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After The Trial Blog

The After The Trial blog presents insights on ongoing and recent trials around the state of Alabama, including weekly criminal law round-ups.

Adnan Syed of "Serial" Granted New Trial

J.D. Lloyd - Thursday, March 29, 2018


(Image Credit: Getty Images)

 

In the ongoing case of Adnan Syed, made famous by NPR's "Serial" podcast, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has ruled in Adnan's favor and has ordered that he be granted a new trial. In a long decision, the Court determined that Adnan's trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to investigate Asia McClain, a witness who purportedly could have provided Adnan with a crucial alibi for the window of time he was allegedly killing Hae Min Lee in a Best Buy parking lot.

 

 

The case was on appeal by both Adnan and the State of Maryland. In the Baltimore City Circuit Court, Adnan had been granted a new trial based upon counsel's failure to question the State's cell phone tower data expert about a warning on a fax cover sheet to the data that warned about the data's unreliability. The circuit court had rejected the claim that counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate Asia. Both sides appealed their adverse rulings.

 

And both sides won. The Court of Special Appeals reached the opposite conclusions than that of the Baltimore City Circuit Court. The Court found the circuit court was wrong to grant Adnan relief on the fax cover sheet issue, but was also wrong to deny relief based on counsel's failure to investigate Asia's alibi. The Court explained:
 
McClain’s testimony, if believed by the trier of fact, would have made it impossible for Syed to have murdered Hae. Trial counsel’s deficient performance prejudiced Syed’s defense, because, but for trial counsel’s failure to investigate, there is a reasonable probability that McClain’s alibi testimony would have raised a reasonable doubt in the mind of at least one juror about Syed’s involvement Hae’s murder, and thus “the result of the proceedings would have been different."

 

When you're complaining that your trial counsel screwed up and denied you your Sixth Amendment right to effective representation, you have to show two things: (1) that some error occurred, and (2) that the error prejudiced you in a way that calls the results of the case into question. You have to show a "reasonable probability" that the results of trial would have been different. You don't have to prove innocence (it helps), but you've got to show more than just "this hurt my case." Here, it's easy to see how a jury could have believed an alibi about Adnan's whereabouts. There was no definitive evidence about where he was -- just circumstantial evidence that was dubious.

 

I don't practice in Maryland and am not well-versed in Maryland appellate procedure, but it looks like the State (or Adnan) might ask a higher court -- the Maryland Court of Appeals -- to review the decision. It doesn't look like either side has a right to appeal to this court and would have to ask for that court to review.

 

Like you, I'm anxiously awaiting a Sarah Koenig update...

 

Alabama Criminal Law Round-Up March 23rd

J.D. Lloyd - Friday, March 23, 2018

 


Here are a few of the criminal law stories that have recently occurred around the state of Alabama:

 

 

 

- Two Marshall County teens face accusations of posting on social media pictures of an overdosed teen's body before deciding to drive the woman to the hospital instead of calling 911. According to authorities, 19-year-old John Garrett Guffey and 18-year-old Lillie Marie Cooper waited an extended period of time before attempting to drive the victim to the emergency room and eventually running out of gas on the way. The event occurred last April at a house in Grant, Alabama, where investigators determined that the victim had died. Guntersville Fire and Rescue crews were called to the Mapco station on U.S. 431 to help an unresponsive woman who was in a vehicle. The two suspects have been indicted on charges of corpse abuse and criminally negligent homicide; they are being held in the Marshall County Jail with a bail set at $10,000.

 

 

- An assistant football coach at Tuskegee University, 33-year-old Ramone Jardon Nickerson, was arrested this past Wednesday and charged with two counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and one charge of possession of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime. Nickerson, a former Tuskegee player, faces accusation of selling cocaine and marijuana in the area and was indicted by a federal grand jury after being found with approximately 3 ounces of cocaine, a pound of marijuana, and a .40 caliber handgun on March 13th in Russell County. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the drug trafficking charges, and at least five years for the firearms charge with no chance of parole at the federal level.

 

If you or someone you know has been convicted of wrongful criminal charges, there is hope after the trial. Contact us today by clicking HERE.

 

Alabama Criminal Law Round-Up March 16th

J.D. Lloyd - Friday, March 16, 2018

 


Here are a few of the criminal law stories that have recently occurred around the state of Alabama:

 

 

 

- Three Dallas County residents are each being held on a $1 million bond in connection with a drive-by shooting of a 3-year-old boy in Selma on Thursday, March 8th. Two 19-year-old males, Kentravius Washington and Adrian Richardson, surrendered this past Tuesday and appeared before Dallas County District Judge Bob Armstrong the following morning. Armstrong set their bonds at $500,000 for attempted murder and $500,000 for shooting into an unoccupied building. Washington's mother, Cassandra Jones, was also present at the shooting on Thursday. The mother of the three-year-old was holding the toddler outside a home on on Marie Foster Drive when the three suspects reportedly fired shots with an AK-47 and a .40-calibert Glock handgun from their car and struck the toddler in the face. He was flown to UAB Hospital, but is expected to survive. The suspects will have their preliminary hearings on April 3rd.

 

 

- On Tuesday, the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced the arrests of two Atlanta men, 31-year-old Gordon Shannon and 30-year-old Jeffery Lee Warren, who had been suspected of being involved in a three-month probe into large amounts of marijuana being moved from Atlanta to Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa police had stopped Shannon's Hyundai Elantra Interstate 59/20 southbound near Exit 80 on Monday. He was being followed by Warren's Dodge Charger. Though they tried to elude the stop, authorities eventually pulled over both men. The lawmen detected the smell of raw marijuana as they approached the Elantra and soon confirmed it by bringing in a drug-sniffing dog. A search of the Hyundai's backseat yielded 15 pounds of high-grade marijuana valued at $52,000. Shannon and Warren were charged with drug trafficking and are being held in the Tuscaloosa County Jail on $1.5 million bond each.

 

 

If you or someone you know has been convicted of wrongful criminal charges, there is hope after the trial. Contact us today by clicking HERE.

 


 

 

Alabama Criminal Law Round Up March 7th, 2018

J.D. Lloyd - Wednesday, March 07, 2018

 


Here are a few of the criminal law stories that have recently occurred around the state of Alabama:

 

 

 

- A Lauderdale County man has recently been arrested for the third time on charges of animal cruelty. This time the suspect, David Wilson Coffman Jr., was arrested this past Friday and charged with 16 counts of felony animal cruelty, 16 counts of improperly disposing of an animal carcass and 150 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty charges after Lauderdale County sheriff's deputies removed nearly 300 malnourished cows from his 12 acres of farmland off of County Road 95 in Rogersville. The sheriff's office reported that nearly all of the animals had been neglected and many were discovered to be near death. The animals that had died were determined to be malnourished. According to deputies, Coffman could face additional charges, but is being held in Lauderdale County Jail with no bail set.

 

 

- A task force composed of investigators from the U.S. Secret Service, Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook, Homewood and Birmingham police and the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office recently announced the arrests of five Birmingham women accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from area Walmart stores. The women (Ariel Mack, 26, Daricka Mack, 25, Andrea McCracklin, 32, Zipporah Davis, 20, and Denise Gamble, 24) worked together in a "Cash Cash Scam," a scheme that has been replicated throughout various Walmarts across the country and has cost the company significant losses. By befriending the cashier at a store and often saying they were a previous employee, the suspect then tricks the cashier into fraudulently loading pre-paid gift cards. According to police, the suspects "either knows what buttons to push to open the register and will distract the clerk while doing so or will give the cashier a code to put in that will trigger the register opening." The credit card used to load the gift card and open the register is false, but will trigger a real transaction. The five suspects in this particular group hit up stores in both Jefferson and Shelby Counties. They all face felony charges, were released on bonds ranging from $10,000 to $60,000 and will have their first scheduled court appearances this month or next.

 

 

 

If you or someone you know has been convicted of wrongful criminal charges, there is hope after the trial. Contact us today by clicking HERE.


 

 


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