The Sixth District Court of Appeals has returned a murder case back to Erie County after the defendant, Thomas Ricks, successfully argued his convictions on related drug charges lacked sufficent evidence.
In addition to being found guilty of robbing and killing Calvin Harper Jr., Ricks was convicted by the Erie County court of complicity to trafficking in marijuana in the vicinity of a school, and complicity to trafficking in cocaine in the vicintiy of a school.
In a ruling released Friday, the Sixth District Court ruled testimony presented at Ricks' trial was "insufficent to establish the elements of the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt."
"(Ricks) was placed at the scene but there was no evidence that he was involved in the alleged drug transaction," the court wrote.
The appeals court vacated Rick's convictions for complicity to trafficking in cocaine and complicity to trafficking in marijuana, and remanded the case back to the trial court for resentencing.
Ricks' conviction and life-without-parole sentence for aggravated murder and aggravated robbery stand.
One judge on the Sixth District Court dissented, writing that the whole case should be sent back for retrial because of the harm caused by hearsay admitted in the case.
Read more about this appeal case in Saturday's Register.