Cody Marble’s Petition for Post-Conviction Relief Granted, Conviction Vacated

Cody_Marble_and_LM_exoneration.jpgJan. 03, 2017, Judge Ed McLean granted the Montana Innocence Project’s Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, and vacated the conviction of Cody Marble. Judge McLean ordered that Cody Marble receive a new trial.

Originally placed in custody in 2002 after his conviction of Sexual Intercourse Without Consent, Marble had been released from custody on April 19, 2016, after the State of Montana filed a Motion to Dismiss Judgement. Marble has spent the better part of 14 years wrongfully incarcerated in the Montana prison system.

In 2010 the Montana Innocence Project filed a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief on Marble’s behalf. The Petition was denied in 2012, and MTIP appealed. The Montana Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings in 2015. On December 19, 2016, Judge McLean held an evidentiary hearing and heard testimony from MITP legal director Larry Mansch, former executive director Jessie McQuillan, and student intern Mike Garrity, who all testified that the alleged victim in the case had repeatedly recanted his trial testimony. Finding that testimony credible, McLean wrote that “in conjunction with all the other evidence that has been offered in this case, it dictates the necessity of a consideration of a new trial for Mr. Marble.”

“I have been waiting for this moment for many, many years,” said Marble upon hearing of the Court’s order. “I am grateful for the support and dedicated work of the Montana Innocence Project, and all of the lawyers and volunteers who worked on my case. I particularly want to thank Colin Stephens, who took the case as a pro bono attorney and did an outstanding job. I look forward to spending the rest of my life, with my friends and family, as a free man.”  

Marble’s father, Jerry, agreed. “It has been such a long time coming,” he said. “We will be forever grateful to Colin Stephens and all the wonderful folks at the Montana Innocence Project. They righted a tremendous wrong. They gave Cody back his life.”

In last Spring’s Motion to Dismiss, Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst noted the Montana Supreme Court mandated that a “more critical look” be taken at the foundation of Marble’s conviction. Since Marble’s conviction, wrote Pabst, “at least three witnesses - including the victim - have recanted their statements.” Further, “a host of law enforcement officers testified that the crime could not have happened; there was no adequate window of opportunity; (and) the other inmates concocted a ‘set-up’; and/or that Marble was railroaded.” The State “reviewed thousands of pages of documents,” interviewed key witnesses, and consulted with the Attorney General. The State found “numerous faults undermining the integrity of the original conviction.” The judgment, wrote Pabst, “lacks integrity and in the interests of doing justice, it must be dismissed.”   

Judge McLean agreed with Pabst. “The testimony of Mr. Mansch, Mr. Garrity and Ms. McQuillan concerning the numerous recantations of (the alleged victim),” wrote McLean, “taken together with the other evidence as a whole undermines the confidence the Court has in Mr. Marble’s criminal conviction…”

Mansch expressed satisfaction with Judge McLean’s order. “We are very pleased with the Court’s Order dismissing the judgment against Cody Marble,” said Mansch. Many people – most notable pro bono attorney Colin Stephens and our investigator Spencer Veysey – worked countless hours to free Cody.” MTIP President Dan Weinberg echoed Mansch’s feelings. “Our organization is dedicated to freeing wrongfully convicted individuals like Cody,” Weinberg said. “We are happy that justice was finally done in this case, and we are determined to continue to do our best to help others who are deserving of their freedom.”