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Appeals court approves new trial for Michael Potts


GRAND CHUTE, WI (WTAQ) - A new trial has been granted to a man convicted of a Grand Chute murder.

A state appeals court upheld a circuit court ruling giving Michael Potts a new trial.

A jury in 2008 convicted Potts of fatally shooting Artheddius Peeler at a birthday party in Grand Chute. But in post-conviction motions, Judge Mark McGinnis granted Potts a new trial, ruling his attorney was ineffective.

The state appealed the decision, which the appeals court ruled on Tuesday .

Potts is serving a life term. Another man, Keith Birr, was acquitted for his alleged role in the murder but was sentenced to five years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

"We affirm the order for a new trial because we conclude Potts’ trial attorney was ineffective for failing to introduce incuplatory statements by another person that would tend to exculpate Potts... We conclude Potts’ trial counsel’s failure to introduce Birr’s alleged statements constitutes deficient performance that prejudiced the defense.  If a reasonable juror believed Morin’s testimony that Birr said, “I just dumped a nigga,” shortly after a black man was shot and killed, that juror might entertain a reasonable doubt that Potts was the shooter," the court wrote.

A May 16 date for a re-trial has been taken off the calendar. No trial date has been set.