A couple convicted of first-degree murder in the 1982 shooting death of Lynn Orrand failed to persuade a Circuit Court judge here to give them a retrial.
After hearings in January and early March, Judge Keith Siskin found that Gary Bush and his wife, Candance Bush, received effective counsel from their attorneys, John and Jack Mitchell of Murfreesboro and John Norton of Shelbyville, in the 2008 trial.
The Bushes were sentenced to life in prison in September that year after jurors found them guilty of hiring Candance’s brother, Kevin Patterson, to kill Orrand, who was Candance’s husband.
Orrand, 32, a Peachtree Drive resident, was shot in the back while deer hunting at his father-in-law’s property on Richland-Richardson Road in eastern Rutherford County.
The defense showed that the Bushes were having a romantic affair at the time and planned Orrand’s death. But it took 25 years before local authorities could gather the evidence to make an arrest in 2007.
The Bushes filed requests for post-conviction relief in 2012 contending they got ineffective representation from the Mitchells and Norton for six reasons: 1) failure to investigate alternate theories of defense or call essential witnesses 2) failure to investigate alleged drug addiction of Patterson 3) failure to clarify Candance worked at Gem-Top at a certain time 4) failure to call either one of the defendants to testify on their own behalf 5) failure to challenge an indictment on grounds it listed a state law that wasn’t in effect 6) failure to poll the jury after the verdict to prepare for an appeal.
Norton testified before Siskin early this month that Patterson’s testimony was the “linchpin” of the prosecution’s case. According to court documents, Patterson was never paid the $5,000 he was supposed to receive for killing Orrand and decided to come forward and confess. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Norton, who has practiced law for 38 years and handled more than 100 jury trials, testified that an audiotape of a phone conversation between Gary Bush and Jason Riley implicating the Bushes also was difficult to overcome.
“The tape, in our view, was very damaging to us,” Norton said.
Gary Bush testified that it wasn’t his voice on the tape, according to court documents, and Candance said in court that she had heard only part of the tape and was surprised when it came up in court.
But Norton said both Candance and Gary Bush had heard the tape and that he had “exhaustive conversations” with John Mitchell about how to handle the tape in court.
Candance and Gary also testified that better investigation of her work history at Gem-Top would have shown she wasn’t having an affair with Gary at the time of Orrand’s murder.
Norton, however, testified that she would have had to “call her own mother a liar” regarding her romantic affair with Gary Bush.
Court documents also showed that both of them were told at a trial hearing they had the right to testify but that after being given the pros and cons of taking the stand both of them decided against it. Mitchell testified he didn’t want the jury to hear Bush’s voice because it would link him to the audiotape.
Mitchell also testified that Patterson did not appear to be using drugs at the time of his confession, though Gary Bush said in court that Patterson was “on dope.”
Both Bushes also testified they didn’t believe Patterson was the killer and that their attorneys should have checked other possible suspects. But the attorneys said they investigated other men and determined that none of them would help their defense.
Siskin filed his order March 18.