Supreme Court Revisits Notorious 1984 Murder

Justices weigh convictions in DC killing of Catherine Fuller
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2017 11:53 AM CDT

(Newser) – Catherine Fuller, 49, was found dead in a garage near Eighth and H streets in Washington, DC, having been beaten and sodomized with a metal pipe. Eight members of the "Eighth and H Street Crew" were eventually convicted of the Oct. 1, 1984, killing. But lawyers say they might not have been if prosecutors had disclosed a key piece of evidence: Witnesses near the crime scene had reported seeing another man, James McMillan, reports the New York Times. McMillan was convicted of assaults on two women in the area around the same time, and later of a woman's murder in the same neighborhood. "He is the reason that you should have doubt about this prosecution's case," a lawyer arguing for the convictions to be overturned told the Supreme Court on Wednesday, per the Washington Post.

Lower courts have backed up the lead prosecutor's assertion that the McMillan sighting was irrelevant. The eight crew members—one died in prison, one was released, and six remain incarcerated—went on to be convicted based on testimony of witnesses characterized by Justice Elena Kagan as "a couple of really drug-addled people and a 14-year-old boy," per the Guardian. Lawyers for the federal government say the outcome would have been the same even if prosecutors had disclosed the McMillan sighting, because police got crew members to confess. But Kagan suggested that another suspect might've prevented a "circular firing squad" of crew members accusing each other. "It would have been a completely different trial," she said. A decision is expected in June. (Read more US Supreme Court stories.)

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