Truth in Justice
Newsletter - October - November, 2005
PA men who
have served 18 years in prison for a 1987
homicide were granted unconditional freedom after the
District Attorney's Office made a rare motion in court to nullify their
convictions and drop charges against them.
The action was based on statements and polygraph examinations of a
witness who exonerated the two men, and on related evidence.
It took a courtroom minute to end 15 months of
Clyde A. Johnson 4th, a Philadelphia, PA social worker wrongly accused
of a shooting
that investigators now say could be linked to confessed serial killer
Juan Covington. Police arrested Johnson after he was picked out
of a photo lineup by
the victim. Unable to post $1 million bail, Johnson was detained at the
city's Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. When Covington confessed to three slayings,
a second look at the case against Johnson. The Bryant shooting occurred
around the corner from Covington's home. Bullets were tested and
matched a gun owned by Covington.
William Mullins-Johnson, who spent more than a third of his life in
for a rape and murder that may have never taken place, stepped into the
sunshine on September 21, 2005, freed on bail from a 12-year "hell"
decides whether he fell victim to another Canadian miscarriage of
35-year-old Mullins-Johnson, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was
convicted in 1994 of sodomizing and strangling his four-year-old niece
Valin Johnson, who was found dead in her bed on the morning of June 27,
experts, including Ontario's chief
pathologist, now say Valin was never sexually abused or strangled. They
argue she in fact died of natural causes, possibly from choking on her
own vomit caused by a chronic stomach ailment.
Rodriguez's Long Saga
George Rodriguez was
sentenced to 60 years in prison for aggravated
rape and kidnapping, based primarily on Houston Police Department Crime
[based on blood type only] identification of him. A panel of six
scientists has reviewed the evidence in Rodriguez's case and reported
the crime lab's conclusions were "scientifically unsound". Of
course, he is still in prison, too. George Rodriguez
UPDATE: George Rodriguez, exonerated by DNA, wonders "Why am I Still
UPDATE [Link]: George
UPDATE [Link]: George
Rodriguez will not be retried.
are basically four reasons Gregory Bruce Dunagan feels he is
serving a life sentence for murder in the Texas penitentiary: 1) his
criminal record from an incident when he was 18 years old, 2) a setup
by a lying jailhouse informant, 3) sloppy police work and 4) an
ineffective job by his defense attorney at trial. Yet even if the
state offered him
time served and agreed to let him out of prison, Dunagan says, "I would
tell them to
go to hell, because I'm not guilty."
In February 1990, someone visited the second-floor
apartment of Stacey
Stanton, a waitress in Manteo, and stabbed her 16 times in the
Leaving her mutilated body on her living room floor, her sweat pants,
panties and shoes strewn about, the killer went to the bathroom to
clean up. As the killer fled into the street outside Stanton's
apartment, a bloody mint-green washcloth was left behind.
Today, Clifton Eugene Spencer, who is serving a life sentence for
Stanton's murder, hopes that washcloth will help set him free. Spencer
says his lawyer, convinced that he would probably be convicted,
pressured him into going to prison for a killing he did not commit.
Shomberg, 41, is serving a 12-year prison term for a sexual assault in
a crime for which he has always professed innocence. At the heart of
is the argument that the trial judge erred in disallowing testimony
expert witness knowledgeable in the area of eyewitness
victim agreed at trial with statements that she picked
Shomberg because he was "the best of the six," even though "he
very well could have not been the guy." His fate now rests in the
hands of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
WRONGFULLY CONVICTED COPS
Ten years after his
wife's murder, Lt. Jim Barton of the Springboro,
Ohio Police Department was convicted of causing her death. The
evidence? The claims of a jailhouse snitch who said his
half-brother (who committed suicide) confessed he had killed Mrs.
Barton, juiced up later to add Barton as a conspirator, and a grainy
911 tape in which prosecutors said Barton referred to the killer --
Phelps -- when Barton asked "for help."
CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT:
With Judge Rogers' reinstatement order still under appeal by the
Warwick Police Department three years after his exoneration, Scott
Hornoff has filed a civil rights suit naming, among others, the City of
Warwick, Major Thomas Nye and retired Detective Sergeant Richard
New York: A Long Island, N.Y., judge has been arrested and charged by
federal prosecutors with participating in a money laundering and
fencing scheme with a suspected organized crime associate. According to a 71-page complaint unsealed Tuesday by the
Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney's Office, Nassau County
District Court Judge David Gross helped an undercover Federal Bureau of
Investigation agent posing as a stolen diamond trafficker unload
merchandise as well as launder about $130,000 in illicit funds. A Cut in the
FALSE ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD ABUSE
U.S. government has agreed to pay a West Virginia couple $950,000 for
failing to diagnose a baby with brittle bone disease and instead
accusing her parents of abuse. Alice and Miguel Velasquez reached
the deal with the government after presenting their case at a bench
trial in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. The agreement brings to an
end an almost six-year battle between the couple and military doctors
at Bethesda Naval Medical Center, whose reports resulted in charges of
felony child abuse against Mr. Velasquez and kept Liliana in foster
care for 18 months. Velasquez
Computer Voice Stress Analyzer, or CVSA, purportedly measures FM
radio waves produced by muscles around the larynx. Yet, independent experts have consistently
found the instrument to be
dubious, at best.
"It's complete nonsense," said Richard Leo, a professor of
psychology and criminology at the University of California-Irvine who
specializes in police interrogations. "It's junk science with a
capital J. I think these CVSA machines are dangerous, and they are
contributing to the process that elicits false
|Who Killed Sarah?
by Sheila Berry and Doug Berry
disappeared in the early morning hours of March 15, 1994
in Madison, Wisconsin, after she and Penny Brummer had been out
drinking together. The path she took led her directly to outlaw
bikers, engaged in a turf war and recruiting new members. But
when Sarah's body was found 40 days later, Brummer was the only
suspect. Witnesses with valuable information were criticized,
even humiliated. Leads that went
anywhere else were ignored, as were the classic signs of
physical evidence tied Brummer to the crime; the murder weapon was
never found. Brummer had an alibi -- she was at home 40 miles
away when Sarah was killed. She had no criminal record and no
history of violence. It was enough for the jury to convict
Brummer and send her to prison for the rest of her life. But did
she do it? Or is Penny Brummer a victim of the legal system, just as
Sarah Gonstead was a victim of a cold killer?
Click HERE for more
Projects provide representation
and/or investigative assistance to prison inmates who claim to be
of the crimes for which they were convicted. There is now at least one
innocence project serving each state. 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
of this, but should have realistic expectations regarding acceptance
time lags. Check the list for the innocence project in your area;
we update it regularly.
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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And remember, YOU can make a difference!
Sheila and Doug Berry