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Name: Sassounian v. Roe
Case #: 98-56747
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/26/2000
Subsequent History: None

The court affirmed the denial of this habeas petition in a state death penalty case. The trial issues raised related to appellant’s guilt of the murder of the Turkish Consul. Under Brecht v. Abrahamson (1993) 507 U.S. 619, the following alleged errors were found harmless: 1) prosecutorial misconduct in offering an expert’s testimony that a “stall man” was used to slow down the Consul’s vehicle so as to make a clearer shot, when there was no testimony offered that a person had in fact blocked the vehicle; 2) prosecutorial misconduct in alleging that the defense counsel had made up evidence by misinterpreting the meaning of a photograph; 3) prosecutorial misconduct in calling a defense witness a liar; 4) the submission of false evidence of a jailhouse informant who claimed that Sassounian had confessed to him. There errors were found to be harmless in light of the fact that an eyewitness had identified Sassounian, gunshot residue had been found on his hands shortly after the offense, a license plate which belonged to Sassounian was displayed on the vehicle seen departing the scene, and the firearms that had fired the fatal shots had been recovered from where the suspects had been seen fleeing.