By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
GREENVILLE – Wendell Blount wants a new trial for his conviction in the Natchez Trace death of a Dutch cyclist, but U.S. District Judge Allen Pepper says no.
Late last week, the Calhoun County resident – without his attorneys – filed a motion for more time to ask for a new trial.
A Greenville jury convicted him April 23 on federal charges that he killed Esther Hageman while driving impaired by morphine. The 2009 accident occurred on the Trace in Chickasaw County as the journalist rode south.
The case was in federal court because the Trace is federal property.
A sentence date has not been set, but 58-year-old Blount faces up to 33 years in prison. He already has settled a civil lawsuit with her family.
In his motion, Blount told Pepper that he asked his current attorneys, David Hill and David Minyard of Oxford, to seek a new trial. Blount said they refused.
“Defendant is attempting to obtain new counsel,” his filing told Pepper.
However, on Wednesday, Pepper said no, saying Blount cannot represent himself while he has legal counsel.
“The defendant … is not entitled to hybrid representation,” Pepper said in his order.
Blount was on trial five days in April, and his jury deliberated less than three hours before it announced a verdict.
Blount’s attorneys contended that because he had been addicted to morphine and other medications, his blood levels were not at impaired levels for him, although they would have been for others with less tolerance.
Although his attorneys have yet to file the motion, they are expected to ask Pepper to consider if he was improperly indicted twice for the same crime, and now in jeopardy of being punished twice.
Blount is free on $10,000 bond with the stipulation that he not drive.