Judge denies new trial for Delavan man
ELKHORN A 41-year-old Delavan man serving a 25-year prison sentence for first-degree sexual assault of a child was denied a chance for a new trial Friday.
Nicholas Stone, 41, sought a new trial based on new evidence suggesting the victim lied during Stone’s trial. Walworth County Judge John Race denied the motion Friday, saying the evidence didn’t support the claim.
The new evidence consisted of a statement by Stone’s mother, Mary Merker, who said she heard a relative of the victim coach the child prior to testifying in court.
“I heard them tell her, ‘You know what to say,’” before the girl testified, Merker said at Friday’s hearing. “They also told her to say what her father told her to say.”
Merker said she told her son’s lawyer, Jeffrey Murrell, what she had heard. Under questioning from Walworth County District Attorney Phillip Koss, Merker said she did not tell Murrell what she had heard until the next day.
Murrell, who also testified Friday, said he did not bring the matter to the court’s attention after he discussed the matter with Merker during Stone’s 2010 trial.
“What I heard her say was that the family said ‘You know what to say,’” Murrell said. “I did not hear her say they told the girl to lie. Had I heard that, I would have immediately brought it to the court’s attention, but they could have been telling the girl to tell the truth as well.”
Murrell said he regretted he did not act at the time.
Koss asked him what he was apologizing for.
“I do not believe he (Stone) had fair representation,” Murrell said. “I had a duty to my client.”
The family denied the conversation, said Walworth County Sheriff’s Office Detective Shannan Illingworth, who investigated Merker’s statement regarding the conversation. There was insufficient evidence to pursue the matter.
The record did not indicate the family had told the girl to lie, Race said. He did not believe Stone had inadequate representation.
A Walworth County jury found Stone guilty in 2010 of sexually assaulting a girl many times when she was 3 to 6 years old while he babysat her at a town of Delavan home. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison with no chance of early release, followed by 10 years of extended supervision.