A murder conviction against the adopted daughter of former President George W. Bush’s Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte was tossed by an appeals court in Maryland on Tuesday because of material the jury in the trial should not have been exposed to, according to reports.
Washington, D.C. radio station WTOP reported that three judges from the Appellate Court of Maryland issued their opinion on the conviction of Sophia Negroponte, sending the case to a lower court because jury members heard portions of an interrogation video in which detectives questioned Negroponte’s credibility.
Jury members also heard testimony from an expert witness presented by the prosecution who questioned Negroponte’s credibility as well.
In January 2023, then 30-year-old Negroponte was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2020 death of 24-year-old Yousuf Rasmussen. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Negroponte and Rasmussen attended the same Washington high school and had been drinking with another person on the night of the February 2020 stabbing. They argued twice that night, prosecutors said.
At one point, when Rasmussen returned to the home to get his phone, Negroponte stabbed him multiple times, including one blow that severed his jugular, authorities said. Negroponte, then 27, was found inside the home covered in blood and lying on top of Rasmussen yelling, “I’m sorry,” according to charging documents previously obtained by Fox News Digital.
She allegedly confessed to the killing to investigators. Defense lawyers argued their client was so intoxicated at the time that she could not have formed specific intent.
Her attorney argued during the appeal that jury members should not have seen some statements made while being questioned by detectives, calling into question Negroponte’s accounting of the events.
The court agreed that detectives’ comments that it was “odd” Negroponte could not remember portions of the evening, should have been excluded from the trial.
The court noted that detectives did not necessarily engage in improper questioning, but there was some questioning that the jury should not have been exposed to.
The appeals court also found problems with one of the prosecution’s experts, a forensic psychiatrist, who claimed Negroponte’s recollection of the events was unreliable.
The expert said during testimony that “you have to take what she says with a grain of salt because she has an incentive to embellish or diminish the amount of alcohol she used because she’s in that situation.”
The appeals court opined that testimony provided by the expert presented by the prosecution was inadmissible because Negroponte’s credibility was at the “core of this case.”
Negroponte was one of five abandoned or orphaned Honduran children who John Negroponte and his wife, Diana, adopted after Negroponte was appointed as U.S. ambassador to the Central American country in the 1980s.