Convicted murderer gets attorney, chance for retrial

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) The Court of Appeals has granted a Fairbanks man convicted of murdering a man in 1990 a chance for a retrial based on the ineffectiveness of his trial attorneys.

Eugene ''Geno'' Fields, 69, was convicted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Leon ''Curly'' Urban, 80, a cardroom competitor of Fields. Urban was found shot to death behind the wheel of his Cadillac near Fields' apartment in July 1990.

The murder weapon was never found. Police discovered a box of .357-caliber ammunition in Fields' car and said the cartridges linked Fields to a weapon used to shoot Urban twice in the side.

In his most recent appeal, Fields argued that a hearing transcript indicated that police applied for a search warrant at 4:28 p.m. on July 10, 1990. However, the return on the search warrant showed police searched the car before requesting the search warrant.

Superior Court Judge Mary Greene denied Fields' original request for a retrial and the need for an attorney supplied at the public expense to help him reverse the conviction.

The Appeals Court overturned that decision.

Fields said his appointed public defenders were ineffective for failing to notice evidence that police searched the car before obtaining a warrant.

The decision released Wednesday says ''Fields will have to overcome several hurdles to prevail in his application'' for a retrial and these ''hurdles appear daunting enough'' and therefore, he needs a lawyer.

While the court said the questionable warrant times are probably the result of a clerical error, Fields can now challenge the warrant first at an evidentiary hearing, said Nelson Traverso, who represented Fields in his appeal.

Fields has since been released from prison and is living in Fairbanks, Traverso said.

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