Truth in Justice Newsletter - October, 2004

RECENT CASES

Kevin Coleman of West Palm Beach, Florida, who spent 13 years in prison for a murder he said he didn't commit was freed after a judge learned investigators suppressed evidence that indicated he wasn't guilty.  Circuit Judge Lucy Chernow Brown called the murder investigation ``shameful'' and said Coleman's conviction was "a stain on the record of this court."
Lethal Injection Chamber
Citing pervasive misconduct by prosecutors, a judge has reversed convictions against David Munchinski, imprisoned for nearly 20 years in a double murder case in Fayette County, PA.  Visiting Judge Barry Feudale accused three former Fayette County prosecutors -- two of whom are now judges -- of "seeking and maintaining convictions to the detriment of the search for the truth" in the case of a grisly murder of two men in a Laurel Mountains cabin in 1977.

Click HERE to read Bill Moushey's 2002 "A Question of Innocence".

More than 17 years after Ernest Willis went to death row for setting a house fire that consumed two sleeping women, West Texas prosecutors cited new suspects Monday.  Faulty wiring perhaps. Maybe a defective ceiling fan.  Finding little to no evidence of arson, the Fort Stockton district attorney said he would file a motion today that is expected to make Willis the first inmate to walk free from Texas' death row in seven years.

Read more about Ernest's case and the other six who walked free from Texas' death row:  Death Isn't Fair

OTHER EXONERATIONS/RELEASES OF NOTE

Daron Caldwell

A crowd gathered on the steps of the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit, Michigan on October 4, 2004, cheering and waving their arms as Daron Caldwell walked out of jail and hopped into his lawyer's black Mercedes-Benz. Caldwell spent three months in the Wayne County Jail on $100-million bond, proclaiming his innocence. Police fingered him early as the suspect in the June 23 Hart Plaza fireworks shootings. But he walked out of jail Monday three hours after prosecutors dropped all charges.



INNOCENT IMPRISONED

Jane was convicted of killing Bob Dorotik, her husband of 30 years, and sentenced to 25 years to life in Chowchilla Women's Prison.  Even the judge has expressed doubts about her guilt.  Now, in her own words, Jane describes her life in prison and her continuing belief that someday she will be free.



POLICE/PROSECUTOR MISCONDUCT

Florida:  Kevin Coleman of West Palm Beach, who spent 13 years in prison for a murder he said he didn't commit was freed after a judge learned investigators suppressed evidence that indicated he wasn't guilty.  Circuit Judge Lucy Chernow Brown called the murder investigation ``shameful'' and said Coleman's conviction was "a Stain on the Record of this Court."

Texas:  Abilene Judge Robert Harper will see the judicial system from a different perspective in a disciplinary suit brought by the Commission for Lawyer Discipline.  In 2002 when he was an assistant DA, Harper allegedly withheld exculpatory evidence in a murder case.  Reckless Conduct

Massachusetts
:  The Justice Department lost a major round
in a battle to bury lawsuits against the FBI filed on behalf of four Boston men framed for a 1965 mob murder. U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner uled the government cover-up continued for decades until 2000 when a Justice Department task force uncovered secret FBI memos showing Peter J. Limone, Joseph Salvati, Louis Greco and Edward Tameleo had been wrongly convicted based on perjured testimony.  Judge OKs Suits against Crooked Feds

Click HERE for more on how FBI agents fingered witnesses for mob murders and framed innocent people to take the fall.

Ohio
: Hamilton County's (Cincinnati) tough-guy chief prosecutor Mike Allen insisted on addressing the Northern Kentucky Law Review's Innocence Symposium held in Cincinnati in February, 2003.  He said he vigorously pursues the death penalty because he believes in life, and insisted he does not make the kind of mistakes that send innocent people to Death Row.  What a surprise, then, to learn about the mistakes he was making -- forcing an assistant prosecutor to have sex with him and retaliating against her when she stopped.  Allen has been forced to drop out of the race for re-election -- he had been unopposed -- and has stepped down as Chairman of Ohio's Bush/Cheney Re-election Campaign.

August 24, 2004:  Allen admits affair with employee
August 26, 2004:  Text of lawsuit filed by Rebecca Collins
September 2, 2004:  Ohio Attorney General to investigate claims
September 5, 2004:  Accuser says Allen advised 'lie and deny'
September 14, 2004:  Disgusted by Allen, voters cheer his decision to quit

MORE ON ALLEN FROM CINCINNATI ENQUIRER


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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