DETROIT -- An appeals court has overturned a Michigan man's 2019 second-degree murder conviction, determining the man's attorney ignored his wishes to admit that he pulled the trigger.
In a ruling last week, the Michigan Court of Appeals said 28-year-old Reinaldo Jamison had wanted to argue in court that he fatally shot Andre Fort in in 2018 in self defense but that attorney David Cripps decided to argue that Jamison was not the gunman.
The three-member panel of the court said in its opinion that Cripps “did not even consider investigating the theory urged by defendant and supported, at least in part, by independent evidence," The Detroit News reported.
The appeals court panel also made clear that it did not believe Cripps' testimony during a 2021 hearing that ended with Macomb County Circuit Judge Joseph Toia denying Jamison's motion for a new trial.
According to the ruling, the judge “clearly erred when it accepted defense counsel's patently incredible testimony on the issue.”
The court also had concerns about Cripps' contention that he could not recall whether he'd ever seen threatening text messages, in contradiction to Jamison's testimony that his brother had shown Cripps the messages.
The court said that even if Cripps was to be believed he should have known about the messages, pointing out that "a police report summarizing the investigation included a description of the text messages.”
Prosecutors in Macomb County have 56 days to decide whether or not to appeal the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court, retry the case or drop the charges. A spokeswoman for Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido told the newspaper on Friday the matter was under review.
Jamison remains in custody, serving a 23-year to 50-year sentence following his murder conviction by a jury in 2019.
An attorney at Cripps' office said that Cripps would not be available for comment until Monday.