A local defense attorney has brought an allegation of perjury against a woman billed as Hamilton County's "gang expert," saying she "flat-out lied" on the stand last year during a high-profile trial.
That woman, Christina Young, testified about gang life for the Hamilton County district attorney's office in the trial of Michael "Mike Mike" Daniels and Timothy "Timbo" Evans, who were convicted of a 2006 gang-retaliation murder and sentenced to life in prison.
At the May 2008 proceeding, Ms. Young told the court that she had an associate degree in criminal justice, according to court documents, but she testified in a separate murder trial several weeks later that she had to leave school "due to a high-risk pregnancy" and did not complete the degree.
Citing her academic transcript, defense attorney Jesse Dalton, who represents Mr. Daniels, on Friday said that not only did Ms. Young never receive a college degree, she also made poor grades.
"Ms. Young flat-out lied," Mr. Dalton said.
Ms. Young's transcript from Cleveland State Community College was presented in open court during a hearing in the 2008 trial of Dyron Yokley, who was convicted of murder, Mr. Dalton said. Mr. Yokley's defense attorney had challenged Ms. Young's credentials in that case.
"(She) has established that she is more than willing to perjure herself in a first-degree murder trial for the sake of being declared an expert," Mr. Dalton wrote in documents filed with the court. "As such, her entire testimony should have no credibility."
Four calls made Friday to Ms. Young's cell phone and office phone were not returned.
Mr. Dalton and defense attorney John McDougal, who represents Mr. Evans, are seeking a new trial for their clients based on Ms. Young's testimony and other factors they say tainted the proceeding.
Mr. Dalton said he did not expect the trial judge, Hamilton County Judge Rebecca Stern, to grant them a new trial, but said there is a case for the convictions to be overturned by Tennessee's Court of Criminal Appeals based on the issues surrounding Ms. Young's credibility.
Prosecutors confirmed Friday that Ms. Young, a gang investigator at the Silverdale Detention Center, is expected to address the allegations during an Aug. 3 hearing.
Assistant District Attorney Neal Pinkston said Ms. Young indeed had been presented as a "gang expert," but he declined further comment on the situation. He also did not answer questions regarding whether Ms. Young could be prosecuted for her alleged perjury, which would be a criminal offense.
"The state will address the allegations at the hearing," Mr. Pinkston said.
During the murder trial, the prosecution educated jurors on the culture of gangs through Ms. Young's testimony, arguing that gang structure and its intricate hierarchies played a key role in the events leading up to the 2006 killing of Adrian Patton. Mr. Patton's death, believed to have been in retaliation for other acts of gang violence, led local authorities that year to change the way in which they police gang activity.
Mr. Evans, who actually pulled the trigger, said he killed Mr. Patton only because Mr. Daniels, a leader of the Skyline Bloods gang, ordered him to do so.
"It was through (Ms. Young's testimony of gang hierarchy) that the state argued Mr. Daniels had the power and authority to order Mr. Evans to kill the victim," Mr. Dalton said. "Without Ms. Young's testimony, there would have been no expert testimony as to gang structure."