The state Supreme Court is considering the appeal of a homeless man whose DNA linked him to one of New Mexico’s most notorious crimes.
A jury convicted Phillip Busey in 2008 of the rape and murder of an Albuquerque woman, who was attacked one morning as she tried to walk out the door for work.
The victim, Kathryn Hauser, 52, had just moved to the Nob Hill section of Albuquerque in January 2005. Prosecutors said Busey struck her in the head with a brick from her courtyard, then raped her at least twice.
Busey is serving life plus 36 years at the Penitentiary of New Mexico. He is asking the Supreme Court to overturn his conviction and grant him another trial, alleging unfair treatment by the judge and courtroom guards.
A serial burglar, Busey was paroled from a prison in Missouri two months before he killed Hauser.
Police initially suspected her estranged husband in her death, but eliminated him after DNA found on Hauser’s body pinpointed Busey as her killer.
Busey, 47, claims errors by District Judge Stan Whitaker prevented him from receiving a fair trial.
Busey’s public defender said Whitaker should have instructed the jury of the defense theory that implicated Hauser’s husband as the killer.
In addition, Busey said, the judge should have granted a mistrial because the jury pool was poisoned with prejudice.
One prospective juror worked as a lieutenant at a jail. He told others on the panel that he recognized Busey as a former prisoner.
The state attorney general’s staff said no harm was done because the judge disqualified the jail lieutenant and two others from the jury panel.
Another element of the appeal is that sheriff’s deputies handcuffed Busey in front of jurors after they convicted him of first-degree murder. But the jurors had yet to make final their votes on other charges against him.
The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments in Busey’s case. It will rule based on briefs from his lawyer and the state.