Archives for posts with tag: black

This 2010 opinion is the denial of habeas petition for a convicted murderer in a drug-related offense.

KEVIN POTTER, Petitioner,
v.
WILLIE SMITH, Respondent.

CASE NO. 2:09-CV-12049

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN,
SOUTHERN DIVISION

2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103088

Decided August 4, 2010, by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul J. Komives

Petitioner Kevin Potter is a state prisoner, currently confined at the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. On November 11, 2003, petitioner was convicted of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.157a, 750.316, following a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit Court. On December 9, 2003, he was sentenced to a mandatory term of life imprisonment without parole. Petitioner appealed as of right…

The court quotes the trial evidence from the respondent’s answer (so this is the government version of the facts). Three witnesses refer to a man dressed in black and it seems a neighbor witness Beverly Moore used the description “ninja”:

Scott Klass, an electrician, testified that he heard gunshots on the morning of September 19, 2002 and that he saw a man dressed all in black with a rifle and that he saw a van then come down the street, and the van was similar in style to the picture shown to him by the prosecutor. (TT 11/4/03, pp 61-63). Beverly Moore, who lives across the street from the victim’s family, testified that on the morning in question she saw a van parked in front of the Wright house and she wondered why it was blocking their driveway. (TT 11/5/03, pp 8-9). Ms. Moore heard noises but assumed it was firecrackers, but when she went outside she saw a “ninja” all in black with a gun in his hand. (TT 11/5/03, p 13). Another neighbor, Katherine McFarland, also testified about hearing shots and seeing a man all in black with a big, AK 47 type gun in his hands. (TT 11/5/03, pp 39-40).

The facts of this case also involve cocaine, marijuana, an AK-47, and “fire melted” skin. It seems Potter was dressed in black when he killed Mario Allen, on the steps of Mario’s home as Mario left to appear at his sentencing hearing for a drug related crime (a cocaine sale). It seems Mario’s two co-defendents in the drug sale hired Potter to kill Mario so that Mario wouldn’t show up at the sentencing. Then the co-defendants withdrew guilty pleas and prepared to face trial without Mario’s testimony.

In this instant case, Potter is petitioning the federal government for habeas relief but Magistrate Judge Komives finds no violations of federal law, concluding:

In view of the foregoing, the Court should conclude that the state courts’ resolution of petitioner’s claims did not result in a decision which was contrary to, or which involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law. Accordingly, the Court should deny petitioner’s application for the writ of habeas corpus.

This Magistrate report was adopted by order of District Judge Gerald E. Rosen on September 29, 2010

These pro se petitions by convicted murderers are denied. The facts include reference to a “black ninja mask” worn as they shot and killed from a Saturn car. This is two opinions for the two co-defendants, both authored by the same Magistrate Judge.

JAMEL LARON YOUNG, Petitioner,
v.
MICHAEL MARTEL, Warden, Respondent.

Case No. CV 09-02804 DSF (AN)

AND

JAMES KAMPLY MORRIS, Petitioner,
v.
MR. FRANCISCO JACQUEZ, Respondent.

Case No. CV 09-00263 DSF (AN)

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA,
WESTERN DIVISION

2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35782
AND
2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35805

Decided February 4, 2010
Opinions by Arthur Nakazato, US Magistrate Judge:

On August 23, 2006, petitioner[s] Jamel Laron Young and his co-defendant, James Kamply Morris, were convicted of one count of first degree murder, in violation of CAL. PENAL CODE § 187(a), and three counts of attempted murder, in violation of CAL. PENAL CODE § 664/187(a), following a jury trial in the Los Angeles County Superior Court (case no. MA028244).

and

On September 21, 2006, Petitioner [Morris] was sentenced to an indeterminate state prison term of 25 years to life plus one year on count one, a consecutive term of seven to life plus one year on count two, and concurrent terms of life plus one year on counts three and four.

On November 30, 2006, Petitioner [Young] was sentenced to an indeterminate state prison term of 25 years to life plus one year on count one, a consecutive term of seven years to life plus one year on count two, and concurrent terms of life plus one year on counts three and four.

From facts established at trial in people’s evidence:

About 11:30 p.m., Morris put on a black ninja mask. Young drove the Saturn slowly with its headlights off and stopped in front of the Palmdale home. The driver’s side of the Saturn was facing the home. Morris sat on the window sill of the car’s passenger door and shot over the Saturn about four or five times. Cole was lying down in the backseat.

Jonte Stewart was on the porch of the Palmdale home when the shots were fired. He was fatally shot in the head

The opinion finds no error and directs “judgment be entered dismissing this action with prejudice”.

This 2009 habeas petition was denied by United States Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell. The opinion quoted four uses of the word “ninja” from the lower court and from petitioner’s arguments. These refer to a “ninja sword and nunchucks” and a “black ninja outfit”.

Michale J. Anderson, an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Houtzdale has presented a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be dismissed and because reasonable jurists could not conclude that a reasonable basis for appeal exists, a certificate of appealability will be denied.

MICHALE J. ANDERSON, BH-9234, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT BRITTON, et al., Respondents.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Civil Action No. 09-113
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45455

Decided June 1, 2009

The background to this prosecution is set forth in the February 3, 2000 Memorandum of the Superior Court:

In the early morning hours of October 27, 1989, Anderson took a taxicab to the home of the victim, Karen Hurwitz (“Hurwitz”). On his way to Hurwitz’s home, Anderson had the cab stop in the Highland Park area where he retrieved a bag containing various weapons. After arriving at the Hurwitz residence, Anderson removed a Ninja sword and nunchucks from his bag and placed them at the side of the house. Anderson also placed another weapon inside his jacket. Anderson then went into the Hurwitz home.

After speaking with Hurwitz for a few moments, Anderson and Hurwitz agreed to continue their conversation outside so as not to awaken Hurwitz’s parents. Once outside, Anderson picked up the Ninja sword and walked with the victim to a gazebo in her yard. As the two conversed, Anderson struck the victim in the head with the ninja sword and repeatedly stabbed her in the torso. When the victim stopped moving, Anderson went into the Hurwitz home, took the keys to the Hurwitz’s automobile, and drove away in the vehicle.

The next morning, Anderson voluntarily accompanied police officers from his high school to police headquarters. Upon arriving at headquarters, Anderson confessed to the aforementioned crimes.

and

In his post-conviction petition to the Superior Court, the petitioner framed this issue as follows:

At Mr. Anderson’s trial Katherine Berlin testified that she was the girlfriend of Mr. Anderson (TT.222-223). Berlin saw Mr. Anderson on a nearly daily basis in the months prior to Hurwitz’s killing (TT.224-225). Mr. Anderson began sleeping at Berlin’s residence albeit without the knowledge of Berlin’s parents (TT.223). Berlin’s bedroom was on the first floor and her parent’s on the second floor (TT.225). Mr. Anderson brought various packaged personal items in bags and boxes, which Berlin kept, under her piano.

At trial Berlin was shown 3 boxes belonging to Mr. Anderson, one of which had marked on it: “mixed stuff, don’t touch”. Berlin never opened the box (TT.227). According to Berlin, Mr. Anderson came to Berlin’s residence on October 26, 1989, changed his clothing and put them in a bag under the piano (TT.233).

At trial Detective Terrance P. O’Leary testified that he had recovered a black ninja suit from Mr. Anderson’s backpack located at Berlin’s residence (TT.303). He also recovered stars and literature from boxes at Berlin’s residence (TT.303). Three of Mr. Anderson’s boxes recovered from Berlin’s apartment contained Mr. Anderson’s clothing and personal items (TT.305). Found also in the boxes were three American Flags: Exhibits 65,66, and 67; On Exhibit 65 was hand printed: “Niggers, spics, Jewish pigs will rape America no more. These will not be the first”; On Exhibit 66 was written: “Long live the white. Fuck the Jews. These will not be the first.” TT.307. The Commonwealth argued that the seized items in question went to Mr. Anderson’s state of mind and were thus admissible (TT.307).

As post-conviction appellate counsel argued, at trial the admissibility of this evidence was argued, but counsel never asserted the petitioner’s Fourth Amendment rights regarding these articles. Additionally, it is argued that no warrant was secured for these items; Anderson had not given his consent for their seizure and the items were delivered to the police by Ms. Berlin’s father who had no knowledge that the petitioner was residing in his house. Thus, the question was whether or not petitioner enjoyed a reasonable expectation of privacy in these items and as a result whether his Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

Therefore

An appropriate Order will be entered.

ORDER

AND NOW, this 1st day of June, 2009, for the reasons set forth in the foregoing Memorandum, the petition for Michael J. Anderson for a writ of habeas corpus is dismissed and because reasonable jurists could not conclude that a basis for appeal exists, a certificate of appealability is denied.

/s/ Robert C. Mitchell

United States Magistrate Judge

Another case of police officers in ninja garb. Here in Bell v. City of Topeka, the police execute a search warrant and are accused of unreasonable force. The Court sides with the city, granting summary judgment.

DAVID L. BELL, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF TOPEKA, KANSAS, et al., Defendants.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
Case No. 06-4026-JAR
496 F. Supp. 2d 1182

Decided July 9, 2007 by District Court Judge Julie A. Robinson

Plaintiff claims that after he was pulled from the car, officers slapped hand cuffs on him and slammed him face-first into the car, causing plaintiff to suffer a dental injury. Afterwards, plaintiff was beaten on his legs and lower back, and then he fell to the ground on his knees. Officers then picked plaintiff up, carried him a couple of steps, and then dropped him back down, forcing him to lie face down in a puddle of water. Lieutenant Pase saw the officers remove plaintiff from the car, but he did not see plaintiff being taken to the ground because he could only glance over occasionally while tending to his duties. Lieutenant Pase also saw the officers bring plaintiff toward the street where he lay face down on the ground.

Sergeant Erwin stayed with plaintiff while the officers proceeded with the execution of the search warrant. Plaintiff contends that he asked Sergeant Erwin if he could move so that he would not have to be face down in the water, and Sergeant Erwin’s response was, “Shut the fuck up right now before I put my foot on the back of your mother fucking neck and hold you face down in that water until you drown.” After that, plaintiff claims that Sergeant Erwin made comments such as “I ought to shoot you.” After the scene was secured and officer safety was under control, Lieutenant Pase told Sergeant Erwin to pick plaintiff up off of the ground. At that point, officers wanted to search plaintiff, who told them, “the only thing lower than a mother fucking crackhead was the mother fucking Topeka Police Department.” He also told an officer, “Kiss my ass and good luck.” The officers then told plaintiff that they needed to search his car, and they warned him if they cut themselves on the broken glass from his crack pipe that he would be in trouble. Plaintiff laughed and told the officers, “You stupid mother fuckers, you broke the glass–broke the windows of my car. There’s–the car is full of glass.” Throughout the events that evening and in the early morning, plaintiff describes the officers as being dressed in black, “ninja-like clothing” and wearing masks. Plaintiff was then put into a car for transport to the jail. Plaintiff asked the officer who was transporting him to loosen the handcuffs, which the officer did. Plaintiff was at the jail for approximately twenty-six minutes before he was released at about 1:26 a.m.

The Court found the Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the police department had negligent training or negligent supervision or that there was unreasonable use of (or excessive) force. Therefore the city’s motion for summary judgment was granted.

The 2006 opinion affirmed a grant of habeas corpus to a convicted murderer. Richard Joseph was convicted of the 1990 murder of 16-year-old son, Ryan Young. The case involved a “black ninja mask”, evidence found with the dead body and linked to the defendant.


RICHARD JOSEPH, Petitioner-Appellant/Cross-Appellee,
v.
RALPH COYLE, Warden, Respondent-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.

Nos. 05-3111 / 05-3113
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
469 F.3d 441

Decided November 9, 2006, before Circuit Judges Moore, Cole and Clay. The opinion by Judge Karen Moore begins:

An Ohio jury convicted Richard Joseph of aggravated murder. The jury also convicted Joseph of a single capital specification, which made him eligible for the death penalty, and, after a mitigation hearing, recommended a sentence of death. The trial court accepted this recommendation and imposed the death penalty, which was upheld on direct and state post-conviction review. Asserting twenty grounds for relief, Joseph petitioned the district court for a writ of habeas corpus. The district court granted the writ on four grounds relating to a fundamental error in the capital specification: although the specification required Joseph to be the principal offender in the commission of the aggravated murder, everyone at trial proceeded under the mistaken view that the specification required Joseph to be the principal offender in the commission of the kidnapping. The district court denied Joseph’s remaining claims. Joseph appeals the denial of six of his sixteen unsuccessful claims, while the state cross-appeals the grant of the writ.

For the reasons discussed below, we AFFIRM the grant of a writ of habeas corpus.

Then quoting facts from from the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision:

Ryan’s body was discovered in a shallow grave. The body was wrapped in Visqueen, the jagged edge of which was matched positively with Visqueen recovered from the job site at Indian Lake where [Joseph] had been working. Under the body, a black ninja mask was recovered. An autopsy revealed that Ryan had superficial lacerations in the area of the throat. Further, Ryan had been stabbed two times in the back – one to the right flank and one at the base of the skull.

And about the materiality and prejudice of suppressed evidence:

All five items of suppressed evidence that were favorable to Joseph were favorable in the sense that they would have impeached Forest. And viewed collectively, these items would have strongly impeached Forest, who was clearly a crucial trial witness for the prosecution. FN22

–FOOTNOTE—
FN22 Forest testified that Joseph and Bulerin had access to Visqueen (the material in which Young’s body was found) at the sand and gravel lot, that Joseph’s and Bulerin’s demeanors were unusual the morning after the kidnapping, that Bulerin changed the tires on Forest’s car the morning after the murder, that a knife was kept in Forest’s car and was in the car on the day of the murder, that Joseph and Bulerin kept a shovel in Forest’s car, and that Joseph owned a black ninja mask like the one discovered near Young’s body

By affirming the grant of habeas petition, the defendant’s death sentence was set aside. Subsequently, writ of certiorari was denied (549 U.S. 1280), and on subsequent state court appeals the remaining life sentence (parole after 20) was affirmed (2008 Ohio 1138), but later remanded in 2010 only for the limited purposes of allowing motion to waive some court costs (125 Ohio St. 3d 76).

Two articles in the Lima Press are noteworthy – the parents of the victim and friends filled the courtroom and the parent were outraged at what they thought was an injustice to not execute their son’s killer:

“You were indicted, convicted by a jury of your peers and sent to death row where you should have died many years ago,” Sharon Young said Wednesday during the resentencing of Richard Joseph for the 1990 murder of their 16-year-old son, Ryan Young. She then criticized the law and justice system for his second chance. “The justice system has failed us and given you, a convicted murderer, another chance in life. Where does the system give Ryan another chance? You did not and neither did the justice system,” she said as she held her husband’s arm while both of them choked back tears. Joseph stared downward at the table in front of him …

Habeas petition successful because of violation of Brady v Maryland and perjured testimony. Time served but conviction vacated. Allegations of robber with a “Ninja mask” (note, ninja is capitalized):

CLINTON TURNER, Petitioner,
– against –
SUNNY L. SCHRIVER, Respondent.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
97 CV 3074 (NG)
327 F. Supp. 2d 174

Opinion by Judge Nina Gershon, decided July 21, 2004:

Petitioner brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his 1988 conviction, after a jury trial, in the New York Supreme Court, Queens County (Sherman, J.), of Robbery in the First Degree in violation of N. Y. Penal Law § 160.15; Robbery in the Third Degree in violation of N. Y. Penal Law § 160.05; and Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree in violation of N. Y. Penal Law § 155.30. Petitioner was sentenced as a second felony offender to an indeterminate term of imprisonment of ten to twenty years on the Robbery in the First Degree count, and concurrent terms of two to four years on the Robbery in the Third Degree and Grand Larceny counts. Petitioner has completed his term of imprisonment.

At trial:

Officer Cardo testified that, at around five a.m. on October 17, 1987, he responded to a radio call of an assault in progress and found four individuals arguing over a Toyota that was parked in front of a Dunkin’ Donuts on College Point Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. Three of the individuals were black males and one was a white male. The white male, Mr. Clarke, told Officer Cardo that, as he was walking to his car, he was approached by four individuals, the three black males who were present and one person who fled after robbing him. The robber was carrying a knife and wearing black pants, a shirt, and had a Ninja mask over his face. He was approximately six feet tall and around thirty years old. Mr.. Clarke gave the individual with the knife his wallet, which contained approximately $1500 in cash. After the man took his wallet, he pulled the Ninja mask off of his head which allowed Mr. Clarke to see his face. The three black males were placed under arrest and were subsequently transported to the 109th precinct.

And:

Mr. Clarke testified that he never told the police or anyone else that petitioner was wearing a Ninja mask. Mr. Clarke did not see petitioner take anything out of his car. Petitioner did not have anything on his head when Mr. Clarke found him in the car or during the chase, and Mr. Clarke never told the police that there was anything on his head at that time.

And:

In summation, defense counsel began by stating that petitioner had admitted his criminal record and did not try to hide from the facts of his life. Defense counsel compared Officer Cardo’s testimony that Mr. Clarke told him that he was robbed near his car by a man wearing a Ninja mask with that of Officer Krien that Mr. Clarke told him that he saw only one individual in his car, he chased him, and the person stole his wallet at knife-point inside one of the project buildings. Defense counsel also pointed to the inconsistencies between Mr. Clarke’s testimony and that of both of the officers and how Mr. Clarke’s story changed over time. Counsel argued that these inconsistencies, petitioner’s knowledge of where Mr. Clarke lived and the car that he drove, and the implausibility of Mr. Clarke’s story, all provided reasonable doubt that a crime had occurred.

Concluding:

[T]his court holds that there has been a violation of due process based upon Brady v. Maryland for failure to turn over material impeachment evidence [related to Clarke’s criminal history]; that holding is sufficient in itself to require relief. In addition, on the facts of this case, there has also been a violation of due process based upon the admission of perjured testimony [by Clarke] which the prosecutor should have known was false.

Conclusion

The petition for a writ of habeas corpus is granted, and the judgment of conviction is vacated.

Richard Allen Jackson raped and killed a woman. When arrested he waived Miranda and confessed completely. Substantial corroborating evidence was found at his home. He was sentenced to death. But then a judge reversed saying the confession should be barred. Instead of a new trial, he plead guilty to lesser crimes with agreement to serve 30 years. But no one told him that he could face federal charges too. And he did. And he was sentenced to death again. Below, the Federal appeal. He lost. Jackson is currently on Federal Death Row awaiting execution.

Richard Allen Jackson


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. RICHARD ALLEN JACKSON, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 01-9
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
327 F.3d 273
; 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 4834; 60 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. (Callaghan) 1319
September 23, 2002, Argued
March 18, 2003, Decided

The opinion by Judge Niemeyer describes the horrific incident and the procedural history prior to this appeal:

On Halloween morning, October 31, 1994, Karen Styles, a recent college graduate, disappeared from a trail in the Pisgah National Forest. A search initiated that evening, after Styles failed to return home, revealed no trace of Styles herself. Her car was, however, still parked at the lot at the head of the trail, and her car key was found on the trail two-tenths of a mile from the parking lot.

A little more than three weeks later, Styles’ nude body was discovered by a hunter, duct-taped to a tree, where investigators also found a duct-tape wrapper, a pornographic magazine, and one spent Remington .22 caliber rifle casing. An autopsy revealed that Styles died from a single bullet wound to the head. She also had suffered ten stun-gun wounds to her body, nine of them inflicted within six inches of her pubic area. Investigators recognized from the duct-tape wrapper that the brand was sold at K-Mart. When sheriff’s deputies contacted the nearest K-Mart store, located approximately one mile from the murder site, they discovered a receipt for a transaction that occurred on October 28, 1994, evidencing the purchase of a .22 rifle, a box of Remington .22 rifle ammunition, duct tape, a flashlight, and batteries. The ATF Form 4473 generated upon the purchase of the rifle revealed the purchaser to be Richard Allen Jackson.

On December 20, 1994, Jackson voluntarily accompanied police to the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department for an interview. After the officers advised Jackson of his Miranda rights, Jackson waived them and answered questions for approximately three hours about his background and his whereabouts in the days surrounding the date of Styles’ murder. When the sheriff asked Jackson what he did with the rifle that he used to shoot Karen Styles, Jackson responded, “I think I need a lawyer present.” The sheriff then informed Jackson that he would not ask him any more questions and stated, “Son, I know you bought the rifle and the duct tape at K-Mart on the 28th of October. I know you were in Bent Creek on the day she was killed, and that’s fine, but you need help.” At this point Jackson broke down, crying and insisting that he did not mean to kill anybody. After the officers informed Jackson that he did not need to say anything because he had invoked his right to counsel, Jackson stated that he wanted to tell the whole story to get it off of his chest. He then signed another waiver of his Miranda rights.

Jackson confessed fully. He stated that he arrived at the park around 8:00 a.m. and watched Styles as she stretched and walked down the trail. After sitting for a while, he took the gun out of the back of the car, loaded it, and started down the trail. He also had duct tape, a stun gun, and a pornographic magazine in his coat pockets. After Karen Styles passed him on the trail, Jackson turned around and pointed the gun at her, whereupon Styles took a key out of her shoe and told Jackson that there was money in her car and that he could take the car. She pleaded with him not to hurt her. Jackson placed duct tape over Styles’ eyes and mouth and led her to a remote area, where he stood her with her back to a tree and duct-taped her to the tree. The duct tape on Styles’ mouth had come loose by this time, and Styles again asked him not to hurt her. Jackson taped her mouth shut again, ripped off her shorts and underpants, and then raped her vaginally. Although Jackson’s rendition did not describe his use of the stun gun, evidence was presented at trial that he shocked Styles with a stun gun once above her left breast and several times in the pubic area. Jackson stated that he then moved away from Styles and looked at his pornographic magazine while masturbating. The tape over Styles’ mouth loosened, and Styles began screaming. Jackson walked up to her, put the gun to her head, and shot her once. That afternoon, Jackson went back to the K-Mart, returned the gun, and received a refund.

Jackson was crying during his entire confession, and the report of his confession indicates that at times during the interview the officers could not understand his words. Jackson repeated many times that he did not mean to kill Styles.

A search of Jackson’s home and cars, conducted pursuant to a search warrant, led investigators to recover a functional stun gun, a flashlight, a black “Ninja” outfit, a wrapper to an adult magazine, and a partially empty box of .22 caliber rifle bullets.

Jackson was charged in Buncombe County with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, and first-degree rape. After the trial court denied Jackson’s pretrial motion to suppress his confession, a jury returned a guilty verdict on all three charges. On the jury’s recommendation, the court imposed the death penalty for the murder conviction and prison sentences for the rape and kidnapping convictions. On appeal, the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed Jackson’s conviction and ordered a new trial, concluding that police had violated Jackson’s Miranda right not to be interrogated after he had invoked his right to counsel. State v. Jackson, 348 N.C. 52, 497 S.E.2d 409, 412 (N.C. 1998).

On March 3, 2000, Jackson pled guilty in State court to second degree murder, first-degree rape, and second-degree kidnapping. The stipulated prison sentences in the agreement totaled over 31 years, and Jackson received credit for 5 years already served. At the time of Jackson’s plea, none of his lawyers considered the possibility of a federal prosecution, and none advised Jackson that he could be subject to federal prosecution.

On November 6, 2000, a federal grand jury returned a superseding bill of indictment charging Jackson, in one count, of using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, specifically murder, kidnapping, and aggravated sexual abuse, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(j)(1). At trial, the government called 22 witnesses during the guilt phase and introduced extensive physical and testimonial evidence, including Jackson’s confession, which was received without objection. The jury returned a guilty verdict and then proceeded to consider the appropriate sentence.

During the sentencing phase, the government presented the testimony of the victim’s mother, Kathleen Styles, and the defense presented the testimony of Jackson’s adoptive mother, Sally Jackson. The defense also attempted to offer the testimony of the adoptive parents of Jackson’s natural sister, who suffered behavioral disorders, but the district court did not allow this testimony without any expert testimony linking the sister’s mental condition to Jackson’s. To rebut Sally Jackson’s testimony, the government played for the jury, over Jackson’s objection, portions of a videotaped interview given by Jackson for FOX News in October 2000, after his State conviction had been reversed and he had been sentenced pursuant to a guilty plea. The jury found unanimously that the government had proved beyond a reasonable doubt four aggravating factors, including the fact that Karen Styles’ death occurred during the commission of the offense of kidnapping, as defined under 18 U.S.C. § 1201, and the fact that Jackson committed the crime in an “especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse to Karen Styles.” Various jurors found 14 mitigating circumstances, and the jury found unanimously that “the aggravating factor or factors found to exist sufficiently outweighed all the mitigating factor or factors found to exist to justify a death sentence.” All 12 jurors signed the verdict form, unanimously recommending that Jackson be sentenced to death.

In accordance with that recommendation, the district court entered judgment on May 14, 2001, finding Jackson guilty of the offense charged in the indictment and imposing the sentence of death. The judgment also provided: “This judgment is effective immediately and is neither consecutive to nor delayed by the judgment and sentence previously imposed by the State of North Carolina.”

The Court finds no reversible error and upholds the conviction and death sentence. US Supreme Court certiorari denied, 124 S. Ct. 566 (2003).

Recall also the NinjaLaw case of the Ninja-pants killer. Also from North Carolina, and also currently awaiting death sentence in Federal Death Row. It is unclear when either of these people might be executed.

karen styles grave

In a 1998 opinion about suppression of statements made to police officers while in police custody after requesting an attorney. The Court decided that defendant’s statements made to police were admissible.

US v Thornton
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. ERVIN JUNIUS THORNTON II, Defendant.
CRIMINAL NO. 97-50021-01
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN, SOUTHERN DIVISION
17 F. Supp. 2d 686

Decided – September 1, 1998

Opinion by Honorable Paul V. Gadola:

Defendant Ervin Junius Thornton II has filed a motion to suppress his alleged out of court statements made to a law enforcement officer. Defendant argues that these statements should be suppressed at trial due to a violation of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. On July 23, 24 and August 18, 1998, this Court held an evidentiary hearing on defendant’s motion to suppress. For the reasons set forth below, this Court will deny defendant’s motion to suppress out of court statements.

Explaining:

According to [police lieutenant] Koger’s testimony, Thornton’s statement included the following assertions: that he had been paid $ 10,000 by Jewell Lamont Allen and Tederick Jones for the murder of David Strickland; that the reason for the murder was that Strickland had been indicted and Jewell Lamont Allen was afraid he would talk; that the weapon he used was a nine-millimeter and that Tederick Jones (“Teddy”) conducted surveillance during the murders; that the clothing he wore was a black “ninja-outfit;” that he was involved in drug trafficking; and that he had purchased drugs from Allen.

And:

Defendant further revealed that the weapon he used was a 9 millimeter handgun and that Tederick Jones (“Teddy”) conducted surveillance during the murders. He further admitted he was involved in drug trafficking and that he had purchased drugs from Allen, as well as that the clothing he had used was a black ninja outfit.

What is a black ninja outfit? Is it difference than a black outfit? And should it be hyphenated or not? This Opinion writes it both ways (“ninja outfit” and “ninja-outfit” and it doesn’t really explain what makes the outfit ninja, except that it was used in surreptitious surveillance during a murder-for-hire and related to drug dealing (marijuana and cocaine). The court also can’t decide how to write the gun’s description, “9 millimeter” or “nine-millimeter”. But as with “ninja face masks“, “black ninja hood“, and “ninja pants“, I wonder what is actually being conveyed by this adjective except conclusions of criminal behavior.

Meanwhile, the defendant, Thornton, was convicted at trial and lost his subsequent appeals (See 99-1275). The Supreme Court also denied cert in 2000 (531 U.S. 1179), and a recent 2006 motion for relief of judgment based on claims that evidence should have been suppressed at trial was denied for being untimely and without merit (Thornton v USA, 97-50021).

After his conviction for possession of burglary tools, Mark Thomas sued Nebraska Police Officers (particularly Officer Griss) for planting the evidence. Thomas was arrested for not paying his hotel bill and so theft of services from the hotel. He was arrested in the hotel lobby. Evidence obtained from a bag taken from the hotel room included:

a Pickmaster lock kit containing lock-picking equipment, a lock pick gun, toe nail clippers, a Swiss army knife, a black ninja hood, a pair of black leather gloves, and other items.

MARK C. THOMAS, Plaintiff/Appellee, v. DALE HUNGERFORD, Individually and in his official capacity as police officer for the city of Kearney, Nebraska; MICHAEL KIRKWOOD, Individually and in his official capacity as police officer for the city of Kearney, Nebraska, Defendants, JEFF GRISS, Individually and in his official capacity as police officer for the city of Kearney, Nebraska, Defendant/Appellant.
No. 93-3232
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT
23 F.3d 1450

Filed – May 11, 1994

Thomas’s amended complaint as stating a cause of action against Griss on two grounds: that Griss had conducted an inventory search of Thomas’s duffel bag that was not in accordance with established procedures, and that Griss had planted the black ninja hood and the “o” ring in the duffel bag. The district court denied Griss’s motion for summary judgment, and this appeal followed.

Noting in footnote #1:

Although the denial of a summary judgment motion is not a final judgment, a district court’s denial of a qualified immunity claim is an immediately appealable “final decision” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

Reversing:

The order denying Griss’s summary judgment motion is reversed, and the case is remanded to the district court for entry of judgment dismissing the complaint.

Explaining about the planted evidence:

The district court also denied Griss’s motion for summary judgment on Thomas’s claim that Griss planted a black ninja hood and an “o” ring in Thomas’s duffel bag. The magistrate judge construed Thomas’s complaint to allege that because the hood and “o” ring did not appear on Ward’s inventory form, Griss must have planted the items. Griss argues that he is absolutely immune from this claim because the allegation that he planted evidence is simply an assertion that he committed perjury when he testified at Thomas’s trial about the events surrounding Thomas’s arrest. Thomas concedes that Griss would be entitled to absolute immunity on such a claim, for officers are absolutely immune from liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for damages arising out of their alleged perjurious testimony at trial. Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325, 342, 75 L. Ed. 2d 96, 103 S. Ct. 1108 (1983). Thomas argues, however, that Griss did more than perjure himself, contending that Griss planted some of the evidence that the prosecutor used against him. Although absolute immunity may not shield Griss against such a claim, the district court should nevertheless have granted Griss’s summary judgment motion.

The inventory search was also found acceptable and not a violation of the Fourth Amendment, at least in part because the defendant himself asked to have the contents of the bag inventoried.

I think an “o” ring is a metal piece from a lock (in this case “a Kawneer-brand lock”) that can be used for breaking glass like car windows (see similarly Ninja rocks which will be mentioned in future case). But what makes a “black ninja hood” different from a mere black hood or black hood mask, this is not entirely clear to me, other than to further implicate that the defendant’s possessions are burglary tools. As if the tools themselves have intent, and this hood intended to be ninja.