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Luqris Thompson

Other Clark County, Nevada Exonerations
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Shortly after 9:30 p.m. on April 9, 2007, two black men ambushed 33-year-old Renee Coppola as she got out of her car in the parking lot of her apartment building in Las Vegas, Nevada.

One man pushed her into the back seat, and the other took her keys and attempted to start the car. However, the car had a kill switch, an anti-theft device that activated when Coppola turned off the car and prevented the car from being started. While one man continued to try to start the car, Coppola struggled with the other in the back seat, biting his hand when he tried to muffle her screams.

James McNeeley, a resident of the building, heard the screams and ran to help Coppola. The two men fled with her purse containing $40, followed by McNeeley. They escaped after they climbed over a fence.

Coppola, who was white, said one of the attackers was 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches tall, in his late 20s or early 30s, with short hair and a diamond stud earring. She said the other was about 5 feet 10 inches tall and was wearing a black shirt and a red cap. McNeeley described the men as being in their late teens or early 20s, between 5 feet and 6 feet tall, and weighing 175 to 200 pounds.

Las Vegas police recovered fingerprints from the car, and a resident of the building found a red St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap that had fallen from one of the robbers.

The following day, Elven Bailey, a security guard at the apartment building, told police he saw two young black men walking in the parking lot earlier in the day. One of the men, he said, lived in unit 1195 and one drove a purple car. Police determined that Maria Thompson and her two sons lived in that unit.

On April 19, 2007, police linked some of the fingerprints found on the car to Jamey Manning, a Las Vegas man. However, Coppola and McNeeley were unable to identify Manning in a photographic lineup.

On April 27, 2007, a police officer pulled over the purple vehicle. The driver, Luthaniel Carr, said that he lived in unit 1195 with his mother and brother, Luqris Thompson. A detective pulled Thompson’s driving records and learned he was 19 years old, 6 feet tall, and weighed 170 pounds.

McNeeley and Coppola viewed separate photographic lineups—one with Thompson’s driver’s license photo and the other with Carr’s photo. Coppola identified Thompson as one of the attackers. She did not identify Carr. McNeeley was unable to identify either Carr or Thompson.

On May 11, Thompson and Jamey Manning were arrested and charged with robbery, first-degree kidnapping, attempted grand larceny, burglary, and conspiracy.

In November 2007, Thompson went to trial in Clark County District Court. The prosecution’s case relied solely on Coppola’s identification. No forensic or physical evidence linked him to the crime. Thompson did not testify. His lawyer, Gerald Ciciliano, did not try to get security camera footage from a Target store where Thompson claimed he and a friend, Derrick Johnson, were making a purchase at the time of the crime. Ciciliano also failed to call Johnson as a witness. Ciciliano later said that while he believed Thompson was innocent—as Thompson asserted—he did not allow Thompson to testify because he had the appearance of a “druggy” and thought the jury would not believe him.

On November 30, 2007, the jury convicted Thompson of all charges. He was sentenced to 9 to 23 years in prison.

On January 7, 2008, Manning pled guilty to taking part in the crime and was sentenced to prison. During the plea hearing, Manning said that he committed the crime with Thompson.

In 2012, Manning was released on parole. He paid a visit to Thompson’s stepfather, David Williams, and said that he had “found God” while in prison. He confessed that Thompson was not involved and that he had committed the crime with a man he knew as “Dell.”

Williams notified Las Vegas police, who began re-investigating the crime. Thompson and Manning took and passed polygraph examinations. Investigators ultimately identified “Dell” as Delaun Jackson, who was living in Iowa. After he was informed that the statute of limitations on the crimes had expired and he could no longer be charged, Jackson admitted that he committed the crime with Manning. Jackson provided his fingerprints, which were then linked to prints that had been recovered from Coppola’s car. Jackson also took and passed a polygraph examination.

On August 8, 2012, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to vacate Thompson’s convictions. The motion was granted, the prosecution dismissed the charges, and Thompson was released from prison.

Thompson later filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking damages for his wrongful conviction from the police officers involved in his case, as well as his trial attorney, who was suspended from practicing law for five years in 2015 for taking money from clients but failing to perform the work. The lawsuit was dismissed by a District Court judge, but reinstated in Februiary 2018 by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 10/10/2017
Last Updated: 8/3/2018
State:Nevada
County:Clark
Most Serious Crime:Kidnapping
Additional Convictions:Robbery, Attempt, Violent, Burglary/Unlawful Entry, Conspiracy
Reported Crime Date:2007
Convicted:2007
Exonerated:2012
Sentence:9 to 23 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:19
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No