Date: 1989-09-16

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Karen Diehl, whose conviction in the death of her teen-age adopted son was overturned this week by a panel of the Virginia Court of Appeals, may not be freed from prison even though a new trial has been ordered.

A spokesman for Attorney General Mary Sue Terry said yesterday that the state likely will oppose a request by Mrs. Diehl's attorney to release the 38- year-old woman from prison, pending a new trial.

"Typically our position is that individuals should remain in custody," spokesman Bert Rohrer said.

Rohrer said the attorney general's office will contact Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Sciortino next week to discuss Mrs. Diehl's case.The attorney general will ask the full Court of Appeals to reconsider Tuesday's decision by a three-judge panel to overturn the conviction, Rohrer said.

Mrs. Diehl, 38, was convicted in 1987 by a Virginia Beach Circuit Court jury of involuntary manslaughter, abduction, child neglect and assault.

The charges related to the death of her 13-year-old adopted son, Dominick "Andrew" Diehl.

The appeals panel in Richmond ruled that Mrs. Diehl did not get a fair trial because of a biased juror, who acknowledged during jury selection he had already formed on opinion of the case based on news accounts. The case was sent back to Virginia Beach.

Mrs. Diehl's attorney, Robert Morecock, said he'll ask the state to free his client, but noted he's still trying to figure out whether to ask the appeals court or the original trial court.

The attorney general's office said the request should be made to the circuit court.


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