All posts by GB

I campaign for the wrongly convicted.

Mary Jane Kimberly Lee Johns

Mary Jane Kimberly Lee Johns was found guilty on March 21, 2017 of kidnapping her former girlfriend, Laura Westphal, in May 2000.

According to a pre-trial ruling, Kim and Laura were in a romantic relationship from the summer of 1999 through April 2000. They lived in different states and used AOL instant messaging and e-mail to communicate.

Following their breakup, Kim appeared at Laura’s parent’s home in May 2000. When Laura returned to the home, the women departed on a drive to Iowa.

The prosecution allege Kim held Laura at gunpoint, forcing her to drive, and holding her hostage for eight days, threatened to kill Laura and would not let Laura out of her sight.

The defense say Kim did not kidnap Laura, saying that Laura left her home and traveled with Kim to avoid having her family discover her same-sex relationship and to ensure that Kim did not commit suicide.

Receipts were recovered showing they visited motels and shops, making it implausible that Kim could have held Laura at gunpoint for this length of time. The defense cite messages where Laura lied, was deceptive and concealed the same sex relationship.

Sentencing was set for August 17, 2017.

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Holly McFeeture

Holly McFeeture was convicted in 2013 for killing Matthew Podolak, the father of two of her children with antifreeze in 2006.

At sentencing, Holly’s family members said she was a loving parent and a loyal and trustworthy person, who coached little league and raised her children the best she could as a single mother. “My mom is the greatest mom in the world because she is sweet and kind…I miss her,” said message from Podolak’s two younger children. Holly’s 15-year-old daughter said her mother raised three beautiful and loving children and was always there for them.

Holly was a suspect in Podolak’s death since 2006 when a pathologist concluded he died from chronic intoxication by ethylene glycol, the active ingredient in antifreeze. She was not charged until 2012, after Cleveland police received a tip that the poisoning was not an accident or a suicide.

Podolak’s family always maintained that he didn’t kill himself and that he was suffering from medical problems in the months before his death that caused him pain.

Before the sentencing hearing, McFeeture’s attorneys asked that Corrigan overturn the jury verdicts and acquit McFeeture or grant her a new trial.

They argued that state had failed to tell them that a former boyfriend of McFeeture’s, who was a key witness against her, had testified in another murder trial that sent a man to prison last year.

Jordan argued that attorneys should have been able to question him about it so jurors could weigh it in terms of his credibility. Corrigan, however, denied the requests citing plenty of evidence and testimony that the jury heard questioning the Jamison Kennedy’s credibility — or lack of credibility.

Source: News report August 28, 2013

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Sylvester Davis

Sylvester Davis Jr., was convicted of killing his girlfriend Yamisha Thomas of Columbus.

Davis, 32, was sentenced as a habitual offender to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in the death of Thomas.

Court testimony shows that Davis had been with Thomas on April 23, 2011, the day before she was reported missing. Davis first told Thomas’ mother that he too had been looking for the 30-year-old woman, but he later changed his story.

During an investigation, police recovered Thomas’ abandoned 2006 Chevy Avalanche in Columbus and later noted that Davis had a mark on his face as though he had been in a struggle.

A break in the search for Thomas came when Alabama Bureau of Investigation agents were questioning jail inmate Jerry Wayne Foster, who worked for Davis at a detail shop in Phenix City. Foster told authorities that Davis picked him up on the evening of April 23, went to the Summerplace Drive rental home where the couple once stayed and drove her red Avalanche to a hospital in Columbus.

Davis took Foster to Thomas’ body and sought help to conceal it but he refused. As he walked away, Foster spotted what appeared to be a body wrapped in a sheet. It had feet exposed with toenails painted.

Foster returned to Tuskegee, Ala., where he was to face unrelated felony charges on outstanding warrants. While in the Macon County Jail, he told the ABI agents about a body in Phenix City and said he could lead them to the remains. Thomas’ body was found in a shallow grave on May 23, 2011, in a wooded lot off Third Street South in Phenix City. Her body was beneath a mattress lying on the ground.

Source: News report

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Tom Wilkerson

17553949_1963861050509721_8938791363575964772_nTom Wilkerson was convicted of child abuse (a four swat spanking which he could not have given since he was at work) and tampering with a witness for telling the children to tell the truth. The child accusing him had been dumped out of a prior placement for the exact same allegation. that was not allowed into evidence. Nor were the prior parents allowed to testify about the child’s pathological lying.

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A message from Tom’s daughter, March 31, 2017:

My Father, Thomas Wilkerson, fondly referred to as Tom by hundreds of people, is currently sitting in a tiny prison cell in Jefferson City Correctional Prison. He was put there after he, along with his wife, devoted years of selfless service to the foster care system, fostering severely damaged children for many months at a time, filling them with all the love and attention that a child in the system craves.

Tom’s two biological children have an extremely high regard for him. Tom, always a strong, outdoorsy guy, spent hours building tree houses, zip lines, and rappelling with them as they grew up. He also did this with his foster children. Everyone loves Tom; he is a favorite, and nobody forgets Tom after they meet him even just once.

Tom was forced into a sham trial by the Lincoln County Justice system. (the same system that incarcerated an innocent Russ Faria in a terrifying display of the corruption that fills the Justice system in Lincoln County.) This corruption showed up in Tom’s trial in many forms. Not a single piece of exculpatory evidence was allowed as to Tom’s whereabouts, which would have proven clearly that Tom Wilkerson was not even in the home or with his children when the alleged four-swat spanking occurred. Rather, he was at work, working hard to make a good living for his wife and five adopted children.

Also the evidence that one of the children, in a prior placement, had alleged abuse, and that abuse was then proven false. The child had lied. This evidence was completely omitted from Tom’s trial.

The children chose to keep the Wilkerson’s name after the trial, even though they were told over and over they were allowed to go back to their own prior last name. During supervised and unsupervised visits, they often begged to go back home with the Wilkersons. Evidence of this was withheld during the trial.

The trial itself happened years after the first allegations had been made, giving Lincoln County time to alienate and brainwash the children into the mind-set of abuse. The children had no idea of the gravity of the accusations they were making during the trial. This was due to the fact no doubt, that they had been born with opiates in their system. They had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and had been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). This allows the children to be manipulated and controlled. None of this extremely pertinent information was allowed during Tom’s trial per the prosecutor asking the judge to suppress these details.

During the trial the children often appeared drugged and sleepy. It was apparent they had been given something to make them more pliable. They always looked toward the front row before answering any questions that were asked of them. This witness coaching appeared in full view of Judge Mennemeyer, who also made it clear that she had not read a single one of the 40 letters of character references that she had received before the trial.

The oldest child, who is now 20, was not allowed to come to the trial to testify on Tom’s behalf, after he had repeatedly said that “nothing had happened”. Church Elders, pastors, and friends were also excluded from testifying. The Wilkersons had conveniently NOT been informed by Rod Barnhill, the Deputy Juvenile officer, about the problems the children had developed before they were placed in the Wilkerson’s home: that they were sexual predators This omission by Barnhill was in direct violation of both state and federal law.

This allowed Lincoln County to collect federal money from the Safe Families Act, both when placed with the Wilkerson’s, and when removed. A two-for-one, if you will. Lincoln County has a long history of framing people for the Safe Families Act in order to get federal money. They target people who have low IQ’s, adopted children, or children with mental problems. In short, they target the people who are easily manipulated.

We believe the prosecutor, Leah Askey, and Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer colluded to exclude all exculpatory evidence of Tom’s innocence from his trial in order to ensure a guilty verdict and subsequent conviction, therefore padding their own resume, and furthering their respective careers.

The Lincoln County Justice system has become so corrupt that they appear to think themselves above the law. They target the weak, garner federal money from the Safe Families Act, and manipulate and control each trial by the Prosecutor and Judge. The judge is supposed to be the arbiter between the two parties, and not the arm of the prosecution, fixing cases to ensure conviction as was clearly done in Tom Wilkerson’s and Russ Faria’s cases by Leah Askey (currently under investigation by multiple authorities and the Chief disciplinary counsel of the Missouri Bar) and Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer (Now under suspension).

We are anxiously waiting for the appellate court of the Eastern District of Missouri to rule on the case that was heard on February 9, 2017. Thank you in advance for your support and help.

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Charles Leroy Cope

Charles Leroy Cope was convicted in 2014 on two charges of torture and the two charges of unlawful imprisonment after two women made false accusations against him and Jason Sadowski.

His attorney adopted a “duress” defense, after failing to consult with his client before the preliminary hearing.

Sadowski won his direct appeal and was cleared of all charges in March 2017 after a jury retrial.

For more details please see https://freecoachjason.wordpress.com and https://freecoachjason.wordpress.com/leroy-cope/

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Nicholas Newbold

Nicholas Newbold was wrongfully convicted of crimes committed by his ex-fiancé. She abused their two month old little girl, resulting in her death. Under California’s aiding and abetting law, Nubi was basically found guilty by association. He’s serving 30 years in prison and she is walking free! His only crime was choosing a cold hearted, selfish woman to fall in love with.

Source: http://www.freenubi.com/

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Marcel Johnson

Marcel Johnson was convicted in June 2015 of stabbing to death a pregnant woman and her 4-year-old daughter on November 25, 2013, and sentenced to death.

Behind bars, he allegedly confessed to a fellow inmate, George Lewis. The defense argued in closing that Lewis was a motivated witness with a long rap sheet and plenty of reasons to lie to help his own case, and told the jury that Johnson’s DNA was not found in evidence from the scene.

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Elwood Jones

Elwood Jones was sentenced to death after being convicted for the 1994 murder of Rhoda Nathan, a guest at the hotel where he worked as a custodian. He has always maintained his innocence and absolutely denied involvement in Ms. Nathan’s death.

Ms. Nathan was found unconscious on the floor of the hotel suite she occupied at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Blue Ash, Ohio, on September 3, 1994. She had been badly beaten and two of her teeth had been knocked out. Blood was found in several places in the room. Ms. Nathan was also without a necklace that family and friends said she wore constantly. No one witnessed the attack.

Elwood Jones had been working in the hotel on that day, and he voluntarily submitted to police questioning. Several other employees reported seeing Elwood working that day and remembered him being clean and acting normally. A cut on Elwood’s hand that he received while taking out trash on the morning of Ms. Nathan’s death later became infected, and he sought treatment and workers compensation for his injury. After police learned about Elwood’s cut, they focused on him as a suspect. Police searched Elwood’s car, and his and a friend’s residences, and questioned him at the station. But none of the blood, fingerprint, or trace evidence collected from the scene of the crime, nor from Elwood’s car, clothing, or other possessions, matched him with the crime scene or the victim. To this day, zero forensic evidence ties Elwood to Ms. Nathan’s homicide.

Source : December 2013 memorandum in opposition to the State’s motion to set execution date.

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Reducing Risks: An Executive’s Guide to Effective Juvenile Interview and Interrogation

This publication is an outgrowth of the training course, “Introduction to Juvenile Interview and Interrogation Techniques,” which IACP developed in 2006 in partnership with OJJDP. The training curriculum was created by a unique group of specialists in law enforcement, juvenile public defense, adult learning techniques, and curriculum development. Since 2006, the training course has been delivered 25 times around the United States. Approximately 1,267 law enforcement officers representing 593 agencies from 37 states have completed the course.

Available here

Daniel Gwynn

Daniel Gwynn was convicted of first degree murder, arson and aggravated assault in 1995. The primary evidence against him was an incriminating police-written statement that he signed. In this statement Mr. Gwynn is supposed to have started the fire at that killed Marcia Smith, one of the six homeless residents there, who refused to jump out of a third floor residence. The other five residents survived. Two of the residents testified that on the day before the fire they had an altercation with someone known as ‘Rick’ who fought with them for seventy minutes before being forced to flee the residence and threatened revenge. The five homeless residents told police that they believed ‘Rick” had to have started the fire – even though they did not see who started the fire.

According to false confession expert Dr. Richard Leo, “There is no objective record of what occurred and therefore no way of ruling out that Mr. Gwynn was not educated about those facts that he got correct, a phenomenon known as ‘contamination’ that is not uncommon in police interrogations, especially those leading to false confessions.”

Source: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/en-gb/125/358/722/free-daniel-gwynn-an-innocent-man-on-death-row/

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Don Roberts and Glynn Simmons

On December 30, 1974, two men held-up the Edmond Liquor Store and and in the process shot clerk, Carolyn Sue Rogers, who was killed, and a customer, Belinda Brown, who was wounded but survived.

Don Roberts and Glynn Simmons were subsequently convicted of the murder. There was no physical evidence to link them to the crime, only a questionable eyewitness identification by Belinda, and a juvenile who identified Don in a lineup.

Don and Glynn were strangers the day of the murder, they had only met once at a party, weeks after the murder. Police say their alibis didn’t check out.

Police reports indicate detectives recovered at least one usable finger print, and a bullet, but police said in court there were no fingerprints lifted from the scene of the murder.

Carolyn’s sister, Janice Smith, later wrote a letter to Glynn, and became convinced of his innocence.

Source : http://kfor.com/2014/05/15/prosecutor-family-believe-convicted-murder-could-be-innocent/

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Prosecutor Reform

“The Chronic Failure to Discipline Prosecutors for Misconduct: Proposals for Reform,” is a paper written by Thomas P. Sullivan and Maurice Possley, published by Northwestern Law’s Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. http://bit.ly/2k00Onu Sullivan is a former U.S. Attorney; Possley, a former journalist now with the National Registry of Exonerations.

Five suggested reforms:

(1) substituting for the Brady rule a verifiable open-file pretrial discovery requirement on prosecutors;

(2) instead of invoking harmless error, requiring reversal of convictions if serious prosecutorial misconduct is proven;

(3) identifying errant prosecutors by name in trial and appellate opinions;

(4) providing prosecutors with qualified instead of complete immunity from civil damages for misconduct; and

(5) authorizing the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General to handle investigations of alleged misconduct by federal prosecutors.

See http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/jclc/vol105/iss4/5/ for the full abstract and article.

 

Emerson Stevens

Emerson Stevens was convicted after two 1986 trials of abducting a mother of two from her home on August 22, 1985, while her children were asleep in the house. Five days later, her body was found in shallow water near Belle Isle Marsh, off the Rappahannock River. Stevens was sentenced to 164 years and a day in prison.

In December 2016 the Innocence Project of the University of Virginia School of Law filed an amendment asked for the conviction to be vacated.

According to the amendment, withheld evidence was found including an FBI report identifying a number of additional viable suspects; several witness statements in interviews that conflict with their court testimony; disclosure of witnesses whose statements could have impeached the testimony of prosecution witnesses; and, evidence of coercion of witnesses by the state’s chief investigator. “Mr. Stevens was convicted of a crime he did not commit…The Commonwealth’s failure to disclose the exculpatory evidence on which those false testimony claims are based violates its obligations in Brady versus Maryland”.

Source: http://rrecord.com/innocence-project-casts-doubt-on-stevens-1986-murder-conviction/

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Forensic Science Reform

In September 2016, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a report calling for forensic science reform, however Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the Justice Department would not be adopting the recommendations, and the National District Attorney’s association’s suggested that existing safeguards were adequate.  Adam B. Shniderman of Texas Christian University discusses the issue here.

 

 

Casmer Volk

In  January 2012 Casmer Volk was found guilty of raping a child and sentenced to 28 years to life.  A medical exam performed 30 hours after the alleged attack showed no trauma or bruising. When questioned by police, the child repeatedly stated the allegation was a lie, before changing his story again. Underwear the child wore to the hospital, put on a day later, tested positive for blood and semen, but a DNA test excluded Casmer, and indicated the child’s father was the source of the semen.

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Amber Hilberling

high-rise-deathAmber Hilberling admitted to pushing her husband, an Air Force veteran, out of their 17th-floor apartment in Tulsa during an argument in June 2011.

But she claimed in court she did not intend to kill him, and blamed his fatal fall on “dangerously unsafe” window glass that was too weak to stop his plunge.

Amber, who was seven months pregnant when her husband died, cited self-defense and even rejected a plea deal that would have given her only five years behind bars.

But a jury convicted her of second-degree murder in 2013, after only three hours of deliberation. A judge sentenced her to 25 years in prison.

Amber still stuck by her self-defense claim, repeating it in a televised prison interview with Dr. Phil.

“There was an altercation in which I defended myself,” she told Dr. Phil, adding that her husband flew into a rage after she called him a coward.

She also claimed in the interview that her husband abused her through their 11-month marriage, and she always kept quiet about it.

“I was really good at lying,” Hilberling said.

“That was our relationship: Josh getting in trouble over and over again and me saying, ‘Oh, no, it’s not his fault. That’s my fault. I did that.’

In October 2016, Amber committed suicide in her prison cell.

Sources:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/okla-woman-convicted-killing-husband-found-dead-cell-article-1.2844093

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2016/10/25/woman-who-pushed-husband-to-his-death-from-a-25th-floor-window-found-dead-in-prison-cell/

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Kenneth Lee Hopkins

In January 2017, Kenneth Lee Hopkins, 27, was found guilty by a jury in the murder of 19-year-old Marshay Wesson and her unborn son. Wesson was found shot multiple times in her car while waiting on Hopkins near East 28th Street North and North Wheeling Ave in June 2012. She was eight-and-a-half months pregnant.

Prosecutors closed with arguments that Wesson was calling Hopkins right up until the moments before she was shot multiple times.

Hopkins’ attorneys said their client didn’t kill anyone and said the murder weapon was found in another man’s car.

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