Truth in Justice
Newsletter - April - May, 2005
53, of Grand Rapids, Michigan has been freed after serving 13 years of
a 20 to 60 year prison sentence. Souter was convicted in 1992 of
killing Kristy Ringler, whose body was found in the middle of a road in
1979. Authorities theorized Miss Ringler was hit in the head with
a whiskey bottle. New evidence indicates she was struck by a
passing motor home.
The Colorado Supreme Court
has reversed the felony murder
conviction and life sentence of Lisl Auman, who was found guilty even
though she was in custody when a companion shot and killed a police
DNA tests on evidence from
the 1992 rape and murder of 11-year-old
Holly Staker in Waukegan, Illinois have excluded Juan Rivera, the man
who authorities say
confessed and is serving a life prison sentence for the crime. Rivera wept when
he heard the
In May 1981, when Michael
Williams was 16, a jury
in Jonesboro, LA rejected his claim of innocence, deliberating for less
hour before convicting him of the savage beating and sexual assault of
his math tutor.
Nearly 24 years after his arrest, independent DNA tests by three
laboratories, including the Louisiana state crime lab, show what
Williams has long contended: He is not the man who committed the crime.
Sept. 28, 2000, Kim Camm and her two children were victims of a triple
murder in New Albany, Ind. They were found shot to death at home in
their garage. But
just hours after the memorial service, police arrested their prime
suspect, David Camm, for murdering his wife and two children.
Camm, who claims his innocence, has a very good alibi. Eleven witnesses
say they were with him at the time of the murder. Nonetheless, he
convicted. His conviction was overturned in August, 2004 -- but
charges were reissued and Camm is facing retrial.
Here's a new
twist on SAID -- Sexual Assault Allegations in Divorce -- where one
spouse levels false sexual assault allegations against the other as a
ploy to obtain custody of the children. Usually the children are
the alleged victims, but in this case, the wife said she had been raped. The
allegation was made only after Mr. Coleman filed for divorce and sought
custody and after Mrs. Coleman retained a divorce lawyer. There
was no physical evidence because Mrs. Coleman said undergoing a rape
exam "wasn't a priority". Yet a jury in Waterbury, CT convicted
Mr. Coleman of rape.
1984, Mohamed El-Tabech of Lincoln, Nebraska went to
get ice cream. Upon his return home, he found his wife had been
murdered. He called 911 and responding police found him sitting
on the floor, rocking back and forth in grief. El-Tabech vowed to
kill his wife's murderer. Instead, he was convicted of killing
Lynn El-Tabech himself. His fight for DNA testing led to a new
law in Nebraska but the state continues to oppose testing in
Broward (Florida) U.S. District Judge Norman C. Roettger, who died in
2003, granted Kelley a new trial. State prosecutors said they could not
retry Kelley, clearing the way for his release from prison.
But a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
Atlanta overturned Roettger's decision and reinstated Kelley's
conviction. Chief Justice Gerald Tjoflat wrote the opinion.
Now the only thing standing between Kelley, 62, and a lethal shot of
potassium chloride is the petition to the U.S. Supreme Court by Tribe
-- a legal giant who represented Al Gore in the recount battle after
the 2000 election.
Jackson died in a hail of gunfire from a machine gun one August night
in 1991 in Buffalo, New York. Today,
two men sit in
prison: one convicted of that killing but denying his guilt, the other
insisting he is the killer. Who is telling the truth, who is
lying -- and why? Read The
series and see what you
|DEATH PENALTY ISSUES
Jamison has been released from Ohio's Death Row. His 1985 murder
conviction was overturned by two federal courts, which ruled he was
denied a fair trial by prosecutors who withheld evidence that might
have cleared him. Jamison is the 119th
innocent person to be freed from death row since 1973 and the first to
be exonerated in 2005.
former western Wisconsin police officer on
trial for a second time in the murder of his
ex-girlfriend was cleared on April 29, 2005 after a district attorney
couldn't prove his guilt. Eau Claire County District Attorney
asked a judge to drop the first-degree intentional homicide charge
against Evan Zimmerman, whose previous murder conviction was overturned
What drove the case against Evan Zimmerman is the same phenomenon that
drove the cases against Scott Hornoff, John Maloney and so many of the
other innocent men and women -- those who have been cleared and those
who languish in prison -- tunnel vision on the part of
investigators and prosecutors. Even when proven to be absolutely
wrong, they cling to theories that keep dangerous criminals on the
street and put us all at risk.
lawsuit was predictable in the case of two teenagers who were
wrongly charged in the February slaying of a Machesney Park, Illinois
man. The lawsuit was brought by mothers of the two youths who
charged, and it names Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers, his
department, detectives and deputies. It's time for Safeguards to
Protect Accused Kids.
about a 1998 4th offense drunken-driving case dismissed by
former prosecutor Brad Priebe
have prompted Winnebago County DA Bill
Lennon to refer the matter to the state
Department of Justice for review of the case.
Lennon said he did so in response to “red flags” that appeared as
prosecutors prepared a new drunken driving case against the same man,
whose 1998 case was dismissed as a result of a
motion by Priebe, then a Winnebago County assistant district
attorney. Priebe, appointed judge in Outagamie County Circuit
Court and running for election in his own right, said he was ordered to
dismiss the charge by then-DA Joe Paulus, now in prison for taking
bribes to fix cases, and "had no choice". The Paulus Legacy Shines On
County DA Ed
Jagels put two dozen innocent people behind bars on charges that they
molested their own kids -- while ignoring evidence that his friends
were throwing orgies with teenage boys. So why is one of America's most
reckless prosecutors still in power? Mean Justice's
three-member panel from the state Board of Medical Examiners has
so far substantiated 18 violations stemming from the long-running
inquiry into the practice of Dr. Charles Harlan, a pathologist who
spent three decades performing autopsies throughout Tennessee.
years ago, three Boston-area men were convicted of fatally
shooting a Lynnfield couple in the basement of their Main Street home
as their two young children slept upstairs, a brazen crime that sent
shock waves through the quiet, prosperous suburb.
Richard Costa, Dennis Daye, and Michael DeNictolis are each serving two
consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for the
1985 slaying of Robert Paglia and his wife, Patricia, in a robbery at
the couple's house.
But now a retired FBI agent says
in an affidavit that a former colleague gave false and misleading
forensic testimony -- deemed crucial to the prosecution's case -- at
Matching A New Jersey
overturned the 1997 murder conviction of Michael S.
on March 7, 2005, ruling that an FBI crime lab technique that
relied on to link the fatal bullets to the defendant was based on
"erroneous scientific foundations."
out of prison didn't free Jennifer Hall. Friends
call and ask her to go out, but she mostly stays home. She
takes college courses — online so she does not have to leave the house.
who lives in Shawnee, KS with her parents, was convicted in 2001
of starting a fire at Cass Medical Center in Harrisonville, where she
worked as a respiratory therapist. But
last year a judge threw out the verdict and wrote a ruling
highly critical of Hall's first attorney. At a second trial, in
February, a jury took three hours to decide the fire was caused by an
electrical short in an old clock cord. By then Hall, now 24,
had been paroled after serving one day short of 12 months.
How the System Works (or Doesn't)
popularity of "CSI: Crime Scene
Investigation" and its increasingly numerous progeny has spawned what
some folks are calling
the "CSI Effect."
That is, most people who might end up on a jury know, or think they
know, a great deal about forensic science and the kind of evidence
needed to solve crimes.
All this has been widely noted. What hasn't been noted is how years of
cop shows have already formed our background ideas about the criminal
What this suggests is that we ought to be a good deal more suspicious
of prosecutorial infallibility than television shows suggest. Cop Show Effect
|On American Soil
by Jack Hamann
TV journalist Hamann was covering the expansion of a sewage-treatment
plant at Seattle’s Discovery Park some 18 years ago, a ranger told him
of an odd headstone at the park, dated August 14, 1944, with an Italian
inscription. The offhanded remark would lead Hamann to investigate an
unsolved murder of Italian POW Guglielmo Olivotto at the park, which
was then an Army base known as Fort Lawton. More than 10,000 military
personnel were at the base at any given time during the war, including
soldiers leaving for, or returning from, the Pacific; Italian prisoners
of war captured by Allied troops in northern Africa; and a large
contingent of segregated black soldiers who served primarily as porters
to load and unload ships in the Pacific theater. The storyline that
Hamann uncovers is compelling enough. But it is the crime's historical
context—wartime racial dynamics, colossal Army incompetence,
international political implications, and the (humane) treatment of
POWs, for example—that makes the book so relevant now.
Projects provide representation
and/or investigative assistance to prison inmates who claim to be
of the crimes for which they were convicted. There is now at least one
innocence project serving each state except Hawaii. Most of these
innocence projects are new and overwhelmed
with applications, so waiting time between application and acceptance
is long. Wrongfully convicted
persons should not be dissuaded from applying to Innocence Projects
of this, but should have realistic expectations regarding acceptance
time lags. Check the list for the innocence project in your area;
we update it regularly.
The links pages at Truth in Justice are frequently
updated. Be sure to check them for resources, "must" reading,
websites of inmates with compelling innocence claims and more.
Start at http://truthinjustice.org/links.htm
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Sheila and Doug Berry