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Criminal – Brady Claim – Exculpatory Evidence

A Fairfax Circuit Court sets aside defendant’s robbery and abduction for profit convictions because the commonwealth’s failure to inform defendant that a codefendant was given consideration for his testimony against defendant, an omission that violated defendant’s due process rights under Brady v. Maryland, and because the prosecutor’s failure to correct a witness’s known false testimony denied defendant due process.

The commonwealth provided two inducements to codefendant Antonio Wilson: a reduction in the charge of abduction for profit to a charge of abduction, thus reducing his exposure from 20 years to life, to zero to 10 years; and the commonwealth promised to inform the court of Wilson’s cooperation at his sentencing hearing. The commonwealth admits that written Brady disclosure of the agreement with Wilson was provided to another codefendant Richey Price, but not to this defendant, Devin Manigo. Wilson testified at trial that he was receiving no benefit from his testimony even though he was aware of the prosecution’s promise to inform the court of Wilson’s cooperation.

The court is of the opinion that in the absence of the nondisclosed evidence, defendant did not receive a trial resulting in a verdict worthy of confidence. The court is also of the opinion that the false testimony of Antonio Wilson could have in any reasonable likelihood affected the judgment of the jury under Giglio v. U.S., 405 U.S. 150.

The court is further of the opinion that the failure to correct the testimony of Antonio Wilson and Richey Price as to consideration for their testimony constitutes a violation of due process under the 14th Amendment, and a new trial is granted on that basis.

However, the court denies the motion for a new trial based on the claimed use of perjured testimony, as a review of the transcript of the trial and evidentiary hearing does not reveal sufficient evidence to carry the burden that the conviction was founded on perjured testimony and that the prosecution “knowingly” used that testimony to secure a conviction.

Commonwealth v. Manigo (Schell, J.) No. FE 2008-1322, Jan. 6, 2010; Fairfax Cir.Ct.; Jason T. Britt, PD; Ian M. Rodway, Comm. Att’y Office. VLW 010-8-022, 14 pp.

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