In this case, the defendant approached a car, asked why a passenger snitched on his brother, and then opened fire. The victim and another eyewitness identified the defendant in pre-trial identification procedures and at trial.
The defendant first challenged the sufficiency of the evidence. The appellate court, citing established precedent that a single eyewitness is sufficient to convict, went through the U.S. Supreme Court identification factors and affirmed the identification.
The defendant argued that the prosecutor committed misconduct in rebuttal closing argument by arguing that non-testifying eyewitnesses didn’t come forward because they didn’t want to get shot for snitching. The appellate court found that it was invited comment when defense counsel brought up that they didn’t testify and asked why not in closing.
Finally, although the defendant was 18 years old and therefore not a juvenile, the defendant argued that his youth merited a lower sentence, citing case law about youthful offenders being more deserving of leniency.
The appellate court rejected this and held that the sentencing judge’s sentence was reasonable under the circumstances given the defendant’s background.
The case is People v. Deshawn Branch.