Garrett Dye Amy Dye
The murder conviction of 19-year old Garrett Dye has been overturned by the Kentucky Supreme Court and he will have the opportunity for a new trial.
Dye pled guilty in Todd Circuit Court to the February 4, 2011 murder of his adopted sister, 9-year old Amy Dye, and was sentenced to 50 years in prison for the murder charge. As part of his plea deal, Dye was allowed the right to appeal his conviction to the Kentucky Supreme Court on grounds his confession to State Police soon after the killing was coerced. Circuit Judge Tyler Gill had allowed the confession as evidence and defense attorney Dennis Ritchie agreed to the deal to expedite an appeals process.
Dye and his sister had been sent into the cold rainy weather on the evening of the crime by their parents to shovel gravel as punishment. Garrett Dye confessed to detectives and in open court to using a hydraulic jack handle to beat the girl to death when he became angry about her talking.
The Supreme Court's decision says Dye's confession came after he was misled repeatedly about his eligibility for the death penalty. Portions of the transcripts from police questioning included in the court opinion show detectives asserting Dye would almost certainly receive the death penalty if he didn't confess, but would receive some type of lesser punishment if he did admit to the killing.
An officer is quoted as saying, “I hate to see you at seventeen years old go to the pen for the rest of your life or spend the next fifteen or twenty years of your life on death row. This is the only way you're going to avoid that.” The court says Dye was in no way eligible for the death penalty due to his age and circumstances, no matter what happened in court.
The court opinion also quotes police as making threats of possible sexual attacks against Dye in the penitentiary by other inmates as a way to create fear. Justices ruled that “repeatedly threatening a seventeen-year-old with the death penalty is 'objectively coercive.'”
Justices also quote parts of the transcript which show Dye saying he wanted to wait until his attorney could be present to give more information. One officer reportedly said he would talk to Dye until the “moon turns blue,” but said he didn't like talking to attorneys. That officer and another questioner are quoted as saying he could wait for an attorney, if he wanted, but pressured him to talk then.
It was after those conversations Dye confessed and the court ruled the confession “involuntary under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” The court's decision was unanimous.
The Supreme Court chose not to rule on whether new evidence that came about from the involuntary confession could be admitted as evidence in future court proceedings. A hearing will be necessary in Todd Circuit Court to decide that matter.
Commonwealth’s attorney Gail Guiling issued a statement regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the conviction of Garrett Dye.
In an email, Ms. Guiling says, “I have reviewed the Kentucky Supreme Court decision issued today in Commonwealth vs. Garrett Dye. While I respect the Court’s reasoning and decision in this case, the Supreme Court’s ruling will affect adversely the strength and availability of the evidence to be presented by the Commonwealth at trial. I plan however, to pursue justice for Amy Dye and anticipate that the case will be set for trial in November in Todd Circuit Court.”