|Contact Michael Calvin Francis|
|Michael Calvin Francis
Minnesota Correctional Facility Rush City
7600 - 525th St.
Rush City, MN 55069
|DOB: June 6, 1983|
|Michael Calvin Francis' case data|
|State and County||Minnesota, Hennepin County|
|Crime||Count 1: first degree murder
Count 2: attempted first degree murder
|Date of Crime||May 24, 2004|
|Date of Arrest|
|Date of Conviction||October 8, 2004|
|Sentence||Count 1: 30-year life
Count 2: 15 consecutive years
|Age at the Date of Crime||20|
|Contributing Factors||Perjury, False Eyewitness Identification, Official Misconduct, Ineffectiveness of Counsel|
|Did DNA evidence contribute to the conviction?||No|
|Is there DNA evidence to test?||N/A|
On May 24, 2004, two people became the victims of a drive-by shooting in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The crime scene was located on the 3300 block of Portland Avenue South in the street. Victim Marvin Pate survived with severe gunshot wounds to his abdomen and victim Pamela Ragland was apparently shot by accident in the head. She died soon after.
Marvin Pate was the sole eye-witness. He first told police that “they” – as in some group of people – had shot him. Later he claimed that a “Mike” had shot him in a blue car. Over a month went by and police stopped blue Tahoes like the one Michael C. Francis was said to sometimes drive.
The only other evidence brought in were the satellites that the prosecutor said could trace Michael Francis to a specific geographic location, and the phone records of another person’s cell phone.
Michael Calvin Francis did have alibi witnesses, but his defense attorney did not call them to the stand.
[Video with original photos to come.]
Statement of the Facts
In 2004, Michael Calvin Francis was enrolled in the Hennepin Tech Community College to earn a degree in automechanics and auto body. He had a girlfriend named Paige Jones-Smith. His life was going well, but he had a legal problem: He was charged with having a firearm in the car he was driving. He plead guilty to a misdemeanor with the sentence being probation and the charges being erased from his record upon completion of probation.
Marvin Pate and Pamela Ragland met around January of 2004 and began seeing each other on a fairly regular basis. (T 1166, 1168-69, 1245. Note: “T” refers to the consecutively paginated ten-volume transcript of pretrial, trial and sentencing proceedings.) Pate claimed he was self-employed working in the music business. (T 966, 1164, 1244) Although he lived in St. Louis Park, his equipment was in a kind of studio in a home belonging to friends located at 3311 Portland Avenue South in Minneapolis. (T 966, 993, 1164, 1245-47) Pate was at the house on Portland nearly every day and would sometimes meet Ragland there. (T 965, 967, 993-94, 1165, 1168-69, 1245-46)
On the evening of May 24, 2004, Ragland drove to the house at 3311 Portland to meet Pate at about 8 PM. (T 1192). They had planned to go bowling, however, finding the lanes crowded, instead had dinner at a Caribbean restaurant. (T 1192-94, 1247). After dinner, Ragland drove back to the Portland house and parked her Mitsubishi facing southbound on Portland in front of Pate’s Yukon truck on the east side of the one-way street. (T 1091, 1196-97). Pate was going to talk to his friends for a while. Therefore, Pate and Ragland agreed to meet again later in the evening. (T 1197, 1247-48).
Pate opened the front passenger door and exited the car, standing to talk to Ragland for a few more moments. (T 1201-03, 1241). As he stood, facing north, a vehicle driving south bound on Portland pulled close alongside. (T 1201-04). The car slowed. Pate claims he looked at the driver before it came to a stop. (T 1206). Shots were fired. (T 1207). Pate was hit three times in the left thigh and abdomen. He fell to the ground face-down. (T 1208-09, 1219-20). Pate looked up and saw a blue truck with silver exhaust pipes. (T 1210). Pate then turned to Ragland and saw that she had been shot and was bleeding. (T 1211).
Pate’s friend, Dwight Ewing, was in his second floor bedroom at 3311 Portland when he heard what sounded like someone shooting at the house, and then tires screeching away. (T 973, 976, 985). He ran downstairs to the front porch and, not being able to see very well into the street, turned off the porch lights. (T 976 ,997, 1004). Another resident of the house, David Hubbard, also heard the shots and joined Ewing on the porch; they saw both Ragland’s and Pate’s vehicles parked at the curb. (T 976, 996-97).
The engine of Ragland’s car was racing. (T 976, 996-97, 1005). Ewing and Hubbard saw Ragland slumped over; they ran around the car and found Pate lying on the ground. (T 977-78, 999). The passenger door was open. (T 978, 998). Ewing tried to talk to Pate and keep him awake; Pate could not get up. (T 979,1212-13). Hubbard opened the driver’s door, and lifted Ragland’s leg off the accelerator to stop the car from racing. (T 999-1000).
Ewing was hysterical, but after Hubbard told him to call 911, he grabbed his brother Starrell’s cell phone and called the police. (T 980,1001). The police and medical responders arrived within two to three minutes. (T 980-81,1002).
Mark Dawson, who lived nearby on the west, or opposite side, at 3416 Portland Avenue, was at home watching television when he heard gunshots. (T 1008-09). He muted his TV, listened, and heard a vehicle accelerate down Portland. (T 1009-1010). As he looked out his window, he saw a SUV with a blue glow on the dashboard pass by in front of his home. (T 1010-12). He could not see the color of the SUV, but thought that it was dark. (T 1015).
When the 911 call came in shortly before 11 PM, Officer Gerlicher was on patrol proceeding eastbound on Lake Street, approaching Portland Avenue. (T 1019). He heard the call about a shooting, turned on his siren, and turned south onto Portland driving three blocks, arriving at the scene in less than a minute from the time of the dispatch. (T 1021-22). Officer Gerlicher observed the passenger side door of the Mitsubishi open to the street and a person lying on the ground. (T 1023-24). Officer Gerlicher saw that the man was shot in his leg and abdomen, and was in a lot of pain and bleeding profusely, so he called for an ambulance. (T 1025). Officer Gerlicher asked Pate who shot him and all Pate said was “It was a blue truck.” (T 1026). Officer Gerlicher checked on the driver, who was lying across the center console, and saw that she had been shot in the head and was bleeding profusely. (T 1026-27).
An ambulance arrived and Pate was taken to the emergency room. Riding along in the ambulance was Officer Matthew Hobbs. (T 1273). Pate thought that he was going to die and told Officer Hobbs that someone in a blue Tahoe had shot him; he later said the shooter’s name was “Mike.” (T 1212-14, 1226-27, 1274-76, 1592-93). Pate had emergency surgery and could not be interviewed for a few days. (T 1416,1590-91). He was hospitalized for about three weeks. (T 1215).
Officer Gerlicher stayed at the crime scene for some time and found a bullet fragment on the ground near where Pate had been lying. (T 1029). Other than that fragment, no shell casings were found during a search of Portland Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets. (T 1075) No gun was ever found, despite the execution of search warrants for a number of locations and vehicles. (T 1662-64, 1688).
He talked to Dwight, Starrell Ewing and David Hubbard, but no one saw the vehicle or the driver who had sped away from the shooting. (T 1037-38, 1078). An inspection of the car revealed that the rear passenger window had been struck by a bullet, as well as the front passenger door. (T 1088,1092-93,1097-98, 1115).
After hearing of the shooting on the news, Shannon Haralson, who lives on the southeast corner of 31st Street and Portland Avenue, called the police. (T 1380, 1382-84). Haralson designs and installs video systems for security for businesses, (T 1379). For demonstration purposes, he has four video cameras continuously recording the area around his home-based business. (T 1379-80). One of these cameras is aimed at and records the activity north and northwest on Portland and 31sl Street. (T 1382).
Although Haralson was not home the evening of the shooting, he looked at the video recording of that camera. (T 1384-85, 1396). He identified the arrival of the squad car driving southbound on Portland, backed the tape up about eight minutes and downloaded that segment of his video tape onto a CD and gave it to the police. (T 1385). Haralson determined that the time on the video recorder was slow, anywhere from two to six minutes off the actual time. (T 1390-95). The police viewed the CD a number of times in an attempt to identify any suspect or vehicle. (T 1595).
When Pate was stable enough to be interviewed, he told Sgt. Pete Jackson that “Mike” shot him and that he had recognized Mike because they had argued over some tire rims on Mike’s Tahoe. (T 1216, 1594). 4 While Pate was being interviewed he was on pain medications including morphine. It is known that morphine can cause hallucinations and confusion. (Reference: John Hopkins, The consumer guide to drugs). Pate also told him that Mike was frequently with a light-skinned young woman named Paige. (T 1216, 1603-04). Sgt. Jackson remembered seeing what looked like a blue Tahoe on the video clip that Haralson had given to the police. (T 1595)
Sgt. Jackson sent an email to the Minneapolis police force to have them look out for a blue Tahoe with fancy rims. (T 1279-80, 1596, 1657). Sgt. Jackson obtained a license plate number for a blue Tahoe and learned that it was registered to Lisa Jones at 32nd and 18th Avenue South, in South Minneapolis, relatively close to the house at 3311 Portland Avenue. (T 1284,1602). Sgt. Jackson drove to Jones’ house and observed the names of Lisa Jones, Paige Jones-Smith, and Michael Francis on the mailbox. (T 1604-05).
Sgt. Jackson obtained a photograph of Michael C. Francis and arranged for a photographic line-up to be shown to Pate. (T 1658). On June 18, Sergeant Gerhard Wehr, an officer who was not involved in this investigation, showed several photographs one-by-one to Pate. (T 1265-69). Pate picked Francis’ photograph out of this line-up as the person who shot him. (T 1217, 1269). Pate later told Sgt. Jackson that Francis had threatened him during the argument over rims. (T 1661-62,1682-84). Sgt. Jackson subsequently put out an alert to all officers to stop the Tahoe.
Based on Pate’s identification during the photographic line-up, Sgt. Jackson contacted Francis’ friends and family members and told them he would like to talk to Francis. (T 1771-72). Francis voluntarily went to talk to Sgt. Jackson. (T 1687, 1772).
Officer Mack Jeffrey Dominguez saw a Tahoe that matched the description given by Sgt. Jackson, being driven at 28th and Lyndale Avenue. (T 1280). Officer Dominguez arranged for backup and stopped the Tahoe. (T 1282). Francis was driving the Tahoe, and a Jesse Kaplan was riding as a passenger. (T 1283, 1657). The Tahoe was towed to the police forensics garage where it was searched under warrant. (T 1283). Francis was not taken into custody at the time. (T 1286).
The Tahoe was never processed for gunshot residue. (T 1308,1321, 1458). William James, the examiner, noted the after-market radio with blue illuminations. (T 1304-06). Ragland’s Mitsubishi was also examined at the forensics garage. (T 1231). The back passenger window had been struck by a bullet, and there was a bullet hole in the right front passenger door. (T 1294-98). The Tahoe also was sitting in the impound for a few weeks without a warrant nor probable cause which is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Before interrogation Francis was arrested for second-degree and attempted murder. During the interrogation, Francis denied being involved in the shootings. (T 1851-52). Francis was subsequently indicted for four charges stemming from this incident.
At Trial, Pate testified that he had been introduced to someone that he knew as Mike by a person named Charles or “C” when Charles brought Mike over to 3311 Portland several months before this incident. (T 1170,1249). Pate would see Mike around different places, and would often times see him with Paige, and sometimes with Charles. (T 1171-72).
During cross-examination, when asked how Pate met Francis, Pate said that Francis was selling marijuana. (T 1249). 6(a) It is a well-known fact that there are many other Tahoes including blue Tahoes that are outfitted in the same manner.
Pate testified that he had arranged to buy his own Yukon in November from William Walker, but that he needed to make arrangements for financing. (T 1177-79,1231). At the time, the Yukon had special rims on it, and that was why Pate wanted that truck. (T 1179,1232). The rims were worth somewhere between US$500 to US$1000 each. (T 1180). By the time Pate could purchase the truck, however, Walker had sold the rims to Francis. (T 1180-81,1232). At the time of this shooting, the Yukon was still registered in William Walker’s name, but also had a second license plate registered as of April, 2004. (T 1032-33). Sgt. Jackson testified that the Yukon had been sold in late March or April, 2004. (T 1676).
Pate was unhappy with this, but negotiated a lower price on the Yukon. Walker said that he would try to get the rims back from Francis. (T 1181-82, 1232-33,1251-52, 1255). Pate would see Francis driving around in the Tahoe with the special rims on that truck. (T 1183, 1251).
Sometime around the end of April, Pate claimed he drove Ragland’s Mitsubishi to a Mini Mart in South Minneapolis. (T 1183-85, 1234-35). Pate claimed that Francis was parked in the parking lot in his Tahoe. (T 1186). According to Pate, Francis began a confrontation saying that he knew Pate wanted his rims and was mad that Francis had them instead. (T 1187, 1250). Pate denied being mad, but Francis taunted him and they argued back and forth. (T 1187-88, 1252, 1256-58). According to Pate, Francis told him that he could not have the rims, and Pate retorted that if he wanted them, he would take them. (T 1188-89). Pate claimed that Francis told him something to the effect that “You’re a dead man.” (T 1190,1236-37). Pate did not feel threatened (T 1191), and this alleged threat was never corroborated by any other evidence at trial.
During his testimony at trial, Pate identified Francis as the person who drove the Tahoe and fired shots at him as he stood outside Ragland’s car. (T 1206-07). Pate’s friends testified as to what they saw and heard that evening. The clip from the CD was played for the jury, and still photos taken from the CD were introduced as evidence. (T 1670-73). The license plates on the video were not legible, and, although software exists that could enhance the images, this was never done. (T 1396). If the State was going to claim the SUV-type vehicle in the video-tape was the one Francis drove at times, why would they not take every possible way to make sure the SUV they claimed it to be was actually it and leave no room for speculation?
Medical personnel testified about Pate’s life-threatening injuries, and the medical examiner testified that Ragland died of a gunshot wound to the head during a homicide. (T 1133-42, 1414- 36). Bullet fragments removed from Ragland and Pate, along with the fragment found on the ground, were consistent with a .44 caliber weapon. (T 1430, 1449-52). No gun was ever found.
Moana Teppen testified that she was Jesse Kaplan’s roommate in May, 2004. (T 1326). She met Francis through Kaplan. Kaplan and Francis would hang out at the apartment at Larpenteur Avenue in St. Paul, smoking marijuana. (T 1327-28). Teppen saw Francis driving both the Tahoe and the Caprice, and met Francis’ girlfriend, Paige. (T 1329-30). Teppen said that Jay and Mike would sometimes drive Teppen’s black Ford Focus. (T 1330). The prosecutor asked why Kaplan and Francis would use Teppen’s vehicle, and Teppen responded “Ah, for drugs, probably.” (T 1330). When pressed further by the prosecutor, Teppen said that her vehicle was in better condition. (T 1331).
According to Teppen, sometime during June, Francis told her that his Tahoe had been taken because it was believed to have been involved in a shooting incident. (T 1331-32). Francis then drove his Caprice and Kaplan drove her Focus. (T 1332). According to Teppen, a few days after the Tahoe was seized, a group of people – including Francis and Kaplan – were invited over to the Larpenteur apartment. They were all smoking marijuana. (T 1332-33). Teppen remained in the bedroom, but heard Francis say something to the effect “If this guy wants to mess with me, I’ll pop that nigger, too.” (T 1334).
Teppen also testified that, after Francis had been arrested, she called the police because she found a gun in a shoe box in her Focus after Kaplan drove the vehicle. (T 1335-1337, 1353). The police searched the car and the apartment, but did not find any gun. (T 1336, 1353). Kaplan told Teppen that the gun was a BB gun and that he had thrown it away. (T 1336). A footnote states, “Teppen was seriously mentally ill. The medications she was taking to treat her mental illness, caused serious side effects that made her an incompetent witness who cannot be trusted on the stand nor be ruled competent.”
Over Defense’s objection (T 1508-11), the State introduced expert testimony from a Qwest wireless engineer, Rickey Dobbe. (T 1524). Dobbe testified about the general operation of cell phone towers. (T 1526-31). He testified that each tower has three faces, each one generally transmitting 120 degrees for a distance of three miles. (T 1527-28, 1564). However, where there is a lake that is relatively open and unobstructed, a phone might send or receive a signal over a larger area. (T 1537, 1564). According to Dobbe, cell phones are programmed to continuously seek the strongest signal, however, the closest signal geographically may not be the strongest signal. (T 1530-31, 1565). For example, the strongest signal might be coming down the road two or three miles where the closest signal might be two blocks away, but be partially obstructed by buildings or trees. (T 1531, 1565). It is also possible to be in the same spot geographically on two different days and get a signal from different towers or transmitters. (T 1568).
Using the cell phone records of Lisa Jones, along with a map of cell-tower sites in the area around Lake Street and 35 W, Dobbe testified that calls were made from and placed to phones generally located within the area of the shooting on Portland around the time that Ragland and Pate were shot. Lisa Jones’ house was within a mile of the crime scene and Francis home was within three to four miles of the crime scene. (T 1532,1535-60). Dobbe could not pinpoint the exact location of the cell phones when those calls were made. (T 1560).
After Dobbe’s testimony, but before the close of the State’s case, the prosecutor argued for the admission of Spreigl evidence against Francis. Francis had been charged with gross-misdemeanor possession of a .22 caliber pistol without a permit, and driving violations for an incident on September 7, 2003. (T 1580-81). He plead guilty to that offense on February 4, 2004. (T 1581). The State wanted the evidence because it showed that Francis possessed a gun while in a motor vehicle. (T 1582-83). (As long as one is of proper age, without felonies and goes through the proper registration it is legal to carry a hand gun. Carrying a gun does not make a person a cold-blooded murder.) The Court ruled the evidence was not admissible because illegal possession was not relevant to show that Francis committed this offense. (T 1585).
At the close of the State’s case-in-chief, the court denied Francis’ Motion for a Mistrial made because of improper and prejudicial testimony by Sgt. Jackson. (T 1693-94). The Court concluded that the incidents were isolated in the whole of the State’s case, and that, while Sgt. Jackson should have known better, the testimony was inadvertent. (T 1694). The incident was not isolated and continued when the state admitted mug-shots of Francis into evidence. The trial court also denied defense counsel’s Motion for Judgment of Acquittal based on insufficient evidence as to premeditation and intent. (T 1694). Francis called witnesses to testify. Two employees from Auto Max, Michael Carlson and Timothy Kruse, testified that they had worked on the blue Tahoe on a cash basis installing various accessories for Francis. (T 1710-11), 1714-15, 1788-89, 1791-95).
Carlson testified that there are “Lots of Tahoes and Yukons running around with rims and stuff like that” so he could not be absolutely sure that the photograph from the CD shown to him depicted Francis’ Tahoe. (T 1707,1713). On cross-examination, Carlson testified that it was possible the Tahoe was at Auto Max being worked on from May 23 to May 25. (T 1716).
Francis’ mother, Cynthia Hudson, testified that her son was a good son and was not a violent person unless someone started something with him first, in which case he would defend himself. (T 1722, 1724-25). Hudson said that her son “got off on the wrong foot and sold drugs.” (T 1721). Hudson admitted that she and Francis “butted heads” because she knew what was best for him and wanted to tell him what to do and because she thought that Francis should listen to her until he turns twenty-five years of age. (T 1723-25).
Charles Evertz testified that Walker sold the rims off his 95 Yukon to Francis in December, 2003. (T 1751-53). Evertz also testified that he drove Walker’s Yukon for a few weeks beginning at the end of January while he was moving to a different apartment (T 1754).
Francis testified that he did not shoot either Ragland or Pate. (T 1764,1806). He testified that he could not remember exactly what he was doing at the exact time of the shootings, but that his usual habit on a school night between 9 and 11 PM was to either pick up his girlfriend at her mother’s house in South Minneapolis and drive with her to his home in St. Louis Park, or meet her there in St. Louis Park. (T 1801-03,1830-34,1839-41, 1847-49). Francis denied that there was any argument over the rims on his Tahoe and denied ever threatening Pate. (T 1764,1769,1829). Francis said that he had met Pate, but that the last time he had seen him was around September or October of 2003. (T 1769,1829).
Francis admitted using the cell phone to make arrangements to sell marijuana, and that was how he made money to support himself and pay for school and fix up the Tahoe. (T 1766-67). Francis testified that the truck in the still photograph taken from the CD was not his truck because the color looked different and the truck in the photograph had lights on the front that Francis did not have on his Tahoe (T1800).
Francis admitted that he and Kaplan kept the marijuana they sold over in an apartment on Larpenteur Avenue in St. Paul where Teppen stayed. (T 1804-05). He denied ever making the statements that Teppen attributed to him. (T 1805).
The court denied Francis’ Motion for Judgment of Acquittal on counts two and four, first degree intentional murder and attempted first degree intentional murder during the commission of a drive-by shooting. (T 1904).
During discussions about how to instruct the jury, the court asked if it was possible to charge a crime of drive-by shooting that is a second degree rather than a first degree murder. (T 1879). The prosecutor responded that it was not possible because “if it’s an intentional murder and a drive-by that makes it first degree, and what makes it second degree. ” (T 1879). However, before the Grand Jury indictment, the State had originally charged Francis with second-degree intentional and unintentional murder during the commission of a drive-by shooting for the death of Ragland, and attempted intentional second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder during the commission of a drive-by but without intent to effect death.
The court stated “In order to be murder in the first degree while committing a drive-by shooting, first degree murder, one has to be committing the crime of drive-by shooting, but the crime of drive-by shooting does not require the intent to kill, but first degree does, so you have to find the intent to kill and you have to find drive-by shooting; and drive-by shooting is just a crime that doesn’t require that.” (T 1880). The Court was concerned about complicating the instructions so much that it would confuse the jury. (T 1881,1902).
Defense counsel requested that the jury be instructed in first degree assault, first and second degree manslaughter, and second degree unintentional murder by drive-by shooting. (T 1866,1872,1901,1907, 1913, 1927, 1932, 1936-37). Defense counsel requested a lesser-included offense instruction of attempted second degree felony murder during the commission of an assault on count three (premeditated attempted murder of Pate while using a firearm), on the theory that a person is necessarily committing a first degree assault in committing a murder. (T 1910-12). Defense counsel specifically asked for CRIMJIG 11.28, attempted second degree murder during a drive-by shooting with no intent to kill. (T 1936-37).
The court denied the request for an instruction of felony murder on counts one and three (first degree and attempted first degree premeditated murder) because the court did “not believe that felony murder is a lesser-included offense [of first degree murder].” (T 1913). The court also denied the motions for instructions on manslaughter and assault. (T 1919, 1927-28).
The court instructed the jury on premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder, first degree intentional murder and attempted murder during a drive-by shooting, and second degree intentional murder and attempted second degree murder. (T 2051-69).
Three hours after beginning deliberations, the jury asked to view the CD of the video taken by Haralson of 31st Street and Portland Avenue. (T 2081). The court allowed a replay within the courtroom in the presence of all parties. (T 2093). Two hours later, the jury found Francis guilty as charged by indictment. (T 2098-2101).
Reasons to Believe and Know I Am an Innocent Man
Marvin Pate was the only eyewitness/serving victim to the drive-by shooting or so they say. He does not know or is incapable of accurately remembering what happened to him the night of May 24, 2004. It has been proved under stress, violence or a chaotic situation a person is unable to recall or perceive accurately. Memory and recall of the brain works quite opposite of what the lay person beliefs are. To support this one can look up the psychology and reliability of eyewitness identification in numerous books and websites. Just so one does not have to take my word. Marvin Pate witnessed the attempt to take his life and a murder under a chaotic, stressful violent situation. He was shot three times and thought he was going to die. When Pate was finally stable enough to be interviewed he was in great pain and on pain medications like “Morphine”. Investigators should know under these conditions and circumstances a person’s statement or account of an event can be unreliable. I did some research on the side effects caused by Morphine discovering it can cause confusion and hallucinations. (Reference: Physicians Desk Reference Product information; John Hopkins, The Consumer Guide to Drugs). Pate was delirious while giving information to investigators. Nothing he said can be trusted or reliable.
I am going to explain why Pate’s identification cannot be trusted or reliable. He gave an improbable and inconsistent account of what occurred the night of the shooting due to forensic evidence and common sense. When explaining this testimony, I am going to cite the trial transcript number where the testimony can be found and trial exhibits (meaning photographs) so you know this is not my words or what I want you to think or believe. I just want you to know what it is and that I am innocent of this crime. I am not an angel, but I am certainly “not” a murderer!
Pate was a single witness who described seeing me shoot in the dark, driving-by as he was leaning into an automobile. The scene Pate painted to investigators, after he was shot, was one of confusion and uncertainty. He could not identify me on the way to the hospital despite being alert. (T 1026). It was not until he was grilled by police that he came up with my name. (T 1212- 14,1226-27, 1274,1592-93). But nothing corroborated his testimony as to the supposed disagreement between him and myself where he claims I threatened to harm him (T 1661-62, 1682-84, 1110, 1236-37). No one else is of knowledge of this supposing encounter. There never was an argument between Pate or myself. You are probably wondering why he would say there was an argument between us. The truth is Marvin knew me a while before the shooting. He did not like me because I brought the 22″ tire rims from the guy who sold him the Yukon. He wanted something I paid for. Marvin and I both know what he tried to do. This argument never took place. He lied to the investigators. He believed I shot him because of what he tried to do.
A few people who are close to me also know what he attempted to do. I never told my lawyer or investigators for three reasons:
1.) I thought investigators were going to use it as a motive to hurt Pate.
2.) I felt it was irrelevant and what goes on in the streets stays in the streets, plus he did not succeed.
3.) I did not think anyone was actually going to believe the movie script argument and threat, also everyone who knows me knows it is not in my character to argue, let alone taut someone bragging about my assets.
Marvin Pate testified that the interior light of the Mitsubishi allowed him to see my face while he was being shot in the stomach and leg, with something that was more than likely a .44 caliber handgun. This was unsupported by common sense, nor was there any evidence. (T 1207). If investigators had not rushed to judgment, they would have found a piece of forensic evidence that would make Pate’s testimony/identification completely improbable and contradicted everything he believed he had seen.
There is a bullet hole in the front passenger door that is about a foot from the ground straight through in the car Pate was leaning into. (See photos in the video) In these photos you can see the position I am speaking of. Pate was shown exhibit 5 to describe how close he claimed I was when shots began to be fired. (T 1205, 1207). The proximity is about three feet. If in fact I was the shooter and this close as Pate testified to, there is no way possible this bullet hole would have been created nor come from the Tahoe as Pate testified and the State contended. If in fact this hole came from shots fired from my Tahoe on 22″ rims with air shocks it would have been much higher with an angled pattern pointing down. (For pictures of the Tahoe or any other photos mentioned watch the video) If you look at trial exhibit 5 to see the distance between the bike lane and the Mitsubishi and exhibits 14, 15, 31 of the bullet hole, and the height of my Tahoe trial exhibit 40, 36, 37, 38, 39 you would see it is scientifically impossible that those shots came from that Tahoe. Forensics show that me or anyone else could not have done a drive -by shooting out of my particular Tahoe creating that bullet hole that low straight through. SUVs alone sit higher off the ground than cars. If you have ever sat next to a 22″ rim, you will know how tall they stand by themselves. Put this tall rim on a Tahoe and you will see how tall it sits. Common sense alone shows I did not commit this crime driving-by in my Tahoe as Pate testified, too. Investigators ignored this evidence because they had an eyewitness they believe was so accurate.
Next, Pate claimed there were street lights on Portland that night. Mainly one setting right above him. (T 1207) Clearly, from the crime scene photos there is no street light above the car or anywhere on Portland Avenue. He also claimed the interior light from the car, was bright enough to flash in the Tahoe enabling him to see my face. (T 1207) An interior light from a car flashed three feet away in the air into a tall SUV sitting on 22″ rims. How does this sound? Next time you open up your car door at night see if your interior light is bright enough to light anything up outside of your interior. I guarantee it does not. Keep in mind the State argued to a naive jury that Marvin Pate was more than accurate. With what you know so far, what do you think? Pate testified that he also saw my face because of the corner of the Mitsubishi headlights help shine light on my face. (T 1207) If I was side by side right next to Pate and the Mitsubishi it would be impossible for the headlights to beam on my face as Pate testified to. If this was so, it would mean that I was in front of the Mitsubishi driving towards the curb onto people’s yard. Pate then went on to testify that once he saw my face he saw a barrel of a gun at the same time. (T 1207) If this was true it would mean two things:
1.) The culprit had the gun held up to his face.
2.) The gun would have blocked the view of the culprit’s face from Pate. Enabling him to have a good look, or Pate had less than a second to see the real culprit face before he was staring down the barrel of a gun and shots being fired.
Pate also testified that I stopped right in the front of him when he was standing in the front passenger door when the shots began. After I pulled off fleeing south down Portland. (T 1201,1203,1210-11) This is impossible when there is a bullet hole in the upper right hand corner of the passenger rear window which was the entry of Pamela Ragland’s fatal gunshot wound (T 1088, 1092-93, 1097-98, 1115) (See exhibit 12, 13, 32) According to forensics and the medical examiner the bullet entered the window diagonally hitting Ms. Ragland in her head in a way suggesting she was looking back toward the back window. Now how can this be if you believe what Pate testified to regarding me supposedly stopping right in front of him in front of the front passenger door? Obviously this is not what happened. Nothing Pate testified to is what happened including me being the person he was shooting him. Pate’s testimony/identification is a perfect example of the mind playing tricks on a person under a violent, chaotic, stressful situation as an eyewitness.
In case you are wondering how was I found guilty with this testimony. My lawyer, Richard J. Coleman, failed me in every aspect, never independently investigated my case and never pointed out any of this information to the jury to consider.
In Minnesota there is a law that states for a conviction to be sustained by a single-eyewitness identification after fleeting and limited observation corroboration is needed. So the State attempted to corroborate Pate’s identification/testimony by entering phone records of a phone registered to Lisa Jones, which I used occasionally. The prosecutor mislead the naive jury in believing the phone record placed me at the crime scene at the time of the murder and attempted murder. The state prosecutor claimed the phone records pinpointed me at the crime scene and I was not at home. In a court of law, proof beyond “Reasonable Doubt” leaves no room for speculation and any person of sound mind can only speculate a person’s whereabouts from the phone records. Rick Dobbe, a Qwest engineer employee, testified about the general operation of cell towers (T 1523-31). The phone towers cannot pinpoint a cell phone user’s or caller’s exact location. (T 1560) Dobbe testified that each tower has three faces, each one generally transmitting 120 degrees for a distance of three miles. (T 1527-28,1564). However, where there is a lake that is relatively open and unobstructed, a phone might send or receive a signal over a larger area (T 1537,1564). According to Dobbe, cell phones are programmed to continuously seek the strongest signal, however the closest signal may not be the strongest. (T 1530-31,1565). For example the strongest signal might be coming down the road two or three miles where the closest signal might be two blocks away, but be partially obstructed by building or trees (T 1531,1565). It is also possible to be in the same spot geographically on two different days and get a signal from different towers of transmitters (T 1568).
I, Michael C. Francis, lived in St. Louis Park at 3040 Ottawa. This is a minute away from Lake Calhoun, a little over three miles away from the crime scene. Also Lisa Jones, the registered owner of the phone at issue, lived within a mile of the crime scene. Sgt. Jackson the lead investigator on this case conducted a test drive from the crime scene to my home located in St. Louis Park and concluded that it took about 12 minutes to drive from the crime scene to my home. (T 1667-68).
Trial exhibit 64 shows the outgoing calls of Lisa Jones’ cell phone that I occasionally used. Counting down to line 28 of exhibit 64 was the last recorded cell site of outgoing calls before the crime was committed. The call time was, start 22:39:19 and end time was 22:40:47, call duration 01:28.8 and cell site 22 which was located at 821 East 35th Street. Just as the State theorizes that I went straight home after committing the crime from this information and Sergeant Jackson’s test, one can say that from 22:40 to 22:52 was ample time for me to be at home before or by the time the crime was committed. In fact, I was at home.
When a person makes a call, they can be three miles or a little further in an open obstructed area or body of water. Also keep in mind that the crime has not occurred yet. The crime happened between 22:52 and 22:55. I stayed a little over three miles within the crime near a lake. So far from this information how can a person believe this evidence corroborates Pate’s testimony/identification or pinpoints me or places me within block of the crime scene? It cannot. It does not.
The next recorded outgoing cell site was after the murder and attempted murder, line 32 call start time 23:07:15, end time 23:07:17, call duration 00:025, cell site 166 which is located at 5100 Park Glen, St. Louis Park. (For cell site locations review trial exhibit 65. The State’s theory is the gap where there was no call activity I was busy shooting people. The 27 minute gap where there was not any call activity it can be equally said that when most people get home from a long day of work, school, or whatever, the first thing they do is wind down and settle in. The state prosecutor used this evidence to mislead the jury and misstated this evidence in her closing argument that the phone records pinpoint me at the crime scene.
My lawyer Richard J. Coleman really did not counter the State’s argument, did not study the phone records, nor pointed out that Sergeant Jackson’s test and the phone records can show how redundant the State’s theories were. Richard J. Coleman, also did not call upon my alibi witnesses Paige Jones-Smith and Lisa Jones, that I was at home and was not in possession of the Tahoe the night of May 24, 2004. Richard J. Coleman did attempt to have the phone records excluded, but because of his lack of investigating, his argument was not convincing to the judge.
Alone from these phone records, a person cannot say I committed the crime, nor that I was at the crime scene. Neither do they affirm Pate’s movie script testimony. It would be more plausible to believe the State’s version of the phone record, if I did not live so close to the crime scene. For example, I claimed I was at home, but living in either North Minneapolis, St. Paul, Burnsville, Egan etc…and my phone signal before and after the crime was being picked up near the crime scene in South Minneapolis and the phone was registered in my name.
The state prosecutor mislead the jury by using video/photographs of some SUV type vehicle conceding that it was my Tahoe and me driving to the crime scene to commit the attempted murder and murder. I am going to explain to you why it is not my Tahoe, why and how it cannot be proved that it is me and the Tahoe driving to the crime scene, and how it violates the Laws of Evidence of Minnesota and the Federal rules of Evidence.
A) The number one reason why the SUV type vehicle is not mine and the Tahoe driving to commit the crime is: I am innocent. I did not shoot Marvin Pate nor Pamela Ragland. My girlfriend at the time, Paige Jones-Smith, was in possession of the Tahoe and it was at home with her before and after the crime was committed. How can the SUV type vehicle in the photo/video possibly be me and the Tahoe as the State claimed, if I was not in possession of it and arrived at home before the crime? The bullet hole I explained earlier. I had two other vehicles: a 93 Ford Thunder bird and a 91 Chevy Caprice. There were also three other vehicles I had access to, to make runs. So why would I choose my Tahoe with fancy equipment like after market lights, 22″ rims, loud pipes and tinted windows to do a drive-by shooting knowing I would stand out like a soar thumb. What sense does this make? If in fact I did this and Pate never survived, someone else could have seen this Tahoe.
B) The video/photographs cannot prove by certainty that it is me and my Tahoe driving. From 1991 to 1999, the Tahoe, Yukon, Yukon Denali and the GMC Blazer had the same body style. From the video/photographs no person can differentiate which one it is. Next, there are thousands of Tahoes and blue Tahoes running around Minnesota. In the video/photographs you cannot see a driver, any characteristics that you can match to my Tahoe, and you are unable to see the license plate. The video/photographs are also very blurry and fuzzy. Another thing the video/photographs focus solely on the intersection of 31st and Portland. This vehicle in the video/photographs, we do not know if it turned off on 32nd or parked further down 31st and Portland. There was not any witnesse that was present at the time this vehicle turned onto Portland. The State just forced my naive jury to believe this was me in the video/photographs driving to commit the crime. Claiming these photographs was me driving my Tahoe was conjecture, speculation and completely unproven. Richard J. Coleman never challenged this evidence and allowed the State to use this evidence against me, knowing it violated Minnesota and Federal Rule of Evidence. Absence of Certainty is Absence of Proof.
The video/photographs violate Minnesota and Federal Rules of Evidence 403 and 901.
Rule 403 states: “Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issue, or misleading the jury or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.”
Rule 901: Requirement of Authentication or identification.
(a) GENERAL PROVISION. The requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.
(b) ILLUSTRATIONS. By way of illustration only, and not by way of limitation, the following are examples of authentication or identification conforming with the requirements of this rule:
(1) Testimony of witness with knowledge
(2) Non-expert opinion on handwriting
(3) Comparison by trier or expert witness
(4) Distinctive Characteristics and the like
(5) Voice identification
(6) Telephone conversations
(7) Public records or reports
(8) Ancient documents or data compilation
(9) Process or system
(10)Methods provided by statue or rule
You read a little bit about a witness named Moana Teppen in the Statements of Facts. The State introduced her testimony in order to attribute a very untrue statement to me. Let us start with the facts of this woman’s mental illness. Teppen was mentally ill and was on medications used to treat her mental illness caused major side effects that make her testimony untrustworthy and unreliable. Teppen’s medications were Effeyor, Seroquel, Risperdal and Lexapro (T.1340). Teppen has been diagnosed with Bipolar, Schizophrenia. (T. 1341). Even though Teppen’s medications are used to treat her mental illness, they may cause confusion, hallucinations, dizziness, disorientation, altered mental status, paranoia, amnesia, change in moods and many other side effects. (References to side effects: Physicians Seek Reference Product Information; John Hopkins, The Consumer’s Guide To Drugs.)
I have witnessed with my own eyes and ears how whacked out she can get. Moana Teppen was/is seriously unstable. So unstable her child was taken away from her at the time. Teppen claims that I was having a party with some friends, while she was sitting in the bedroom in the back of the apartment she heard me say something to the effect,” If this guy wants to mess with me, I’ll pop that nigger too.” (T. 1334).
Number one: I do not go to clubs, do not go to parties, and definitely will not throw a party. Anyone who personally knows me can vouch for this.
Second: this was an apartment I had in St. Paul where I stored my drugs and scales. This was a spot. If I did decide to throw a party why would I choose a place like that? I would not. It would be too risky.
I had a house, not an apartment in St. Louis Park. I would throw a party there where it would be more room and not a place where a lot of drugs were stored if in fact I actually threw a party.
Last, she is in a room in the back of the apartment, while I am having a party. Over everyone’s else’s voices she heard me make a statement. If this statement was actually made and there were people having a party, and she is in the back room, only knowing me for a couple of weeks, how would she have known the voice of the person making this statement was me?
The truth is: this woman is making up things just to please others. The State argued this “too”, meant I had already shot someone. With this statement having been made a few weeks after May 24, 2004. I was talking about Marvin Pate and Pamela Ragland. This argument is pure speculation without any supporting evidence on the State’s part. Her testimony had no bearing on my guilt or innocence. It served only to mislead and prejudice the minds of my naive jury. The hearsay statement of Teppen is unclear as to what I am taking responsibility for, against whom, and there is no mention of murder. The statement itself does not indicate a time, place, person or any specifics.
My lawyer Richard J. Coleman attempted to introduce evidence that the ex-boyfriend of the dead victim was the actual perpetrator. Reason being, Pamela Ragland had an order for protection active against her ex because he had threatened to kill her. When investigators interviewed the deceased’s mother, they asked if she knew anyone who would do this to her daughter? She replied with the ex-boyfriend’s name because of the problems between him and her daughter. He made assaults against her and treated her really bad. Pamela Ragland was killed on May 24, 2004. On May 25, 2004, she had a court appearance to testify against her ex-boyfriend regarding one of the assaults, but never made it because of her death. The ex also had enough time to make it to the crime scene from his job. This evidence was ruled inadmissible because it just showed motive. I do not know if he did it, but this evidence should have been allowed. I could have used this evidence to cast doubt on the State’s case. The ex was also a suspect in this case. The attention drew from him when Pate consistently swore it was me who had shot him.
I am innocent.
The prosecutor committed misconduct in my Petition and Brief in detail. The misconduct was so severe that it prejudiced the outcome of my trial.
The judge, Thor Anderson, was up for re-election in 2004. He ruled evidence admissible that should have been inadmissible. He denied all motions for a mistrial due to the misconduct by the State. He also denied my Motion for Acquittal due to insufficient evidence and identification. He aided the prosecutor, Gemma Graham, in convicting me.
My lawyer, Richard J. Coleman failed me in every aspect agreeing to the State’s version of facts. For unknown reasons Richard J. Coleman declined to call or interview my alibi witnesses. Richard J. Coleman never obtained full discovery from the State, nor investigated any of the evidence against me. If Richard J. Coleman did his job and pointed out everything I have just pointed out to you, it is impossible for an impartial person to convict me. State Prosecutor Gemma Graham, Judge Thor Anderson, my defense attorney Richard J. Coleman all helped to convict me in my ignorance to the law at the time.
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I am currently appealing my case all alone without a lawyer. I really do not see how the High Courts can agree with the evidence presented in the lower courts or any of the misconduct by Prosecutor Gemma Graham, Judge Thor Anderson and my lawyer Richard J. Coleman. Your help in any kind of way will be much appreciated by me and my mother. Thank you and God Bless!
Complaint (pdf, 8 pages)
June 25, 2004
Indictment (pdf, 3 pages)
July 29, 2004
State’s and Defense’s Requests for Disclosure and Notes of Evidence (pdf, 26 pages)
included are – among others – interrogation of Michael Francis’ and documents pertaining to Michael Francis’ prior misdemeanor charge of 2003
State’s Motions in Limine (pdf, 1 page)
… “to preclude the Defendant from introducing any evidence that” …
September 23, 2004
Lisa Jones’ Letters to Defense Attorney Richard Coleman (pdf, 5 pages)
July 14, 2004 and August 18, 2004
Letters addressed to the Judge/ Clerk of Court (pdf, 5 pages)
from Cynthia Francis Hudson, Jessica Caples, and Lisa Jones
Sergeant Pete Jackson’s Affidavit (pdf, 2 pages)
September 17, 2004
State’s Memorandum to Exclude Third Party Evidence (pdf, 8 pages)
September 24, 2004
Defendant’s Motion in Support of Third Party Evidence (pdf, 8 pages)
September 27, 2004
Minneapolis Police Department: Reports (pdf, 25 pages)
(1a) Supplement of Inspector Scott Gerlicher on May 25, 2004 at 00:20 hrs
(1b) Statement of Officer Gizzi on July 10, 2004 at 01:47 hrs
(2) Statement of Officer Hobbs on May 25, 2004 at 01:03 hrs
(3) Statement of Officer Mills on May 25, 2004 at 01:16 hrs
(4) Statement of Officer Suchta on May 25, 2004 at 01:23 hrs
(5) Statement of Officer Madich on May 25, 2004 at 01:34 hrs
(6) Sgt. Diedrich’s Scene Report on May 25, 2004 at 02:00
(7) Supplement of FS Campbell, FS Ciagne, Off. Jorgensen, and FS III Hanson, Crime Lab Unit
(8) Taped Statement of David Hubbard on May 25, 2004 at 01:40 hrs
(9) Taped Statement of Dwight Ewing on May 25, 2004 at 02:22 hrs
(10) Taped Statement of Starrell Ewing on May 25, 2004 at 02:27 hrs
(11) Supplement of FS B. Schuman Crime Lab Fld. Ops., on May 25, 2004
(12) Autopsy Report by Sgt. Mattson
(13) Supplement of WM James F. S. III, Forensic Garage, on May 26, 2004
(14) Statement of Sgt. Wallerich
(15) Taped Statement of Lakeasha Johnson on June 2, 2004 at 14:14 hrs
(16) Taped Statement of Mark Dawson on June 2, 2004 at 19:40 hrs
(17) Taped Statement of Joyce Schonheardt on June 2, 2004 at 19:50 hrs
Applications for Search Warrants, Search Warrants, and Seizure of Evidence (pdf, 44 pages)
The following persons or locations were searched, and items seized or not seized:
(1) deceased victim Pamela Ragland, 6361 Zane Avenue, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota (letters, writings, and other documentation that indicates Ragland received threats from Donald Lee Williams)
(2) deceased victim Pamela Ragland, 3333 84 Avenue North, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota (letters, writings, and other documentation that indicates Ragland received threats from Donald Lee Williams)
(3) initial suspect Donald Lee Williams, Super Valu Warehouse, 300 Second Avenue South, Hopkins, Minnesota (firearms and ammunition; any survellience video of Donald Lee Williams; documentation, printed or electronic, which shows the time Williams worked on May 24, 2004)
(4) Donald Williams, 3556 Quail Avenue North, Crystal, Minnesota (firearms and ammunition)
(5) cell tower numbers and corresponding cell tower locations for number: 612-360-0127, Verizon Wireless Telecommunications Co.
(6) Michael Calvin Francis, 12315 Parkwood Drive # 320, Burnsville, Minnesota (.44 caliber handgun, .44 caliber ammunition, any papers or documents which show ownvership of weapon, any other evidence which tends to show the crime of homicide has been committed)
(7) Michael Francis, 1995 Chevrolet Tahoe, MN lic. LW408
(8) 3040 Ottawa Avenue, St. Louis Park, Minnesota (.44 caliber handgun; .44 caliber ammunition; any papers or documents indicating ownership of weapon or ammunition; any other evidence, which tends to show the crime of himcide has been committed.)
(9) Jesse Jacque Kaplan, 221 Larpenteur Avenue, Roseville, Minnesota (.44 caliber handgun; .44 caliber ammunition; any papers or documents indicating ownership of weapon or ammunition; any other evicence which tends to show the crime of homicide has been committed)
(10) Jesse Kaplan, 2001 black Ford Focus MN lic. KWF302
(11) Jesse Kaplan, 1994 Chrysler New Yorker MN lic. DBM876 (.44 caliber handgun; .44 caliber ammunition; any papers or documents indicating ownership of weapon or ammunition; any other evidence which tends to show the crime of homicide has been committed.)
Appellant’s Brief (pdf, 58 pages)
in the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota
June 6, 2005
Paige Jones Smith’s Affidavits (pdf, 2 pages)
July 22, 2005 and March 8, 2006
Lisa Jones’ Affidavits (pdf, 2 pages)
July 22, 2005 and March 8, 2006
Cynthia Francis Hudson’s Affidavit (pdf, 2 pages)
October 26, 2005/ April 11, 2006