Michigan v. Sammons (Opinion on Application)Annotate this Case
Travis Sammons was convicted by jury of conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the shooting death of Humberto Casas. DyJuan Jones and Rosei Watkins witnessed the shooting, which occurred on a street around 1 p.m. Jones was riding in the backseat of a car being driven by his mother when he heard the shots, and Watkins was driving with her grandson in her own car. About 10 to 20 minutes later, the police pulled over defendant and Dominque Ramsey in a silver Jeep. Both men were taken to the Saginaw Police Department, where they were detained. A photo of the Jeep was taken and shown to Watkins, who identified it as the Jeep from the shooting. Several hours later, Jones and his mother went to the police station, where Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant David Rivard organized a showup identification of defendant and Ramsey. According to Jones, he could identify neither man as having been involved in the shooting, while Rivard claimed that Jones identified defendant as the shooter but did not identify Ramsey. No one witnessed the conversation between Jones and Rivard, the conversation was not recorded in any way, and Jones did not sign any kind of statement or report indicating that he had made an identification. At the preliminary examination, Jones repeatedly denied having identified the shooter. Defendant objected to Rivard’s testimony about the showup identification and filed a motion to suppress this evidence. The circuit court denied the motion to suppress and, after a trial, the jury found both men guilty of conspiracy. Both men filed motions for a directed verdict or a new trial. The circuit court denied defendant’s motion but granted Ramsey’s, ruling that there was insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction. The Michigan Supreme Court determined the showup identification procedure employed in this case was suggestive because it indicated to the witness that the police suspected defendant. "The suggestiveness was unnecessary because there was no reason, except perhaps police convenience, to use a suggestive procedure, and the showup was not reliable under Neil v Biggers, 409 US 188 (1972). This error was not harmless because the prosecution’s case was significantly less persuasive without the showup." Accordingly, the Court of Appeals judgment was reversed.