Testimony of Witness in Walmart Shooting Becomes Centerpiece of Confusion

fabio-bracht-e3oE-l-rtpA-unsplash-copy-300x225In 2018, Alex Cordell Hughs was charged with shooting a victim in a Hobart Walmart. The incident began when Hughs and his girlfriend, Shaqueta Wright, were trying to put their cart back. The victim’s car veered into them prompting some kind of skirmish during which the victim was shot three times, allegedly by Hughs. 

After being charged, Wright pled the Fifth and was given “use immunity” by prosecutors. Afterward, Wright provided the police with some information during a deposition which prosecutors requested be read into the record. Use immunity prevents a defendant’s testimony from being entered against them in a trial. 

Wright’s attorney is also representing Hughs in the case against a false reporting charge.  Naturally, Hugh’s defense attorney (who is also representing Wright) objected to the request on the grounds that the prosecution must give her use immunity while she is on the stand as well, the testimony might be able to open her up to other charges.

All parties agree that Wright left the Walmart with Hughs after the shooting. But the question of whether the deposition could be read into the record as testimony without Wright taking the stand caused a delay in proceedings. Eventually, the judge ruled that Wright’s deposition could be read into testimony without Wright actually taking the stand.

What is Derivative Use Immunity?

If you are a witness to a crime that you may have had some involvement in, the state may offer you immunity from self-incrimination for your testimony. While this prevents specific testimony from being used against you for the purposes of prosecution, it is not a blanket immunity that protects you from all charges even if they are related to the crime.

For instance, in this case, Wright could be charged with aiding and abetting a murder or as an accessory after the fact because she left the scene of the crime with Hughs. If the prosecution gets her on the stand and she delivers testimony that implicates the defendant, the prosecution may be able to use that testimony to prosecute Wright since she was only given use immunity during the deposition. 

Additionally, the prosecution may use derivatively discovered evidence against the witness. The question here was whether or not the prosecution would be able to use evidence delivered on the witness stand against Wright at trial. In this case, the trial judge allowed the deposition into evidence without forcing Wright to take the stand. 

Defense attorneys have a duty to protect their clients from incriminating themselves. This is largely why Hugh’s and Wright’s attorney did not want Wright to take the stand. Her testimony would also likely impact Hugh’s.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you have been charged with a serious crime in Chicago or even if you are a witness to a serious crime, having a defense attorney on your side who can ensure you are prosecuted for helping the prosecution is extremely important. Call David Freidberg at (312) 560-7100 or contact us online to schedule an appointment today.