Someone was in a ninja outfit serving as lookout for a murder and fled over the wall. Defendant Majoy was convicted but new evidence suggests a witness lied. On habeas petition, the 9th circuit court of appeals, remands to the district court to sort it out.
Judge Trott writing for the court:
The particularly ugly facts surrounding this conspiracy and double parricide need not be recounted in excruciating detail. Suffice it to say that two avaricious and ungrateful sons, Neil and Stewart Woodman, engaged the deadly services of accomplished killers to eliminate their parents on September 25, 1985 in order (1) to gain an advantage in a nasty business feud fueled by sibling rivalry, and (2) to collect on their mother’s $500,000 insurance policy. Majoy’s alleged role in this sordid scheme was to assist the hired killers, Steven and Robert Homick, before and during the homicides by (1) providing his accomplices with information about the victims’ whereabouts, and (2) acting as a lookout on Yom Kippur, the day of the attack.
the prosecution maintained, on the basis of Dominguez’s original testimony, that Majoy was the black-clad “Ninja” lookout observed by a neutral bystander witness, Roger Backman, fleeing the scene of the crime after the killings.
However, in the second trial of Neil Woodman, Roger Backman identified – or described – the “Ninja” in such a way arguably as not only to exclude the middle-aged Majoy, but to implicate the youthful Dominguez as the Ninja lookout.
This pivotal moment occurred when defense counsel showed Backman a series of photographs marked as People’s Exhibit No. 2 which contained a photograph of petitioner Majoy, marked as “E”, and a photograph of Dominguez, marked as “F”. Counsel showed the photograph to Backman in an attempt to identify the wall-jumping “Ninja.”
Here, if a factfinder should conclude that Dominguez’s post-trial claims are credible, and that in light of Backman’s testimony and other evidence Majoy was neither the “Ninja” nor otherwise culpable, then the Schlup gateway would seem to open. (referring to Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298)
We have no doubt that Majoy is no angel and lacks the morals one would hope to find in a citizen of this nation. By his own account, he had more than sufficient reason to believe that the Homicks intended to harm someone, and he lifted not one finger nor spoke one word to derail their plot. Nevertheless, such information without more is not sufficient to convict anyone of a crime. The evidence of “more” in this case comes essentially from an outlaw witness who had a clear motive to lie to save himself and who now claims to have committed perjury against Majoy to promote his own interests.
Reversed and remanded.