Convicted Olympia Diner shooter Michael Estella had a half-dozen reckless endangerment charges tossed out by a state appeals court, but his nearly four-decade-long prison term won’t be reduced.
Justices with the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court ruled Estella’s conviction on the charges were duplicative with a seventh charge of reckless endangerment on which he was found guilty. In specific, the justices found the original indictment didn’t provide sufficient enough information to distinguish each count.
“Rather than identify each count temporally or by physical evidence, the [prosecution] sought to remedy the defect by providing the name of an intended victim for each count,” Presiding Justice Karen Peters wrote in the unanimous decision. “However, reckless endangerment is a conduct-specific, rather than a victim-specific crime.”
But the court did nothing to overturn Estella’s other convictions: second-degree attempted murder; first-degree assault; first-degree attempted assault; three counts of second degree assault; second-degree criminal possession of a weapon; and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The convictions added up to a 39-year prison term that was handed to Estella in May 2010 as he continued to maintain his innocence.
“It’s not going to have any impact on the sentence,” said G. Scott Walling, the attorney who argued Estella’s appeal.
Estella opened fire inside the Brandywine Avenue diner in August 2006. Three men were hit, but none of them sustained life-threatening wounds.
Carvell Griffin was thought to be the target of the shooting. Then 21, he was wounded along with 19-year-old Akeem Boynton and 24-year-old Ishmael Robinson, who was shot in the stomach.
The first guilty verdict returned in Estella’s case was marred after a juror uttered a racist comment as a prosecutor investigated a post-verdict motion from the defense. Among other comments, the juror admitted he reached his guilty verdict based Estella being black.
But the dismissed verdict made little difference. Estella was convicted a second time in April 2010 after prosecutors presented what one later described as a “mountain of evidence” against him.