As Omar Euceda's lawyer opened up the case file to start working on an appeal of Euceda's murder conviction, he found something surprising: a jury note that neither side knew about at trial. There was no record of a court response to the note, and, according to an opinion released today by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the trial judge later determined it "fell through the cracks."
A three-judge appellate panel ruled today that the lost note was significant enough to warrant a new trial for Euceda in District of Columbia Superior Court.
According to the opinion, Euceda and another man were accused of trying to rob two drug dealers and killing one of them, Walter Kirkland, in November 2003. During deliberations, the jury sent several notes that the judge shared with both sides. The presiding judge, now-Chief Judge Lee Satterfield, was out of court for part of deliberations. While Satterfield was out, former Superior Court Judge James Boasberg, now a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, stepped in to deal with any issues.