All posts by George Barwood

I campaign for the wrongly convicted.

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

 

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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 2008 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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John Kunco

In 1991, John Kunco was convicted of raping and beating a 55-year-old woman the previous December.

The victim claimed that her assailant’s voice sounded like the voice of a former maintenance worker in her apartment building named “John.” But she also said she had only spoken to Kunco once, never saw her attacker, and only identified Kunco based on his voice, and even then, not based on Kunco’s voice itself, but on a detective’s imitation of Kunco’s lisp.

The state’s case depended on the testimony of two bite-mark analysts. The police collected more than 40 other samples of forensic materials, including blood, hair and clothing fibers. None of it implicated Kunco. The bite-mark testimony was the only physical evidence linking him to the crime.

In 2009, DNA excluded Kunco as the source of biological material found on a lamp cord used to strangle the victim. His appeal was denied. In 2016, after two bite-mark skeptics within the ABFO submitted affidavits that were critical of the bite-mark testimony, the State’s experts submitted their own affidavits retracting their testimony and analysis. In May 2018, Kunco’s attorneys announced that they believe new DNA tests have exonerated their client.

Source: “Yet another bite-mark conviction is unraveling” Washington Post, May 21, 2018

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Update May 23, 2018 : New trial awarded

 

 

Pamela Lanier

Dorian Lanier died in hospital on 19 November 1997 of chronic and acute arsenic poisoning. His wife Pamela was subsequently convicted of his murder.

According to a 2004 ruling denying an appeal:

“Dorian and defendant had a contract to grow turkeys for Nash Johnson and Son Farms. Dorian used a turkey medication called Nitro-3 on his turkeys, which was administered through the turkeys’ water supply. Dorian had a proportional medication system between his house and his turkey houses, where Nitro-3 was mixed with water in a bucket called a proportioner;  the mixture then ran through a water hose to the turkey house. The hose had a bypass valve that allowed one to draw fresh water, without Nitro-3, out of the hose.  Nitro-3 contains arsenic and stains yellow any object with which it comes in contact.”

and

“Although Dorian knew the turkey medication contained arsenic, several defense witnesses, including defendant’s son, nephew, mother, father and a family friend, testified that they had seen Dorian drink from the hose attached to the turkey medication.   Defendant’s son, defendant’s father and an EMT testified that Dorian told them at the hospital on 19 November “he had done [this] to himself.””

The central question in the case is whether the turkey medication could have been responsible for his death. The case has been featured on “Undisclosed Podcast”. In Episode 4, the conclusion is that it’s very plausible that the turkey medication was the cause, and Dorian ingested the medication. Based on new expert opinions, a new appeal should be filed.

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PART I: 16 Years of Lost Time, The Jeffrey Descovic Story

happyvalleycitizen

I spent nearly two hours on the phone with Jeff, yet it felt like no time went by.

I was on the edge of my seat.

With his thick, throaty New York accent, he is a naturally flowing conversationalist and born storyteller who is warm, engaging, feisty and funny. His intelligence seethes out through his words, quite easily. He told me over Facebook messenger, before we spoke in person, that he would be “easy to talk to.”

Such was certainly the case.

As a boy, Jeffrey Mark Deskovic could swim the length of a pool underwater without coming up for air. On sultry days at the Elmira Correctional Facility, where he spent most of his 16 years behind bars for a rape and murder he did not commit, Mr. Deskovic would close his eyes under a row of outdoor showers and imagine himself swimming. For months after his release in September…

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Charles Ajoloko Awaits Post-Conviction Relief &Waits & Waits…..

An update on Charles Ajokolo.

justiceformyson2

On May 25, 2017, a Motion for Post-Conviction was filed by an attorney who did the Motion pro se..Image result for slow justice is not justice

We are still awaiting the judges response to the Motion.

We know that the wheels of justice turns slowly. We just do not want the wheels to come to a complete halt.

The following are two of the arguments in the Post Conviction Relief Motion. There’s more.

Trial Counsel Failed to Impeach Jen***, (the victim) Through Cross—Examination of Deputy Ma ***’s 911 Call Into Evidence.

Mr. Ajoloko’ s primary defense at trial was that he was not the individual who robbed Jen***. Despite that fact, trial counsel failed to use evidence which reflected Ms . Jen***’s inability to identify the perpetrator. Failure to impeach a victim about her ability to identify the defendant as the perpetrator may constitute ineffective assistance of counsel. See e.g. Rutledge v. State, 786 So.2d 1199…

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Man found not guilty at retrial of setting ’95 Naperville fire that killed mother-in-law

Wrongful Convictions Blog

A former Naperville resident who spent two decades imprisoned for arson and murder in the death of his mother-in-law was acquitted of those crimes Wednesday by a DuPage County judge who called the case “fatally compromised.”

As Judge Liam Brennan was finishing reading his ruling in the retrial of William Amor, the defendant — aware he was about to be found not guilty — let his head drop and took off his glasses a moment later to wipe away tears. Lauren Kaeseberg, one Amor’s attorneys from the Illinois Innocence Project, who was seated next to Amor, quietly placed her hand on his back.

“I’ve always been hopeful. I’ve always thought essentially that the system would do the right thing,” Amor, 62, said afterward. “It’s unfortunate it took 22 years.”

Amor thanked Brennan, who vacated Amor’s 1997 murder conviction last year in the wake of advances in fire science that undercut…

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Gregory Lance

A Russian couple, Victor and Alla Kolesnikow were murdered in Cookeville, Tennessee on August 5, 1998. Gregory Lance was arrested in April 1999, and subsequently convicted for the crime, based on circumstantial evidence that was either coerced by police or inconclusive.

One witness said that he was let out of jail for giving a statement to police, another contradicted his earlier statement to police.

Following his conviction, Gregory’s family hired a retired FBI Agent to assist them in investigating the case, and a likely alternative suspect was identified.

See this website for details on the case.

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