Eddie Triplett, a four-time felon serving a life prison sentence for cocaine possession, will go free after 12 years behind bars. A federal judge found that former Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick’s office failed to turn over a police report that directly contradicted the trial testimony of two New Orleans cops, the latest case of withheld evidence by a DA’s office under heavy fire for its history of repeated constitutional violations.
Prosecutors failed to give Triplett’s trial attorney a police report with a narrative indicating that two NOPD patrol officers stopped a different man at exactly the same time and place they arrested Triplett. The report says the officers spotted this man on a bicycle and arrested him after seeing him grab a plastic bag with white powder from his pocket and stuff it in his mouth. The officers repeatedly testified at trial, however, that it was Triplett who held the cocaine and stuffed it in his mouth that night and that he was the only one they stopped.
Triplett testified that he was riding a bike and that police stopped him and another man, who then dropped something to the ground. After running Triplett’s criminal record, the officers let the other man go, Triplett said.
The failure by the DA’s office to turn over the narrative violated Triplett’s rights under Brady v. Maryland, a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that requires the government to turn over all evidence favorable to the defense.
But the appeal of Juan Smith, recently argued before the Supreme Court, had eerie similarities to Triplett’s case. A decision is still pending in Smith’s case.
Skeptical Supreme Court justices ridiculed arguments by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office that Smith’s murder conviction wouldn’t have been affected by disclosure that the star eyewitness earlier told police he could not identify any of the assailants. Attorneys for Smith, convicted of five murders during a party, are asking the Supreme Court to order a new trial on grounds that the Orleans District Attorney’s Office disregarded a 1963 Supreme Court ruling that prosecutors can’t withhold evidence that could be favorable to the defendant.
The witness testified at trial that Smith was the first man who walked through the door the night the five people were killed at a home and that he had been face-to-face with him and “I’ll never forget him.” But on the night of the murder he told police he couldn’t identify the attackers beyond their race, African-American, and that some had gold teeth. Five days later he restated his inability to provide IDs.
Both of the aforementioned cases are perfect examples of why you should hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with a crime. For more information contact Carl Barkemeyer by going to https://www.attorneycarl.com.
Source: Times-Picayune, “Prisoner to be Freed After Discovery that Harry Connick’s Office Withheld Police Report”, November 19, 2011