A Wind River Indian Reservation man convicted of first-degree murder is asking for a new trial or a sentence half as long, saying his attorney failed him last year in court.
Seth Blackburn, 32, just finished the first year of his 60-year prison sentence. He confessed in May of 2021 to kidnapping Victor Addison and shooting Addison in the head with a rifle on the Wind River Indian Reservation three years ago.
Blackburn told a federal court judge during his confession that he had heard bad things about Addison and suspected that Addison had something to do with the death of a young woman, Martika Spoonhunter, two days prior.
Spoonhunter died Aug. 3, 2019 in a fiery crash, succumbing to what the former Fremont County Coroner called “extensive thermal injuries” from a one-vehicle rollover. The coroner ruled the case as accidental.
Blackburn now has filed a legal motion in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming, saying he deserves a new trial because, according to Blackburn, his lawyer did a poor job.
The federal court sentenced Blackburn Aug. 17, 2021, to 60 years in prison for first-degree murder and for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Filed Monday, Blackburn’s motion claimed that during his prosecution, his attorney Thomas R. Smith convinced Blackburn to tell his brothers – who were charged as co-conspirators – to enter testimonies against him.
According to Blackburn, Smith had promised to secure a plea agreement for the lesser charge of second-degree murder, which could have resulted in a sentence half as long.
“I was somewhat troubled about (Smith’s) suggestion on the basis that I did not want to give up my trial rights in exchange for uncertainty,” Blackburn wrote. “But (Smith) also stated that if I didn’t follow through with his suggestion, the government would have brought criminal charges against my sister, whom (sic) has nothing to do with the charges at hand.”
Smith, who is now retired, did not respond Wednesday afternoon to a message conveyed by his former receptionist.
Blackburn claimed that after the attorneys arranged a voice call between him and the men he called his “brothers,” Brent Gould and Peter Blackburn, Seth Blackburn told them to testify against him.
“Had I not told my brothers to proffer against me, they wouldn’t have done so,” Blackburn wrote.
After that call, Blackburn learned that his attorney had not arranged the 30-year plea agreement before hand with the prosecutor, he said.
Blackburn also claimed that if he had gone to trial, his mother, mother’s boyfriend and sister would all have testified on his behalf “regarding my whereabouts on the day of the crime.”
Blackburn later switched lawyers, but by the time the new lawyer arrived it was too late, according to court documents.
U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled in July 2021 that Blackburn could not retract his confession.
“After Seth Blackburn, in the courtroom and under oath, described killing Victor Addison by deliberately shooting him in the head, the Court finds his current assertion of innocence to lack all credibility,” wrote Skavdahl at the time. “He has offered no factual evidence, nor has the Court found any in its own review of the case… supporting his claim of actual innocence.”
The court has not yet ruled on Blackburn’s request for a new trial.
Court documents from the original case said that Gould and the two Blackburns knowingly seized, confined, and carried away Victor Dale Addison to intimidate, assault, and murder him by shooting him in the head.
The forensic pathologist on the case concluded that Addison’s death was a homicide caused by a gunshot wound to the head. The doctor also discovered other blunt force injuries on Addison’s body.
The presence of toxins in Addison’s body at the time of his death was heavy with both alcohol and methamphetamine.