Appeals in the Sharon Nugent case

Back in 2008, Sharon Nugent‘s boyfriend, James Guilford, was found guilty of murdering her and throwing her body in a dumpster in Syracuse, New York; it was never found. I just found this six-month-old article about him appealing his conviction, based on the fact that the police interrogated him for 49 and a half hours straight.

During this time he got no sleep at all, and wasn’t permitted to leave the ten-by-ten room except to go to the bathroom. For food he got one sandwich 20 hours in. He made incriminating statements but didn’t actually confess to murder. Then after 49 and a half hours he finally asked for a lawyer, and he got an eight-hour break from interrogation, after which time he confessed. Apparently there’s no evidence that he got any sleep during the break, though I can’t imagine what else he would have done.

The appeals court has upheld the confession and his conviction, but by a narrow margin: three to two. All of them thought the 49 and a half hour marathon of questioning was unconstitutional and threw out all the statements he made during that time. Only three of the five judges thought the eight-hour break afterwards was sufficient for him to get his brain back in gear enough that his confession was free and voluntary. The article notes that Mr. Guilford will probably take his case to a higher court of appeals and he just might win.

Now, I don’t have any sympathy for the man, because he was clearly guilty. He went running off to Georgia the same day he reported Sharon missing (thereby attracting law enforcement’s suspicion), taking a hammer with him. They found her blood spattered all over the walls and ceiling of Sharon’s apartment, as well as a blood-soaked mattress, and when they found Guilford’s hammer it had Sharon’s blood on it too. Guilford probably would have been convicted of killing Sharon Nugent even if he hadn’t confessed.

But 49 1/2 hours seems quite excessive. I think in a situation like that, under so much stress and with practically nothing to eat (and I’m hypoglycemic) and no sleep at all, you might be able to get me to confess to being the second gunman on the grassy knoll.

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7 thoughts on “Appeals in the Sharon Nugent case

  1. Jo Layne Ward December 16, 2012 / 2:36 pm

    I agree

  2. Kat December 17, 2012 / 6:39 am

    I will never understand how any branch/person of LE thinks it is ok to do this, KNOWING that it’ll be thrown out and the taxpayers have to foot the bill to do it again. It is like the innocent people in prison who the state fights and fights against testing evidence. I guess they would rather have a killer walking free and keep their seat than solve a case. SO aggrivating. Let’s go again, and get him this time. Honestly. On the other hand, maybe he’ll cough up the body for a reduced sentence and clear another case. Hey, it is the holidays, isn’t it?

    • Meaghan December 17, 2012 / 6:39 pm

      Yeah, I know what you mean. Kind of penny-wise and pound-foolish if you ask me.

      I talked to a former prosecutor once who told me she knows a lot of defense attorneys who go out of their way to present an exceptionally vigorous defense of scumbag clients, so said clients won’t be able to appeal based on inadequate representation.

      • Kat December 18, 2012 / 10:27 pm

        Exactly. Better said than my rant. I can believe what your contact said, if people actually looked and read up they would see this kind of thing while not commonplace is becoming more prevalent, simply because of the exposure a case can get now. I still remember, oh, what is his name, the one who galvanized the whole anti dp thing back in 89, was on the cover of TIME……the state fought and fought not to have the evidence retested and guess what…he did it. Gad, what was his name. Give me a minute, it’ll come to me…..

  3. Kat December 18, 2012 / 10:30 pm

    Coleman. Roger Coleman. It takes me a while, but I get there eventually.

    • Meaghan December 22, 2012 / 4:06 am

      James Hanratty is another.

  4. brittany September 25, 2013 / 8:14 pm

    This makes me very sad she was my upstairs neighbor and we where very tight she was a loving mother of three and didn’t deserve to die the way she did I don’t give two fucks about his constitutional rights they should of hit him with a hammer and now they may release him what about her mothers rights and the kids who had to possibly witness what he did I for one think he deserves to be sodomized for the rest of his life

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