Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Infant Death Appeal

Attorney says jury should not have heard about previous assault conviction

By Tristan Scott

BOZEMAN — The Montana Supreme Court heard arguments in an appeal filed by a Butte man who is serving a life sentence for killing his infant daughter in August 2013.

Appellate defender Kristin Peterson argued Monday that jurors should not have heard about Matthew Blaz’s conviction for assaulting his wife a month earlier while she held their daughter, Mattisyn. Peterson argued the assault conviction was wrongly used as character evidence and introduced an image of Blaz being violent.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Peterson asked that Blaz be given a new trial.

Assistant Attorney General Mike Wellenstein said the prior assault was relevant and showed Blaz had a general hostility to his family.

Justices heard the arguments as part of an annual Law Day event at Montana State University in Bozeman. They will issue a ruling later.

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