This Week in Richmond Criminal Defense™
Not Guilty in Carjacking Case
On May 22, 2008, Brandon Hines was found not guilty of all charges stemming from a carjacking that took place in May of 2007. In a case tried by Horace F. Hunter of the law firm of Hunter & Lipton LLP before the Honorable Frederick L. Rockwell, Brandon Hines left the courtroom a free man after Judge Rockwell dismissed all charges against him. Citing the credibility of the prosecution witnesses along with the complete lack of evidence, Judge Rockwell dismissed the charges of carjacking, conspiracy to commit robbery, and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The case involved the theft of a car from the victim by three juveniles after the victim attempted to buy marijuana from them. The victim, accompanied by Brandon Hines, traveled to a neighborhood in Chesterfield County to purchase marijuana. It was undisputed at trial that Hines knew the victim as well as the juveniles who committed the robbery. Convinced that the juveniles could not have planned the robbery alone, the Commonwealth Attorney decided to charge the only other adult at the scene aside from the victim which just happened to be Hines. In an attempt to tie Hines to the carjacking, the prosecutor cut a deal with two of the juveniles to testify against Hines and implicate him in the robbery. The only problem for the prosecution was that one of the juveniles acknowledged that Hines was not involved and the other juvenile appeared to fabricate some of his testimony. Initially testifying that he did not have a deal with the prosecution, he eventually admitted that he did have an agreement with the prosecution to testify against Hines in exchange for his charges eventually being dropped. The other problem with his testimony of course was the fact that he was the one who drove away in the victim’s car and his testimony was almost completely contradicted by the other prosecution witness.
This case is just one more example of the fact that simply because someone is charged with a crime does not mean that they are automatically guilty. People, including prosecutors, often make assumptions without fully evaluating the evidence in a particular case. That is why it is truly important to withhold judgment regarding the guilt or innocence of a defendant until both sides of the story have been told. Once the evidence has been fully examined and cross-examined, assumptions that were originally made are debunked and the innocence of a defendant will be proven as it was in this case.
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