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Deb Dewey case: Killer says judge made critical mistakes in 2018 trial

Andersen also challenges state’s premise he fleeced murder victim

The convicted murderer in the Deb Dewey case wants a do-over trial, saying his 2018 jury trial was riddled with errors. Clifford Andersen also says prosecutors never proved he took a dime from his former sister-in-law.

Andersen, 70, and serving a 60-year sentence for first-degree murder, was convicted in summer 2018 of killing Dewey and burying her in a shallow grave in Standard two years earlier. Anderson quickly appealed his conviction and maximum sentence but the appellate defender’s office has been backlogged and Andersen’s brief has finally been filed nearly two years after he appealed.

In the brief, appellate defender Dimitri Golfis wrote Andersen’s trial was “permeated with error.” Golfis accused Andersen’s defense team of failing to argue a speedy-trial rights violation on his count of concealment of a homicidal death. The judge, he said, violated Andersen’s right to a public trial by conducting jury selection in the jury room and erroneously admitted hearsay evidence.

“These errors created a pervasive pattern of unfair prejudice at (Andersen’s trial),” Golfis wrote, asking the Third District Appellate Court for a new trial to correct the myriad of mistakes.

But the single biggest flaw in the state’s case, Golfis wrote, was prosecutors never proved Andersen took money off his sister-in-law.

Prosecutors had argued Andersen had a gambling problem and many debts for which he turned to Dewey. When Dewey finally halted her financial assistance, the state argued, Andersen grew enraged and killed her.

Golfis acknowledged the state documented many cash withdrawals by Dewey but never once proved it was Andersen who took the money.

“The state’s theory of motive — (Andersen) murdered Deborah because she stopped giving him money — was pure speculation,” Golfis wrote. “It was speculative because the state never presented any evidence at trial of Deborah giving (him) money or of (him) receiving money from Deborah.”

The appellate prosecutor’s office has until Tuesday, Nov. 10, to argue why Andersen’s conviction should stand and then Golfis will issue a reply brief due Tuesday, Nov. 24. Oral arguments would follow. Dates are pending, but oral arguments are unlikely to be held until next year.

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