Feds oppose Peel's request for new trial

Steve Gonzalez May 31, 2007, 12:00pm

The federal government does not think Gary Peel is entitled to a new trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Burke and Jennifer Hudson filed a motion in opposition to Peel's request for a new trial in U.S. District Court May 25.

Peel was convicted on March 23 by a federal jury on charges of bankruptcy fraud, obstruction of justice and possession of child pornography.

His attorneys filed a motion with U.S. District Judge William Stiehl claiming cumulative errors in the case denied their client a fair trial.

Federal public defenders Phillip J. Kavanaugh, Stephen Williams and Dan Cronin say that errors included giving improper jury instructions, excluding evidence that prevented Peel from presenting a complete defense, and allowing the government to present incompetent testimony and evidence that should have been excluded.

Peel is being held in detention at the Clinton County jail until his June 25 sentencing at the Melvin Price Courthouse in East St. Louis. Peel faces up to 40 years in prison.

"The interests of justice require that a new trial be granted," Peel's attorneys wrote.

They also claim that evidence was insufficient as matter of law to support a guilty verdict on two counts of child pornography due to the lack of evidence pertaining to Peel's knowledge and a nexus between the images in evidence and interstate commerce.

His legal team also claims Peel was prejudiced by Stiehl's exclusion of evidence important to his defense.

Peel was found guilty for blackmailing his ex-wife, Deborah J. Peel, with nude pictures taken of her younger sister at age 16 with whom he was having an affair.

"Prior to trial, this Court granted a number of motions in limine by the government, including the government's motions seeking the exclusion of evidence pertaining to non-reconstructive plastic surgery, such as a facelift, which Deborah J. Peel sought to have paid out of marital funds," Peel's attorneys wrote.

Peel asserted that the evidence is relevant to his ex-wife's credibility, veracity, and lack of good faith, but Stiehl said he "is not so persuaded."

Burke and Hudson agreed with Stiehl's decision.

"This stunning accusation is utterly lacking in foundation," they wrote.

Burke and Hudson said the majority of the money Peel complains Deborah J. Peel "stole" was awarded to her by a state court judge in their divorce case.

They say the rest of the money comes from both Peels using their joint account.

"The defendant's outrageous characterization of his losses in court as 'theft' by his ex-wife places his remaining accusations in context," Burke wrote.

Peel contended his former wife's alleged misappropriation of funds gave her a powerful bias against him - a bias about which the jury was completely unaware.

Burke said there was no evidence that Gary Peel could have offered supporting misappropriation of funds – only raw, unsupported accusations.

In addition Burke and Hudson claim they proved that the child pornography was produced using materials that have traveled in interstate commerce and also that sufficient evidence was presented to support the jury's verdict.

Burke and Hudson also assert that Stiehl gave the jury proper instructions.

Stiehl has not set a hearing date on the motion.

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