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Zane Jack Fields v. State of Idaho

March 26, 2013

ZANE JACK FIELDS, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
STATE OF IDAHO, RESPONDENT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Thomas F. Neville, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Burdick, Chief Justice

2013 Opinion No. 34

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

District court dismissal of successive petition for post-conviction relief, affirmed.

This case arises from an Ada County district court's dismissal of Zane Jack Fields's (Fields) petition for post-conviction relief filed on October 22, 2010. The petition was the fifth successive petition for post-conviction relief filed by Fields and alleged that the act of destroying an orange camouflage coat is new evidence that establishes his innocence. The State moved for dismissal on the grounds that the claim is barred by I.C. § 19-2719, the statute governing post-conviction procedure for capital cases. The district court granted the State's motion to dismiss on the grounds that the newly discovered evidence claim is barred by I.C. § 19-2719(5)(b) and that there is no genuine issue of material fact on Fields's claims that the destruction of the coat was relevant at trial or that it proved his innocence. We affirm the decision of the district court on the grounds that the petition was untimely filed.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Zane Fields is currently incarcerated for the first degree murder of Mary Katherine Vanderford. State v. Fields, 127 Idaho 904, 908 P.2d 1211 (1995) ("Fields I"). On February 11, 1988, Fields stabbed 69-year-old Ms. Vanderford to death while stealing about $50 from the Wishing Well Gift Shop, the store in which she was working. Id. at 907, 908 P.2d at 1214. Ms. Vanderford was alone in the store at the time, and there were no eye witnesses to the murder. She bled to death due to a stab wound in her neck. Id. At trial, Fields's orange camouflage coat was introduced into evidence as Defense Exhibit 22 and was used by eyewitnesses to identify Fields. A jury found Fields guilty of felony murder, and the trial court sentenced him to death. Id. at 908-09, 908 P.2d at 1215-16. After he was sentenced, Fields filed an application for post- conviction relief on April 18, 1991, which the district court denied following an evidentiary hearing. Id. at 909, 908 P.2d at 1216. Fields appealed to this Court, and we upheld the conviction, sentence, and denial of his application for post-conviction relief. Id. at 907, 918 P.2d at 1225.

Fields filed a second application for post-conviction relief on July 13, 1992. Fields v. State, 135 Idaho 286, 17 P.3d 230 (2000) ("Fields II"). After giving notice of the intent to do so, the district court summarily dismissed the application without an evidentiary hearing. Id. at 287, 17 P.3d at 231. Fields appealed, and this Court upheld the dismissal. Id. at 292, 17 P.3d at 236.

Fields filed a third application for post-conviction relief on June 27, 2002, under the amended Uniform Post-Conviction Procedure Act, I.C. §§ 19-4901 through 19-4911. Fields v. State, 151 Idaho 18, 20, 253 P.3d 692, 694 (2011) ("Fields IV"). Fields sought to have nineteen latent fingerprints from the murder scene compared with the Automated Fingerprint Identification System national fingerprint database and to have DNA testing of substances on his coat that had tested positive as some type of blood, of hairs found on the victim's clothing, and of scrapings taken from her fingernails. Id.

The district court ordered that the Idaho State Police Forensic Lab DNA test the coat, but the lab found that DNA testing could not be conducted because there was insufficient genetic material. Id. The comparison of the fingerprints produced matches to two individuals, but there was no evidence linking them to the murder. Id. at 21, 253 P.3d at 695. The DNA testing determined that the hairs found on the victim's clothing did not come from Fields. Id. There was also male DNA found in the scrapings from the victim's fingernails, but it also did not come from Fields. Id. There was no evidence that the hairs or the material scraped from the victim's fingernails came from her attacker. Id.

The State moved to dismiss Fields's petition on the ground that neither the fingerprint nor the DNA test results entitled Fields to relief. Id. In response, Fields filed affidavits of Jeffrey Acheson, Betty Heaton, and Mari Munk, all of whom had testified during his trial. Heaton and Munk had been in the gift shop and had left shortly before the murder. Id.

They both testified to seeing a man in the store before they left, but at trial they did not identify Fields as being that man. Rather, they gave general descriptions of the man and his clothing, and those descriptions did not match Fields. In their affidavits, they basically recount their trial testimony and state that Fields did not look like the man they saw.

Id. The district court denied Fields's application for post-conviction relief, and Fields appealed. Id. This Court affirmed the district court and held that the DNA test results did not establish that Fields did not commit the offense, and that the witness affidavits were cumulative. Id. at 24-25, 253 P.3d at 698-99.

Fields filed a fourth application for post-conviction relief seeking a retroactive application of the United States Supreme Court's opinion in Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002). The district court dismissed that application, and we upheld the dismissal on appeal. ...


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