James Sims was on the lam for nearly 30 years, dodging a murder accusation in Fort Myers from 1981. He was caught in California using a false identity, and brought back to Fort Myers to stand trial. The state managed to get enough witnesses together to try the case, but didn’t get a murder conviction. Sims was convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter, which could be considered a win for he, and his attorney Karen Miller. But the trial was not without issues, and had to take a break in the middle with concerns over Ms. Miller’s ability to proceed one day.
The second district found that the trial court erred by not including Mr. Sims in the conference regarding his attorney’s competency. Defendant’s are allowed to be present for all material stages of a trial, but Mr. Sims was excluded from the back room discussion. The appellate court deemed that to be an error, and threw out the murder conviction. The State will have the opportunity to try the case, again. The worst that can happen in the retrial is a manslaughter conviction; he cannot be found guilty of the murder charge since he was previously acquitted.