Murder, Carjack Counts Upheld

U.s. Court Turns Down Appeal In Annapolis Case

July 07, 2009|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,

The murder and carjacking convictions against Leeander Jerome Blake, who helped steal a Jeep Cherokee from an Annapolis man killed during the crime, will stand, a federal appeals court ruled last week.

Blake, who was 17 at the time of the 2002 carjacking, avoided prosecution at the state level by successfully arguing that police illegally interrogated him. After the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on the state's appeal, federal prosecutors took up the case, indicting Blake in 2006 on murder, carjacking and gun charges. He was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to life in prison.

Blake's challenges

Blake had challenged his conviction from multiple angles, claiming, among other things, that the U.S. District Court should have suppressed certain evidence, abused its discretion and didn't have jurisdiction over the case.

On each point, judges from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.

"Regardless of whether Blake actually controlled the gun, pulled the trigger, or drove the car, he comprised one half of an armed two-person carjacking team," the appeals' opinion states.

"Indeed, he was the person who pointed [the victim, Straughan Lee] Griffin out and suggested to [accomplice Terrence] Tolbert that they rob him."

Blake and Tolbert accosted Griffin on a cul-de-sac in historic Annapolis, shooting him in the head and running him over with his own vehicle as they made their getaway.

Tolbert was convicted in state court and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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