November 7, 2009
Wisconsin Innocence Project seeks a new trial for Moore
By Paul Srubas
One of the men convicted of murdering Tom Monfils in a Green Bay paper mill 12 years ago has enlisted the aid of the Wisconsin Innocence Project in seeking a new trial.
Reynold Moore, 62, an inmate of the Oshkosh Correctional Institution, has a hearing Tuesday in Brown County Circuit Court before reserve Judge James Bayorgeon, who presided over the original trial in 1995.
The hearing originally was scheduled for last week but was pushed back.
Attorney Byron Lichstein of the Wisconsin Innocence Project filed a motion for new trial in July based on what he says is new evidence in the case.
Moore was one of six men convicted in October 1995 of being party to first-degree intentional homicide.
Prosecutors said Monfils, 35, was killed after co-workers discovered he called police about Keith Kutska's plan to steal an extension cord. Kutska, now 58, obtained a tape recording of Monfils' report to police and played it for co-workers on Nov. 21, 1992, the day Monfils disappeared. Monfils' body was found a day later, with a weight tied around his neck, at the bottom of a paper pulp vat at the then-James River plant.
Kutska, Moore, Michael Hirn, Dale Basten, Michael Johnson and Michael Piaskowski were convicted in Brown County Circuit Court after a two-week trial in September 1995. Piaskowski was released in April 2001 after a federal judge in Milwaukee overturned his conviction, saying trial evidence was insufficient.
The new evidence in Moore's appeal concerns testimony by James Gilliam, a prison inmate who had testified at trial that Moore told him in jail that he participated in a group beating of Monfils at a water fountain in the mill.
Lichstein claims Gilliam has since changed his story and now says Moore actually told him that Moore stepped in to try to prevent the beating, not to participate in it.
Gilliam allegedly made the statement to two student lawyers working with the Innocence Project and also to two Green Bay authors, John Gaie and Denis Gullickson, who have written a new book on the murder and trial that alleges none of the six men convicted in the case were guilty. The authors claim that the men's convictions were based on a faulty timeline that police established, which placed all six men at a confrontation around the water fountain and that such a confrontation never occurred.
Lichstein hopes to have Gilliam recant the testimony under oath at the hearing but plans to have the four witnesses on hand to testify if necessary.
Moore has maintained that he never spoke with Gilliam at all.
"We stand by that," Lichstein told the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Although they argue that Gilliam is continuing to lie about it, Lichstein said the important thing is that he's taking back his incriminating testimony.
Also new is a statement by prison inmate Jeffrey Watson, who claims Gilliam told him in prison that Gilliam regularly snitched or made up stories about other inmates to gain leniency in his own cases. Watson also will be asked to testify at the hearing.
Lichstein hopes to introduce research demonstrating the unreliability of jailhouse informant testimony and the prevalence of such testimony in wrongful convictions.
Gilliam's testimony is important, Lichstein said, because it's the one factor that separates Rey Moore from Piaskowski. A federal judge ruled evidence was insufficient against Piaskowski, and, without Gilliam's testimony, it's insufficient against Moore, Lichstein says.
||Truth in Justice