Category Archives: Adopted Case

An “adopted” case has a similar procedure to a “featured” case.

It is used where there are safety or sensitivity considerations, where limited public information is available, for pre-trial cases or for similar reasons.

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

Discussion| Proposal Post

Advertisements

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.

Discussion | Proposal Post

 

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.

Discussion| Proposal Post

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Pape and Cristin Smith

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

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

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

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

Discussion | Proposal Post

Jeremy Bamber

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

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

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

Discussion | Proposal Post

Troy Legette

Troy Legette was convicted in 1998 of armed bank robbery.

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

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

Proposal Post

 

Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens

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

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

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

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

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

Discussion| Proposal Post

James Davis

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

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

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

More details here

Proposal Post

Michael Shingatok

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

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

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

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

Proposal Post

Omar Benguit

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

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

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

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

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

Discussion | Proposal Post

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

Proposal Post

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/

Proposal Post

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.

Proposal Post

 

 

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/

Proposal Post

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

Proposal Post

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.

Proposal Post

 

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/

Proposal Post

 

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

Proposal Post

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.

Proposal Post