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Criminal Defense Case Study

Murder and Robbery Charges Dropped

Sean Moreland was one of two defendants charged with second degree murder for the August 2015 stabbing death and robbery of Jacquelyn Porreca. The case was covered extensively by the media, with Moreland charged as an accomplice to the murder and robbery. DerOhannesian & DerOhannesian represented Moreland and emphasized that his crime was separate from the co-defendant’s and that Moreland had not been aware of any plan to commit or involved with any robbery or murder.

In pre-trial motions and hearings, Paul DerOhannesian II outlined instances of overreach and multiple constitutional violations by investigators, as well as the mishandling of evidence. After successful pretrial arguments, Moreland pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and non-violent felony of hindering prosecution and was sentenced to 2 to 6 years in prison. The co-defendant was sentenced to 22 years to life for the murder.


University Student Hazing Death Acquittal

A student passed away in November 2014 while pledging to an unsanctioned fraternity comprised of University at Albany students. The student was found unresponsive at an off-campus residence after consuming a large amount of alcohol. Seven students were arrested, all charged with hazing in connection with the student’s death. DerOhannesian & DerOhannesian represented one of seven men charged, and the only defendant to not plead guilty and take his case to trial. The defense argued that the client held no responsibility in the events leading to the student’s death. The client was acquitted in 2017 of the hazing charge against him and expressed his sadness over the tragic events that lead to the death of his friend.


MENACING CHARGE ACQUITTAL

In 2008, Shirley Morton, a clerk working for the Albany Police Department, filed charges against Sergeant Kevin McKenna for allegedly pointing a loaded gun at her while working one evening at the police department. The alleged incident took place on January 2 while Morton was working an overtime shift. Morton’s account of the events stated that another officer proclaimed, “It’s loaded,” and then Sgt. McKenna pointed a .45 caliber gun at her twice. Sgt. McKenna was indicted on a charge of menacing.

DerOhannesian and DerOhannesian represented Sgt. McKenna throughout his arrest, investigation and prosecution. Sgt. McKenna was facing a possible prison term as well as the loss of his job and pension. The jury trial took place in Albany County Court and was presided over by Judge Stephen Herrick.

From the onset of the investigation, DerOhannesian and DerOhannesian recognized Morton’s ulterior motives and cited several inconsistencies and irregularities in her statements and testimony at trial. Morton also waited several days before reporting the incident. The firm considered Morton’s criminal accusation as a means to bolster her civil case worth millions of dollars. DerOhannesian revealed to the jury that Morton filed a $35 million civil claim against Sgt. McKenna, the officer who owned the gun, the police department and various police officials.

DerOhannesian and DerOhannesian further exposed Morton’s false accounts by highlighting numerous contradictions in her testimony. During an interview with a health care provider, Morton told the interviewer that Sgt. McKenna had pointed the gun “in jest.” In a crucial moment during the trial, Paul DerOhannesian held his hand sideways to demonstrate how Sgt. McKenna allegedly held the gun. Morton agreed saying that the gun had been held sideways. DerOhannesian and DerOhannesian quickly brought to the court’s attention that Morton’s demonstration contradicted her earlier testimony that the gun was held straight.

After an hour of deliberation the jury acquitted Sgt. McKenna.

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