Knight v. United States

U.S. DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
Criminal Practice

New York Law Journal

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Judge William Skretny

Knight was acquitted, in 1995, of Gaspar's murder. A 2009 renewed investigation showed Gaspar's wife solicited Knight—her paramour—to murder Gaspar. They conspired to share the proceeds of Gaspar's life insurance policy. Knight was sentenced to 288 months in prison after pleading guilty, in July 2010, to federal murder-for-hire. He sought 28 USC §2255 relief arguing, among other things, that counsel was ineffective, and that conviction violated the U.S. Constitution's Ex Post Facto Clause. Knight claimed that because his crime was committed in July 1994—two months before an amendment to §1958 increasing the maximum punishment to death—18 USC §3282(a)'s five-year "catchall" limitation period applied. In denying Knight §2255 relief the court observed that Congress did not directly extend the statute of limitations for murder-for-hire, but rather increased the maximum punishment and thereby only indirectly extended the relevant statute of limitations. Discussing United States v. Coleman, and distinguishing United States v. Owens, the court determined that pursuant to the amended §1958 and 18 USC §1832, no statute of limitations applied to Knight's crime. Thus, Knight could not sustain an ineffective assistance of counsel claim.

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