SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Court of Appe als has ordered a new trial for a man originally convicted in a 2016 homicide.
Christopher James Bonds was accused of shooting 25-year-old Byron Williams at an apartment complex in 2016. It followed a night of drinking and drugs, the court said in its ruling. However, Bonds claimed at trial the shooting was in self-defense because Williams had threatened to harm children.
“According to Bonds, Victim had ‘said some crazy s***’ during the altercation, including a threat to ‘shoot this whole house and these kids,’ a threat that Bonds claimed put him ‘in a rage’ at Victim bringing his ‘kids in this,’ and causing him to vow that ‘nobody gonna hurt my kids,'” Judge Ryan Harris wrote.
Bonds was ultimately convicted of murder and appealed. He argued that he had ineffective legal representation and the confession police obtained from him should have been suppressed. The three-judge panel of the Utah Court of Appeals chastised West Valley City police for their interrogation tactics, but ultimately upheld the admissibility of Bonds’ confession.
However, the Court found problems with Bonds’ defense at trial and ordered a new one.
“But Bonds’s trial attorney rendered ineffective assistance by failing to object to an incorrect and inconsistent set of jury instructions, and by failing to object to introduction and use of evidence about Bonds’s silence while being arrested, and we have sufficient unease about the prejudicial effect of these errors to justify a new trial,” Judge Harris wrote.
Read the Court’s ruling here: