West Virginia woman wakes from 2-year coma and IDs brother as suspected attacker; criminal lawyer weighs in

·3 min read

Prominent criminal defense attorney Duncan Levin believes that a West Virginia woman who woke up from a coma two years after a brutal attack and identified her brother as the suspected perpetrator will have little trouble making her case in a court of law.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office on Friday announced the arrest of Wanda Palmer's brother, Daniel Palmer III, 55, in connection with a 2020 attack against his sister that left her "hacked" and "left for dead" before she fell into a coma. Authorities charged Daniel Palmer with attempted murder and malicious wounding.

While Levin described the case as "exceedingly rare" and "the kind of thing that novels are written about," the New York City-based criminal defense lawyer, who also represents faux German heiress Anna "Delvey" Sorokin, says people's memories "of important events rarely falter."

"Whereas you might forget what you had for dinner last week, you don't forget the identity of the perpetrator of an attack that almost killed you," Levin explained. "And this is not a case where the defense will be able to argue mistaken identity because it's her brother, and it's not a stranger. So, it makes her identification that much stronger."

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Neighbors found Wanda Palmer unconscious and slumped over a couch in her home on Flatwoods Road in Ravenswood, West Virginia, on June 10, 2020, according to court documents obtained by Fox 11 WVAH.

Her brother had already been a person of interest, but authorities could not file charges until they received a statement from Wanda identifying her brother as the person who attempted to kill her, the outlet reported.

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Daniel Palmer's defense team "may seek to attack" Wanda Palmer's identification "as a faulty memory of someone coming out of a coma" in the case of a criminal trial, Levin said, but the attorney ultimately thinks "the defense is going to have a very difficult time arguing away this identification, which is… a core piece of evidence against" Daniel Palmer.

Wanda started to mutter words on June 27 after being in a coma for about two years. On July 12, police went to visit Wanda in the nursing home where she was receiving care and questioned her about the 2020 incident.

Levin added that a firsthand account of the attack and the suspected perpetrator from Wander Palmer "throws the case into a completely different posture" and allowed Jackson County officials to arrest and charge Daniel Palmer even though he was already a suspect in the case.

On the other hand, Daniel Palmer's defense team may also use the two-year gap between the time Wander Palmer fell into a coma and the time she woke up to make the case of a faulty memory. Additionally, they may seek more information for how sheriff's deputies handled their initial questioning of Wanda Palmer and whether they asked her "open-ended" or "pointed" questions "slanted in such a way that they prompted her to identify her brother," Levin explained.