Truth in Justice
Newsletter - December, 2006 - January, 2007
Over the years, it simply became known as "the
case."The cold-blooded murders of Michel Giroux and his
common-law wife, Manon Bourdeau, in their Cumberland, Ontario (Canada),
Jan. 16, 1990, ignited two of the longest criminal trials in Canadian
history. Four men -- Richard Trudel, James Sauve, Robert Stewart and
Richard Mallory -- were convicted of the slayings in two separate
trials. the charges against Trudel and Sauve were
stayed. Superior Court Justice Colin McKinnon said
the case had been "ravaged over time" and the 16 years of
delays -- due to adjournments, lack of proper disclosure, lost evidence
and witnesses lying under oath -- called into question the integrity of
the justice system.
50-year-old Dallas man whose conviction of raping a boy in 1982 cost
him nearly half his life in prison and on parole won a court ruling
on January 17, 2007 declaring him innocent. He said he was not angry,
the Lord has given me so much.” The parolee,
James Waller, was exonerated by DNA testing, the 12th
person since 2001 whose conviction in Dallas County has been overturned
long after the fact as a result of genetic evidence, lawyers said.
DNA evidence has cleared an Atlanta, GA man who has
in prison after being convicted of raping and kidnapping a woman at a
Sandy Springs apartment complex in 1985, the man's lawyers said on
January 19, 2007. Willie O. "Pete"
Williams, who is now 44, was convicted largely
on the eyewitness testimony of the rape victim and of another woman who
was assaulted — though not raped — a few days later in the parking lot
of another Roswell Road complex.
Twenty-three times Matthew Fields told the
interrogating him that he had nothing to do with an October 2005
break-in and sexual assault of a woman in her Parkridge Parkway home. But
the detective told the 18-year-old that police could prove he did it. Midway
through his two-hour interrogation, Fields told the
police what they were waiting to hear -- he did it, although much of
the information he gave them about the crime was wrong. For
the next year, Fields sat in jail, awaiting trial. But
on January 10, 2007, prosecutors asked a Jefferson County judge to
dismiss the case,
because DNA tests on semen found at the woman's home didn't belong to
We may be jumping the gun, since a final decision
await further DNA tests on the remains of the real killer, but it
appears that the persistence of Roy Brown of Auburn, NY will at last
turn the key to his prison cell. Jailed for a murder he did not
commit, Brown unearthed statements withheld from the defense that
implicated another man, Barry Bench, as the killer. And DNA backs
UPDATE: Defense lawyers for Roy Brown on January
22, 2007 revealed that in a
conference call earlier today, District Attorney Jim Vargason agreed to
join the motion to vacate Brown's conviction for the 1991 murder of
social worker Sabina Kulakowski.
In light of DNA evidence,
Duval County, Florida judge has thrown out
the guilty verdict against Chad Heins, who was convicted 10 years ago
for the 1994 murder of his 20-year-old pregnant sister-in-law in
Attorney Harry Shorstein, who previously said the DNA evidence
was not sufficient to overturn the verdict, said he has not
decided whether to retry Heins.
Barry Scheck, director of the Innocence Project, the New York-based
legal group that took Heins' case, met with Shorstein. Scheck
said Shorstein is a "thoughtful, responsible prosecutor" and he's
"hopeful" that Heins can be set free.
Matt Livers of Murdoch, Nebraska, the
latest false confessor to a murder, was set
free after evidence that two other persons committed the crime
surfaced. The State's own expert agreed with the
findings of the defense
expert that Livers was mentally retarded, vulnerable to the tactics
used by the police, and the confession was almost certainly
false. Still to be explained are findings in the car police said
Matt drove the night of the murders. Interestingly, no DNA is found
in the car on first inspection. It is only on second inspection, using
a wet swab, that the DNA is found, in the only area searched.
Golebiewski was 23 in 1983 when a Lucas County
Pleas Court jury convicted the North Toledo woman of using a toy gun to
sexually assault her daughter and then killing her. A
convicted thief testified at trial that Elizabeth
had confessed to her during conversations in jail that she
had killed the child, offering grisly details that authorities contend
only investigators and the killer would have been aware of at the
time. Elizabeth's request for DNA testing of the toy gun and
other evidence has been granted. And, while it is a long shot, DNA
tissue from someone other than the mother or child might just be enough
to prompt a judge to review the 1983 conviction.
Myers of Bloomington, IN holds two beliefs about her
son. One is that he is innocent of murdering Indiana University
student Jill Behrman. The other is that, sooner or later, he will
be back home with his family. These are not "wishful thinking"
beliefs. No physical evidence connects John to the crime;
speculation, innuendo and words taken out of context formed the basis
of his conviction. And then there were the jurors, who spent more
time drinking alcohol, having food fights, painting their toenails and
wearing the bailiff's high-heeled shoes than they did deliberating.
John Myers' website: JusticeforJohnSite.com
Cunningham has spent 11 years of a life sentence
in Alabama's Atmore prison for a rape he insists he did not
evidence that might confirm his claim
-- a condom wrapper
recovered from the Flomaton park where the rape occurred and a pubic
hair taken from the victim's body -- remains locked in a vault in the
Escambia County circuit clerk's office. Alabama
is one of nine states that has no law allowing for DNA
testing after a conviction, and authorities have resisted Cunningham's
requests for access to the evidence. So his last hope for exoneration
rests in a federal lawsuit filed in Mobile by lawyers from the
University of Wisconsin Law School's Innocence Project.
Perjury on Behalf
of the State. Thomas Siller and Walter Zimmer of Cleveland,
Ohio were convicted of the 1997 beating murder of 74-year-old Alice
Zolkowski, based in large part on the testimony of a third man arrested
in the same incident. Police crime lab analyst Joseph Serowik
testified the informant had only one drop of blood on his shirt,
supporting the man's claim that he was an observer, not a participant
in the crime. A lab audit found seven
blood stains on the informant's shirt.
Serowik either lied about or failed to conduct thorough blood
tests on the clothing of an eyewitness who said Siller and Zimmer had
beaten the woman into a coma. Serowik's testimony amounted to perjury
on behalf of the state's case, Barry Scheck of the Cardozo Innocence
HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS
Early Access to
Police Reports can Save the Innocent. Weighing
in on the case of a theology teacher charged with
sexually assaulting a student 16 years ago, the Wisconsin Innocence
Project and state public defender's office are calling for the end of
the long-standing practice of withholding police reports from
defendants in the early stages of prosecution.
"The ability of defense counsel to access investigative information in
a timely manner has been identified as a major cause of error in
criminal cases," the agencies said in the filing.
"Exoneration cases show that a suppression of evidence was a major
factor in a significant number of wrongful convictions."
WRONGLY CONVICTED COPS
A 19-year veteran of the Green Bay, WI Police Department,
convicted in 1999 of murder, arson and mutilating a corpse in the death
of his estranged wife, Sandra. Since then, some of the top
forensic experts in the US have reviewed his case and concluded no
crimes occurred in the first place. Moreover, the lead prosecutor
has been turned out of office and is under FBI investigation, and
John's trial attorney is on the ropes for structuring his defense to
match the script of a movie he was negotiating.
False Allegations of Child Abuse
Edmunds, a former Waunakee, WI baby sitter imprisoned for nearly 10
after being convicted in the shaken-baby death of a 7- month-old girl,
is seeking a new trial, arguing that the scientific evidence used to
convict her is no longer valid. "Since Audrey Edmunds' trial . . . a
large body of new scientific
evidence has emerged that supports her claim of innocence," according
to a brief seeking a new trial for Edmunds filed by attorneys and law
students for the Wisconsin Innocence Project.
In a two-day hearing, six physicians challenged the medical validity of
the evidence that convicted Audrey Edmunds in 1996. Among them
forensic pathologist who testified against her at trial. No Confidence in
clues were everywhere. A young woman lay
dead in a burned cabin at a church camp near East Stroudsburg, PA,
while her father survived.
Most of the lessons taught to budding fire investigators stood out at
the scene. The local experts — the county fire marshal, a state-hired
fire analyst, a chemist — spoke without hesitation that it all proved
arson — and murder.
No one questioned their conclusion. It was a textbook case, and the
father, Han Tak Lee, was dealt a guilty verdict and a life
Except the textbooks were wrong. Within a few years of Lee's
conviction, scientific studies smashed decades of earlier, widely
accepted beliefs about how fires work and the telltale trail they leave
Also see John Lentini's report regarding Mr. Lee's case, "A Calculated
Arson," in pdf format.
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
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
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
SITE SEARCH ENGINE
There are now over 1,300 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