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Articles by Douglas Ankney

California Court of Appeal: ‘Violent Victim Rule’ Doesn’t Require Defendant to Have Had Knowledge of Victim’s Propensity for Violence

Neil Efren Delrio exchanged gunfire with his cousin, Raul Prieto. According to Delrio (the only eyewitness), Prieto became angry and pulled his nine-millimeter handgun because he believed Delrio was snubbing him, i.e., not speaking to him, “ducking” him, etc. Delrio testified he was “in fear of [his] life” after Prieto racked a round into the gun’s chamber and raised it toward him. Delrio testified he then pulled his own .40 caliber pistol and fired at Prieto. Prieto fired once in return. Delrio then fired again before getting into his vehicle and driving off. Prieto continued firing at Delrio as he drove away.

Prieto died from two bullet wounds to his abdomen. A .40 caliber bullet was recovered from his body. From the scene of the shooting, police recovered two .40 caliber cartridge casings and 15 nine-millimeter cartridge casings. Delrio’s vehicle had multiple bullet holes, and a bullet fired from Prieto’s weapon was found in the car.

Because Delrio intended to claim self-defense, prior to trial, ...

N.J. Supreme Court Announces Defendant Has Right to Question Cooperating Witness About Plea Deal and Possible Sentence Exposure Even When Witness Faced Same Exposure as Defendant

Tiffany Taylor, Javon Clarke, and Michael A. Jackson were arrested and charged in connection with a burglary at the residence of L.G. Because of Clarke’s priors, a possible sentence of up to five years in prison could be enhanced to 10 years. Clarke accepted a cooperating plea offer in which he agreed to testify against Jackson and Taylor in exchange for a three-year sentence. But the trial judge urged modification of the agreement to provide for Clarke being sentenced to only 180 days in the county jail and probation.

At trial, Clarke testified that Jackson picked him up on the morning of the burglary, drove him to ...

Missouri Supreme Court: Circuit Court Erred in Excluding Expert Witness Testimony Regarding Accuracy of Eyewitness Identification

In October 2016, a young white man (“Victim”) was approached by two black men, hoodies pulled low to cover their faces. It was dark and the nearest street light was some distance away. One of the men lifted his shirt, showing Victim what appeared to be a handle to a pistol. The man said, “Give me what you have or I’ll shoot you.” The two men took Victim’s iPhone, earbuds, e-cigarette, and nicotine cartridge.

Victim observed the two men run into an alley. Victim then borrowed the phone of a nearby pedestrian and phoned police. Two officers met with Victim within seconds. Less than five minutes elapsed from the time of the robbery until a description of the robbers went out over the police radio. Within two minutes, other officers radioed that they had detained two suspects and asked that Victim be brought to location for a show-up identification.

When Victim was brought to location, Carpenter was seated on the curb with another black male. Both were in cuffs. Neither ...

California Supreme Court Reverses Murder Conviction and Death Sentence Because Police Failed To Honor Defendant’s Request for Counsel

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of California reversed the murder conviction and death sentence of Paul Nathan Henderson because the police continued to question him after he made an unambiguous request for counsel.

Henderson was arrested on July 5, 1997, in connection with a home invasion of a mobile home that resulted in the death of Reginald Baker and an assault on his wife Peggy Baker.

Detective Wolford and Officer Herrera of the Cathedral City Police Department interviewed him. He waived his Miranda rights. The officers said they were investigating crimes against the Bakers at the Canyon City trailer park on June 22, 1997. When asked if he went to the trailer park, the following exchange occurred:

Henderson: “Uhm, there’s some things that I, uhm, want uh ...”

Wolford: “Did you go to the trailer park, that night?”

Henderson: “[Want], want to speak to an attorney first, because I, I take responsibility for me, but there’s other people that ...”

Herrera: “What do you ...”

Henderson: “I need to find out ...”

Herrera: “Paul.”

Henderson: “I need to find out.”

Herrera: “Paul, what do you accept responsibility for?”

Henderson: No response.

Herrera: “Do you accept responsibility for what happened ...

Door Bells and Funeral Bells

In the first quarter of 2020, police requested customers’ videos over 5,000 times, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reports. While it is not known how many of those requests were granted, it is known that as of June 22, 2020, Ring had partnerships with 1,403 law enforcement agencies (up from about 200 agencies in April 2019). Of those 1,403 agencies, 559 (40%) of them have been responsible for at least one death at the hands of police since 2015. And of the 6,084 reported deaths, agencies in partnerships with Ring accounted for 2,165 (35%) of those deaths.

Ring has turned many police forces into its sales force. Ring has drafted press statements and social media posts for police to promote Ring cameras and to terrify people into thinking their homes are in persistent danger. Yet there is no scientific data to show Ring prevents or reduces crime or ...

New Hampshire Supreme Court Announces Defendant Not Required to Identify Evidentiary Support for Noticed Defense

Michael Munroe was a prisoner at the Rockingham County House of Corrections when he became involved in a fight with another prisoner identified as W.V. Munroe was charged with assault by a prisoner. Prior to trial, he filed a Notice of Self Defense and Notice of Competing Harms (“Notice”). The Notice stated that pursuant to RSA 627:4, Munroe “may rely on the defense of self defense.” His stated grounds for the notice were basically a recitation of the facts, some of which included that he stood accused of felony-level assault by a prisoner; that the State alleged he had caused serious bodily injury to W.V. by punching him at a time when Munroe was in custody; and that at a prison disciplinary hearing W.V. pleaded guilty to the charge of fighting.

The State objected to the Notice, arguing that Munroe wasn’t “entitled to argue self-defense as a matter of law based upon the offer of proof as contained within the [Notice].” According to the State, the Notice was deficient ...

Sixth Circuit Reverses District Court’s Grant of Summary Judgment to Defendants in § 1983 Suit Against City and Police Officers

After observing Lamar Wright pull into the driveway of a suspected drug dealer and then leave, Flagg and Williams followed him in an unmarked car. Wright pulled into another residential driveway. Flagg and Williams approached Wright with guns drawn. Williams shouted to Wright, commanding him to turn off his engine and exit his SUV. Wright placed the SUV in park and raised his hands. The officers holstered their guns.

Flagg jerked the driver’s side door open and grabbed Wright’s left arm, twisting it around behind him. Flagg then attempted to grab Wright’s right arm in order to handcuff him. Unable to secure the right arm, Flagg began pulling Wright from the vehicle. Wright had a colostomy bag stapled to his abdomen as the result of a recent surgery. In order to assist Flagg, Wright placed his right hand on the center console for leverage to enable him ...

Nebraska Supreme Court Announces Remand for New Sentencing Hearing Appropriate Remedy for Enhanced Vehicular Homicide Sentence Without Evidence of Prior Convictions

After leaving a party where he had consumed a substantial amount of alcohol, José A. Valdez struck another vehicle with his automobile. The driver of the other vehicle died from her injuries, and Valdez was charged with motor vehicle homicide. A blood test revealed that Valdez had .223 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. The State alleged that Valdez had prior convictions for driving under the influence (“DUI”) and operating a motor vehicle during a revocation period—either of which would enhance the motor vehicle homicide offense to a Class II felony.

Valdez pleaded guilty to the offense, and the State agreed to recommend a sentence not to exceed 25 years and not to pursue additional charges or restitution.

The district court accepted his plea, and the parties agreed to address the issue of enhancement at a later sentencing hearing. At that hearing, the court considered the offense to be enhanced ...

South Carolina Supreme Court: Failure to Give Logan Instruction Not Harmless Error Where Evidence Almost Entirely Circumstantial

Robin Herndon was a law enforcement officer whose live-in boyfriend, Christopher Rowley, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and placed on medication because of his mood swings, aggression, and uncontrolled anger. Witnesses testified that they saw Herndon and Rowley arguing in front of their home. The two then retreated into the residence.

According to Herndon, Rowley then punched her. She drew her service weapon and warned him to leave. Rowley charged at her, swatting the gun. She shot and killed him.

The pathologist testified that the bullet trajectory was consistent with two scenarios: (1) Herndon shot Rowley as he walked up the steps to the house or (2) Rowley was charging Herndon when he was shot. The State elected to try Herndon on a murder charge based on the first scenario.

At trial, Herndon specifically requested the charge set forth in Logan. The trial court refused, opting instead to “go with the charge that’s in ...

Colorado Supreme Court: Prosecution Prohibited From Arguing Defendant’s Failure to Retreat Showed Lack of Fear, Undermining Claim of Self-Defense

Sheila Renee Monroe got into an argument with a man on a city bus. Monroe showed the man she had a pocket knife. The man said he was going to call police. The man claimed that after he removed his phone and was dialing, Monroe stabbed him in the neck. A witness testified that the man had his phone in his hand and “was opening his jacket” when Monroe stabbed him. Monroe was charged with first-degree assault and attempted first-degree murder.

At trial, Monroe claimed that she acted in self-defense when the victim reached into his pocket.

During closing argument, the prosecutor said Monroe “didn’t have any duty to retreat, but she does have a clear line of retreat, if she’s actually scared for her safety.” Defense counsel objected, arguing that this imposed a duty to retreat. The trial court overruled the objection.

Calling the jury’s attention to the ...



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