(WMC) - Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich worked as the lead prosecutor in the murder case against Noura Jackson, who was convicted five years ago in the second-degree murder of her own mother.
The Supreme Court announced Friday that constitutional errors in the courtroom in 2009 entitled Jackson to a new trial. According to the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts, the lead prosecutor made an improper argument and withheld evidence, which violated the defendant's constitutional rights
Weirich released a statement Saturday:
"Because this is a pending case, I am limited in my ability to talk about the details. While I disagree with the Supreme Court's ruling, I respect their decision and will prepare for a new trial. Our primary concern is continuing to speak with Jennifer Jackson's family and getting justice for her and them."
Noura's mother, Jennifer, was stabbed to death on June 5, 2005 in the East Memphis home they shared. She called police that day, saying she found her mother dead and stabbed more than 50 times.
Police say Noura gave conflicting information about her whereabouts around the time of the murder and how she had cut her hand.
When Noura was 20, a criminal court judge sentenced her to nearly 21 years in Tennessee Department of Corrections. Now, her attorney is hoping for a fair trial.
"There was no physical evidence to begin with," attorney Valerie Corder told WMC Action News 5 on Friday. "To my knowledge there has been no investigating into whose blood that was mixed with Jennifer Jackson's at the murder scene."
Corder says her client should have never been convicted, and that investigators failed to look further into other DNA found in the home where Jennifer was found. The Tennessee Courts said that no DNA or scientific evidence implicated Noura; the prosecution's case was based on circumstantial evidence alone.
The courts' news release Friday said in part:
"The Supreme Court concluded that the prosecution had violated two of the defendant's constitutional rights: her right to remain silent and not testify at trial, and her right to due process of law. The Court explained that when constitutional errors occur in criminal trials, a new trial is required unless the State establishes that the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt ...
The Supreme Court expressed concern that the prosecutor had violated the more than 100-year-old legal rule prohibiting Tennessee prosecutors from commenting on a defendant's exercise of the right to remain silent. The Supreme Court reiterated a statement first made in 1984, which is that 'the subject of a defendant's right not to testify should be considered off limits to any conscientious prosecutor.'"
Noura, now 27, remains at a corrections center as of Sunday night. As the DA prepares for a new trial, it is unclear when or if the trial will happen.