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/

Discussion | Proposal Post

 

 

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/

Discussion

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.

Discussion

Daniel Holtzclaw

Daniel Holtzclaw was convicted in December 2015 of 18 of 36 counts of sexual  assault, and was sentenced to 263 years in prison.

Daniel maintains his innocence, and has several credible supporters with detailed knowledge of the case. They point out that many of the allegations were disproven, and none of the allegations were corroborated by independent evidence.

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Jason Sadowski Update

This is a more detailed account of the featured case of Jason David Sadowski, who faces a retrial starting on March 6, 2017.

Two drug addicts, Angel Paris and Becky Bressette, accused Jason of assaulting and torturing them after they admitted stealing money from him, early in the early morning hours of July 2, 2013.

The appeal ruling reversing the 2014 conviction put it this way: “According to the victims, Sadowski essentially turned into a violent, abusive, sword-wielding captor the moment they confessed to taking a relatively minimal amount of money”.

Jason denies the allegations, the defense case (according to the winning appeal brief) is that “the women lied to the police to insulate themselves from arrest for the larceny. He testified the two women fought between themselves in a dispute over returning the stolen money to him, that he never forced them into the basement or bound them to the poles, that he did not physically assault or choke either woman, and did not solicit Ms. Paris to kill Ms. Bressette”.

Angel and Becky told conflicting stories that were contradicted by medical evidence, and there was no evidence to disprove Jason’s version of events other than Angel and Becky’s testimony. Other witnesses who were present corroborated Jason’s version.

Specifically, there are the following apparent lies and contradictions in their stories:

(1) Money stolen from Jason’s wallet.
At trial, Angel testified that she took four dollars, giving two to Becky. However, the first responding police officer testified that Angel informed him that she had stolen three dollars and Becky had taken ten dollars. Becky, on the other hand, testified that Angel took a couple of dollars while Becky grabbed a handful of change.

(2) After the theft.
Angel testified she asked to use the bathroom, confessed to Jason and gave him two dollars back. But Becky testified that only Jason went to the bathroom, and that when he returned he accused them of taking money.

(3) The curtains.
Becky testified that after being hit, she grabbed onto the curtains and pulled them off, but police pictures purported to show those curtains still intact and installed on the window.

(4) The vagina search.
Becky also testified that Jason made her lie on the bed and forced Angel to insert her hand inside of Becky’s vagina at least twice to check if money was hidden there. Angel, however, testified that while Jason wanted them to check each other’s vaginas, they refused.

(5) Duct-taping to poles.
Both victims testified that it was a joint effort of defendants in duct taping them to poles in the basement. But Charles Cope was repeatedly asked if Jason ever touched, hit or threatened Angel or Becky, and responded that did not happen. Then at sentencing he said “Downstairs … that’s all I know, he never touched ’em downstairs. I never seen him hurt ’em.” [ Note that Cope did not testify, so the jury never heard any of this ]

(6) They were taped to the poles for a long time.
Sarah Pietro, Jason’s ex-wife, testified that she was at the gym on the morning in question, the two victims were fine, there was no yelling or screaming, and they did not seem agitated.

(7) Both women were choked.
In Angel’s medical records there is no indication she complained of having been strangled. Dr. Vanderschaff found no physical signs of strangulation, including no neck swelling, hand marks on her neck, or signs of petechiae (broken blood vessels) in her eyes or on her face.

(8) Becky claimed that Jason burned her on the face with a lit cigarette.
Angel testified : while she heard Becky say that he had burned her with a cigarette, she did not see that happen. Dr. Vanderschaff saw no indication of a cigarette burn.

Angel admitted at trial that she had numerous problems in the past with opiate addictions.  On one occasion, Angel assaulted three people then fled in a stolen vehicle. When police arrested her, she lied and said she had been the one that was assaulted and that the stolen vehicle was a misunderstanding. She then plead guilty and was convicted and had to write an apology letter. The judge is not allowing testimony from three witnesses who could testify to this earlier incident in the retrial.

Another witness was with Angel when she asked to be tied up with duct tape before and then asked to raped. Another circumstance is that Becky died of a drug overdose in September 2013, while with Angel, prior to trial.

Sarah Pietro, Jason’s ex-wife and good friend worked as an EMT Paramedic , 9/11 responder, a volunteer until her ambulance rolled over in 2003 and left her a paraplegic. Sarah has hired a lawyer with savings she had, but the money has run out and the attorney she hired is now working pro bono. The court has paid for one expert but won’t pay for anything else, including DNA testing that could conclusively prove Jason to be innocent.

Sarah is doing everything she can to help Jason have a fair retrial on March 6 and has created a support website and a Facebook Page “Free Coach”.

Update: Cope was offered time-served if he would testify against Jason, he refused, was convicted and sentenced to  to 25 to 40 years.

Update: A dedicated wordpress site with case information was created on Feb 3, 2017:
https://freecoachjason.wordpress.com/

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Billie Jerome Allen

On March 17, 1997, security guard Richard Heflin was killed during an armed robbery of the Lindell Bank & Trust in St. Louis (Forest Park), Missouri, by two men.

William Green who was a customer at the bank dialled 911 and followed the  getaway van to Forest Park, where it burst into flames ( prior to the robbery the van had been soaked in gasoline ). One of the men, Norris G. Holder, caught fire, and was arrested at the scene by police. The other ran into a wooded area, and was spotted soon after he left the van on the opposite side of the wooded area by city forestry employee Bobby Harris. After making up a story about why the hair on his head was burned, the man convinced Harris and another forestry employee to give him a ride to the nearest Metrolink station.

Billie Jerome Allen was arrested at his girlfriend’s apartment at about 2:00a.m. the next day.  Around 3:00 a.m. Billie was placed in an interrogation room, handcuffed to the table, advised again of his Miranda rights, and allegedly treated for his burns and injuries. Subsequently, Billie was identified by Harris in a lineup and at trial.

It seems like an open and shut case, but allegedly, there is no documentation of Billie being treated for burns and injuries, and the photo lineup shows no bandage or sign he was treated:

bec5e6_fc11f35b67204a459a27543d7a37859f

Source: http://www.freebillieallen.com/single-post/2016/03/13/YOU-BE-THE-JUDGE

Both Billie and Holder were found guilty in separate trials, and sentenced to death.

Discussion

More images:

 

 

 

Schaeffer Cox

In June 2012 Schaeffer Cox was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and of various weapons offenses in a plot to kill government officials and law enforcement officers.

Defense attorneys said that plans for violent action were suggested by undercover informants. Supporters claim that the investigation of Cox amounted to entrapment, and the jury did not see the investigating special agent’s emails saying Cox was not a threat, witness intimidation, and audio recordings of Cox refusing to use violence at the suggestion of informants.

Sources:

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Book Review: “Forensic Science Reform – Protecting the Innocent”

Wrongful Convictions Blog

bower-book

For the last 8 1/2 years, I have been working to ‘help’ overcome the devastating effects that incorrect, bogus, and non-scientific forensics has had on our justice system in producing wrongful convictions.  And I’ve also been writing about it on this blog since its inception.

C.M. (Mike) Bowers has teamed up with Wendy Koen to produce a definitive work addressing many of these issues. Mike is forensic dentist who has been at the forefront of debunking the junk science of bite mark analysis. Wendy Koen is a former attorney with the California Innocence Project. Mike also maintains the website CSIDDS dedicated to promoting truth, reason, logic, and actual science in the discipline of forensics.

The data below from the National Registry of Exonerations shows that false or misleading forensic evidence is a contributing factor in 24% of all the wrongful convictions logged by the registry to date.

nat-reg-exon

This book provides…

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Vincent Simmons

On May 22, 1977, Karen and Sharon Sanders, 14-year-old twins, reported that they were raped two weeks prior. In statements to police, the twins claimed that they, along with their cousin Keith Laborde encountered a black man at the 7-11 filling station. They gave the man a ride and then claim that the same man produced a knife and ordered everyone into the trunk of the car. He then allegedly raped the twins one at a time and repeatedly before setting them free. The twins claimed that their attacker threatened to have his buddies come after them if they breathed a word.

In their statements, the twins were unable to identify their attacker because “all blacks looks alike.” With this information, Avoyelles Parish police picked up Vincent Simmons and placed him under arrest. Simmons was placed in a line-up in which he was the only one handcuffed. The Sanders twins and Laborde then identified Simmons as their attacker.

From 1977 until 1993 Simmons filed repeated motions to view the evidence file pertaining to his case, including police reports, arrest reports, victims’ statements, trial transcripts, the medical examiner’s report and other documents. After 16 years, his request was finally granted. Facts that came to light included the medical examination of the twins, which showed that Sharon Sanders’ hymen remained intact three weeks after the date of the alleged rapes and that she remained a virgin. This medical examiner’s report was never turned over to the defense for discovery during the trial.

There was no physical evidence presented in the Simmons case that the rapes actually occurred. Simmons’ defense also presented several eyewitnesses who claimed that Simmons was at a local bar with them the night of the alleged rapes.

Simmons was given a 100-year sentence, two counts of attempted aggravated rape.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_Simmons

Website : http://www.freevincent.com/

Documentary (1999):

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Danny Lee Thompson

Danny Lee Thompson was convicted together with Andy W. Snyder for the murder of Michael W. Beauchamp, a homeless drifter.

Beauchamp  was last seen with two men at the Viking Lounge. His body was found floating in the Flint River at a Genesee County parks fishing site off N. Irish Road in Richfield Township, in October 1996. Police said a pathologist said Beauchamp died from drowning, but was beaten before being tossed in the water.

DNA on discarded cigarette butts found at the murder scene linked  the pair to the homicide. Snyder, who was already in prison when charged, was sentenced to 25-50 years in prison. He claimed that if he did not help Thompson that day, he also would have been killed.

At the sentencing hearing, Danny denied any involvement in the Oct. 7, 1996 killing, “I never laid my hands on him”, he said .

Source: News Report February 25, 2008.

Evidence shows that the testimony of Vega, the bartender, who testified that Danny wanted to beat the victim, was false, the person she described was not Danny. Danny’s confession was coerced, and Snyder also confessed. One of the confessions must have been false.

Source: see proposal post.

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Ronald DiMambro Jr.

sportyRonald DiMambro Jr. was convicted in 2014 for the murder of Damian Sutton, the two-year-old son of his ex-girlfriend, and sentenced to life in prison.

Damian and his mother were living in the home of Ronald’s parents. Damian was in the care of Ronald at the time of the alleged assault in August 2013 while his mother was at work.  The defense say Damian accidentally fell from a kitchen bar stool 1-3 days earlier, and that likely accounted for his death. Damian was taken to hospital, but was taken off life support and died six days later.

In October 2014 a judge ordered a new trial, ruling that 32 photographs withheld by the prosecution were crucial, stating that “The information provided by these photographs … would likely have materially changed how the jury viewed the relationship between the defendants’ conduct and Damian’s death. The nondisclosure may have been unintentional, but it was no harmless error.”

The photographs could have helped the defense, and its expert, Dr. Bader Cassin, because they more clearly show that bleeding on one side of Damian’s brain was caused by surgical incisions, not necessarily blunt-force trauma, the judge said. The information suggests Damian may have suffered only one blow instead of two, raising the possibility of a fall instead of an intentional act.

Source: Judge orders new trial for man in 2-year-old’s death 1 Nov 2015.

In December 2016, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the judge’s decision. The county prosecutor’s office planned to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

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