A Lancaster man serving a prison sentence for killing another man in 2009 will not get a new trial, a Pennsylvania appeals court ruled.
Sequoyah Hawkins was sentenced to 8 to 20 years after a Lancaster County jury convicted him in 2012 of voluntary manslaughter regarding the stabbing death of 20-year-old Chrishon Gray.
Hawkins fatally stabbed Gray in the 600 block of Marietta Avenue after Hawkins was involved in a fight with an acquaintance of Gray.
Hawkins, now 33, requested relief, arguing that his trial attorney did not fully prepare him to testify and that the attorney did not fight to keep a certain exhibit out of trial.
That exhibit – a video of Hawkins rapping about violence and selling drugs – was allowed in to trial because Hawkins testified about his “non-violent” nature.
The trial jury also saw video of the stabbing, with Hawkins stabbing Gray in the neck after Gray appeared to throw a punch at Hawkins.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently denied the request for relief, finding Hawkins’ trial attorney acted appropriately in the case.
Hawkins initially filed for relief in Lancaster County Court. County Judge Jeffery Wright denied the request, writing that a voluntary manslaughter verdict was “the best possible outcome” for Hawkins, considering the video of the stabbing.
Judge Wright also noted that Hawkins had to take the stand to support the defense claim of self-defense and that the trial attorney told him the rap video would likely be played.
The state Superior Court points to Judge Wright’s “sound reasoning” in denying the request.
Lancaster city police Detective Jarrad Berkihiser filed charges.
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