United States v. Young, No. 07-2729-cr (2d Cir. October 8, 2009) (Jacobs, Walker, Leval, CJJ)
Defendant Laval Farmer was a member of the Bloods street gang, charged with a 2001 gang-related murder and and 2002 gang-related attempted murder, along with various associated firearms offenses. At least three years before the charged offenses he acquired the unfortunate nickname of “Murder.” At his trial the court allowed witnesses to refer to him by that name and the prosecutors to repeatedly use it in highly inflammatory ways. As a result, the court of appeals vacated the attempted murder conviction, but let the murder conviction stand based on the strength of the evidence.
In July of 2001, members of a rival gang, the Crips, assaulted two members of Farmer’s Bloods crew. Farmer took it upon himself to avenge the beatings. Believing that a fourteen-year-old boy wearing blue clothing was a Crip, Farmer shot …