The former head of a local street gang now serving a life sentence for murder claims his attorney's mistakes in his 2008 trial prejudiced the jury and he's asking the court for a new trial.
Michael "Mike Mike" Daniels, 26, testified in a Monday post-conviction hearing that Jesse Dalton, his trial attorney, didn't share information with him and failed to object when prosecutors showed evidence of his gang history to jurors.
"He didn't do his best. He let me down," Daniels said. "I ain't asking to be walked free; I'm asking for justice to be done right."
Daniels was convicted on May 16, 2008, along with co-defendant Timothy "Timbo" Evans of the shooting death of Adrian Patton in the Emma Wheeler Homes public housing complex.
Prosecutors proved in the trial that Daniels, the leader of the Skyline Bloods street gang, ordered Evans to shoot Patton.
Evans testified in the trial that, on June 13, 2006, he'd shot Patton six times through a car door with Daniels present.
In Monday's hearing, Dalton also testified, telling Daniel's current attorney, Amanda Dunn, that his strategy was to minimize his client's rank in the gang.
"That's the guts of this; it's an alleged gang-ordered murder," Dalton said.
He added that he saw no way to prevent Daniels' own words, photographs and other testimony about his client's gang history from being shown to the jury.
Dalton admitted he failed to send a request to the state Supreme Court in time to have the high court hear a further appeal. That avenue is now closed for Daniels, who must receive a new trial to get any relief on his life sentence for ordering a gang-related killing.
Prosecutor Neal Pinkston reminded Daniels in the hearing that his claims against a discredited gang expert who testified and other concerns previously were ruled not to have influenced the trial's outcome.
Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern seemed unlikely to grant Daniel a new trial based on problems in the first one.
"I'm going to look at it, but I don't see a problem at the trial," Stern told Dunn.
She did, however, say she had concerns about the missed deadline for filing the request to the Tennessee State Supreme Court.
Stern told the attorneys she would rule on the request for new trial by or before Oct. 29.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...