Aggravated Manslaughter Conviction Reversed Due To Error
- November 10, 2014
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Dwayne Slaughter was convicted of aggravated manslaughter (N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4), conspiracy (N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2) and aggravated assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1) following the beating of his 79 year old neighbor, Roosevelt Morrow. The Defendant and Pritchard Watts both admitted to police they intended to enter Morrow’s residence and rob him. Although the 2 men admitted they conspired to rob Morrow, they each blamed the other for his beating death. The Defendant’s live-in girlfriend, Tanisha Day, gave police a taped statement which was presented to the jury at trial. Day’s statement attributed an incriminating comment by using the term “he” but never indicated whether “he” implied Watts or Slaughter. However, Day did not testify and Defendant lost his opportunity to cross-examine her about her statement. Watts had taken a plea to first-degree robbery in exchange for his testimony at trial against Slaughter. There was no physical evidence indicating Slaughter was the actor. Slaughter appealed the conviction based on the admission of Day’s statement. The NJ Appellate Division found that the admission of Day’s statement was error but the error was harmless. The NJ Supreme Court found the error was not harmless as Day’s statement could have implied either Watts or Slaughter and vacated the Defendant’s conviction and remanded for new trial. If you are facing charges of murder, assault, or conspiracy you are facing severe penalties including as much as life in prison. When confronting criminal charges, it is imperative that you have experienced criminal defense counsel at your side to ensure you are afforded due process and your rights are protected. For more information about murder, assault or conspiracy in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.