RACINE — A Racine gang member’s conviction for murdering a 12-year-old boy was upheld this week after he accused his attorney of making two errors — including one involving Halloween candy.
Jimmie C. Green, 31, was convicted three years ago in the April 22, 2007, gang-related drive-by shooting that left Marize Jones dead and injured Marize’s brother and two women. Marize was struck in the chest by a .38-caliber bullet as he stood outside a Racine home.
Green appealed to the state Court of Appeals, seeking a new trial in Racine County. He cited ineffective assistance of counsel. According to court records, he alleged his defense attorney, David Saldana, made two errors.
One, Green alleged, occurred when Saldana opted not to move for a mistrial because jurors sent Racine County Circuit Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz a thank-you note. The note came after Gasiorkiewicz gave a bailiff leftover Halloween candy to share with jurors. Unbeknownst to Gasiorkiewicz, the bailiff told jurors that the judge shared the candy, and they responded with the thank-you note.
In a six-page written decision issued Wednesday, appellate court judges rejected this claim.
“...The trial (judge) was well aware of the prohibition against ex parte communication with the jury and avoided any direct contact. There is nothing improper about a neutral body providing leftover candy to the jury through the bailiff,” the judges wrote.
Green had alleged that a “reversible error” occurred when the Halloween candy was shared with the jury.
“We conclude that (Saldana) did not perform deficiently because there were no meritorious grounds on which to base an objection or move for a mistrial,” the Court of Appeals ruled.
Green’s trial began on Oct. 25, 2010. It ended when jurors convicted him of all five charges on Nov. 2, 2010.
He was sentenced on Dec. 7, 2010, to life plus 47 1/2 years in prison for first-degree intentional homicide, three counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and discharging a firearm from a vehicle.
The second error Green accused Saldana of making during his trial was failing to “more extensively” question jury candidates to detect possible prejudices against gang members. According to the appellate court ruling, Saldana explained that his trial “strategy was to minimize Green’s gang involvement and to characterize him as more of an outcast.” According to the ruling, Saldana explained he was trying to persuade jurors that gang members were lying about Green being one of the shooters because Green was cooperating with prosecutors against them in other prosecutions.
The judges ruled that Saldana “had a valid strategic reason” for not probing jury candidates more fully on their opinions of gangs, and his work on the case wasn’t deficient.
Green was named as one of the three men who fired from two vehicles into the crowd when Marize was shot. The retaliatory drive-by occurred in the 1600 block of Albert Street, and was the third of three gang-related shootings that day between two rival gangs.