Truth in Justice Newsletter - July, 2004

RECENT CASES
This month's exonerations were a long time coming, so it is probably inappropriate to call them "recent".  They are nonetheless sweet to these two men.

Nathaniel Lewis did not rape a fellow University of Akron (Ohio) freshman.  It took his accuser's diary, a five-year prison stay and nearly two years of waiting for courts, but Lewis has at last been vindicated.

Lethal Injection Chamber
Weldon Wayne Carr will not be retried for murder and arson in the death of his wife.  His conviction was originally overturned in 1997, when the Georgia Supreme Court cited the unreliability of evidence that a trained dog found a fire accelerant at the scene.  The Court also rebuked then-prosecutor Nancy Grace -- now host of Court TV's "Closing Arguments" -- of engaging in "inappropriate and, in some cases, illegal conduct in the course of the trial."



INNOCENT IMPRISONED

Michael Roper's case has all the hallmarks of a wrongful conviction -- shaky eyewitness identification, jailhouse "snitch" testimony and no physical evidence connecting him to the murder of an Akron, Ohio convenience store owner.  At his 4th trial the jury convicted him, but they didn't know another suspect closely resembles Roper. 

Stephanie Stephens
In 1995 in Hattiesburg, MS, Stephanie phoned surgeon Dr. David Stephens' wife of 32 years, Karen, and disclosed that she and the doctor had been having an affair for years.  A few hours later, Karen was rushed to the hospital with a self-inflicted gunshot wound; she died three months later.  Stephanie married Dr. Stephens.  She was crippled in a car accident the next year.  By the spring of 2001, Dr. Stephens, already a diabetic, was terminally ill with liver disease.  When he died, a drug used for anesthesia was found in his blood.  Stephanie was subsequently convicted of her husband's murder.  But was she convicted on the basis of sound evidence, or because she was the "other woman"? 


POLICE/PROSECUTOR MISCONDUCT

MichiganTwo people who donated to Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga’s campaign for Congress visited two separate bank branches on the same day and illegally divided thousands of dollars into smaller cashier’s checks to disguise campaign contributions, according to government documents.  Similar schemes are documented in checks and bank statements totaling $87,000.  How Marlinga Hid the Money


JUNK SCIENCE

Convicted of rape and exonerated after 13 years in prison, Michael Green of Cleveland, Ohio sued the city for $10 million.  He settled his case for $1.6 million -- and re-opening of more than 100 cases that included testimony from Joseph Serowik, the same forensics lab worker who falsely testified in Green's trial.  Doing the Right Thing



RECOMMENDED READING
Suspect Identities
Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification
by Simon Cole

In Suspect Identities, Simon Cole reveals that the history of criminal identification is far murkier than we have been led to believe. Cole traces the modern system of fingerprint identification to the nineteenth-century bureaucratic state, and its desire to track and control increasingly mobile, diverse populations whose race or ethnicity made them suspect in the eyes of authorities. In an intriguing history that traverses the globe, taking us to India, Argentina, France, England, and the United States, Cole excavates the forgotten history of criminal identification--from photography to exotic anthropometric systems based on measuring body parts, from fingerprinting to DNA typing. He reveals how fingerprinting ultimately won the trust of the public and the law only after a long battle against rival identification systems.


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 except Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota. 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.

Update:  South Dakota has its own innocence project!  48 down, 2 to go!


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 900 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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