Murder while gang member is not always VICAR Murder: Mercado
In United States v. Lupe Mercado, the Ninth Circuit reversed and vacated the accessory after VICAR murder conviction of Lupe Mercado. The Ninth Circuit held that there was no evidence presented that the underlying murder was committed for any reason related to a racketeering activity.
QUICK BREAKDOWN: Mercado hires hitmen to kill man pimping her daughter.
This case is truly sad. Mercado had a teenage daughter who moved to live with relatives. Her daughter got into a bad relationship and started being prostituted by a pimp. Mercado and her husband tried to get the daughter out of the relationship but failed. Mercado and her husband the unsuccessfully tried to kill the pimp.
After they failed to kill the pimp, Mercado and her husband turned to family members who were in a gang and asked them to kill the pimp. The family members wasted no time and the pimp was killed. Mercado, her husband, the family member, and one other were all indicted for murder in aid of racketeering otherwise known as VICAR. Mercado was also indicted as an accessory after the fact.
Mercado and her husband were both acquitted of the VICAR murder. However, Mercado was convicted as an accessory. Mercado appealed where she argued that essentially there was no VICAR murder.
No VICAR Murder Here.
Murder in aid of racketeering is different from the crime of murder. The Government needed to prove that the family member committed the murder in order to maintain his status in the gang or advance his status in the gang somehow. But that’s not what happened here.
The family member killed a pimp who had turned his teenage niece into a prostitute. The pimp was not a member of a rival gang. The family member only committed the crime because he was approached by Mercado and her husband in a plea for help. That’s regular murder, but not VICAR murder.
With no VICAR murder, Mercado could not be an accessory to VICAR murder. Conviction vacated.
WHAT DOES THE MERCADO CASE MEAN?
Honestly, there are not a lot of lessons to draw here in the area of the law. This is more of a life lessons kind of case.
The main principle to take away is that if you are facing an accessory charge or conviction there must be a sufficient legal connection to an ACTUAL federal crime. Not every crime, such as murder, can support a federal charge. Without a valid federal charge there can be no accessory.
Contact the Law Office of Jeremy Gordon to see if you can get back into court today.