What do you think of the nickname “Murder?” Would it influence you as a juror in a murder trial? How about “Savage Viking” or “Extreme?”
The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed an attempted murder conviction for a US gang member, citing what it called the prosecution’s “gratuitous exploitation” of the defendant’s nickname, “Murder.” Now lawyers for two former Blackwater guards want to mount the same defense.
Lawyers for two of five Blackwater guards charged in the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians, killed in a shootout in September 2007, want their clients’ nicknames stricken from use by prosecutors. Their nicknames, according to the lawyers’ motion, are “Savage Viking” and “Extreme.”
The lawyers want the nicknames for their clients — Dustin Heard (“Extreme”) and Paul Slough (“Savage Viking”) barred from use by government prosecutors.
“A jury who hears evidence of these nicknames is very likely to unfairly and improperly infer that the nicknames reflect violent or belligerent character traits on the part of these defendants that makes them more likely to have committed the crimes with which they are charged,” defense lawyer David Schertler said, according to the law blog for Legal Times.
Schertler’s motion is here.
The Justice Department hasn’t yet replied.
“In October, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit reversed an attempted murder conviction because of the prosecution’s ‘gratuitous exploitation’ of the defendant’s nickname ‘Murder,'” Legal Times notes. “The court, which affirmed on other counts, including murder, ordered a new trial on the attempted murder charge.”
Blackwater, a defense contractor involved in guarding US diplomats and others in Iraq, recently changed its name to Xe after a series of scandals.
Correction: Due to a reporting error, the nickname “Murder” was used by a gang member in the United States, not a Blackwater guard. It has been corrected in this edition.