Truth in Justice Newsletter - April - May, 2006

RECENT CASES

A judge threw out the conviction of a man after he spent five years in prison on charges of sodomizing his teenage daughter, who had claimed repressed memories of a childhood attack.  Judge Patricia Summe found that Timothy Smith might well have been acquitted if his lawyer had challenged a prosecution expert who had backed up Katie Smith's story.

Eighteen years after Drew Whitley was imprisoned for life in the 1988 murder of McDonald's night manager Noreen Malloy, prosecutors are prepared to free the former West Mifflin man after a second round of DNA tests indicated he was not responsible for the killing.

New York State Supreme Court justice Thomas Van Strydonck has freed an AIDS-stricken man who has been imprisoned a decade for a murder prosecutors now say he did not commit.  Recent DNA testing showed that Douglas Warney, 44, is innocent of the 1996 slaying of civil rights activist William Beason, prosecutors acknowledged in state Supreme Court.  Warney was convicted in 1997 of the slaying. The case against him was largely based on a confession he gave in 1996. His lawyers contended that the admission was riddled with errors, and were the rambling of a man with an IQ of 68 who suffered from AIDS-related dementia.

Orlando came to the U.S. in 1980, part of the Mariel boat-lift.  In 1982, he was convicted of raping a Key West, FL woman, a crime he did not commit, and sentenced to 55 years in prison.  He escaped in 1985 and was captured 10 years later.  Three months later, he escaped again and stayed out for a year.  Now, DNA has proven Orlando innocent of the 1982 rape.  The judge has set him free.  The prosecutor has apologized.  And U.S. Immigration has thrown him into jail, intending to deport him because while he was on the run, he failed to register and properly pursue citizenship. 


INNOCENT and still IMPRISONED

On 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 was convicted.  His conviction was overturned in August, 2004, and at retrial, on March 3, 2006, David Camm was again found guilty of murdering his family.

UPDATE:  Camm and Family Speak Out at Sentencing



Arson
(Includes Report and Supporting Documentation)

Sandra Kemper
Sandra Kemper, a suspect in an alleged arson that took the life of her son, denied nine times that she had anything to do with the fire. Then the St. Louis County police detective resorted to one of the oldest tricks in the book -- he told Kemper that she had failed a lie detector test. Later that day, Kemper admitted that she set the fire to get out from under the burden of being the sole provider to her family and to collect insurance proceeds. But the confession did not fit the facts of the crime, the motive evidence was weak, and Sandra had passed the lie detector test with flying colors.  The trial judge declared a mistrial on issues related to the polygraph, and Missouri's high court has now ruled that Sandra cannot be retried.

HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS

Wisconsin (and the rest of the US):  Three days into Evan Zimmerman's murder retrial, Eau Claire County DA Rich White threw in the towel.  He told the court he could not prove the case against Zimmerman and moved for dismissal. 

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.  Tunnel Vision



POLICE/PROSECUTOR/JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT

FloridaFlorida correctional officials -- already facing a surge of unwelcome scrutiny in the wake of the forced resignation of former commissioner James Crosby, nine firings of high ranking officials by Crosby’s successor, and the release of a videotape showing the fatal beating of a fourteen year old boy -- have been put on notice by former inmate Thomas Craig: I know where the bodies are buried.  Payback Time.

Wisconsin:  Two years after Winnebago County DA Joe Paulus pled guilty to taking bribes to fix cases, his iron-fisted approach is still practiced by local politicos.  The Legacy of Joe Paulus Lives On.


Watching Death Watching Death: Capital Punishment in America
by V. Wayne Sorge

This is a unique collection of observations with additional research about the ultimate punishment. For ten years, Wayne Sorge observed executions in Texas while working as news director of KSAM AM/FM in Huntsville. He was the official reporter representing United Press International to witness executions during that period of time. He also witnessed executions in Mississippi later and covered different aspects of the capital punishment debate earlier as he worked in Kansas. While in Huntsville, Wayne witnessed 183 lethal injections, including two women. He witnessed two men who were put to death in the state of Mississippi. During all that time, he has observed the debate of those who support or oppose the death penalty whether it be for political, religious or personal reasons, and he studied the concerns that prompted leaders in Illinois and elsewhere to challenge their system of capital punishment. Sorge covers the final moments of those on death row as well as background on cases and the impact of capital punishment on communities and individuals.

INNOCENCE PROJECTS

Innocence Projects provide representation and/or investigative assistance to prison inmates who claim to be innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. There is now at least one innocence project serving each state. 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 because of this, but should have realistic expectations regarding acceptance and time lags.  Check the list for the innocence project in your area; we update it regularly.


LINKS

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

SITE SEARCH ENGINE

There are now over 1,200 pages at Truth in Justice.  The site search engine on the main page can make it faster and easier to find what you seek.

And remember, YOU can make a difference!

Sheila and Doug Berry


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