The Mountaineer: Wong conviction cost more than $1M

“Wong’s case falls among a mere 1 percent of capital cases tracked in the study that cost more than $200,000 and among a mere half a percent that exceeded $300,000.

A review of expenses in the Wong case puts the total cost to state taxpayers at about $800,000 — a number Mark Melrose, one of Wong’s attorneys calls “very misleading. It doesn’t even begin to tell the total expense of a case like this.”

“Melrose said he holds the state responsible for the high costs in the Wong case because of the decision to prosecute it capitally.

“That’s fine if there are aggravating factors, but they are the ones who announced early on they were going to call 100 witnesses. They called it a ‘rush job’ and put this case ahead of everything else. They essentially dropped everything and brought in unlimited resources to expedite and handle this case. They ran every single forensic test for DNA, fingerprints, blood and on and on and on and on, most of which was unnecessary. It was overkill what they were doing,” he said.

Ironically, District Attorney Mike Bonfoey blames defense attorneys for driving up the cost by chasing erroneous rabbit trails and taking on unnecessary expenses, including a trip to Japan to take the deposition of Wong’s brother who was unable to attend trial.”

“The 2007 study conducted by IDS cites death penalty decisions as the paramount factor driving capital case costs. According to the study, it costs three times more to pursue the death penalty than to try a non-capital case where the death penalty is not sought. Between fiscal years 2002 and 2006, the study found that the average cost of a death penalty case was $58,592, compared to $14,170 for a non-capital case.”

Full article: Wong conviction cost more than $1M


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