United States v. Desinor, No. 05-4500-cr (2d Cir. May 8, 2008) (Walker, Straub, Hall, CJJ)
This prosecution arose from a murderous rivalry between two drug gangs. One, the “Cream Team” (footnote 1 of the opinion, which explains the derivation of this name, is a must-read), was populated largely by the defendants on trial. The rival gang sold drugs out of a neighboring building, and was run by a dealer named Yanni. The appeal raised two issues of first impression relating to jury instructions in homicide cases. The court affirmed on those issues, but one defendant won a partial resentencing.
The trial evidence revealed that members of the Cream Team shot and killed Yanni’s cousin, and that this shooting was the culmination of a period of escalating acts of violence between the two groups. On the day of the shooting, heavily armed Cream Team members were looking for Yanni …