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Judge refuses to overturn murder conviction of Eric Dee Abshire.
BY ROBIN KNEPPER
An Orange County judge on Friday denied defense motions to overturn the conviction of Eric Dee Abshire for the first-degree murder of his wife in 2006.
Defense attorney Charles Weber filed two motions: one asking the court to set aside the jury's guilty verdict and the other to declare a mistrial.
Circuit Judge Daniel R. Bouton rejected both. The rulings were the final steps before Abshire appeals his conviction to the Court of Appeals.
Abshire, 37, was found guilty of first-degree murder on Oct. 25, 2011, after a nine-day trial. Bouton sentenced him to life in prison.
The jury took only about 90 minutes to agree with prosecutors that Abshire had killed his 27-year-old wife, Justine Swartz Abshire in November 2006. Her body was found at the side of the road after midnight by her husband.
He maintained that she had been the victim of a hit-and-run, but expert witnesses for the state said her injuries were not consistent with such a scenario.
On Jan. 6, Weber had moved to have the court set aside the verdict, which it denied on Jan. 12. The renewed motion was filed Feb. 22. Weber's motion to have the court declare a mistrial was filed Thursday.
Weber asserted that a witness' sarcastic comments to him during testimony warranted a mistrial. However, the claim would have had to be made at the time, Bouton said.
"This is not even close to timely," said Bouton, "and the court finds it has no merit."
A charge of perjury against Abshire, brought by the special grand jury that investigated the case, will go forward, said Commonwealth's Attorney Diana Wheeler.
That case will not be heard until after the appeal process. Bouton set Oct. 1 for review.
Robin Knepper: 540/972-5701