Prosecutorial misconduct case to resume Feb. 23

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

Updated: November 11, 2011, 4:49 PM

 

People interested in the outcome of a hearing involving a convicted felon who alleges prosecutorial misconduct will have to wait a few months.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis, who heard testimony in a hearing for Dino Constance on Wednesday and Thursday, said at the end of the day Thursday that the hearing will resume Feb. 23.

That was the earliest day that would work for everyone.

Lewis had hoped to finish the hearing in two days, but a key witness, defense attorney Brian Walker, was not available because he was in trial. Another witness didn’t show up until Thursday, and one witness who did take the stand Wednesday was excused in the middle of his testimony because he felt ill.

In 2008, Constance was convicted by a jury of trying to solicit four men to kill or assault his ex-wife. He was sentenced to 53 years in prison.

His conviction was upheld by the state Court of Appeals; the state Supreme Court declined review.

Constance has said he wasn’t really trying to hire a hit man and he was just blowing off steam during the conversations he had with two cell mates, at different times, and a father and son who roomed with him for three months. All four men testified at his 2008 trial.

One of Constance’s persistent allegations has been that Prosecutor Tony Golik, who handled Constance’s case as a deputy prosecutor in the office’s major crimes unit, withheld evidence from Walker, who was Constance’s trial attorney. Constance also alleges that Walker did not provide adequate representation.

Lewis granted a hearing based on an argument from Constance’s attorney, Neil Fox of Seattle, that there’s new evidence that was not heard by the Court of Appeals.

Constance, who was transferred from Clallam Bay Corrections Center to the Clark County Jail to attend the hearing, wants a new trial.

On Thursday, former Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputy John O’Mara spent all day on the witness stand. O’Mara was the lead detective and was questioned about how he handled the case.

The Constance case was brought up last year during Golik’s successful bid to replace Art Curtis. Republican Brent Boger, a Vancouver senior assistant city attorney, challenged Golik, a Democrat. Less than a month before the election, the Republican Party sent out a press release alleging prosecutorial misconduct against Golik. The claims were based on Constance’s case.

Golik said last year it’s common for convicted felons to try to argue prosecutorial misconduct on appeal.

Even before he was arrested in 2007 on headline-making murder-for-hire charges, Constance, a former loan officer, and his ex-wife were familiar faces at the Clark County Courthouse because of a nasty divorce. They met in July 2003 and had a son a year later, married in December 2004 and filed for divorce in March 2005.

The four-month marriage ended in multiple restraining orders against each other, accusations on both sides of domestic violence and a seven-volume divorce file.