MORRIS - The state's motion to dismiss a post-conviction appeal from Kenton Pellegrini was denied on Thursday in the courtroom of Robert Marsaglia.
Douglas Johnson, with the Law Offices of Kathleen T Zellner P.C., represented Pellegrini, who was not present. Assistant State's Attorney Mike Quinlan represented the state.
According to Judici.com, the state was granted 30 days to file an answer to the defendant's petition and case will now continue at 9:30 a.m. on March 23.
Marsaglia heard arguments for the first time on Jan. 21 on the post-conviction petition.
Pellegrini, of Morris, was indicted in October 2013 after being arrested by Morris police the previous month following an investigation of a female screaming in the 1200 block of Brendan Drive.
The indictment against him alleged Pellegrini committed the offenses against a family member and caused her physical harm. In 2016, he was found guilty of sexual assault and battery. In November, he was sentenced to eight years in the department of corrections. An earlier appeal was denied and his lawyers filed the post-conviction petition.
A post-conviction petition is used to challenge a conviction or sentence based on federal or state constitutional rights that were not and could not have been raised on direct appeal of the conviction or sentence. Quinlan filed to have the petition dismissed with both sides arguing whether information that was not presented by Pellegrini's original attorney would have changed the outcome of the trial or the sentencing.
The main issue argued in court in January was the blood alcohol content of the victim and whether or not she blacked out during the event. Marsaglia said he would take the matter under advisement.
Emily Fletcher, Pellegrini's current fiance, said on Friday that this is a win for Pellegrini and she's happy that they are moving forward with phase three, the evidentuary hearing,
"When I spoke to Kent this morning, all he could say was 'All I've ever wanted was my side of the story heard"," Fletcher said. "He hopes the presentation of evidence from the character witnesses and specialists will allow that to happen as they move forward."
Zellner could not be reached for comment on Friday but on Thursday she tweeted "Won evidentiary hearing. A crucial step closer to justice for wrongfully convicted inmate Kent Pellegrini #MakingAMurderer #lifeafterten"
The state's attorney did not immediate respond to calls on Friday morning.