Emily Welker, Published January 03 2014
Cass judge denies West Fargo landlord's appeal for new trial
Alois Vetter, 75, argued at a post-conviction relief hearing in Cass County District Court on Friday that he didn’t receive proper help from his attorney during the October 2011 trial.
Vetter’s attorney, Richard Edinger, argued that Vetter’s then-attorney, Mark Meyer, should have called a witness who would have corroborated an element of Vetter’s story. He also said Meyer should have kept in better contact with Vetter.
Vetter also argued that the jury would have given more credence to his self-defense claim if it had been told that the victim, Brian Hemphill, lied on the stand about having committed nine felonies instead of the 10 for which he was convicted.
Vetter told the court Friday that he ran over Hemphill because he was afraid Hemphill and another man in the street would hurt him.
“If those two guys could have gotten ahold of me, they would have butchered me,” Vetter testified. “Hemphill should go down on his knees and pray … that he lived after I dragged him 50 feet down the street.”
Hemphill suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung and abrasions over his body in the assault with the Hummer.
A jury found that Vetter had committed an assault with a dangerous weapon, leading to his two-year sentence.
His former attorney, Meyer, also took the stand, telling the court that he spent a great deal more time with Vetter than Vetter claimed, into the hundreds of hours.
Meyer said Vetter also refused his advice to depose the witness, whose testimony likely would have helped prosecutors as much as Vetter.
“Was he a difficult client?” prosecutor Cherie Clark asked.
“Very much so. He didn’t want to listen to my advice,” Meyer said. “That’s what lost him the case.”
Judge Wickham Corwin ruled that none of the issues raised by Vetter convinced him the outcome of a new trial would be different than the first one.
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541