Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, the Miss. S.Ct. will hear oral argument in Jerome Manning v. State. This is an appeal from a post conviction hearing.
Manning was blamed for two double murders in Starkville, Mississippi. Here’s his wikipedia page. This one involves the 1993 murders of Emmoline Jimmerson, 60, and her mother, Alberta Jordan, 90, who were found dead in their apartment at the Brooksville Gardens in Starkville. The appeal mainly centers on the testimony of a witness, Kevin Lucious.
Lucious claimed to have seen Willie Manning push his way into the victims’ apartment. He claims he saw this from his apartment across the street but he did not move into that apartment until two weeks after the crimes. He also testified that a week and a half after the murders, Manning confessed to him while they were drinking at a club. Beginning eight years after the trial, Lucious has executed several affidavits recanting various parts of his testimony.
One of the issues in this case is interesting from the defense attorneys’ standpoint. Manning argues both Brady and/or Strickland with regard to some evidence that his pcr lawyers found. It turns out that the crime lab had information that a shoe print found at the scene was a size 8 (Manning wears a size 11). And the police department had notes that the apartment complex had been canvassed and there there was no one living in the apartment from which Lucious allegedly saw Manning push his way into the victims’ apartment. Neither of these items were in the DA’s file. The Court asked whether defense counsel had a right to rely on the DA’s file or does defense counsel have a responsibility to ask the police department and the crime lab (and who knows who else) for any information in their possession. I’ve always thought (and argued) that the DA is an agent of the state and is charged with having constructive (if not actual) possession of the information held by the police and the crime lab.
Presumably, an opinion in this case will clarify that matter. In the meantime, I guess it would be a good idea for defense attorneys to cover every base when investigating a criminal case including asking for the police department’s records as well as anything the crime lab has.