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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.

Supreme Court Won't Hear Appeal of Making A Murderer's Brendan Dassey

J.D. Lloyd - Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Fans of the critically acclaimed, yet divisive Netflix true crime documentary, Making A Murderer, saw what is likely the end of the legal battle for Brendan Dassey, one of the two defendants charged and convicted of the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach. The United States Supreme Court denied his petition to have that court hear his case.

Dassey, along with with his uncle and main documentary subject Steve Avery, had been convicted in the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach, a 25-year-old photographer in Manitowoc, Wis. The coverage of his 2007 conviction in the documentary made the 28-year-old especially endearing to viewers as Dassey clearly suffered from intellectual limitations if not outright disability, his confessions were nonsensical at points, and because he had a terrible and (in my opinion) unethical and ineffective attorney at the start of his case. Dassey's lawyers and the filmmakers argued that police investigators improperly coerced his videotaped confession. The 10-part series showed the then-16 year-old Dassey being interviewed by police about the crime with neither a parent nor lawyer present. Dassey's statement was damning to the defense, but defense counsel argued his incriminating statements were coerced and fabricated.


In August 2016, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Wisconsin agreed with Dassey's that his statements should have been thrown out. However, the Wisconsin attorney general appealed the decision. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit eventually ruled by a 4-to-3 vote that the district court erred in ordering Dassey a new trial under federal habeas corpus law, which can only entitle a defendant to relief if a State fails to properly apply clearly established federal law -- i.e., SCOTUS decisions, -- or if the State clearly errs in its factual determinations on the legal issue in question. Effectively, the Seventh Circuit said Dassey failed to meet either of those burdens and relief wasn't warranted.


Without explanation, SCOTUS denied review. One of Dassey's lawyer, Laura Nirider, said in a statement they would "continue to fight for Brendan Dassey."
Dassey's case does not directly affect Steve Avery since his uncle was convicted in a separate trial. However, with SCOTUS denying review, both Avery's and Dassey's cases have effectively come to an end. That's not to say they may not get back into court somehow, but it looks like all the traditional roads of post-conviction relief have been traveled to no avail.

Alabama Criminal Law Round-Up June 22nd

J.D. Lloyd - Friday, June 22, 2018


Here are a few of the criminal law stories that have recently occurred around the state of Alabama:
- An early morning road rage incident led to a gunfire exchange on Interstate 20 westbound just before the Interstate 459 south ramp Thursday morning. The 22-year-old victim told Irondale police "the suspect cut off him off and then continued the harassment." According to the victim, the suspect - described as a black male wearing a black shirt - took out a gun that looked like an AK-47 and opened fire. The victim fired back with his own gun. Though the round of gunfire did not leave the victim injured, police have found at least nine bullet holes in his Nissan and a passenger window that was shot out (a passenger was also in the car the time). The suspect is still on the run. According to police, he was in a white Chevrolet Suburban with tinted windows that had chrome wheels and chrome over the wheel wells and a Jesus fish on the rear window.



- A 58-year-old Moundville man is being held in the Hale County Jail and facing multiple charges after allegedly attacking his elderly landlord with a machete and then shooting him. According to authorities, the suspect, Jeffery Deshawn Blount, a convicted sex offender, was angry at being evicted and tried to cut victim Roy Tootson's head off. After the initial attack, Blount then shot Tootson in the face and shoulder in front of his 8-year-old son. Tootson is recovering from the attack and in stable condition while Blount is charged with attempted murder and menacing.



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 June 13th, 2018

J.D. Lloyd - Wednesday, June 13, 2018


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



- A woman faces charges of felony aggravated assault of a police officer and misdemeanor resisting arrest after allegedly hitting and kicking a Limestone County deputy in the face during an arrest Thursday evening. According to a sheriff's spokesman, deputies were dispatched to New Cut Road to investigate a suspicious person, Heather Nicole Reece, walking in the middle of the road. When the deputies approached Reece and asked if she needed medical attention and a ride, she rejected the offer. After checking her ID, however, they discovered that she was wanted on a warrant in Athens. When they attempted to make an arrest, authorities said that Reece became combative, kicking one deputy in the side of the face, but not seriously injuring them. Reece was released on a $6,000 bail Friday morning. If convicted of the charges, she could face up to ten years in prison.


- A 37-year-old Lauderdale County woman has been indicted on 50 counts of possession of a forged instrument and three counts of first-degree theft after allegedly forging more than $16,000 worth of checks from her employer's bank account. Authorities said that an investigation into Carnley Melton began in August 2017 after her boss, a local builder, contacted police. Detectives soon discovered several incidents of Melton writing checks from the business account without permission. Melton was arrested last Monday, the 4th, and released on a $90,000 bail from the Lauderdale County jail.

- Birmingham police have formally charged 27-year-old Keegan Dixie with murder because of his involvement in last Sunday night's shooting of 28-year-old Antonio Taylor. Around 11:15 p.m., dispatch sent West Precinct officers to the Shell in the 800 block of Third Avenue West, where they found Taylor suffering from a single gunshot wound to the chest. He was taken to UAB Hospital, where he was pronounced dead early Monday morning. Taylor had an infant son. Reports obtained by detectives state that Dixie was outside the store when the shooting happened, but it is still unclear whether the shooting was accidental or intentional. Dixie is being held in the Jefferson County jail on a $250,000 bond.



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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