Truth in Justice Newsletter - November, 2004

RECENT CASES

Twenty-three years after he was convicted of murdering a Braintree, MA man in an ambush, Frederick Weichel has won a new trial because of newly discovered evidence and allegations that the case was tainted by James "Whitey" Bulger and the fugitive mobster's associates -- including the FBI.

In his second day of questioning by Los Angeles police detectives, David Allen Jones sealed his fate.  Although never admitting to murder, he repeatedly incriminated himself in the deaths of three prostitutes. By the time he got to describing what happened with the third woman, Mary Edwards, the story came easily.  On the strength of the incriminating statements, a jury convicted Jones of the three killings. But there was a problem: Jones did not kill them.  Eleven years later, DNA and other evidence exonerated Jones and a judge voided his conviction in the killings. He was freed in March, 2004.

San Joaquin County, California Superior Court Judge Stephen Demetras ordered the release of 36-year-old Peter Rose after 10 years of incarceration.  Convicted of sexually assaulting a 13 year-old Lodi girl in 1994, Rose was sentenced to 27 years in prison.  With no history of violent crime or sexual assault, Rose has maintained his innocence from the beginning.  DNA testing has proved him right.  It has also shown the tragic results when police browbeat a child into accusing the person they have already decided is guilty.


INNOCENT IMPRISONED

DNA taken from inside a ski mask worn by the killer of a Bridge City, LA grocer excluded Ryan Matthews and his co-defendant, Travis Hayes and implicated a man with no connection to either Ryan or Travis.  In June, 2004 Ryan was freed from death row.  But prosecutors are determined to keep Travis in prison for the rest of his life for a crime they know was committed by another man -- who remains free to continue killing.

WRONGFULLY CONVICTED COPS


In December, 1991, Ken Berry was a newly-hired officer with the University of Chicago Police Department.  But his world came crashing down when a woman with whom he had consensual sex accused him of rape.  Thanks to a defense attorney later described by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettelman as "clueless" -- he never prepared for trial and failed to call witnesses who could exonerate Berry -- Ken was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison.  In 1999, his habeas was granted and he was retried.  It took the jury less than 2 hours to acquit Ken.  He has distinguished himself as a litigation paralegal and in his pro bono (free of charge) work with the poor and elderly, but what he really wants is a pardon.


POLICE/PROSECUTOR MISCONDUCT

Texas:  James Masonheimer of Abilene, TX said he shot Gilbert Sanchez in self-defense.  Masonheimer claimed Sanchez's abuse of steroids resulted in dangerous fits of rage, one of which led to their encounter.  But two mistrials were declared because the prosecutor withheld evidence of Sanchez's steroid abuse.  Now John Robert Harper, who prosecuted the first trial and has since become a judge, is charged with ethics violations in the case.  The Judge Goes on Trial

Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Michigan and PanamaInternationally known dog handler Sandra Anderson dazzled police in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Michigan and Panama with the ability of her dog, Eagle, to find evidence that eluded everyone else.  Of course Eagle could find it -- Anderson planted the evidence.  Anderson has pled guilty to federal evidence tampering charges.  How Many Cases did She Taint?

JUNK SCIENCE



LIFE AFTER EXONERATION

Justin Brooks of the California Western Innocence Project, observes, "Innocent people do some of the hardest time. They never reconcile themselves to why they're in prison. They feel their lives have been taken away.  We expect them to just start functioning in the workforce. But there's a stigma to having been incarcerated."   Wrongly Convicted Walk Away with Scars


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. 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 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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