Inmate loses challenge of conviction for plotting to kill three Lancaster City police officers

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LANCASTER, Pa.– An inmate challenging his conviction for plotting to kill three Lancaster City police lost his appeal Tuesday.

Akeem Washington, 32, was convicted last year of three counts of solicitation to murder regarding conversations he had with a cellmate after being arrested in 2014. Tuesday, he lost his request for relief of his conviction and will continue to serve 25½-to-60-year prison sentence.

During his conversations with a cellmate, Washington discussed in specifics what he wanted to do to the three officers and a victim’s family before asking his cellmate to help him with the plan. The cellmate proceeded to report these conversations to prison staff and police.

Washington attempted to challenge the conviction with these three arguments:

  • A mistrial should have been declared because Washington’s prior record was mentioned by a witness.
  • The three victims should not have been allowed to testify.
  • The cellmate was not impeached as a witness based on statements about prior drug offenses.

The state court opinion, written by Judge Mary Jane Bowes, denied the request and all three arguments, saying:

  • The trial judge ordered the jury ignore statements about Washington’s alleged gun record – in fact, the judge told the jury no such record existed.
  • The trial judge limited the officers in what they could testify to, specifically how Washington would have learned their names: from the initial arrest incident.
  • The jury was instructed on why the cellmate was in prison, so the panel was aware of the cellmate’s criminal activities, which he explained in detail while testifying.