Truth in Justice
Newsletter - August - September, 2005
1991, Troy Hopkins of Richmond, VA was convicted of killing Curtis
Kearney in July, 1990. In 1992, another man confessed to the
murder, and in 1994 the Virginia Court of Appeals reversed Troy's
conviction. His vindication didn't last long; the Virginia
Supreme Court reinstated his conviction, and he spent 10 years in
prison -- until he was released on parole -- for another man's
crime. Now Virginia Governor Mark Warner has pardoned Troy,
saying, "I am convinced that Mr. Hopkins is innocent of the charges for
which he was convicted".
26 years, the people of Miami, Florida believed the Bird Road Rapist
was Luis Diaz, and that he had been caught and locked up. The
was named after the location in
area where the rapes occurred. The rapist used the same method with all
of his victims:
He attacked young women driving in the Bird Road-U.S. 1 area of Coral
Gables. He would signal the women to pull over by flashing his
headlights, then force them to have sex at gunpoint. Diaz was
convicted based on identifications made
by eight victims, even
though some of them initially described their attacker as being 6-feet
tall, 200 pounds, and fluent in English.
Diaz is 5-foot-3, about 130 pounds and speaks little to no English. He
also constantly smelled of onions because he worked as a fry cook -
although none of the victims described their attacker having that
odor. Now DNA as excluded Diaz as the Bird Road Rapist, and he has
been set free.
Dominguezwas 16 when he
was charged with the September 1989 home
invasion and rape in Waukegan. He was convicted in a 1990 trial, in
large part because the victim identified him as her attacker.
Dominguez insisted he was wrongly identified and was innocent.
Sentenced to 9 years in state prison, he served more than 4 years,
receiving time off for good behavior, before he was released in
Even though he was free, Dominguez continued to try to prove his
innocence. He persuaded lawyer Jed Stone
to seek DNA testing on semen recovered from the victim.
The tests excluded Dominguez as a source of the semen, and they
prompted Lake County prosecutors and Stone to ask a judge to vacate the
In a New
Jersey case with striking similarities to those of Clarence Elkins of
Ohio and Ralph Armstrong of Wisconsin, a Superior Court judge has
thrown out Peterson's 1987 conviction for rape and murder and ordered a
new trial. Peterson has been excluded by DNA as the donor of
hairs that the prosecution claimed "matched" his hairs and "proved" his
In the same
week that a judge in Ohio decided that the DNA exclusion of Clarence
Elkins as the source of sperm found in the murder victim's vagina and
her granddaughter's underwear was not enough to overturn Elkins' rape
and murder conviction, the Wisconsin Supreme Court stepped up to the
plate and gave Ralph Armstrong his freedom in a strikingly similar
case. Armstrong gives all of us hope.
are reversed, the verdicts set aside, and judgments shall enter for the
seemed overwhelming more than 20 years ago when Bruce was convicted of
killing his mother for grocery money. But did sloppy forensics, a
dishonest detective and a jailhouse snitch account for his conviction,
instead of actual guilt? Even the man who prosecuted Lisker has
come to doubt Bruce's guilt.
Confirms Shoe Print at Scene Not Lisker's
ago Juneal Pratt was convicted of raping two sisters who were staying
in a motel together in Omaha, Nebraska. The conviction hinged on
the women's identification of Pratt in a line up; his alibi witnesses
were rejected by the jury. New testing has excluded Pratt as the
source of DNA found on the women's clothes. He stands on the
brink of becoming Nebraska's first DNA exoneration.
On November 29, 1988,
six Kansas City, Missouri firefighters were killed in an explosion
while fighting a series of set fires at a construction site. As
late as 1995, ATF agents said the fire was set by organized labor, to
teach the general contractor a lesson for using non-union labor.
But the $50,000 reward motivated jailhouse snitches to finger 5
indigent Native Americans convicted in 1997 of arson and murder --
Frank Sheppard, Skip Sheppard, Darlene Edwards, Bryan Sheppard and
The Cost of "Closure"
Unlike many arson cases featured here, this is not about junk science
and incompetent fire investigators. It's good, old fashioned
expedient corruption. Click the link to learn more.
|FALSE ALLEGATIONS OF
Lorain, Ohio, in 1994, Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen were convicted of
sexually molesting children Nancy transported on her bus to a Head
Start program. Nancy and Joseph didn't even know each
other. But once
the fire was lit, the media and the prosecutor fanned it out of control.
WRONGFULLY CONVICTED COPS
DNA has allowed Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer David Hansen to
dodge a deadly bullet. When a woman was raped in February, 2005
by a man who offered her a ride home from her health club, she picked
David out of more than 1,400 photos of club members. Arrested,
charged with first-degree sexual contact and kidnapping, placed on
administrative leave, David was cleared by DNA. The charges have
been dropped, although the county attorney says there is no evidence
that leads to another suspect.
more former Campbell County sheriff's officers have beensentenced to
prison for the beating and torture of a suspected
drug dealer. The officers claimed they went to Lester Siler's
home to serve a probation violation warrant, but in fact they tortured
him, demanding drugs and money. And Siler's wife tape recorded
HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS
Court reversed two lower court decisions and held that a confession to
armed robbery taken from a juvenile during a five hour interrogation
outside the presence of his parents, was involuntary. More
importantly, the Court announced the broadest rule in the country, requiring
that police record custodial interrogations of juveniles.
Relying on its supervisory powers over the administration of justice,
court held that "all custodial interrogations of juveniles must be
electronically recorded where feasible and without
when questioning occurs at a place of detention.
The failure to record such interrogations would render the
"unrecorded interrogations and any resultant written confession
inadmissible as evidence in court." It is a remarkable opinion
which is based both on the false confession literature and principles
adolescent development which make juveniles more susceptible to police
pressure than adults. The opinion should be
a warning that if police and legislators do not act, they may face
decisions which impose much more sweeping policies than they are likely
to face otherwise. Read the decision: In the Interest of
Jerrell C. J.
Dionny Reynolds was found guilty of first degree murder in the death of
an undercover state agent, but only after Judge David Hansher removed a
holdout juror "for cause" when she refused to change her mind. An
alternate who had been sitting in the hall for two days was brought in
to replace her, and in no time flat, they had a conviction. They
know how to get things done in Milwaukee: First they give
'em a fair trial, and then they convict 'em.
|Who Killed Sarah?
by Sheila Berry and Doug Berry
disappeared in the early morning hours of March 15, 1994
in Madison, Wisconsin, after she and Penny Brummer had been out
drinking together. The path she took led her directly to outlaw
bikers, engaged in a turf war and recruiting new members. But
when Sarah's body was found 40 days later, Brummer was the only
suspect. Witnesses with valuable information were criticized,
even humiliated. Leads that went
anywhere else were ignored, as were the classic signs of
physical evidence tied Brummer to the crime; the murder weapon was
never found. Brummer had an alibi -- she was at home 40 miles
away when Sarah was killed. She had no criminal record and no
history of violence. It was enough for the jury to convict
Brummer and send her to prison for the rest of her life. But did
she do it? Or is Penny Brummer a victim of the legal system, just as
Sarah Gonstead was a victim of a cold killer?
Click HERE for more
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. 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
SITE SEARCH ENGINE
There are now over 1,000 pages at Truth in Justice. The site
engine on the main page can make it faster and easier to find what you
And remember, YOU can make a difference!
Sheila and Doug Berry