A hearing is set Wednesday on a petition for a new trial in a Grundy County, Tennessee, murder case involving a man convicted in a 2006 beating death, robbery and assault.
It's possible, however, the hearing — or parts of it — could be delayed after late notice by Adam C. Braseel's attorney about a witness he wants to put on the stand.
Braseel says he's been convicted of a crime he didn't commit and is a victim of mistaken identity. His attorney, Nashville lawyer Alex Little, did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment on the hearing.
Steve Strain, the 12th Judicial District assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case at trial and has represented the state in actions since then, said his office just received the official report Monday of the defense's plan to put the identification expert on the witness stand before Circuit Court Judge Justin Angel.
"We have requested a continuance," Strain said Tuesday. "We're entitled to more than 48 hours to prepare for an expert witness."
He said the state might put on an identification expert of its own, if granted enough time.
Braseel's sister, Christina Braseel, said Tuesday that the number of her brother's supporters has tripled since his legal battle began, and that she has no idea how many people from across the country might show up for Wednesday's hearing.
"We're definitely counting on Judge Angel to make a just decision," Christina Braseel said. "Mike Brown is going to finally be able to talk. He's got a story to tell I don't think many people have heard."
According to court documents filed since the 2007 conviction, Brown was a Grundy County detective in 2006 who found a wallet in Burrows' back pocket that at trial was said to be missing.
Meanwhile, Braseel has been behind bars for the better part of 12 years and, if his conviction and life sentence stands, he would be in his 70s by the time he's eligible to seek parole. Prosecutors have said a life sentence means the defendant will serve at least 51 years in prison before reaching parole eligibility.
In 2007, the then-23-year-old Braseel was sentenced on a charge of first-degree murder in the beating death of 60-year-old Tracy City resident Malcolm Burrows and the assault on Burrows' sister, Rebecca Hill.
Braseel filed a petition in February for a new trial based on "new evidence" in the case — at the center of Wednesday's hearing before Criminal Court Judge Justin Angel — after the release of fingerprint evidence found in Burrows' car at the crime scene in 2006. That fingerprint wasn't identified until 2018 when the TBI matched it to another man, Kermit Bryson, who in 2008 shot and killed Grundy County deputy Shane Tate, then took his own life later the same day.
In the petition for a new trial, Braseel contends he and Bryson resemble each other, the cars they drove at the time were similar and that a wallet was found on Burrows by an investigator who never testified at Braseel's trial, while the state contended the motive was a robbery because the wallet was said not to have been found.
Braseel's lawyer, Alex Little, contends the presence of the wallet "flatly destroys the government's case and makes it clear that — had the new evidence been admitted at trial — the jury's verdict would have been different," court records state.
The state's response to Braseel's petition calls for a dismissal of the petition and admits Bryson's fingerprint was found in Burrows' car, "however, there is no way to know when the fingerprint was placed there," Strain wrote. "The mere presence of the print does not warrant a new trial as called for in the Petition."
It also contends Bryson's actions in the years after Burrows' killing are inadmissible in court, and that there are no "objective similarities" between the Burrows slaying and the killing of Deputy Tate. Bryson's appearance in 2006 "differed substantially" from the photo Braseel's petition contains. The state contends that photo was from "several years before" Burrows' slaying. The car Bryson was said to have been driving, the state contends, did not run at the time of the slaying.
Also, Kirk Braden, present at Burrows' home during the attack on the now-deceased Hill, identified Braseel early in the investigation and at trial, and also identified a ball cap seen on the attacker and found in Braseel's car, the state contends.
Court officials said the hearing begins at 9 a.m. at the Grundy County Courthouse in the county seat of Altamont.
Contact Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.