Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Trial Court Properly Denied New Trial Motion; DNA Evidence Did Not Undermine Government's Murder Case

U.S. v. Jordan, 806 F.3d 1244 (11/20/15) (Col.) (Published) - The 10th affirms the denial of Mr. Jordan's motion for a new trial on a murder charge based on newly discovered evidence. Mr. Jordan presented testimony of an expert that it was possible the DNA of a Mr. Riker was on the knife used to stab and kill a fellow inmate. Mr. Jordan contended Mr. Riker was really the one who stabbed and killed the victim. Mr. Jordan also presented letters of Mr. Riker admitting Mr. Riker was the murderer. The 10th is unimpressed, finding the new evidence did not meet the new-trial requirement that the new evidence would probably lead to an acquittal at a new trial. First, the government never contested that Mr. Riker also touched the knife at some point. So the DNA didn't undermine the government case. Second, Mr. Riker also wrote letters intermittently retracting his admissions and testified at the new trial hearing that it was Mr. Jordan, not he, who stabbed the victim. He wrote the confessions, he said, because he preferred to spend the rest of his life in federal prison as a convicted murderer than in state prison as a convicted child molester. The 10th refuses to address whether it was proper for the government to present new evidence, such as the victims' dying declarations, at the new trial hearing. That evidence didn't matter because Mr. Jordan's new evidence could not carry the day regardless.