About Marritte Funches

Marritte Funches is a man who is in prison while innocent. He was arrested in 1991 in Nevada after another man, who was his housemate, had lied to the police. This man told the police that Marritte had shot a taxi driver, Mr Kevin Jones, in Reno, Nevada, but Marritte was not there at all. There was also no physical evidence linking Marritte to this crime. Eye witnesses had declared they had seen two White men at the crime scene. Marritte is Black.

On 27th of March 1991, Marritte Funches had taken a bus into Reno to look for a job. He gathered several forms at different places to fill out for available jobs. He then went home to Stead, and on his way home he passed by his mother´s house, and he paid a short visit to her. He then went to the Job Corps Center to make a phone call, and a few friends saw him phoning and waived at him. When Marritte came home, another housemate was half asleep on the couch.

Later that evening, when Marritte was asleep, Shafer (the home owner with whom Marritte rented a room) came home and told Marritte, who had woken up, that he (Shafer) has shot someone in Reno. Marritte thought he was referring to a fight with a man he had had a few weeks earlier, at which fight his jaw had been broken by the man. Later, an anonymous caller would call the police line, when Shafer had confessed to this person about this shooting of the taxi-driver.

During the police interrogation, Shafer told them that Marritte had been with him and had shot the taxi-driver.
He told them that he and Marritte were together in casinos before going to the taxi. But none of the security videos that the police confiscated showed Marritte together with Shafer on the videos. Also, eyewitnesses had stated they had seen two White men at the crime scene, and Marritte is Black.
Marritte was taken to the police station and questioned too. Marritte expressed his innocence.

On Trial

The trial was a year later. A month before the trial, Shafer did a second out-of-court statement, during which his story was different than during the first police-interview. The State decided to charge Shafer too with the murder. Shafer and Marritte Funches were co-defendants.

During trial, the witnesses were never called to testify for Marritte.

Marritte was never allowed to cross examine co-defendant Shafer. His public defenders did not cross-examine him either. The second out-of-court hearing, during which Shafer had said that Marritte had committed the murder (but had made changes in his story), was admitted into court, and Shafer pleaded the Fifth, not saying anything. The jury was thereby (wrongly) lead to believe Marritte Funches had committed the crime. Also, Shafer  failed a lie-detector test twice.

These are the issues that were presented for review by Mr Funches’ attorney Oram (2002):

I. Mr. Funches was denied his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses. in violation of the United States constitution. as well as his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process of law. when denied his constitutional right to cross-examine witnesses.
B. The District Court´s ruling regarding the preliminary hearing transcript.
C. Two out of court statements of Mr. Shafer.
D. Ineffective assistance of counsel regarding the Bruton issue.

II. Mr. Funches’ convictions must be reversed based upon the failure of appellate counsel and trial counsel to help Mr. Funches perfect the issue of severance on direct appeal.

III. Mr. Funches’ convictions must be reversed based upon there being no corroboration of the accomplice.

IV. Mr. Funches’ convictions should be reversed based upon the use of perjured testimony.

V. Mr. Funches was denied the reasonable effective assistance of counsel: prior to trial, during trial, and after trial. In violation of Mr. Funches’ Sixth Amendment right to counsel and Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process.
A. Failure to investigate facts surrounding the eyewitness’ statement that two White men were the killers.

VI. Mr. Funches’ convictions must be reversed based upon a cumulative effect of the errors at trial.
Read more about the case under our heading CASE.

Marritte has always maintained his innocence. After 25 years, it is time the truth be recognized! Justice must be done, also for the family of the victim.

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