Michael Ardis Bell

PhotoCroppedOn October 19, 1994, the Westside High School girls volleyball team played against the King Drew Medical High School girls’ volleyball team at the Rancho Cienega Recreation Center’s gymnasium, Los Angeles, California.

Darnell “Ricky” Pryor went to watch the game with his friends, Willie Bell, Kerry Bell. and Herron Freeman. Willie’s fiancee, Maura Sparks, played on the Westside High team.

Shortly after the second game started, a gang of young men attacked Ricky and his friends, and subsequently Ricky was shot. Paramedics took Ricky to UCLA. Medical Center, Ricky died as a result of gun shot wounds. A fatal wound entered his chest, lung, heart and liver. Ricky also had gun shot wounds in his left thigh, right forearm and left arm.

Michael,  age 17, was not at the gym, he was working at a car wash, nevertheless he was identified as being one of the young men who attacked and killed Ricky. He had an alibi witness, and a time card confirmed his alibi, however the judge did not allow the time card into evidence.

Michael was convicted and sentenced to 15 years to life, plus a one year enhancement based on the use of a firearm by a principal. Following the trial, Kendall Mosley confirmed that he was at the fight, and stated that Michael was not there.

According to an appeal brief brief (pages 15-16):

“The evidence against appellant was far from overwhelming. None of the witnesses placed appellant in the hallway area where the shots were fired. Although several witnesses placed appellant at the gym during the time of the fight that preceded the killing, their identification testimony was far from compelling. For example, one of the eyewitnesses, Williams, clearly testified that he did not identify appellant as a participant in the fight at the gym although he had earlier said that appellant’s photograph “resembled” one of the suspects.”

“The identification evidence is additionally undermined by inconsistencies between witness descriptions of suspects at trial and police officers’ understandings of descriptions made by witnesses close to the time of the crime.”

“For example, Willie Bell denied having given officers a description of a suspect who  was 6’3″ or 6’4″ tall and weighed about 200 pounds. The officer, however, testified that Willie Bell gave such a description. It is very probable that the jury would have reached a more favorable result if the court had admitted defense Exhibit A (a copy of appellant’s time card). This is especially true where, as here, the record contains many indications that the case was a very close one.”

“The closeness of the case against appellant is further reflected in the relatively lengthy period of deliberations before the jury could reach any verdict. The jury  deliberated for more than eleven hours on this one-count case against one  defendant. There were no special circumstances or similarly complex allegations for the jury to consider before reaching its verdict. It simply took a significant amount of lime to deliberate before it could reach any verdict in this relatively short case.”

“The excluded defense Exhibit A (the copy of appellant’s time card for the week including the date and time of the murder) would have strengthened appellant’s alibi defense substantially. Although there was other evidence in the form of  Foster’s testimony to support the alibi defense, it was important to corroborate  Foster’s testimony.”

Documents:

Appeal Brief

Pro Se Appeal and other documents

Proposal Post

 

 

 

Advertisements

Serghei Comerzan

23-year-old Serghei P. Comerzan was accused of second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and resisting arrest over the 2015 death of Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper James Bava, 25.

Comerzan, who was operating a motorcycle, allegedly led Trooper Bava on a chase after Bava attempted to perform a routine traffic stop. Bava reportedly clocked Comerzan going 105 miles per hour. During the chase, Officer Bava’s patrol car was reportedly traveling at speeds exceeding 135 miles per hour.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing a Highway Patrol car in pursuit of a vehicle when it went off the road and into a treeline before rolling over and bursting into flames.

After jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on Friday, May 26, 2017, Comerzan’s lawyers said they would seek to have the case dismissed

The case hinged on the prosecution proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Comerzan was aware of Trooper Bava in pursuit behind him, a claim he and his defense team have fervently denied.

Source: http://www.kmzu.com/attorneys-serghei-comerzan-expected-file-dismissal-charges-following-hung-jury-last-month/

Discussion | Proposal Post

John Bradley Atkinson

In July 2005, John Atkinson and Deborah Campbell met, and after some time he moved in with her and they lived together.

In January 14, 2008, Mr. Atkinson allegedly drove at Ms. Campbell in a dump truck. It is agreed the truck got stuck. According to Mr. Atkinson he was reversing the the truck, and was not driving at her. She says the truck came within 10 feet of her before it got stuck.

In April 2010, Ms. Campbell was injured while assisting Mr. Atkinson with a tree cutting job, spent some time in hospital, and her relationship with Mr. Atkinson ended.

Some time, well after the relationship ended (August 26, 2010, p. 28), Detective Conway, during an interview about truck registration, asked Ms. Campbell if Mr. Atkinson ever hurt her. She said something to the effect of “Well he tried to kill me with a dump truck”.

Following this allegation, Mr. Atkinson was subsequently charged and convicted at a bench trial of offences relating to the events on January 14, 2008. At the same trial He was acquitted of other charges relating to allegations about other events  in May 2006, and July 2010.

There is no evidence that Ms. Campbell ever said to anyone else prior to the interview with Detective Conway that Atkinson tried to kill her that day, and her account of events appears to be contradicted by reliable evidence which shows the truck was reversed into the place where it became stuck, and not driven forward.

Given Ms. Campbell’s suspect memory of the events on January 14, 2008, it seems quite plausible she was simply frightened by a near accident, and Mr. Atkinson had no intention of hitting her with the dump truck. Ms. Campbell made no other allegations of physical domestic violence, making it implausible that he should attempt to kill her with a dump truck.

There is a website with a good number of documents about the case.

Discussion | Proposal Post

Mark Carver

Mark Carver is serving a life sentence without parole after his 2011 conviction for strangling Irina Yarmolenko. Her body was found near her car in Mount Holly, on the banks of the Catawba River. Carver and his cousin were fishing downstream at the time.

Chris Mumma, executive director of North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, is seeking a new trial, arguing that Carver received an inadequate defense and that key pieces of evidence used to convict him would not stand up to updated testing and new information uncovered in the case. In particular, Mumma claims that far more conclusive testing and reporting of DNA will undermine the prosecution’s contention that Carver’s genetic material was found on Yarmolenko’s car.

She also says Carver’s statements to police indicating that he knew the victim’s height can be challenged by interrogation video – never seen by a jury – that shows he was coached into giving the description by a detective.

In 2016, the Charlotte Observer published “Death by the River,” a six-part series raising questions about Carver’s guilt.

Source: Defense in disputed murder case wants Gaston DA punished for withholding evidence June 14, 2017

Discussion | Proposal Post

DeShon Thomas

In 2011, seventeen-year-old, DeShon Thomas, was a full-time freshman at Tallahassee Community College seeking an Associate in Arts Degree in Paralegal Studies. DeShon also worked part-time at Taco Bell. He was also a former boyfriend of Laqecia Herring (possible father of her unborn baby).

In Tallahassee, Florida, on January 27, 2011, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell opened up an investigation into the double homicide of 20-year-old, Laqecia Herring, and her brother, 17-year-old, Sterling Conner Jr. Both victims were found murdered in the living-room of the townhouse that they shared with their mother and other siblings—including Ms. Herring’s toddler daughter. Ms. Herring was pregnant at the time of her murder.#

On October 18, 2013, DeShon Thomas was convicted on Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder and Solicitation to Commit 1st Degree Murder.

There was no evidence connecting DeShon to the murders. The one witness testimony that the prosecutor needed was that of DeShon’s former co-worker/friend who had been manipulated by officials. Feeling defeated, on December 17, 2013, DeShon pled “No Contest” to Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile Delinquent (a gun that had nothing to do with the murders, was obtained illegally, and was not in Deshon’s possession).

On April 26, 2017, DeShon (Pro Se) filed for Post-Conviction Relief. On May 1, 2017, a judge ordered the State Attorney’s Office to show cause why an evidentiary hearing should not be held—giving the State Attorney’s Office 60 days to respond. In June 2017, an evidentiary hearing was granted.

DeShon wrote to his mother asking her to find an attorney to argue his case. She in turn promised him that she would do her best. Today, DeShon’s mother is asking for any assistance in helping DeShon regain his freedom.

Featured case #166Proposal Post

Michael Stone

Michael Stone was convicted of the 1996 killings of Lin Russell and her daughter Megan, six, and the attempted murder of Megan’s sister Josie, nine, on a remote footpath near Canterbury, UK in 1996.

Stone consistently maintained his innocence, but was convicted mainly on the testimony of a jailhouse informant who claimed he confessed through a heating pipe between the cells. At the first trial two other informants also claimed he confessed, but one retracted and the other was discredited.

There was no forensic or eyewitness identification to connect Stone to the crime. Eyewitnesses saw a beige car used by the killer, but Stone drove a white car. Stone was a heroin addict, with a record of violence and stealing from garden sheds, but the remote rural location is a very unlikely place for a burglary or robbery.

A forensic specialist has said that advances in DNA techniques not only confirmed no link between Stone and the crime, but showed the likely presence of another man at the scene. Samples obtained from the family of Levi Bellfield, who was convicted for the murder of schoolgirl Millie Dowler and two women, showed a possible but unprovable link to him.

Proposal Post

 

Kevin Keith

Kevin Keith was convicted for the 1994 shootings in Bucyrus, Ohio that killed three people and wounded three others.

Several alibi witnesses placed him more than 30 minutes away at the time of the shootings.

Keith was convicted due to testimony from G. Michele Yezzo, a now-discredited forensic analyst, who claimed that tires previously on Mr. Keith’s girlfriend’s car left the tire tracks in the snow at the scene.

Retired FBI Special Agent William Bodziak has concluded that Yezzo’s forensic conclusions were wrong, it could not have been Keith’s girlfriend’s car that made the snow impressions, and snow imprints did not exclude the alternate suspect whom the police simply failed to investigate.

Source: article by Jason Flom, June 2, 2017. Jason Flom is president of LAVA Records and a founding member of the Innocence Project’s board of directors.

Proposal Post