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Court denies new trial in mill worker death (UPDATE)

By SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A Wisconsin appeals court on Thursday denied the request for a new trial made by a man convicted in the grisly 1992 killing of a Green Bay paper mill worker.

Rey Moore, 65, was one of six men convicted of killing their co-worker Tom Monfils. His body was found in a pulp vat at the then-James River Corp. plant in Green Bay with a weight tied around his neck.

Moore’s attorney, Byron Lichstein, of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, argued that the conviction should be overturned because of questionable testimony by prison inmate James Gilliam.

He had testified in 1995 that Moore told him he participated in a group beating of Monfils at the mill. But Gilliam later recanted and said Moore told him he actually tried to prevent the beating.

That change in Gilliam’s testimony was not allowed at the trial. Lichstein argued that Moore deserved a new trial because that testimony would exonerate him.

But the 4th District Court of Appeals disagreed, saying in its unanimous ruling that even if the testimony were allowed, it was unlikely to convince a jury not to convict Moore again.

“The state could present strong circumstantial proof of Moore’s guilt at a new trial that does not depend on Gilliam’s testimony,” the court said.

Lichstein said he was disappointed and was considering appealing to the state Supreme Court.

“We believe Mr. Moore has a strong claim of innocence and good legal arguments,” he said.

Steve Means, the state Department of Justice’s executive assistant, said he believes the court carefully analyzed Moore’s arguments and came to the right conclusion.

The killing shocked Green Bay, where there is still a lot of interest in the 20-year-old case.

In October, about 60 people marched to the courthouse in support of those convicted, believing them to be the victims of a flawed investigation and prosecution. Critics have questioned the motive that prosecutors put forth for the slaying, which was that Monfils was killed because he told police one of the men planned to steal an extension cord.

The others convicted in the killing are Dale Basten, Michael Hirn, Michael Johnson, Keith Kutska, and Michael Piaskowski. All six were sentenced to life in prison, but Piaskowski was freed in 2001 after his conviction was overturned on the basis of insufficient evidence.

The other men remain behind bars and have had parole requests repeatedly denied.

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