Michael Amick was wrongly convicted for the 2008 murder of Leona Vaughan, his grandmother-in-law, at her daughter Jackie Risner’s home in Myrtle, in southern Missouri, and the fire that destroyed the home after the murder. Vaughan had been shot six times in the head. On June 16, 2015, the conviction was overturned.
During the three full days of testimony, the jury heard from more than a dozen witnesses on both sides of the case, mostly in favor of the defendant, placing him at several locations in the Myrtle area at the time of the Risner home fire.
One witness, Risner’s neighbor, Jake Mayberry, who was 19 at the time of the murder, testified he saw Amick’s pickup truck at the Risner home about 15 minutes before seeing smoke coming from the house. Mayberry’s description of Amick’s truck as a silver extended-cab rather than a pewter crew-cab pickup was a critical point of contention for Amick’s defense team.
Mayberry admitted smoking marijuana sometime in the month before Vaughan’s death, although not that morning. Several times during the trial and during closing arguments, defense attorney Dee Wampler said Mayberry was “too high on pot” to identify Amick’s truck.
“This guy’s brain deserves to be in the Smithsonian when he dies,” Wampler said of Mayberry.
Missouri Assistant Attorney General Kevin Zoellner of Jefferson City, who served as prosecutor alongside Oregon County Prosecutor Fred O’Neill, accused the defense of fraud for producing a photo of a similar pickup truck, presumably to trick Mayberry into identifying it as Amick’s truck.
Linda Amick testified that her son did not benefit from Vaughan’s death. She named several people in the community that she said did benefit by Vaughan’s death, saying they were dealing in large quantities of drugs from California, and Vaughan likely confronted them about the drugs.
Source: News report on the trial July 6, 2011
Documents ( see also discussion group documents )
16 June 2015 Conviction overturned
“In that trial, the judge excused a juror for health reasons after the jury had already begun deliberations. That juror was replaced with an alternate juror that had already been excused and had gone home.”
29 November 2016 Detailed article at The Reporters.org
1 December 2016, Found Not Guilty after retrial.