Truth in Justice
Wrongful Conviction News from August - September, 2007
the fall of 1995, a man wearing a nylon stocking over his face broke
into the Yakima, Washington home of a young mother. He taped a
mask to the woman's face and raped her while her child screamed in the
background. Ted Bradford was convicted of the rape and served a
9-year sentence, but always said he was innocent. DNA from
the tape used on the mask excluded him and an appeals court has vacated
his conviction. Yakima deputy prosecutor Kevin
Eilmes plans to retry Bradford.
defense lawyer was found ineffective because he failed to inquire into
the effects of blood loss and heavy sedation on the memory of a robbery
victim who identified a defendant 11 days after the crime, a federal
appeals court has ruled. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
vacated the conviction of Derrick Bell, who is serving 12 1/2 to 25
years in prison for the robbery and shooting of Brentonol Moriah in
Brooklyn in 1996. Moriah, who suffered enormous blood loss from a
single shot to the thigh, spent the next 11 days under heavy sedation
and in a near-comatose state. He did not name Bell as his assailant at
the scene of the crime, instead giving only a general description of
"male black, wearing a lemon-colored shirt," even though he knew Bell
from having shared space with him in a rooming house for more than a
2005, Claude McCollum was convicted of the rape and murder of Lansing
(Michigan) Community College Prof. Carolyn Kronenberg in her
classroom. The conviction was based on what police termed a
"confession" -- speculation whether McCollum could have committed the
crime while sleepwalking -- and despite his exclusion by DNA. Ingham
County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III has reopened the case; he has
been urged to test the same DNA that excluded McCollum against that of
serial killer Matthew Macon. Macon is linked to 5 recent murders
similar to Prof. Kronenberg's, and another that occurred in 2004.
Now that evidence
points to serial rapist/killer Matthew Macon as the man who brutally
raped and murdered Lansing
(Michigan) Community College Prof. Carolyn Kronenberg, experts are
taking a careful look at what police and prosecutors called Claude
McCollum's "confession" to that murder. "It's
shocking to me that this was enough to charge, and ultimately convict
somebody," said Prof. Steve Drizin, one of the false confession experts
who reviewed transcripts of the two-hour interview. Read it for
yourself. Keep in mind that McCollum was excluded by DNA, and the
state still called him a killer. McCollum Police
UPDATE: 9/22/07 - Ingham County DA Stuart Dunnings, III has
joined Claude McCollum's lawyer in asking the Michigan Court of Appeals
to grant Claude a new trial. According to the joint motion,
Lansing Community College Police turned over a videotape which
apparently showed that Claude was somewhere else on campus at the time
of Carolyn Kronenburg's murder. Dunnings said if he knew in 2005
what he knows now, he would still prosecute Claude. Why wasn't the
videotape turned over before trial?
9/24/07 - The Michigan Court of Appeals has granted Claude McCollum a
Charles T. "Ted"
Dubbs was convicted of sexually assaulting two women in Dauphin County,
PA in 2000 and 2001. Both women identified him as their
attacker. Wilbur Cyrus Brown, II has been convicted of a series
of similar attacks, and has confessed to the two attacks Dubbs was
convicted of committing. Did the eyes deceive?
Dubbs in 1999
Brown in 2001
1982, a rape victim riveted a Dallas, Texas jury with her
identification of Steven Phillips as her attacker. She spoke at
length about his "striking blue eyes." So did the victims in 8
other sex crimes. Phillips' eyes are green. But when the
jury convicted him anyway, Phillips pled guilty to the other crimes,
which involved fondling. Now Phillips is the first to benefit
from Dallas DA Craig Watkins' joint initiative with the Cardozo
Innocence Project, to identify and free the innocent.
David Ashworth dropped all charges against Ted Dubbs after prosecutors
admitted the crimes he was convicted of committing were perpetrated by
Wilbur Brown. Dubbs'
Conviction Thrown Out.
justice happens in spite of the justice system. Sometimes
it only happens when the people in the justice system get their noses
rubbed in their messes. On
9/11/07, Lancaster County District Attorney Donald R. Totaro did the
right thing by freeing Charles
T. "Ted" Dubbs from a 12- to 40-year prison term in two sexual
attacks he probably did not commit. Dubbs was sentenced in May
Cyrus Brown, a serial rapist who confessed to 13 other rapes, including
one on the same jogging trail where Dubbs supposedly committed his
crimes, confessed to those attacks in November. But
Totaro had to spin things to portray his office as a well-oiled machine
that immediately turned to fix an honest error when it came to their
attention. That’s not what happened.
Arthur, Alabama death row inmate Z-427 has sat on death row for 20
years for a crime he did not commit. The State of Alabama will
execute another innocent person 09-27-2007 unless you reach
out and act NOW
to help fight for his life. Time
is running out!!
UPDATE: On 9/27/07, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley issued a 45-day stay
Arthur's execution, solely to tinker with the death process. Gov.
Riley continues to refuse to allow DNA testing that could confirm
Arthur's guilt or innocence.
Frederick Freeman sits in a Michigan prison, sentenced to life, for a
small-town murder 20 years ago. A team of advocates, from former FBI
agents to a veteran TV newsman, says he was railroaded while the real
killer remains free.
In a remarkable series published in the Detroit Metro Times, Sandra
Svoboda explores the first investigation, years of re-investigation,
and the crucial role of eyewitness identification.
A retrial could be in
the works for two men convicted of murdering a woman outside a
convenience store 11 years ago in West Texas. Judge Felix Klein
found that the jury might have reached a different verdict in the cases
of Alberto Sifuentes and Jesús Ramírez had it heard about
an alibi witness who could place the men almost 35 miles from the crime
scene minutes before the murder in Littlefield, and if defense
attorneys had investigated two other suspects who matched descriptions
given to police.
Brewer of Macon, Mississippi, a mildly retarded, Black defendant, was
convicted of raping and killing a 3-year-old girl and sentenced to
death in 1992. In 2002, he was cleared by DNA, but he wasn't
released. He has spent the past 5 years in the local jail,
awaiting retrial. Because you can bet, the local authorities plan
to get another conviction and another death sentence. The Sheriff
says he can't look for a DNA match because Mississippi doesn't have a
DNA database -- which is news to the state's crime lab director.
The prosecutor will bring back his star witness, dentist Dr. Michael
West, whose bite mark testimony has been disproven by DNA in other
cases, and who resigned from professional forensic dentistry groups to
avoid expulsion. Prosecutors are so sure they're right about
Kennedy's guilt that they're willing to bet his life on it.
14 years, Lynn DeJac of Buffalo, NY has steadfastly denied that she
killed her 13-year-old daughter, Crystal Girard. All along, she
has accused her estranged boyfriend, Dennis Donohue, of strangling her
child when Lynn was out for the evening. A jury didn't believe
her. A judge called her accusation against Donohue a "red
herring." Now -- finally
-- Donohue has been charged with one murder and is under investigation
for two others. One of those murders is that of Crystal Girard.
It's easy to understand why the Baltimore DA wanted to blindside James
Kulbicki and his attorneys. They have to be steaming mad after
Kulbicki's lawyers exposed the systematic forensic fraud committed by
police ballistics expert Joseph Kopera. But their reach exceeded
their grasp when they did DNA tests -- without court approval or notice
to Kulbicki's lawyers -- on bone fragments that were contaminated 14
years ago when they were collected. Will One-Upsmanship
Replace Law and Science? [Includes full texts
of state and defense motions]
Defense attorneys for James A. Kulbicki offered a
string of alibi witnesses, and he flat-out said he didn't do it. He
was, after all, a Baltimore police sergeant, and, he insisted, not a
killer. But a state police ballistics expert
named Joseph Kopera helped convict the officer by saying that bullet
fragments found in his truck and in his mistress' head could have come
from his gun - testimony that is now being questioned. Kopera
recently killed himself after being confronted with evidence that he
lied about his credentials. Kublicki's attorneys
challenged Kopera's findings and assertions in court papers filed a
year earlier, arguing that the firearms examiner's testimony did not
match his notes. And that was before they discovered that Kopera
claimed to have degrees that he never earned.
HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS
at the early stages
The power, if not the arrogance, of prosecutors grated on Angela Davis
throughout her 12 years at the D.C. Public Defender Service, three as
its director. Now a law professor at American University, she has made
a mission of exposing that power--on radio and TV and in a new book, Arbitrary Justice--with hopes of
reining it in. Her
beef is not so much with prosecutors breaking the rules, although
plenty do. Davis'
greater worry is all the behavior considered within bounds but outside
any reasonable notion of fair play.
coalition of national nonprofit groups has asked the Justice Department
to investigate and suspend FBI employee Danny Miller, who was
found by a jury to have falsified evidence against Herman Atkins, a man
who served 12 years in prison before being exonerated by DNA
is in a position to continue doing harm to the innocent.
a three-year span, Milwaukee Police Department Sgt. Jason Mucha was
accused at least 10 times of beating suspects, planting drugs or both -
claims so similar that judges took notice. Mucha's
record shows how an individual can be the subject of numerous
misconduct allegations and continue to advance his career inside a
department that lacks a reliable way to track problematic behavior. His
story also shows how a single officer was instrumental in changing the
way Wisconsin courts consider claims of police misconduct. Forceful
Allegations of Child Abuse
journalist Dee Hall of Madison, WI's Wisconsin
State Journal has filed a stunning series on the prosecutorial
misconduct of Dane County Asst. DA Paul Humphrey, as well as the
response -- or lack of response -- of Wisconsin's Office of Lawyer
Regulation to Humphrey's conduct in particular and prosecutorial
misconduct in general.
|A Prosecutor Accused
... or Tragic Accident?
Police, Humphrey Leaves Teen in Jail
Bankrupt Man was Wrong
How much damage can be caused when a teenager
dies because of medical malpractice, an incompetent forensic
pathologist can't tell the difference between pre-mortem injuries and
artifacts of autopsy, and a "child protection" system marches on in its
destruction of the family, in blind disregard of the findings that the
death was caused by medical malpractice? Roman and Lynette
Finnegan of Franceville, Indiana know, and they tell us, In Their Own Words.
LIFE AFTER EXONERATION
Peterson: Beyond Exoneration
Larry Peterson spent more than 17 years in prison for murder and rape
before DNA testing led a judge to overturn his conviction. This special
report chronicles the New Jersey man's long journey from incarceration
by Prof. Angela Davis
"This book is not simply timely. It is timeless. It chronicles the
expansion of prosecutorial powers and, better yet, offers a compelling
set of reforms that all can agree will help to curb unnecessary abuses
of power. Public officials, law enforcement, and everyday citizens will
all find this book informative and accessible. It is a must read, and a
--Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor, Harvard Law School
"Finally, a book by a scholar that not only describes what's really
going on in the trenches--a dangerous shift in power from judges to
prosecutors in sentencing and charging decisions--but provides a
sensible agenda of reforms that will protect victims and defendants
alike. This is a very important work."
--Barry Scheck, Professor, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and
Co-Director, Innocence Project.
Projects provide representation and/or investigative assistance
to prison inmates who claim to be innocent of the crimes for which they
convicted. There is now at least one innocence project serving each
state (except Alaska).
Most of these innocence projects are new and overwhelmed with
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
angered by societal injustice, and fresh out of Cornell University in
1997 with a degree in English, Huy Dao figured that if he was
going to work for peanuts, he didn't want to be getting someone's
coffee. So he took a job as case director for the Cardozo Innocence
Project, delivering freedom. Innocence Project
for our slide presentation, "The Truth About Wrongful
The links pages at Truth in Justice are frequently updated. Be
to check them for resources, "must" reading, websites of inmates with
innocence claims and more. Start at
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