NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) - Stephen Rankin's attorneys were back in court Tuesday for an appeals hearing.
The former Portsmouth Police Officer was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in 2016.
Right now, he's serving two-and-a-half years in prison for shooting and killing 18-year-old William Chapman outside of a Walmart in 2015.
On Tuesday, a three-judge panel listened to why Rankin's attorney James Broccoletti thinks a new trial is needed.
First, the court's denial of expert testimony, and second, juror misconduct.
Broccoletti explained, "Her presence with the family throughout the entire trial and then her approaching him and saying, hey you know me, I know them you are with me. That is a statement."
The video is one of the reasons Broccoletti said Rankin's conviction should be thrown out and he should be granted a new trial.
Portsmouth Commonwealth Attorney Stephanie Morales disagrees.
"There was no indication that there was any communication about the case and I don't believe you can infer communication has taken place based on action that you see," Morales explained.
Morales sat on a courtroom bench as Senior Assistant Attorney General Virginia Theisen argued why Rankin should stay in prison until November 2018. Morales said Theisen did a great job.
"Her command of what happened at the trial court was stellar," she explained.
Another topic argued was the judge not allowing an expert to provide insight on the use of force.
"He acted in ways that were appropriate. I think the expert would have counter balanced that and presented a different side of the story," Broccoletti said.
Theisen explained in court that the expert opinion would have misguided and confused jurors. She said jurors had a proper self defense policy and there was no need for expert testimony.
The three-judge panel will decide if those two issues warrant a new trial for Rankin. If so, a new jury would be selected.
Rankin would be found innocent or guilty again. If guilty he could be sentenced to up to ten years in prison.
"I think it was a lively spirited argument and now we will wait to see what they do," Broccoletti explained.
It could take the three-judge panel two to three months to make a decision.
Dawn Rankin said, "I guess we will see what happens and move on from that next step."
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