The work of defending an accused individual's rights often involves fighting to keep evidence out of court or fighting to include evidence that the prosecution wants excluded. Innocent people may face years of prison time if the prosecution isn't effectively challenged.
Recently, the robbery conviction of a young St. Louis man was overturned after an appeals court ruled that the jury was not allowed to consider important evidence that linked another person to the crime. That evidence allegedly implicates another young man who is currently serving time for a murder conviction.
The 2012 robbery in question involved the taking of a cell phone and money, and the young man who was initially convicted of the crime received a 12-year prison sentence. He was accused of robbing a woman at gunpoint.
However, a jury was not allowed to consider a cell phone record that showed a phone call from the victim's phone to the other man's girlfriend shortly after the robbery. The girlfriend was also later found to be in possession of the phone, and she said that her boyfriend -- the young man convicted of murder -- said he got the phone in a robbery.
The three-judge panel that overturned the conviction noted that the only eyewitness was the woman whose cell phone was stolen, and that "the state's case depended entirely on the jury finding her credible." Eyewitness testimony is often unreliable, and that appears to have been the case here, as the sole witness was asked to identify the person who robbed her and apparently was mistaken.
Now the state appeals court has ordered a new trial for the young man whose robbery conviction was overturned. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a timeline of the events in the separate robbery and murder cases.
Everyone accused of a crime has the right to a full defense, and in some cases, that involves appealing a jury's verdict. To learn more about criminal appeals, please explore the criminal defense website of Sindel, Sindel & Noble.