By Denny Walsh
An appellate court has thrown out a teenager's conviction in a high-profile gang prosecution stemming from the 2008 killing of another young person at a house party in the Meadowview area of Sacramento.
A three-justice panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday that Marvel Montreal Barksdale was wrongly found guilty by a jury of voluntary manslaughter because his lawyer was ineffective, resulting in the introduction of otherwise inadmissible evidence that prejudiced Barksdale.
The lawyer, Christopher Richard "Chris" Cosca, should not have allowed certain polygraph and opinion evidence to be presented to the jury, the panel said in a 65-page opinion. The justices said the evidence included information about lie-detector testing of witnesses who identified Barksdale as the one who shot down a rival street-gang member when the party turned into a gun battle, some opinion testimony concerning the credibility of those witnesses, and the fact that Barksdale refused to take a polygraph examination.
The jury acquitted Barksdale of first and second degree murder, but found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley sentenced him to 26 years in prison - six years for manslaughter, 10 years for furthering the interests of a street gang by killing 16-year-old Robert Haynes, and 10 years for use of a firearm.
The three justices concluded in Tuesday's opinion "there is a reasonable probability that defendant would have received a more favorable result had counsel's performance not been deficient.