Criminal Appeal in New Orleans Might Change 99-Year Prison Sentence

Criminal Appeal May Change 99-Year Prison Sentence

In 2003, a 10 out of 12 jury decision in a New Orleans court voted to send a defendant to the Louisiana State Penitentiary for 99 years. This decision was made because Louisiana is one of just two states that allows a non-unanimous jury verdict to be used in felony cases. After a federal judge decided, 15 years later, that the defendant was denied a fair trial, however, an order was given that the Orleans District Attorney’s Office must retry the man within 120 days.

How the Case Occurred

In 2002, a delivery driver for Leidenheimer Baking Company was stopped at the A&D Food Store on Touro Street when someone hopped into the passenger side of the truck with a sawed-off shotgun. After the delivery driver handed over some money, the robber was still not satisfied and shot the driver. The driver was then taken to the hospital where he drifted between periods of unconsciousness. During a photographic lineup, the defendant was unable to make an identification. On the same day that the delivery underwent liver surgery, however, he identified the defendant as the shooter.

Faulty Witness Identification

During the trial, the defendant never even knew about the painkillers because he lacked a copy of the delivery driver’s medical records. As a result, in 2014, a United States District Judge’s lawyer ruled that the trial lawyer’s failure to weaken the identification by presenting information about the painkillers. The defendant’s new attorney argues that the defendant only ended up being convicted due to a series of mistakes made by previous legal counsel including the identification by the heavily medicated witness. Despite this mistake, the prosecution argues that the delivery man is still convinced that the defendant committed the offense.

Doubt Among the Jurors

In addition to the identification made by the delivery driver immediately before surgery, legal counsel on behalf of the defendant also argues that there was significant doubt among the jurors about who committed the offense. After four votes, the jury was still undecided about who committed the offense even though it was eventually able to vote 10-2 to convict the defendant. In the state of Louisiana, split juries have resulted in several individuals being wrongly convicted.

Arguments by the Prosecution

The prosecution is already arguing that the defendant’s new legal counsel is making too many assumptions about medical records and that even if the delivery driver was on medication during the first identification, it still did not have a material effect on the verdict. The prosecution has also already announced that if the defendant is successful at the 5th United States Court of Appeals, they will consider other options, including appeal.

Obtain the Service of a Federal Criminal Appeal Lawyer

This case highlights one of the many ways in which complicated issues can arise concerning evidence in murder trials. To make sure that your criminal appeal reaches the best possible outcome, contact the Federal Criminal Defense Center today.