New proceedings begin for man whose murder conviction was tossed
SALT LAKE CITY — A man convicted in the cold case murder of his fiancé, only to have his conviction overturned, is about to start the process of being tried again.
In 1996, Jamie Ellen Weiss, 18, was found dead in a bathtub in the mobile home she shared with Billy Justin Charles, who was then 20. The incident was originally reported as a drowning, but the Utah State Medical Examiner's Office determined Weiss died of blunt force trauma and asphyxiation.
Thirteen years later, in 2009, Charles was arrested in connection with her death and eventually convicted of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to five years to life in the Utah State Prison.
In August of 2011, however, the Utah Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and remanded the case for a new trial. The court ruled that because of errors by the defense and because Charles was convicted on mainly circumstantial evidence, "we think there is a reasonable probability that, absent the errors, the jury would have had a reasonable doubt about his guilt," the appeals court wrote in its decision.
Prosecutors appealed that decision to the Utah Supreme Court. But the state's high court denied the motion to review the case.
On Thursday, Charles was transferred from the Utah State Prison to the Salt Lake County Jail where he will be held pending the outcome of his latest court proceedings.
At a scheduling hearing hearing Monday, attorneys discussed a January trial. They set another scheduling conference for Nov. 5.
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