State investigators were seeking a Utah resident in the death of Jeffrey Lynn Green in 1979 when condemned murderer Mark Hopkinson went to trial in the death, according to Hopkinson's latest appeal.
The appeal filed by Leonard Munker on Friday also repeated the defense's allegations that prosecutors have never been able to link Hopkinson with the killers of Jeffrey Lynn Green.Hopkinson has been sentenced to die for ordering Green's torture slaying in 1979. Green's killers have never been captured.
Green died shortly before he was to have testified before a grand jury about the bombing deaths of an Evanston attorney and two members of his family.
Hopkinson was to have been executed in September, but the execution was stayed pending the filing of his latest appeal.
In the appeal, Munker quoted investigative reports that became available to defense attorneys only recently that said when Hopkinson's trial began, Wyoming authorities were on the trail of a man believed to be involved with Green's death, identified as Joe Vialpando of Utah.
Edward Brass, one of Hopkinson's attorneys in his 1979 trial, said he was upset to learn that the information had not been shared with defense attorneys.
"They had a suspect before the trial even started," he said in a deposition. "In my mind we were deprived of . . . information . . . that should have been given to us. Who knows what number of things we could have found out by talking with . . . Vialpando. Not just about guilt, but about the penalty as well."
Brass said he and Hopkinson's other attorney, Robert Van Sciver, could have been more effective in representing Hopkinson if they had been given the information.
"We wouldn't have been fighting shadows," he said. "We wouldn't have been fighting one of the best closing arguments that I ever heard that (wove) together a lot of conjecture into a murder."
The appeal, containing almost 1,000 pages, also said prosecutors have never made a direct connection between Hopkinson and Green's killers.
"We think we have documents which show the following: Investigators in this case - (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Division of Criminal Investigation) FBI and Uinta sheriff's department - never had any evidence," Munker said. "What evidence they had was contrived. We are using their own documents, not our investigative material, in our brief. It is the evidence in the case."
Prosecutors specifically failed to show that Green's killers were operating on Hopkinson's orders, the appeal said.