Published on: Saturday, September 2, 2023

Two brothers are convicted of Metairie, La. murder—one (Jarrell) is sentenced to death, and one (Zannie) gets life in prison. Their convictions are primarily based on their uncle's testimony, who said that he remained in a car while his two nephews went into a house, Jarrell fired a rifle, and then they both returned to the car. Meanwhile, an eyewitness testified that the shooter looked like the uncle, not Jarrell. Seeking habeas, Jarrell points to three items of evidence: (1) blood on his uncle's shoes, (2) a forensic report excluding Jarrell's shoes as the source of the bloody shoeprint inside the house, and (3) an inconsistent prior statement of the uncle's. His attorney didn't present any evidence at trial (including this good stuff), and he waived opening statement. District Court: Habeas granted. Fifth Circuit: Habeas affirmed. "We find that trial counsel's 'strategy,' if there even was one … was 'not sound.'" (Your humble  summarist note: It is quite unusual for the Fifth Circuit to deem habeas appropriate.)