Category Archives: No-Crime

Michael Cope

On July 22nd, 1993, William Hamilton died after a struggle with Michael Cope. Hamilton owned a jewelery shop, had money, and was a mentor in an after school program. But also, he was molesting boys including Michael. Hamilton would give boys marijuana or cocaine. Hamilton would also have Michael and others hide jewelry, claim he was robbed, get insurance money, and then the boys would take him the jewelry back and he would sell it.

Michael had become addicted to drugs, and went to the jewelry shop to see if he could get some. When he went to leave, Hamilton jumped on his back and tried to choke him. Michael saw a knife, grabbed it and stabbed Hamilton. While they were struggling, they fell onto glass case and both got cut. A piece of glass went into a main artery eventually causing Hamilton’s death, from blood loss, after Hamilton chased Michael out of the door.

Michael had a court appointed lawyer that did not defend him. Michael told him every single detail of that day and the time leading up to that day and his lawyer withheld that information. He told Michael to plead guilty and take a deal. He was only 20. He was young and scared and thought his lawyer knew what to do. Michael was sentenced to 20 years to life.

Michael is now aged 44 and has served 24 years in prison for a defending himself from a pedophile. A petition calling for his release has more than a thousand signatures.

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Joel Atkin

On April 25, 2009, Joel Atkin was calling 911 to ask for help when he shot and killed Jayson Sack, who had aggressively approached him. Jayson was drunk, with a blood alcohol content of .14 and hydrocodone at recreational levels.

According to Joel, Jayson had a knife, but the jury did not hear that fact, after his attorney suggested that testifying to that might not help his case.

The 911 tape recording was twenty-five to forty seconds shorter than the actual call. This gap, according to Joel, omitted his claim that Jayson Sack was carrying a knife.

Joel’s lawyer failed to present medical evidence showing the injuries he sustained in the scuffle with Jayson, which showed that he suffered a nasal septum fracture and a possible petechial brain hemorrhage, from suffocation. This would have confirmed testimony from his witnesses that Jayson placed him in a headlock.

Thus in spite of acting in self-defense, Joel was convicted of third degree murder, aggravated assault, and recklessly endangering another person.

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Serghei Comerzan

23-year-old Serghei P. Comerzan was accused of second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and resisting arrest over the 2015 death of Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper James Bava, 25.

Comerzan, who was operating a motorcycle, allegedly led Trooper Bava on a chase after Bava attempted to perform a routine traffic stop. Bava reportedly clocked Comerzan going 105 miles per hour. During the chase, Officer Bava’s patrol car was reportedly traveling at speeds exceeding 135 miles per hour.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing a Highway Patrol car in pursuit of a vehicle when it went off the road and into a treeline before rolling over and bursting into flames.

After jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on Friday, May 26, 2017, Comerzan’s lawyers said they would seek to have the case dismissed

The case hinged on the prosecution proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Comerzan was aware of Trooper Bava in pursuit behind him, a claim he and his defense team have fervently denied.

Source: http://www.kmzu.com/attorneys-serghei-comerzan-expected-file-dismissal-charges-following-hung-jury-last-month/

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John Bradley Atkinson

In July 2005, John Atkinson and Deborah Campbell met, and after some time he moved in with her and they lived together.

In January 14, 2008, Mr. Atkinson allegedly drove at Ms. Campbell in a dump truck. It is agreed the truck got stuck. According to Mr. Atkinson he was reversing the the truck, and was not driving at her. She says the truck came within 10 feet of her before it got stuck.

In April 2010, Ms. Campbell was injured while assisting Mr. Atkinson with a tree cutting job, spent some time in hospital, and her relationship with Mr. Atkinson ended.

Some time, well after the relationship ended (August 26, 2010, p. 28), Detective Conway, during an interview about truck registration, asked Ms. Campbell if Mr. Atkinson ever hurt her. She said something to the effect of “Well he tried to kill me with a dump truck”.

Following this allegation, Mr. Atkinson was subsequently charged and convicted at a bench trial of offences relating to the events on January 14, 2008. At the same trial He was acquitted of other charges relating to allegations about other events  in May 2006, and July 2010.

There is no evidence that Ms. Campbell ever said to anyone else prior to the interview with Detective Conway that Atkinson tried to kill her that day, and her account of events appears to be contradicted by reliable evidence which shows the truck was reversed into the place where it became stuck, and not driven forward.

Given Ms. Campbell’s suspect memory of the events on January 14, 2008, it seems quite plausible she was simply frightened by a near accident, and Mr. Atkinson had no intention of hitting her with the dump truck. Ms. Campbell made no other allegations of physical domestic violence, making it implausible that he should attempt to kill her with a dump truck.

There is a website with a good number of documents about the case.

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Mark Carver

Mark Carver is serving a life sentence without parole after his 2011 conviction for strangling Irina Yarmolenko. Her body was found near her car in Mount Holly, on the banks of the Catawba River. Carver and his cousin were fishing downstream at the time.

Chris Mumma, executive director of North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, is seeking a new trial, arguing that Carver received an inadequate defense and that key pieces of evidence used to convict him would not stand up to updated testing and new information uncovered in the case. In particular, Mumma claims that far more conclusive testing and reporting of DNA will undermine the prosecution’s contention that Carver’s genetic material was found on Yarmolenko’s car.

She also says Carver’s statements to police indicating that he knew the victim’s height can be challenged by interrogation video – never seen by a jury – that shows he was coached into giving the description by a detective.

In 2016, the Charlotte Observer published “Death by the River,” a six-part series raising questions about Carver’s guilt.

Source: Defense in disputed murder case wants Gaston DA punished for withholding evidence June 14, 2017

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Mary Jane Kimberly Lee Johns

Mary Jane Kimberly Lee Johns was found guilty on March 21, 2017 of kidnapping her former girlfriend, Laura Westphal, in May 2000.

According to a pre-trial ruling, Kim and Laura were in a romantic relationship from the summer of 1999 through April 2000. They lived in different states and used AOL instant messaging and e-mail to communicate.

Following their breakup, Kim appeared at Laura’s parent’s home in May 2000. When Laura returned to the home, the women departed on a drive to Iowa.

The prosecution allege Kim held Laura at gunpoint, forcing her to drive, and holding her hostage for eight days, threatened to kill Laura and would not let Laura out of her sight.

The defense say Kim did not kidnap Laura, saying that Laura left her home and traveled with Kim to avoid having her family discover her same-sex relationship and to ensure that Kim did not commit suicide.

Receipts were recovered showing they visited motels and shops, making it implausible that Kim could have held Laura at gunpoint for this length of time. The defense cite messages where Laura lied, was deceptive and concealed the same sex relationship.

Sentencing was set for August 17, 2017.

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Holly McFeeture

Holly McFeeture was convicted in 2013 for killing Matthew Podolak, the father of two of her children with antifreeze in 2006.

At sentencing, Holly’s family members said she was a loving parent and a loyal and trustworthy person, who coached little league and raised her children the best she could as a single mother. “My mom is the greatest mom in the world because she is sweet and kind…I miss her,” said message from Podolak’s two younger children. Holly’s 15-year-old daughter said her mother raised three beautiful and loving children and was always there for them.

Holly was a suspect in Podolak’s death since 2006 when a pathologist concluded he died from chronic intoxication by ethylene glycol, the active ingredient in antifreeze. She was not charged until 2012, after Cleveland police received a tip that the poisoning was not an accident or a suicide.

Podolak’s family always maintained that he didn’t kill himself and that he was suffering from medical problems in the months before his death that caused him pain.

Before the sentencing hearing, McFeeture’s attorneys asked that Corrigan overturn the jury verdicts and acquit McFeeture or grant her a new trial.

They argued that state had failed to tell them that a former boyfriend of McFeeture’s, who was a key witness against her, had testified in another murder trial that sent a man to prison last year.

Jordan argued that attorneys should have been able to question him about it so jurors could weigh it in terms of his credibility. Corrigan, however, denied the requests citing plenty of evidence and testimony that the jury heard questioning the Jamison Kennedy’s credibility — or lack of credibility.

Source: News report August 28, 2013

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Tom Wilkerson

17553949_1963861050509721_8938791363575964772_nTom Wilkerson was convicted of child abuse (a four swat spanking which he could not have given since he was at work) and tampering with a witness for telling the children to tell the truth. The child accusing him had been dumped out of a prior placement for the exact same allegation. that was not allowed into evidence. Nor were the prior parents allowed to testify about the child’s pathological lying.

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A message from Tom’s daughter, March 31, 2017:

My Father, Thomas Wilkerson, fondly referred to as Tom by hundreds of people, is currently sitting in a tiny prison cell in Jefferson City Correctional Prison. He was put there after he, along with his wife, devoted years of selfless service to the foster care system, fostering severely damaged children for many months at a time, filling them with all the love and attention that a child in the system craves.

Tom’s two biological children have an extremely high regard for him. Tom, always a strong, outdoorsy guy, spent hours building tree houses, zip lines, and rappelling with them as they grew up. He also did this with his foster children. Everyone loves Tom; he is a favorite, and nobody forgets Tom after they meet him even just once.

Tom was forced into a sham trial by the Lincoln County Justice system. (the same system that incarcerated an innocent Russ Faria in a terrifying display of the corruption that fills the Justice system in Lincoln County.) This corruption showed up in Tom’s trial in many forms. Not a single piece of exculpatory evidence was allowed as to Tom’s whereabouts, which would have proven clearly that Tom Wilkerson was not even in the home or with his children when the alleged four-swat spanking occurred. Rather, he was at work, working hard to make a good living for his wife and five adopted children.

Also the evidence that one of the children, in a prior placement, had alleged abuse, and that abuse was then proven false. The child had lied. This evidence was completely omitted from Tom’s trial.

The children chose to keep the Wilkerson’s name after the trial, even though they were told over and over they were allowed to go back to their own prior last name. During supervised and unsupervised visits, they often begged to go back home with the Wilkersons. Evidence of this was withheld during the trial.

The trial itself happened years after the first allegations had been made, giving Lincoln County time to alienate and brainwash the children into the mind-set of abuse. The children had no idea of the gravity of the accusations they were making during the trial. This was due to the fact no doubt, that they had been born with opiates in their system. They had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and had been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). This allows the children to be manipulated and controlled. None of this extremely pertinent information was allowed during Tom’s trial per the prosecutor asking the judge to suppress these details.

During the trial the children often appeared drugged and sleepy. It was apparent they had been given something to make them more pliable. They always looked toward the front row before answering any questions that were asked of them. This witness coaching appeared in full view of Judge Mennemeyer, who also made it clear that she had not read a single one of the 40 letters of character references that she had received before the trial.

The oldest child, who is now 20, was not allowed to come to the trial to testify on Tom’s behalf, after he had repeatedly said that “nothing had happened”. Church Elders, pastors, and friends were also excluded from testifying. The Wilkersons had conveniently NOT been informed by Rod Barnhill, the Deputy Juvenile officer, about the problems the children had developed before they were placed in the Wilkerson’s home: that they were sexual predators This omission by Barnhill was in direct violation of both state and federal law.

This allowed Lincoln County to collect federal money from the Safe Families Act, both when placed with the Wilkerson’s, and when removed. A two-for-one, if you will. Lincoln County has a long history of framing people for the Safe Families Act in order to get federal money. They target people who have low IQ’s, adopted children, or children with mental problems. In short, they target the people who are easily manipulated.

We believe the prosecutor, Leah Askey, and Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer colluded to exclude all exculpatory evidence of Tom’s innocence from his trial in order to ensure a guilty verdict and subsequent conviction, therefore padding their own resume, and furthering their respective careers.

The Lincoln County Justice system has become so corrupt that they appear to think themselves above the law. They target the weak, garner federal money from the Safe Families Act, and manipulate and control each trial by the Prosecutor and Judge. The judge is supposed to be the arbiter between the two parties, and not the arm of the prosecution, fixing cases to ensure conviction as was clearly done in Tom Wilkerson’s and Russ Faria’s cases by Leah Askey (currently under investigation by multiple authorities and the Chief disciplinary counsel of the Missouri Bar) and Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer (Now under suspension).

We are anxiously waiting for the appellate court of the Eastern District of Missouri to rule on the case that was heard on February 9, 2017. Thank you in advance for your support and help.

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Charles Leroy Cope

Charles Leroy Cope was convicted in 2014 on two charges of torture and the two charges of unlawful imprisonment after two women made false accusations against him and Jason Sadowski.

His attorney adopted a “duress” defense, after failing to consult with his client before the preliminary hearing.

Sadowski won his direct appeal and was cleared of all charges in March 2017 after a jury retrial.

For more details please see https://freecoachjason.wordpress.com and https://freecoachjason.wordpress.com/leroy-cope/

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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/

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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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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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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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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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Jason David Sadowski

Update: see Jason Sadowski is Innocent for full case details.

cropped2Jason David Sadowski was convicted in 2014 of assaulting and torturing Angel Paris  and Becky Bressette at Jason’s gym in July 2013. The conviction was overturned in December 2015, a retrial has been set for March 6, 2017.

Angel, a drug addict and admitted thief, and Becky gave conflicting, changing and incredible accounts of what occurred. According to the ruling  overturning the conviction “Although the police officers gave testimony regarding their observations, the prosecution highlights nothing from their testimony that disproves Sadowski’s rendition beyond a reasonable doubt. The victims also had many discrepancies in their account of the night and crimes.”

At the time  Angel was on parole/probation. She was also in drug court and had an open CPS case. She had warrants out for her arrest for bail jumping. So, on the night in question, she had been out drinking and using drugs, she had her violated her probation, parole and drug court conditions,  and was due in drug court in the morning for testing. She admitted to stealing money. She had also stolen jewelry and marijuana.

Becky was also a drug addict, who died of a methadone overdose between the preliminary hearing and trial. She was with Angel on the night she died.

What happened is this:

Jason wanted his money back ( the amount of stolen items totaled over $1,000 and would have been a grand theft charge ). When Jason said he was calling the cops Angel begged and pleaded for him not to. She turned on Becky, trying to shift blame. Angel was intent on getting the money back so Jason would not call the cops. She had plenty of motive to shift blame, and was fighting with Becky. Eventually, Angel persuaded another man present, Charles Leroy Cope, to help her tie Becky up to a pole with duct tape, to force her to say where the stolen items were. Then, bizarrely she started taping herself to another pole, apparently in an attempt to make it look as though she was a victim. When Jason came into the room, Angel told Jason no one was leaving until Jason recovered the remainder of his money. Shortly afterwards, Angel called 911, and eventually claimed that she and Becky were victims.

Charles gave statements to police consistent with Jason’s account. He was repeatedly asked if Jason ever touched, hit or threatened Angel or Becky, and responded that did not happen. However at trial, Charles’ attorney argued a “duress” defense consistent with the prosecution theory of events. Charles’ attorney failed to consult at all with his client before the preliminary hearing. Charles’ attorney later  told Jason’s attorney if he had known Jason had witnesses and evidence to rebut the prosecution case, he would not have offered a duress defense. Charles had issues from heavy drinking and drug use for years, and was battling with dementia and Alzheimer’s and did not testify. During proceedings he was seen shaking his head,  telling the assistant next to him no, that isn’t what happened, and that isn’t what he said.

At sentencing, Charles said he did not believe Jason could have done what he was convicted of, he never saw Jason hit either woman while they were all in the basement where he was living at the time. “I wasn’t upstairs, I don’t know, but I can’t believe him beating on those women,” he said. “Downstairs … that’s all I know, he never touched ’em downstairs. I never seen him hurt ’em.” He didn’t know what happened upstairs, he was sorry for it and said Jason was a good man who had helped him.

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News

Friday March 17, 2017 Sadowski found not guilty on all seven counts

Report at National Registry of Exonerations

Angelika Graswald

Angelika Graswald was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Vincent  Viafore, whose body was recovered from the Hudson River in April 2015. 

Prosecutors said Graswald removed a nickle-sized drain plug on the top of the kayak to allow it to fill with water, however experts say the amount of water entering a small hole on the top of the kayak could be minimal compared to the amount of water splashing into Viafore’s open cockpit.

In a nearly 12-hour taped interrogation by police 10 days after Viafore disappeared, Graswald repeatedly denied killing her fiance and said her desperate calls to 911 were real.

Graswald also said during that interrogation, which she punctuated with yoga and hopscotch, that she was “OK” with Viafore’s death and “wanted him dead.”

Graswald told ABC News’ Elizabeth Vargas in a November 2015 jailhouse interview that she was at her “breaking point” during the taped interrogation.

“Well they kept me asking me the same questions like a hundred times. I knew that I was innocent,” Graswald told Vargas. “I was at my breaking point. I just, I had it so I just gave ’em what they wanted.”

She also denied in the interview that she removed the plug from Viafore’s kayak with the intent to kill him, saying, “No, I did not.”

Graswald’s attorney, Richard Portale, said in a court hearing that Graswald may have miscarried a baby during an interrogation. He also claimed that his client asked investigators who “Miranda” was after she was read her Miranda rights, according to The Associated Press.

Sources:

Trial is set for February 14, 2017.

See also “Death on the Hudson“, 48 hours, Sep 12, 2015.

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News

July 24, 2017 Plea deal agreed  According to her attorney, Richard Portale, Graswald “will be home in December.”

 

Jessie McKim

Jessie has been in prison since April 1997 for a murder that never happened.  Attorney Jennifer Bukowsky received a letter from Jessie McKim and was so shocked by this obvious injustice that she has been fighting to correct it – pro bono – ever since.

Experts on both sides agree the victim wasn’t suffocated, she overdosed on meth.

Jessie’s case was heard before the Missouri Court of Appeals- Western District. WD77803. Unfortunately, while the Court of Appeals ultimately agreed with Jessie’s attorney on two important legal issues (which can be used to assist other innocent inmates in bringing petitions for a writ of habeas corpus), the Court unfortunately denied Jessie’s petition.

Their grounds for denial were completely different from the Cole County Circuit Court’s grounds for denial because the Cole County Circuit Court found that the victim overdosed on meth but denied Jessie’s release on the theory that perhaps Jessie caused the overdose.

The Western District Court of Appeals found that would be an improper ground to deny the petition as that issue was never before the jury.

Instead, the Western District Court of Appeals found that despite the uncontroverted medical opinions from six pathologists (including one hired by the Attorney General) that unequivocally agree that Dr. Dix’s opinion was incorrect and inconsistent with the practice of forensic pathology, the Court found that because Dr. Dix did not recant his testimony, there was enough evidence to support a conviction. Unfortunately Dr. Dix is deceased so it is impossible to seek a recantation from him.

Source: http://www.lawbuk.com/free-jessie-mckim/

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