Charles Johnson and Larod Styles

In July 2016, Cook County Judge Domenica A. Stephenson vacated the murder convictions of Charles Johnson, 39, and Larod Styles, 36, who, as teenagers, received life sentences in the December 1995 deaths of Yousef Ali and Khalid Ibrahim. Both men were fatally shot during a robbery at Elegant Auto Sales at 75th and Western.

After eight years of legal wrangling, which included an appellate court decision in their favor, attorneys representing the men said the day would not be possible if Illinois weren’t the only state in the nation to allow post-conviction fingerprint testing for defendants.

Matching fingerprints were found on a car at the used car lot and on the adhesive side of a price sticker that was torn off of one of two cars that was stolen from the lot, said defense attorney Steven Drizin, of Northwestern University’s Center On Wrongful Convictions.

The same prints were also found on the stolen cars themselves — which were abandoned about five miles from the crime scene. And the kicker, defense attorneys claim, is the fact that the fingerprints, when run through a law enforcement data base that was not available to detectives at the time of the original investigation, returned a match: a man with a lengthy criminal record who lives a short walk from where the stolen cars were found. According to a source, the man has since been interviewed by investigators.

“We are here today because we were able to use that database to not only exclude our clients . . . but to match those fingerprints to one person in particular who has nothing to do with our clients,” said Drizin, who discounted confessions the men gave to police.

In September 2016, Charles Johnson was freed on $50,000 bond, Styles was unable to post bond. Cook County prosecutors said they will retry both Johnson and Styles.

Proposal Post

February 15, 2017 Charges Dropped

Timothy Burchard

On October 5, 1997, the body of a woman was found in the burned remnants of her home in the Town of Veteran, Chemung County, her husband was out of town.

In late 1999, Timothy Burchard called 911, to report that Eric Weiskopff had shot a man in the head. Weiskopff then accused Timothy of the 1997 murder, but DNA tests showed that Weiskopff had raped the victim, and excluded Timothy. Weiskopff claimed that Timothy had obtained the key days earlier from the victims car, parked outside her home, however the evidence shows this to be a lie – see the Retrial Affidavit points 8 to 17.

Weiskopff when questioned told police that Jeremy Onsager was the getaway driver. Onsager was given complete immunity from prosecution for testifying that Timothy took part in the crime. When initially questioned, Onsager did not mention Timothy, only implicating him much later after detectives brought up his name.

There was no reliable evidence linking Timothy to the crime, or even placing him with Weiskopff or Onsager who was the driver, or even any truthful account of how he met up with Weiskopff or Onsager prior to the crime.

Instead, Weiskopff and Onsager told conflicting stories which are clearly untrue.

Jailhouse informants also told stories that were clearly fabricated, as they incorporated the untrue claim that Timothy had the key days earlier.

The prosecution, over sustained objections, repeatedly brought up that Weiskopff failed polygraph tests, apparently in an attempt to convince the jury that his final version of events was the truth. However Weiskopff’s final version of events was false and incredible.

The only credible witness, Timothy’s ex-girlfriend, who had no detailed knowledge of the murder, and who previously had no suspicion that Timothy committed the murder, was apparently “turned” by detectives lying to her, and testified against Timothy. The defense were denied information about how she was turned against Timothy, and a wire-tapped conversation she had with him was withheld. See this Memo.

In summary : there is a complete absence of credible evidence showing that Timothy committed the murder, and those with knowledge told conflicting untrue stories about his involvement, and could give no account of how they met with him – inexplicable if he was really there.

The only rational conclusion is that Timothy played no part in the murder and is innocent.

Discussion | Proposal Post | Website | Facebook Page

Michael Lambrix’s 2014 appeal

In 2014 Michael Lambrix‘s attorney filed application for leave to file second or successive habeas corpus petition based upon newly discovered evidence establishing innocence. It is an extraordinary document, revealing that:

(1) Michael was told that if he insisted on testifying, which he wished to do, he would be forced to represent himself. Thus he was forced to choose between his right to counsel, and his right to testify. When Michael did testify in 2006, the State was unable to impeach his account of what happened.

(2) The jury had preconceived opinions of Michael’s guilt, and counsel failed to strike jurors who showed bias and prejudice, after being intimidated by the judge.

(3) The defense were not allowed to impeach the State’s main witness Frances Smith, who also lied on the stand by denying that she had been given immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony ( which in any case was inconsistent with the autopsy evidence ).

(4) The State used scare tactics to persuade Deborah Hanzel to give false testimony to corroborate Smith’s testimony.  At a post-conviction hearing, Hanzel testified that her testimony was false, and explained how she had been coerced by lead investigator “Bob” Daniels, who told her that Lambrix would harm her children if she failed to testify.

(5) At a post-conviction hearing, Smith admitted she had a sexual relationship with lead investigator Daniels, who coached her how to testify.

(6) The defense were not allowed to elicit testimony that Clarence Moore  was a career criminal, and had a criminal history that included assaulting women while intoxicated.

In spite of the manifest unfairness of his trial,  Michael’s application for leave to file a successive habeas petition was denied, and he remains on Florida death row, facing imminent execution.

The appeal is available here : http://www.southerninjustice.net/11th-circuit-appeal.html.

A Facebook Page has recently been created to help publicise this obvious injustice.

Andrew Krivak

Anthony DiPippo and Andrew Krivak were arrested in July 1996 after DiPippo’s ex-girlfriend, Denise Rose, claimed she had been with them in a van and saw them rape and kill Josette Wright. She told police the men gagged Wright with her underwear and dropped her body off in the woods in Fields Lane in Patterson, which was where police had found her remains. DiPippo and Krivak were both found guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree rape in 1997. Krivak is serving a 25-to-life sentence in state prison and isn’t eligible for parole until 2021. DiPippo was acquitted by a jury after three trials in October 2016.

Krivak signed a lengthy statement in which he admitted raping Josette but not killing her and implicating DiPippo in the murder. Krivak did not testify at his own trial but has always insisted he fabricated the confession under pressure from the investigators.

In September 2016, Krivak filed to introduce the new evidence that led to DiPippo’s acquittal. “New evidence shows that Krivak is likely innocent of the crimes, that false evidence was used at his trial and that he deserves a new trial,” one of his lawyers, Adele Bernhard, wrote in court papers. Bernhard, a former Pace Law School professor, teaches at New York Law School, where she supervises the Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic.

Krivak’s filing relied on several of the details that got DiPippo his new trial — particularly that Putnam sheriff investigators coerced witnesses and that a Connecticut sex offender, Howard Gombert, is Josette’s killer and implicated himself in statements made to a fellow inmate in 2011. At DiPippo’s trial on in September 2016,  Joseph Santoro testified as a defense witness how Gombert claimed to have sex with Josette at the time she disappeared and that he suggested he had gotten away with murder because two “suckers” were convicted.

On Tuesday December 20, 2016 Krivak’s motion was denied by State Supreme Court Justice Victor Alfieri, who said Krivak and DiPippo’s cases are different, and the new evidence isn’t likely to change the verdict because of Krivak’s “detailed, voluntary confession” to the police after his arrest in 1996.

Krivak’s attorney, Adele Bernhard, called the judge’s ruling “surprising” and “disappointing.”, and said that Krivak’s confession has “the hallmarks of a false confession.” The new evidence, his lawyers say, points to Howard Gombert, who is serving time in Connecticut for sexual assault, as the girl’s likely killer, not Krivak and DiPippo, who were convicted of the crime in separate trials in 1997.

“One of the things the police are supposed to do in trying to get them to confess is to get them to talk about evidence that isn’t already known,” Bernhard said. “So for example, if they can get the suspect to say the victim was wearing purple underwear and no one knows that except police. But everything in the alleged confession was already known from the crime scene.”

Bernhard said the defense team will file an appeal of the judge’s decision early in 2017.

“We’re going to ask the appellate division to review the judge’s decision, and I’m sure that they will,” she said. “We just want to give the jury an opportunity to consider all the evidence. The jury didn’t get to do that.”

The Putnam Sheriff’s Investigator, Daniel Stevens, that helped secure Krivak’s disputed  confession through the use of a lie detector was the same detective that gave Jeffrey Deskovic the lie detector test that preceded his false coerced confession. Deskovic was exonerated by DNA evidence and the taped confession of the actual perpetrator.

Sources: News reports 30 September, 201620 December, 2016DiPoppo Exoneration Report at the National Registry of Exonerations.

Discussion | Proposal Post

The 8th and H thirteen

On October 1, 1984, in a rain-soaked alley in Washington, D.C., a street vendor found a tiny woman lying dead on the floor of a garage. She was Catherine Fuller, a mother of six, who left home to run a quick errand and never came back. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted and killed all within sight of a busy public street.

Thirteen individuals were indicted. Harry Bennett and Calvin Alston, pleaded guilty and agreed to testify for the government. Bennett pleaded guilty to manslaughter and robbery, Alston to second-degree murder. James Campbell, whose case was severed for trial after his attorney became ill, eventually pleaded guilty as well.  In 1985, after a jury trial, Alphonzo Harris and Felicia Ruffin were found not guilty, Charles S. Turner, Christopher D. Turner, Russell L. Overton, Levy Rouse, Clifton E. Yarborough, Kelvin D. Smith, Timothy Catlett and Steven Webb were convicted. Webb died in prison, the other seven appealed in 2012 after the discovery of favorable “Brady” evidence withheld by the government. Overton, Smith, Christopher Turner, Charles Turner, and Rouse put on alibi defenses.

In 2011, Barry Pollack, lawyer for Christopher Turner said “The jury did not know that there was substantial medical and forensic evidence that the crime was committed by a single assailant, and compelling evidence that the perpetrator was someone who was never charged.”

At trial in 1985, William Freeman, the street vendor who discovered Fuller’s body, testified that as he waited for the police to come, he saw two men run into the alley from 9th Street and stand very close to the garage for a few minutes. Freeman earlier had seen the two men walking up and down 8th Street. One of the men appeared to be concealing an object under his coat. When the police arrived, the two men ran away up the alley towards I Street. However the government did not disclose the identity of the two men. Freeman identified them to the police as James McMillan and Gerald Merkerson. It was McMillan who appeared to be hiding something under his coat.

Two other witnesses, not disclosed to the defense, told police they saw him at the alley at the same time Freeman did, and they confirmed Freeman’s observations of his suspicious behavior. In addition, the police knew that McMillan lived on 8th Street about three doors down from the alley and that he had violently assaulted and robbed two other middle-aged women walking in the vicinity three weeks after Fuller’s death.

McMillan committed the first of these robberies on October 24, 1984, in an alley behind the 1100 block of K Street Northeast. He approached the victim from behind, knocked her to the ground, grabbed her purse and fled. The next day, McMillan and a companion assaulted a woman in the 600 block of 12th Street Northeast. One of the two struck her in the face, breaking her nose, and stole the bag she was carrying.

At a hearing in 2012, the defense presented information about McMillan’s subsequent activities following his conviction of the two robberies that he committed in October 1984. McMillan was sentenced to serve eight to twenty-five years in prison. Two months after he was released from prison in July 1992, he killed a 22-year-old woman (“A.M.”) in an alley behind the 500 block of 8th Street Northeast, only a few blocks from where Fuller was murdered. This crime had some striking similarities to the attack on Fuller: McMillan abducted A.M. as she walked down the street and dragged her to a secluded spot in the alley, ransacking her personal belongings and leaving them strewn along the path of abduction. After forcing A.M. into a narrow space behind a parked car, McMillan stripped off her underwear, beat her ferociously, and sodomized her. A.M. suffered grievous injuries and died three days later. McMillan was convicted of her murder and remains incarcerated.

At the same 2012 hearing, the defense called two experts. Dr. Richard Callery, a forensic pathologist, testified that the cause of death for both Fuller and A.M. was blunt force trauma to the head and torso, and that each victim had suffered a traumatic anal sodomization resulting in severe internal injuries. Dr. Callery testified that, in his experience, anal sodomy with an object occurred in considerably less than one percent of homicide cases. In addition to Dr. Callery’s testimony, the defense presented a stipulation that, if he were called, an expert in sexual dysfunctions would testify that someone who commits an act of violent anal sodomy is likely to commit the act more than once.

The second witness was Larry McCann, an experienced homicide investigator who testified as an expert in violent crime analysis and crime scene reconstruction. It was McCann’s opinion, based on the autopsy report, crime scene photos and other investigation records, that the attack on Fuller was more likely committed by a single offender than by a large group of individuals acting together. Had there been multiple offenders, McCann testified, he would have expected to see the victim’s clothing stretched, torn, or ripped, grab marks or abrasions on her ankles, legs, and wrists, more injuries, and multiple sexual assaults rather than the one. McCann conceded that, even in a group attack, some assailants might only strike minor glancing blows.

The prosecution case

No fingerprint, DNA, or other forensic evidence implicated any defendant. Yarborough gave a confession, subsequently retracted. Although Bennett and Alston told similar stories, while Bennett testified that Yarborough did not accompany the group into the alley, Alston recalled that Yarborough actively participated in kicking Fuller as she lay on the ground there,while Bennett remembered that Alston and defendant Webb held Fuller’s legs as Rouse sodomized her, Alston thought defendants Overton and Charles Turner did so. In addition, Bennett and Alston each had made prior inconsistent statements to the police and the grand jury regarding who was present in the park and who participated in attacking Fuller.

Both Bennett and Alson subsequently recanted. To support the credibility of Alston’s and Bennett’s recantations, the defense called other witnesses who testified to the detectives’ heavy-handed interrogation tactics. In addition, over the government’s objection, appellants called an expert on the subject of false confessions. Dr. Richard Leo, opined that certain features of the interrogations of Alston and Bennett, such as the detectives’ use of deception, yelling, and threats or promises, were associated with a heightened risk of inducing false confessions. According to Dr. Leo, the errors and incongruities in the confessions of Alston and Bennett could be taken as “indicia of unreliability.”

The government did not disclose grand jury testimony supporting the alibi of a man named Lamont Bobbit, who Alston testified was present in the park and in the alley when Fuller was murdered. Bobbitt told the police he was elsewhere that evening, and in testimony before the grand jury, six witnesses corroborated his alibi. The prosecutors did not believe the alibi because of contradictions in the testimony, but they decided they nonetheless lacked sufficient evidence to charge Bobbitt with Fuller’s murder.

Four witnesses corroborated Bennett and Alston’s account. Two of them, Carrie Eleby and Linda Jacobs had significant credibility problems. Both were PCP users. Eleby contradicted herself, could not keep names and dates straight, and claimed she did not remember anything she had told the police or the grand jury. Jacobs contradicted herself on the stand and had trouble answering questions. Moreover, each witness’s account was impeached or contradicted by other testimony.

The third witness Melvin Montgomery only saw the group, not any crime, leaving the State’s case reliant on fourteen-year-old Maurice Thomas. Thomas testified that he passed the alley and saw a group of people surrounding and assaulting a woman. The prosecution did not disclose to the defense  evidence that could have been used to impeach Thomas. At trial, Thomas testified that after he witnessed the attack in the alley, he ran home and told his aunt “Barbara” what he had seen. He claimed that Barbara told him not to say anything to anyone else. The police interviewed Barbara (whose real name was Dorothy Harris), and she said that she did not recall Thomas ever telling her anything about the attack.

Source: June 2015 Ruling and various news articles.

In December 2016, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear arguments.

Briefs are available here including amicus briefs submitted by the Innocence Network and a group of former prosecutors.

Featured case #159Discussion | Proposal Post

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus and Brandon Wallace

tdvquerphmnjxoz-800x450-nopadMarcus and Brandon Wallace, along with a friend, Keidric McKinstry, were all accused of opening fire and killing an innocent bystander at Creekside Village Apartments on June 8, 2010. A jury found Brandon Wallace, 24, guilty during a trial held in October 2011. Marcus Wallace, 29, pleaded guilty to manslaughter 10 months later.

Investigators arrested the Wallaces and McKinstry after witnesses said they saw them fire shots. “They got the wrong information when they arrested my son. They got the wrong two boys,” said Mable Wallace, Marcus Wallace’s mother.

In October 2013, attorneys for Marcus filed paperwork to withdraw his guilty plea, and the attorney for Brandon Wallace filed documents requesting a new trial.

Both claimed that witnesses who could have proven alibis were never called to testify. The attorney for Marcus Wallace presented affidavits from family members, who said they had a voice mail of another family member admitting to the shooting that attorneys did not introduce in court.

Co-defendant Keidric McKinstry pleaded guilty to the murder in March 2012 and is now serving a 21-year sentence at Ventress Correctional Facility. He hand-wrote and signed an affidavit filed in October 2013 stating that Brandon Wallace was not with him the night of the shooting and that his attorney wouldn’t allow him to speak about that before he was convicted.

Another affidavit filed by one of the shooting victims stated that he did not see Brandon Wallace at the apartment complex that night. Both are willing to testify under oath that Brandon Wallace was not there, Birmingham attorney David Gespass said.

An attorney representing Marcus Wallace also filed several affidavits signed by friends and family members who say they were with Marcus that night.

His mother, aunt, cousin and a friend stated that he was home watching the NBA playoff game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. He only left the apartment once, after borrowing his aunt’s house shoes and 50 cents to buy a cigarette from a neighbor, they stated.

The women also said that they have a recording from another family member admitting that he and another friend actually committed the murder and hid the weapons. The attorney representing Marcus at the time did not offer that voice mail as evidence and did not present witness statements that they say would have confirmed his alibi.

Marcus Wallace’s attorney wrote that he only pleaded guilty because he was told he could receive a life sentence if a jury found him guilty.

Source : News Report, October 13, 2013

Proposal Post

Jonathan Silva

Jonathan Silva was convicted in November 2008 of felony murder, attempted armed robbery, tampering with evidence and contributing to the delinquency of a minor after 53-year-old Virginia Land  was shot during a robbery attempt by two teenagers in November 2011 at a store in Lovington, New Mexico. He was sentenced to life in prison plus four and a half years.

According to an appeal ruling:

Store clerk Virginia Land was shot and killed in the Allsup’s convenience store in Lovington. New Mexico. Jonathan Silva and Juan Nava picked up Joshua G.  and Israel Marquez from a residence and dropped them off near an alley, and Child and Marquez walked over to the Allsup’s. Joshua G. was armed with a knife and entered the store with Marquez, who was armed with a shotgun. Marquez demanded money from the clerk, and when she refused, he shot her.

The teenagers were convicted or plead guilty to charges. One of them testified that Silva planned the robbery and supplied the shotgun used to kill Land, however he has now stated in an affidavit that Jonathan did not supply the gun, was not the “mastermind”, was not in their gang (contrary apparently to a claim by the prosecution) , and did not force the teenagers to commit the crime.

20161218_103302
Affidavit by Joshua G.

I, Joshua G., being first duly sworned according to the Law, present the following facts:

On Nov 6 2008, I Joshua G was called to testify on Joanathan Silva for the murder of Virginia Land. I was crossed examined by his Attorney. I was asked many questions, I was asked “If Jonathan Silva told me and Israel about the clerk or the terms “shoot the bitch” if she refused to give us the money”. Mr Silva never said this. Those statements were made by me earlier in the day. I was also asked a question about the “gun and the ammo”. The gun was given to us by 2 other guys one of which is serving time for the crime Juan Nava. Jonathan Silva never gave the gun or ammo to me or Israel.

It was also stated that Jonathan “made” us do this to establish loyalties for our gangs, or sets. Mr Silva is not from my gang, and Jonathan, did not make or force me or Israel to do anything. It was something that just happened. Mr. Silva was not the mastermind of the robbery or murder, no one was suppose to be shot or killed. Jonathan was just transportation.

I Joshua, am sorry for what has happened, and all the pain we’ve caused. Also for the loss of a innocent life that was taken. “I do this on my own free well”!

Image of affidavit

Discussion

 

 

 

 

Joseph Nissensohn

Joseph Nissensohn was convicted in 2013 of the 1981 murders of Tammy Jarschke, 13, and Tanya Jones, 14, along with the 1989 murder of a South Lake Tahoe girl, 15-year-old Kathy Graves.

On Sept. 9, 1981, a team of woodcutters found Tanya’s decomposed body tied with electrical wire to a tree about a mile off Tassajara Road on Chews Ridge, Monterey County, California. Sheriff’s deputies combing the area for evidence found Tammy’s remains nearby.

Nine years later, Nissensohn’s estranged wife, Cheryl Rose, showed up in a Florida battered women’s shelter. She told police her husband had killed a woman in Tacoma, Wash. She agreed to testify in exchange for immunity. The next year, Nissensohn was convicted of killing Sally Jo Tsaggaris, 46, during drug-fueled, bondage-style sex in a van.

Rose testified that she believed Nissensohn was responsible for many earlier murders, including two in Oklahoma and one in Nevada. She described the disappearance of Kathy Graves in South Lake Tahoe three months after the Tacoma murder.

Rose also told investigators about a killing that matched details of the Chews Ridge slayings. Nissensohn was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the Tacoma murder, but in 2008, after serving 15 years, he was about to be let out with credits for good behavior.

Monterey and South Lake Tahoe’s El Dorado County filed charges and combined all three murders to be tried at the same time. Authorities found Jessie Prieto, Nissensohn’s best friend. Prieto agreed to cooperate and said he and his friend were with Tammy and Tanya on June 25, 1981, and that Nissensohn told him he wanted to take the girls to Chews Ridge and rape them. But Prieto died before the case ever made it to trial. Cheryl Rose, who was in poor health, was barely able to testify in a 2010 preliminary hearing, and died five months later. However,  prosecutor Dale Gomes was able to submit Rose’s testimony transcript as evidence at trial. A jailhouse informant informant testified that Nissensohn confessed to killing Tammy and Tanya.

Just before Nissensohn was sentenced in 1991, he contacted police, and told them  in an interview that he did not kill Sally Jo Tsaggaris or Kathy Graves, claiming that his wife, Cheryl Rose, killed them, and he just hid the body of Tsaggaris. The long interview, which was taped, was played for the jury. Nissensohn told two offices that he was a scapegoat for Rose, who had killed Sally. He only helped get rid of the body, he said. The first murder trial was a conspiracy against him, he said, involving Rose, who testified in exchange for immunity, and his defense counsel, who offered no defense and simply rested their case without so much as calling a witness. Because he was about to be sentenced and likely extradited to California for the murder of Graves, he wanted to strike a deal himself. Nissensohn said on the tape that he met Rose in a motel and of their wild life of drugs and sex, with Rose bringing home “beautiful women” to “party” with and play “sexual games,” while he brought in drugs. One day, he came back from getting drugs to find Tsaggaris stabbed to death, but didn’t go to the police. Instead, he helped get rid of the body. “I know Cheryl did it,” Nissensohn said on the tape. “I came back to that van and that girl was dead. Cheryl did it. I had nothing to worry about … I sat there and heard it for a day and a half after my lawyer stuck it to me by going, ‘Defense rests.’ Guilty of second-degree murder. And all I did was help get rid of the body. Guilty of second-degree murder. I didn’t do it.

The defense called a witness who testified that her ex-husband killed Tammy and Tanya.

The defense called Brian Jarvis of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office to the stand. Jarvis, now retired, was part of interviews with Rose, which were played via audio and shown on video. Though the interviews from 1990 were nearly unintelligible, the jury was provided a transcript, and Jarvis was questioned after each segment.

The defense asked questions concerning answers Rose had given, showing she changed answers over time. Between the 1990 interviews and a 2007 interview, she changed her story of the last time she saw Kathy Graves, a South Lake Tahoe teenager Nissensohn is accused of killing. First, she said she saw the girl leaving to hitchhike to find a job; then, she last saw the girl as Nissensohn led her into the hills of the forest, after they had stopped their van. Nissensohn allegedly wanted sex, and when denied by the girl, killed her.

She also changed her story of what Nissensohn had carried into the woods. Originally, she said it was a quilt. Then, she changed her story to a bag of sex toys that also had a kitchen knife — what she said Nissensohn used to kill Graves and Tsaggaris.

News Reports

Discussion

Hooman Ashkan Panah

md081-e1427320714142Hooman Ashkan Panah was convicted in 1995 of  sexually assaulting and murdering an 8-year-old girl, and sentenced to death.

The victim was found in a suitcase in Hooman’s closet, in his apartment which was shared by Hooman, his mother and a guest, Ahmed Seihoon, who was the last person to see the victim before she went missing.

The conviction was based on pathology and serological evidence, however this evidence was false, being inconsistent with DNA evidence which was collected but not presented at trial, in fact his attorney has claimed that the DNA proves Hooman to be innocent.

An independent pathologist has stated that the victim likely died much later than Hooman was present at the apartment, meaning he could not have committed the crime.

Multiple searches of the apartment were conducted by the police, which failed to discover the body, suggesting that it was brought into the apartment after Hooman was arrested.

The guest, Ahmed Seihoon, had the opportunity both to commit the crime and return the body to the apartment in a suitcase. In addition, according to Hooman’s mother, he lied to police to give the impression he had an alibi.

The latest brief, filed in March 2016, is available from http://freehooman.com/.

Featured case #158Discussion | Proposal Post | Facebook Page

Jessie McKim

Jessie has been in prison since April 1997 for a murder that never happened.  Attorney Jennifer Bukowsky received a letter from Jessie McKim and was so shocked by this obvious injustice that she has been fighting to correct it – pro bono – ever since.

Experts on both sides agree the victim wasn’t suffocated, she overdosed on meth.

Jessie’s case was heard before the Missouri Court of Appeals- Western District. WD77803. Unfortunately, while the Court of Appeals ultimately agreed with Jessie’s attorney on two important legal issues (which can be used to assist other innocent inmates in bringing petitions for a writ of habeas corpus), the Court unfortunately denied Jessie’s petition.

Their grounds for denial were completely different from the Cole County Circuit Court’s grounds for denial because the Cole County Circuit Court found that the victim overdosed on meth but denied Jessie’s release on the theory that perhaps Jessie caused the overdose.

The Western District Court of Appeals found that would be an improper ground to deny the petition as that issue was never before the jury.

Instead, the Western District Court of Appeals found that despite the uncontroverted medical opinions from six pathologists (including one hired by the Attorney General) that unequivocally agree that Dr. Dix’s opinion was incorrect and inconsistent with the practice of forensic pathology, the Court found that because Dr. Dix did not recant his testimony, there was enough evidence to support a conviction. Unfortunately Dr. Dix is deceased so it is impossible to seek a recantation from him.

Source: http://www.lawbuk.com/free-jessie-mckim/

Facebook page | Proposal Post

Timothy Madden

15319059_1499219683440735_8612164607407244258_nTimothy Madden was accused of raping and murdering 7-year-old Gabbi Doolin during a little league football game in Scottsville, Kentucky, on November 14, 2015, during her brother’s little league football game. Timothy was arrested on November 20, and says he is innocent. The commonwealth is seeking the death penalty.

According to reports, there is DNA evidence linking Timothy to the crime, however no details are available, and an anonymous report suggests the DNA may not in fact have matched, and KSP was under “undue pressure to find a suspect” and “may have rushed to judgement”:

frankfort

Timothy appears to be an unlikely suspect, being married with five children, and had been caring for his wife who has a serious illness. In an interview he says the charges are bogus and he was accused on the basis of gossip. He says his young daughter knew Gabbi, he was  at the game, and “my son was playing football, and my little daughter was there with us too”.

In July 2016, two motions were discussed in court, one to limit pre-trial publicity, and another to test remaining evidence in the case. A computer and a cell phone are finishing being tested, but both sides in the case are asking for the rest of the DNA at the KSP crime lab to be run. Timothy’s attorney stated “Mr. Madden has not changed anything he has said”. — Timothy Madden makes first court appearance in 6 months.

At a hearing in December 2016, it was reported that DNA testing may not be completed until June 2017, and a trial was not expected before January 2018. Other deadlines and dates set were:
March 31, 2017 – Change of venue request deadline
April 28, 2017 – Response deadline
May 26, 2017 – Reply date, evidence suppression request deadline
January 2018 – Trial could begin

Discussion

Rate of false convictions

A 2013 study of false convictions says that Justice Scalia’s estimate was “silly”, conservatively, 4.1% of people sent to death row are innocent,  and the majority of innocent but convicted capital defendants are neither executed nor exonerated.

The report concludes:

“We use survival analysis to model this effect, and estimate that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely, at least 4.1% would be exonerated. We conclude that this is a conservative estimate of the proportion of false conviction among death sentences in the United States.”

“We do know that the rate of error among death sentences is far greater than Justice Scalia’s reassuring 0.027% (6). That much is apparent directly from the number of death row exonerations that have already occurred. Our research adds the disturbing news that most innocent defendants who have been sentenced to death have not been exonerated, and many—including the great majority of those who have been resentenced to life in prison—probably never will be.”

“This is only part of a disturbing picture. Fewer than half of all defendants who are convicted of capital murder are ever sentenced to death in the first place (e.g., 49.1% in Missouri as in ref. 24, 29% in Philadelphia as in ref. 25, and 31% in New Jersey as in ref. 26). Sentencing juries, like other participants in the process, worry about the execution of innocent defendants. Interviews with jurors who participated in capital sentencing proceedings indicate that lingering doubts about the defendant’s guilt is the strongest available predictor of a sentence of life imprisonment rather than death (27). It follows that the rate of innocence must be higher for convicted capital defendants who are not sentenced to death than for those who are. The net result is that the great majority of innocent defendants who are convicted of capital murder in the United States are neither executed nor exonerated. They are sentenced, or resentenced to prison for life, and then forgotten.”

Read the Study in full here : Rate of false conviction of criminal defendants who are sentenced to death – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

 

 

Todd Kendhammer

Todd Kendhammer was accused of murdering  his wife Barbara, who died on 17 September 2016. The previous day deputies responded to a crash on County Road M near Bergum Coulee Road around 8:10 a.m. where they found Kendhammer and his wife Barbara. Todd Kendhammer told investigators they were headed north when a pipe fell from a southbound truck and went through the windshield striking Barbara.

Todd was arrested nearly three months later on 6 December, on what appears to be very weak circumstantial evidence. Authorities suggested that Barbara’s injuries were inconsistent with the pipe coming through the windscreen, citing healing abrasions and contusions on bilateral hands and irregular torn fingernail margins on two fingers, that the windscreen had been struck more than once, and some confusion over Todd’s statements that he was on his way to pick up a truck that he was going to repair.

For this apparent accident to be murder, Todd would have to have first rendered his wife unconscious, then carried out an elaborate staging to make it appear to be an accident, but without causing immediate death – which makes very little sense.

According to a report, the family does not believe he is responsible for his wife’s death.

News Report

News

December 17, 2016 Released from jail after posting $250,000 bond

58541b430b2b5-image

Re the windscreen damage, it’s interesting to compare a report dated 17 December by Anne Jungen which stated :

“A crime lab analyst also found at least four impact points to two areas of the windshield: two inflicted from the inside and one from the outside that damaged the glass before the pipe penetrated the windshield, according to the complaint.”

with complaint ( see this report by Molly Prescott, wxow.com ) where there is no mention of “two inflicted from the inside and one from the outside”, although it does state that the windscreen bulged outward.

complaintwindscreen

Discussion

 

 

 

 

 

Tyrone Noling

In a video by Off-Center Media, law enforcement officials detail how an Ohio man was convicted and sentenced to death for a double-murder he did not commit.

Tyrone Noling was convicted of the murder of Cora and Bearnhardt Hartig and sentenced to death in 1996. No physical evidence linked Noling to the crime, only the testimony of his three codefendents who implicated him in exchange for their own immunity. The three men have since recanted their testimonies, saying police threatened them with the death penalty.

In the video, former Portage County Sheriff Kenneth Howe and veteran homicide detective Jim Trainum describe how police and prosecutors fed the men information about the crime scene.

According to Ohio Innocence Project director Mark Godsey, an inmate on death row confessed to committing the crime in a letter sent to his brother before his execution.

“When you step back and you look at the entire investigation, you see tunnel vision here on the part of the police and prosecutors,” Godsey says in the video. “They focused in on their suspects right away and then they tried to make all the pieces fit together to fit their theory of the case while ignoring other red flags including alternate suspects that weren’t ultimately looked into in great depth.”

The video is narrated by Raymond Towler, who spent nearly three decades in prison for a crime he did not commit before his exoneration in 2010.

Noling is represented by the Ohio Public Defender and the Ohio Innocence Project.

Source: Innocence Project ( see link for video )

Proposal Post

Keith Carnes

Keith Carnes was wrongly convicted of murder.

The shooting occurred in a parking lot near 29th Street and Prospect Avenue on October 6, 2003. A few days afterward, Wendy Lockett and Lorraine Morrow were picked up by Kansas City police detectives and were coerced to say that Carnes had committed the crime, even though one of the women saw another man shoot White.

But the women contradicted each other in their testimony. Morrow testified that Carnes was accompanied by a man named Gary Kitchen. Lockett testified that Carnes was with two other men, Mitchell Powell and Damon Rhodes. Each provided different descriptions of how Carnes shot White, with physical and medical evidence in the original case also in conflict. Both witnesses have since said in sworn affidavits that they lied at trial, according to a motion recently filed in Jackson County Circuit Court by Carnes’ attorney, Kent E. Gipson.

New evidence and perjured testimony suggests that Carnes, who is now 46, could not have committed the murder. At least three people say they saw the shooting and that the trigger man wasn’t Carnes; several other persons say they were with Carnes in an apartment at the time of the shooting, including a doorman who kept tabs on each person that entered or exited the building. In a sworn affidavit, the doorman said Carnes remained inside and on the apartment porch during the incident that led to White being shot. Many of these people were available to testify but were never questioned by police, according to the motion.

Source: Article at pitch,com, Dec 2, 2016

Documents:

Proposal Post

Walif Smith

slebgpgozfyuaqt-800x450-nopadWalif Smith was convicted in 1994 for a 1990 murder he did not commit.  Walif was convicted solely on the testimony of one witness.  The witness has given written affidavits and taken a polygraph saying  that his original testimonies were false.  Thus there is now no witness, no physical evidence, no DNA, no motive, in fact nothing tying him to the crime.  Yet Walif is currently serving a 30-year to life sentence for a crime he had no part in.

Walif was aged just 14 at the time of the alleged murder.  Walif was arrested three years later.  Police stated that that the gun that was used in the murder was found in North Carolina.  The gun was used in another murder in North Carolina by an older man who lived in the same neighborhood as Walif at the time of the murder.

Exculpatory  evidence was not presented at Walif’s trial. There is new evidence in the case the main witness has recanted saying that he made false statements to get a reduced sentence.

Source: Petition at change.org

Featured case #157Proposal Post