Filing: Conviction of man who killed officer Scott Patrick violated his rights

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A new filing with Minnesota's highest court argues that prosecutors violated the constitution when they took a "rare" legal maneuver in the case against Brian Fitch last year.

Fitch was found guilty in February of fatally shooting Mendota Heights Officer Scott Patrick after a July 2014 traffic stop, which was followed by a shootout with St. Paul police and Fitch's subsequent arrest.

The case is being appealed by Fitch and his defense lawyer, a move that was signaled back in May with what's called a "notice of appeal."

The reason? It has to do with the combination of two separate criminal cases.

Fitch was originally charged with crimes in both Ramsey and Dakota counties, but in an uncommon move, a judge allowed prosecutors to convene a multi-county grand jury.

In a Tuesday brief (which basically lays out the argument for overturning Fitch's conviction), Assistant Appellate Public Defender Melissa Sheridan said the combined case violated Fitch's constitutional right to be tried "where the charged crimes are committed," and that jurors unfairly heard evidence from two separate incidents, the Pioneer Press notes.

The paper says she's asking the court to allow Fitch to face two new, separate trials.

Sheridan told BringMeTheNews that a brief in response is due from the Supreme Court in 45 days. After that time, she says, a hearing on the appeal will be scheduled.

The Supreme Court is in session from September through June.

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