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Carjacking and assault convictions appealed to 8th Circuit

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Two federal inmates found guilty of carjacking, beating, and shooting at a Rapid City man have appealed their convictions to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ranson Long Pumpkin says the trial judge should have allowed his lawyer to ask government witnesses about their drug use. And Moses Crowe says he should not have been convicted of carjacking because that part of the crime had been completed before he arrived on the scene.

In October 2017, the male victim was in the driver’s seat of a van parked at Walmart in North Rapid when several people, including Ranson Long Pumpkin and Saul Crowe, got into the vehicle. Saul Crowe pointed a gun at the victim and directed him to drive to the Ramkota Hotel and park.

There Moses Crowe arrived and joined the group.

Long Pumpkin pulled the victim into the back of the van, and while Saul Crowe drove, Long Pumpkin fought with the victim.

Eventually the van ended up north of Rapid City , on Nike Road , where Long Pumpkin and Saul and Moses Crowe pistol-whipped and beat the victim and fired semi-automatic pistol rounds near him.

Saul Crowe eventually pleaded guilty, and Moses Crowe and Ranson Long Pumpkin were convicted by a jury and sentenced in August 2020.

Eric Davis represented Moses Crowe at oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit.

He said when his client joined the people in the van at the Ramkota, the hijacking had been completed without Moses Crowe’s participation.

“I think the carjacking statute criminalizes the manner in which the car is acquired, not the unlawful manner in which it may be possessed after it is unlawfully acquired,” Davis told judges.

And so Davis argued that Moses Crowe’s conviction for carjacking should be overturned.

John Murphy represented Ranson Long Pumpkin in oral arguments. Murphy said Long Pumpkin’s right to confront witnesses against him was violated when the judge limited cross examination of two witnesses about their drug use.

“These were the two most important witnesses—fact witnesses—because they were there, allegedly, continuously from before the carjacking, throughout it, and then for weeks after,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the two witnesses showed up for trial high on methamphetamine and had a history of drug abuse. And he said the defense should have been able to cross-examine them about that to raise questions about their reliability.

The Eighth Circuit will decide later whether Long Pumpkin and Moses Crowe are entitled to a new trial.