Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Where The World Gets Stupid Part II: The Facebook Chronicles

It's widely reported this morning that Estefany Martinez and her sig other posted notes on facebook which were...ahem...incriminating and thus ended up in a pickle.

It seems that Martinez and Anna Rivera, a confederate, started planning a heist at the bank where they both worked, and Martinez' boyfriend and Rivera's brother robbed the Texas bank of $62,000 in March.

So far so good, but Martinez and her boyfriend posted stuff on facebook that were...ahem...suspicious, including "WIPE MY TEETH WITH HUNDREDS WIPE MY *** WITH DIS 50s :$:$:$:$:"

Huffpost has collected nineteen other instances in which posts on Facebook led to arrests for...well....stupid stuff. And it doesn't end there, either, as they've collected similar escapades that merely got the idiots fired from their jobs.

You Knew They Were Stupid, Didn't You?

Here's a picture of Anthony Garcia, an otherwise unremarkable mutt who claims the Rivera-13 set around Norwalk and Pico Rivera, California-and thereby hangs a tale.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, a homicide investigator in the Los Angeles County sheriff's office was routinely reviewing a slate of gang tattoo photos when something piqued his interest.

Gang members and affiliates, when arrested, have their gang tats routinely photographed. Sometimes these depict telling information.

There, for all the world to see on Anthony Garcia's chest, was the graphic description of a crime scene. It was a homicide that had gone unsolved since 2004, and the depiction included details of the crime scene . And the investigator was no stranger to the case, as he'd served in the Pico Rivera area at the time of the homicide.

An undercover detective was placed in Garcia's cell after he was arrested, and as criminals do, Garcia blabbed. The rest is history, and Garcia's slated to be sentenced next month for his first degree murder conviction.

Of course, Garcia and his set weren't done yet. It is reported that Garcia, his mother, his brother and two other confederates have been charged with conspiring to smuggle dope into the county jail.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dead Men Tell No Tales-The Flores Case

Flores v. State, no. 10-0020 (Iowa Ct. App. April 13, 2011)

As expected the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of Judge Don Nickerson in the post conviction review matters concerning David Flores.

The basis of the court's decision was that Flores did not receive potentially exculpatory evidence in the form of an interview of one Calvin Gaines (the Gaines interview), and the testimony of Rafael Robinson's former paramour which was considered newly discovered evidence.

The state claimed that it had provided a police report (the Trimble report) to Flores' then attorney John Wellman that related similar information. Judge Nickerson did not agree, finding that the Trimble report had not been provided to Wellman and that it could have materially aided in the preparation of a more adequate defense.

The Trimble report was, in fact, found in the Wellman defense file but the Flores family had taken the file and passed it around to a number of attorneys, promiscuously adding and reorganizing documents until the file was unrecognizable by Dee Mason, Wellman's reader.

What that suggests, of course, is that a defendant's file can be taken, massaged, flaked, formed, chopped and flavored by family members and then reintroduced as evidence, ten years later, that the state withheld evidence.

Parenthetically, the failure of Wellman to call an expert witness to controvert the state ballistics expert's conclusions about the slugs and the spent cartridge cases found at the scene and in the Flores home speaks volumes about Wellman's alleged ability to prepare an adequate defense. But nevermind. For conspiracy theorists it's also interesting to note that the amended Flores post conviction relief petition first raised the issue of potentially exculpatory evidence, in particular the Gaines interview, two months after John Wellman died.

The Court of Appeals concluded that the Gaines report that had not been furnished to the Flores defense attorney fell squarely within the reach of Brady v. Maryland.

The testimony of Carla Harris was found to be credible, newly discovered evidence albeit hearsay that was admissible as an exception to the rule. Harris testified that Rafael Robinson-also deceased-admitted to her that he had shot Phyllis Davis.
Harris, knowing this, and being the paramour of a leading member of the Des Moines Crip franchise-engaged in a deadly war with the Blood set- in that hothouse summer of 1996, stated she was unaware that Flores had been tried, convicted, and sentenced for the murder of Phyllis Davis until 2007.

The entire affair would leave a group of preschoolers shaking their little heads in dismay.

Is this case heading for further review by the Supreme Court?

You bet your last Confederate dollar it is.

Just so you remember, the picture's of Phyllis Davis-gunned down in the middle of the intersection of University Avenue and 9th Street in Des Moines. Driving home from work she stumbled into a shootout between homicidal gangs of thugs, a bullet from a .22 caliber rifle entered her chest. Her Nissan Sentra rolled into the intersection and she drowned in her own blood in broad daylight.

That's what this case is all about, lest you forget.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Envelope, Please....

State v. Calvert, no. 10-0663 (Iowa Court of Appeals, March 30, 2011)

Calvert was stopped for operating while intoxicated. She was administered a preliminary breath test, and asked to see the result. The arresting officer stated he did not think he was required to do so. Calvert argued the plain language of 321J.11 compels the suppression of the subsequent evidentiary breath test.

321J.11 states in part, "...Upon the request of the person who is tested, the results of the test or tests administered at the direction of the peace officer shall be made available to the person."

The court disagreed with Calvert's theory, holding that the section cited by Calvert applies only to evidentiary tests.

In Custody Or Not?

State v. Cam, no. 10-0953 (Iowa Ct. App. March 30, 2011)

Cam approached a police officer and said he might have sexually assaulted his stepdaughter. He was escorted to an interview room in the Sioux Center police station and there read his Mirandas-although Cam disagrees with this. Cam was then interviewed but afterwards he sat in the police station for another 46 minutes, neither cuffed or restrained. Cam then left the police station under his own power.

Cam was charged with assault to commit sexual abuse and moved to suppress his admissions. The district court granted his motion to suppress, finding that he was in custody and his waiver of his rights was not knowingly and intelligently made. The state appealed.

The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Cam was not in custody as that term has been interpreted by the Iowa courts. Iowa law provides a four part test to determine whether a reasonable person would have understood his situation to be a deprivation of his freedom of action in any significant way. They are:
  • the language used to summon the suspect
  • the purpose, place and manner of interrogation
  • the extent to which the defendant is confronted with evidence of his guilt
  • whether the defendant is free to leave the place of questioning.

Flores v. State Post Conviction Review Opinion Imminent

We're advised that the post conviction review appeal opinion in the case of David Flores is due out tomorrow, the 12th of April 2011, from the Iowa Court of Appeals, in the review of Judge Nickerson's opinion which granted Flores a new trial.

I've not been able to read Nickerson's opinion but I'm quite sure that the issue is going to be about Brady evidence and whether John Wellman knew or should have known about the interview held in the jail that seemed to implicate Rafael Robinson as the shooter.

There are some interesting wrinkles to this. Brady v. Maryland requires that prosecutors turn over to the defendant or counsel any and all evidence in their possession relevant to the prosecution at bar.

The question then becomes, at what point is the duty of the prosecutor at an end? Must he go to the ends of the earth, to the heavens above, and to the depths below in a quixotic search for things that may or may not pertain?

The evidence of the jail interview is relevant, all right, but I think the argument that it is relevant only to the still unsolved murder of Robinson is significant. In any event, the notion that Wellman did not know about this report would leave three year old toddlers shaking their little heads in dismay. An attorney for one of the codefendants who'd already been convicted knew about it and was in the same courtroom at the same time as Wellman.

Judge Nickerson found the testimony of a witness, a female companion of Robinson, credible as well as newly discovered evidence-which is also stunning when you consider that this woman, a companion of one of the chieftains in the then existing war between the Iowa Crips and Bloods franchises claimed not to have heard of David Flores and his conviction until 11 or so years had past.

And there's the cartridge cases in the intersection and in the Flores home. And there's the stunning revelations of Flores' then girlfriend to her mother and auntie, and her subsequent time in jail for contempt.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

If nothing else, the appeal meant that Flores served another year plus in prison.

It should be interesting-but will justice be done? Stay tuned.