All posts by George Barwood

I campaign for the wrongly convicted.

Kenneth Nixon

Kenneth Nixon was 19 when police say his girlfriend had an affair with his childhood friend, giving him a motive to toss a Molotov cocktail into a Detroit house, killing two children.

However, according to withheld evidence, the State’s key witness ( whose story changed significantly multiple times ) was “obviously coached by family members”.

The case was re-investigated by six undergraduate and graduate students at Northwestern University, with the support of the Medill Justice Project.

For a full description of the case see https://eu.freep.com/story/news/2018/10/27/kenneth-nixon-life-sentence/1739835002/

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Casmer Volk – case update

According to the appeal ruling overturning Casmer Volk’s conviction, on April 28, 2011, Thomas and Sarah Hart left their four-year-old son Larry (names changed) in the care of their friend and daycare provider Diedre Cleary, while they vacationed in Oregon. Diedre lived with her boyfriend, now husband, Casmer Volk.

On April 30, Diedre took Larry to hospital, where a physician prescribed an antibiotic for a recurring ear infection. Larry soon suffered diarrhea, a common side-effect from the antibiotic.  On May 1, Casmer Volk, by himself, cared for Larry for two hours.

Larry’s parents returned later on May 1, and Diedre and Casmer returned Larry to his home. The next morning, May 2, Larry complained of soreness, and according to his mother when questioned stated “Cas hurt me” and Casmer “put his pee-pee in my bum”.

However when examined at hospital, there was no sign of rectal bleeding. Moreover, when questioned the child equivocated on whether he was telling the truth or not. On hearing the equivocation, his mother indicated that Larry had been offered a reward for repeating the accusation, and repeated the offer of a reward.

Larry’s underwear was submitted for forensic testing ( even though it is unknown if it was the underwear he was wearing on the date of the alleged rape ). It tested positive for p30, a presumptive test for sperm, however no sperm was found.

Note that a presumptive test is a test that does not prove the substance tested for exists in the sample, it merely indicates that the substance MAY exist. A confirmatory test is needed to confirm the result.

The prosecution argued that only Casmer could be responsible for the p30 result, as he had not fathered any children, so (the prosecution speculated) his sperm count might be low.  In fact the p30 could come from other sources, and according to forensic expert Greg Hampikian it is unlikely it came from semen.

At the first trial, there was a hung jury. At a second trial, Casmer was convicted and sentenced to 28 years to life. However, the defense failed to submit scientific evidence that Casmer has normal levels of sperm, and also failed to explain to the jury that the detected p30 may not have come from sperm.

Thus Casmer was convicted even though the prosecution’s forensic case was entirely false, and even contradicted by the hospital examination, which detected no rectal bleeding or trauma.

In February 2018, the conviction was overturned, on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel, and according to the Facebook support page “Casmer Volk is Innocent” at a hearing on November 12, attended by 12 supporters, a retrial date was set for December 4, 2018.

Kim Hoover-Moore

In 2002 – five days before Christmas , Columbus police arrested baby-sitter Kim Hoover-Moore for the shaken baby death of 9-month-old Samaisha Benson a month earlier.

She maintained her innocence, but was convicted or murder and other charges.

At trial, in the original autopsy, the coroner determined that the child had no previous brain injuries.

However, when asked by Assistant State Public Defender Joanna Sanchez to re-examine the evidence recently, the same coroner found an old brain injury that the child had suffered – probably about a month before she died – and evidence that the injury re-bled about 4-5 days before she died causing the fatal injuries.

Source: https://www.10tv.com/article/babysitter-convicted-9-month-olds-death-hopeful-new-trial-newfound-evidence

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James Evans

Nekemar Pearson allegedly went missing on June 25, 1995. James Evans was subsequently convicted of his murder on that date, on the basis of confessions he purportedly made to jailhouse informants, who claimed that Evans confessed that he beat Pearson so severely that he broke his hand in the process. However a medical examination established that in fact his hand had not been broken after a documented fracture in 1993. The trial testimony of the state’s witnesses changed from their grand jury testimony.

State witnesses Tommie Rounds, Demond Spruill, and Larry Greer testified that Evans had confessed. Spruill was a serial informant according to an appeal ruling. Greer was a drug addict and admitted liar, who police officials paid cash for his false testimony, and threatened him with arrest if he didn’t cooperate.

Further, in 2001 a state appellate defender discovered highly exculpatory Brady evidence  : a police officer observed Pearson and another youth walking down the street on July 3,  1995 (ten days after Pearson allegedly went missing). The officer was certain that it was Pearson, because he was a liaison officer at the Alton high school  where Pearson attended, and the officer had several encounters with him.

Source

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Alfred Trenkler

On October 28, 1991, a bomb exploded at the Roslindale home of Thomas L. Shay (“Shay Sr.”), killing one Boston police officer and severely injuring another.

The prosecution case was that Alfred Trenkler had built the bomb at the behest Shay Sr.’s son (“Shay Jr.”), who wanted to kill his father in order to cash in on an insurance policy.

In fact, it seems far more likely the bomb was related to Shay Sr.’s legal disputes, Shay Sr.  claimed his previous landlords were making threats on his life.

The case against Shay Jr. (who was convicted in a separate trial) and Trenkler was circumstantial. The government introduced a sales receipt for a toggle switch purchased in October 1991 at a Radio Shack store, however the jury never knew that the switch recovered at the scene was not a Radio Shack switch.

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Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey – case update

A further 10 episodes of “Making a Murderer” on the cases of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey have been streamed on netflix.

They detail Kathleen Zellner’s re-investigation of the case, and the agonising twists and turns in Brendan Dassey’s efforts to have his confession thrown out as coerced.

Specifically, we learn that:

(1) The State’s theory of how the blood-spatter on the rear cargo door of Teresa Halbach’s car was deposited is not tenable. Also, the blood near the ignition key would not have been left by Avery turning the ignition, instead it was planted there.

(2) The hood-latch DNA could not have been touch-DNA, and the swab wasn’t from the hood-latch. Instead the sample swab was relabeled with a swab taken from Avery.

(3) Halbach’s body could not have been incinerated with a couple of tyres. Also, there is no stain. Expert Dr John DeHann is positive the burn pit is not the primary burn site.  (About 35 minutes in to Ep. 3). No photos of discovery of the bones, remains, not done, no documentation. This implies the remains were recovered elsewhere and not at the site where Steven Avery had a bonfire.

(4) Remains were allegedly discovered in burn barrel #2 many days after it had been previously been searched. Again, this implies the remains were in fact recovered elsewhere.

(5) There was a Brady violation ( withheld evidence ) concerning evidence that Halbach’s vehicle left the Avery property.

(6) The blood planted in Halbach’s car came from blood Avery deposited in his bathroom sink ( there was evidence of a break-in, he reported someone cleaned up the blood on Nov 3, on Friday morning the blood in his sink was gone ).

(7) Flakes of Avery’s blood recovered from the carpet of Halbach’s car must have been planted, not deposited there from his bleeding finger.

(8) The .22 bullet fragment recovered from Avery’s garage should have had bone fragments – it didn’t, meaning it could NOT have passed through Halbach’s head. Instead it had wood fragments. Zellner recreated how the .22 bullet fragment occurred. The DNA evidence ( Halbach’s DNA on the fragment ) was forged.

(9) Bryan should have been called as a witness to impeach Bobby, in fact Bobby saw Teresa leave and told Bryan, but Bryan was not called as a witness. We can infer that prosecutors scared Bobby enough with what he saw happened to Brendan, and material on Bobby’s computer would have given them plenty of leverage. ( Also, that was another Brady violation, the computer contents at the very least are impeachment information favorable to the defense ).

Discussion here

 

 

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 lied about who shot the victim, and named people in order to curry favour with the police, and perhaps to absolve himself from wrongdoing.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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