United States v. Lee, No. 05-1684-cr (2d Cir. December 3, 2008) (Straub, Hall, CJJ, Haight, DJ)
Here, a divided panel found that a Crawford error required a new trial for two defendants convicted in a murder-for-hire conspiracy, although the evidence was legally sufficient.
Defendant Williams was the head of a crack-cocaine ring operating in the Bronx. Defendant Lee was one of his dealers. The target of the conspiracy was Kawaine Ellis, who stabbed Lee in the chest in June of 2001. In November of 2001, Williams rented three cars at Newark Airport. Lee was pulled over while driving one of them, and was carrying a gun, which he told the police he had for “protection.” Around that same time, Williams spoke to another member of his crew, Jason Lawton, and told him to return a gun to Williams because Lee had “just got bit,” meaning that he had been …