Andrew L. Urban.
It’s one thing for a man convicted of murder to protest the verdict. It’s quite another to painstakingly dissect the trial judge’s summing up, as Marco Rusterholz did, to point out where he thinks “mistakes and misdirections” prompted (‘steered’ as he puts it) the jury to a guilty verdict. He detailed his critique in a briefing for his counsel to appeal against the verdict. And the appeal judges agreed 3-0 that the circumstantial case did not prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. So why did they dismiss the appeal?
It is not unusual for us to receive emails from relatives or friends on behalf of people in prison who believe they have been wrongfully convicted.
One such email, from Marco Rusterholz’s old friends the Hoffmans, contained specific information that grabbed my attention: “There was no scientific evidence to convict him and the witnesses for the prosecution were all drug addicts. In one of the eyewitness reports it is stated the three males of average build were seen leaving the (crime) scene – Marco is and always has been a really large man and would have been unmistakeable,” wrote Gary & Georgia Hoffman. Rusterholz weighed 130 kg at the time of the murders.
Gary, a retired engineering pattern maker, met Marco at a Brisbane gym 32 years ago, each impressed by the other’s powerlifting. “We entered numerous competitions over a number of years until Marco – now married – moved to Toowoomba. We kept in touch, visiting each other occasionally. After a few years in Toowoomba Marco and his growing family relocated to Tasmania but we have always remained in contact with Marco via letter or phone. We feel we know Marco pretty well and do not believe him capable of murder. After hearing what his original lawyer said to him that the court case would be over in a few days and that Marco would be free to go, we were both stunned after the sentence was read out.”
Rusterholz was arrested on September 25, 2012, at a property in Glenorchy. The Hoffmans and Rusterholz remain in regular contact. “To keep his sanity”, says Gary Hoffman, Rusterholz, the former air conditioning technician, is keeping busy with woodworking tasks.
The Rusterholtz marriage, which produced eight children, eventually broke down.
THE CROWN’S CIRCUMSTANTIAL CASE
Rusterholz, 51 at the time, pleaded not guilty to the murders of Angela Hallam and Joshua Newman in Ravenswood, Tasmania, in 2012. It took the Supreme Court jury in Launceston about 10 hours over three days to convict Rusterholz of murdering Hallam, 31, and Mr Newman, 21. The Crown’s case, entirely circumstantial, was that Rusterholz stabbed the couple and cut their throats before setting their bodies on fire. The state argued Rusterholz killed Hallam over a drug debt and because he believed her death would please his new girlfriend. Newman was described as being in the wrong place at the wrong time and was killed because he went to Hallam’s aid.
Over the course of the seven-week trial, jurors heard from more than 70 witnesses. Witness Matthew Coventry told the court he and Hallam trafficked drugs for Rusterholz and they had stolen a large amount of drugs from him. Both Coventry and Mayer said Rusterholz had admitted the murders to them. (Those – arguably self-serving, unreliable – claims played the key role in the conviction; see below.)
The prosecutor was Mr Ransom from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Rusterholz was represented by Mr Hughes.
Rusterholz, as can be seen in his detailed dissection of the judge’s summary & directions below, has other criticisms of the judge, which ring alarm bells, notably the criticism that Pearce J did not pay attention to the evidence.
The following ‘trial analysis’ by Rusterholz was prepared for Fabiano Cangelosi, his legal representative at the appeal, and is reproduced in its entirety (complete with uncorrected spelling errors). Please note: Rusterholz is quoting the judge from the trial transcript, underlining for emphasis and adding his comments in bold. References to Salient Facts relate to a large document in which Rusterholz details all the evidence on which he relies in the relevant paragraphs.
R Pearce/Summary 28/4/15
Page 2 line 4-8 I will give you a memorandum which outlines the elements that you need to find proved before you can find the accused guilty of murder. And I will remind you of the essential factual elements of the crown case and the defence case.
NOTE: what was found proved?
Page 3 line Usually the transcript is accurate. Counsel have the opportunity to point out to me any inaccuracies in the transcript.
*Page 3 line 35-40 …the evidence is what you heard and saw in court. …it’s not only what was said by the witnesses that’s important, but your impresions of them as they give their evidence. And you are going to be asked to judge their honesty and their reliability.
NOTE: Surely Pearce can really only be referring to civilian witnesses such as Covo etc – because he couldn’t be suggesting that the forensic or fire investigation people would need to be judged by the jury regarding their testimony based on an ‘impression’ the jury gets about their honesty and reliability?!?!
Page 4 line 20 Juries have an obligation to bring their verdicts in accordance with the law as I direct the law to be.
Page 4 line 28 You must accept my version (law).
Page 4 line 40 ….you are the judges of the facts and not me. You are the sole judges of the facts.
Page 4 line 37-43 …if I happen to express a view on any question of fact, you can and you must, disregard those views unless they happen to coincide with your own assessment of the evidence. ….You are the sole judges of the facts. So it’s your duty to consider the evidence, where possible reach conclusions or make findings on the facts, that is what happened or what didn’t happen.
NOTE: Oh come on now – any ‘view‘ Pearce expresses will never be disregarded. What is the point of Pearce even uttering any ‘view’ if they “must” disregard it???? The ‘view’ is in fact a subliminal suggestion point – it is swaying a jury and affects the way they judge, decide, evaluate, adjudicate their ‘impressions’ of the perceived ‘facts’!!!!! Why make any comment whatsoever if it isn’t intended to ‘steer’ an impression?? Thus from the outset the judge allows himself a foothold in the door of whether or not the jury are the “sole judges of the facts” and not him!!!
Page 4 line 44 So it’s up to you to decide what facts you accept are established and what conclusions or inferences you draw from those facts.
NOTE: Does this in any way mean that the jury can invalidate fire investigator findings and forensic science findings which are CONCRETE facts? Because that is what they did!
Page 5 line 1-5 Now I do not propose to persuade you one way or the other as to the verdict that you should return in this trial, that’s not my task.
Page 5 line 10 …it is your duty to disregard what I say about the facts unless you agree.
*Page 5 line 15-17 …but it’s necessary … to consider all of the evidence … Your decision on the facts must be based solely on the evidence.
Page 5 line 29-35 Now what happened to Angela Hallam and Joshua Newman was appalling. You may consider that whoever is responsible for such atrocious murders should be punished.
NOTE: WHOA there Tex … it is only me on trial!!! Who else of the “whoever” are they going to consider??? The State’s case is that I am guilty. So it doesn’t leave any other option as to who is guilty!!!
*Page 6 line 2 …ensure that your verdict is delivered in accordance with the law and solely on the basis of the evidence that you’ve heard during the trial and not on any other matters.
NOTE: this they didn’t do!
Page 6 line 7 …as to whether guilt has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Page 6 line 20 …it’s your duty to base your verdicts solely on the evidence,…
Page 6 line 37 You must base your verdicts on the evidence that’s been given, not on the evidence you think perhaps might have been given.
Page 7 line 13-15 If I reveal what I think about facts or any aspects of the facts or if you think I’ve given some indication of a personal view on any point, well as I said it’s your duty to put that aside unless you agree.
NOTE: This “unless you agree” part is a massive contradiction of directions to the jury that completely undermines what Pearce said previously …
- “You are the judges of the facts and not me.”
- “Now I do not propose to persuade you one way or the other.”
- “your decision on the facts must be based solely on the evidence.”
- “solely on the basis of the evidence that you’ve heard … during the trial and not on any other matters.”
Thus this makes it ok to plant ideas. It opens doors for the Judge to say anything to guaranty that the jury does not miss an idea or view of his. With their attention drawn whenever the Judge speaks they cannot miss it as in reality the jury will heed all that he says to them allowing the Judge to influence and steer the jury – thus is a terrible misdirection to the jury.
Page 7 line 32-43 On of the important functions that you can perform as a jury is to decide, if you can, which witnesses are truthful….You may be influenced by the way they behaved when they were in the witness box. How they conduct themselves.
Page 9 line 16 In every trial I direct the juries that they may be satisfied that witnesses are right about some things and wrong about others.
NOTE: This poses the question of …did Pearce listen to all the forensic evidence and fire investigation evidence? Because that excludes me from the crime scene and places Dave Morgan at the crime scene!!! It is clear to me that even Pearce must have missed the significance of the forensic evidence and the fire investigation evidence.
Page 11 line line 1 The burden or the onus is on the State to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. It’s the State that alleges guilt. It’s the State that has to prove it.
Page 11 line 25-28 you must conclude whether or not Mr Rusterholz’s guilt … has been … established beyond reasonable doubt.
NOTE: The jury ignored, as the Judge did, all the scientific evidence provided by the state.
RE: One person killing both victims
Page 11 line 42-44 … the evidence doesn’t seem to me to be capable of supporting … the conclusion that somebody killed one person and was not … guilty of killing the other …
NOTE: This misdirection of Pearce ignores Jarryd Anthony Slater’s testimony – see SALIENT FACTS #2. Likewise Coventry – forensics has blood and DNA from two contributers under his nails (see SALIENT FACTS #3) and Cory Griffiths could not establish if the blood was Coventry’s or the second contributer! The sample was so weak – though he could tell the blood was human he couldn’t tell who the second contributer was – let alone if the blood was Coventry’s contribution!
Page 12 line 6 In a criminal trial the State does not have to prove every fact beyond reasonable doubt.
NOTE: That’s the opposite of what he said Page 11 line 1-3
the onus is on the state to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. It’s the … State that has to prove it.
Page 12 line 23 The burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt.
Page 13 line 16 One disputed element, and that is whether Mr Rusterholz was the person responsible …
Page 14 line 38 …if you are satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that whoever did this …
Page 15 line 11 …whether the State has proved that Mr Rusterholz was the person responsible for the murders.
RE: Circumstantial evidence
Page 16 line 21 The State’s case relies, at least in part, on circumstantial evidence.
Page 16 line 33 Now the State’s case therefore depends on circumstantial evidence, at least in part.
NOTE: The solid science evidence coming from fire investigators and forensic services completely clear me and strongly point the finger at Morgan and Covo.
Page 16 line 44 In some cases circumstantial evidence can be much stronger than cases depending upon direct evidence.
NOTE: Circumstantial evidence is happenstance. It’s only “evidence” if it isn’t disproved by science, surveillance bugs or other circumstantial evidence!!!
Page 17 line 1 Consider certain basic facts and then draw conclusions from those.
RE: Rays of light
Page 17 line 8-19 …Just consider each piece of evidence that the crown relies upon as one of those ‘Rays of light’. Individually they may show little. But together the crown says they disclose the object clearly.
NOTE: “Rays of light” truth???? Is this what Pearce suggests that the crown has?! That’s a completely inappropriate direction. Pearce is supposed to be impartial!!!! But now he is referring to the Prosecution’s evidence as ‘Rays of light’. The opposite must be true of Counsel Hughes summary of evidence. So it follows logically that Covo’s, who admits he is a dishonest person, $1,500 a day drug habit testimony is a ‘ray of light'(See SALIENT Facts #8, 11, 12. Likewise Mayer’s 2 and a half ‘eight-balls’ of amphetamine per day habit – a ‘ray of light’ (see SALIENT Facts # 15). Elisa Knight – a ‘Ray of Light’???
RE: The only inference reasonably available/the only rational hypothesis
Page 17 line 32 In a case depending substantially on circumstantial evidence, a jury can’t be satisfied of guilt unless the inference of his guilt on those basic facts is the only inference reasonably available on the evidence. You cannot be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt unless you consider that Mr Rusterholz’s guilt is the only rational hypothesis which is open to you on the evidence.
NOTE: This case is absolutely loaded with very strong inference and rational hypothesis that Covo/Morgan were the murderers! That Morgan killed Joshua and that Covo killed Hallam.
Page 17 line 40-44 You may only convict Mr Rusterholz based on circumstantial evidence if you are satisfied that the only reasonable inference or conclusion arising from all those facts*, taken together, is that he is the person responsible for these crimes.
NOTE: Circumstantial evidence being referred to as a “fact” by Pearce – wow!!! If an allegation is a “Fact” then there are tenfold more facts against Morgan and Coventry NOT including the scientific facts! That’s a fact!
But not once does Pearce ever tell the jury that the science is wrong and that the drug affected testimony is superior. However by not directing the jury to the scientific findings, on any particular point of contention, he has put into the minds of jurors the mental avoidance of the scientific proof of a ‘fact’.
Page 19 line 27-36 That Mr Rusterholz had the means … the motive … the opportunity to commit the murders.
NOTE: Motive? Opportunity?? wow! Um Coventry and Morgan???? Means, Motive, Opportunity??? Ashley Bishop??? Any of the many criminal identities in Hobart that Angela moved away from????? See SALIENT FACT #20
Page 22 line 1-7 Amy Prior gave evidence that …Angela told her that Mr Rusterholz had grabbed her by the throat …
NOTE: Pearce just does not listen to any scientific evidence at all – clearly!!! See SALIENT FACT #7. Forensic science from the autopsy stated 110% clearly that there was NO throat grabbing, no strangulation, no bruising or blunt trauma whatsoever to Angela Hallam!!! He is completely misdirecting the jury! He either has no understanding of evidence, or he is corrupt, or he is incapable of acting as a judge! His direction here reveals total ignorance of the FSST evidence! Furthermore Felicia O’Rourke and Ben Fama were with Angela the very next day – they say that there was no problems as far as they were aware! Read their evidence notes.
Page 22 line 16-21 Felicity O’Rourke gave evidence … Mr Rusterholz … barged in … and slammed the door.
NOTE: Pearce DOES NOT LISTEN TO THE EVIDENCE at all!!!!! He is quoting responses during Ransom’s questioning – he is not taking ANY notice of the cross-examination by Hughes who gets a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SERIES OF REPLIES. See SALIENT FACT # 23!!! There is NO door slamming or barging in whatsoever in the cross examination!! Pearce is absolutely focussed on misdirecting the jury. He missed ALL of the FACTS from the cross-examination! That’s a FACT!
The only reason could be that the Astor Grill where Joshua worked was owned by Robert Pearce’s brother! Pearce’s brother was Joshua’s boss!!! A vested interest – he should have excluded himself from the case!!! MIS-TRIAL – REASONABLE DOUBT – NOT GUILTY
Page 22 line 41-Page 23 line 5 14th August … detail a car … Rusterholz had been talking on the phone …after he hung up Mr Morgan started shouting … “I should have blood done it the other night, fucking slut.” But that she didn’t hear Mr Rusterholz’s reply because she was vacuuming a car …that’s only evidence of what Mr Morgan said, nothing about what Mr Rusterholz said.
NOTE: Dana Smith DID NOT SAY that Angela was planning on ripping Rusterholz off!!! FACT. Morgan was the one who was “angry”. FACT. Morgan was the one “shouting” & “yelling” – FACT! Justice Pearce seemed to miss these important FACTS and suggests a reply was forthcoming from myself that was unheard by Dana! She said we we just talking! Pearce steers the emphasis away from the FACTs – that it was Morgan who yelled “I should have done it the other night. fucking slut.”Page 958 line 8-25. See SALIENT FACT #22. Pearce should NOT have directed the jury by saying “But that she didn’t hear Mr Rusterholz’s reply because she was vacuuming a car …that’s only evidence of what Mr Morgan said, nothing about what Mr Rusterholz said.”
Pearce seemed to forget his own rules he stated earlier when he said …
Page 6 line 2 …ensure that your verdict is delivered in accordance with the law and solely on the basis of the evidence that you’ve heard during the trial and not on any other matters.
Page 6 line 37 You must base your verdicts on the evidence that’s been given, not on the evidence you think perhaps might have been given.
Pearce is strongly infering a view that there must have been some sort of nasty reply, to the jury, of which there is no evidence and moreover Pearce is over looking the FACT that Morgan is saying that he should have done something, to Angela (in the context) the other night – the slut! That Morgan is doing the yelling. That Morgan is going to be ripped off – not me!!!!
Page 20 line 40 HH The State contends that Mr Rusterholz had a motive to kill had a motive to murder Ms Hallam and indeed before the murders he expressed a desire to harm her. Now the State has no obligation to prove to you that Mr Rusterholz had a reason to kill Ms Hallam.
WHOA – MISDIRECTION – (Page 11 line 1-3 the onus is on the state to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. It’s the … State that has to prove it.). What a contradiction especially in the minds of the jury!! Which one is it? Does the State have to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt (Page 11 line 1-3 summary ) OR does the State have no obligation to prove that Mr Rusterholz had a reason to kill … (Page 20 line 40 summary)?? YES!!!!
Page 23 line 20-30 The State also points to a series of messages sent between Mr Rusterholz and Mr Morgan at pages 2-6 in Ercole’s communication chart. …indicate a tension between the accused and Ms Hallam and indicate an intention to do her harm …the State’s case that they envince motivation on the part of Mr Rusterholz to do harm to Ms Hallam.
NOTE: Pearce is misdirecting the jury. The conversation is entirely about a fucking Hallam up … not killing her. See SALIENT FACT #11, #21, #22.
Pearce seemed to forget his own rules he stated earlier when he said …
Page 5 line 15-17 …but it’s necessary … to consider all of the evidence … Your decision on the facts must be based solely on the evidence. Page 6 line 2 …ensure that your verdict is delivered in accordance with the law and solely on the basis of the evidence that you’ve heard during the trial and not on any other matters.
Page 6 line 37 You must base your verdicts on the evidence that’s been given, not on the evidence you think perhaps might have been given.
Page 33 line The state suggests however that you can be satisfied, as I’ve already explained, that the murders must have been committed between 9:30 and sometime before 10:52. Now the State’s case is that Mr Coventry is shown as at the BP Newnham on the film at 9:40pm and that he left from there to go to Hobart.
Page 34 line 1-5 …And the other evidence suggests that he may have been there at an earlier time, an hour earlier.
NOTE: Well; after Hughes’ questions we can put to rest the notion of determining where someone was regardless of phone, text or even GPRS cell tower use. FACT See SALIENT FACT #18 & #26 There is not a single bit of evidence that can prove Coventry wasn’t in Launceston! With the GPRS messaging going on seemingly between Covo and Hallam at about 9:20- 9:30 plus eye witnesses seeing a gray Commodore, plus Covo’s bragging plus the unidentified blood under his nails etc there is abundant evidence he was there, he did kill Hallam and that should be cause for REASOPNABLE DOUBT!
Page 35 line 13-20 …about guilty conduct…if you think that there might be some other reason that Mr Morgan might have returned to Victoria, and we know very little about this, but if* it’s possible that there’s some other reason … it can’t really be used as evidence of guilt.
NOTE: FUCK ME DRUNK!!! Once again Pearce breaks his own rules (Page 6 line 37 You must base your verdicts on the evidence that’s been given, not on the evidence you think perhaps might have been given.) Pearce is actually directing the jury to downplay Morgan leaving for Victoria of which THERE IS NO EVIDENCE ABOUT WHATSOEVER from an innocence perspective!!! Pearce actually misdirects the jury by saying “IF” the jury thinks that there “MIGHT” be a reason, obviously an innocent reason, then “IT CAN’T REALLY BE USED AS EVIDENCE OF GUILT.” There is no evidence of why other than the obvious – that it’s Morgan’s DNA with victim’s blood on the fuel can and the front door handle and ONLY Morgan’s DNA on kitchen taps! Pearce is ‘steering’ the jury! Quite obviously.
Page 35 line 22 – Page 36 line1 The defense also made mention of the fact that DNA matching Mr Morgan was found on the taps in the kitchen …remind you about Dr. Griffiths evidence … He doesn’t say that that’s Mr Morgan’s DNA.* He says that it matches Mr Morgan’s DNA and that the chance of another person … one in one hundred billion. …It may be that there’s an innocent explanation for Mr Morgan’s DNA, if it was his DNA*, on the taps in the kitchen. The defence would ask you to infer that Mr Morgan was the source of that DNA directly.
NOTE: WOW Pearce is actually trying to play down a one in one hundred billion test result by saying RE: Griffiths “He doesn’t say that that’s Mr Morgan’s DNA.” . Fabiano; it might really be Mickey Mouse’s DNA but looks like Morgan’s!! A one in 100 billion match – who is Pearce suggesting the alternative person could be? This Justice Pearce is misdirecting the jury. He is steering them away from the seriousness of Morgan and infering seriousness for anything that might indicate an implication of inference to myself! He is working the evidence very selectively and subtlely – Can you and Cameron see this???? If Pearce is directing the jury to think that Griffiths one in a 100 billion result isn’t Morgan but only a match “if it was his DNA” then he is basically directing the jury that that result wasn’t really Morgan! Fact is that the test result means it cannot be anyone on planet earth other than Morgan …and the reality of that is that there is NO “if”! Given the reason why FSST staff tested the taps for in the first place – because a murderer will often clean up (See SALIENT FACT #5) and the fact that Morgan said at (SALIENT FACT #13) at 7:10pm and 59 seconds … “Yes, but seeing a new contact I’ve never met” “Maybe a bit late but will see you.”to Hallam after she tells A Bishop at 7:09pm that Morgan will be there with green at 9pm. Some time later at 7:47pm she sends Morgan a text stain she “paranoid by myself” and from that point on Morgan disappears off the phone/text record for 12 hours. At 9:30pm a yell from a woman is heard by a witness – “get out” and another witness sees a gray Commodore at the front of Hallam’s with 3 males! The rest we know!
Page 38 line 5-10 …apart from the disputed evidence of the cut to the back of his neck, which he says occurred when he was shaving.
NOTE: See SALIENT FACT #1 There was no cut to the back of the neck – it was a cut to the back of the head. Both Sally Mayer and Cheyenne McGuire say there were no new marks on me – Mayer paid close attention in case I had been cheating on her. Cheyenne said she always spoke to me when she saw me and that I was my normal self. Mayer also recalled an incident where I fell into bathtub and smacked the back of my head. Pearce underplayed this incident and didn’t provide all the evidence downplaying the matter just as Ransom had said Mayer had downplayed some testimony against me. (Page 21 line 13-19) Forsyth himself doesn’t make mention of anything of note.
Page 67 line 1-46
NOTE: Pearce strongly suggests that the Hyundai car being stolen was a lie – that it was a lie for the reason of the vehicle being used in the crime – and he makes no other inference, or option of inference, when he strongly infers to the jury that there was ONLY one option. The SALIENT FACTS are that neither the Hyundai nor the accused are seen at ANY crimescene whatsoever. See SALIENT FACTS #1, #2. So car was burnt out by unknown persons early hours of Sat. morning whilst I spent most of Friday till that evening in a Lonnie police cell. Multiple eye witness evidence was that the vehicle seen at victim’s was a Commodore!
Page 80 line 4-25 His Honour (HH) – What’s consistent with Debra McHoul’s evidence? Hughes – That taps are used – taps are tested by Forensic Science Services Tasmania (FSST) because in their experience they are used by persons who commit the crimes at the scene. That is the defence contention. That the DNA – it’s not just the fact of there being Mr Morgan’s DNA on the defence case, it’s the absence of DNA or a DNA result with respect to Hallam and Newman when they had been residing at the address….HH – That there was no evidence of either Ms Hallam or Mr Newman’s DNA on the taps…. HH – …I am not inclined to make a direction that Ms McHoul’s evidence was that they test taps because persons who commit crimes at the scene have a tendency to use taps.
NOTE: mistaken very bad direction and he has NOT paid attention to the evidence! – That is exactly what FSST Debra McHoul and FSST Louise McMahon both said in their evidence!!! See SALIENT FACT #5
Page 32 line 40-43 Sally Mayer said that he used to go around …”oh yeah just another one, yep” But she didn’t believe him.
Mayer didn’t believe Rusterholz either (Page 1007 line 12 -23) and that’s a FACT but Pearce only mentions Coventry here!!!!
Page 82 line 6-page 83 line 3 HH – I said between the 17th of August and when she made her police statement on the 25th of October Ms Mayer spoke again with Mr Rusterholz about the matter. …. Hughes – …they were in fact, on her evidence … so 14 days after the 15th, which would make it the 29th to the 30th … and that those admissions were continuing through that time. …it’s the state of her evidence after cross-examination … the significance of that flows to the next direction of the next contention of the defence case … because according to that evidence Ms Mayer is asserting that she’s having conversations with the accused … which is when surveillance devices have been installed within her address, and our contention of the unlikelihood of them not being discovered by police.
NOTE: Not a single conversation like this is reported by Tasmania Police who would be using the recordings as evidence if they had me telling Mayer what she claims I told her according to the police officer mentioned in SALIENT FACT #24 ‘Missing evidence#1’. This is very strong evidence that these conversations were a fabrication from a woman whose evidence was she used amphetamine hourly to the amount of 2 and a half ‘eight balls’ every day …which increased tenfold, on her evidence during that suveillance period! See SALIENT FACTS #15!
Page 20 line 4 HH What the State say about this. It says that you can exclude Mr Coventry because his movements are accounted for …
NOTE: Whoa no his movements are not accounted for (See SALIENT FACTS #18). The evidence was that the BP footage was NEVER verified for time stamp accuracy! Nor does it exclude Covo for being in the Gray Commodore seen at victim’s unit at 9:30 pm!!!!
Page 21 line 13-19 …ill feeling between Sally Mayer and Angela Hallam … the State suggested … that Sally Mayer … understated this …her evidence. …Mr Rusterholz wished to harm Ms Hallam to please Ms Mayer.
NOTE: WHOA how the hell can he make this direction??? There was NOT a single bit of evidence, from a credible witness, that I wished to A) harm Angela Hallam, B) wished to harm Angela to please Mayer!!!! This was a Ransom theory – not evidence at all.
The State (Ransom) suggesting that a witness understated something is speculation -NOT fact! Not a bit of evidence to say this! Mayer did not like Hallam but nowhere does Mayer say that she wanted Hallam DEAD or that I ever offer to do this, or that she ever asks me!!!!
Page 21 line 21 -39 …Coventry … and Ms Hallam … decided to take their cut …by helping themselves to other drugs … Now there is no evidence as far as I can see that Mr Rusterholz knew about this IF IT WERE TRUE. But IF he did … it may give rise to ill feeling. Mr Coventry … THE LAST TIME HE VISITED MS HALLAM’S HOUSE …
NOTE: “If it were true” & “if he did”????? Speculation!! There is no evidence that Mr Rusterholz knew because THERE IS NO EVIDENCE FROM ANYONE ELSE THAT IT EVEN HAPPENED! Sally Mayer would have known if most of the drugs were going missing! She sold them!! There is NOT one drug message between myself, Hallam or Covo over drugs, missing or not, whatsoever. Covo’s evidence was that he was a dishonest person. (Page 878 line 34 A dishonest person; aren’t you? Correct. …Yes.) SALIENT FACT #9 reveals that Covo had Hallam’s key and he got it from Hallam “the last time he visited Ms Hallam’s house” 10-14 days before murder – his own evidence brings him undone! Pearce makes no mention of the many times Covo was found out in his lies!!!
HH Page 23 line 7-15 Jessica Jarman … conversation with …Dave Morgan. He said to her … “It was drug related, she stole $50,000 out of a bumbag and had been caught doing it.”
NOTE: Why doesn’t Pearce point out that the context of this money and bum bag is the Covo story? There is NOT one bit of evidence that Ange stole anything from any bumbag of mine nor did I ever have such amounts of money!!! No phone texts over money between me and Angela. Plus Pearce doesn’t seem to be inclined at to how Morgan would know this the very next day! Nor does he make any link to Morgans DNA and Victim’s blood being on the Fuel can, the outside door handle and Morgan’s DNA being the only DNA on the taps in the kitchen!!!
Page 23 line 20 -29 …those text messages evince motivation on the part of Mr Rusterholz to do harm to Ms Hallam…
NOTE: See SALIENT FACT #22 [Ed: Rusterholz goes into great detail to explain the full context of his criticism of Pearce J. This is a summary he provided: “If the time is taken to carefully read, without bias, it is apparent to even ‘Blind Freddy’ that there is NO plot to kill anyone at all. If that indeed was a plot then it really makes Morgan’s DNA and victim’s DNA being on the fuel can and outside door handle look even more obvious then it does! The words ‘Fucking her up’ is probably better explained by the words ‘Screwing her up’ or ‘Messing up her shit’ or ‘Fucking her over’ …etc – It was a plan for a business sting – nothing further. Pearce erred BIG TIME when suggesting, on the basis of his assumption, to an impressionable jury that this was a plan to physically harm Angela. There is a lot of laughter and joking about in the exchange and I cannot see how Pearce validates his suggestion of tension (Page 22 line 22-23).
Regardless, the eye witness testimony, the forensic findings hold greater weight in proving I had nothing to do with Hallam’s death.]
Page 24 line 1 – 25 …it tends to demonstrate that he had access to knives of that type. …Mr Rusterholz had the means … to inflict wounds if he had a knife like that …
NOTE: “he had access to knives of that type” ???? Pearce does NOT PAY ATTENTION TO THE EVIDENCE – ONCE AGAIN!! See SALIENT FACT #25
The evidence was that RE: type … implement(s) used on victim’s was sharp – FACT. That was the only CONCRETE evidence of TYPE!!! It is not a given absolute that the implement was single edged (Page 331 Line 25) – FACT. The evidence DOES NOT say that the implement was a hunting knife (Page 314 line 18) – FACT. It could have been an abattoir knife (Page 314 Line 26) – FACT. It could have been a serrated knife (Page 287 line 4, page 288 line 1) – FACT. It MAY have been heavy, thus it MAY NOT have been heavy (Page 314 line 18) – FACT.
Now ANY person residing in Australia – MORE SPECIFICALLY … ANY “violent people” or ANY “criminal identities” that Angela Hallam was “closely connected to” “whether they be in this state or in other states” would own a sharp knife!!! (Page 1668 line 18-44, Page 1669 line 1-10) That’s a FACT! Anyone can buy such an item from practically ANY store in the country! FACT. Pearce made a very very biased direction to the jury!!!
Page 25 line 38-42 Some indication of the time arises if you are satisfied that it was Mr Coventry at the service station … time shown on the DVD recording taken at the service station.
NOTE: SALIENT FACT # 18 The evidence was that the time was never verified at all! It is a wrongful direction to suggest a reference to the time shown on the recording as it was NEVER PROVED! It means nothing!
Page 32 line 15-16 (Re: Mr Coventry) The state asserts that you can be satisfied that he could not have committed these crimes.
NOTE: I wonder why Pearce, as the judge who heard All the evidence, why he didn’t refer to the truck loads of evidence, damning evidence against Coventry. How Ransom has the gall to direct to the jury, which Pearce is repeating with NO thought to the evidence, that Coventry could not have committed the crimes. See SALIENT FACTS #3, #9, #11, #12, #16, #18, #19
THE APPEAL – WRONGFULLY DISMISSED
Turning to the appeal and the reasons for its dismissal: it is perhaps naïve and dangerous to inject common sense into legal matters, but it is irresistible in this case. On the one hand, the three appeal court judges recognised that the circumstantial evidence against Marco Rusterholz does not prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. On the other hand, they found that the admissions Rusterholz was accused of making were sufficient to leave the convictions as “safe”, despite the fact that the alleged admissions were made to – and alleged in court by – persons of the lowest imaginable credibility. This is a contradiction that the judges failed to filter through either their common sense meter, or through the logic spectrum. The appeal court judges did note his honour’s crucial words to the jury, which remain troubling in view of their decision to dismiss the appeal: “If you are satisfied that there’s a scenario not consistent with his guilt, which is reasonably open to you, then the appropriate verdict is not guilty.” Well, yes; the jury acting rationally should have entertained reasonable doubt about the guilt of the accused, to quote the High Court in its decision to quash the Pell conviction.
Once again, a circumstantial case (eg Sue Neill-Fraser, Henry Keogh, Robert Xie, Kathleen Folbigg, Robert Farquharson) is decided on the flimsiest grounds, thanks to juries not acting rationally and judges failing to recognise the tell-tale signs that a conviction would be unsafe.
“What was unique about this case,” comments his lawyer at the appeal, Fabiano Cangelosi, “was that at trial the defence were not just saying that the defendant had not committed the crimes, but were presenting evidence that a person named Matthew Coventry actually had — and moreover, Coventry was called as a Crown witness.” (See Rusterholtz’s analysis above.) That must be taken into consideration by the jury …and the judge ought to have addressed that issue.
In her reasons, Wood J even set out that scenario:
Mr Coventry, who admitted to having been convicted of being an accessory after the fact to murder in June 2002, allegedly made admissions to having murdered Ms Hallam and Mr Newman. As to Mr Morgan, a match for his DNA was detected on a fuel container found in the appellant’s locked shed at 4 Daphne Court on 17 August 2012 by police, which container was found to have what was apparently human blood on it that yielded DNA which matched Mr Newman’s DNA. A match for Mr Morgan’s DNA was also found on taps in Ms Hallam’s unit on which was found no other DNA apart from other minor and mixed profiles from which no reliable DNA conclusions could be drawn.
Curiously, notwithstanding the above, the appeal was dismissed because two of the appeal judges discarded the argument that the alleged admissions by Rusterholz were credible, despite the notion that “There is no question that there are circumstances relating to each of the relevant witnesses that had the potential to affect the reliability of their respective testimony. As a result, the evidence of each witness was the subject of a significant set of warnings by the trial judge as to the use that the jury could make of the evidence, the need to exercise caution before accepting the evidence, and in determining the weight to be given to it.” As we say above, the jury acting rationally should have entertained reasonable doubt about the guilt of the accused. We might add, so should the appeal judges.
That self-contradictory reasoning of the appeal court resulted in a 45 year prison sentence, perpetuating ‘reasonable doubt’ over the conviction, confusing the public and failing to serve the interests of justice.
The reasons for the appeal court’s 2017 dismissal was written by Wood J – the same judge who wrote the reasons for dismissing the 2021 Sue Neill-Fraser appeal, which was severely criticized by Flinders University legal academic Bob Moles. Justice Estcourt also wrote a powerful dissenting opinion to Wood J’s reasons.
Just as Sue Neill-Fraser was able to make a further appeal under new legislation at the time, Rusterholz intends to lodge a further appeal and his legal team is investigating the matter, seeking new evidence on which to proceed. (It would have been better had the new legislation adopted proposals put to the Government that would allow for further appeals on not just fresh and compelling new evidence, but on broader grounds, such as ‘miscarriage of justice.’
The interests of justice (not to mention Marco Rusterholz) would be well served by a national network of a Criminal Cases Review Commission with investigative powers, which could assess the case and if it approved, refer it back to the appeal court. It would be the simplest and most affordable path to a full review of doubtful or unsafe convictions.