Kevin Brian Dowling was convicted of robbing and later murdering Jennifer Myers. According to a Federal appeal filed in 2015 :
This case presents a textbook example of how a tunnel-visioned police investigation coupled with overzealous and unscrupulous prosecutors can result in the conviction of an innocent person.
On August 5, 1996, Jennifer Myers was robbed at gunpoint in her frame gallery, where she was the sole proprietress. She thought she knew her attacker and initially did not want the police to be contacted. A disgruntled business partner was implicated, apparently on the theory that the robbery was staged as an intimidation tactic.
On November 29, 1996, with no tangible results in their investigation, the police visited Ms. Myers for a follow-up interview. When pressed, she told police that two weeks earlier she thought she observed someone who looked like the attacker working at a convenience store. She explained then that her failure to timely notify the police was due to her lack certainty that he was the perpetrator. The police investigated and when they observed a car of comparable make to the one ostensibly observed near the gallery, they promptly arrested the car’s owner, Petitioner, Kevin Brian Dowling.
Mr. Dowling was a married father of three children, with no criminal record, and a lengthy career in operations management.
When Myers was later found murdered, suspicion turned almost exclusively to Petitioner, with the authorities ignoring other likely suspects including: an admitted robber with an identical modus operandi to the perpetrator and who was then on the loose; the victim’s husband who “discovered” the body, and suspiciously, in the immediate aftermath of the murder, dispossessed himself of a weapon of the same caliber as the murder weapon (which the Commonwealth’s expert could not exclude as the weapon used to kill Myers); and the disgruntled former business partner. Because there was little evidence implicating Petitioner in the murder (for which Petitioner was tried separately and sentenced to death) the prosecution sought to bolster the robbery case through coaching of witnesses, renewed reliance on hypnotically refreshed identifications, and a blatant attempt to pollute the jury pool through biased and frequent press appearances (as the trial court found).
In addition, prosecutors contemptuously ignored court rulings and admonitions in order to ensure that the jury heard prejudicial and inadmissible evidence. Against this onslaught, the Commonwealth provided Petitioner with a host of Strickland-deficient lawyers, who collectively did virtually nothing Strickland requires, resulting in no defense being presented at trial and the waiver of virtually all of Petitioner’s claims of error, including ineffectiveness of trial counsel.
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