the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt ...
The Supreme Court expressed concern that the prosecutor had violated the more than 100-year-old legal rule prohibiting Tennessee prosecutors from commenting on a defendant's exercise of the right to remain silent. The Supreme Court reiterated a statement first made in 1984, which is that 'the subject of a defendant's right not to testify should be considered off limits to any conscientious prosecutor.'"
The district attorney will decide whether to grant Jackson a new trial. WMC Action News 5 did not receive a call back from Weirich's office regarding our comment request as of Friday night.