Category Archives: Crime-Committed-By-Other(s)

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.

Discussion

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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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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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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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

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:

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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:

 

 

 

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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Cyril Smith

On August 23, 2006, Cyril Smith was charged in nine counts with narcotics trafficking and the drug-related contract murders of Sanford Malone, Jamal Kitt, and Terrence Celestine in the Bronx, New York.

The jury trial was from May 14, 2007 to May 30, 2007. Cyril was convicted on eight counts, and acquitted on count four, which was killing Kitt while engaged in drug trafficking, nevertheless he was convicted of killing Kitt through the use of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

The State’s case (  from Governments-response-to-appeal-2011  ) is that Cyril murdered Jamal Kitt and Terrence Celestine three weeks apart in July 1998, using the same nine-millimeter semi-automatic pistol, at the behest of Bronx drug dealer Edgardo Colon, who wanted Kitt and Celestine dead because they were interfering with Colon’s drug business. Colon solicited Cyril to commit the murders by promising to give Cyril drugs to sell on his own. Cyril committed both crimes with his close associate Rafael Ramos, who testified about the murders and the conflicts giving rise to them under his cooperation agreement.

An issue is that Ramos’s account of the murder of Kitt on July 5, 1998,  was contradicted by Keisha Lespierre, Kitt’s girlfriend at the time of his death, who testified that the person who shot Kitt was a light-skinned Spanish man, and not the Spanish man’s black companion.

The murder of Celestine was on July 30, 1998. A ballistics expert testified that the 9mm shell casings were fired from the same gun as those recovered from the scene of the Kitt murder.  According to Charisma Adderley, Cyril admitted to her that he shot Celestine a few days later.

Sanford Malone, who was shot to death on February 14, 2000, was the leader of a large-scale retail drug organization. Two other people were seriously injured. The State alleges that Cyril killed Malone on behalf of Edwin Avilez who was the leader of a competing retail drug organization; and Charisma Adderley assisted Cyril in carrying out the murder, which was solicited and procured by Avilez and Ramos.

According to supporters, police questioned Adderley three times about the murders and she said she knew nothing, only after police told her they would take her kids and lock her up did she say what they wanted her to say, and  Charisma recently apologized to Cyril’s mother at a parade in New York.

Further, according to a review of the transcript by “AC4L”, the three principle witnesses Ramos, Adderley and Avilez were all coerced and/or impeached.

[ Post under development]

Documents

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John Pecoraro

John Pecoraro was convicted of murdering Jimmy Ray Christian on December 6, 1982, and sentenced to death ( in 2011 Illinois abolished the death penalty, and sentences were commuted to life imprisonment ).

John was convicted on the basis of an unsigned confession, which he denies he made, and witnesses who may have had an incentive to lie.

According to a review in The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (see below), the State did not disclose information about a third person who allegedly confessed to the killing, and failed to   disclose a promise of leniency it made to a witness, in exchange for cooperation.

Discussion

* The review ( source ) titled “When exculpatory evidence never makes it to defendant”

Reading the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in People v. John Pecoraro, No.78457 (Feb.6), one gets the distinct impression that the defendant got more vengeance than justice in his litigation.

In Pecoraro, the high court found that the state’s failure to disclose information about a third person who allegedly confessed to the killing – a killing for which the defendant received the death penalty – did not constitute a violation of Brady v.Maryland, 373 U.S. 83,10 L.Ed.2d 215, 83 S.Ct.1194 (1963), and its progeny. The court also found that the state’s failure to disclose a promise of leniency it made to a witness, in exchange for cooperation, did not impair the defense – since the defense had discovered different helpful information on its own. The Supreme Court reasoned that because the defendant did not allege or prove that the witness had testified falsely at trial, no harm had been done.

To justify its ruling regarding the harmlessness of the failure to disclose the statement by the third party, who had admitted to committing the crime, the court discussed the admissibility of that third party’s statement under established rules of evidence. In doing so, the high court reviewed the several predicates for the admissibility of a hearsay statement by a third party who admits to committing a crime, as set forth in Chambers v.Mississippi, 410 U.S.284,35 L.Ed.2d297,93 S.Ct.1038 (1973), and the court determined that the statement would have been inadmissible hearsay – thus not causing harmful error.

In regard to the state’s failure to disclose its promise of leniency to the cooperating witness, the court reasoned that no harm had been done since that information would have been of little help to the defense in light of all the other impeachment evidence the defense had acquired on its own. The court thus found that the state’s failure to disclose the additional impeachment material was harmless to the defendant’s case.

With all due respect for our Supreme Court, it appears this ruling either shows a callous indifference to procedural due process and the right to counsel or lack of common sense. Surely our state’s highest court knows that a defense attorney’s efforts are not limited to the four corners of the discovery information received from the state.

If the state discloses the name of a witness who claims to have committed the crime for which one’s client stands accused, a competent defense attorney would usually hire an investigator and try to obtain admissible evidence showing that the declarant – not the accused – committed the crime in question. Furthermore, an effective defense team might be able to convince the declarant to testify – in which case there would be no hearsay problem. But if the state is allowed to hide exculpatory information from the defense, investigation opportunities can be destroyed before they can ever begin. In essence, the state would be able to deny an accused the assistance of counsel by simply hiding exculpatory material.

Note that in U.S. v. Bagley, 473 U.S.667 (1985), the U.S. Supreme Court held that, regardless of whether information is requested by the accused, favourable evidence is material, and constitutional error results from its suppression by the government if suppression adversely affects an outcome.

With regard to the state’s failure to disclose the deal it had with one of its witnesses, and the Pecoraro court’s finding that the lack of disclosure was harmless in light of other impeachment information, how would the court have ruled had a defendant asked that the state not be allowed to introduce cumulative evidence?

For instance, if this defendant had been willing to stipulate to the cause of death in his murder case, would the court have barred the state from offering gory autopsy photos? Probably not.

The Supreme Court frequently has ruled that a party trying to prove a point has the right to present all of its evidence – including gory autopsy photos. People v. LeMay, 35Ill.2d 208, 220 N.E.2d 194 (1966). In the instant case, the defendant was trying to prove that a key witness for the state was not credible. The defense should have been allowed to present all of the evidence it had on the credibility issue – including any deals the witness had with the state.

 

 

 

Nathaniel Allen

Nathanial Allen was convicted of ordering the 2003 murder of Donald Wilder, Jr. he was jointly tried with two others who the evidence shows committed the murder. At least one witness against him lied, an appeal ruling denying one of his appeals stated:

“The Petitioner asserts that Atkins was present at a time Brassfield testified the Petitioner discussed the murder, and Atkins would testify that the Petitioner did not discuss a murder. Atkins would also testify that Brassfield had reason to testify against the Petitioner. Although Atkins’s testimony would have been relevant to impeach Brassfield’s trial testimony, the proof at the hearing showed another defense witness, Bronson Hollifield, contradicted Brassfield’s testimony that a similar conversation occurred at another location. Additionally, at least one other witness testified to Brassfield’s reputation for lying, and Brassfield was impeached with his prior convictions and his motives to testify against the Petitioner. Finally, the record shows trial counsel did much to discredit Brassfield’s testimony.”

Other witnesses were very dubious, and another witness who should have testified to a crucial meeting that allegedly implicated Nathaniel did not testify at all.

The State’s case

Nathanial did not take part in the killing, but he requested the murder be committed, provided drugs to assist in the killing, and provided money and drugs in exchange for the killing. George Arthur Lee Smith was the shooter and Shannon Lee Jarnigan assisted.

Witnesses

Connie D. Lawson, George Smith’s sister, testified that she talked with George Smith while they were at her house and that he was crying “really hard.” He told her that he had shot the victim in the back of the head. Jarnigan, who was also in the room, said, “We killed him execution style.”. Lawson testified that she refused to speak with the Defendants’ lawyers in preparation for this case because she had been threatened and did not know who to trust. Lawson conceded that the State’s attorney told her not to speak with the Defendants’ attorneys. Lawson agreed that she had previously been convicted in 1999 of misdemeanor forgery and in 2002 of criminal impersonation. She said that she violated her probation for criminal impersonation and had to serve three months in jail. Lawson said that she did not call the police after her brother and Defendant Jarnigan confessed because she did not believe what he said. More at pages 12-13 of 2007 ruling.

Michael Lynn Brassfield, Nathaniel’s brother, testified he went to the Super 8 Motel in Morristown where he saw Nathaniel and George Smith, Richard Atkins, and a girl named “Sissy.” While in the motel room, Defendant Allen mentioned two “Mexicans [who] had twenty-five thousand dollars on [the victim’s] head.” Brassfield recalled another incident around the same period of time when he was at a Days Inn in White Pine with Defendants Allen and Smith, West, and “Sissy.” While there, Nathaniel asked Brassfield and Defendant Smith to go to the bathroom with them, and he mentioned again about the two Mexicans who offered money in exchange for killing the victim. Nathaniel said that, if someone killed the victim, he would ensure they were paid. Nathaniel said that he wanted the victim killed because the victim “had indictments on him.” Brassfield agreed to kill the victim but could not get him “off the hill” ( meaning out of his house ). More at page 13 of 2007 ruling.

Phyllis West said that, on Tuesday, June 24, 2003, she and Epps went to the Days Inn Motel, and Epps paid for their room. The following day, she and Epps got a room at the Hillcrest Inn in White Pine. Later, Epps picked up Defendants Smith and Jarnigan, who rented a separate room at the same motel. Defendant Allen and a man named Darrell came to the room later with a black pistol. More at page 9 of 2007 ruling.

Danielle Lynne Epps testified that the State charged her in this case with first degree murder, alleging that she aided and abetted the Defendants in committing the victim’s murder. She testified she had reached a plea agreement with the State whereby she would plead guilty to attempt to facilitate first degree murder and testify truthfully at the Defendants’ trial in exchange for the State’s recommendation of an eight-year probationary sentence. Epps described Defendant Allen as her friend, and said Defendant Allen introduced her to Defendant Smith at the College Square Apartments in Morristown. He told her at the time of the introduction that Defendant Smith “was the one that was going to take [the victim] out.” Epps recalled another time when she heard West and Defendant Smith discuss that Defendant Smith would kill the victim. Epps said that, on June 24, 2003, she stayed at the Super 8 Motel with Defendant Smith and West. Defendant Allen made the statement that whoever “got” the victim first would get paid, but he did not disclose the amount. More at page 10 of 2007 ruling.

Stephanie Schaeffer (defense witness) testified that she knew Phyllis West well, as the two had been incarcerated together for about ten months. Schaeffer said that West discussed with her frequently the victim’s murder but never mentioned Defendant Allen’s name.

Bronson Hollifield (defense witness) testified that he has known Defendant Allen for approximately six or seven years, and, previously, he worked for the Defendant’s concrete business. Hollifield said he was present at the market when Defendant Allen saw Rucker, and Defendant Allen did not solicit anyone to kill the victim.

Timeline

February, March 2001 Victim employed as an informant, victim and Nathanial contacted each other multiple times. The victim and the victim’s wife were paid confidential informants.

Febuary 2001 Michael Brassfield’s girlfriend murdered “She was beaten n had horrible burns no her face n body n around her neck was a rope n her eyes were gouged almost out .” per discussion here  ).

June 24, 2003 Epps stayed at Super 8 Motel with West and Smith.

June 26, 2003 Some time after midnight, George Smith checked into Super 8 Motel located on East Andrew Johnson Highway.
June 26, 2003 Calls between the George Smith’s cell phone (# 423-312-3439) and the victim’s residence before 7:00 a.m., around the time that the victim became missing.
June 26, 2003 6:48 a.m. 3 minute call from victims phone to 423-312-3439.
June 26, 2003 6:52 a.m 1 minute call to victims phone from 423-312-3439.

July 2003 Detective Chad Smith asked by DA’s office  to investigate the victim’s disappearance because the victim was an important witness in multiple pending drug cases.

August 20, 2003 Detective Chad Smith interviewed George Smith, Smith admits shooting the victim and gives a detailed account of events.

August 27, 2003 Sheriff’s Department told Agent Smith about skeletal remains found on River Road.

August 2003 Chad Mullins, a sergeant with the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department, testified that he received a message in August 2003 from Brassfield. Brassfield told Sergeant Mullins that, if the sergeant kept Brassfield’s family safe, he would take the sergeant to the victim’s body. A few days later, Brassfield took him to the body. Sergeant Mullins agreed that Brassfield told him that “another man” helped Brassfield move the body, and Brassfield did not mention Defendant Smith.

December 17, 2003 Police find .380 high point semi-automatic pistol with a laser sight and a clip or magazine in the area described by Jarnigan.

March 15, 2004 Victims wife dies.

January 2006, bond reduction request denied ( News report ).

March 2006 Nathanial, Smith and Jarnigan convicted after a single trial.

August 2011, Jarnigan’s State level appeal denied.

August 2015, Jarnigan’s federal habeas appeal is denied.

Notes

From the 2012 ruling, page 2:

Phyllis Allen, the mother of the Petitioner and Brassfield, testified that she was not called as a witness at the Petitioner’s trial and did not know why. Had she been called, she would have testified that Brassfield came to her house one day seeking money. He told her that he had committed some robberies and needed the money to flee. Brassfield threatened her, and attempted to run her over with a truck. When Brassfield was unsuccessful in getting any money from her and the rest of the family, he “said that he was going to get revenge against my son, Thomas Allen, and myself and my – daughter, Nikki Allen – Janan Allen and the whole family.”

The Petitioner asserts that Atkins was present at a time Brassfield testified the Petitioner discussed the murder, and Atkins would testify that the Petitioner did not discuss a murder. Atkins would also testify that Brassfield had reason to testify against the Petitioner. Although Atkins’s testimony would have been relevant to impeach Brassfield’s trial testimony, the proof at the hearing showed another defense witness, Bronson Hollifield, contradicted Brassfield’s testimony that a similar conversation occurred at another location. Additionally, at least one other witness testified to Brassfield’s reputation for lying, and Brassfield was impeached with his prior convictions and his motives to testify against the Petitioner. Finally, the record shows trial counsel did much to discredit Brassfield’s testimony.

Documents 2007 ruling | 2012 ruling

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John N. Prante

John N. Prante was sentenced in 1983 to 75 years in prison for the June 20, 1978 murder of Karla L. Brown, in the city of Wood River, Illinois. Prante is held in the Pinckneyville Correctional Center and listed as eligible for parole in 2019, and for release in 2022.

There were no witnesses to Brown’s death, the only physical evidence against Prant was disputed bite-mark testimony, a dentist testified that less than 1 percent of people have teeth that could have left the mark.

Two prints on a coffee carafe that authorities said the killer clearly had touched did not match Prante.

An attempt to get a judge to order a DNA test for blood on a couch cushion in Brown’s basement was rejected in 1993 as coming too late in the appeals process. Illinois later passed a law to accommodate post-conviction forensic testing.

In January 2017, in response to news that attorneys from the Exoneration Project and the Innocence Project were filing for DNA tests to be conducted, and for the unidentified prints to be checked against a National database, Don W. Weber, the former prosecutor, called efforts on Prante’s behalf “intellectual malpractice”, writing “I already convinced 12 people beyond a reasonable doubt and feel no obligation to respond to a bunch of misguided liberal do-gooders who think every investigation is like a TV reality show”.

Source: Bite mark on Metro East woman slain in 1978 pointed to her killer. Or did it? St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 3, 2017

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Charles Johnson and Larod Styles

In July 2016, Cook County Judge Domenica A. Stephenson vacated the murder convictions of Charles Johnson, 39, and Larod Styles, 36, who, as teenagers, received life sentences in the December 1995 deaths of Yousef Ali and Khalid Ibrahim. Both men were fatally shot during a robbery at Elegant Auto Sales at 75th and Western.

After eight years of legal wrangling, which included an appellate court decision in their favor, attorneys representing the men said the day would not be possible if Illinois weren’t the only state in the nation to allow post-conviction fingerprint testing for defendants.

Matching fingerprints were found on a car at the used car lot and on the adhesive side of a price sticker that was torn off of one of two cars that was stolen from the lot, said defense attorney Steven Drizin, of Northwestern University’s Center On Wrongful Convictions.

The same prints were also found on the stolen cars themselves — which were abandoned about five miles from the crime scene. And the kicker, defense attorneys claim, is the fact that the fingerprints, when run through a law enforcement data base that was not available to detectives at the time of the original investigation, returned a match: a man with a lengthy criminal record who lives a short walk from where the stolen cars were found. According to a source, the man has since been interviewed by investigators.

“We are here today because we were able to use that database to not only exclude our clients . . . but to match those fingerprints to one person in particular who has nothing to do with our clients,” said Drizin, who discounted confessions the men gave to police.

In September 2016, Charles Johnson was freed on $50,000 bond, Styles was unable to post bond. Cook County prosecutors said they will retry both Johnson and Styles.

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February 15, 2017 Charges Dropped

Timothy Burchard

On October 5, 1997, the body of a woman was found in the burned remnants of her home in the Town of Veteran, Chemung County, her husband was out of town.

In late 1999, Timothy Burchard called 911, to report that Eric Weiskopff had shot a man in the head. Weiskopff then accused Timothy of the 1997 murder, but DNA tests showed that Weiskopff had raped the victim, and excluded Timothy. Weiskopff claimed that Timothy had obtained the key days earlier from the victims car, parked outside her home, however the evidence shows this to be a lie – see the Retrial Affidavit points 8 to 17.

Weiskopff when questioned told police that Jeremy Onsager was the getaway driver. Onsager was given complete immunity from prosecution for testifying that Timothy took part in the crime. When initially questioned, Onsager did not mention Timothy, only implicating him much later after detectives brought up his name.

There was no reliable evidence linking Timothy to the crime, or even placing him with Weiskopff or Onsager who was the driver, or even any truthful account of how he met up with Weiskopff or Onsager prior to the crime.

Instead, Weiskopff and Onsager told conflicting stories which are clearly untrue.

Jailhouse informants also told stories that were clearly fabricated, as they incorporated the untrue claim that Timothy had the key days earlier.

The prosecution, over sustained objections, repeatedly brought up that Weiskopff failed polygraph tests, apparently in an attempt to convince the jury that his final version of events was the truth. However Weiskopff’s final version of events was false and incredible.

The only credible witness, Timothy’s ex-girlfriend, who had no detailed knowledge of the murder, and who previously had no suspicion that Timothy committed the murder, was apparently “turned” by detectives lying to her, and testified against Timothy. The defense were denied information about how she was turned against Timothy, and a wire-tapped conversation she had with him was withheld. See this Memo.

In summary : there is a complete absence of credible evidence showing that Timothy committed the murder, and those with knowledge told conflicting untrue stories about his involvement, and could give no account of how they met with him – inexplicable if he was really there.

The only rational conclusion is that Timothy played no part in the murder and is innocent.

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Andrew Krivak

Anthony DiPippo and Andrew Krivak were arrested in July 1996 after DiPippo’s ex-girlfriend, Denise Rose, claimed she had been with them in a van and saw them rape and kill Josette Wright. She told police the men gagged Wright with her underwear and dropped her body off in the woods in Fields Lane in Patterson, which was where police had found her remains. DiPippo and Krivak were both found guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree rape in 1997. Krivak is serving a 25-to-life sentence in state prison and isn’t eligible for parole until 2021. DiPippo was acquitted by a jury after three trials in October 2016.

Krivak signed a lengthy statement in which he admitted raping Josette but not killing her and implicating DiPippo in the murder. Krivak did not testify at his own trial but has always insisted he fabricated the confession under pressure from the investigators.

In September 2016, Krivak filed to introduce the new evidence that led to DiPippo’s acquittal. “New evidence shows that Krivak is likely innocent of the crimes, that false evidence was used at his trial and that he deserves a new trial,” one of his lawyers, Adele Bernhard, wrote in court papers. Bernhard, a former Pace Law School professor, teaches at New York Law School, where she supervises the Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic.

Krivak’s filing relied on several of the details that got DiPippo his new trial — particularly that Putnam sheriff investigators coerced witnesses and that a Connecticut sex offender, Howard Gombert, is Josette’s killer and implicated himself in statements made to a fellow inmate in 2011. At DiPippo’s trial on in September 2016,  Joseph Santoro testified as a defense witness how Gombert claimed to have sex with Josette at the time she disappeared and that he suggested he had gotten away with murder because two “suckers” were convicted.

On Tuesday December 20, 2016 Krivak’s motion was denied by State Supreme Court Justice Victor Alfieri, who said Krivak and DiPippo’s cases are different, and the new evidence isn’t likely to change the verdict because of Krivak’s “detailed, voluntary confession” to the police after his arrest in 1996.

Krivak’s attorney, Adele Bernhard, called the judge’s ruling “surprising” and “disappointing.”, and said that Krivak’s confession has “the hallmarks of a false confession.” The new evidence, his lawyers say, points to Howard Gombert, who is serving time in Connecticut for sexual assault, as the girl’s likely killer, not Krivak and DiPippo, who were convicted of the crime in separate trials in 1997.

“One of the things the police are supposed to do in trying to get them to confess is to get them to talk about evidence that isn’t already known,” Bernhard said. “So for example, if they can get the suspect to say the victim was wearing purple underwear and no one knows that except police. But everything in the alleged confession was already known from the crime scene.”

Bernhard said the defense team will file an appeal of the judge’s decision early in 2017.

“We’re going to ask the appellate division to review the judge’s decision, and I’m sure that they will,” she said. “We just want to give the jury an opportunity to consider all the evidence. The jury didn’t get to do that.”

The Putnam Sheriff’s Investigator, Daniel Stevens, that helped secure Krivak’s disputed  confession through the use of a lie detector was the same detective that gave Jeffrey Deskovic the lie detector test that preceded his false coerced confession. Deskovic was exonerated by DNA evidence and the taped confession of the actual perpetrator.

Sources: News reports 30 September, 201620 December, 2016DiPoppo Exoneration Report at the National Registry of Exonerations.

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The 8th and H thirteen

On October 1, 1984, in a rain-soaked alley in Washington, D.C., a street vendor found a tiny woman lying dead on the floor of a garage. She was Catherine Fuller, a mother of six, who left home to run a quick errand and never came back. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted and killed all within sight of a busy public street.

Thirteen individuals were indicted. Harry Bennett and Calvin Alston, pleaded guilty and agreed to testify for the government. Bennett pleaded guilty to manslaughter and robbery, Alston to second-degree murder. James Campbell, whose case was severed for trial after his attorney became ill, eventually pleaded guilty as well.  In 1985, after a jury trial, Alphonzo Harris and Felicia Ruffin were found not guilty, Charles S. Turner, Christopher D. Turner, Russell L. Overton, Levy Rouse, Clifton E. Yarborough, Kelvin D. Smith, Timothy Catlett and Steven Webb were convicted. Webb died in prison, the other seven appealed in 2012 after the discovery of favorable “Brady” evidence withheld by the government. Overton, Smith, Christopher Turner, Charles Turner, and Rouse put on alibi defenses.

In 2011, Barry Pollack, lawyer for Christopher Turner said “The jury did not know that there was substantial medical and forensic evidence that the crime was committed by a single assailant, and compelling evidence that the perpetrator was someone who was never charged.”

At trial in 1985, William Freeman, the street vendor who discovered Fuller’s body, testified that as he waited for the police to come, he saw two men run into the alley from 9th Street and stand very close to the garage for a few minutes. Freeman earlier had seen the two men walking up and down 8th Street. One of the men appeared to be concealing an object under his coat. When the police arrived, the two men ran away up the alley towards I Street. However the government did not disclose the identity of the two men. Freeman identified them to the police as James McMillan and Gerald Merkerson. It was McMillan who appeared to be hiding something under his coat.

Two other witnesses, not disclosed to the defense, told police they saw him at the alley at the same time Freeman did, and they confirmed Freeman’s observations of his suspicious behavior. In addition, the police knew that McMillan lived on 8th Street about three doors down from the alley and that he had violently assaulted and robbed two other middle-aged women walking in the vicinity three weeks after Fuller’s death.

McMillan committed the first of these robberies on October 24, 1984, in an alley behind the 1100 block of K Street Northeast. He approached the victim from behind, knocked her to the ground, grabbed her purse and fled. The next day, McMillan and a companion assaulted a woman in the 600 block of 12th Street Northeast. One of the two struck her in the face, breaking her nose, and stole the bag she was carrying.

At a hearing in 2012, the defense presented information about McMillan’s subsequent activities following his conviction of the two robberies that he committed in October 1984. McMillan was sentenced to serve eight to twenty-five years in prison. Two months after he was released from prison in July 1992, he killed a 22-year-old woman (“A.M.”) in an alley behind the 500 block of 8th Street Northeast, only a few blocks from where Fuller was murdered. This crime had some striking similarities to the attack on Fuller: McMillan abducted A.M. as she walked down the street and dragged her to a secluded spot in the alley, ransacking her personal belongings and leaving them strewn along the path of abduction. After forcing A.M. into a narrow space behind a parked car, McMillan stripped off her underwear, beat her ferociously, and sodomized her. A.M. suffered grievous injuries and died three days later. McMillan was convicted of her murder and remains incarcerated.

At the same 2012 hearing, the defense called two experts. Dr. Richard Callery, a forensic pathologist, testified that the cause of death for both Fuller and A.M. was blunt force trauma to the head and torso, and that each victim had suffered a traumatic anal sodomization resulting in severe internal injuries. Dr. Callery testified that, in his experience, anal sodomy with an object occurred in considerably less than one percent of homicide cases. In addition to Dr. Callery’s testimony, the defense presented a stipulation that, if he were called, an expert in sexual dysfunctions would testify that someone who commits an act of violent anal sodomy is likely to commit the act more than once.

The second witness was Larry McCann, an experienced homicide investigator who testified as an expert in violent crime analysis and crime scene reconstruction. It was McCann’s opinion, based on the autopsy report, crime scene photos and other investigation records, that the attack on Fuller was more likely committed by a single offender than by a large group of individuals acting together. Had there been multiple offenders, McCann testified, he would have expected to see the victim’s clothing stretched, torn, or ripped, grab marks or abrasions on her ankles, legs, and wrists, more injuries, and multiple sexual assaults rather than the one. McCann conceded that, even in a group attack, some assailants might only strike minor glancing blows.

The prosecution case

No fingerprint, DNA, or other forensic evidence implicated any defendant. Yarborough gave a confession, subsequently retracted. Although Bennett and Alston told similar stories, while Bennett testified that Yarborough did not accompany the group into the alley, Alston recalled that Yarborough actively participated in kicking Fuller as she lay on the ground there,while Bennett remembered that Alston and defendant Webb held Fuller’s legs as Rouse sodomized her, Alston thought defendants Overton and Charles Turner did so. In addition, Bennett and Alston each had made prior inconsistent statements to the police and the grand jury regarding who was present in the park and who participated in attacking Fuller.

Both Bennett and Alson subsequently recanted. To support the credibility of Alston’s and Bennett’s recantations, the defense called other witnesses who testified to the detectives’ heavy-handed interrogation tactics. In addition, over the government’s objection, appellants called an expert on the subject of false confessions. Dr. Richard Leo, opined that certain features of the interrogations of Alston and Bennett, such as the detectives’ use of deception, yelling, and threats or promises, were associated with a heightened risk of inducing false confessions. According to Dr. Leo, the errors and incongruities in the confessions of Alston and Bennett could be taken as “indicia of unreliability.”

The government did not disclose grand jury testimony supporting the alibi of a man named Lamont Bobbit, who Alston testified was present in the park and in the alley when Fuller was murdered. Bobbitt told the police he was elsewhere that evening, and in testimony before the grand jury, six witnesses corroborated his alibi. The prosecutors did not believe the alibi because of contradictions in the testimony, but they decided they nonetheless lacked sufficient evidence to charge Bobbitt with Fuller’s murder.

Four witnesses corroborated Bennett and Alston’s account. Two of them, Carrie Eleby and Linda Jacobs had significant credibility problems. Both were PCP users. Eleby contradicted herself, could not keep names and dates straight, and claimed she did not remember anything she had told the police or the grand jury. Jacobs contradicted herself on the stand and had trouble answering questions. Moreover, each witness’s account was impeached or contradicted by other testimony.

The third witness Melvin Montgomery only saw the group, not any crime, leaving the State’s case reliant on fourteen-year-old Maurice Thomas. Thomas testified that he passed the alley and saw a group of people surrounding and assaulting a woman. The prosecution did not disclose to the defense  evidence that could have been used to impeach Thomas. At trial, Thomas testified that after he witnessed the attack in the alley, he ran home and told his aunt “Barbara” what he had seen. He claimed that Barbara told him not to say anything to anyone else. The police interviewed Barbara (whose real name was Dorothy Harris), and she said that she did not recall Thomas ever telling her anything about the attack.

Source: June 2015 Ruling and various news articles.

In December 2016, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear arguments.

Briefs are available here including amicus briefs submitted by the Innocence Network and a group of former prosecutors.

Featured case #159Discussion | Proposal Post

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Marcus and Brandon Wallace

tdvquerphmnjxoz-800x450-nopadMarcus and Brandon Wallace, along with a friend, Keidric McKinstry, were all accused of opening fire and killing an innocent bystander at Creekside Village Apartments on June 8, 2010. A jury found Brandon Wallace, 24, guilty during a trial held in October 2011. Marcus Wallace, 29, pleaded guilty to manslaughter 10 months later.

Investigators arrested the Wallaces and McKinstry after witnesses said they saw them fire shots. “They got the wrong information when they arrested my son. They got the wrong two boys,” said Mable Wallace, Marcus Wallace’s mother.

In October 2013, attorneys for Marcus filed paperwork to withdraw his guilty plea, and the attorney for Brandon Wallace filed documents requesting a new trial.

Both claimed that witnesses who could have proven alibis were never called to testify. The attorney for Marcus Wallace presented affidavits from family members, who said they had a voice mail of another family member admitting to the shooting that attorneys did not introduce in court.

Co-defendant Keidric McKinstry pleaded guilty to the murder in March 2012 and is now serving a 21-year sentence at Ventress Correctional Facility. He hand-wrote and signed an affidavit filed in October 2013 stating that Brandon Wallace was not with him the night of the shooting and that his attorney wouldn’t allow him to speak about that before he was convicted.

Another affidavit filed by one of the shooting victims stated that he did not see Brandon Wallace at the apartment complex that night. Both are willing to testify under oath that Brandon Wallace was not there, Birmingham attorney David Gespass said.

An attorney representing Marcus Wallace also filed several affidavits signed by friends and family members who say they were with Marcus that night.

His mother, aunt, cousin and a friend stated that he was home watching the NBA playoff game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. He only left the apartment once, after borrowing his aunt’s house shoes and 50 cents to buy a cigarette from a neighbor, they stated.

The women also said that they have a recording from another family member admitting that he and another friend actually committed the murder and hid the weapons. The attorney representing Marcus at the time did not offer that voice mail as evidence and did not present witness statements that they say would have confirmed his alibi.

Marcus Wallace’s attorney wrote that he only pleaded guilty because he was told he could receive a life sentence if a jury found him guilty.

Source : News Report, October 13, 2013

Proposal Post

Jonathan Silva

Jonathan Silva was convicted in November 2008 of felony murder, attempted armed robbery, tampering with evidence and contributing to the delinquency of a minor after 53-year-old Virginia Land  was shot during a robbery attempt by two teenagers in November 2011 at a store in Lovington, New Mexico. He was sentenced to life in prison plus four and a half years.

According to an appeal ruling:

Store clerk Virginia Land was shot and killed in the Allsup’s convenience store in Lovington. New Mexico. Jonathan Silva and Juan Nava picked up Joshua G.  and Israel Marquez from a residence and dropped them off near an alley, and Child and Marquez walked over to the Allsup’s. Joshua G. was armed with a knife and entered the store with Marquez, who was armed with a shotgun. Marquez demanded money from the clerk, and when she refused, he shot her.

The teenagers were convicted or plead guilty to charges. One of them testified that Silva planned the robbery and supplied the shotgun used to kill Land, however he has now stated in an affidavit that Jonathan did not supply the gun, was not the “mastermind”, was not in their gang (contrary apparently to a claim by the prosecution) , and did not force the teenagers to commit the crime.

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Affidavit by Joshua G.

I, Joshua G., being first duly sworned according to the Law, present the following facts:

On Nov 6 2008, I Joshua G was called to testify on Joanathan Silva for the murder of Virginia Land. I was crossed examined by his Attorney. I was asked many questions, I was asked “If Jonathan Silva told me and Israel about the clerk or the terms “shoot the bitch” if she refused to give us the money”. Mr Silva never said this. Those statements were made by me earlier in the day. I was also asked a question about the “gun and the ammo”. The gun was given to us by 2 other guys one of which is serving time for the crime Juan Nava. Jonathan Silva never gave the gun or ammo to me or Israel.

It was also stated that Jonathan “made” us do this to establish loyalties for our gangs, or sets. Mr Silva is not from my gang, and Jonathan, did not make or force me or Israel to do anything. It was something that just happened. Mr. Silva was not the mastermind of the robbery or murder, no one was suppose to be shot or killed. Jonathan was just transportation.

I Joshua, am sorry for what has happened, and all the pain we’ve caused. Also for the loss of a innocent life that was taken. “I do this on my own free well”!

Image of affidavit

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