FRANKFORT — Lawyers for Jason Napier, who was convicted of manslaughter in Lincoln Circuit Court, in 2011, are hoping the mention of a polygraph test during the trial will give their client another day in court.
Louisville attorney Steve Romines said Friday that arguments were made in the state Court of Appeals that Napier should get another trial because Judge David Tapp did not declare a mistrial after witness Jessica Noble told jurors she had passed a lie-detector test concerning matters related to her four-year-old son, Nathaniel Knox, who was beaten to death in 2009.
“Any mention of a polygraph in a criminal trial is not allowed,” Romines said. “First, there was no proof she passed, and even if she did, it was inadmissible.”
Napier, of Stanford, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and second-degree child abuse in Nathaniel’s death following a three-day trial and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Noble, his former girlfriend, had previously pled guilty to manslaughter and was a key witness against Napier during the trial.
While on the stand, Noble volunteered to jurors that she had passed a lie-detector test, even though she had not been asked about it by attorneys. Romines objected and, during a conference at the bench, asked Tapp to declare a mistrial. Tapp declined, but did admonish jurors do disregard Noble’s comment about the polygraph.
“He knew what she did was inadmissible and told the jury to strike it from their minds, but the problem is that’s like unringing a bell — it can’t be done,” Romines said. “The case came down to one of those people was lying, and she tried to tell jurors she passed a lie-detector test.”
Romines said the Court of Appeals should render its decision in 30 to 45 days.