Case Caption: Jamal Allister Morton v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2012-0044Date: 09/13/2013Author: Swan, Ive Arlington Citation: Summary:

Defendant's convictions on several felony charges, including first degree murder and unauthorized use of an unlicensed firearm, are affirmed. The trial court did not abuse its discretion under Federal Rules of Evidence 403 and 404(b) in allowing evidence of a separate crime two weeks after the present murder, which linked defendant with the murder weapon. The later incident and evidence obtained at that scene were highly probative of the defendant's guilt or innocence in the crime charged in the present case, and prejudicial aspects of the other incident were excluded. Accordingly, the probative value of the later incident was not substantially outweighed by any danger of unfair prejudice to defendant and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing this proof. On this appeal the defendant has failed to establish a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel. He does not allege any specific errors or omissions in his counsel's representation that would render her representation ineffective, and lack of experience alone is insufficient to make the required showing. Further, an experienced former public defender was designated as co-counsel and participated fully in the trial. The evidence showed that defendant was seen fleeing the crime scene around the time of the murder, and expert testimony confirmed that the weapon found with defendant two weeks later was the same weapon used to commit the charged murder. From all the evidence produced at trial, reasonable jurors could find beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant committed the murder as charged. The claim that defendant's confrontation rights were violated because the trial judge upheld certain of the prosecutor's objections is rejected since defendant does not identify where in the record the perceived infringement upon his rights occurred, as required by V.I.S.CT. R. 22(a)(5) and (d). Defendant has also failed to articulate how the objections made against the defense's cross-examination (and any rulings on those issues) were erroneous, and how they prejudiced him. Thus he has not identified any fact, topic or ruling that might constitute reversible error, and the confrontation clause claim fails. The convictions are affirmed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion