Truth in Justice Newsletter - March, 2004

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The Feds made two cases against former Chicago police officer Steve Manning, a murder in Illinois and a kidnapping in Missouri.  They based both on the perjured testimony of notorious snitches, and put Manning on Death Row for the Illinois murder.  Manning was cleared of the murder conviction in 2000, but was left to serve a life sentence in the Missouri kidnapping.  Now he has been cleared of that bogus conviction as well, and it appears the kidnapping never even happened.

Police and prosecutors in East Boston, MA were certain Billy Leyden killed and decapitated his brother Jackie in March, 2001.  Fixated on what they called "inconsistencies", they charged him with 1st degree murder.  Billy was released on bail but lost his job, and neighbors locked their doors when they saw him coming.  Then, in January, 2004, Eugene McCollom confessed to killing Jackie Leyden, and directed authorities to Jackie's head, buried on a beach in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  Indeed, the head found there is Jackie's, and charges against Billy are slated to be dismissed.  But so far only the Florida press is reporting this story.

Sentenced to die for the murder of a man he had never met, Alan Gell got a new trial when it was learned prosecutors withheld an audio tape of their star witness saying she had to "make up a story" about Jenkin's death.  At Gell's retrial, it took the jury only 2 1/2 hours to return its verdict:  Not Guilty

Read the Raleigh, NC News-Observer's riveting series on the framing of Alan Gell:  Who Killed Allen Ray Jenkins

INNOCENCE AND THE DEATH PENALTY

PHILIP WORKMAN AND THE BIZARRE MEDICAL EXAMINER
In 2001 at condemned prisoner Philip Workman's clemency hearing, Shelby Co., TN Medical Examiner O. C. Smith testified that his microscopic analysis showed that Workman's bullet was the one that felled a police officer in 1981.  Clemency was denied.  Soon after, Smith was found outside his office, chained to a stairwell, wrapped in barbed wire with a bomb hanging around his neck. He told officers that an attacker had thrown a caustic substance in his face.  Now the forensic pathologist has been indicted, charged with staging the elaborate and extremely dangerous "abduction".  Can we talk credibility here?
Lethal Injection Chamber

Shelby Co., TN ME Indicted Clarification Sought in Workman Case

Tennessean Editorial:  A Review in Workman Case

RELIABILITY OF EVIDENCE
A day after a federal appeals court spared the life of convicted killer Kevin Cooper and ordered further testing of evidence, the death row inmate's defense team called for an independent investigation of the case.  The appeals court ordered testing to determine whether a blood drop left outside Doug and Peg Ryen's bedroom had been treated with a preservative known as EDTA, commonly used to take calcium out of solutions, which could indicate the evidence was deliberately planted.



POLICE/PROSECUTOR MISCONDUCT

MORE ON ALAN GELL'S CASE

North Carolina
Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald News Editor Cal Bryant sat through all 7 days of testimony.  He concludes the not guilty verdict was a "no brainer".  While the final outcome was predictable, there remain so many Unanswered Questions.
In Keith Hoggard 's  opinion, what the prosecutors did in the first Alan Gell trial is criminal. An investigation into this matter should be launched and heads should roll if it is found that evidence was deliberately withheld from Mr. Gell's first trial.  But Attorney General Roy Cooper has closed the investigation.  Why?  Governor Mike Easley was in charge of the prosecution team Sent to Convict, Not to Seek Justice.

Prosecutorial Misconduct in Two Federal Courts Federal prosecutorial misconduct has turned two recent high profile cases -- one involving allegations of murder, the other involving allegations of a terrorist conspiracy -- upside down.  Attorney Elaine Cassel examines the specifics of the two cases and the factors that allow federal prosecutors to engage in misconduct without fear of penalties.  Contempt of Court

Nevada:  Clark County DA  David Roger is taking an innovative approach to dodging Rick Tabish's complaint that Roger suborned perjury in order to obtain an extortion conviction against Tabish.  Roger is claiming that Tabish's prosecutorial misconduct complaint is really a complaint of ineffective assistance by his own trial counsel.  Moreover, Roger wants a judge to throw out Tabish's complaint unless Tabish waives attorney-client privilege so Roger can grill Tabish's trial attorney.  Speaking of Extortion ...


JUNK SCIENCE

A scientific report released February 10, 2004 revealed serious flaws in FBI testimony involving evidence on the chemical composition of bullets presented in hundreds of criminal cases.  "If this technique had not been used for years to send people to prison, no reasonable scholars of forensic evidence would consider it ready for court," said William Thompson, professor of law and criminology at UC Irvine.  Bullet-Proof No More

Until recently, FBI examiners misleadingly expressed high confidence or even certainty that crime scene lead fragments did or did not come from the “same box” of other ammunition in evidence.  In cases where a so-called “match” was identified, the results have at times been devastating to the truth-seeking process, which is the essence of any criminal or civil trial.  Speaking for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Barry Scheck issues a Call to Reopen Cases.

HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS

Virginia (Federal Case): Feds have now withdrawn charges against Darrell Rice.  A classic, this case has it all:  botched crime scene processing, forensic fraud by the FBI Lab, reliance on perjured testimony by jailhouse snitches, manipulation of a credulous media to slander the defendant and poison the jury pool, plus inciting hatred and a desire for revenge against the defendant among the victims' families that is so intense they cannot let it go even after the feds are forced to admit the defendant didn't do the crime. 

Defense attorney Fred Heblich said,
"I think that people looking at this, if nothing else, that they should take heart in the operation of the system."  Truth in Justice respectfully disagrees.  People looking at this, if nothing else, should be very, very afraid of the operation of the system. You Could Be Next

Keeping Hatred AliveDarryl Hunt's long imprisonment in connection with the 1984 rape and murder of Deborah Sykes in Winston-Salem, NC was a case of mistaken identity. Another man killed her, the police and prosecutors have admitted. And most importantly, that man acted alone.  Unfortunately, police and prosecutors were so thorough in inciting hatred and a desire for revenge against Darryl Hunt in Deborah Sykes' family that her mother and step-father refuse to accept Hunt's innocence.  Bitter Justice

Erasing Innocence
In a move that Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission hearing officer Victor Perpetua likened to a scene from "Alice in Wonderland," State Police argue they cannot release files associated with the infamous Peter Reilly murder case from the 1970s because those files have been "erased."  Odd Developments


Guest Editorial by Don B. Laws
:  Scott cheated on his wife and then lied about it.  He told the world he had a great marriage and then his infidelity was exposed.  Suddenly where he was and when became critically important, because he was the only suspect in a murder with no direct evidence against him.  If he cheated and lied, did he commit murder, too?  Does this sound like Scott Peterson?  The similarities are striking, but this was Before Scott Peterson


LIFE AFTER EXONERATION
In New Jersey, DNA evidence cleared John Dixon of rape and freed him from prison in 2001, but he now seeks another sort of vindication.  He has sued the public defender's office, alleging that for 10 years it turned a deaf ear to his requests for DNA testing. And on Feb. 6, 2004 Essex County Judge Mary Jacobson denied a motion to dismiss his suit, Dixon v. Segars, L-7598.  Ineffective Assistance by Public Defenders

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.


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 850 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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