​Zapata v. Vasquez, No. 12-17503 [June 9, 2015]

Zapata v. Vasquez

Petitioner raised a claim that his trial counsel was ineffective for failure to object to egregious prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument. In his closing argument, the prosecutor made up a fictional account of what the defendant said prior to the shooting including racial slurs. Defense counsel did not object to this rebuttal argument the court found this failure to be deficient performance, the court further found prejudice because the evidence of guilt was weak, the prominence and timing of the comments, i.e. during rebuttal argument, the comments were not reasonable inferences from the record, the comments were not invited by defense counsel, and no specific limiting instruction was given