Thursday, September 21, 2023
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Man’s Guilty Plea Stands After Pal Ducks Charge

(CN) - Though his associate was acquitted of murder, a Minnesota man was still properly convicted of aiding and abetting, a state appeals court ruled.

Adaiah Townsend bought a gun from Damin Shufford but loaned it back because Shufford wanted to rob someone. The gun was not loaded.

Later that day, Shufford gave the gun back, stating that the robbery went bad and he had "to slump the guy."

Shufford showed the victim's body to Townsend and two others, one of whom distributed the victim's money among the foursome.

Two months later, Townsend had the gun when police stopped a car in which he was a passenger.

After police identified his gun as the murder weapon, Townsend was charged with aiding and abetting robbery and murder.

Townsend agreed to plead guilty to aiding and abetting an offender after the fact. He also agreed to testify against Shufford.

However, the jury found Shufford not guilty of murder. The trial court refused to allow Townsend to withdraw his guilty plea, so he was sent to prison for 74 months.

Townsend appealed, but the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld his conviction in a opinion written by Judge Roger M. Klaphake.

Klaphake disagreed with Townsend's argument that he could not have known a crime was committed if Shufford was acquitted of murder.

"The plain language of the statute does not require conviction of a criminal act; rather, a person must commit a criminal act," Klaphake wrote.

He added that Townsend admitted facts "that described the commission of first-degree murder by Shufford and demonstrated that Townsend had reason to know that Shufford had committed the crime."

Klaphake noted that different juries can reach different results.

"While it may seem unfair for Townsend to suffer a penalty greater than Shufford, it is also within the power of a jury to find Townsend not credible or to exercise lenity toward a defendant," he wrote.

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