A New York state anti-terrorism law enacted in the wake of the September 11 attacks cannot be used to prosecute a street gang member convicted of shooting a 10-year-old girl and paralyzing a rival gang member, the state's Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.
The court ordered a new trial for Edgar Morales, 30, a member of the Bronx-based St. James Boys gang who was sentenced to up to life imprisonment for his role in the 2002 shooting.
Prosecutors had accused Morales and his gang of terrorizing the Mexican-American community in their neighborhood. They relied on a provision of a 2001 anti-terrorism law passed days after the September 11 attacks. Morales is the only gang member to have been prosecuted under the law, his lawyer said.