Truth in Justice Newsletter - June, 2003
The biggest "stars" converged on Adams County, PA in 1987 to convict Barry Laughman of murdering his elderly relative, Edna Laughman. State Trooper Jack Holtz--who took $50,000 from author Joseph Wambaugh for information on the case against Jay Smith, framed for a murder he didn't commit--got Barry, who is retarded, to "confess" by saying "yes" to whatever Holtz suggested. Then crime lab chemist Janice Roadcap came up with the fanciful theory that antibiotics Edna was taking at the time of her death changed Barry's blood type from B to A, the killer's blood type. Holtz and Roadcap have been exposed as frauds. Barry is still in prison.
THE DEATH PENALTY AS CRAP SHOOT
Jane Eisner of the Philadelphia Inquirer observes, "We acknowledge innocent people are on death row, we acknowledge that sometimes they are killed for crimes they did not commit - yet we believe that this is an acceptable by-product of a punishment that, far as anyone knows, has little deterrent value. Perhaps we believe it's justified as the collateral damage in a war without end."
MONTANA'S ARNOLD MELNIKOFF
Former Montana State Crime Lab director Arnold Melnikoff's troubles keep piling up. Melnikoff's testimony convicted Jimmy Ray Bromgard and Paul Kordonowy, both of whom have been cleared by DNA. Now the state has identified five more probably innocent people Melnikoff's junk science pronouncement put in prison.
FBI CRIME LAB TAKES CARE OF ITS OWN
Anthony Bragdon spent 10 years in prison for a rape he did not commit because FBI Crime Lab analyst Michael Malone gave inaccurate testimony and withheld evidence. Bragdon has finally been freed, but Malone's misconduct was not disclosed until 2 years after he retired.
INSIDE THE DNA LABS
Former FBI lab technician Jacquelyn Blake admitted she failed to follow required scientific procedures while analyzing 103 DNA samples during the last few years. But her errors indicate more serious problems. "The FBI peer-review system never caught the Blake errors," says Peter Neufeld of the Cardozo Innocence Project. "That tells us that the system is bogus and at least ineffective."
PHOENIX, AZ CRIME LAB - MISCALCULATED OR MANIPULATED?
Phoenix police crime lab technicians blundered nine cases while analyzing DNA evidence to be used against murder, rape and aggravated assault suspects. Have you noticed how these mistakes never help defendants, only the prosecution?
VICTIMS OF DR. JOAN WOOD
For nearly a quarter century, the citizens of Florida's Pinellas and Pasco Counties suffered with an incompetent and corrupt Medical Examiner, Dr. Joan Wood. Some suffered more than others.
New Jersey: When Atlantic City police officer James Andros, III came home to find his wife dead at her computer, he was charged with killing her. Then a defense expert found evidence of a rare heart condition that caused her death, not murder; the charge was dismissed and the medical examiner was blamed. Trying to rebuild his life, Andros says it was more than a botched autopsy -- it was knowing and deliberate. He has filed a federal civil rights claim against Atlantic County officials, alleging that they "conspired to concoct a motive" with his in-laws and distorted or misrepresented evidence. More Than a Botched Autopsy
Links to Important Series
Haunting Questions: The Stephanie Crowe Murder Case
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
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Sheila and Doug Berry
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