Fighting for Victims’ Rights When a Defendant’s Death Vacates Conviction

On April 19, 2000, defendant went to his homeowners association to “get even” with them after the HOA had compelled him to do yard maintenance.  At the meeting he murdered two people and injured others.  Among those killed was Nila Lynn, who died in the arms of her husband of nearly 50 years - Duane Lynn.  Defendant was indicted and ultimately convicted.  Defendant appealed and his convictions were upheld in 2005.  Throughout all of this, Duane Lynn had to fight to be able to give a victim impact statement and to secure the restitution owed to him and his children.  NCVLI supported him in these efforts, going all the way up to the United States Supreme Court.  Then in 2007 defendant filed a notice of post conviction relief.  This action was pending when defendant died on January 15th of this year. 

Now it has been nearly 13 years since defendant shot and killed Nila and another victim, and because he died, the trial court has abated his conviction ab initio – which means that everything is wiped clean.  It is as if the indictment and trial never happened.  But they cannot wipe clean the loss of Nila and the effects on her family.  That’s why NCVLI is filing an amicus curiae brief in support of the Arizona Voice for Crime Victims’ Petition for Special Action to do away with the doctrine of abatement ab initio as a violation of victims’ rights to fairness and justice.  NCVLI received assistance from pro bono attorney Melanie Kebler, Lewis & Clark law students Dylan Trosper and Pamela Frazier, and local counsel Randall Udelman.