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Court Grants James Hill New Trial In 1980 Murder Of Off-Duty Hammond Police Officer; He Will Be Released From Prison

CROWN POINT, Ind. (CBS/AP) -- An Indiana man convicted of killing an off-duty Hammond police officer more than 40 years ago is about to be released from prison and will receive a new trial.

A judge threw out James Hill's 2018 conviction in the Nov. 18, 1980 shooting that killed off-duty Officer Lawrence Pucalik.

Prosecutors said Hill waited in a getaway car while his two alleged accomplices went inside a Holiday Inn in Hammond, demanded money from a clerk and shot Pucalik, 33, while the off-duty officer worked as a security guard.

Upon being sentenced to 47 years in prison in October 2018, Hill denied involvement. He told the court, "I had nothing to do with it, and a great injustice has been done."

On Tuesday, Lake County, Indiana Judge Salvador Vasquez granted a motion for a new trial for Hill.

The reason is that prosecutors didn't give the defense evidence that might have proven his innocence – in what as known as the Brady Rule.

This is not the first time that has happened for Hill. The 58-year-old was also once convicted of raping a woman, but that case was also thrown out because of the Brady rule.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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