[In Weeden v. Johnson, No. 14-17366], a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel on Friday threw out the conviction of a teenage girl who prosecutors said played a key role in a 2005 Sacramento robbery-murder.
Sarah Weeden was 14 years old at the time of the Aug. 5, 2005, shooting death of Navnil Chand, who was 17. According to testimony at Weeden’s 2008 trial, she had agreed to meet Chand at Caymus Park for a date and directed him there by cellphone. When he arrived, a gunman identified as Sertice Melonson, then 23, waited to rob him. During the robbery, Melonson shot and killed Chand.
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“We are just delighted for Sarah and her family,” said Charles M. Bonneau Jr., the Sacramento attorney who handled Weeden’s appeal. “She was just a little girl when all this happened, and we’re convinced she will ultimately be vindicated and released.”
In an opinion issued Friday, the three-judge panel on a 2-1 vote granted Weeden a writ of habeas corpus on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. Her lawyer was Michael G. Bowman, who is now a Sacramento Superior Court judge. Before he was appointed to the bench by Gov. Jerry Brown, Bowman had a reputation as one of the best defense lawyers in town.