DENVER (KDVR) – Nearly 20 years after a husband was convicted of shooting his wife in the head and leaving her body in the trunk of her car, a decade-old murder is being re-investigated at the Denver District Attorney’s Office.
“My ultimate goal is not to get out of prison. My ultimate goal is to clear up this false belief and make sure the people responsible for it are held accountable, ”said Hal Hebert, 78, an inmate at the Arkansas Valley correctional facility.
Hebert, who appealed his conviction and filed motions to challenge the handling of his trial, is serving a life sentence without parole. He was accused of killing his wife, Carol Hebert, in 2001 and convicted of her murder in 2003.
Problem solvers learned from the Denver District Attorney that the case has been “investigating” for several months.
Hebert has alleged in court records that a trial witness used against him was later identified as a serial killer who was later convicted of multiple murders.
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Hebert has also argued that various lawyers who helped him with his cases and appeals were “ineffective”.
He also questioned the integrity of people who helped lock him up, including at least one detective and a few prosecutors.
Hebert told problem solvers that he didn’t kill his wife. The prosecutor’s office said the jury’s conviction was correct.
“We have confidence in Mr. Hebert’s charges and believe the jury rightly found him guilty of the brutal murder of his wife,” said Denver Prosecutor’s spokeswoman Carolyn Tyler. “Mr. Hebert has maintained his claim of innocence, and since our office does not have a conviction review unit, we have asked an outside organization to look into his case and ensure justice is done. This work continues.”
The Innocence Project is involved
Hebert said he worked with an attorney for the Korey Wise Innocence Project, an organization based at the University of Colorado Law School that investigates potentially false convictions and alleged errors in the judicial and legal systems.
The problem solvers filed a request for open records for Hebert’s prison call logs and confirmed that a lawyer working with the Korey Wise Innocence Project had been in contact with Hebert several dozen times since at least October 2020, including phone calls just last month.
Anne-Marie Moyes, the program director of the Korey Wise Innocence Project, declined to confirm or discuss the organization’s involvement in Hebert’s case.
“I think it’s significant that the Colorado Innocence Project is doing this because – again, since I haven’t spoken to them directly – I would think they think there is something,” said Ian Farrell, more extraordinary Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.
“I don’t know how the prosecutor decides which cases to look into,” he said. “I suspect that the fact that they are reviewing it suggests that they have some basis on which to believe that there may be a problem. That doesn’t necessarily mean there is one. “
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Tyler, from the DA office, said reviewing convictions could pose a number of problems.
“It’s important that your viewers understand that every time a conviction is reviewed, the very real potential of giving false hopes to the perpetrator and his supporters and re-traumatizing the victim’s loved ones,” Tyler said. “The process calls into question the work of everyone involved – from the investigation to the prosecutor’s office to the defense. Reviewing a case can also harm careers unnecessarily and undermine public confidence in our legal system. For all these reasons, it is crucial that confidentiality is maintained until the work is completed. “
DA remains confident in Hebert’s condemnation
Bill Ritter, the prosecutor during the trial, said he was confident that Hebert’s conviction was correct and that his trial was fair.
“If you look at the evidence in this case from start to finish, he had a fair trial,” said Ritter. “Evidence was presented enabling 12 people to state without reasonable doubt that he was guilty of first degree murder of his wife.”
Ritter said he understood why the current prosecutor would be reviewing a case.
“I don’t blame anyone for going through trial for pleading innocence, asking if that was a legitimate claim, but I felt very comfortable at the time, and I’m still very pleased that he was guilty was. “First degree murder,” said Ritter.
Farrell, the DU professor of criminal law, called the revelation that a witness turned out to be a possible serial killer “bizarre.”
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Farrell said the facts give Hebert an opportunity to make additional arguments.
“They offer Mr. Hebert the opportunity to argue that if the fact that (the witness) was a serial killer had been known to the jury, they would have come to a different conclusion, a different conclusion. Or at least: there is enough doubt he should get a new process in which the new jury receives this additional information, ”said Farrell of possible arguments Hebert might consider.
Farrell said it was not uncommon for people who have been sentenced to life imprisonment to seek various appeals and the process to take a long time.
“For example, in Colorado, we can imagine that there are really four different ways to challenge a criminal conviction in court,” Farrell said. “Three of them are going through state courts and one of them is going through federal courts.”
After reviewing Hebert’s situation, Farrell said Hebert is still a long way from exhausting all of its legal remedies, including at the federal level.
“There is also what the governor, in his discretion, can do to grant mercy,” Farrell said. “Even if these legal remedies – at both state and federal level – have been exhausted, the accused or his lawyers can seek pardon from the governor.”
Who was Carol Hebert?
To her friends, Carol Hebert was one of the cutest women they ever knew. Before she was killed, Carol was a well-respected interior designer with a calm demeanor and a creative, artistic mind.
“Carol was probably the cutest person I’ve ever met,” said Cheryl Acierno, owner of Acierno & Company, a Denver flooring company. The two worked together before Carol died.
“She was very clever. She was very talented. She was a great designer, ”said Acierno. “I think what I remember most was that she had this calming effect on people. She was always very calm and I admired this quality because I am not always calm. “
Carol Hebert and friends
Acierno and her friend Tina Boyer also remembered Carol’s friendliness. They all said they were holding a box of intricate handmade mittens that Carol had given them during their friendship.
Boyer said the two played golf together and attended the book club.
“She was just one of those people you wanted to be with,” Boyer said. “She was so smart – talented. She was just an all-round good person. “
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On the day Carol was killed, Boyer and Acierno said they closed their office early because it was snowing.
As a result, they missed a call from Carol who left a voicemail late in the day.
“She just said ‘call me’ and she never called me in the afternoon,” said Boyer.
“I always wondered if it would have made a difference if we had been here when the call came. I don’t know if it would have been like that, but I always thought about it, “said Acierno.
They later heard on the news that a woman’s body had been found in the trunk of a car.
It was Carol.
“I literally fell to the ground because it was so out of left field,” said Acierno. “So random. And so – just crazy to lose a friend that way.”
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