An appeals court upheld the murder conviction Friday of a San Diego man who beat, raped and strangled a friend.
Joshua Matthew Palmer killed Shauna Haynes, 21, after watching her have sex with another couple. He then stuffed her body in a suitcase and put it out with the trash.
A San Diego jury convicted Palmer of first-degree murder. The charge carried an allegation of committing the murder in the commission of rape, sodomy or sexual penetration.
Haynes died April 5, 2016. A judge sentenced Palmer two years later to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In his opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Martin Doyle said Palmer videotaped himself doing “unspeakable things” to the body of Haynes, his co-worker after he killed her. The murder took place at the Chadwick Hotel in downtown San Diego.
Doyle said the two were friends, but Palmer wanted a romantic relationship.
Upon witnessing Haynes engaging in sex acts with a couple at his home, he kicked the couple out. Haynes stayed behind.
Her body was discovered inside the suitcase in a trash bin outside the hotel the next day.
On appeal, Palmer asserted that should receive a new trial because of a conflict with defense attorney, Katie Belisle.
She conceded to the jury that he killed Haynes in the heat of passion, but Palmer disagreed with the strategy. He argued he caused Haynes’ death, but did so by accident.
The appeals court ruling notes Palmer’s citation of a U.S. Supreme Court decision. In that case, a court overturned a defendant’s triple-murder conviction because he insisted he was innocent throughout the proceedings. His attorney, though, conceded guilt at trial.
The appeals panel rejected the argument. They wrote that Palmer’s case differed because he did not assert his innocence during the trial. At most, he argued that Haynes died accidentally.
The three-justice panel noted that he also “consistently changed his story” with both police and his attorney.
They wrote that he presented “a moving target for his attorney to follow.” They called it “clear that the defense counsel presented the best defense possible under the dire circumstances presented.”
– City News Service
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