United States v. Fernandez-Hernandez, No. 09-1285 (1st Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Three defendants were convicted of conspiracy and drug charges (21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), 846, 860) stemming from a drug distribution operation in a public housing project and two were convicted of gun charges (21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), 846, 860) because of the killing of three unintended victims in a botched attempt to kill a rival gang member. Two received sentences of life in prison; the third was sentenced to 151 months. The First Circuit affirmed in part, but remanded for resentencing of the defendant not involved in the attempted assassination. The defendants were not prejudiced by the court's error in responding to notes received from the jury during deliberations without alerting counsel. The court's questioning of prospective jurors outside the presence of the defendants was justified. The court also rejected challenges concerning the composition of the jury and Spanish translations. There was sufficient evidence to support the convictions, except with respect to the quantities of drugs attributed to the defendant not involved in the killings.