News Roundup

After more than 25 years, an arrest has been made in the killing of the rapper Tupac Shakur, as AP news reports here. “Pac” died in a drive-by shooting in 1996 in Las Vegas at the age of 25. The suspect is charged in Nevada state court with murder by deadly weapon. Police allege that the man supplied the gun and otherwise assisted in the homicide. The defendant is the last living suspect in the case and has apparently publicly acknowledged his presence at the crime scene and involvement over the years. According to this piece from Time, the arrest is linked to the investigation of another infamous unsolved killing, the murder of Christopher Wallace, a/k/a “the Notorious B.I.G.” He was killed in Los Angeles at age 24 around six months after Tupac. The impact of both men’s short-lived careers on hip-hop can hardly be overstated. Still no word on who shot Biggie Smalls. Read on for more criminal law news.

New U.S Supreme Court Term. Next Monday marks the start of a new term of the U.S. Supreme Court. You can get a comprehensive preview of the upcoming cases here and here. As far as the Court’s criminal cases this term, U.S. v. Rahimi asks whether the federal ban on possession of firearms by a person under a domestic violence protective order violates the Second Amendment. The ruling may have implications for similar restrictions on gun possession (as Jeff has discussed a few times). You can read the pleadings in Rahimi here. The case is scheduled to be argued on November 11th.

Smith v. Arizona is another case with the potential to significantly impact criminal law, particularly regarding forensic evidence. Smith will decide whether the practice of using substitute analyst testimony—that is, testimony from an expert who reviews the work of the analyst that conducted the testing and who relays the test results at trial, but who did not personally perform the testing—violates the Confrontation Clause. There is a nationwide split on the question, North Carolina being among the jurisdictions that allow such testimony as the non-hearsay basis of the reviewing expert’s opinion. See, e.g., State v. Brewington, 329 N.C. 29 (2013). This issue remains an open question as a matter of federal constitutional law after the fractured decision in Williams v. Illinois, 567 U.S. 50 (2012), as discussed here. You can check out the pleadings in Smith here. The case has not yet been calendared for argument.

Massive Crypto Fraud Trial Underway. The trial of former cryptocurrency kingpin Sam Bankman-Fried began in New York this week. Federal authorities say that the defendant defrauded investors out of at least $10 billion. The charges, if proven, would constitute one of the largest fraud cases in history. Mr. Bankman-Fried’s pretrial release was revoked after he apparently attempted to influence witness testimony while out on bail. If convicted, the 31-year-old man faces a de facto life sentence. The AP has the story here.

Handcuffed Man Shoots Self in Police Custody. Fayetteville police responded to a ShotSpotter alert and discovered the suspect, a 29-year-old convicted felon, in possession of a firearm. The man was handcuffed with his hands behind his back in police custody when he apparently retrieved a second, undiscovered gun from his pants and shot himself. He was last listed as in critical condition. The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the SBI. WRAL has the story here.

Alleged Hedingham Shooter’s Case Headed to Superior Court. The teenager charged with a mass killing in Raleigh last year will be tried as an adult in Wake County Superior Court. Authorities allege that the then-15-year-old killed his brother before going on a shooting spree in the Hedingham neighborhood of Raleigh, killing another four people, including a police officer. He faces multiple counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and various assault offenses. The Wake County District Attorney estimates a trial date of sometime in 2025. The teen’s father has also been charged with the misdemeanor offense of failing to safely store the firearm allegedly used in the attack. The story is here.

Former Raleigh Detective Sentenced. WRAL reports that former Raleigh Police Detective Omar Abdullah pled guilty to felony obstruction of justice this week and received a split sentence of 38 days in jail followed by two years of supervised probation. The defendant fabricated multiple criminal cases based on fake drug deals. According to the story, over 23 people were wrongly charged because of his actions, including 15 men charged with and jailed for drug trafficking offenses. The City of Raleigh paid $2 million in civil settlements over the matters, and the criminal cases brought as a result of the scheme were ultimately dismissed.

Heaven Accused of Church B/E. Snow Hill police allege that a young man named Heaven Elliot broke into the St. James AME Zion church and stole tithed donations earlier this month. After discovering the break-in, police were able to link the 18-year-old suspect to the crime with the assistance of the Pitt County Sheriff’s Department. At least as of Monday, Heaven remained in jail under a $40,000 secured bond. WITN has the story here.

Dishes (Almost) Cause Stitches. Keeping with recent tradition, the News Roundup once more ends with a Florida story. Police say a dispute over the proper cleaning of a cast-iron skillet at an Orlando fire station ended in a deadly weapon assault. After dinner, one firefighter apparently joked about cleaning the skillet with soap. This allegedly prompted another firefighter to pull a knife, hold it against the first man’s throat, and state: “That’s how people get killed.” The suspect maintains that he too was only joking, noting that he only used the dull side of the knife.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy weekend! If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for news items, I can always be reached at