Dead Washington Man to Appeal Murder Conviction With Sister's Help

A man who committed suicide days after being convicted of murder will appeal the conviction from the grave -- with a little help from his sister and possibly taxpayers, The Seattle Times reported Wednesday.

Christopher Harrison Devlin was convicted of murder in September 2010 after being found guilty of killing a man who was due to testify against him in an assault trial.

The 57-year-old was found dead from a drug overdose in his jail cell in Spokane, Wash., a few days later.

Devlin's sister Leslee, however, believes in her brother's innocence and wants to challenge the conviction on his behalf.

"She believed he was innocent and unless she continued his appeal, his innocence wouldn't be established," Robert Lamp, a Spokane probate attorney representing Devlin, told The Seattle Times.

Another attorney for Devlin, Gregory Link, says a recent decision by the state Supreme Court may pave the way for an appeal. The case found that if a defendant dies while the case is on appeal, another person can be substituted in his or her place to oversee issues regarding restitution and the conviction itself.

Because Devlin's estate was insolvent, Link also contends that the state should fund the appeal.

But senior deputy Spokane County prosecutor Mark Lindsey insists that Devlin's constitutional rights are not transferable to anyone else after his death.

"The right to appeal a criminal conviction is solely for an individual," Lindsey said.

The state Court of Appeals is expected to settle the matter.