Rogue prosecutor’s influence on hair expert’s testimony highlighted in ruling overturning conviction

Misguided zealotry – a case study, but it applies so often. A premature rush to judgement followed by cheating.

Wrongful Convictions Blog

The January 26 opinion overturning the conviction of Massachusetts inmate George D. Perrot, which you can read about here, was important in several respects.

First and foremost, the opinion written by Hampden County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Kane was important because it could lead to the release of Perrot 30 years after his conviction on rape charges even though the victim repeatedly said the then-long-haired, bearded Perrot didn’t look like the clean-shaven, short-haired man who raped her.

Second, the opinion is important because Judge Kane’s reasoning could influence thousands of past convictions that were based on now-discredited hair-comparison analysis like that used to convict Perrot.

Equally important, though, was Judge Kane’s finding that Wayne Oakes, the FBI hair examiner who testified as an expert in the case was unduly influenced by the overzealous prosecutor in the case. In his ruling, Kane noted that the prosecutor, Francis W. Bloom, hand-delivered the hairs and other evidence to the…

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Kevin Black

Kevin Michael Black was convicted in 2002 of the sexual abuse of his step-daughter (D), and of molesting two of her friends (F1) and (F2).

Key to the case is a babysitter (BS) with a long record of molesting children.

The defense case is that D (age 9 when she made the false accusation) was under the influence of BS, who had likely molested her, and coached her to accuse Kevin.

According to D, BS used to baby sit her after school. BS would take her to school and pick her up almost every day. BS loved her and was very nice to her. He would buy her a lot of presents and candy. He would get swimsuits and other outfits and would have her try them on.

D was not a credible witness. D’s mother (M) testified that, when she was living with a previous boyfriend (BF), D accused BF of molesting her, recanted, and then later accused him again. It was hard for M to know if D was telling the truth about BF because nothing had come of D’s earlier accusation against BS. M did not report the accusation against BF to the police. D had previously made other accusations against individuals.

At trial, D testified that BS had never touched her in a bad way. She said she told the police officer that BS had never molested her and she repeatedly told M that BS had never molested her. BS had merely washed her while she was in the shower when she was very
little.

According to an appeal ruling the evidence showed that BS molested L. about 27 years before trial when she was about 7 years old, C. about 21 years before trial when she was about 8 years old, M some 20 years before trial when she was about 9 years old, T. about 6 years before trial when she was about 3 years old, and BF’s son about 1 month before.

Moreover at trial F1 and F2 testified that Kevin did not do anything, and they could not even identify him.

Given all this, it is truly hard to see how the jury could have concluded guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, nevertheless Kevin was found guilty.

On appeal, the defense pointed to new information in police records showing that BS had recently molested another girl of D’s age (JW), a friend of D, that he was sexually interested in D, and that he admitted molesting JW.

However the appeal court ruled that it would only have emphasized the fact that BS molested many children; it would not have established that BS molested D.

Also of note is that the lead detective was a lifelong friend of BS. This detective unsucessfully threatened a jailhouse inmate to attempt to persuade him to testify against Kevin.

In addition the defense attorney was incompetent and suicidal and shot himself. His own psychiatrist testified to this.

Finally during her CART interview JW stated that BS told her to ‘blame the step-dad’ if anyone ever found out. This is on tape.

Kevin has now been in prison for nearly 15 years.

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Richard Jacobs

Richard Jacobs was convicted of the murder of Robert Martin on March 22, 2000, in Jackson County, Mississipi.

Summary

Richard Jacobs, aged 18, was staying at the house of the victim and Jeremy Martin, his violent son. On he second night of his stay, the victim, an alcoholic, started arguing with his son Jeremy and insulting both of them after which Jeremy told Richard he was going to kill his father. Jeremy had already been on bond for breaking his father’s ribs and his girlfriends nose and stabbing his step-father.

Jeremy called his girlfriend Crystal Broadus, and told her to get a gun. Crystal then persuaded two of her friends to steal a 0.12 gauge shotgun and a pistol from her grandather, and the three of them then returned to Robert Martin’s house. The shotgun was handed to Jeremy.

Crystal, Jeremy and Richard then entered the victim’s house, and then Jeremy told Crystal and Richard to leave and meet him outside a nearby Church.

A few minutes later, after the victim was shot, Jeremy and another man Donnie Ryals who was staying at the house pulled up, and picked up Richard and Crystal.

Jeremy asked Richard where they should go, and Richard said to his home in Texas. Jeremy asked Richard to drive, even though Richard didn’t have a license and hardly knew how to drive.

Richard was left at his father’s house, Jeremy, Crystal and Donnie left in the car, and were later arrested after a police helicopter chase.

Before leaving, Jeremy told him what to say, and threatened him saying that if he told the truth to anybody they would kill him and his family.

Richard told his father and step-mother to tell nobody he was there and he started work with his father the next day.

On March 24 Richard was arrested, and when questioned he gave an untrue recorded account of what happened, but did not confess. However when a lawyer for Richard arrived, the officer who had been questioning him claimed that he had confessed to shooting the victim.

Richard’s clothing was tested for the victim’s blood, and the test was negative, however this was not disclosed to the defense.

At trial, an expert testified that Richard was at 4th grade level on learning and reading, and borderline retarded but not violent.

Richard’s story in more detail, supplied by Amanda Jacobs

Richard Jackson Jacobs was exactly one month over the age of 18 when he was introduced to a guy name Jeremy Martin who at the time was age 17, by Richard’s girlfriend at the time, who he had only known for a week. Richard at the time was living in Biloxi, Mississipi, with his best friend AJ at he time he was introduced to Jeremy.

AJ was having to move at the time so Richard asked his girlfriend at the time if he could stay with her for three days until his dad could send him a bus ticket and him go back to Bastrop, Texas , where Richard and his dad lived. She told him that he couldn’t but she knew where he could stay and that was at the home of Jeremy Martin and his dad Robert Martin.

Richard talks to Jeremy Martin and he goes to the home, arriving there the father of Jeremy tells Richard he could stay for the three days but he had to have a job, Richard has no problem with that, so the aunt of Jeremy which is the sister of Robert Martin ( the victim) takes Richard and Jeremy job shopping. Richard lands a job and they come back to the home.

The victim was known as a drunk, him and Jeremy stayed in fights and law was out there all the time, Richard not knowing them he never knew of the problems that he was soon start witnessing.

Richard says the first night is ok , well the next night Jeremy and his dad the victim gets into it and the victim calls Richard and Jeremy a faggot.

Richard politely tells him no sir i have a girlfriend and he goes to the bedroom and then Jeremy comes into the room that him and Richard stayed in.

Jeremy is mad and hollering and Richard dozes off and as he awakes Jeremy is on the phone with his mom, Richard not knowing what they were talking about waits for him to get off the phone, that’s when Jeremy tells Richard he is going to kill his dad.

May I remind you Richard doesnt really know Jeremy he was just introduced to him two days ago and allowed to stay there until his dad can get him there, which was the next morning after the murder took place but Richard never knew there was going to be a murder.

After Jeremy tells Richard that he was going to kill him he tells Richard that he is going to put gasoline over the man’s nose to kill him, then strip him down, run bath water, put him in it with a beer can in his hand , and make it look like a accident.

At this time Richard is worried but thinks Jeremy is just saying this cause he was mad cause of the fight him and his dad had and was just running his mouth. Well Jeremy asks Richard how would you do it?

Richard tells him I’m not putting any words or thoughts in it cause I cant kill anybody.

Jeremy tells him ok I got it, so Jeremy calls his girlfriend Crystal Broadus and tells her to get her fathers gun cause he was a cop. So Crystal gets two of her friends to help steal a .12 guage shot gun and a pistol from her grandfathers, after they get them the friends drive her over to the home of the victim where Richard, Jeremy, and the other roomate Donnie Ryals who was friends with the victim and had been living there renting out a room for quiet some time.

After getting their the gun is handed over to Jeremy with the bullets. Richard at this time is wondering ok what is about to happen and then Crystal, Richard, and Jeremy go inside. Jeremy tells Richard and Crystal to go down the road to the church and wait on him and Donnie, at this time Richard knows exactly whats going on and is scared and Jeremy asks Richard could you do it?

Richard says “No I can’t” and Jeremy asks him how would you do it to get away with it and Richard says I don’t know , maybe steal the car to get away? Jeremy tells Donnie Ryals to pack the car and tells Richard and Crystal to leave so they do.

A few minutes later Jeremy and Donnie pulls up at the church and Richard and Crystal gets in Jeremy asks Richard where do you wanna go and he says his dad’s house and they leave.

Well they go to Biloxi where the girlfriend of Richard’s live and they let Richard tell her goodbye, Richard tells her I’m going to Texas and make some money, get a car, and I’ll be back to take care of you.

Well Jeremy asks Richard to drive to cause he doesnt know the way to Texas , so Richard not knowing at the time what has actually happened he drives and once they get to Louisanna Richard is swerving all over the road , cause Richard doesnt have driver licenses never has had them and didn’t really know how to drive, well he gets pulled over and that’s when Jeremy tells him get us out of this I killed my dad.

Now Richard is scared and is freaking out and wants to get to his dad’s fast and get away from Jeremy who he is now terrified of big time. Jeremy tells him you tell anybody and I will kill you and then your family. So Richard shows the cop a school ID and the officer a story about in a hurry to get to his dad’s and the cop let’s him go with a few tickets.

After driving off Richard tells Jeremy I’m tired I can’t drive and tells Jeremy how to get to his dad’s which was a straight shot from there and they switch and Richard gets back in the back seat where he originally was when Jeremy picked him up.

Well Jeremy makes a stop in Louisanna at some water Richard stated and got out him and Donnie for a minute, Richard doesnt pay no attention, never looks he is scared and doesn’t wanna die, then Jeremy and Donnie get back in and they leave Richard goes to sleep.

Well later Jeremy wakes Richard up and tells him where at the dirt road of your dad’s and I dont drive on dirt roads so Richard drives , makes it to his dad’s and when he gets out Jeremy tells him details of what to say and not to say and they if he told the truth to anybody that not only would he come find him and kill him , he will kill his family and Richard kows at this time he will, Richard tells his dad and step mom to make sure nobody knows he is there and he starts work with his dad the next day.

When Jeremy and them left Donnie Ryals was driving. Richard thought that would be the last of seeing them. That was just the beginning of the nightmare for Richard.

The murder happened on March 22, 2000 and on March 24, 2000 Richard after getting home from working with his dad is arrested by texas Ranger Rocky Wardlow.

Not only was Richard arrested so roughly , his dad, step mom, and step brother was in handcuffs, their house destroyed and all. Richard never tries to run or be ugly nothing, Richard is not a violent person, respects his elderly everything.

They bust Richard up pretty good. Richard’s dad asks Rocky Wardlow whats going on? Cause he knew him from around town, the dinner they ate at, and Rocky Wardlow had been at Richard’s dad’s house before on trying to buy something. Rocky tells him they are looking for a murderer.

Richard’s dad says your looking in the wrong place, that’s when Rocky tells him were looking for Richard Jacobs and his dad said why my son? He said Mississippi is looking for him on capital murder of a vancleave man in Mississippi.

They bring Richard to the car and puts him in the back of the car and his rights are read to him by a different officer , well that’s what Richard’s dad believes the officer was doing cause he was telling him something.

Well Richard’s dad ask Rocky Wardlow if he could see his son and he said yes and so could his step mom and they go to the car, Richard’s step mom hugs him says i love you and Richard’s dad says go call the attorney tell him he has been arrested and what for and to get to the police station and she does right then and there, and Wardlow is standing right there listening.

Richard’s dad says son dont say anything the lawyer is on his way. Richard says dad I have to or he will kill me. Richard’s dad said ok son the attorney is on his way. Rocky Wardlow closes the door and they leave and on the way to the police station that was right down the road Wardlow tells Richard in the car he could tell him his side of the story.

Richard says my dad said not to talk an attorney is on the way. After getting to the police station Rocky Wardlow puts Richard in the detox tank with guys who are ten times bigger than him and totally drunk acting a fool, looking at Richard and he is extremely scared, I mean Richard was a kid barely 18 and little short thing, he would have no chance with these guys.

After being in there for a few minutes, Wardlow comes to the door asks him ready to talk to me? Richard says yes anything to get me out of here, so he goes with Wardlow outside.

Wardlow gives him a cigeratte says if you run I will kill you its my job, Richard is scared.

Well then Wardlow says would you like to tell me your side and Richard says no dad and the attorney is coming, at this point Richard’s dad and his step mom gets there and they ask Wardlow if they can talk to Richard .

Wardlow says I gotta take him back in and so he takes Richard in and Richard’s dad and them goes inside cause the attorney should be getting there soon he was 45 mins away at the time of the arrest.

Wardlow takes him in the interview room, but when the video starts you can tell they had already been in there talking and he again asks Richard to tell him his side of the story, that’s when Richard is comfortable with the officer and says ok I’ll tell you, Richard never knew he was being recorded.

Wardlow tells him I’m not on the case and don’t know what happened, you can tell me your side though. Well Richard tells him the same story I just told ya’ll but after he tells him Wardlow starts his coercing, threats, and leniency, tells him that the other’s has been arrested and their stories arent like his, it would shed a bad light on him he would be in trouble, and that if he told him why he pulled the trigger the reason for it and that they could work with that and the people would understand.

Richard remembers what Jeremy told him and now with what the officer tells him he starts crying and tells the officer Jeremy tried to make me he stuck a .357 to my head said in 3 if I didn’t pull the trigger he would put a bullet in me then his dad and the officer starts asking him about the gun, Richard never tells him he did pull the trigger, he says Jeremy tried to and how he tried to make him, at this point you know Richard’s lying cause his story never stays the same and it makes no sense on what he is saying so you know Richard is lying he wasnt the one who killed the man.

Richard couldn’t tell you the victims name or the girlfriends name nothing and then the officer asks him if he wants a lawyer and Richard tells him yes I guess if you think I need one I just wanna go home and i thought dad and the lawyer was coming.

Wardlow never says anything and they walk out then a few minutes later you see Wardlow come in turn the video off. Then as they come out the lawyer and his dad is there.

Well lawyer is informed Richard just gave a confession.

Now once they get Richard to Mississippi he is never interviewed anything like all the others were.

The tape was supposedly looked at by the judge and it was audible , only a few mins of it was played for the jury, and you cant understand the tape so they had some one write it out, the written confession states Richard shook his head saying yes he pulled the trigger, that you will hear him saying he did and how and why, but he didnt the jury was lied too by the state and the judge allowed it.

Also the jury was not a good one, the friends of the judge kids was on the jury and their parents were police officer best friend with the judge, there was a guy his cousin , friend, and co worker on it together, a wife of the narcotic team on it everything.

How was this done and fair?

The state tried all they could to have Richard put to death. They got him for robbery and murder which made it capital murder. His clothes were tested the victims blood was not on them but the state with held that.

The gun they got had no finger prints on it and the officer here in mississippi took Donnie Ryals alone the night before the diving team got there to look for the gun and the next day the diving team found it almost on the bank ! How?

And this gun was thrown deep into the river? Why did the officer take him alone and never told anybody else?

The same officer whao was arrested in 2007 for perjury!!!!

The same officer who listened to Richard’s tape and wrote out the words Richard didnt say.

Now the victims sister told different stories in court, the ex girlfriend told different stories in court, the officer Wardlow lied in court and they caught him did nothing to him.

The Miranda card at the arrest is not Richard’s signature, but the one at the interview is, who signed the one at the arrest??

Now the autopsy said he was shot in the mouth, but all the remains was in front and indicated he was shot from behind, Dr. McGarry the autopsy man was fired in 2008 for tainted autopsy and scenes.

The victim sister tells different stories how she found him , how she shook him etc she moved the body! Her husband was the last one there with the victim till officers arrived.

The phone lines were cut they said Richard did that.

Jeremy had been on bond for breaking his dad’s ribs and his girlfriends nose and stabbing his step-father.

The doctor told the victims sister Jeremy was going to kill the whole family, Crystal admits they had already planned this before Richard got there they were going to kill her family next.

And now Richard was charged for the murder and robbery with no evidence but a false confession from out of state that he was made to give!

The state lies to the jury, Jeremy was the one who did it and drove away Richard was made to leave he wasnt there.

Even the girlfriend said Jeremy was Driving when they got there to her house for Richard to tell her good bye. She said Richard said we killed him not that he had we did and that was a lie. There is right now 40 mistakes made and lies, sounds to me he was framed and the courts helped.

The jury found him guilty with nothing put him at the scene besides a false confession, they couldnt sentence him so the judge did and by 99-19-101 a judge can’t give life without only life with parole but he goes over the law and gives life without.

The state withheld the dna and evidence to show Richard’s innocence.

The Doctor even said in court Richard was at a 4th grade level on learning and reading he was borderline retarded, he was not violent etc, the court still proceeded.

The defense attorney for Richard worked for Jeremy’s mom on legal matters at that time in court, Richard fired him but he talked Richard into letting him proceed and the judge allowed it.

The attorney was mean to Richard’s dad , the jury did what ever they wanted during the trial out to eat and all etc

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Michael Lambrix

Case summary

Michael Lambrix was indicted on 2 counts of first degree murder on March 29, 1983 on Clarence Moore and Aleisha Bryant outside his home. Clarence Moore was a 35-year-old career criminal, and a known associate of South Florida drug smugglers, while Bryant was a 19-year-old local waitress who had just met Moore. Clarence Moore had also a record of violence towards women.

Michael always maintained his complete innocence in the murder of Aleisha Bryant, and that he was compelled to act in in voluntary self-defense when he killed Clarence Moore, attempting to stop the violent assault of Clarence Moore upon Aleisha Bryant. His case is circumstancial.

At his first trial, the Glades County jury ended with the declaration of a mistrial on December 17, 1983, when the jury failed to reach a verdict after deliberating for 11 hours. The retrial jury found Michael guilty on both counts of indictment on February 24, 1984.

from http://www.save-innocents.com/save-michael-lambrix.html

Briefly

Michael says he heard a woman, Aleisha Bryant, screaming, went to her aid, fought with and killed her attacker Clarence Moore, but she was already dead or dying.

The clincher is that the State depended entirely on one key witness Frances Smith who was given immunity from prosecution AND lied to the jury about this.

The prosecution theory is not at all credible.

Also another witness deposed in 1998 said, contrary to her trial testimony, that Lambrix never stated that he killed two people and that she testified otherwise because police made her fearful of Lambrix.

The jury that convicted Lambrix never knew that the pretrial investigation had uncovered facts about Moore that indicated that he was a 35 years old criminal with a history of violent assaults against women, while intoxicated.

In addition, fingernail scrapings of Bryant that could have confirmed Moore or Lambrix as her assailant disappeared before there was any analysis.

Mike’s story

From http://murderpedia.org/male.L/l/lambrix-michael-ray.htm

Imagine being convicted and condemned to death for the alleged crime of premeditated murder that simply never happened- a crime deliberately fabricated by an over zealous, politically ambitious State Prosecutor concerned more with manipulating a rural community’s emotions into a vindictive passion to gain political popularity than objectively pursuing justice.  Even then, when the first jury could not agree on any verdict, a subsequent retrial was held in the same small community, and to ensure a conviction would be rendered at any cost, the State substituted the original local judge with a judge from another county known for his exteme bias against capital murder defendants.

No, this isn’t the outline of an imaginative Hollywood plot.  It is the basis of the case against Cary Michael Lambrix in the state of Florida.  This case begins in February 1983.  At the time Mike Lambrix was 22 years old, living with a 31 year old woman by the name of Frances.  They shared a rented mobile home located on a large ranch in rural Glades County, Florida.  On the night of Saturday February 5, 1983, both Mike and Frances decided to go into the nearby town of LaBelle to have a few drinks at the Town Tavern.  Shortly after arriving, a man introducing himself as ‘Chip’ joined Mike and Frances. Had Mike and Frances known that ‘Chip’ was a 35 year old ex-convict and known drug smuggler with a criminal history of physically assaulting women, undoubtedly they would have avoided him.

As the three conversed, a young local waitress by the name of Aleisha Bryant joined Chip as his date and the four decided to go to another lounge that featured dancing.  For the rest of the evening and into the early morning hours the four continued drinking and dancing until ‘Squeaky’s Lounge’ closed. Chip had previously made plans to return to Miami and Aleisha had to work the early shift at LaBelle’s Whites Restaurant, and so it was agreed the four would return to Mike and Frances’s trailer to pass the few hours until Aleisha had to be at work and Chip would drop her off on his way out of town.

Once back at the trailer, Frances began to cook a late dinner of spaghetti while Mike, Chip and Aleisha congregated in the adjacent living room.  Frances later insisted all three were laughing, teasing and playing around.  The stereo was turned up loud, so she couldn’t hear what was being said.  As Frances continued cooking, Mike and Chip decided to go out to his car to retrieve some music tapes for the stereo as Aleisha stayed inside with Frances.  It was now early Sunday morning, Feb 6th.  There were no lights and so Frances insisted she could neither see or hear anything outside.

Once outside, their judgement obviously impaired by a night of heavy drinking, Mike and Chip concocted a plan to play a practical joke on Frances and Aleisha by going around the trailer and scratching at the kitchen window in an attempt to spook them.  But, neither Frances or Aleisha heard the persistent scratching.  Now determined to succeed, Mike and Chip came up with an alternative plan.  Chip would hide at the nearby cattle feed trough while Mike went back inside and got the two women to come out and as they approached the trough, Chip would jump out. Once back inside, only Aleisha would venture out as Frances stayed inside to finish cooking. Almost an hour passed during which Frances claimed she neither saw or heard anything outside. Then Mike suddenly came back inside, ‘covered’ with blood saying only ‘they’re dead’. Frances said she repeatedly asked Mike what happened, but he wouldn’t talk about it. Mike went into the bathroom and washed up and changed clothes, then he and Frances briefly discussed what to do, as Frances knew Mike had an arrest warrant outstanding from when he walked away from a state ‘Halfway House’, where Mike was serving a sentence for a ‘bounced’ check charge. It was mutually decided that they could not call the Sheriff’s Department as they would take Mike into custody.  So, they decided to superficially conceal the two bodies, then abandon Chip’s car far away and leave the area for good.

Several days later Frances was herself arrested on unrelated charges and gave numerous statements denying knowing Mike or her recent whereabouts.  The police had no reason to suspect Mike of any “murder” and Frances made a point of not telling them anything about Chip or Aleisha.  Then days later Frances bonded out of jail and with the assistance of her family, retained a private lawyer and after receiving legal advice, she went into the State Attorney’s office in Tampa, Florida and told them that Mike had “forced” her to help conceal the two bodies and that she could show them where.  When asked if she knew why Mike had allegedly killed Chip and Aleisha, she insisted repeatedly that she did not see or hear anything that transpired outside, and all she knew was that Mike and Chip went outside only to have Mike return alone 20 minutes later asking her and Aleisha to go outside.  But, she stayed in while Aleisha went out with Mike and almost an hour later Mike came back alone, “covered” with blood and in apparent shock said only that “they’re dead”, then washed up and changed clothes and then “forced” her to assist in superficially concealing the two bodies at the back of a large pasture behind the trailer.

Based upon the information Frances provided, the local Sheriff’s department and State Attorney’s office recovered the bodies and issued an arrest warrant charging Mike with murder. Without knowing what might have actually happened outside between Mike, Chip and Aleisha, the local State Attorney (Randall McGruther) came up with a theory that Mike had deliberately ‘lured’ this local couple to the remote trailer with the pre-meditated intention of robbing and killing each, even though there was virtually NO evidence to support this fabricated theory. In fact, when the bodies were recovered, both had jewelry, money and other personal effects on them. Neither was ‘robbed’ of anything and Mike was never charged with robbery.

The fact that no evidence existed to support the theory of robbery is an important point.  In Florida, as in many other states, if a person is killed during the commission of a robbery, then the perpetrator is charged with ‘Felony” murder and the State does not have to prove that the perpetrator actually intended to kill anyone.  Rather, the State need only prove that a robbery occurred and the person charged committed the robbery and because of or during that robbery a person died- even if by a heart attack- and it’s Capital Murder.  But, since there was virtually no actual evidence that any robbery ever occurred, the state was prohibited from actually charging Mike with robbery and was obligated to prove the higher standard of actual premeditated intent to kill Chip and Aleisha.

By the time Mike was arrested several weeks later, the State Attorney’s office had manipulated the local newspaper into working up the small community passions with this fabricated theory of cold blooded robbery and murder by an alleged “escaped convict”, not bothering to point out Mike was not in prison, rather, he simply walked away from a State Halfway house.  But it wasn’t about truth….it was about gaining public support for a politically ambitious prosecutor.

Mike adamently refused to talk to the police or media, but Mike’s version of what happened that night never changed, with Frances insisting that she neither saw or heard anything outside.  Mike could provide an account of what had happened that resulted in their deaths.

As Mike stated, after he and Chip unsuccesssfully tried to playfully spook Frances and Aleisha by scratching at the trailer window,  Mike went back inside to ask Frances and Aleisha out while Chip concealed himself at a nearby cattle trough.  But, only Aleisha came out and Frances stayed inside to finish cooking as Mike and Aleisha walked around the back of the trailer  towards the feed trough.  Chip suddenly jumped out at her, successfully scaring Aleisha- which both Mike and Chip thought was very funny.  But, Aleisha became very angry at both the stupidity of this intoxicated joke and the subsequent laughing at her expense and immediately began verbally assaulting Chip with a barrage of profanity, and the two began arguing amongst themselves. Mike, still assuming these two had an actual relationship, decided to let them work it out between them and slowly made his way back to the trailer, playing with his dog along the way.

It took a good ten minutes or better for Mike to make his way around the trailer perimeter fence and as he approached the trailer, Mike heard a quick scream coming from the pasture area where he left Chip and Aleisha.  Unsure of this strange sound, Mike waited a moment and heard another more pronounced scream, clearly someone in trouble.  Immediately Mike began back around the trailer towards the pasture.  The property bordered the 200 square mile “Fishery Creek Wildlife Management Area” and a swampy “Bee Branch Creek”, so snakes, wild animals and even an occasional alligator ventured into the pasture adjacent to the trailer.  As Mike passed a car he had been working on earlier that day, he spontaneously grabbed the rod-type jack handle as protection.

As Mike went into the pasture area, he quickly discovered that Chip ane Aleisha were not at the feed trough where he had left them.  It was early morning and no light so Mike was unable to see beyond a few feet.  Mike’s dog sensed the presence of something further back in the pasture and Mike cautiously began in that direction.  As Mike approached the near pasture fence about 800 to 1000 feet behind the trailer, he began hearing a faint pounding sound and suddenly walked upon Chip straddling over Aleisha pinning her motionless on the ground beneath him as he continued physically assaulting her.

Without stopping, Mike ordered Chip to let Aleisha go, but Chip refused and Mike forcibly pushed Chip off Aleisha, even though Chip was substantially larger than Mike.  As Chip fell to the ground on the far side of Aleisha, he immediately sprung up at Mike who spontaneously swung the solid metal rod, hitting Chip in the head numerous times before realizing Chip was down.  Then Mike dropped the jack handle and attempted to help Aleisha.  She remained motionless, her clothes disarrayed.  Mike assumed she was unconscious, picked her up and began going back to the trailer before having to lay her down.

Still assuming she was unconscious from the assault inflicted by Chip, Mike attempted to mouth to mouth revive her to no avail.  Realizing that she was dead, Mike returned to where he left Chip to check on him, but the blows had crushed his skull and he was obviously beyond help.  Now in a state of surreal shock, Mike returned to the trailer and told Frances “they’re dead”.  After he washed up and changed clothes, Mike and Frances mutually decided to superficially conceal the bodies and then abandon Chip’s car away from the area.

The State attorney was not provided Mike’s versions of events as a criminal defendant simply does not talk to the prosecuting attorney, nor did Mike provide the police with any statement, as by law any statement could be used against you.  Towards the end of 1983, the State attempted to have Mike plea guilty to a lesser charge, but Mike insisted on his innocence to any act of murder and a trial date was scheduled to begin December 2, 1983.

On the first day of the scheduled trial, for reasons that to this date are still not clear, Mike was brought into the Judge’s chambers, and, on record effectively ordered by the trial Judge that he would NOT be allowed to testify at the trial.  Mike’s appointed Public Defender felt that the State’s wholly circumstantial case was so weak that the State could not prove any case beyond a reasonable doubt and so they approached the Judge and advised the Judge that they (Kentry Enguaison and Robert Jacobs) did not want Mike to testify and asked the Judge to instruct Mike that he could not testify.  Judge Adams did as they requested, even though there is a clearly established legal right to testify on your own behalf.

As the trial progressed, Mike’s Public Defender methodically broke down the State’s fabricated theory of premeditated murder through cross examination of the State’s own witnesses.  The State claimed that Mike “lured” this couple back to his trailer to kill them, the motive being robbery, yet in truth Mike had no way of knowing that he would have by chance met them, and there clearly was no robbery.  The State’s key witness, Mike’s ex-girlfriend Frances, testified that Mike went out first with Chip and then came back alone “looking normal” and took Aleisha out. Frances admitted she saw or heard nothing and the last time she saw them, they were “laughing, teasing and playing around” with each other with no indication of animosity between any of them.

More importantly, Frances was absolutely certain that Mike did NOT have any blood on him when he came back in a alone to get Aleisha to come out, but the State’s own Medical Examiner concluded that substantial amounts of blood on Mike upon returning AFTER Aleisha went outside could only have come from Chip as Aleisha did not experience any physical trauma that would have caused significant bleeding.  Thus, Chip HAD to have been alive outside when Aleisha went out, how could Mike have killed both at the same time, especially when both Chip and Aleisha were larger than Mike?

More importantly, the State’s own Medical Examiner concluded that all the blows administered upon Chip were inflicted in a continuous swinging motion to the front temporal area of his head and there were no defensive wounds.  The position of the wounds and absence of defensive wounds strongly implies that Chip had to be the aggressor, and entirely supports Mike’s claim of self defense.

As for Aleisha Bryant, the Medical Examiner concluded death as “probable strangulation”, even though the physical signs of trauma normally associated with strangulation were not found, such as haemorraging in the neck area and fracture of the larynx.  But, more importantly, it was established that to inflict death by strangulation, substantial pressure had to be continuously applied for 3 to 5 minutes to render the victim unconscious.  A 19 year old 185 pound woman simply is not going to passively stand by and be strangled to death without fighting for her life. For this reason it is a standard procedure to collect “fingernail scrapings” from such a victim and fingernail scrapings were undoubtedly collected in this case.  But when Frances insisted that Mike had no bruises or scratches consistent with what Aleisha would have inflicted upon her assailant, and that Chip DID have such scratches, these fingernail scrapings conveniently disappeared from the State’s evidence room.

No defense beyond establishing reasonable doubt was presented and without Mike being able to personally testify, his version of what actually transpired outside resulting in Chip’s and Aleisha’s death NEVER came out.  The jury deliberated 11 continuous hours without being able to agree upon any verdict when the trial judge declared it a ‘Hung jury’ and dismissed that jury, ordering a retrial.

The failure to convict Mike of the allegedly brutal murder became the feature story of the local newspaper.  The retrial was ordered for February 1984 which was an election year and convicting Mike became a political priority.  Knowing that its case was weak, the State again attempted to convince Mike to plea guilty to a reduced charge and lenient sentence, but Mike refused.  Then just before the retrial began, the original Judge was removed and an extremely pro-prosecution Judge was brought in.  Judge Stanley was previously a career prosecutor and known for his policy of always sentencing convicted murderers to death, even when a jury recommended life that particular year.

Judge Stanley’s extreme bias quickly manifested itself at the retrial.  Motion to move the trial out of Glades County because of the saturation of prejudicial pretrial media coverage was denied. As Judge Stanley presided over impaneling a jury, attempts to strike biased jurors were circumvented and the jury that tried the case included 4 jurists related to members of the small local sheriff’s department, including the stepfather of a local deputy (Ralph Alan Green)who was actually under an FBI investigation at the time for allegedly attempting to physically beat a confession out of Mike at the County Jail a month earlier, requiring Mike to be hospitalized.

Judge Stanley then prohibited Mike’s Public Defender from questioning Frances, the State’s key witness on the numerous conflicting stories she gave to the police that directly contradicted her trial testimony, and refused to allow evidence of alcohol intoxication in, as such evidence could preclude capital murder by legally negating actual premeditation.  Again Mike was not allowed to testify and no defense whatsoever was allowed.  NOT surprisingly, it took the jury less than 2 hours to convict Mike of two counts of premeditated capital murder, and one juror was later heard to complain that the only reason it took that long was because they couldn’t get the coffee pot to work right away.

On March 22, 1984, Mike was sentenced to death and sent to Florida’s death row.  The Judge then appointed   a local ex-prosecutor to represent Mike on appeal, and ex former Chief Justice Alan Sundberg later testified on Mike’s behalf: this pretense of an appeal was unquestionably the most incompetent appeal he had ever seen in a capital case.  Having succeeded in preventing Mike from proving his actual innocence of murder at trial, the politically motivated Judge subsequently obstructed Mike’s ability to prove his innocence on appeal, knowing that Mike’s claim and evidence of self defense was not fully presented on appeal, it would be procedurally barred from review forever.

The State’s Case

From http://caselaw.findlaw.com/fl-supreme-court/1521988.html#sthash.DXCwECS2.dpuf )

On the evening of February 5, 1983, Lambrix and Frances Smith, his roommate, went to a tavern where they met Clarence Moore, a/k/a Lawrence Lamberson, and Aleisha Bryant. Late that evening, they all ventured to Lambrix’ trailer to eat spaghetti. Shortly after their arrival, Lambrix and Moore went outside. Lambrix returned about twenty minutes later and requested Bryant to go outside with him. About forty-five minutes later Lambrix returned alone. Smith testified that Lambrix was carrying a tire tool and had blood on his person and clothing. Lambrix told Smith that he killed both Bryant and Moore. He mentioned that he choked and stomped on Bryant and hit Moore over the head. Smith and Lambrix proceeded to eat spaghetti, wash up and bury the two bodies behind the trailer. After burying the bodies, Lambrix and Smith went back to the trailer to wash up. They then took Moore’s Cadillac and disposed of the tire tool and Lambrix’ bloody shirt in a nearby stream.

On Wednesday, February 8, 1983, Smith was arrested on an unrelated charge. Smith stayed in jail until Friday. On the following Monday, Smith contacted law enforcement officers and advised them of the burial.

A police investigation led to the discovery of the two buried bodies as well as the recovery of the tire iron and bloody shirt. A medical examiner testified that Moore died from multiple crushing blows to the head and Bryant died from manual strangulation. Additional evidence exists to support a finding that Lambrix committed the two murders in question.

Appeals

During successive postconviction proceedings, Hanzel was deposed in 1998 and stated that Lambrix never admitted that he killed anyone, which contradicted her trial testimony. During an evidentiary hearing, Hanzel again testified that Lambrix never stated that he killed two people and that she testified otherwise because police made her fearful of Lambrix.

Analysis

The State’s case seems highly improbable, and relies entirely on the testimony of Smith to the effect that Lambrix killed and “choked and stomped on Bryant”.

Smith, as an accomplice after-the-fact had considerable motive to agree with suggestions put to her. Moverover, the judge prevented the defense from presenting to the jury prior inconsistent statements by Smith.

The State alleges robbery as the motive, but how could Bryant die from strangulation and Moore from being struck with a tire-iron in that case? Whereas there seems no reason other than the possibly coerced testimony of Smith to think that Lambrix’ account is untrue. And why would Lambrix confess that he “choked and stomped on Bryant”? This alleged confession is not credible, given the circumstances.

Given that Hanzel was coerced by the police to give false testimony, it seems highly improbable that the State’s case is true.

Recent Appeal

From http://www.save-innocents.com/press-release-legal-appeal-filed-for-lambrix.html

As the case of Michael Lambrix’s clemency review is in process, his non-clemency layer has just filed a 101 pages application  to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit asking for permission to file a new federal petition for relief.

Background

Michael Lambrix was indicted on 2 counts of first degree murder on March 29, 1983 on Clarence Moore and Aleisha Bryant outside his home. Clarence Moore was a 35-year-old career criminal, and a known associate of South Florida drug smugglers, while Bryant was a 19-year-old local waitress who had just met Moore. Clarence Moore had also a record of violence towards women.
He has always maintained his complete innocence in the murder of Aleisha Bryant, and that he was compelled to act in in self-defense when he killed Clarence Moore, attempting to stop the violent assault of Clarence Moore upon Aleisha Bryant.

At his first trial, the Glades County jury ended with the declaration of a mistrial on December 17, 1983, when the jury failed to reach a verdict after deliberating for 11 hours.
Lambrix then refused to plead guilty to lesser charges. The retrial jury found M. Lambrix on both counts of indictment  and sentenced him to death on February 24, 1984.

Lambrix grew up serving as a Catholic altar boy, participated in Boy Scouts, joined the ROTC program in high school and enlisted as a volunteer in the US Army at age 18. He has no prior criminal record of violence.

Key points of the new appeal filed in the Eleventh Circuit include:

1)     Circumstancial case

The State of Florida has conceded that the whole case is circumstancial i.e. no eyewitnesses to the crimes, no physical, nor forensic evidence identifying M. Lambrix as the murderer, and no confession by M. Lambrix.

2)     Issues of credibility of key witnesses

Witness 1:  Frances S
The alleged premeditated murders of Clarence Moore and Aleisha Bryant rested entirely upon the statement  and credibility of one key state witness Frances S. As the State clearly acknowledged in state court proceedings: “Clearly that State’s case was built on Frances S.

The entire case, premeditation and everything is proven in her testimony. And there has never been any question about that”.

When pressed by the State to provide a motive for the killings of Bryant and Moore, Frances S. stated that she had witnessed Lambrix searching the pockets of the victims for valuables, and that she saw Lambrix remove a gold necklace from Moore’s neck.

However, upon recovery of the two bodies, the medical examiner found both cash and jewelry in the personal effects of Moore and Bryant. This finding impeached Frances S’s account of Lambrix removing valuables from the victims.

She also admitted of a sexual relationship with the state attorney investigator on the case.

Witness 2:  Deborah H
Deborah H provided a statement that Lambrix told her that he killed Moore and Bryant in order to gain possession of Moore’s vehicle. During post conviction proceedings , Deborah H recanted this information and claimed she had been coerced into testifying falsely at trial in order to bolster France S’s testimony. In 1998, she provided under oath that Lambrix never told her that  he had killed anyone.

3)     Newly discovered evidence the jury at trial never saw

. Intentionally concealed FDLE crime lab reports
. Previously undisclosed hairs found on the alleged murder weapon, according to a state lab report did not match either the victims’ or Lambrix
.The jury that convicted Lambrix never knew that the pretrial investigation had uncovered facts about Moore that indicated that he was a 35 years old criminal with a history of violent assaults against women, while intoxicated.

In addition, fingernail scrapings of Bryant that could have confirmed Moore or Lambrix as her assailant disappeared before there was any analysis.

4)     Implausible State theory

The appeal states: “The State theory of the crime is implausible. Lambrix would have had to physically overpower and kill both Moore and Bryant simultaneously in completely different ways. At the time of arrest, Lambrix weighed about 140 pounds, Moore weighed 195 pounds, and Bryant 185 pounds.” However, the key witness Frances S. was certain that Lambrix did not exhibit “any scratches or bruises” (p90)

5)     Prejudiced judge

The same trial court judge that had presided over Lambrix’s second capital trial was found to have substantial and constitutionally prejudicial bias against capital defendants. Thus it became public knowledge, based on depositions and evidentiary process before the state court that judge S. had provided under oath statements that he always carried a sawed-off machine gun while on the bench and that he believed that he should have been allowed to “shoot [the] capital defendants between the eyes” rather than having to sentence them to death.

Michael Radelet says: Over the years I have met probably 300 death row inmates in prisons in a dozen states. I sincerely believe that Lambrix’s case is unique — there were errors and mistakes made at several points along the way, and his life today has a tremendous amount of value to others. (…) The purpose of a Clemency Board Is to intervene in cases precisely like this. (Clemency letter)

Litigation Director CCRC-South William M.Hennis III says:
This is the extraordinary case in which a prima facie case of actual innocence has been established. Pursuant to the intent of Congress, Lambrix  is entitled to a grant of leave to pursue a second or successive habeas corpus petition in the district court.

Relevant excerpts of the law quoted:
Davis v. State:
Even though the circumstancial evidence is sufficient to support a probability of guilt it is not thereby adequate to support a conviction if it is likewise consistent with a reasonable hypothesis of innocence”
Heiney v. State
As Florida law has long held “where the only proof of premeditation is cIrcumstancial, no matter how strongly the evidence may suggest guilt, a conviction cannot be sustained unless the evidence is inconsistent with any reasonable of innocence.

Finally

Smith lied about getting immunity from prosecution. From page 73 of this appeal

SmithLied

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In To Live And Die on Death Row Michael Lambrix tells his own story ( 309 pages, PDF ).

Blog | Website

News

His plea for life at Florida’s highest court Herald-Tribune / Saturday, January 30, 2016

Article by Adam Tebrugge, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Florida, February 11, 2016

Pro Se petition to SCOTUS August 2016

Facebook Page – created 23 December, 2016

Article on 2014 appeal – 24 December, 2016

 

Brendan Dassey

After Steven Avery was wrongly accused of murdering Teresa Halbach, Brendan Dassey was coerced into making a false confession, due to his being an alibi for Avery.

Brendan was convicted in March 2007 for the murder of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach on Halloween in 2006. Dassey was sentenced to life in prison, with a chance for early release in 2048.

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News

August 12, 2016 Conviction overturned | Ruling available from here | Copy : Dassey-Order

Extract:

Consequently, the court finds that the confession Dassey gave to the police on March 1, 2006 was so clearly involuntary in a constitutional sense that the court of appeals’ decision to the contrary was an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law.

The court does not reach this conclusion lightly. The present decision is made in full appreciation of the limited nature of the habeas remedy under AEDPA and mindful of the principles of comity and federalism that restrain federal intervention in this arena. See, e.g., id. at 15.

However, the high standard imposed by AEDPA is not a complete bar to relief. Cockrell, 537 U.S. at 340. While the circumstances for relief may be rare, even extraordinary, it is the conclusion of the court that this case represents the sort of “extreme malfunction[] in the state criminal justice system[]” that federal habeas corpus relief exists to correct.

 

 

The presumption of innocence exists in theory, not reality

What is to be done?

Wrongful Convictions Blog

By: Keith Findlay

Keith Findley is an assistant professor of law at the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he is co-director of the Wisconsin Innocence Project. He represented Steven Avery, subject of the “Making a Murderer” documentary, in the 2005 proceedings that produced DNA evidence to prove Avery’s innocence and exonerate him of a 1985 sexual assault conviction.

If, as the Supreme Court has consistently declared, the presumption of innocence is among the most fundamental principles in our criminal justice system, it is also among the most fragile.

The presumption is under constant assault from jurors’ natural assumption that if someone is arrested and charged with a crime, he or she must have done something wrong. It is also vulnerable to the media frenzy around high-profile cases, the fear-driven politics of crime, the highly punitive nature of our culture and the innate cognitive processes that produce tunnel…

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Joseph Thomas

Joseph Thomas Jr. was convicted in December 2011 for strangling his ex-wife Beth Irby-Thomas. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

In January 2015, the Idaho Supreme Court overturned the first-degree murder conviction, after the Idaho Court of Appeals said the lower court erred in excluding some evidence but ruled the error “harmless”.

The key issue at trial is whether Beth accidentally strangled herself. The Supreme court ruled that the lower court erred by excluding evidence that could have corroborated his claim that Beth liked to engage in erotic asphyxiation. The justices cited excluded evidence from friends who said Beth liked to be choked into unconsciousness.

Supporters allege State misconduct and coercive tactics.

In December 2015, the retrial was set for August 8, 2016.

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Pamela Smart

Pamela Smart was convicted of conspiring with her 16-year-old lover, William Flynn, and three of his friends to kill her 24-year-old husband, Greggory Smart, on May 1, 1990, in Derry, New Hampshire.

This was largely as a result of the testimony of Flynn and his friends, who were treated leniently in exchange for their testimony, and secretly taped conversations in which Pamela appeared to contradict her claims of having wanted to reconcile with her husband and having no knowledge of the plot. She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole.

Supporters say the taped conversations via wiretap were inaudible. For that reason the court had them transcribed by a secretary, not an expert, and therefore they were not transcribed properly and the person who transcribed the tapes cannot be named or found. Sentences spoken by Cecilia Pierce were attributed to Pamela Smart and vice versa.

Pamela did say incriminating things on the tapes, but there is an obvious innocent explanation – she pretended to be in the conspiracy to try to get an admission from one of the guilty parties (Cecilia Pierce), but it back-fired big-time. She knew the conversation was being recorded.

Bill Flynn was a drug addict and petty thief , Patrick Randall an aspiring hitman. Pamela only knew Bill Flynn, she admitted having an affair with him, this would doubtless not have gone down well with the jury.

Bill Flynn was no innocent. He was having sex with another woman at the same time he was having the affair with Pamela.

Pamela was implausibly accused of seducing 15-year-old Flynn and threatening to stop having sex with him unless he killed her husband.

The judge permitted the murderers to be housed together, giving them ample time and opportunity to coordinate their stories and even watch each other testify in live time on televisions in the jail.

Appeal rulings : State-v-Smart  | Smart-v-Goord

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Justin Boyce

12507281_10156348967040526_9144467749603858242_nJustin Boyce was convicted of the November 2012 murder of his girlfriend’s three year old daughter.

On November 28th 2012 emergency crews were called about three year old Breanna Perry who was believed to be having a seizure. Breanna was rushed to the hospital but died the next day. Prosecutors claimed Boyce beat Breanna to death with a blunt object.

District attorney Joe Brown said in his opening statement that Breanna’s mother and sister noticed bruises on Breanna. Justin denied the accusations saying that girl had fallen off her mattress and hit her head on a toy causing the bruise.

Two of the first responders on the scene testified Tuesday that they thought it was strange that Justin showed no emotion during the incident, however defense attorneys attributed Justin’s lack of emotion to Aspergers syndrome.

Defense Attorneys said  the Breanna was injured when her older sister accidentally jumped on her head and cracked her skull.

Source:  press report on the first day of the case.

According to Justin’s mother:

There was no physical evidence, no witnesses, and nothing to tie him to the death other than circumstantial evidence of being at the wrong place at the wrong time as well as evidently having the misfortune of being “the boyfriend.” The Assistant DA justified charging Justin because he stated to Justin’s attorney, “It’s always the boyfriend.” It even took the DA’s office TWO grand juries to finally get their indictment they so vigorously sought against him.

The other reason Justin was the focus of the police investigation in this small town is because he has Asperger’s Syndrome (also referred to as high-functioning Autism). The uneducated members of law enforcement in this area thought that automatically meant he was violent, “weird,” and “too calm,” even describing Justin to witnesses “as cool as a Hindu cat.” In spite of being a gentle person, never being in a fight or throwing a punch in his life, and never being arrested before, the police discarded and ignored any evidence to the contrary, focusing on Justin as the main suspect from the very beginning. Justin had nothing to hide and fully co-operated with the police from day one, offering them full access to his cell phone during initial questioning without an attorney present and even offering to let them in his girlfriend’s house to search without a warrant. He voluntarily took and passed a polygraph. In spite of this, he was charged, indicted, arrested and convicted at a very lop-sided and unfair trial where the prosecution presented their case for nine days and the defense for one and a half days.

There is evidence of prosecutorial misconduct that includes witness tampering and coercion, as well as the appearance of impropriety with a juror who never disclosed being friends of the victim’s family. We have just begun the lengthy appeal process and won’t stop until Justin is exonerated and once more home with his loving family who believe in his innocence 100%.

From a news report on the sentencing hearing:

But not everyone believes Boyce is guilty, including Brianna’s mother. Sara Perry spoke with us, off camera.  She and Boyce are still together and have a child. One of Boyce’s former co-workers said she’s never seen Boyce act violent and doesn’t believe he killed Brianna.

“Justin was a good kind person when I worked with him, now a family that has already lost a child, has lost a dad too,” Airel Wastier, who worked with Boyce, said.

“We’re very disappointed in the verdict, we respect it but you know we’re disappointed. We didn’t think that the state proved beyond reasonable doubt that Justin did anything to Brianna,” Bob Jarvis, Boyce’s attorney, said.

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Connie Oakes

Connie Oakes was wrongly convicted of fatally stabbing Casey Armstrong in the neck while he sat in the bathtub of his Medicine Hat trailer in May 2011.

The conviction was based on a confession from Wendy Scott, who has an IQ of 50 and had accused three others of the murder.

Scott subsequently retracted her confession, and her conviction has been overturned, due to a lack of corroborative physical evidence.

In January 2016, one of Connie’s lawyers told an appeal court “This verdict was not supported by any reasonable use of evidence, this is a person who has a history of blaming other people of murder. She has provided sworn testimony once again. This is troubling.”

Source: ‘I want to see her set free’: Defence seeks new trial for Connie Oakes in fatal Medicine Hat stabbing Calgary Herald, 12 January 2016.

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News

April 6, 2016 Connie Oakes’ murder conviction quashed over ‘unreliable’ testimony from low-IQ witness

April 28, 2016 ‘She’s coming home’: Connie Oakes free after murder charge stayed by Alberta Crown

 

Tyra Patterson

Tyra Patterson was sentenced in December 1995 to spend the rest of her life in prison, for having participated in a robbery of a group of white girls in a car the previous year. At the end of the robbery, Michelle Lai was shot in the head and killed.

In an affidavit from 2013, LaShawna Keeney, the confessed shooter, expressed remorse for the “horrible crime I committed”. She went on to say that Patterson had not been involved in the robbery but had tried to stop it: “She walked up to me and told me to leave the victims alone.”

Source: A tale of two Tyras Guardian, 14 Jan 2016

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Conviction Review Units

A scholarly 95 page study of Conviction Review Units by John Hollway, University of Pennsylvania Law School. The conclusion:

The variety of philosophies, policies, and practices within the 19 CRUs that participated in this project is no surprise. In fact, it may be surprising how many areas the DAs and leaders of CRUs did agree on.

And a complete evaluation of the utility of the different approaches employed by the CRUs is clearly premature. Still, the promise of Convictions Review Units is clear.

CRUs have the potential to showcase the criminal justice system working at its best. Done well, a CRU can be a force of good in the criminal justice community, a model that operates with objectivity and a focus on real-world truth to integrate adversarial viewpoints and analyze conflicting and complex information and address claims for individuals who may be suffering from a State-imposed injustice.

Whether the model extends and realizes its potential as a force for education and improvement of techniques to investigate and adjudicate criminal charges or not, good faith CRUs that operate with independence, flexibility, and transparency can build bridges across what is too often a bitter ideological divide between prosecutors and defense counsel, and between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and restore the community’s faith that each part of the system is operating to ensure that perpetrators of crime – and only perpetrators of crime – are held accountable for their acts in ways that preserve the constitutional freedoms of all.

Institutions with such great potential should be observed carefully, as their impact can be enormously positive.

Full Article Here: Conviction Review Units: A National Perspective.

Warren Horinek

On March 14, 1995, Warren Horinek called 911, claiming his wife Bonnie had shot herself. When paramedics arrived, they found Bonnie dead. She was lying on the couple’s bed with a gunshot wound to the chest. Warren was frantically administering CPR. On the bed next to Bonnie’s body was a .38 revolver and a shotgun. There was no sign of a break in. Police quickly narrowed the possible scenarios: Either Bonnie had committed suicide or Warren had murdered her. Warren claimed from the beginning that Bonnie had killed herself.

The people normally responsible for prosecuting a murder came to believe that Warren was telling the truth. The crime scene investigator, the homicide sergeant, the medical examiner and the assistant DA assigned to prosecute the case all became convinced that the evidence pointed to suicide.

“I always thought that it was suicide,” Mike Parrish, the prosecutor handling the case, told the Observer last year. “Still do.”

Bonnie’s parents chose to hire a private attorney, who, through a quirk in the law, obtained a grand jury indictment of Horinek. That led to a bizarre trial. Everyone trying to convict Warren was in private practice, and the agents of the state—crime scene investigator, homicide sergeant and assistant DA—all testified for the defense.

It seemed Warren was headed for acquittal until the testimony of the prosecution’s final witness—a blood spatter expert from Oklahoma named Tom Bevel. He testified that the small spots of blood found on Warren’s t-shirt the night of Bonnie’s death were certainly the result of blood spatter form a gunshot. He said the spatter proved Warren had fired a gun the night of the murder.

It was Bevel’s blood spatter testimony that led to Warren’s conviction.

The problem is Bevel may well have been wrong. Several nationally known blood spatter experts have examined the Horinek case and strongly believe the blood spots resulted from Warren administering CPR to Bonnie. They say the key forensic evidence that sent Warren to prison is flawed.

Article

Discussion

Corey Williams

Why did Corey Williams end up imprisoned for a crime he almost certainly did not commit while Nathan and Moore remain free? All evidence pointed to the other three men as the perpetrators—yet Williams confessed to the murder, and the other men’s detailed testimonies corroborated his confession. Why would Williams confess to a murder he didn’t perpetrate? And if his confession was false, how could the other men’s testimony so accurately corroborate it?

The solution to this puzzle is both simple and outrageous—so outrageous that the state concealed it for more than 15 years. That’s how long prosecutors refused to release transcripts of interrogations conducted the night of the murder. It’s easy to see why they stalled. These transcripts, finally obtained by Williams’ defense this year, explain the central mystery of the case. Williams didn’t commit the crime; his testimony was coerced. The other men didn’t corroborate his confession; they refuted it. But when detectives presented them with Williams’ false confession, they quickly molded their story to fit with it. The prosecutor who sent Williams to death row—then fought to keep him there despite his intellectual disability—was aware of all this. He didn’t report it or inform the defense. Instead, he kept the transcripts hidden.

Source

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