ABC Action News

Attorney: Action News report helped King win stay of execution
an ABC Action News report 12/03/02

TAMPA - Amos King was scheduled to die at 6 p.m. Monday night, but an eleventh-hour reprieve spared his life. Now, attorneys say the governor is taking a closer look at King's case because of ABC Action News reports on former medical examiner Joan Wood.

Wood conducted the autopsy report on Tillie Brady, a Tarpon Springs woman who was brutally raped and murdered 25 years ago. King was convicted of her murder, based largely on wood's autopsy report.

However, now that Action News investigators have exposed Wood's past mistakes, the governor has agreed to hold off on executing King, at least for 30 days.

Attorney Peter Cannon, who represents Amos King, recently saw the Action News reports involving former Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner Joan Wood. The investigations found she made big mistakes in her autopsy reports, sending David Long and John Peel to prison, wrongly charged with shaking their own babies to death.

Charges were dropped against Peel and Long, and they were both released from jail.

"I think they were absolutely critical," Cannon said of the Action News investigations. "We saw that there was a pattern what was emerging. We had suspected there was something wrong with Doctor Wood's findings, but what we saw after your stories was a pattern of misconduct and incompetence by a public servant and she shouldn't be trusted by anybody."

Cannon then hired renowned attorney Barry Scheck, who heads The Innocence Project and gained fame representing O.J. Simpson. Scheck reviewed King's case and discovered some vital evidence that had never been tested: blood-soaked sheets that were wrapped around Tillie Brady's body.

"Two ambulance sheets that was used to transport the victim and it was locked away in an evidence closet," Cannon explained.

Two former medical examiners also reviewed Joan Wood's autopsy report. Both found problems, including "convenient loss of physical evidence" in the King case as well as "inconclusive" DNA testing.

Attorney Peter Cannon called the Action News investigation "critical" to the case.
"There shouldn't be a rush to execute a man at 6 o'clock when there are tests that could shed important light on whether he committed the crime for which he is being executed," Scheck insisted Monday.

Barry Scheck also reviewed the cases involving David Long and John Peel. He then filed a Supreme Court appeal demanding a closer review of Wood's testimony in King's trial since "the facts regarding the other cases botched by Joan Wood were not known or could not have been known by counsel prior to filing this claim."

"We had asked for DNA evidence before to be tested, but bringing this to light, that we have a medical examiner that did a botched autopsy and DNA evidence, we have a stronger claim of innocence than we did before," Cannon added.

The DNA test should be complete in about 30 days. Attorneys say it will show whether King is guilty or not.

Meanwhile, the medical examiner that replaced Joan Wood told ABC Action News he is willing to review any other cases she may have botched.

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