Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Juan Rodriguez Sentenced to Death

Last week, a Forsyth County Jury sentenced Juan Rodriguez to death in the killing and decapitation of his wife. The jury took a little over 2 hours to impose the sentence and rejected all proposed mitigating factors in the case.

There were many reasons to doubt in Mr. Rodriguez' case. A medical examiner placed the time of death in the case after Mr. Rodriguez had already been arrested. Mr. Rodriguez had a well documented history of mental retardation -- and an IQ of 61, which should have made him ineligible for death. The jury rejected this evidence. The jury then rejected strong mitigation evidence of Mr. Rodriguez's low intellectual functioning, his post-traumatic stress from growing up in war torn El Savador in unbelieveable poverty.

Notably, the victim's family opposed the death penalty--opposition which was ignored by the Forsyth District Attorney.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Three On-Going Capital Murder Trials

Three capital murder cases continue to slog forward:

Juan Rodriguez in Forsyth County. Jury has convicted of 1st degree murder and rejected mental retardation. The jury is currently considering penalty phase evidence.

Jonathan Richardson in Johnston County. Guilt phase closings are expected early next week.

Armond Devega in Wake County. Jury selection is nearing completion.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Away from the Blog

Sorry I've been away from the blog so long, my few readers. Due to work issues and a trial, I had no time for about 4 months and then just got out of the habit for another 8. I'm slowly updating the cite. As I add in COA and NCSC cases, I will back date them to keep the continuity, as well as the few news items from the past I will add in.

Thanks for your views!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Life in Mecklenburg County

Last week, a Charlotte jury returned a life sentence after convicting Justin Hurd of a gangland assassination, triple homicide, linked to a drug ring. The victims were stabbed and burned. Two of the victims were killed because they were eye-witnesses.

Friday, March 7, 2014

NC Supreme Court Criminal Decisions, March 7, 2014

State v. Joe. Per curiam - digged.

Post on Decision Below. State v. Joe.  On remand from the NC Supreme Court. -- Robert Joe.

Previously held that COA had no jurisdiction to hear state appeal of suppression, on grounds that state's comment amounted to dismissal in open court. That was overturned by the NCSC. It's back on remand to consider the motion to suppress.

Rules that the officer did not have probable cause to order the defendant to stop. Although the defendant threw the drugs after the officer attempted illegal arrest, "when a suspect 'discards property as the product of [] illegal police activity, he will not be held to have voluntarily abandoned the property or to have necessarily lost his reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to it.”

As such, the property was not abandoned and the seizure was unlawful.

State v. Jones. Affirmed. Martin and Hudson dissent (in part).
Post on Decision Below: State v. Jones and White.  State appeals non-suit ruling on obtaining property by false pretenses  -- Eric Jones and Jerry White, Mecklenburg County.

After verdict of guilty, trial court threw out all the obtaining property by false pretenses charges and trafficking in ID theft charges. The only conviction that stood was an ID theft conviction against Jones. State appeals.

During a traffic stop of Jones, police found credit cards for four people who had been checked in to a nearby hotel by White. Evidence shows Jones used one of the credit cards at Tire Kingdom to get new tires for his car.  Sufficient evidence of OPFP.

No error in trial court dismissing OPFP: indictment didn't list what was stolen or the value. Listed only "services" from Tire Kingdom. Defective.

No error in trial court dismissing trafficking charges. Indictment didn't list name of person (or that the name is unknown) who the IDs were transferred to. Defective.

Elmore dissents.

State v. Howard. Per curiam affirmed.
Post on Decision Below: State v. Howard. Appeal of possession of firearm by felon. -- Cabarrus County, Mason Howard.

Defendant, during traffic stop, was arrested on an outstanding warrant. Police brought drug-sniffing dogs and then found drugs and guns.

First, no error in admitting another officer's testimony that defendant, on a previous occasion, fled from that officer and threw a gun in some bushes. Defendant didn't preserve the issue under 404(b), because counsel initially said he was moving under 404(b), but then the Court asked if he was objecting under 403 and counsel said yes. Then appellate counsel only argued under 404(b).

Appeal dismissed.