MOUNT HOLLY, NJ (AP) —
An appeals court has ordered a new trial for a New Jersey man convicted of a stabbing death shortly after the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2018.
The court cited an assistant prosecutor repeatedly calling the defendant a liar and also cited errors in the judge’s instructions to the jury.
Supreme Life, 60, of Lumberton was sentenced to 20 years after being convicted in Burlington County in March 2019 of manslaughter by passionate provocation in the death of Moriah Walker, 26, of Brooklyn, NY, and the attempted murder of another New York man.
Life, formerly known as Charles Hoskins, testified that while people were out celebrating the Eagles victory in February 2018, he teased his son, a Dallas Cowboys fan, and his son responded with an epithet on the Eagles. He said two New York men leaving a nearby party overheard the remark and attacked his son, and that he acted in self-defense.
During the trial, Life admitted lying in a statement to police, and the appeals court said it was fair game for prosecutors to point that out. But the court said the prosecutor’s repeated use of “derogatory epithets” was inappropriate and Life’s constant labeling as a liar tipped the scales of justice against him.
The court also criticized the judge’s omission of certain instructions on how jurors could interpret self-defense as it relates to manslaughter.
“The combination of errors in this case, together with the prosecutor’s incorrect summons, necessitate the reversal of the defendant’s convictions,” the court said in a decision released Thursday.
A spokesperson for the county attorney’s office said Nj.com Thursday that the decision is being reviewed.