Jonathan Broyhill, the man convicted of killing political strategist Jamie Hahn in 2013, failed to persuade a three-judge panel at the state Court of Appeals to grant him a new trial.
In a ruling released Tuesday, Rick Elmore, John Tyson and Phil Berger Jr., the three appellate judges who heard Broyhill’s appeal, concluded that the murder trial had been “fair” and “free from error.”
In April, Broyhill’s appellate attorney, Gordon Widenhouse, argued that Judge Paul Ridgeway, who presided over the trial in March 2015, erred by prohibiting a prison psychiatrist who treated Broyhill 15 months after the attack from telling jurors the kinds of medicine he had prescribed for him while he was in jail.
Prosecutors argued in 2015 that the doctor would not have been able to offer testimony about Broyhill’s state of mind on April 22, 2013, when he engaged in a frenzied knife attack at the home of Jamie and Nation Hahn, a longtime acquaintance of Broyhill.
Jamie Hahn, 29, was fatally injured, while her husband suffered wounds that led to a verdict of attempted murder for Broyhill.
Broyhill, whose own defense attorney described him at trial as a chronic liar who feigned illnesses and stole thousands of dollars, did not dispute that he had caused the injuries that killed Jamie Hahn and left Nation Hahn with physical and emotional scars. Broyhill had been best man at the Hahns’ wedding.
Joseph Arbour, who represented Broyhill, argued that Broyhill had gone to the Hahns’ home that April day with a plan to turn an 8-inch butcher knife on himself. Broyhill had helped manage a campaign account for U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, a Democrat from Wake County who was a client of Jamie Hahn’s political consulting firm, and questions had been growing about irregularities in the account.
Jamie Hahn and Broyhill were to go over the books that afternoon when the violence occurred. They also were to work on a quarterly campaign finance report for the Federal Election Commission.
Both sides agreed at Broyhill’s trial that he had taken $46,500 from the campaign account over a span of two years.
In April, Widenhouse argued that the jury might not have found Broyhill guilty of first-degree murder had the jurors been allowed to hear from the prison psychiatrist. The testimony, Widenhouse argued, might have bolstered the defense team’s arguments that Broyhill had not gone to his friends’ home with a plan to kill or harm them.
Widenhouse argued that Broyhill defended his case on the basis that he did not have premeditation, deliberation or specific intent to kill. Broyhill’s defense team argued that he was depressed and not thinking rationally at the time of the stabbing. Widenhouse suggested that the psychiatrist’s testimony might have given the jury information that could have bolstered arguments for second-degree murder, which does not include premeditation.
The appellate judges agreed with Ridgeway, who said at trial that the psychiatrist’s testimony could confuse the jurors since he would be talking about medicines he prescribed 15 months after the stabbing and did not have information about Broyhill’s state of mind at the time of the incident.
Broyhill was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.