Murder Conviction Dismissed for Man in North Carolina
A North Carolina Superior Court Judge dismissed a murder conviction Friday of Noe Moreno who has been in prison since 2007. Moreno pled guilty to several charges including second-degree murder associated with a two-car collision that left one man dead.
Moreno was riding in the passenger seat of his brother Jorge’s car when the accident occurred. The impact left Noe’s feet in the passenger well but his upper body leaning across the driver’s seat which was occupied by Jorge, and Jorge’s feet in the driver’s well but his upper body leaning across the passenger seat. Both men had been drinking, and when responders arrived on the scene Noe was pulled from the driver’s side and identified as the driver. At the hospital, both he and his brother reported the mix up, but Noe was arrested anyway.
New evidence from two independent crash experts who reconstructed the fatal accident suggests that Jorge Moreno was the driver, not Noe, reported the Charlotte Observer.
Prosecutors told the Observer that had the new evidence been available five years ago, Moreno would not have pleaded guilty and the state would not have proceeded with its prosecution of him.
“As prosecutors, it is our responsibility to seek justice in every case,” District Attorney Andrew Murray told the Observer.
“In this case, where new evidence casts such a strong doubt on the defendant’s guilt, justice requires us to inform the court of the new evidence and to dismiss the charges despite the fact that the defendant pleaded guilty.”
The Duke University School of Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic accepted Moreno’s case in 2009 and presented the results of its investigation to the District Attorney’s homicide team in 2010, After an expert they hired determined Moreno could not have been the driver, the DA’s office requested funding to hire additional reconstruction experts to conduct the same tests.
Moreno, an undocumented immigrant, was sent back to prison after Friday’s hearing while officials at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement decide when or if he will be released or deported.
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