Published on: Friday, June 2, 2023

The last Maryland resident on federal death row is now awaiting resentencing for the fatal 2002 kidnapping of a Washington, D.C., police officer's son after a judge vacated his death sentence and three firearms convictions (article available here).

Lighty, who was 19 at the time of the January 2002 kidnapping and killing, was one of three defendants convicted in the crime. The other two men received life sentences for their roles.

Since being sent to prison, Lighty has earned his GED and started a nonprofit with his goddaughter, TaTiana Rawlings. The nonprofit, called The Lighty Project, gives monthly meals to D.C. residents facing housing instability and hunger.

Lighty's team was able to get his death sentence and firearms convictions thrown out after pointing to a series of Supreme Court decisions,  which started with a 2015 decision in Johnson v. United States striking down a provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act, which allows for sentencing enhancements in cases where felons commit crimes with firearms.  The holding was eventually made retroactive following the court's 2016 decision in Welch v. United States.

Both the prosecution and defense in Lighty's case ultimately agreed that Lighty's three convictions for the use of a firearm during a crime of violence should be tossed because the charges on which they were predicated — conspiracy to commit kidnapping and kidnapping resulting in death — were no longer considered "crimes of violence" under the Armed Career Criminal Act thanks to recent Supreme Court precedent, including the Johnson decision.

Now, Lighty awaits resentencing as he remains incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Indiana.