Chapman requests new trial in case of husband’s death

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -  After a man was found dead in 2010, his wife was found guilty and sentenced to 35 years in prison after prosecutors argued she delayed calling 911.

Monday, Karla Chapman was back in the courtroom asking for a new trial.

Before her conviction, Chapman argued she acted in self-defense after she says her husband threatened to kill her. Now, months later, her lawyer says the conviction should be overturned.

"She's holding out hope for her appeal. We've got some issues that we argued today," said her attorney Ron Smith. He argues that prosecution did not establish intent to kill and past domestic 911 calls were incorrectly used as evidence against Chapman when she was tried for the death of her husband, Jonathan Eliff.

"Those calls were not offered for bad character," refuted Madison County Assistant District Attorney Tim Gann. "They were offered for the motive for why she killed him, because she was mad that he called the police on her."

But Smith says the state used the calls to paint Chapman as a bad person -- which is not allowed in a court of law to avoid prejudicing the jury.

"The jury is not supposed to know about them to the extent that they will believe the person is a bad person," said Smith.

Judge Comer ended the hearing by saying he will consider granting a new trial. In the meantime, both sides are confident in their arguments.

"I'm hoping for a judgment of acquittal of course, but if anything were to happen, it would be a motion for a new trial," said Smith. He says that if Comer does not grant his client a new trial, he will take the case to the court of criminal appeals.

"I think it was fair, I think it was proper. We'll just see what they say," said Gann. "But right now I feel good about what the case was and what we did."

In addition to many members of Chapman's family, the hearing was also attended by the mother and aunt of the deceased. Eliff's mother says she misses her son everyday and that it hurts knowing that he moved to Alabama to be with the woman that is now jailed for killing him.