LOCAL NEWS

The new ruling overturns Lincoln’s death sentences, the convictions in the Brandon case

LINCOLN, Neb. (COLOGNE) – Two men convicted of murdering a Lincoln woman in 2018 had portions of those sentences overturned this week.

This is all because of the recent judgment in a similar case in the Supreme Court that changes the situation regarding their crimes.

In July 2018, Tavin Patterson and Damon Williams Jr. broke into a Lincoln home to steal marijuana from one of the residents. During the attempted robbery, they had several people wrapped and taped inside the home when Patterson shot 36-year-old Jessica Brandon.

During the trial, prosecutors used the practice established under the Hobbs Act, which by definition makes it illegal for anyone to obstruct or affect interstate commerce by theft or extortion “in any manner or degree.” Precedent, as it stood at the time of the trial, made their attempted robbery a “felony of violence,” resulting in their cases being heard in federal court.

Both men were eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison for other robbery charges.

Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled in a similar case from Virginia that a robbery did not qualify as a “crime of violence.” That ruling is something that will be considered in both the men’s cases and the judge’s subsequent actions in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

This week, that judge overturned the manslaughter charges against both men and revoked their respective life sentences.

The court upheld the additional firearms charge but recommended that they be re-sentenced, which could carry up to 20 years in prison.

The case now returns to the district court for a retrial.

The timetable for what will happen next remains unclear.

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