Tag Archives: Death-Penalty

Case where the death penalty was sought

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.

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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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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:

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Joseph Nissensohn

Joseph Nissensohn was convicted in 2013 of the 1981 murders of Tammy Jarschke, 13, and Tanya Jones, 14, along with the 1989 murder of a South Lake Tahoe girl, 15-year-old Kathy Graves.

On Sept. 9, 1981, a team of woodcutters found Tanya’s decomposed body tied with electrical wire to a tree about a mile off Tassajara Road on Chews Ridge, Monterey County, California. Sheriff’s deputies combing the area for evidence found Tammy’s remains nearby.

Nine years later, Nissensohn’s estranged wife, Cheryl Rose, showed up in a Florida battered women’s shelter. She told police her husband had killed a woman in Tacoma, Wash. She agreed to testify in exchange for immunity. The next year, Nissensohn was convicted of killing Sally Jo Tsaggaris, 46, during drug-fueled, bondage-style sex in a van.

Rose testified that she believed Nissensohn was responsible for many earlier murders, including two in Oklahoma and one in Nevada. She described the disappearance of Kathy Graves in South Lake Tahoe three months after the Tacoma murder.

Rose also told investigators about a killing that matched details of the Chews Ridge slayings. Nissensohn was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the Tacoma murder, but in 2008, after serving 15 years, he was about to be let out with credits for good behavior.

Monterey and South Lake Tahoe’s El Dorado County filed charges and combined all three murders to be tried at the same time. Authorities found Jessie Prieto, Nissensohn’s best friend. Prieto agreed to cooperate and said he and his friend were with Tammy and Tanya on June 25, 1981, and that Nissensohn told him he wanted to take the girls to Chews Ridge and rape them. But Prieto died before the case ever made it to trial. Cheryl Rose, who was in poor health, was barely able to testify in a 2010 preliminary hearing, and died five months later. However,  prosecutor Dale Gomes was able to submit Rose’s testimony transcript as evidence at trial. A jailhouse informant informant testified that Nissensohn confessed to killing Tammy and Tanya.

Just before Nissensohn was sentenced in 1991, he contacted police, and told them  in an interview that he did not kill Sally Jo Tsaggaris or Kathy Graves, claiming that his wife, Cheryl Rose, killed them, and he just hid the body of Tsaggaris. The long interview, which was taped, was played for the jury. Nissensohn told two offices that he was a scapegoat for Rose, who had killed Sally. He only helped get rid of the body, he said. The first murder trial was a conspiracy against him, he said, involving Rose, who testified in exchange for immunity, and his defense counsel, who offered no defense and simply rested their case without so much as calling a witness. Because he was about to be sentenced and likely extradited to California for the murder of Graves, he wanted to strike a deal himself. Nissensohn said on the tape that he met Rose in a motel and of their wild life of drugs and sex, with Rose bringing home “beautiful women” to “party” with and play “sexual games,” while he brought in drugs. One day, he came back from getting drugs to find Tsaggaris stabbed to death, but didn’t go to the police. Instead, he helped get rid of the body. “I know Cheryl did it,” Nissensohn said on the tape. “I came back to that van and that girl was dead. Cheryl did it. I had nothing to worry about … I sat there and heard it for a day and a half after my lawyer stuck it to me by going, ‘Defense rests.’ Guilty of second-degree murder. And all I did was help get rid of the body. Guilty of second-degree murder. I didn’t do it.

The defense called a witness who testified that her ex-husband killed Tammy and Tanya.

The defense called Brian Jarvis of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office to the stand. Jarvis, now retired, was part of interviews with Rose, which were played via audio and shown on video. Though the interviews from 1990 were nearly unintelligible, the jury was provided a transcript, and Jarvis was questioned after each segment.

The defense asked questions concerning answers Rose had given, showing she changed answers over time. Between the 1990 interviews and a 2007 interview, she changed her story of the last time she saw Kathy Graves, a South Lake Tahoe teenager Nissensohn is accused of killing. First, she said she saw the girl leaving to hitchhike to find a job; then, she last saw the girl as Nissensohn led her into the hills of the forest, after they had stopped their van. Nissensohn allegedly wanted sex, and when denied by the girl, killed her.

She also changed her story of what Nissensohn had carried into the woods. Originally, she said it was a quilt. Then, she changed her story to a bag of sex toys that also had a kitchen knife — what she said Nissensohn used to kill Graves and Tsaggaris.

News Reports

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Hooman Ashkan Panah

md081-e1427320714142Hooman Ashkan Panah was convicted in 1995 of  sexually assaulting and murdering an 8-year-old girl, and sentenced to death.

The victim was found in a suitcase in Hooman’s closet, in his apartment which was shared by Hooman, his mother and a guest, Ahmed Seihoon, who was the last person to see the victim before she went missing.

The conviction was based on pathology and serological evidence, however this evidence was false, being inconsistent with DNA evidence which was collected but not presented at trial, in fact his attorney has claimed that the DNA proves Hooman to be innocent.

An independent pathologist has stated that the victim likely died much later than Hooman was present at the apartment, meaning he could not have committed the crime.

Multiple searches of the apartment were conducted by the police, which failed to discover the body, suggesting that it was brought into the apartment after Hooman was arrested.

The guest, Ahmed Seihoon, had the opportunity both to commit the crime and return the body to the apartment in a suitcase. In addition, according to Hooman’s mother, he lied to police to give the impression he had an alibi.

The latest brief, filed in March 2016, is available from http://freehooman.com/.

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Timothy Madden

15319059_1499219683440735_8612164607407244258_nTimothy Madden was accused of raping and murdering 7-year-old Gabbi Doolin during a little league football game in Scottsville, Kentucky, on November 14, 2015, during her brother’s little league football game. Timothy was arrested on November 20, and says he is innocent. The commonwealth is seeking the death penalty.

According to reports, there is DNA evidence linking Timothy to the crime, however no details are available, and an anonymous report suggests the DNA may not in fact have matched, and KSP was under “undue pressure to find a suspect” and “may have rushed to judgement”:

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Timothy appears to be an unlikely suspect, being married with five children, and had been caring for his wife who has a serious illness. In an interview he says the charges are bogus and he was accused on the basis of gossip. He says his young daughter knew Gabbi, he was  at the game, and “my son was playing football, and my little daughter was there with us too”.

In July 2016, two motions were discussed in court, one to limit pre-trial publicity, and another to test remaining evidence in the case. A computer and a cell phone are finishing being tested, but both sides in the case are asking for the rest of the DNA at the KSP crime lab to be run. Timothy’s attorney stated “Mr. Madden has not changed anything he has said”. — Timothy Madden makes first court appearance in 6 months.

At a hearing in December 2016, it was reported that DNA testing may not be completed until June 2017, and a trial was not expected before January 2018. Other deadlines and dates set were:
March 31, 2017 – Change of venue request deadline
April 28, 2017 – Response deadline
May 26, 2017 – Reply date, evidence suppression request deadline
January 2018 – Trial could begin

Discussion

Tyrone Noling

In a video by Off-Center Media, law enforcement officials detail how an Ohio man was convicted and sentenced to death for a double-murder he did not commit.

Tyrone Noling was convicted of the murder of Cora and Bearnhardt Hartig and sentenced to death in 1996. No physical evidence linked Noling to the crime, only the testimony of his three codefendents who implicated him in exchange for their own immunity. The three men have since recanted their testimonies, saying police threatened them with the death penalty.

In the video, former Portage County Sheriff Kenneth Howe and veteran homicide detective Jim Trainum describe how police and prosecutors fed the men information about the crime scene.

According to Ohio Innocence Project director Mark Godsey, an inmate on death row confessed to committing the crime in a letter sent to his brother before his execution.

“When you step back and you look at the entire investigation, you see tunnel vision here on the part of the police and prosecutors,” Godsey says in the video. “They focused in on their suspects right away and then they tried to make all the pieces fit together to fit their theory of the case while ignoring other red flags including alternate suspects that weren’t ultimately looked into in great depth.”

The video is narrated by Raymond Towler, who spent nearly three decades in prison for a crime he did not commit before his exoneration in 2010.

Noling is represented by the Ohio Public Defender and the Ohio Innocence Project.

Source: Innocence Project ( see link for video )

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Rodricus Crawford

Rodricus Crawford was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death.

On February 16, 2012, something truly terrible happened that could only be described as any parent’s worst nightmare. Rodricus Crawford, a young father in Caddo Parish, Louisiana woke up and noticed that his son, Roderius, who had just turned one a week earlier, was lifeless.

Rodricus, who was sleeping on the pullout couch, immediately yelled out for help. An uncle called 911. Various family members took turns performing CPR and it seemed like nothing they were doing was making one bit of difference.

When the EMTs showed up, they refused to allow Rodricus to get in the ambulance with the baby and were slow to leave. It had already taken far too long for them to get there. They were so disrespectful to the family that it caused a stir there in the community. Within minutes, police arrived. Thinking they might take Rodricus to the hospital, they instead arrested him and took him to the jail. His only son had died and instead of comforting him as the grieving father that he was, he was interrogated and harassed.

Not a single soul in his family believed Rodricus Crawford killed his son. When police called in the boy’s mother, who lived a few doors down, for questioning, she didn’t believe it either. Rodricus loved the boy with his whole heart — everybody in the community knew that. No motive existed.

Over the next year, what unfolded in Louisiana, under the leadership of its then-Acting District Attorney Dale Cox, was like a bad movie. With no motive and no witnesses, Rodricus Crawford was charged and convicted of murdering his son. Black jurors were routinely struck from the jury pool. Even though an expert testified that the young boy likely died of complications to undiagnosed sepsis and pneumonia, which the family thought was just a small cold, Cox was convinced, in part due to a pathologist’s report, that Rodricus had deliberately smothered him to death.

A cut on the boy’s lip, which multiple family members testified was caused by a recent fall in the bathroom, was used as the justification of the smothering claim. Anybody who has ever had children knows far too well how often kids fall and hurt themselves, but it was completely ignored.

Crawford’s first appeal was denied by the Supreme Court of Louisiana on November 14, 2014. In November 2016, the Louisiana Supreme Court overturned the conviction. Four medical experts submitted reports indicating that his son had died of pneumonia. The baby’s blood had tested positive for sepsis, which can be fatal for young children. One judge wrote: “No rational trier of fact could have concluded that the State presented sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had the specific intent to kill his one-year-old son,”

Sources: New York Daily News, November 18, 2016The New Yorker, November 23, 2016

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April 19, 2017 : charged dropped.

 

Ivan Cantu

Around 6 pm on Saturday November 4, 2000, the bodies of James Mosqueda and Amy Kitchens were found in their home, in Dallas, Texas. They had both been shot.

The next day, Sunday November 5, police discovered Mosqueda’s Corvette parked outside Ivan Cantu’s home, a mile away.

On Tuesday November 7, police searched Cantu’s apartment, and found jeans and socks with the victims’ blood on them folded neatly inside Cantu’s trashcan. In the bedroom closet they found keys to Amy Kitchens’ Mercedes and a box of .380 caliber bullets.

On November 4, Cantu left Texas, but he returned November 7, and stayed the night at the house of Tawny Svihovec, his former girlfriend. On Wednesday November 8, Cantu went to the police department to speak with lead detective Anthony Winn, and was arrested. In the evening, Svihovec informed police that she had found a gun, a box of bullets and drugs under a couch cushion, in her home. The victim’s blood was found on the gun.

Amy Boettcher, Cantu’s girlfriend testified that Cantu left their apartment on Friday Nov. 3 at 11:30 pm with intent to kill the victims, returned after 45 minutes, and that they subsequently visited the crime scene. She also testified Cantu gave her a ring to wear which she believed to have been taken from Kitchens.

At first sight, the evidence of guilt appears overwhelming, and during closing arguments, Cantu’s lawyers told the jury “I’m not telling you he’s innocent..”. Cantu was duly convicted and sentenced to death.

However, Cantu claims he was framed, and when further evidence is taken into account, this seems a logical conclusion.

Although this was not brought up at trial, Amy Kitchens’ body when discovered at 6:30pm on November 4 was not in a state of “rigor mortis”, this is inexplicable if she was killed more than 18 hours earlier, as Boettcher claimed. Cantu claimed to have seen Kitchens alive around 6:30am on November 4, and this medical evidence strongly supports Cantu’s claim.

Next, it’s puzzling that Cantu was so careless. Telling Boettcher his intention, confessing to her, leaving the victim’s car parked outside his home ( and he was a suspect right from the moment the bodies were discovered ), the incriminating evidence left in his house, and finally the gun found at Svihovec’s home. It all seems too easy for the police, it is not unreasonable to suspect a setup.

Boettcher testified that after visiting the scene, Cantu drove back in Mosqueda’s Corvette, while she drove Cantu’s Honda. This doesn’t make sense.

Boettcher also testified that on the evening of Thursday Nov. 2, after three wonderful months together, Cantu suddenly became angry as they sat in their living room, and fired a gun near her head, the bullet went through the wall. Again, this doesn’t make much sense.

Then there are other inconsistencies in Boettcher’s account – she testified that the victim hit Cantu with a baseball bat, and his face was damaged, but nobody saw this when they went out partying later. Boettcher also said she was still terrified even after Cantu was arrested, inexplicable if he acted alone.

In summary, it seems quite plausible Boettcher decided planted evidence against Cantu was so compelling that it was best to testify as police suggested, to ensure she was not charged as an accomplice.

There are other unanswered questions : how Cantu could have been in possession of the gun (the registered owner of the gun did not testify), and were his fingerprints actually on the gun, as the prosecution claim.

This is only a short summary of some points about the case, for a detailed series of articles see here.

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Manuel Ortiz

Sister Helen Prejean writes:

Manuel Ortiz has been on death row at Angola, Louisiana’s State Penitentiary, for 22 years. Manuel, originally from El Salvador, was convicted in 1994 of hiring someone to kill his wife, Tracie Williams, and of the murder of Tracie’s friend, Cheryl Mallory.

Manuel’s legal team believes he is innocent of these crimes. I am certain he is.

What makes me so sure? The case against him was riddled with inconsistencies, plagued by prosecutorial double dealing and built upon the testimony of one man, an FBI informant, who later confessed to the crime.

I have been visiting Manuel for a decade and a half and have grown to know him well. Rose Vines, who works with me at the Ministry Against the Death Penalty, has also been visiting Manuel for over a decade. Recently, Rose did an interview for Death: The Podcast, where she talked at length about visiting Manuel. Her account is simply told and both moving and profound. I encourage you to listen so you may learn something about this man who is such an important part of our work and our lives.

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Rob Will

In 2000, Rob Will was unfairly convicted for the slaying of a police officer. Due to derisory legal counsel, prosecutorial and juror misconduct, as well as evidence withheld during trial- Rob was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In spite of Rob being handcuffed at time of the fatal shooting (radio logs prove this) and numerous confessions by his co-defendant saying Rob is innocent- an innocent man awaits an execution date.
U.S. Federal District Judge stated, “On top of considerable evidence supporting Will’s innocence and the important errors in the trial court, there must also be addressed the absence of eyewitness testimony or strongly probative forensic evidence… only circumstantial evidence supports Will’s conviction and death sentence.”

Source

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Kenneth Clair

Kenneth Clair was convicted of  the 1984 murder of a baby sitter in Santa Ana, Orange County, California, and sentenced to death.

A child witness who did not testify initially stated that the murdererer was white, but then changed his story., but in an affidavit filed in Aug. 2004, the now-grown Jerrod Hessling, testified that he changed his description at the behest of his mother’s boyfriend, who was a member of a white motorcycle club.

There was no physical evidence tying Clair to the killing, he was convicted mostly on the strength of a taped conversation between him and ex-girlfriend Pauline Flores. In the recording, Flores repeatedly tries to get Clair to admit he killed Rodgers.

However in 2011, DNA tests revealed DNA from an unknown male.

Source : http://www.ocregister.com/articles/clair-83013-dna-rodgers.html

In January 2016, it was revealed that in March 2015, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals secretly overturned Clair’s death sentence and sealed the records.

Source: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/clair-699237-court-evidence.html

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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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Michael Lambrix

Case summary

Michael Lambrix was indicted on 2 counts of first degree murder on March 29, 1983 on Clarence Moore and Aleisha Bryant outside his home. Clarence Moore was a 35-year-old career criminal, and a known associate of South Florida drug smugglers, while Bryant was a 19-year-old local waitress who had just met Moore. Clarence Moore had also a record of violence towards women.

Michael always maintained his complete innocence in the murder of Aleisha Bryant, and that he was compelled to act in in voluntary self-defense when he killed Clarence Moore, attempting to stop the violent assault of Clarence Moore upon Aleisha Bryant. His case is circumstancial.

At his first trial, the Glades County jury ended with the declaration of a mistrial on December 17, 1983, when the jury failed to reach a verdict after deliberating for 11 hours. The retrial jury found Michael guilty on both counts of indictment on February 24, 1984.

from http://www.save-innocents.com/save-michael-lambrix.html

Briefly

Michael says he heard a woman, Aleisha Bryant, screaming, went to her aid, fought with and killed her attacker Clarence Moore, but she was already dead or dying.

The clincher is that the State depended entirely on one key witness Frances Smith who was given immunity from prosecution AND lied to the jury about this.

The prosecution theory is not at all credible.

Also another witness deposed in 1998 said, contrary to her trial testimony, that Lambrix never stated that he killed two people and that she testified otherwise because police made her fearful of Lambrix.

The jury that convicted Lambrix never knew that the pretrial investigation had uncovered facts about Moore that indicated that he was a 35 years old criminal with a history of violent assaults against women, while intoxicated.

In addition, fingernail scrapings of Bryant that could have confirmed Moore or Lambrix as her assailant disappeared before there was any analysis.

Mike’s story

From http://murderpedia.org/male.L/l/lambrix-michael-ray.htm

Imagine being convicted and condemned to death for the alleged crime of premeditated murder that simply never happened- a crime deliberately fabricated by an over zealous, politically ambitious State Prosecutor concerned more with manipulating a rural community’s emotions into a vindictive passion to gain political popularity than objectively pursuing justice.  Even then, when the first jury could not agree on any verdict, a subsequent retrial was held in the same small community, and to ensure a conviction would be rendered at any cost, the State substituted the original local judge with a judge from another county known for his exteme bias against capital murder defendants.

No, this isn’t the outline of an imaginative Hollywood plot.  It is the basis of the case against Cary Michael Lambrix in the state of Florida.  This case begins in February 1983.  At the time Mike Lambrix was 22 years old, living with a 31 year old woman by the name of Frances.  They shared a rented mobile home located on a large ranch in rural Glades County, Florida.  On the night of Saturday February 5, 1983, both Mike and Frances decided to go into the nearby town of LaBelle to have a few drinks at the Town Tavern.  Shortly after arriving, a man introducing himself as ‘Chip’ joined Mike and Frances. Had Mike and Frances known that ‘Chip’ was a 35 year old ex-convict and known drug smuggler with a criminal history of physically assaulting women, undoubtedly they would have avoided him.

As the three conversed, a young local waitress by the name of Aleisha Bryant joined Chip as his date and the four decided to go to another lounge that featured dancing.  For the rest of the evening and into the early morning hours the four continued drinking and dancing until ‘Squeaky’s Lounge’ closed. Chip had previously made plans to return to Miami and Aleisha had to work the early shift at LaBelle’s Whites Restaurant, and so it was agreed the four would return to Mike and Frances’s trailer to pass the few hours until Aleisha had to be at work and Chip would drop her off on his way out of town.

Once back at the trailer, Frances began to cook a late dinner of spaghetti while Mike, Chip and Aleisha congregated in the adjacent living room.  Frances later insisted all three were laughing, teasing and playing around.  The stereo was turned up loud, so she couldn’t hear what was being said.  As Frances continued cooking, Mike and Chip decided to go out to his car to retrieve some music tapes for the stereo as Aleisha stayed inside with Frances.  It was now early Sunday morning, Feb 6th.  There were no lights and so Frances insisted she could neither see or hear anything outside.

Once outside, their judgement obviously impaired by a night of heavy drinking, Mike and Chip concocted a plan to play a practical joke on Frances and Aleisha by going around the trailer and scratching at the kitchen window in an attempt to spook them.  But, neither Frances or Aleisha heard the persistent scratching.  Now determined to succeed, Mike and Chip came up with an alternative plan.  Chip would hide at the nearby cattle feed trough while Mike went back inside and got the two women to come out and as they approached the trough, Chip would jump out. Once back inside, only Aleisha would venture out as Frances stayed inside to finish cooking. Almost an hour passed during which Frances claimed she neither saw or heard anything outside. Then Mike suddenly came back inside, ‘covered’ with blood saying only ‘they’re dead’. Frances said she repeatedly asked Mike what happened, but he wouldn’t talk about it. Mike went into the bathroom and washed up and changed clothes, then he and Frances briefly discussed what to do, as Frances knew Mike had an arrest warrant outstanding from when he walked away from a state ‘Halfway House’, where Mike was serving a sentence for a ‘bounced’ check charge. It was mutually decided that they could not call the Sheriff’s Department as they would take Mike into custody.  So, they decided to superficially conceal the two bodies, then abandon Chip’s car far away and leave the area for good.

Several days later Frances was herself arrested on unrelated charges and gave numerous statements denying knowing Mike or her recent whereabouts.  The police had no reason to suspect Mike of any “murder” and Frances made a point of not telling them anything about Chip or Aleisha.  Then days later Frances bonded out of jail and with the assistance of her family, retained a private lawyer and after receiving legal advice, she went into the State Attorney’s office in Tampa, Florida and told them that Mike had “forced” her to help conceal the two bodies and that she could show them where.  When asked if she knew why Mike had allegedly killed Chip and Aleisha, she insisted repeatedly that she did not see or hear anything that transpired outside, and all she knew was that Mike and Chip went outside only to have Mike return alone 20 minutes later asking her and Aleisha to go outside.  But, she stayed in while Aleisha went out with Mike and almost an hour later Mike came back alone, “covered” with blood and in apparent shock said only that “they’re dead”, then washed up and changed clothes and then “forced” her to assist in superficially concealing the two bodies at the back of a large pasture behind the trailer.

Based upon the information Frances provided, the local Sheriff’s department and State Attorney’s office recovered the bodies and issued an arrest warrant charging Mike with murder. Without knowing what might have actually happened outside between Mike, Chip and Aleisha, the local State Attorney (Randall McGruther) came up with a theory that Mike had deliberately ‘lured’ this local couple to the remote trailer with the pre-meditated intention of robbing and killing each, even though there was virtually NO evidence to support this fabricated theory. In fact, when the bodies were recovered, both had jewelry, money and other personal effects on them. Neither was ‘robbed’ of anything and Mike was never charged with robbery.

The fact that no evidence existed to support the theory of robbery is an important point.  In Florida, as in many other states, if a person is killed during the commission of a robbery, then the perpetrator is charged with ‘Felony” murder and the State does not have to prove that the perpetrator actually intended to kill anyone.  Rather, the State need only prove that a robbery occurred and the person charged committed the robbery and because of or during that robbery a person died- even if by a heart attack- and it’s Capital Murder.  But, since there was virtually no actual evidence that any robbery ever occurred, the state was prohibited from actually charging Mike with robbery and was obligated to prove the higher standard of actual premeditated intent to kill Chip and Aleisha.

By the time Mike was arrested several weeks later, the State Attorney’s office had manipulated the local newspaper into working up the small community passions with this fabricated theory of cold blooded robbery and murder by an alleged “escaped convict”, not bothering to point out Mike was not in prison, rather, he simply walked away from a State Halfway house.  But it wasn’t about truth….it was about gaining public support for a politically ambitious prosecutor.

Mike adamently refused to talk to the police or media, but Mike’s version of what happened that night never changed, with Frances insisting that she neither saw or heard anything outside.  Mike could provide an account of what had happened that resulted in their deaths.

As Mike stated, after he and Chip unsuccesssfully tried to playfully spook Frances and Aleisha by scratching at the trailer window,  Mike went back inside to ask Frances and Aleisha out while Chip concealed himself at a nearby cattle trough.  But, only Aleisha came out and Frances stayed inside to finish cooking as Mike and Aleisha walked around the back of the trailer  towards the feed trough.  Chip suddenly jumped out at her, successfully scaring Aleisha- which both Mike and Chip thought was very funny.  But, Aleisha became very angry at both the stupidity of this intoxicated joke and the subsequent laughing at her expense and immediately began verbally assaulting Chip with a barrage of profanity, and the two began arguing amongst themselves. Mike, still assuming these two had an actual relationship, decided to let them work it out between them and slowly made his way back to the trailer, playing with his dog along the way.

It took a good ten minutes or better for Mike to make his way around the trailer perimeter fence and as he approached the trailer, Mike heard a quick scream coming from the pasture area where he left Chip and Aleisha.  Unsure of this strange sound, Mike waited a moment and heard another more pronounced scream, clearly someone in trouble.  Immediately Mike began back around the trailer towards the pasture.  The property bordered the 200 square mile “Fishery Creek Wildlife Management Area” and a swampy “Bee Branch Creek”, so snakes, wild animals and even an occasional alligator ventured into the pasture adjacent to the trailer.  As Mike passed a car he had been working on earlier that day, he spontaneously grabbed the rod-type jack handle as protection.

As Mike went into the pasture area, he quickly discovered that Chip ane Aleisha were not at the feed trough where he had left them.  It was early morning and no light so Mike was unable to see beyond a few feet.  Mike’s dog sensed the presence of something further back in the pasture and Mike cautiously began in that direction.  As Mike approached the near pasture fence about 800 to 1000 feet behind the trailer, he began hearing a faint pounding sound and suddenly walked upon Chip straddling over Aleisha pinning her motionless on the ground beneath him as he continued physically assaulting her.

Without stopping, Mike ordered Chip to let Aleisha go, but Chip refused and Mike forcibly pushed Chip off Aleisha, even though Chip was substantially larger than Mike.  As Chip fell to the ground on the far side of Aleisha, he immediately sprung up at Mike who spontaneously swung the solid metal rod, hitting Chip in the head numerous times before realizing Chip was down.  Then Mike dropped the jack handle and attempted to help Aleisha.  She remained motionless, her clothes disarrayed.  Mike assumed she was unconscious, picked her up and began going back to the trailer before having to lay her down.

Still assuming she was unconscious from the assault inflicted by Chip, Mike attempted to mouth to mouth revive her to no avail.  Realizing that she was dead, Mike returned to where he left Chip to check on him, but the blows had crushed his skull and he was obviously beyond help.  Now in a state of surreal shock, Mike returned to the trailer and told Frances “they’re dead”.  After he washed up and changed clothes, Mike and Frances mutually decided to superficially conceal the bodies and then abandon Chip’s car away from the area.

The State attorney was not provided Mike’s versions of events as a criminal defendant simply does not talk to the prosecuting attorney, nor did Mike provide the police with any statement, as by law any statement could be used against you.  Towards the end of 1983, the State attempted to have Mike plea guilty to a lesser charge, but Mike insisted on his innocence to any act of murder and a trial date was scheduled to begin December 2, 1983.

On the first day of the scheduled trial, for reasons that to this date are still not clear, Mike was brought into the Judge’s chambers, and, on record effectively ordered by the trial Judge that he would NOT be allowed to testify at the trial.  Mike’s appointed Public Defender felt that the State’s wholly circumstantial case was so weak that the State could not prove any case beyond a reasonable doubt and so they approached the Judge and advised the Judge that they (Kentry Enguaison and Robert Jacobs) did not want Mike to testify and asked the Judge to instruct Mike that he could not testify.  Judge Adams did as they requested, even though there is a clearly established legal right to testify on your own behalf.

As the trial progressed, Mike’s Public Defender methodically broke down the State’s fabricated theory of premeditated murder through cross examination of the State’s own witnesses.  The State claimed that Mike “lured” this couple back to his trailer to kill them, the motive being robbery, yet in truth Mike had no way of knowing that he would have by chance met them, and there clearly was no robbery.  The State’s key witness, Mike’s ex-girlfriend Frances, testified that Mike went out first with Chip and then came back alone “looking normal” and took Aleisha out. Frances admitted she saw or heard nothing and the last time she saw them, they were “laughing, teasing and playing around” with each other with no indication of animosity between any of them.

More importantly, Frances was absolutely certain that Mike did NOT have any blood on him when he came back in a alone to get Aleisha to come out, but the State’s own Medical Examiner concluded that substantial amounts of blood on Mike upon returning AFTER Aleisha went outside could only have come from Chip as Aleisha did not experience any physical trauma that would have caused significant bleeding.  Thus, Chip HAD to have been alive outside when Aleisha went out, how could Mike have killed both at the same time, especially when both Chip and Aleisha were larger than Mike?

More importantly, the State’s own Medical Examiner concluded that all the blows administered upon Chip were inflicted in a continuous swinging motion to the front temporal area of his head and there were no defensive wounds.  The position of the wounds and absence of defensive wounds strongly implies that Chip had to be the aggressor, and entirely supports Mike’s claim of self defense.

As for Aleisha Bryant, the Medical Examiner concluded death as “probable strangulation”, even though the physical signs of trauma normally associated with strangulation were not found, such as haemorraging in the neck area and fracture of the larynx.  But, more importantly, it was established that to inflict death by strangulation, substantial pressure had to be continuously applied for 3 to 5 minutes to render the victim unconscious.  A 19 year old 185 pound woman simply is not going to passively stand by and be strangled to death without fighting for her life. For this reason it is a standard procedure to collect “fingernail scrapings” from such a victim and fingernail scrapings were undoubtedly collected in this case.  But when Frances insisted that Mike had no bruises or scratches consistent with what Aleisha would have inflicted upon her assailant, and that Chip DID have such scratches, these fingernail scrapings conveniently disappeared from the State’s evidence room.

No defense beyond establishing reasonable doubt was presented and without Mike being able to personally testify, his version of what actually transpired outside resulting in Chip’s and Aleisha’s death NEVER came out.  The jury deliberated 11 continuous hours without being able to agree upon any verdict when the trial judge declared it a ‘Hung jury’ and dismissed that jury, ordering a retrial.

The failure to convict Mike of the allegedly brutal murder became the feature story of the local newspaper.  The retrial was ordered for February 1984 which was an election year and convicting Mike became a political priority.  Knowing that its case was weak, the State again attempted to convince Mike to plea guilty to a reduced charge and lenient sentence, but Mike refused.  Then just before the retrial began, the original Judge was removed and an extremely pro-prosecution Judge was brought in.  Judge Stanley was previously a career prosecutor and known for his policy of always sentencing convicted murderers to death, even when a jury recommended life that particular year.

Judge Stanley’s extreme bias quickly manifested itself at the retrial.  Motion to move the trial out of Glades County because of the saturation of prejudicial pretrial media coverage was denied. As Judge Stanley presided over impaneling a jury, attempts to strike biased jurors were circumvented and the jury that tried the case included 4 jurists related to members of the small local sheriff’s department, including the stepfather of a local deputy (Ralph Alan Green)who was actually under an FBI investigation at the time for allegedly attempting to physically beat a confession out of Mike at the County Jail a month earlier, requiring Mike to be hospitalized.

Judge Stanley then prohibited Mike’s Public Defender from questioning Frances, the State’s key witness on the numerous conflicting stories she gave to the police that directly contradicted her trial testimony, and refused to allow evidence of alcohol intoxication in, as such evidence could preclude capital murder by legally negating actual premeditation.  Again Mike was not allowed to testify and no defense whatsoever was allowed.  NOT surprisingly, it took the jury less than 2 hours to convict Mike of two counts of premeditated capital murder, and one juror was later heard to complain that the only reason it took that long was because they couldn’t get the coffee pot to work right away.

On March 22, 1984, Mike was sentenced to death and sent to Florida’s death row.  The Judge then appointed   a local ex-prosecutor to represent Mike on appeal, and ex former Chief Justice Alan Sundberg later testified on Mike’s behalf: this pretense of an appeal was unquestionably the most incompetent appeal he had ever seen in a capital case.  Having succeeded in preventing Mike from proving his actual innocence of murder at trial, the politically motivated Judge subsequently obstructed Mike’s ability to prove his innocence on appeal, knowing that Mike’s claim and evidence of self defense was not fully presented on appeal, it would be procedurally barred from review forever.

The State’s Case

From http://caselaw.findlaw.com/fl-supreme-court/1521988.html#sthash.DXCwECS2.dpuf )

On the evening of February 5, 1983, Lambrix and Frances Smith, his roommate, went to a tavern where they met Clarence Moore, a/k/a Lawrence Lamberson, and Aleisha Bryant. Late that evening, they all ventured to Lambrix’ trailer to eat spaghetti. Shortly after their arrival, Lambrix and Moore went outside. Lambrix returned about twenty minutes later and requested Bryant to go outside with him. About forty-five minutes later Lambrix returned alone. Smith testified that Lambrix was carrying a tire tool and had blood on his person and clothing. Lambrix told Smith that he killed both Bryant and Moore. He mentioned that he choked and stomped on Bryant and hit Moore over the head. Smith and Lambrix proceeded to eat spaghetti, wash up and bury the two bodies behind the trailer. After burying the bodies, Lambrix and Smith went back to the trailer to wash up. They then took Moore’s Cadillac and disposed of the tire tool and Lambrix’ bloody shirt in a nearby stream.

On Wednesday, February 8, 1983, Smith was arrested on an unrelated charge. Smith stayed in jail until Friday. On the following Monday, Smith contacted law enforcement officers and advised them of the burial.

A police investigation led to the discovery of the two buried bodies as well as the recovery of the tire iron and bloody shirt. A medical examiner testified that Moore died from multiple crushing blows to the head and Bryant died from manual strangulation. Additional evidence exists to support a finding that Lambrix committed the two murders in question.

Appeals

During successive postconviction proceedings, Hanzel was deposed in 1998 and stated that Lambrix never admitted that he killed anyone, which contradicted her trial testimony. During an evidentiary hearing, Hanzel again testified that Lambrix never stated that he killed two people and that she testified otherwise because police made her fearful of Lambrix.

Analysis

The State’s case seems highly improbable, and relies entirely on the testimony of Smith to the effect that Lambrix killed and “choked and stomped on Bryant”.

Smith, as an accomplice after-the-fact had considerable motive to agree with suggestions put to her. Moverover, the judge prevented the defense from presenting to the jury prior inconsistent statements by Smith.

The State alleges robbery as the motive, but how could Bryant die from strangulation and Moore from being struck with a tire-iron in that case? Whereas there seems no reason other than the possibly coerced testimony of Smith to think that Lambrix’ account is untrue. And why would Lambrix confess that he “choked and stomped on Bryant”? This alleged confession is not credible, given the circumstances.

Given that Hanzel was coerced by the police to give false testimony, it seems highly improbable that the State’s case is true.

Recent Appeal

From http://www.save-innocents.com/press-release-legal-appeal-filed-for-lambrix.html

As the case of Michael Lambrix’s clemency review is in process, his non-clemency layer has just filed a 101 pages application  to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit asking for permission to file a new federal petition for relief.

Background

Michael Lambrix was indicted on 2 counts of first degree murder on March 29, 1983 on Clarence Moore and Aleisha Bryant outside his home. Clarence Moore was a 35-year-old career criminal, and a known associate of South Florida drug smugglers, while Bryant was a 19-year-old local waitress who had just met Moore. Clarence Moore had also a record of violence towards women.
He has always maintained his complete innocence in the murder of Aleisha Bryant, and that he was compelled to act in in self-defense when he killed Clarence Moore, attempting to stop the violent assault of Clarence Moore upon Aleisha Bryant.

At his first trial, the Glades County jury ended with the declaration of a mistrial on December 17, 1983, when the jury failed to reach a verdict after deliberating for 11 hours.
Lambrix then refused to plead guilty to lesser charges. The retrial jury found M. Lambrix on both counts of indictment  and sentenced him to death on February 24, 1984.

Lambrix grew up serving as a Catholic altar boy, participated in Boy Scouts, joined the ROTC program in high school and enlisted as a volunteer in the US Army at age 18. He has no prior criminal record of violence.

Key points of the new appeal filed in the Eleventh Circuit include:

1)     Circumstancial case

The State of Florida has conceded that the whole case is circumstancial i.e. no eyewitnesses to the crimes, no physical, nor forensic evidence identifying M. Lambrix as the murderer, and no confession by M. Lambrix.

2)     Issues of credibility of key witnesses

Witness 1:  Frances S
The alleged premeditated murders of Clarence Moore and Aleisha Bryant rested entirely upon the statement  and credibility of one key state witness Frances S. As the State clearly acknowledged in state court proceedings: “Clearly that State’s case was built on Frances S.

The entire case, premeditation and everything is proven in her testimony. And there has never been any question about that”.

When pressed by the State to provide a motive for the killings of Bryant and Moore, Frances S. stated that she had witnessed Lambrix searching the pockets of the victims for valuables, and that she saw Lambrix remove a gold necklace from Moore’s neck.

However, upon recovery of the two bodies, the medical examiner found both cash and jewelry in the personal effects of Moore and Bryant. This finding impeached Frances S’s account of Lambrix removing valuables from the victims.

She also admitted of a sexual relationship with the state attorney investigator on the case.

Witness 2:  Deborah H
Deborah H provided a statement that Lambrix told her that he killed Moore and Bryant in order to gain possession of Moore’s vehicle. During post conviction proceedings , Deborah H recanted this information and claimed she had been coerced into testifying falsely at trial in order to bolster France S’s testimony. In 1998, she provided under oath that Lambrix never told her that  he had killed anyone.

3)     Newly discovered evidence the jury at trial never saw

. Intentionally concealed FDLE crime lab reports
. Previously undisclosed hairs found on the alleged murder weapon, according to a state lab report did not match either the victims’ or Lambrix
.The jury that convicted Lambrix never knew that the pretrial investigation had uncovered facts about Moore that indicated that he was a 35 years old criminal with a history of violent assaults against women, while intoxicated.

In addition, fingernail scrapings of Bryant that could have confirmed Moore or Lambrix as her assailant disappeared before there was any analysis.

4)     Implausible State theory

The appeal states: “The State theory of the crime is implausible. Lambrix would have had to physically overpower and kill both Moore and Bryant simultaneously in completely different ways. At the time of arrest, Lambrix weighed about 140 pounds, Moore weighed 195 pounds, and Bryant 185 pounds.” However, the key witness Frances S. was certain that Lambrix did not exhibit “any scratches or bruises” (p90)

5)     Prejudiced judge

The same trial court judge that had presided over Lambrix’s second capital trial was found to have substantial and constitutionally prejudicial bias against capital defendants. Thus it became public knowledge, based on depositions and evidentiary process before the state court that judge S. had provided under oath statements that he always carried a sawed-off machine gun while on the bench and that he believed that he should have been allowed to “shoot [the] capital defendants between the eyes” rather than having to sentence them to death.

Michael Radelet says: Over the years I have met probably 300 death row inmates in prisons in a dozen states. I sincerely believe that Lambrix’s case is unique — there were errors and mistakes made at several points along the way, and his life today has a tremendous amount of value to others. (…) The purpose of a Clemency Board Is to intervene in cases precisely like this. (Clemency letter)

Litigation Director CCRC-South William M.Hennis III says:
This is the extraordinary case in which a prima facie case of actual innocence has been established. Pursuant to the intent of Congress, Lambrix  is entitled to a grant of leave to pursue a second or successive habeas corpus petition in the district court.

Relevant excerpts of the law quoted:
Davis v. State:
Even though the circumstancial evidence is sufficient to support a probability of guilt it is not thereby adequate to support a conviction if it is likewise consistent with a reasonable hypothesis of innocence”
Heiney v. State
As Florida law has long held “where the only proof of premeditation is cIrcumstancial, no matter how strongly the evidence may suggest guilt, a conviction cannot be sustained unless the evidence is inconsistent with any reasonable of innocence.

Finally

Smith lied about getting immunity from prosecution. From page 73 of this appeal

SmithLied

Featured case #125Discussion | Proposal Post | Petition

In To Live And Die on Death Row Michael Lambrix tells his own story ( 309 pages, PDF ).

Blog | Website

News

His plea for life at Florida’s highest court Herald-Tribune / Saturday, January 30, 2016

Article by Adam Tebrugge, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Florida, February 11, 2016

Pro Se petition to SCOTUS August 2016

Facebook Page – created 23 December, 2016

Article on 2014 appeal – 24 December, 2016

 

Corey Williams

Why did Corey Williams end up imprisoned for a crime he almost certainly did not commit while Nathan and Moore remain free? All evidence pointed to the other three men as the perpetrators—yet Williams confessed to the murder, and the other men’s detailed testimonies corroborated his confession. Why would Williams confess to a murder he didn’t perpetrate? And if his confession was false, how could the other men’s testimony so accurately corroborate it?

The solution to this puzzle is both simple and outrageous—so outrageous that the state concealed it for more than 15 years. That’s how long prosecutors refused to release transcripts of interrogations conducted the night of the murder. It’s easy to see why they stalled. These transcripts, finally obtained by Williams’ defense this year, explain the central mystery of the case. Williams didn’t commit the crime; his testimony was coerced. The other men didn’t corroborate his confession; they refuted it. But when detectives presented them with Williams’ false confession, they quickly molded their story to fit with it. The prosecutor who sent Williams to death row—then fought to keep him there despite his intellectual disability—was aware of all this. He didn’t report it or inform the defense. Instead, he kept the transcripts hidden.

Source

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Richard Allen Masterson

Richard Masterton was wrongly convicted of the 2001 murder of Darin Honeycutt.

Richard met Honeycutt at a Houston, Texas, bar. The two men went back to Honeycutt’s apartment. Richard is accused of strangling Honeycutt in order to rob him. Richard testified they were having sex, and he did not intend Honeycutt’s death.

The medical examiner was a fraud, and the cause of death was a heart attack and not strangulation. Richard also gave a coerced false confession, and also became severely depressed and suicidal while in jail, which contributed to his wrongful conviction.

Because Richard’s lawyers failed him, the court system will not provide relief to him. His last chance to avoid execution on January 20, 2016 is executive clemency.

Clemency Petition January 5, 2016

Featured case #118Proposal Post | Website | Facebook Page | Petition at Change.org

Richard’s appeals were all denied, he was executed on January 20, 2016.