EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Friday, December 25, 2015

Nevada Man Gets Chance to Argue Innocence Before State Supreme Court Based on New Evidence

A conviction that started with an anonymous tip might soon be overturned.

DeMarlo Berry was convicted of killing Charles Burkes, a Carl's Jr. restaurant manager, during a robbery in 1994. 

But in an opinion issued on Christmas Eve, a three-member panel of justices [of the Supreme Court of Nevada] said District Judge Michael Villani erred last year when he denied Berry's petition for a hearing to review new evidence that defense lawyers claim prove he was not the killer.

One piece of new evidence is a confession by Steven "Sindog" Jackson.

Assisted by the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center, defense lawyers say Steven "Sindog" Jackson, a gang member serving a life sentence in California, confessed to the murder in a written statement. Defense lawyers said two others corroborate Jackson's admission.

Interestingly enough, the investigation into Berry began with an anonymous tip that identified both Berry and Jackson as possible suspects. According to the defense, however, "no attempt was made by police to investigate Jackson."

It's possible that this lack of investigation was due to the statement of "Richard Iden, a jailhouse snitch who said Berry admitted to the shooting while the two shared a holding cell at the Clark County Detention Center." Iden, however, 

has recanted his statement. Iden in a statement said he was coaxed by detectives on his original testimony, twice provided airfare by the prosecution to visit family in Ohio and was put up in a hotel with meals and per diem payments during the trial.

According to a member of the defense team, "The high court's ruling is 'kind of a nice Christmas present for everybody involved.'"



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