Making a Murderer

“Of the six murder indictments trumpeted by the U.S. government in the days following Ross’s arrest, five have fallen off the table and the sixth sits untouched in a separate indictment (legalese for an unproven allegation) that was purposefully left out of the trial.” – Patrick Howell O’Neill, Reporter for the Dailydot

“The case comes in, it’s a big splash, it’s all over the news. Almost a year later, these big mean offensive counts get dropped, it’s not a front page story anymore. It’s somewhere in the recesses of the paper. It’s just not a big deal. At that point people already associate the case with murder-for-hire. No prosecutor would ever say that’s what they’re doing, but as a long term criminal defense attorney, this happens all the time.” – Jay Leiderman, criminal defense attorney

Shortly after Ross’s arrest, the government indicted him in Maryland for a murder-for-hire plot and included uncharged allegations of five others in New York. None of these have ever been prosecuted or proven. The government never brought the accusations to trial; no one was murdered; and Ross denied the allegations. Initially Serrin Turner, the New York prosecutor, ambushed the defense by revealing five of those allegations only the night before Ross’s bail hearing on Nov 20, 2013, where the prosecutor used them to claim that Ross was too dangerous to be granted bail. Yet he didn’t charge Ross with these when he indicted [PDF] him two months later on on Feb 4, 2014.

After over four years, there’s only one charge left for planned murder, and it has remained untouched as part of a Maryland indictment where rampant corruption occurred in the case. This charge is for the planned “murder” of Curtis Green, a top-level Silk Road administrator. When the government filed a criminal complaint [PDF] against corrupt DEA agent Carl Mark Force in 2015, it revealed that Force had staged Green’s “murder” and, like the New York indictments, no one was murdered. Recently Curtis Green himself publicly stated he doesn’t think Ross ordered any murder.

Tweet by Curtis Green, alleged “victim” of murder-for-hire

Ross’s lawyer believes that the absence of the murder-for-hire charge in the New York trial demonstrates that it has no merit.

Although the government did not charge Ross for murder-for-hire at trial, Judge Forrest permitted the prosecution to talk at length about these “uncharged crimes”, despite protest from the defense that this would prejudice the jury and the public.

Assistant U. S. Attorney Timothy Howard said to the jury: “Now, to be clear, the defendant has not been charged for these attempted murders here. You’re not required to make any findings about them. And the government does not contend that those murders actually occurred.” But then he proceeded to talk about it for hours.

This issue was addressed in Ross’s appeal [PDF] and was also argued in an amicus brief [PDF] by former Federal Judge Nancy Gertner; Drug Policy Alliance; Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and JustLeadership USA.

The use of uncharged crimes to enhance an unreasonable sentence and deprive Ross of a jury trial is now a question before the Supreme Court in Ross’s petition.

AUSA Timothy Howard pointing at Ross
Illustration: Elizabeth Williams