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Conviction Overturned in Gun Case

March 10, 1999

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A federal appeals court has overturned a woman’s conviction for giving a gun to her 14-year-old daughter, who then used it to kill her mother’s abusive boyfriend.

In a 10-1 ruling Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Ernestine James, who was convicted of aiding and abetting manslaughter.

The appeals court said the trial judge should have allowed James to offer evidence of her boyfriend’s criminal record to support her testimony that he had bragged about his violent past.

James’ public defender, Peter Offenbacher, said the ruling ``strikes a blow for the defendant’s opportunity to present her case and not just to respond to the government’s case.″

James was sentenced to five years’ probation for the July 1993 shooting of David Ogden on the Lummi Reservation in Whatcom County, Wash. Her daughter, Jaylene Jeffries, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in juvenile court and has completed her sentence at a rehabilitation center, Offenbacher said.

The trial judge had allowed testimony about Ogden’s violence to James and his threats of violence, but barred testimony of his record, which included 38 criminal charges, including a robbery and several attacks.

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