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Conviction of Defendants for Kidnapping Resulting in Death Affirmed

By FindLaw Staff on August 11, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

US v. Wilson, 06-4180, concerned a challenge to a defendant's conviction for conspiracy to kidnap, a sentence of life imprisonment, and district court's denial of defendant's post-sentencing motions for a new trial.

In affirming, the court held that given the strength of the government's case, the extensive evidence of defendant's guilt, the prosecution's limited use of challenged evidence during the trial, and the court's cautionary instructions to the jury, the erroneous introduction of a shooting did not affect the jury's verdict.  The court also held that the prosecution's closing arguments did not misstate the law of conspiracy or otherwise mislead the jury, nor did it prejudice defendant's trial so as to deny him due process.  Also, defendant's written statement was admissible, and the district court did not err in using it in determining defendant's sentence.  Lastly, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion for a new trial based on the government's failure to turn over a statement to defendant prior to trial, and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion for  a new trial.

US v. Lighty, 06-6, was a companion case to US v. Wilson, concerning a federal prosecution of defendants for kidnapping resulting in death and related crimes.  In affirming the district court's imposition of a life sentence upon one defendant and a sentence of death upon the other defendant, the court held that, while the actions of the Assistant United States Attorneys handling the defendants' joint trial unnecessarily introduced error into it, such error is not reversible, as both defendants each received a fair trial.

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