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Snitches cause glitches

October 15, 2013

moralesA lawyer for Jose Morales (pictured), convicted last week of a 2008 murder-for-hire conspiracy that killed Robert Long, a witness against him in a series of theft cases, has filed a motion asking for a new trial, claiming a key witness’s threats against witnesses in his own drug trial should have been divulged by prosecutors.

Is this Baltimore, or what?

The new trial would be for a previous case, in which Morales was convicted of trying to smuggle heroin into the federal prison where he was already serving a 262 month sentence for drug-dealing.

In August Morales received another 262-month sentence for the in-prison drug scheme.  His lawyers now say that prosecutors should have divulged the witness-threatening past of a witness in that case, Marshawn Stokes. In his motion, Proctor quotes a 1999 presentencing report on Stokes:

Stokes conspired to kill several government witnesses if they would not refuse to testify. Documents admitted into evidence at trial indicate that Stokes confronted Danielle Turner in the gym of the BCDC in April 1999 and told her not to come to court. Stokes suborned the perjury of Holly Brown by recruiting her to come to court and give false testimony—which she did. In June and July, 1998, Stokes wrote two letters addressed to the residents of Schering Road (including Askia and Williams) telling them to confront specific named witnesses and potential witnesses, make sure they were not going to cooperate and try to get them to sign affidavits.

As a prosecution witness against Morales in the prison drug-smuggling case, Stokes testified that Morales sought to have his co-defendant (and the mother of one of his four children) Terry Sadler killed before she reported to prison to serve her own sentence. Stokes’ claim got Morales a longer sentence.

Morales’ defense lawyers could not have gotten Stokes’ presentencing report independently, because it, like all such reports, are sealed documents available only to prosecutors and judges. Proctor says the prosecutors in Morales’ drug case were required to turn over the report when they decided to use Stokes to try to get Morales’ drug sentence “enhanced.”

The defense team only got the presentencing report on October 1, the motion said, just hours before Stokes testified against Morales in the murder-for-hire case that ended last week with a guilty verdict. Stokes testified in that case that Morales told him about having Long killed and also had the brother of the shooter, Troy Lucas, killed: “Troy took his brother with him; Morales didn’t like that ‘cause he’s a junkie,” Stokes told the jury. “So he worried that he’d tell if he got sick. So he killed Mr. Troy’s brother.”

There was no testimony as to how he might have done that. Clyde Lucas died in 2011. The death was not counted as a homicide.

Morales faces a mandatory life sentence in the murder-for-hire case—which comes on top of the 262 months he is serving for the prison-drug smuggling case and a similar sentence for a 2008 case in which he tried to bring six kilos back to Baltimore.

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