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Gary Thibodeau loses state appeal for new trial in Heidi Allen case

Payne Horning
WRVO News (file photo)

The state's highest court ruled today that Gary Thibodeau should not get a new trial in the kidnapping case of Heidi Allen. Thibodeau was convicted of kidnapping Allen in 1994, and is currently serving a 25 years to life sentence. 

Back in April, federal public defender Lisa Peebles said new testimony in the case could be enough to free Gary Thibodeau and identify other suspects in Allen's disappearance. But the justices on the Court of Appeals repeatedly questioned whether that testimony is credible, and whether they have the legal right to overturn two lower court decisions that said it is not.

In a 4-3 decision today, the Court ruled that there is not enough credible evidence to grant Thibodeau a new trial. The majority wrote that the newly discovered evidence "was comprised of uncorroborated hearsay" that the lower courts were right to reject. 

In its dissent, Judge Jenny Rivera said that the evidence provided during Thibodeau's trial was "not overwhelming," and that statements from three men, Roger Breckenridge, James Steen, and Michael Bohrer, were enough to grant Thibodeau a new trial. 

Thibodeau could further appeal to the federal level, but it is unlikely he'll live long enough for the appeal to be heard. He is suffering from a chronic lung disease and is currently in the medical wing od the Coxsackie Correctional Facility. Staff there said in September 2017 that he had less than six months to live. 

Read the full 41 page decision below. 

63mem18 Decision by WRVO News on Scribd

Jason has served as WRVO's news director in some capacity since August 2017. As news director, Jason produces hourly newscasts, and helps direct local news coverage and special programming. Before that, Jason hosted Morning Edition on WRVO from 2009-2019. Jason came to WRVO in January of 2008 as a producer/reporter. Before that, he spent two years as an anchor/reporter at WSYR Radio in Syracuse.