Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hiding Tattoos?

In pretrial motions, lawyers argued over whether the jury should be allowed to see Michael Coombes's tattoos – one on his face with A-F (for Aryan Family) and one on his hip with a gun and a syringe; the gun was the same brand and caliber as the murder weapon. Murder suspect hopes makeup will hide criminal history from jury, KXLY (Spokane), Dec. 12, 2011.


One issue was whether revealing the tattoos would also reveal the fact that the defendant was serving time in prison for the murder when he got them. He was getting a new trial because he had successfully argued that his guilty plea should be invalidated because of a misunderstanding of how time off for good behavior would be calculated. In re Coombes, 159 Wash.App. 1044, 2011 WL 240687 (Wash.App. Div. 3 2011) (unreported). The jury did learn of the hip tattoo (but I'm not sure if they saw it). Closing arguments heard in Coombes murder trial, KLXY, Dec. 16, 2011.

Coombes was convicted and received a sentence about 7 years longer than the sentence under the plea he had withdrawn. Jury convicts man of 2007 slaying, Spokesman-Review (Spokane), Dec. 19, 2011. By the way, the Spokesman-Review blog, Sirens & Gavels, has a number of posts tagged "neck tattoos": Coombes is not the only defendant who risks the jury forming an opinion of him based on his body art.

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