In 2014, DaQuaries Love, 17, took to Facebook to post a video dissing a gang called “GMB PN” on their home turf. This act was a part of an ongoing feud between rival gangs in Muskegon, MI. In retaliation, Love was gunned down outside of a Muskegon Heights Post Office, a week later. The authorities charged 18-year-old Maurtice Poole-Knight with firing the shot to the back that felled Love. In addition to first-degree premeditated murder, Poole-Knight was also charged with committing a “gang-related felony,” as he is reportedly a member of GMB PN.
On November 13, a mistrial was declared on the murder charge against Poole-Knight, but the jury did convict him on the gang-related felony, meaning his membership in the gang granted him the “motive, means or opportunity of committing murder.” On February 16, Poole-Knight (now 19) was sentenced to eight to 20 years in prison. The 15 months he’s already served in jail will be credited to that sentence. That’s right. Even though the jury did not find that Poole-Knight did not kill Love, he’s still being punished for Love’s death.
Additionally, Poole-Knight was convicted of perjury for lying about where he was on the night when Love was shot. For that, he was sentenced to 2 1/2 to 20 years, minus time served. That sentence will run concurrently with the other.
Poole-Knight isn’t out of the woods with the murder charge, yet. A charge of open murder is still on the table. According to MLive.com:
The prosecutor’s office immediately announced its intention to seek a new trial on the murder charge, but Burgoyne filed a motion to dismiss the charge.
The defense lawyer is fighting to have the murder count dismissed on the grounds that the gang-related felony conviction already settled the issue, meaning a second trial would be double jeopardy. The U.S. and Michigan constitutions bar placing a defendant in jeopardy twice for the same crime.
In effect, she’s claiming the first jury already convicted Poole-Knight of a “lesser included offense” by deciding he killed Love — wrongly, she claims, but nevertheless definitively, barring a new trial on an issue that’s already been decided.
It’s no crime simply to belong to a gang. The charge of which Poole-Knight was convicted was that his gang membership provided the motive, means or opportunity for him to commit a felony — in this case, open murder.
Hicks in December denied Poole-Knight’s motion to dismiss the murder charge. Burgoyne filed a pretrial appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals, called an interlocutory appeal.
Such an issue has never been considered before with Michigan’s gang statute. That means an appeals-court ruling on Hicks’ decision will set a legal precedent for the state.
The appeals court has not yet ruled on that appeal.