Jesse Weber: So joining me on set is trial attorney Brad Micklin and we’re very happy to have him. Brad, it’s great to have you here on the program for the first time.
Brad Micklin: Thanks, Jesse. I appreciate coming in. I love the show. A big fan.
Jesse Weber: Well thank you for that. Let’s talk about this case, there’s a lot of moving parts in it. You have a Marine who was killed, you have a wife who was testifying against the defendants, and these guys, their defense attorneys have said systematically that the police made a mistake here, that they went with a narrow view, automatically said, “Our clients did this.” When they’re trying to say there’s all this evidence that maybe they didn’t, what do you think about it from a general perspective?
Brad Micklin: I think it’s interesting. As a defense attorney you’re always going to try to poke holes into the prosecution’s case, but I think even more important than those points is the testimony from Megan herself, as you alluded to. If she were to get on the stand and say, “You are the person that shot me in the leg,” or, “You’re the one that shot and killed my husband,” I think that would have been the little nail on her coffin, but she didn’t say that. What she did say was that she couldn’t, or at least didn’t want to identify the assailant. I think that’s going to really, really play large into the defense position here.
Jesse Weber: These guys have distinguishing characteristics, including a face tattoo on Mr. Canada. The defense made a big point yesterday, poking that out and during the police lineups, they actually covered it up. They covered it up because according to the police, they couldn’t find other people with face tattoos, and that wasn’t an identifying feature that was described. So they actually covered it up because they said if they kept the face tattoo in, in a line up where everybody else didn’t have face tattoos, it would have suggested something to the victims who were trying to point them out. Does that make sense to you?
Brad Micklin: It’s hard to say really at this point whether or not it makes sense. I think again, as a defense attorney, you’re going to do as much as you can to have as many different items to poke holes into. I think alleging police misconduct is always going to be a popular theme. There’s a lot of history in high profile cases, where that’s been alleged. It really plays into the hands of the jury.
Jesse Weber: These two men who are charged with the murder of this young Marine, Jonathan Price, as well as injuring his wife, Megan Price. Now that is what I want to talk about right now. Megan Price, her 911 phone call was played for the jury. This is not just any 911 phone call. This is the call she made right after the shooting and the robbery.
Brad Micklin: I mean it certainly brings the case home. Your heart goes out to Megan when you listen to this tape. But it offered, I think, very little for the case itself. I mean there was a brief description of dreadlocks and the color of the assailants, but I think it was used more for the heart wrenching aspect of it to really put the jurors in the moment of what was happening to her and her husband. I think that’s usually to play more on the emotions of the jury than the actual facts of the case.
Jesse Weber: Dreadlocks. Quincino Canada had those dreadlocks. We show you his mugshot all the time on our network. That is a really strong distinguishing feature. Now again, he was put in a lineup where there were other people with dreadlocks, but he was picked out. This seems like a very strong case against the defendants. Would you agree?
Brad Micklin: Well it’s hard to say. A lot of people would believe that the case is strong against him because of the identification both of Megan Price, but also the victims in the hotel incident a few days earlier. But at the same time it was also mentioned in the defense opening statement that there’s DNA evidence that doesn’t match either of the defendants. So it’s going to be questionable how that actually gets introduced and whether or not that actually hurts or helps the identification issues.
Jesse Weber: Taking a step back, I keep forgetting by the way that this case has taken, what, four years to finally get to trial? That has been an issue of itself. Why is this case taking so long to finally get to trial there in Kentucky?
Brad Micklin: It’s hard to say. As you know, we have a right to a speedy trial, but you also need to have a fair trial. There’s a lot of issues that are going to play into any type of litigation, especially a murder case like this. I mean you have a long period of discovery where you have to get investigations, and witness statements, and exchange information. There’s also always going to be a lot of pretrial motions to exclude evidence, or to bring in or out different people that will be testifying. And then I think lastly after you get past all of these hurdles, you have a lot of people’s schedules. We forget that the court system is really just made up of people, so you’re always going to here you have several attorneys, you have a judge, you have several victims and families. I think coordinating all of these people to get together to start a trial is also going to be a very large consideration.
Jesse Weber: I think the scheduling of the public defenders was a big issue, because they had other cases lined up. The judge in this case, I believe her name is Judge Goodwine, was not happy about pushing this off and pushing this off, and pushing this off. I think it was either last summer or last spring when she really got fed up at this. But here we are today. The trial is finally happening, and we are covering it here on Law & Crime. Any witness, including a person who was right there during the shooting, how do we judge if we’re sitting in the jury? How do we judge everything that they saw and everything that they heard four years ago, especially when she was the person who got shot in the leg? So I imagine the defense would try to pick up on that, or at least put something in the minds of the jury that her recollection might not be everything you imagine.
Brad Micklin: Yeah, and there’s opinions about that where it comes to a trial where some people think that your identification and your memory is poor when you’re in a high stress environment. Others think that because your life is on the line, you actually have almost a photographic ability to remember everything. It’s hard to say, but let’s not lose sight of what her actual testimony was, and that was that she can’t, or at least she said, doesn’t want to or isn’t able to name the defendants. So it’s not a question of whether her recollection is accurate or not. There wasn’t really a recollection that ties the defendants to that incident.
Jesse Weber: In other words, what you’re saying is it actually validates her in a way. It’s like, like you said, she came and said, “These are the guys who did it. I didn’t want to come out at first and make a mistake.” So I think that adds credibility to her. Is that what you’re saying?
Brad Micklin: Yeah, I think absolutely. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is a death penalty case, and I’m sure that she’s aware of that fact, because she didn’t say that she’s not able to identify them. The testimony sounded more like she didn’t want to. She didn’t want to make the wrong choice. So while we can’t measure what her losses were in this instance, she’s still going to be hard pressed to say, “These people’s lives should be taken,” when she can’t be absolutely sure.
Jesse Weber: What do you think is going on in her mind as she’s looking at them and saying, “The man in the white shirt,” and she’s looking at him, and looking at him. What do you think is going in her mind?
Brad Micklin: It’s really hard to be able to tell what’s going on in the mind of a person who’s been through such a tragedy. This story doesn’t get more sympathetic. Here is a young couple, good looking, young, married. He’s a Marine. He’s pledged his life to protecting our freedom. He’s out celebrating her birthday and loses his life by sort of defending her honor, trying to protect her even if … I don’t think it was $60.00 as you mentioned earlier, I think it was her safety that he was actually trying to protect, and he gave his life for that, which is what Marines do. To speculate what’s going on in her mind while she sits there, it’s just impossible for us to know.
Jesse Weber: It really is, and you think about it, we cover a lot of cases here on Law & Crime where there’s a relationship between the defendants and the victims. Here, this is just … these two men really had no relation to the Prices at all. It seems like these kinds of acts of violence, it just … why did it happen? I keep asking myself, “Why did this happen?” And it could be them, or as the defense are saying, that there was somebody else that might have been to blame. But whoever did this, it seems that it had no relation to the victims, which is eerie. I find that very eerie. What do you think?
Brad Micklin: Well it is strange, and even more odd about this case, there are several different victims, several different incidences. You have the whole [inaudible 00:08:05] where the gun was taken, then you have this murder and then the alleged crime spree that they committed after the murder. But part of me wonders if this is more of the prosecution’s attempt to link the defendants to this murder, to the gun. So you have to bring in the hotel incident, and then you have to bring in the murder weapon. It’s sort of like they’re trying to put their pieces together in this puzzle, but that may actually seem to backfire for the prosecutor because at the same time, you’re leaving a lot places for the defense to poke holes into the story. I know there’s already talk about whether or not that the gun that was recovered was black or silver. There’s questions about the person that they actually found the gun from who wasn’t even charged apparently in this incident.
Jesse Weber: Let me ask you about the gun. Why would they, if this is the [inaudible 00:08:51], why would they use a gun they stole from another robbery in this crime? Doesn’t that seem like … why do that? If they had guns during the robbery and at The Quality Inn, why not use one of those weapons?
Brad Micklin: Well I think you’re trying to put some intelligence into people who probably didn’t have a great level of intelligence. One way or another, these are violent criminals. If they’re tied to any one of these incidences, even at the end the man who had the gun was trying to see unlawfully to an undercover agent. You can’t really expect rational, intelligent choices when you’re looking at this kind of behavior.
Jesse Weber: Here’s my question to you, this case, the defense has said this is about a matter of mistaken identity. They’re saying that, “You have the wrong suspects here, the DNA evidence will exonerate my clients,” let’s talk about the robbery that happened six days before this shooting that Megan just talked about. Three people were held at gunpoint. They alleged that it was these two men, Quincino Canada and Dawana Mulazim, the same men that are alleged to have shot Jonathan. But the testimony of these three people, I didn’t feel 100% confident about it.
The defense first poked a hole in Mitchell Smith, who had a racist Facebook post, then Jessica Hansford said that she couldn’t 100% identify anyone from the photo lineup. And the only person that could identify somebody was, I think, Shane Hansford, I believe that’s his name. Shane Hansford who owned the gun that was allegedly used by these defendants in the Jonathan Price shooting. He was the only one who identified Mulazim from the shooting in the lineup. So you have one who might be tainted, one who wasn’t sure, and then one who could only maybe identify one of the suspects. What do you think about that? These are three victims. Who better to know about who did this than them?
Brad Micklin: Yeah, I agree. I think it’s very significant. I think identification is a huge issue and probably right now the strongest point that the defendants have. That Facebook post goes not only to undermine the credibility of the testimony aside from the racial aspect of it, but it completely undermines the identification, which is crucial. Which sort of brings us back to that Russian Roulette point we were talking about with social media is that you’re putting something on social media which was just an ignorant comment and now it’s going to undermine a capital murder trial. That’s why I think, for instance, I tell all my clients, I say, “Stay off of social media during your cases because just no good comes from it.”
Jesse Weber: What do you think about this DNA evidence, the idea that the defense said if you look under the fingernails of Jonathan Price, that DNA doesn’t match any of the defendants. What do you think about that?
Brad Micklin: Well it’s an interesting point. DNA first from a jury standpoint, I think is always a significant issue because it’s very complex and if you’re looking to just create reasonable doubt, DNA is probably the easiest way when you’re talking about a jury of lay people. But more importantly, it’s interesting that they’re even making it an issue because I don’t remember any testimony that there was a struggle.
Jesse Weber: Well didn’t she just say that? Didn’t Megan just say there was some sort of scuffle, that there might have been an altercation between her husband and the two assailants?
Brad Micklin: I’m not really sure and I don’t know at this point whose nail was the DNA and when it was found. So it’s kind of convoluted at this point, and it may just be being introduced as a red herring just to create more doubt, or there could be something as seriously that undermines the prosecution’s case with the identity. Some people will say time heals all wounds but this is one that I don’t time will. Aside from the tragic loss of her husband, she has a permanent injury and it all happened on or around her birthday. So she’s going to have this painful reminder every time that she move, every time her birthday comes up, any time her family is together. So I think, and we could hear it in the tape, I mean that kind of trauma is just going to be relived, I think, over and over again by her.
Jesse Weber: Yeah, she said her left leg where she was shot is now shorter than her right leg, and it creates issues of balance and back pain. As you said it so well, this happened on her birthday. It’s going to be a constant reminder for her. This is just a tragic case. Here’s my question to you, and it’s something that’s always been going on in the back of my mind, he was shot, she was shot. These same men are alleged to have six days before engaged in a robbery. Why didn’t they … and I’m happy that no one else is injured in this case, or anyone was killed, but if they showed their faces, and it’s clear that they did to the three victims at The Quality Inn, why didn’t they take action against them? I mean they showed their faces. Why didn’t they shoot them?
Brad Micklin: Well, it’s hard to say. Either at the hotel, there’s some question about how much the witnesses actually did get to see them because I think they were told to lay down on their back. So they’re involved in front of the assailants. I think when they saw them approaching was moreso than when they were actually in their presence. And you’ve got couple that with the fear and anxiety that’s obviously going to race through your mind. Again, I think is all part of the prosecution’s case to try to tie all this evidence together. They have Megan who can’t really give you a strong ID, you have the hotel victims who can’t really give you a strong ID, so I think they’re just saying if you could have enough people give a little bit when the jury puts it all together, maybe it will have a strong identification for these defendants. Because otherwise, I think individually it’s not going to be enough.
Jesse Weber: According to one of the victims from The Quality Inn, excuse me, he heard, I believe it was Dawana Mulazim say to Quincino Canada, “Come on nephew.”
Brad Micklin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jesse Weber: Now that’s a big statement to make because how many uncle/nephew crime sprees do we have like this? I mean, that’s a big identifier.
Brad Micklin: Yeah, I think that’s going to be a really big point later because of the problems they’re having with identification. When I first heard that, it did seem strange, and it couldn’t be coincidental that the two people that are in this crime are nephew and uncle and that there’s a reference they were calling each other that. Given the problems that the prosecution’s having the identification, I think they’re going to really try to hammer that part in their closing so that they can really tie all these little pieces of identification to something that’s really meaningful for the jury.
Jesse Weber: “I didn’t want to be responsible for making the wrong choice,” in terms of that lineup. What did you think about that?
Brad Micklin: I think that’s the most crucial part of her testimony because she’s not saying, “I can’t identify them,” she’s not saying, “I don’t know if these are the people that attacked us and killed my husband.” She’s saying that I don’t want to be responsible for the wrong choice. Given what she’s gone through, it’s pretty remarkable. When you listen to her 911 tape, what was remarkable about that in and of itself is in the very beginning she’s actually able to keep it all together when she’s on the phone. She can describe her injury, she’s describing what they look like, and she’s almost calm. I think it’s at the point where maybe she started to see her husband on the ground, and she started to really lose it. So she’s got really strong character and I think it’s that character that’s keeping her from saying, “It’s these two men,” with certainty, and they should be put to death.”
Jesse Weber: What an impossible position to put her in. It really is. It’s a really, really tough position.
In Kentucky about a Marine who was allegedly just trying to protect his wife when a robbery/fight went wrong. Two men are charged with shooting and killing Jonathan Price, and shooting his wife, Megan Price, who was shot in the leg. She survived and testified earlier in this case. The two men, Quincino Canada and Dawana Mulazim are charged with Mr. Price’s murder and they could face the death penalty if convicted.
What I want to do is play you the testimony right now of Detective Timothy Upchurch from the Lexington Police. This was the lead investigator in this case. He had a difficult job because he didn’t just investigate the shooting of Jonathan Price, but he had to investigate this robbery at The Quality Inn that happened six days before. Evidence from that crime scene is being used to link the defendants to that robbery, to here, to this crime. They are being charged in connection with both of those incidents. They face: robbery, assault, and murder charges. So let’s learn a little more from Detective Upchurch about what happened in the investigation.
Okay, so that was Detective Timothy Upchurch explaining how he investigated this crime. Remember, he was the lead investigator in this case who was investigating a robbery at The Quality Inn and tied it to the shooting of Jonathan Price six days later because the same gun that was stolen at the robbery at The Quality Inn was allegedly used to shoot Jonathan Price. It is believed that Quincino Canada and Dawana Mulazim, the two defendants, are the ones that committed both of these crimes.
I’m here with trial attorney Brad Micklin to discuss this a little bit more. Tough job for this guy to investigate both crimes. How difficult is it, in your experience, when you have two separate incidents, you’re charging the clients for both crimes six days apart and trying to tie them to both crimes. But really, the way that they’re tying them is with a weapon that didn’t belong to them specifically.
It was a weapon that was allegedly taken from one of the victims, used in another shooting, and was ultimately found in the hands of a third individual, who is not one of the defendants.
Brad Micklin: It’s an interesting sort of puzzle that they’re trying to put together. I believe the one defendant who did have an opening statement alluded to the incentive that the police may have had because there were a lot of high profile murders that I believe were unresolved. So they were claiming that they were under pressure to actually resolve and quickly … not quickly, go to trial because of some time. But there is a question of whether or not the investigation, which could be argued to be very convenient, that they were able to get all of these different pieces together or it could just be that, that’s his job, he investigates crime, and one crime will often lead you to another. I mean it’s hard to believe a person involved in such a violent crime that this would be their first initial offense, so it’s not unusual that you might find subsequent or similar actions and crimes by the same people.
Jesse Weber: So the shell casing that was found at the Jonathan Price crime scene actually was the one when Shane Hansford, it was his gun at the robbery, they asked him to get a shell casing because he had fired that weapon before. They had matched it together and that’s how they found it. But now let’s talk about how they actually got the two defendants, and it was through a lineup. So the three victims in the robbery at The Quality Inn were asked to look at lineup of these two individuals. One was a six pack lineup, that’s when you have six individuals in a frame and pick it out. Then there’s a sequential lineup where there’s one photo after another.
Shane Hansford picked Mulazim from a six pack, while Smith picked Canada and another man from a sequential lineup. The other man obviously couldn’t have done it because he was … I don’t say obviously, the other man couldn’t have done it because he was actually incarcerated at the time. But then we learned that Mr. Smith, Mitchell Smith, who picked Canada out, he did a Facebook post that was extremely racist and said that all black people look the same. So how can you … And Mr. Upchurch was grilled under cross examination. How can you say this is a reliable lineup if he thinks all black people look the same? And then the third individual, Jessica Hansford, couldn’t even identify anybody in the lineups. We talked about it earlier. This seems to raise a little bit of questions.
Brad Micklin: I agree, Jesse. I think the lineup and identification issues are going to be very, very compelling in resolving this case, whether it’s favorable to the prosecution or to the defendants. There’s always going to be problems with lineups because it’s not just the procedure that’s being followed … not usually. You’re almost always going to have a defense attorney there to watch the lineup. They’re looking for not just who was identified, but what questions were asked. How long did it take them? How certain did they really seem when they made these identifications? When you hear things like this post, aside again from the racial aspect of it, that suggested he doesn’t know what the lineup was or who was the offender, is going to really create a lot of challenges, I think, for the prosecution to convince the jury that these lineups and these identifications are credible.
Jesse Weber: Well let’s learn a little bit about how these lineups were created. We have Detective Timothy Upchurch from the Lexington Police. We’ve watched him on the stand. He’s about to go into this. This is his prior testimony from yesterday, about how these lineups are created. Let’s learn.
That’s Detective Timothy Upchurch from the Lexington Police testifying in this Marine killing case out of Kentucky. And now I want to talk about lineups because that is a big issue in this case. The defense counsel for Quincino Canada and Dawana Mulazim, the two men who were charged with shooting this Marine, Jonathan Price, they made the point that these lineups were kind of biased and there was problems in the way that they were presented to the victims. Well, were they? Was there an actual bias? Let’s learn a little bit more about them with Brad Micklin, trial attorney. So, I want to ask you a couple of questions about this. The first part about this, Mr. Upchurch said that typically he doesn’t record photo lineups, and he also didn’t feel that he needed to because he had another detective who was present. He said he doesn’t really record them because he doesn’t want to make the victims feel uncomfortable. What do you think about that?
Brad Micklin: I don’t know, it’s kind of a strange practice. I think given the nature of the investigation, and if there really were a lot of high profile cases that were either resolved recently, or unresolved recently. The fact that they’re not going to record something that is so crucial to their case suggests almost that they may not want it to be recorded, that they might be concerned about inconsistent information and that the defendant’s actually getting that. Like I referenced earlier, if it takes a long time for them to answer, or they ask questions, or they use vocabulary that suggests that maybe they’re not certain, that would all be recorded and then played to the jury or even put into the defense closing argument. So I think the fact that he doesn’t tape it could be problematic for them.
Jesse Weber: Is there any difference, in your opinion, about okay we’re going to have individuals in a six pack lineup where you see the six photos, pick someone out from there, as opposed to a sequential lineup where I’m looking, I’m looking through the photos. Do you think there’s any difference there, and why separate the two? I mean, again, I just want to make sure I get this right that Shane Hansford picked Mulazim from a six pack while Smith picked Canada from a sequential lineup. Why have the two different kinds of linesups?
Brad Micklin: I’m not really sure why, but I know it’s sort of going to be problematic depending on which one they’re utilizing, because if you have the six pack and you have everybody there, I think the identification is a lot more powerful because if you’re going picture by picture and you’re the person about to make the identification, I think if you don’t get through all the pictures you might actually jump the gun and make the wrong identification. I think that maybe prosecutors or the investigators have their own preference, but I think the six pack is going to be much more effective.