All posts by George Barwood

I campaign for the wrongly convicted.

Antonio Williams, Kendrick Gillum, and Demarco T. Wilson

On February 1, 1997, Charles Newsome was shot in the back and arm while driving in West Memphis, Arkansas, and bled to death. Antonio Williams, Kendrick Gillum, and Demarco T. Wilson (WGW) were subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

The key witness was Frederick Ellis, who was a passenger in the car. In his first statement to police, he could not give the names of the shooters, but then a few hours later he identified Williams and Gillum, then five days later he identified Wilson and another person, who it transpired was in Kentucky at the time. Ellis testified that he had known WGW “pretty much” his entire life.

However Ellis and another witness Kevin Johnson, the only witnesses who identified WGW as the shooters, gave statements which were contradictory and also conflicted with other trial testimony – a defense witness testified the shooters were in another car and not on foot, whereas the State’s witnesses testified the shooters were on foot. In addition, Johnson did not did not give his statement until nine days after the shooting, when he could have talked to Ellis. Ellis and Johnson were both convicted felons, this was the  third Capital Murder trial where Ellis testified that year and after his testimony implicating WGW, the West Memphis Police Department dropped seven charges against him.

In summary the evidence suggests Ellis didn’t know who shot the victim, and named people in order to curry favour with the police.

Discussion| Proposal Post

 

 

 

 

 

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Robert Pape and Cristin Smith

Robert Pape and Cristin Smith were sentenced to life without parole in the 2006 triple murders of Jon Hayward, his girlfriend, Vicki Friedli, and her 18-year-old daughter, Rebecca “Becky” Friedli, in Pinyon Pines, California.

The victims were found murdered at their Alpine Drive home just north of Highway 74. Hayward and Vicki Friedli died of gunshots to the abdomen and head, respectively. Their bodies were discovered inside their burning home. Becky Friedli’s charred body lay outside in a wheelbarrow and her cause of death was never determined.

Robert was told certain aspects of the crime scene by Javier Garcia, such as the wheelbarrow and the bodies being too burned to identify. Javier testified that he did not know this information until a few days after the murders.

Post-trial discovery has revealed a tape of a Denny’s employee stating that Javier called her the next morning,  stating the facts about the wheelbarrow and the burned bodies.

Discussion | Proposal Post

Jeremy Bamber

Jeremy Bamber was convicted of the murder of his adoptive parents, his sister Sheila Caffell, and Sheila’s two children on 7 August 1985. After initially being sentenced to 25 years, the sentence was later increased to a whole-life order.

Initially, police believed it was a case of murder-suicide by his sister who had a history of severe mental illness, but on 29 September 1986 he was arrested and charged with murder.

The critical evidence that convinced the jury of Jeremy’s guilt was a flake of blood found on a silencer found in a cupboard. At trial, the jury was told that the discovery of an enzyme from the blood was clear evidence that the blood found on the silencer came from Sheila. However the jury never knew that this blood could have been from animals. The rifle and the silencers were used to shoot game and could have been carried alongside rabbits when returning from a shoot. Had the jury known that two types of animal blood were found on the outer surface of another silencer, they would have known that the blood was more likely animal blood than Sheila’s blood.

Discussion | Proposal Post

Troy Legette

Troy Legette was convicted in 1998 of armed bank robbery.

The prosecution case was entirely speculative/circumstantial. There was no physical evidence to place him at the scene, forensic evidence were tested and didn’t link him to the crime. Also, inconsistent statements documented in police reports from eyewitnesses showed variations from trial testimony.

In addition, the prosecutor told the trial jury that Troy was a non-shedder and this was why DNA found on evidence used in crime didn’t match. The prosecutor made other claims that were either false or unsupported by evidence.

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Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens

Molly Corbett, 34, and Thomas Martens, 68, were convicted Aug. 9, 2017, of second-degree murder of Irish businessman Jason Corbett, in August 2015.

Molly Corbett, who was Jason’s second wife, and Martens, a former FBI agent, maintained throughout the trial that they had killed Corbett in self-defense. Martens testified that he hit Jason Corbett multiple times in the head with a baseball bat after he found him choking his daughter.

Prosecutors cited Molly Corbett’s desire to adopt Jason’s children from his first marriage and a $600,000 life-insurance policy as possible motives for the killing.

In September 2018, the defense filed their appellate briefs, contending juror misconduct and that evidence favorable to the defense was improperly excluded. They also criticized the testimony of a blood spatter expert.

The appeal argues that statements by Jason Corbett’s children should have been heard by the jury based on a hearsay exception involving medical diagnoses. The children’s statements include descriptions of instances of Jason Corbett’s “irrational anger” toward Molly Corbett and themselves.

Discussion| Proposal Post

James Davis

James Davis was found guilty of murder for the shooting death of Blake Harper in 2006. The shooting took place at a crowded party at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple. There was no physical or forensic evidence connecting Davis to the shooting, and the case against him was based solely on a disputed eyewitness testimony.

At his first trial, jurors voted 11-to-1 to acquit Davis, but his then-girlfriend failed to testify at his retrial and he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 18-years-to-life in prison.

After a re-investigation, other witnesses have been found who support Davis’ version of events, and prosecution witnesses have retracted or changed their testimony.

More details here

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Michael Shingatok

Michael Shingatok was found guilty of sexual assault, assault and uttering threats in June 2018. An unnamed woman testified that  he was abusive throughout their four-year relationship between 2012 and 2016.

According to a news report, the woman said she reported the crimes because she wanted to get away from Shingatok and get a restraining order. But the defense noted that she stayed in contact with Shingatok despite several moves when she could have left him behind. Moreover, shortly before the woman went to police, she had heard Shingatok was cheating on her. The woman agreed she was angry about that.

Shingatok denied the allegations which were uncorroborated. The woman had a serious issue with alcohol, resulting in a serious house fire and a fall down steps.

In social media discussion, it was alleged that the woman had a record of making false accusations against two other ex-boyfriends.

Proposal Post

Who Killed Laci Peterson?

Many people have been re-examining the case of Scott Peterson and coming to the conclusion that he did not murder his wife Laci Peterson in December 2002.

This blog post addresses the question : “If Scott did not murder Laci, who did?”.

There is no way to be certain, but nevertheless, there are reasons to suspect the involvement of serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards. The main evidence in support of this theory are anonymous messages, and evidence which suggests Edwards was the Zodiac Killer.

The first anonymous message, shown below, was sent to the Modesto Bee on May 4, 2003. ( Note that the bodies of Conner and Laci were discovered on April 13 and 14, Scott was arrested on April 18, Easter Day was Sunday 20 April ).EdwardsLetterAMessageFromGod

This appears to be a confession that the writer framed Scott Peterson.

Then, from March 22, 2005 through August 6, 2006, a poster using the handle “I Killed Laci Peterson” (IKLP) posted 544 messages on the Fratpack forum. See here for a dump of these messages.

Some of the IKLP messages allude to the Zodiac Killer.

66. Wed Oct 05, 2005 3:30 am You are jealous this I see. As was with my cousin Zodiac. You will never capture me. Fore it is I who does not lack.

384. Thu May 18, 2006 2:05 pm Post Fore if thou breaks the code with FreeBird inside. Thee will tell thou where all others now hide. Thou is not very close. Not by photo of a boat. If thou asks why. Turn eyes to the sky. If thou is so slow. Thou will never know. Thou makes fun of thee if it will. Not laughs will stop thees amazing thrills. Zodiac had four but there were many more. Contact made from within the front door. Thous belief of her walk. Is basic stupid talk. Thou never leaves from within. No one witnesses thees sin. When of a state of no attention. It is how thee starts the detention. Travel in plain light. Right in thous sight. Thou never thinks twice. Thee appears so nice. If thou only knew. How much thee laughs at you. The most obvious of all alludes. Passes by right in front of you. Thou has so many wrong guesses. Thee listens learns and progresses. Thou who count not look for thee. Is why thou makes it easy to be free. A last note to thou stuck on a boat. Thee stands on another deck and simply gloats. FreeBird

386. Thu May 18, 2006 7:47 pm Fore Zodiac and thee are not one in the same. Thou watch what they say about Z and his fame. If thou believe Z has not always been free. Then thou is so wrong in what it believe. More than thou will ever know is Z count. Smarts without thou knowing is what Z is about. FreeBird

The next message refers to a “code” that was “told” more than 30 years ago:

387. Mon May 29, 2006 2:01 pm Fore the code is old. Over 30 years it was once told. Should thou be as bright as sun light. Should not take thou long to get it right. FreeBird.

The code referred to could be the 408 symbol Zodiac code, sent to newspapers on August 1, 1969 ( see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zodiac_Killer#Timeline ).

There is a considerable amount of evidence that suggests that Edwards was the Zodiac killer. Please see, for example, https://ededwardsserialkiller.wordpress.com/zodiac-killer/

The Zodiac killer left a short “signature” which apparently decodes to “I’m Edward E”.

IKLP also sent this message:

Mon Oct 10, 2005 2:19 pm Fore here is a clue for who remain on my list. 28527 – 8240 – 791 – 94 – 7 tho is smart who deciphers this.

If the zero and alternate digits are dropped ( analogous to the decoding of the Zodiac short signature ), the result is 8 2 8 4 9 9 7. Using the mnemonic substitution

9 – E ( “e” is similar to mirror image of “9” )
8 – D ( “8” can be made with two D’s – see Zodiac code )
7 – W ( W can be made from two 7s )
4 – A ( “A” when tilted to the right becomes “4” )
2 – R ( “R” is slightly similar to “2” )

this translates to D R D A E E W an anagram of “EDWARD E”.

Finally, if you take the symbols “GOD ( I )” from the “Message from God”, apparently a clue to the identity of the writer, and stack them over one another, the result is a circle with a cross, similar to the symbol used by the Zodiac Killer to sign his correspondence:

330px-zodiac_killer_symbol-svg

Besides these mysterious messages, linking the Scott Peterson case to the Zodiac Killer, and thence to Edward Wayne Edwards, circumstances suggest the involvement of a devious, manipulative, psychopath serial killer:

(1) Planting the bodies, in such a way as to frame Scott Peterson for the murder would involve risk.

(2) Laci Peterson’s head and parts of each arm and leg were missing, and all her internal organs were missing, suggesting they were removed and Conner was then removed from Laci’s corpse.

(3) Conner was found above the high tide line, and had twine looped around his body, tied in a bow. The body was in relatively good condition, suggesting it may have been kept in a bag, separate from the body of Laci.

(4) A calculation to estimate when Conner died, when done correctly ( see the Habeas petition, available here ) suggests that Conner lived into January.

Possibly Laci was abducted after observing the burglary of the Medina house in progress to prevent her calling police, or possibly her abduction was planned in advance and intended to divert the attention of the police from solving the burglary. Edwards had a record of safe burglary, and could have been the mastermind behind it.

Discussion here

Omar Benguit

Korean English language student Jong-Ok Shin was stabbed to death in the early hours of July 12, 2002 in Bournemouth, UK.

Omar Benguit was arrested 6 weeks later, after being named by a  heroin addict Beverley Brown. He was eventually convicted after three trials, but a co-defendant was acquitted at the second trial after Brown’s account was contradicted by a speed camera and CCTV evidence.

Although many other drug addict witnesses eventually partially corroborated Brown’s story ( which changed substantially ), none of these witnesses seem credible, and several have retracted, explaining they were pressured by police.

There is a plausible alternate suspect, serial killer Danilo Restivo, who lived just two streets away from the victim.

In a six-part BBC documentary, a journalist and retired detective found that the conviction was unsafe.

Discussion | Proposal Post

Allee Boone

Gerald Green was shot four times and robbed by a man who requested a ride from him.

Green did not identify Boone as his assailant in three photo lineups, and it was not until a fourth lineup that Green identified Boone as the man who shot him.

At trial, Brain Hoover testified that he heard the gunshots and saw a man, not Boone, running away from the area of the shooting.

The jury did not hear from four other witnesses who testified at a post-conviction hearing that another man, of similar appearance to Boone, was likely responsible for the shootings.

In June 1997, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the denial of Boone’s request for a new trial following the post-conviction hearing.

Subsequently the Wisconsin Innocence Project took up the case and filed motions for DNA tests to be performed which could establish Boone’s innocence.

Discussion

 

Xavier Walker

In July 2018, after serving nearly nearly two decades in prison for a 2000 murder, Xavier Walker won a new trial.

Walker had several alibi witnesses ready to testify that he was at home when Mark Madjak was gunned down in West Garfield Park. Walker, then only 19, also had a witness whom he’d told police had beaten him before he confessed, as well as photographs showing his injuries.

But none of that evidence was brought out by his lawyer at the time, and Walker received a 35-year prison sentence for murder. State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office agreed to vacate his conviction and 35-year sentence, though Walker remained at the Cook County Jail on a no-bond order from Judge Alfredo Maldonado.

Assistant Public Defender Harold Winston said that he did not know whether prosecutors intend to take the case to trial again, but he said that he’s confident the evidence will show Walker is not guilty.

For details see https://chicago.suntimes.com/?post_type=cst_article&p=1236571

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Rodney Franck

In April 2015, Rodney Franck intervened to stop a brutal assault on 54-year-old Christopher Brewster, who was left in a coma and died in June 2015. Subsequently, the perpetrator of the assault, Spencer Pell, bragged about the attack to more than 10 individuals before giving a voluntary confession to police.

Despite overwhelming evidence that Pell was the assailant, Franck was subsequently charged with murder. His trial is set for August 2018.

For more details see http://www.usobserver.com/prosecutor-disregards-confession-of-killer/

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Curtis Flowers

On the morning of July 16, 1996, a retired employee of Tardy Furniture entered the store and found four bodies: the owner and three workers at the store; they had all been shot. Curtis Flowers was suspected after police learned that he had been fired from the store 13 days prior to the murders.

Flowers has been tried six times. The first three convictions were overturned on appeal, the next two trials had hung juries, in the 6th trial he was convicted and sentenced to death.

There is evidence that witnesses were coerced, and three jailhouse informants who were persuaded to testify that Flowers confessed to them have retracted.

Flowers, age 26 at the time of the quadruple murder, had no criminal record and was known in the community as a gospel singer. His family assert that he could not have committed the murders.

Flowers’ case was the subject of an 11-part podcast by American Public Media, in which one of the jailhouse informants retracted his testimony, and other witnesses say they were coerced.

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Julius Jones

In 1999, Paul Howell was shot and killed in Edmond, Oklahoma during the theft of his SUV. The victim’s sister, who was a passenger in the vehicle and witnessed the shooting, testified that the shooter had approximately a half-inch of hair sticking out from underneath a stocking cap.

The witness’s physical description of the man who shot her brother fit that of Mr. Jones’ friend, Christopher Jordan, who was one of the prosecution’s main witnesses against Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones’ attorneys, who were public defenders with no capital trial experience, failed to show the jury a photograph of Mr. Jones, taken a few days before the shooting, illustrating that Mr. Jones’ had low, crew-cut hair and proving that he could not be the person who the victim’s sister described.

Mr. Jones’ attorneys failed to cross examine Mr. Jordan on the six different and inconsistent statements he gave to the police after his arrest. They also failed to  put on evidence showing that Mr. Jordan was likely the actual shooter and was testifying against Mr. Jones to avoid the death penalty.

Source: http://justiceforjulius.com/case-overview/

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Fourth annual review

Since the third annual review in May 2017, 2 cases have been featured bring the total to 163, and 43 cases have adopted being the total to 133, and the overall total to 296.

There were 13 exonerations (or similar), bringing the total to 50, please see the Featured and Adopted Case List for details.

There were two executions : Robert Pruett, on 12 October, 2017 and Michael Lambrix, on 5 October, 2017.

A new Facebook group Wrongful Conviction Discussion has been quite busy. Please remember that this new group does allow people to take either side of a case in a respectful and sensitive way, whereas the main group only allows that during the voting period on a proposal.

Thanks again to everyone who has voted on proposals, or contributed to the discussion.

Darlie Routier Key Points

Two of Darlie Routier‘s three sons were stabbed to death on June 6, 1996, around 2:30am at night. Darlie stated an intruder attacked her and the boys, but she was accused of staging the attack, convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Here are some key points about the case:

  • Darlie was very nearly killed by a knife slash to her throat, which came within 2mm of cutting her carotid artery. If it had been pierced, she would have bled to death within a few minutes.
  • As well as a slashed throat, Darlie had a stab wound to her arm and very extensive bruising.
  • A bloody fingerprint that didn’t belong to any of the family members was found on a glass table that was in the Routier home at the time of the stabbings.
  • A bloody sock was discovered 75 yards from the house. The sock had blood of both her boys on it, powerful evidence of an intruder. The boys were still alive when first responders arrived. The severity of their injuries means that Darlie did not realistically have time to perform many “staging” actions alleged by the prosecution.
  • Routier’s clothes from that night were placed in the same evidence bag as her sons’, which could have led to cross contamination.
  • Prosecution witness Tom Bevel testified the mixture of blood from Darlie and the boys in millimeter sized drops of blood on Darlie’s nightshirt was due to cast off first from the boys and then later drops of Darlie’s blood landing in exactly the same places.
  • In at least three other cases, Bevel’s testimony has led to wrongful convictions.
  • In a 2008 ruling granting a defense motion for new DNA tests, an appeal judge stated: “The theory underlying the prosecution’s case against the petitioner is as convoluted and counter-intuitive as that of any death penalty case to come before this Court.”
  • In the same ruling, the judge rejected the State’s argument that evidence of another male inside the house would merely suggest Darlie had an accomplice.
  • Greg Davis, prosecutor, stated soon after the trial that if Darlie was innocent that showed what a good lawyer he is. Although stating in public that he is 100% sure that Darlie is guilty, according to his brother, in private he has stated she may be innocent.
  • The jury played the “Silly String” video nine times. At least one juror has changed his opinion that she is guilty, and regrets his decision. The jurors admitted that they never looked at the photos showing how extensive Darlie’s injuries were.
  • At trial, the prosecution argued that the screen was cut by a bread knife from the kitchen, on the basis of microscopic glass rods. It is now known that these were likely due to contamination from finger print brushes.
  • The state of Texas offered Routier life without parole in exchange for her admitting guilt, but she refused the offer.
  • In June 2018, Vanessa Potkin, an Innocence Project attorney stated : “Darlie’s conviction rests entirely on faulty blood spatter analysis and character assassination”.
  • Two of Darlie’s pro bono attorneys launched a new website in June 2018 with details abut the case to coincide with a four-part ABC documentary about the case. The Legal Documents page has a link to the Habeas Corpus appeal which describes the case in detail.
  • As of June 2018, a petition calling for the case to be re-opened has attracted nearly 5,000 signature, and the Facebook Page “Free Darlie Routier” had more than 3,000 “Likes”.

 

 

 

David Diaz

Martha Sierra accused David Diaz of attempting to kill her boyfriend, Remberto Preciado, in the Lincoln Heights area of L.A., in front of her. According to police, Preciado was asked what neighborhood he was from during a fight over gang rivalries, and subsequently shot in the leg.

At the hospital, Sierra, then 18, was asked for information about the suspect. Detectives showed her photos of registered gang members in Lincoln Heights. She pointed to a young man, skinny with a shaved head, bushy eyebrows, and the start of a moustache. It was David Diaz.

In court, the defense presented evidence that showed Diaz was at the cinema with his family at the time of the shooting. But the jury was swayed by Sierra’s identification of Diaz as the shooter.

Nineteen years later, Sierra admits that she chose Diaz at random due to police pressure. “They told me I couldn’t go home until I identified the criminal. I told them: ‘OK, it’s this guy,’ but I didn’t know who he was,” she told Univision News.

“David Diaz was not the shooter,” said Sierra, now 39. “I feel bad because he should not be there,” she added.

Sierra says the true culprit does not even look like Diaz, but she did not see him among the pictures police showed her. “Everything happened so quickly but I remember that he was tall, with light skin, and skinny.” According to Diaz and his lawyers, the true culprit died in a gunfight.

The victim of the shooting, Remberto Preciado, declared that the accused was not the man who shot him in the leg.

“He is innocent,” Preciado wrote in a letter sent to Univision from Salinas Valley state prison, where he is serving a sentence for an unrelated incident. “In the trial, I testified that David Diaz was not the shooter. He is a victim of injustice of the Los Angeles’ courts,” he wrote.

“Nineteen years of his life have been stolen from him,” he added.

Source: https://www.univision.com/univision-news/united-states/this-man-has-been-imprisoned-for-19-years-but-the-victim-and-a-witness-say-hes-innocent

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Joe Bryan

Joe Bryan was convicted for the murder of his wife in 1985, a murder which according to a New York Times Editorial he “probably didn’t commit”. According to the Editorial:

“By all accounts, the Bryans had a happy marriage. On the night of his wife’s murder, Mr. Bryan was attending a principals’ conference 120 miles away. Prosecutors dismissed or ignored many pieces of potentially exculpatory evidence, like an unidentified palm print in the bedroom where Mrs. Bryan was shot to death, a cigarette butt on the kitchen floor (neither of the Bryans smoked) and the absence of any bloodstains in Mr. Bryan’s car.”

He was convicted on account of some tiny specks which may or may not have been blood, on a flashlight found in his car, which may have been planted.

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Charles Douglas Raby

Charles Raby was convicted in 1994 of capital murder for the 1992 death of Edna Franklin, a frail 72-year old woman who was found stabbed in the home that she shared with her two grandsons.

No physical evidence connected him to the crime, he was convicted solely on the basis of a patently false coerced confession which did not match the evidence in many ways.

The jury never knew that the victim had the blood from an unknown male under her nails, and the prosecution did not disclose this to the defense, who conceded guilt.

Source: http://www.savecharlesdraby.com/introduction-to-the-legal-case/

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