A member of the Santiesteban clan’s pot-peddling ring bear-hugged his defense attorney Monday after he was acquitted of killing a rival gang member who stole a load of marijuana from the Southwest Miami-Dade grow-house organization.
Norge Manduley was found not guilty of kidnapping and killing the robber after a handful of government witnesses testified in federal court that he was the shooter, but a couple of defense witnesses countered that he wasn’t the triggerman who killed Fidel Ruz Moreno four years ago.
If convicted, Manduley, 39, would have faced a mandatory life sentence.
“There was a lot on the line here,” Manduley’s attorney, Alfredo Izaguirre, said after the 12-person jury concluded deliberations following a one-week trial.
“The government had a bunch of co-defendants who were all dirty and the jury didn’t like that,” Izaguirre told The Miami Herald. “The government brought no independent witnesses. I brought two independent witnesses who identified another person as the shooter.”
The jury, which began deliberations late Friday, found Manduley guilty of one count: conspiring to possess with intent to distribute less than 100 marijuana plants. Sentencing is set for July 30 before U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore.
2. In another case, the 11th Circuit affirmed Florida's decision to execute John Ferguson, who believed he was the "prince of god." Here are the key portions of the 65-page opinion:
The habeas petitioner in our case, John Ferguson, contends that under the Panetti decision he is mentally incompetent to be executed. As the facts come to us, Ferguson has a mental illness but he does understand that he is going to die by execution, and he understands that it is going to happen because he committed eight murders. Ferguson also believes, as tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of other people do, that there is life after death. Countless people also believe, as he does, that they are among God’s chosen people. But Ferguson’s religious belief is more grandiose than that because he believes that he is the Prince of God. The Florida courts rejected Ferguson’s Panetti claim, and we must decide whether their decision to do so “was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding” or was “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). The key words being “clearly established law.” Or the lack of it.Prior blog coverage of the case here.
***AEDPA “reflects the view that habeas corpus is a guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems, not a substitute for ordinary error correction through appeal.” Id. at 786 (quotation marks omitted) (emphasis added). There was no extreme malfunction in his case. The Florida Supreme Court properly applied Panetti’s “rational understanding” standard, considered conflicting expert testimony about the nature and severity of Ferguson’s mental illness, and made a determination about his competency to be executed that is by no means beyond any possibility for fair-minded disagreement. AEDPA requires that federal habeas relief be denied and that we affirm that denial.