A convicted Spokane, Wa., killer who committed suicide four days after he was sentenced to life in prison is appealing his case from the grave at taxpayers’ expense, reports the Seattle Times. Christopher Devlin, 57, a long-haul truck driver, was convicted a year ago of killing a man who had been set to testify against him in an assault trial, and was sentenced to life in prison. More than a year ago, he was found dead of an overdose in his jail cell.
Despite his death, Devlin’s attorneys and his sister, who had herself appointed trustee of his estate, are moving ahead with the appeal in hopes of clearing his name. They insist the state should pay for it because Devlin was broke when he died. For nearly a century, convictions like Devlin’s were automatically dismissed in Washington and most states if the defendant died before exhausting all of his appeals. Gregory Link, an attorney for Devlin, contends that a recent decision by the state Supreme Court should clear the way for the appeal to move forward. Because Devlin’s estate is insolvent, Link said, the appeal should be funded by the state. Spokane prosecutor Mark Lindsey disagrees.