Category Archives: Manufactured Evidence / Witness Manipulation

Krishna Maharaj

kris-616x412Krishna ‘Kris’ Maharaj was sentenced to death in 1987 for two murders he didn’t commit.

Full case description  at http://www.reprieve.org.uk/case-study/krishna-maharaj/

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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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George Powell

George Powell III was convicted of armed robbery in 2009, and sentenced to 28 years in prison.

A jailhouse informant who claimed Powell confessed to him has recanted, admitting that everything he said was a lie.

The Texas Forensic Science Commission, a state agency that reinvestigated — and called into question — the key piece of evidence against Powell. Powell’s conviction hinged on a dispute over the height of the robber. The clerk at the 7-Eleven told police that the man wearing sunglasses and a ball cap who pointed a gun at her was about 5-foot-6. Powell, however, stands 6-foot-3.

To account for the discrepancy, prosecutors called to the stand an expert who examined video footage of the robber as he walked past the height-measurement strip next to the store exit. Michael Knox, introduced as an expert in forensic video analysis, testified that the 7-Eleven surveillance video showed a suspect at least 6-foot-1.

Although Knox “had never before estimated height based on photos or videos,” the appeal said, jurors convicted Powell of aggravated robbery.

In 2014, however, the Texas Forensic Science Commission voted to examine Knox’s determination as part of its role in helping judges, prosecutors and lawyers better use forensic evidence at trial.

The commission hired a national leader in forensic video analysis who — using industry-standard methods that Knox did not, including three-dimensional laser scanning and measurement scale analysis — determined that the robber was no taller than 5-foot-9, and could have been as short as 5-foot-6.

In its report on the Powell case, the commission concluded that Knox’s analysis was flawed and that his determination about the robber’s height was “unsupportable,” Powell’s appeals said.

Add it all up, defense lawyer Mike Ware said, and “this is an obvious case where they simply arrested and convicted the wrong man”.

Source: “Was the conviction of a Central Texas man built on bad science, lies?” American-Statesman, Nov. 18, 2016

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Trevin Gamble

Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder Although His Mother & Siblings Swear He Was At Home With Them Doing Time Of Shooting Incident That Took A Young Girls Life

My name is Trevin Gamble. I was wrongfully accused of being involved in a shooting back in 1993 that resulted in a young girl’s life being taken.  The shooting was triggered by a gang rivalry between kids from my neighborhood and the neighborhood several blocks away.

Trevin on a visit with his mother at South Correctional Center

 

I have always maintained my innocence.  I had no involvement in the crime that took place that I have been convicted of, nor did I have any foreknowledge that the events were going to take place.  I was home with my mother and siblings the night of this incident.

I was arrested with 3 older guys from my neighborhood and accused to have been with them when the shooting took place.  Each of my co-defendants were older than I but I believe, because the state did not have a good case against my co-defendants, their plan all along was to use me against them.  One of my co-defendant’s, Kevin Smith, was nearly 20 years old, had served several years in the penitentiary already, and since his release…had been implicated in a number of crimes including murder.  Kevin was who they really wanted.  The police had been wanting to send Kevin back to prison since his release.

There was no physical evidence connecting me to the shooting.  The shooting incident happened at nearly midnight.  I was at home with my mother and siblings, and no where near where the crime I am locked up for took place.  My family members who were present that night all attested to the fact I had not been gone away from the house during the time the shooting allegedly occurred.

The primary evidence used to connect me to the crime was the testimony of a witness that knew me from the neighborhood.  The incident occurred during the wee hours of the night. It was pitch dark and there was bad lighting.  The shooters were allegedly shooting from the shadows of a dark vacant lot which sat approximately 50-60 ft from where the victim was struck.  I am a very dark-skinned individual – there is no way someone could positively identify me from 50 fee away at midnight!  There were approximately 20 people lingering around the street when the shots were fired and none of the witnesses positively identified me as the shooter but the one girl who misidentified me.  Moreover, there were numerous individuals standing out with the victim when the shots were fired.  People that knew me personally, yet none of them placed me on the crime scene.

I have served 22 years of a JLWOP sentence.  Recently the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole has to allow juveniles sentenced to life parole eligibility after serving 25 years.  Recently, the Governor signed this new legislation into law.  As a result of this, I do have some hope of maybe regaining my freedom in the not too distant future.

Nevertheless, I am innocent!!!  I was not involved in the crime I was accused and ultimately convicted of.   I have exhausted my appeals, but not my resolve of proving my innocence.  Currently, I do not have legal representation and my family no longer has funds to help me retain an lawyer.  I am seeking “pro bono” assistance to challenge my case on the basis that I am innocent!

Source

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Lamonte McIntyre

17 year old Lamonte McIntyre was wrongfully imprisoned for a 1994 double murder. Attorney Cheryl Pilate is fighting to exonerate Lamonte with the help of Centurion Ministries, a national innocence project that fights to free the wrongfully convicted.

At trial, there was no gun, no motive, no evidence that McIntyre knew the victims. No fingerprints from the shotgun shell casings left at the scene. No blood-spattered shoes, socks, pants or shirt. No physical evidence of any kind linking McIntyre to the crime.

There were two eyewitnesses to the murder. Ruby Mitchell told police she thought it was “Lamonte something” – who would come by to talk to her niece. This led the police to Lamonte Mcintyre, however he was not the person she was referring to. When Mitchell informed the prosecutor, he threatened to have her children taken away.

The other witness Niko Quinn has now signed an affidavit stating that McIntyre was not the killer.

Pilate, in her recently filed motion, maintains that lead detective Golubski manipulated facts and witnesses leading to the false identification of McIntyre. She maintains that throughout the investigation and trial, two chief players — the lead detective and an assistant Wyandotte County prosecutor — not only “failed to seek the truth” but also “consistently subverted and concealed the truth — manufacturing evidence and presenting testimony that they knew to be false.”

More than 15 affidavits — from criminals and their cronies to police — point to the detective, Roger Golubski, who retired as a captain in 2010 after 35 years on the force. Using terms like “crooked” and “dirty,” the sworn statements speak of a detective who preyed on black women, some of them prostitutes, using his access to illegal drugs and the power of his badge.

Full Article and Video  Here Oct 25, 2016

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October 13, 2107 DA agrees motion for new trial and drops charges.

 

David Shelton

David Shelton has been in prison for more than 23 years for crimes that he did not commit, sentenced to 40-60 years for two counts of breaking and three counts of criminal sexual conduct.

The jury never saw evidence that proves David, aged 27 at the time, could not have committed the crimes.

1. DNA evidence found in one victims’s home and found in the mask that both victims said the criminal wore rules out all African-American men, including David.

2. Neither victim could identify David out of a lineup.

3. One victim originally stated that perpetrator was a white man, but later said it was a  black man. DNA evidence proves that her first description was correct.

4. The Michigan State Police who did the testing were never called to testify about the lab reports that prove David innocent.

5. The lead detective, Robert Aeileo only turned over 3 pages of the lab report, including a cover sheet, while 10 pages were concealed.

6. Head Deputy Cecil Dawson fabricated  a confession which David never made to obtain the conviction.

7. Cecil Dawson and Sergeant Christine Bursey who were in charge of the case were later both sent to prison for selling drugs, and the police department was shut down due to corruption ( see extract from news report below ).

8. David’s defense lawyer has been reprimanded and suspended numerous times.

David’s son has made two videos explaining the above points in more detail:

In 2004, the Innocence Project took on the case, and re-opened it in 2012, however so far all appeals have been denied.

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From a 2013 news report:

Last year former Township Supervisor William Morgan pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy in federal court and admitted to conspiring to accept a $10,000 bribe, defrauding the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Renewal and making a false statement in violation of the federal Clean Air Act. Morgan admitted taking the bribe in an attempt to steer a HUD demolition contract to the man who gave him the bribe.
While Gatewood was police chief in the late 1990s, his deputy chief, Cecil Dawson, was sentenced to seven years in prison for protecting drug houses in the township.
The Dawson case caused many in the community to vote against continuing with their own police department and in favor of sheriff’s patrols.
After 14 years, the sheriff’s department terminated its contract with the township this month over $300,000 in unpaid police service bills. Sheriff Michael Bouchard said funds from a voter-approved millage to support sheriff patrols weren’t making it to his department.
His cooperation with the DEA, FBI and other law enforcement agencies eventually led to charges against more’ than 25 people, including the former deputy chief of the Royal Oak Township Police Department and one of the township’s former officers, and two Highland Park public safety officers. For federal prosecutors in Detroit, Rodriguez, who was sentenced this fall to more than 17 years in prison, was a rare find, being so well connected with major drug traders. By the time Rodriguez’s reign ended, the federal government had agreed to pay more than $150,000 to move 40 of his relatives from Colombia and California to unknown locations in the United States. Rodriguez has expressed hope his cooperation will lead to a shorter sentence.
Rodriguez certainly changed the lives of the four metro Detroit officers. Three of the four pleaded guilty to charges related to cocaine trafficking. A fourth stood trial and was convicted. Former Royal Oak Township Deputy Chief Cecil Dawson, 49, of South-field was sentenced Dec. 8 to 10 years in prison; former Highland Park officer Albert Bursey, 47, was Sentenced to the same term Dec. 17. Krwin Heard, 46, a former Highland Park officer, was sentenced in May to 15 months in federal prison. Albert Bursey’s wife, Christine Bursey, 47, a former Royal Oak Township police officer, stood trial, was convicted and was sentenced Dec. 17 to 15 years and eight months in prison. lawyers for Dawson and Christine Bursey could not be reached for comment recently. But Dawson apologized at his sentencing.

Jerome Morgan

Jerome Morgan was convicted of a 1993 murder, and was granted a new trial in 2014, due to two witnesses being pressured into identifying him as the killer. The director of the Innocence Project New Orleans, which represents Morgan,  says “there is no evidence against him and only evidence that he is innocent.”

Quote

In a ruling that could severely hamstring Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office in its bid to retry a 23-year-old murder case, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled Friday that the trial testimony of two key witnesses who have since recanted their identifications of the alleged killer can’t be used at his new trial.

Jerome Morgan, 40, is slated to stand trial again June 13, two decades after a jury convicted him of murder in the 1993 slaying of 16-year-old Clarence Landry during a birthday party at a Gentilly motel ballroom.

Criminal District Court Judge Darryl Derbigny overturned Morgan’s conviction and life sentence and granted him a new trial in early 2014. Derbigny said he believed the claims of the two witnesses, Hakim Shabazz and Kevin Johnson, that New Orleans Police Department detectives pressured them to identify Morgan as Landry’s killer.

Since then, Cannizzaro’s office has charged Shabazz and Johnson with perjury for their conflicting statements, rendering them silent as a new trial for Morgan approaches.

Both men, fearing additional charges, are invoking their Fifth Amendment right and refusing to take the witness stand, in what Morgan’s attorneys argue was a calculated move by prosecutors to keep them from testifying.

In lieu of their testimony, Judge Franz Zibilich, who will preside over the new trial, ruled that the jury could read transcripts of both their original testimony, identifying Morgan, and their recantations in 2013.

Assistant District Attorney Donna Andrieu has acknowledged that how the jury views those conflicting accounts stands at the heart of the case against Morgan. In court, Andrieu has claimed that Innocence Project New Orleans attorneys coerced false recantations from the two men.

The state’s high court ruled Friday that Zibilich was correct in barring from the trial the men’s initial identifications of Morgan to police butmistaken in allowing their 1996 trial testimony to be read at the new trial.
The ruling came on a 4-2 vote, with Justices Marcus Clark and Scott Crichton dissenting and Chief Justice Bernette Johnson not voting.

The Supreme Court vacated Zibilich’s ruling, though it said the judge could revisit the admissibility of their statements — both to police and to the jury that convicted Morgan — “if these witnesses testify at the retrial.”

Emily Maw, director of the Innocence Project New Orleans, which represents Morgan, hailed the ruling Saturday, saying she hoped it would prod Cannizzaro “to finally dismiss the charges against Jerome Morgan, because there is no evidence against him and only evidence that he is innocent.”

She said Morgan “has been fighting to clear his name since the moment he was arrested by police. He has never wavered from that fight, and it has been a long, hard ordeal for Jerome Morgan, and a long ordeal for the Landry family. It’s time to end it.”

Morgan was 16 when he was arrested and charged with the killing.

A spokesman for Cannizzaro’s office did not immediately comment on the high court’s ruling. The office has a policy against discussing open cases.

Shabazz and Johnson had been with Landry at a May 22, 1993, birthday party in the ballroom at the Howard Johnson motel on Old Gentilly Road. A fight broke out between two groups, and someone pulled a gun and opened fire. Landry was hit in the neck and shoulder, Shabazz in the side and another youth in the thigh.

When police arrived at the party, Morgan was there. Prosecutors alleged at his initial trial that he had managed to run away, hop a fence, stash the gun and return before police arrived.

The jury in the 1994 trial never heard evidence that police reached the scene just six minutes after the shooting started and locked down the ballroom. Instead, the jury heard that it took more than a half-hour for police to arrive. Morgan’s attorneys with the Innocence Project argued that prosecutors withheld the evidence of a quick arrival.

Johnson had testified that he chased the shooter out the door and down an alley. In 2013, he took the stand again, saying Landry had been his best friend and that he was pressured by police to identify Morgan as the shooter.

He first dismissed Morgan’s picture from a photo lineup and did so again seven months later, but he said a detective then pushed the picture back into the mix.

“Are you sure it’s not this guy right here?” the detective asked him, according to an affidavit Johnson signed.

He said the detective told him the photo was of Morgan. Johnson said he figured everybody else must be right, so he fingered Morgan as the killer.

Shabazz spent 10 days in the hospital recovering from his wounds, then got a call from a detective who asked him if he knew who had shot him. Shabazz said he didn’t. According to Shabazz, the detective then said, “Jerome shot you,” and asked Shabazz to come to the station to give a statement.

There, the detective pressured him to point out Morgan and made him feel he would be doing a public service if he did so, Shabazz said in 2013. “It’s almost like they painted this picture for me, that it was him,” he said on the witness stand, adding that he’d been wracked with guilt for years. “What I did, it just wasn’t right.”

Derbigny ruled that the “evidence presented before this court is wrought with deception, manipulation and coercion” by the NOPD.

Soon afterward, prosecutors filed perjury charges against Shabazz and Johnson. The law doesn’t require Cannizzaro’s office to prove on which occasion — in 1994 or in their recantations two decades later — the two men lied on the witness stand.

Cannizzaro’s office, meanwhile, has accused Maw, IPNO attorney Kristin Wenstrom and an investigator of coercing the recantations from Shabazz and Johnson, though no charges have been filed against the lawyers.

In postponing a May 2 trial date to let the higher courts rule, Zibilich pledged to stick to the June 13 trial date.

From Louisiana Supreme Court deals blow to prosecutors with key ruling on upcoming retrial for 1993 teen killing May 14, 2016

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Case dismissed May 31, 2016

Humberto Sanchez-Rengifo

Humberto Sanchez-Rengifo was convicted of the sexual assault of a 15 year old girl  on June 16, 1997, and sentenced to life without parole.

Huberto claims this was a case of mistaken identity. The attacker allegedly sexually assaulted the victim for two hours, raping her after threatening her with a knife.

A semen stain found on the sheet of the bed where the assault took place was found to be from another man. A fingerprint expert testified that none of the latent fingerprints recovered from the scene connected Humberto to the offense.

Huberto claims an identification card with his picture on it was found in the victim’s mother’s bedroom, where the rape occurred. According to Huberto, officers displayed the card to the victim and inquired if that was her assailant. The victim gave a vague and inconclusive response. However, by the time of the jury trial, her story changed and she was now certain Huberto was her assailant.

Sources:

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Kevin Cooper

Kevin Cooper has been on death row in California for 30 years and is set to be the next person executed by the state. Cooper was convicted of murdering a mother, father, and two 10-year-old children in a crime that horrified prosecutors in 1983. However, the execution is drawing some criticism, as five federal judges say that Kevin Cooper may be innocent and that evidence suggests that the man may not have committed the terrible murder. Despite an unprecedented 103-page dissent letter signed by five federal judges in the Kevin Cooper appeal case, noting that “the State of California may be about to execute an innocent man,” the lethal injection is still scheduled to take place unless Governor Jerry Brown intervenes.

Source: Inquisitor.com Jan 31, 2016

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John Giuca

John Giuca was convicted on a charge of second-degree felony murder in the death of 19-year-old Mark Fisher in 2003. Giuca was arrested a year after the murder, he was found guilty along with Antonio Russo; both were given a sentence of 25 years to life.

In the early morning hours of October 12, 2003, Mark Fisher accompanied a college acquaintance, Angel DiPietro, to a house party at Mr. Giuca’s home in the Ditmas Park section of Brooklyn.

Fisher had started off the evening barhopping in Manhattan with a different group of friends, but after unexpectedly running into Ms. DiPietro and taking a liking to one of her friends, Meredith Denihan, he found himself happily separated from his original group. Fisher, Ms. DiPietro and Ms. Denihan then met up with another friend of Ms. DiPietro’s, Albert Cleary, the son of a prominent member of the Brooklyn GOP, who was out with his buddy, John Giuca. When the group had trouble getting into another bar, Mr. Giuca invited them to party at his house, as his parents were out of town.

According to what investigators were able to piece together, the group arrived at Mr. Giuca’s place around 5 a.m. and began smoking and drinking. At some point, other people joined the party, including Mr. Russo, who was a nearby neighbor. At 5:23 a.m. Fisher, accompanied by Mr. Russo, withdrew $20 from a nearby ATM and both returned to Mr. Giuca’s home within minutes. At some point, Fisher and Ms. Denihan fell asleep and Ms. DiPietro and Mr. Cleary, who lived about three blocks from Mr. Giuca on Argyle Road, left Mr. Giuca’s house.

At about 6:40 a.m. Fisher was shot five times about 50 feet across the street from Mr. Cleary’s driveway on Argyle Road. Cops arrived on the scene within minutes and found his body lying atop a blanket they later confirmed came from Mr. Giuca’s home. Fisher’s wallet was missing but an ATM receipt in his pocket revealed his identity. Only two of five shell casings were recovered from the scene.

Several witnesses saw or heard a vehicle speed down Argyle Road following the shooting. Antonio Russo went to a neighbor’s house at approximately 7AM, asking him to cut off his braids, a style he’d worn for years. Russo also fled to California. Three witnesses told police that they saw Russo with a gun in his waistband both before and after the murder,one was even threatened by Russo with a gun.

At trial prosecutors alleged that the murder was the result of a robbery attempt by Russo, and that John Giuca supplied him the murder weapon (which was never found).

The conviction was based on the testimony of four main witnesses, three of which have since recanted, two of them accusing the trial prosecutor of coercion and intimidation. The fourth witness has been completely discredited.

Nevertheless, appeals have been denied.

Late in 2014, Giuca’s lawyers sent Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson a petition seeking to overturn their client’s conviction, saying they have irrefutable evidence that shows that Giuca didn’t receive a fair trial.

“I am confident John will be exonerated because the case has been exposed as a house of cards propped up by prosecutorial misconduct,” one of his lawyers, Mark Bederow, told The New York Post.

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Daniel Wolfe and Gregory Derbyshire

Donald Reynolds was murdered in the early morning hours of September 4, 1980 during a robbery outside of the bar that he owned in Jackson, Michigan.

No one was arrested immediately after the crime, however 14 years later, Gary Raab claimed to police he was with Daniel Wolfe and Gregory Derbyshire when they committed the crime.

Wolfe and Derbyshire were convicted of the crime in separate trials, based mainly on Raab’s testimony, for which he was given immunity from prosecution.

At trial Raab admitted telling Detective Clifton Edwards during his first interview that he could not recall anything concerning the incident. Raab said that he only recovered his memory of the events after having spoken with Detective Edwards in December of 1994, through “flashes” that he had in his sleep. Raab also told Detective Edwards that he had a grudge against Wolfe.

Raab’s account was contrary to the testimony of other witnesses, and also contrary to the forensic evidence.

In addition the defence offered evidence suggesting that the crime may have been committed by others:

Eugene Hobbins, who lived behind the Silver Rail Bar past the railroad tracks, testified that at around 3 a.m. on a day in early September, he saw his neighbor, John Wheeler, run quickly and dive into the basement window of Wheeler’s house. Hobbins testified that Wheeler attempted to sell him two .22 caliber rifles at around the same time, telling Hobbins, that they were not his guns, but they belonged to somebody he knew. John Wheeler testified at trial and admitted committing several burglaries, including one against the Silver Rail Bar in 1981 or 1982, but denied that he ran home on September 4, 1980. Wheeler could not recall selling two .22 caliber rifles to Hobbins.

An appeal ruling in 2006 (petitioner Wolfe) stated that “the record would have supported an acquittal” however the appeal was denied. The same ruling noted many inconsistencies:

Raab testified that the petitioner, Derbyshire, and the victim were standing close together when the gun discharged; Raab testified to hearing one gunshot. Similarly, Michael Hession testified that the petitioner confessed to him that the gun went off during a struggle. On the contrary, the autopsy results showed that the victim was shot twice in the back and side of the head behind his ear with a .22 rifle, and no powder burns were observed on the victim, suggesting that he was not shot at close range. Police witnesses testified that two additional shots had been fired into the victim’s vehicle. Another inconsistency resulted from the testimony of Wade Miller that Tom Walling was present in the vehicle when he and the petitioner and Derbyshire cased the bar in July and August of 1980 just before the murder; it was established through prison records that Walling was in prison from 1979 to 1982.

Summary

What seems likely : Wolfe and Derbyshire discussed robbing the Silver Rail Bar, but in fact someone else actually committed the robbery and murder, and Raab and Kilgore testified against Wolfe and Derbyshire due to suspicions, a grudge and threats from the cops.

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Scott Davis

A federal judge could soon order a new trial for convicted murderer, Scott Davis, 50, who alleges widespread police and prosecutorial misconduct in his 2006 trial.

“I was outraged. This is a kangaroo court,” said Davis’ father, Dr. Dave Davis, referring to his son’s trial before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Tom Campbell.

“I couldn’t believe that Judge Campbell, that he’d let them put this evidence up there, evidence that we had never seen, that we had never been able to examine or use in our defense,” said the elder Davis.

Davis was initially arrested in 1996 and charged with murdering his estranged wife’s boyfriend David Coffin and setting his home in Buckhead on fire. Police dropped the charges for lack of evidence but rearrested Davis nine years later after the cold case was reexamined.

“We found a tremendous amount of problems with the case,” said Marcia Shein, a criminal defense attorney who took over Davis’ case after his conviction in 2006.

Shein showed investigative reporter Jeff Chirico a board she created listing what she called the “7 deadly sins” of police who investigated Coffin’s murder.

According to Shein and a petition she filed in federal court, police violated more than 300 standard operating procedures in handling evidence and inexplicably lost or destroyed 72 pieces of evidence before the trial, including the purported murder weapon and fingerprints. Shein also alleged the tape with Davis’ police interview in 1996 had been stopped at least twice during recording, which should make it inadmissible in court.

Shein also showed Chirico photos which apparently depict the Atlanta Police Department evidence room in disarray at the time of Davis’ trial.

“This is a trash pile of evidence with no labels and no information as to whose case it belongs to,” said Shein. “I don’t know how many cases have suffered because of that.”

Shein said she’s particularly concerned about the fingerprints that disappeared before trial. Police found the prints on Coffin’s stolen Porsche which had been burned and found not far from his home. Police admitted the prints weren’t Davis’ but never entered them into the national fingerprint database called AFIS (Automatic Fingerprint Identification System). An Atlanta police officer testified he lost the fingerprint card after taking it home, a violation of department procedures. Shein contended police may have been able to find Coffin’s “real” murderer had they entered the prints in AFIS.

Shein contends police misconduct in the handling of the gun allegedly used to kill Coffin. Former GBI examiner Bernadette Davy, who tested the weapon and testified to her findings in court, was later found to have falsified reports and resigned. Davis’ attorneys haven’t been able to retest the gun because it too went missing.

“How does the state get to allow that testimony without defense being able to see the firearm or have their experts evaluate it? Is that a fair trial? That’s the question that’s always bothered me,” said Shein.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard insisted Davis’ constitutional rights weren’t violated and any evidence that was lost wasn’t done so in bad faith or intentionally.

However, Shein argued in the federal court petition that much of the misconduct was in bad faith. Specifically, Shein pointed to a fire department clerk’s admission under oath that she lied on an affidavit about receiving the missing murder weapon and that her superior instructed her to do so.

When Chirico asked Howard whether that’s bad faith, Howard responded, “I almost have to laugh when I hear that. The courts have already dealt with that issue.”

Shein contended the previous court rulings did not fully consider the misconduct and she’s hopeful U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg will closely consider the request for a new trial.

“It makes the constitution meaningless if you let these types of situations continue,” said Shein.

While Davis’ parents are hopeful the judge will rule in their son’s favor, they’re also offering a $600,000 reward for information that could vindicate their son before much more time passes.

“We may never see him again free before we die,” reflected Joan Davis.

Judge Campbell did not return a call for comment.

It’s unclear when Totenberg may rule on the petition.

Source : News report June/September 2015

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Jimmie Duncan

Jimmie Duncan was convicted for the 1993 murder of Haley Oliveaux of West Monroe, Louisiana based primarily on the testimony of Hayne and Michael West, a bite mark examiner and at the time coroner of Forrest County, Mississippi. Duncan had admitted to leaving Oliveaux in a bathtub unattended, and was initially charged with negligent homicide. Hayne examined Oliveaux and claimed to have found bite marks on her face that had not been seen by any of the other medical professionals who had previously examined her body, such as EMTs and hospital personnel. After this, a mold was taken of Duncan’s teeth for use in bite mark analysis by Michael West. In performing this analysis, West repeatedly pressed the mold into the cheek of Oliveaux’ corpse, creating bite marks which had not previously existed. This was recorded on videotape which surfaced in 2008. Michael Bowers, deputy medical examiner for Ventura County, California commented with regard to the bite marks that “Dr. West created them. It was intentional. He’s creating artificial abrasions in that video, and he’s tampering with the evidence. It’s criminal, regardless of what excuse he may come up with about his methods.”

Source : Wikipedia

The other major piece of evidence against Duncan was testimony from a jailhouse informant who claimed that Duncan confessed to his crime while behind bars. Michael Cruse testified that he shared a jail cell with Duncan for one day in late December 1993. (Cruse also claimed another inmate in the same cell confessed a felony to him, according to the letter he wrote to prosecutors.) Duncan’s current attorneys have since obtained an affidavit from Michael Lucas, another inmate in the cell that day, who says that not only did Duncan not confess, he repeatedly asserted his innocence, despite Cruse’s constant attempts to elicit a confession.

Since then, two other inmates have reported being asked by Ouachita Parish law enforcement officials to lie about hearing Duncan confess. One of them, Charles Parker, who had worked as an informant for the FBI, wrote a letter of complaint to the district attorney’s office about the incident. In a later interview with Duncan’s post-conviction attorneys, he described how an investigator named Jay Via approached him and fed him information about Duncan’s case. “He gave me details of the crime, saying that the child was less than two years [old] and that she had been anally raped,” Parker said “He told me that when I came forward I was to say that Jimmie had confessed to biting the child while he was raping her.”

Source

When I first wrote about Duncan’s case, I thought Steven Hayne and Michael West were the most disturbing aspects of his conviction. And to be sure, between them the two have tainted thousands of cases and sent who knows how many innocent people to prison. But you could say the same thing about Jay Via. Duncan’s case is merely where the two intersect.

Jimmie Duncan is still on death row in Louisiana.

The prosecutor in Duncan’s case was never disciplined for failing to turn over the exculpatory evidence in that case, either.

Source

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Darrell Lomax

Darrell Lomax was in the backseat of a car that was pulled over for an illegal lane change. When two handguns were found in the car, Lomax suddenly found himself subjected to a curbside gunshot residue test, which took two hours. He passed—no evidence was found that he’d recently fired a gun. During the course of the traffic stop, several patrol cars brought to the scene witnesses of two earlier crimes, asking if Lomax was involved. None of the witnesses implicated him in either incident. Along with the driver and other passenger of the vehicle, Lomax was still arrested and charged in connection with two armed robberies, one of which ended in the fatal shooting of Nasser Akbar.

Lomax was held from September 1, 1994, until March 13, 1995. On that morning, all charges against Lomax were dropped, but the case against him proceeded anyway, even though the prosecution did not formally refile the complaint or rearrest Lomax. This was technically a violation of the penal code, but Lomax wasn’t informed that the charges had briefly been dropped until years later. In the meantime, he was found guilty, based largely on the testimony of Angela Toler, the other passenger in the vehicle Lomax had been riding in. Toler recieved a lighter sentence in return for her testimoney.

No physical evidence connects Lomax to the murder of Nasser Akbar. No gunshot residue was found on him at the time and his fingerprints were not on either gun. A surviving witness to the robbery stated that there were two assailants: a woman, and a man with dreadlocks, which Lomax did not have. Another witness cleared Lomax in the initial field identification, but later changed his story to match Toler’s. In return, the authorities dropped $1,600 in unpaid parking tickets and a charge for possession of an unregistered handgun against the witness (the official explanation was that authorities were eager to prevent the witness from going to prison, where his life might have been in danger). Prior to the trial, the witness never gave any descriptions that matched Lomax.

Darrell Lomax has been on death row since 1995.

Source

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Oran Jones

[ Case description to come ]

News report from October 1992:

A former death row inmate may soon be free, thanks to the efforts of Oklahoma’s NAACP director.

The state Pardon and Parole Board recommended a parole to Colorado for Oran Jones, who at one time faced the electric chair for the 1974 robbery-slaying of an Oklahoma City motel owner.

Parole board members were set to deny clemency for Jones until the Rev. Wade Watts of McAlester testified on his behalf Thursday.

Before hearing Watts’ remarks, one board member even interrupted an Oklahoma County prosecutor’s objection of Jones’ clemency bid, saying the protest wasn’t necessary.

“I had him marked ‘no’ originally,” said Carl Hamm, the board’s vice chairman. “Reverend Watts was what influenced me. ” Watts said Monday, “I have kept up with this boy for several years. All the guards have spoken very highly of him. They say not only has he never caused any problems, he’s actually kept trouble down. ” Jones, 41, is part of a prison group that speaks to youth groups and tries to steer them away from lives of crime, said Watts, who is the state’s executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Watts said he has spoken before the parole board on behalf of “a dozen or more” inmates, “and only one has turned out bad. ” He also said he had doubts about Jones’ conviction for the slaying of Ealam Stanley at a motel in the 2100 block of NE 23.

The court transcript showed that Jones accepted an immunity offer to testify against another suspect, then was charged with first-degree murder anyway, Watts said.

“I think he was there (at the motel), but I don’t think he was the triggerman,” Watts said. “If I thought deep down that he was guilty, I wouldn’t have gone to bat for him. ” Jones was among several Oklahoma inmates whose sentences were modified to life a year after the U.S. Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional.

A parole board official said it was the first time in several years that clemency had been recommended for a former death row inmate.

The board voted 3-1 Friday to approve a parole only to Colorado after a family member from the Denver area said Jones could live with her.

Colorado officials have not said whether they will accept Jones’ plan, said Jerry Massie, Oklahoma corrections department spokesman.

Discussion here

OranJonesAffidavit

Marlon Howell

Marlon Howell was convicted and sentenced to death based on a ridiculous lineup and testimony from two admitted criminals who had a whole lot to gain. He’s still on death row. And the attorney general of Mississippi is doing all he can to ensure that the man will be executed.

Source: Radley Balko When public officials can’t be bothered with innocence Washington Post, October 6, 2015

Long VICE article

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Harvey Windsor

Harvey Windsor was wrongfully convicted of the murder of Rayford Howard and Randal Pepper.

Both were shot by Lavon Guthrie and an accomplice on February 25, 1988.

The question in this case is the identity of the accomplice.

Harvey Windsor was convicted on the basis of

(a) An obviously dubious eyewitness identification placing him with Lavon Guthrie on the day of the murder.

(b) An invalid fingerprint identification.  The state’s fingerprint expert, Ms. Carol Curlee, “made only one fingerprint identification of Mr. Windsor, that on the cigarette butt. On cross-examination Ms. Curlee admitted that this was only a partial print, and that she could not recall how many ‘points’ of similarity there were between that print and Mr. Windsor’s file prints.”
( from the appeal ruling ).

  • Two alibi witnesses testified that Harvey Windsor was in fact elsewhere at the time of the second crime.
  • Other eyewitnesses failed to identify Harvey Windsor as the accomplice, and gave descriptions that did not match him.

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Arron Adams

Arron Adams was convicted of conspiracy and robbing the same bank 3 times in 2009 in Tamarac, Broward County, Florida, and sentenced to 15 years.

The co-defendant was acquitted and has given sworn statements that Arron is innocent and should also have been acquitted. The conviction was based on prosecution misconduct, failure to disclose exculpatory evidence, misidentification and evidence tampering.

DNA and  fingerprints did not match Arron.

There is a petition here by his grandparents, and an older (closed) petition here with 197 signatures.

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