Volume 1 Issue 12 Table of Contents:

From the EditorTwo Editorials This Month: The DP Moratorium in The News and Changes at Justice: Denied Magazine

Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (CUADP) Seeks Innocence Cases

Innocents on Death Row Watch:

Gary Graham

Update on the Execution of Shaka Sankofa/Gary Graham including a poem written by one of his supporters and Shaka/Gary's Final Statement.
A Case of Mistaken Identity Gary Graham, now known as Shaka Sankofa, has spent 18 years on death row and is scheduled to die on June 22, 2000, for a murder he did not commit.

Bennie Demps

Bennie Demps -- Executed 6/7/00.

Anthony Aponovitch

Anthony Apanovitch Mentioned in the last issue of JD, still needs your help.

Feature Stories:

Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones is Free -- But For How Long? Jerry Jones has a new hearing set for August, 2000 for the December 1988 murder of his wife, Lee Jones. Jerry has already spent 10 years in prison. His future hangs by a thread. Will he keep his freedom and get to know his family again or will he return to prison? After publication of this story, an alternate juror contacted JD about the original Jerry Jones trial. Read his letter to us.

Martin Tankleff

Convicted of Killing His Parents Even Though He Tried to Save His Father's Life!The case against Martin Tankleff is devoid of physical evidence and is dependent on a coerced confession and a distorted interpretation of Marty's relationship with his parents. "Our family relationship was great," says Marty. "My life was a good life until someone or some people ruined it."

Earl Washington

Exonerated and Imprisoned Mentally retarded Earl Washington confessed to a murder he didn't commit. He got all the facts wrong, but the confession to Williams' murder stood. Ruth Luckasson, professor of special education and leading expert on mental retardation at the University of New Mexico, said, "Saying yes is a normal coping mechanism, a way to please and to appear smarter than you are."

Mary Sue -- Suicide or Murder? The Case of Tony Walker Her therapist made her sign a release for liability if she committed suicide. She killed herself, but Walker pays for it. Mary Sue committed suicide, but Tony Walker is behind bars for her self-destruction. Read Dr. Larkin's forensic analysis of the gun residue evidence for a small education about guns and see if you think Walker is guilty or innocent.

Nick Yarris

THE NICK YARRIS STORY: An Innocent Lost in the QuagmireThe story of Nicholas Yarris is as unique as he is, yet his story is all too familiar for a number of men and women incarcerated around the globe. Yarris' situation echoes that of many folk wrongly accused and wrongly convicted. Nicholas Yarris is an innocent man on death row in Pennsylvania and he has been caught up in the quagmire of the legal system that is American justice for 19 of his 39 years of life.

Tommy Zeigler

The Case of Florida Deathrow Inmate William Thomas Zeigler, Jr. The case of William Thomas "Tommy" Zeigler is a complex one. In 1975, at age 30, Zeigler was a successful businessman, a leader in his community and, by all appearances, a dedicated husband and son. All that was to change on Christmas Eve, when tragedy struck at the W. T. Zeigler Furniture Store.

Robert Farnsworth, Jr.Coerced, Farnsworth Confesses Theft. Exonerated After Lost Deposit Found Stuck in Bank Drop. On March 11, 1999 Robert Farnsworth Jr. deposited $2,289.20 in a bank's night drop. The bank didn't find the deposit, and a month later, Mr. Farnsworth was fired from his job as the day manager at a Wendy's restaurant. He confessed to stealing the money, and although he immediately recanted the confession as coerced by police, he was prosecuted and convicted of stealing the money. On March 8, 2000, a year after the money disappeared, a judge ruled that Mr. Farnsworth was falsely convicted and declared him innocent.

Jason Derrick

Jason Derrick -- Seeking Justice in the Name of His Son Could you raise a child from behind the bars of death row? Jason Derrick, arrested when his son was just three weeks old, continues to raise his son despite being faced with a death sentence for a murder he did not commit. Read Jason's story in his own words, which includes a medical examiner's testimony supporting Jason's innocence, a fabricated confession and a trial scarred by errors and injustice.

Updates Available:

28 Years in the Hole -- Angola 3 On March 30, 2000, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the Angola 3 -- Robert King Wilkerson, Herman Wallace, and Albert Woodfox -- who have spent the past 28 years in solitary confinement at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

Update: New Evidence Uncovered In Routier Case Two briefs also filed on young mother's behalf.

Update: Kerry Max Cook, ex-death row resident, recently wed. Father is his next role.

Update: Kim Hricko Brief filed and argued in Hricko case Outcome may be less than positive, spectator opines

Update: A.B. Butler, Jr. Governor George W. Bush pardons A. B. Butler Jr., of Tyler, Texas, who served 17 years for a crime he didn't commit.

Feature Articles:

The Death Penalty and Moratorium Articles:

Moratorium Movement gives Death Penalty Opponents A Glimmer of hope "Don't you worry about it," the Oklahoma prosecutor said to the defense attorney. "We're gonna needle your client. You know, lethal injection, the needle. We're going to needle Robert."

Amnesty International Calls US practices "cruel" and "degrading." On May 9, the worldwide, grassroots human-rights advocacy organization Amnesty International condemned what it called "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" in US prisons.

The Death Penalty: Pros and Cons The current trend is to streamline executions. Justice or state-sanctioned murder?

New Hampshire Senate Yes, Governor No: Vetoes Life

SnapShots from Volume 1 Issue 12:

Fast track to a quick, maybe unjust, death.

Clyde Charles -- "He Knew All Along He Was Innocent."

Arkansas Lawyer goes the distance for Robbie Dale Tubbs, now out of jail pending DNA tests

ReviewErin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich

Reviewed by Hans Sherrer

The DP Moratorium in The News

There was so much news around moratorium issues that we created a special place for it all this month. The debate has grown hot and heavy thanks in large part to Governor Ryan of Illinois, whose bravery in announcing a moratorium has resulted in a plus for him in the eyes of the public.

Other states are debating whether or not to impose their own moratoriums, but one (New Hampshire) lost its chance to make history when Governor Shaheen vetoed the bill the NH Senate passed to replace the death penalty with life without parole.

Only a few short years ago the death penalty was considered a closed issue. Opportunist politicians had an easy ride by scaring people and getting votes on the basis of a tough on crime stand. As the same voters saw case after case of wrongful convictions overturned paraded across their television screens, the same rhetoric no longer made sense, and opponents of the death penalty finally got a hearing.

Among the only ones to remain unmoved by the specter of innocent people being killed seem to be the Bush brothers, Jeb in Florida and George in Texas. To be fair, however, George W. has just okayed DNA testing in DP cases to "erase any doubts." That he's had no doubts so far is incredible, for there was ample evidence of innocence in several cases -- Odell Barnes, Freddie Wright, David Wayne Spence -- yet Governor Bush had no qualms about moving ahead with killing them. He has managed to persuade himself and other Texans that there have been no mistakes.

Every single business, person, organization -- in short, any group with humans at the helm -- makes mistakes. There are no exceptions. The Bush brothers, however, seem to think that the systems over which they preside are perfect. What is perfect is their willful blindness.

We call on Governors Jeb and George Bush to reconsider their stand on executions. They have allowed innocent people to be killed, and unless they take the brave step of following Governor Ryan's lead, they will go down in history as having presided over more killings than any other leaders.

The tide has decidedly turned after the many state killings throughout the 80s and 90s. We fervently hope that this nation will turn its back on the dangerous game of playing God without having the omniscience of God.

For the Justice Denied Staff,

Clara Alicia Thomas Boggs

Changes at Justice: Denied Magazine

Loyal readers of JD Magazine have noted that we are an entire month behind in getting out our "bimonthly" issue. The delay may be entirely charged to the publisher-editor, yours truly. As my obligations have mounted, my entirely too-human ability to handle them all has decreased. With this last issue of Volume 1, many changes have been made or are in the works, and we hope to launch our new collection with enough improvements to allow us to bring a better and more reliable publication.

One change took place last month. Nancy Sanders, who as our mail handler, may be reached at JusDenMail@aol.com, now also handles subscriptions and donations, but must be addressed at JDSubscribe@aol.com. Nancy is not only far better than I at handling subscriptions and donations, but is far more reliable.

Another change is newer -- Phyllis Lincoln, who has done some editing for us, as well as taking care of other details (web counter statistics, for one), will now be in charge of prisoner mail, so that all prisoner mail will now go through her for distribution to various people who make initial contacts with inmates for us. She has just finished the arduous task of organizing masses of mail from all over the United States. As many of know because I've shared it with you, the prisoner mail has been a tremendous emotional burden. Now that it's being fully addressed, the entire staff will experience a wonderful relief. Please look for the new address for prisoner mail.

Also in the works will be an autoresponder to acknowledge mail. Presently, I get too much mail to even acknowledge, and I'm sure that results in a bad image for JD. At least now people will know that we care, and will respond as soon as we can.

One sore spot with me is that we actually have no lack of volunteers, but I've lacked the time to follow up with them. This has already resulted in the loss of significant talent and energy for JD Magazine. After this issue, the staff's priority for me is to follow up and begin working with some new people who can considerably ease our need for help.

I'm not the only one at JD who needs help by a long shot. Stormy, our highly talented Webmaster, needs someone to cover for her when she's gone with her husband and children off and on throughout the summer, and because she works in addition to raising her children.

In response to these needs and others, we recruited a new person to write grants for us. She will be working with several of the JD Staff to learn grant writing, and then to apply for some. The plan is to fund some of those who spend the most time doing JD work, eventually resulting in having paid staff (although probably at first they will be paid at lower rates than they deserve).

We continue to succeed at drawing attention to the wrongly accused. We've been accomplishing the job we set out to do, but I'd like for you all to remember that it's due to our fans and supporters that we've come this far, and we would not be here without you. Please remember us in your giving and tithing. Your gift is tax-deductible, and it is literally the gift of life to countless people who would be forgotten if not for you.

Thanks to all of you who are part of JD Magazine and its mission of freeing the wrongly imprisoned. You are many, and we are making a difference.

Clara A. Thomas Boggs

{Editor's note: Justice: Denied Magazine has followed the progress of Herman Wallace's case, updating as we receive news. He was accused of killing a prison guard even though he passed several prison checkpoints, and no blood was found on him. He was in a different building at the time of the murder. You may read his story in Volume 1 Issue 1.}

Louisiana Prisoners Challenge 28 Years of Solitary Confinement

On March 30, 2000, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the Angola 3 -- Robert King Wilkerson, Herman Wallace, and Albert Woodfox -- who have spent the past 28 years in solitary confinement at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

The suit alleges that the three men are confined in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. They have been locked in small non-air-conditioned cells for 23 hours a day since 1972.

In the early 1970s, Wilkerson, Wallace, and Woodfox were involved in human rights struggles at the former-slave-plantation-turned-prison. At the time, Angola was considered the most brutal penitentiary in the United States. It was racially segregated and had an all-white staff. Selected inmates were issued rifles and allowed to serve as guards. Stabbings occurred almost daily.

Woodfox, Wallace, and Wilkerson's efforts to resist the frightful conditions at the prison led them to join the Black Panther movement. In retaliation, prison officials convicted them of trumped-up charges, sentenced them to life without parole, and placed them in permanent solitary confinement.

Woodfox and Wallace were convicted of the 1972 murder of a prison guard. Wilkerson was convicted of the 1973 murder of an inmate.

In both cases, prosecutors relied entirely on the dubious testimony of other inmates to win convictions. Recently obtained prison records now confirm that the inmate witnesses in both cases were either paid outright or coerced into giving statements. Woodfox has passed a lie detector test in which his denials of involvement in the guard killing were found to be truthful.

In Wilkerson's case, the inmate who committed the murder has confessed and testified in court that he acted alone, in self-defense. One of the inmates who testified against him has sworn in an affidavit that his testimony was prepared by an Angola warden who threatened to charge him with the murder if he refused to testify. The other inmate who testified against Wilkerson has also sworn that he perjured himself. Prison records show he was in the shower at the time of the murder, meaning he was not in a position to observe anything.

With respect to Woodfox and Wallace, prison officials themselves have testified that the two primary inmate witnesses against them were known "snitches" or liars. Prison records show that one of them, Hezekiah Brown, was paid one carton of cigarettes a week in exchange for his testimony. Shortly after he testified, Angola officials began a campaign to win a pardon for Brown, who was serving a life sentence. In 1986, Gov. Edwin Edwards, now being tried on federal corruption charges, released Brown.

The current civil rights lawsuit is filed in the wake of a December uprising at the prison in which an inmate and a guard were killed. The FBI is investigating allegations that Angola guards administered severe beatings to dozens of inmates in the days following the incident, which involved only a handful of prisoners.

Not only are the Angola Three kept in inhumanely hot cells, but are only allowed out an hour a day to shower and walk around the tier. Outside exercise is limited to 3 hours a week. Attorney Shapiro said "This basically is the same thing as being on death row."

A lockdown board reviews each inmate's status every 90 days for possible release to a less restricted area. But the lawsuit claims the board is a sham. Shapiro said the board meets at the end of the tier and continues lockdown for inmates without any meaningful review. One inmate told Shapiro that the board has sometimes already reviewed his case before he's made it to the end of the tier.

Angola Warden Burl Cain said the allegations raised in the lawsuit are meritless, and said they are ready to go to court. Cain justifies the inmates' extended lockdown by saying they have been deemed security risks, denying that they are there as an added punishment.

Minimizing the claims made for the Angola Three, Cain said the inmates have books to read and a television set, and said that although they are not free to go to the prison library, the library "comes to them."

Cain said it is not unusual for an inmate to remain in extended lockdown for decades, revealing his callous attitude toward the kind of deprivation that has resulted in insanity for some prisoners.

Cain, who was contacted by news reporters, said he couldn't immediately find out what Wilkerson's crime was, perhaps revealing how out of touch he is with the prison under his care.

For more information on the ACLU lawsuit, contact attorney Al Shapiro at (225) 928-4193.

For more information on the background of the case, contact Scott Fleming, Angola 3 Support Committee, at (510) 595-8264, email: scott@prisonactivist.org, web site: www.prisonactivist.org/angola.

Kerry Max Cook, ex-death row resident, recently wed. Father is his next role.

Kerry Max Cook, whose innocence was proved by DNA, but who plea bargained with Texas out of fear of returning to death row, will now lead the life of a married man. Cook says he finally is moving on to build a new life with his wife, Sandra Kaye Pressey, an environmental consultant. Mr. and Mrs. Cook married in Plano, Texas in March, but only recently had the wedding reception at the Midlothian home of one of Mr. Cook's closest friends.

Mr. Cook described his wife as his best friend. Mrs. Cook is 14 weeks pregnant, and Kerry Cook said fatherhood will enable him to put death row behind.

Mr. Kerry Cook was tried three times and convicted and sentenced to death twice. He spent 22 years in prison, 13 of them on death row. He once came within 11 days of execution.

Mr. Cook said words full of hope about his marriage, such as "It's a new beginning," and "What it signifies is actually the creation of a new life and putting the old life behind me."

Mr. Cook met his wife at a death row conference at Southern Methodist University soon after being released in 1997. He now manages a store and works as a paralegal in the Dallas area, attends a local community college and plans to enroll at Southern Methodist University.

Mr. Cook was convicted of the murder of Linda Jo Edwards, who was found in her apartment on June 10, 1977, beaten on the head with a plaster statue, stabbed in the throat, chest and back and sexually mutilated. Mr. Cook was arrested 2 months later where he worked as a bartender in Port Arthur. Officers said they found Mr. Cook's fingerprint on Ms. Edwards' apartment door.

At first he denied knowing Ms. Edwards but later said they met at the apartment complex's swimming pool and he went to her apartment.

His original conviction resulting in a death sentence was overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct. A 1992 retrial ended in a hung jury. He was again convicted and sentenced to death in 1994. That verdict was overturned in 1996.

Before a 4th trial last year, Mr. Cook pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of murder. He was sentenced to 20 years time served. Mr. Cook took the deal so he could avoid a possible return to death row without requiring him to concede guilt.

Our warmest congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Cook as they put the past behind them.

Source: Dallas Morning News

New Evidence Uncovered In Routier Case
Two briefs also filed on young mother's behalf

By John McLemore

Edited by Kira Caywood

New evidence released in the Darlie Routier case will certainly rock the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. Mrs. Routier has been on death row since 1997, after being convicted of stabbing one of her children to death. An investigator, funded by Waco, Texas millionaire Brian Pardo and hired by attorney Steve Losch, has uncovered some very disturbing information about the trace evidence expert used by the State to convict Routier.

Findings indicate that trace evidence expert Charles Linch spent time in a psychiatric unit for alcoholism and depression before the Routier trial. The evidence also indicates that Linch has questioned his own abilities as a trace evidence expert. The Dallas Morning News released the first of two stories on May 7, 2000. Routier supporters knew of the revelation for several months, but kept it under wraps.

Although Linch was not in the psychiatric unit during the Routier trial, there is evidence that he was in Doctors Hospital North Psychiatric Unit in Dallas in February 1994. Evidence also indicates he was taken out of the unit, and then returned on at least two occasions after testifying as an expert at capital murder trials.

Further damaging Linch's credibility are a series of memos attached to a job grievance he filed. In the memos, Linch questions his qualifications in hair and fiber analysis, as well as in blood spatter interpretation. He testified against Routier in all three areas.

Linch is responsible for the only physical evidence linking Routier to the murder of her two sons. He testified that fibers found on a knife inside the Routier home were consistent with fibers from a screen that was cut. At her trial, Routier's attorney argued that an intruder killed young Devon and Damon Routier after entering the house through the window where the screen had been cut. Using Linch's evidence, prosecutors told jurors that there was no intruder -- they said the screen was cut from the inside, with the knife from the Routier kitchen.

Linch has already made at least one critical mistake on the Routier case. At a pre-trial bond hearing, Linch misidentified a piece of hair found on the screen as being that of Mrs. Routier. It was later discovered that the hair actually belonged to a female police officer who collected evidence at the scene. Linch's testimony on the hair was critical in Routier being denied bond.

New Briefs Filed

Attorneys for Mrs. Routier have filed two new briefs on her behalf. The first brief requests an evidentiary hearing to resolve factual disputes about the trial transcript. Texas law stipulates that a defendant is entitled to a new trial if four conditions are satisfied -- 1) the defendant requested a reporter's record; 2) a significant portion of the court reporter's notes and records are lost due to no fault of the appellant; 3) the lost or destroyed part of the record is necessary to the appeal; and 4) the parties cannot agree on a complete reporter's record.

All four of these stipulations appear to have been met in the Routier case. The gross incompetence and untruthfulness of court reporter Sandra Hallsey has been widely publicized. Some 33,000 errors were found in her transcript, which has yet to be completed --an apparently impossible task.

The second brief objects to the proposed new reporter's record. The first point raised is, "A significant part of the reporter's record necessary to the appeal was lost or destroyed, because the record of a hearing that was conducted to determine whether trial counsel Douglas Mulder had a conflict of interest is missing."

In September 1996, Mulder represented Darlie's husband, Darin, and her mother, Darlie Kee, at a hearing to show cause why they should not be held in contempt for violating a gag order. The court would later dismiss Darlie's court appointed attorneys and name Mulder as her counsel. Steven Losch, Darlie's Writ attorney, argues that Darlie was not properly informed of the potential conflict that appointing Mulder would create. Her court appointed attorneys were planning to use Darin as a more plausible suspect in her defense. Mulder, having represented Darin, could not use him as part of Darlie's defense.

Many people who have followed this case see this as a critical point that led to Darlie's conviction. "Her first attorneys did the most research on this case," says Brian Pardo, the Waco millionaire who is funding Darlie's appeal. "They saw that most of the evidence in the case pointed at Darin, and they knew that presenting that evidence was their best chance at leaving a reasonable doubt in the mind of the jurors. It was a very emotional trial. The State attacked Darlie's character and the defense was unable to provide another plausible explanation as to how or why the crime occurred. This just shows that the old adage 'innocent until proven guilty' isn't always the case," says Pardo.

Brief filed and argued in Hricko case
Outcome may be less than positive, spectator opines

By John McLemore
Edited by Kira Caywood

Attorneys for Kim Hricko argued on May 5, 2000 before the Court of Special Appeals in Maryland, asking that their client's life sentence be overturned and a new trial granted. But a spectator said the hearing did not go very well for Hricko.

"Personally, I did not like the judges' body language and attitude. There were three. One was an older man who never said a word. Another put his chin on his hand, smiled and looked at the ceiling. I wanted to wipe that smirk off his face. They also made several jokes about Monty Python," said Cathy Rosenberger, a Hricko supporter.

Under the first point of the argument, Hricko's attorney, Christopher Griffiths, claimed that there was insufficient evidence to prove homicide beyond a reasonable doubt because the State was unable to prove the cause of death. Prosecutors alleged that Hricko killed her husband by injecting him with a lethal dose of the drug succinylcholine -- a drug commonly found in operating rooms -- before setting fire to the motel room where they were staying. FBI laboratory tests run on the victim's blood and urine samples did not detect the drug.

The second point in the brief alleges that the trial court erred in allowing the medical examiner to testify that the cause of death was probable poisoning. Without a specific cause of death, Griffiths argues, the medical examiner should not have been allowed to speculate on a possibility. He notes that defense attorneys attempted to suppress the testimony of Dr. Fowler -- the medical examiner -- through a motion in limine. However, the judge disregarded Wallach v. Board of Education, a 1994 Maryland ruling that states, "Before an expert can offer opinion testimony, the testimony must be predicated in fact." Fowler had completed an autopsy and was unable to assess a cause of death, so his testimony was purely conjecture.

The third and final point of the Hricko brief asks whether there was sufficient evidence to convict the appellant of arson when the State was unable to present evidence that "the fire was incendiary in nature." Prosecutors alleged that Hricko set the room on fire after she poisoned her husband, but testing by State Police did not detect any accelerants. "The State's evidence was insufficient to overcome the presumption that the fire in this matter was accidental," Griffiths argues.

Despite the strong points brought out in the brief, Rosenberger says the judges seemed to have made up their minds before hearing the argument. "Basically, they said Kim is brilliant. She committed this crime without a trace of evidence. No poison. No needle marks. It truly is ridiculous," said Rosenberger.

Update: A.B. Butler, Jr.

Governor George W. Bush pardons A. B. Butler Jr., of Tyler, Texas, who served 17 years for a crime he didn't commit.

A. B. Butler, Jr. had been serving a 99-year sentence on a 1983 rape and kidnapping conviction. DNA testing cleared him of the crime for which Gov. George W. Bush pardoned him.

A. B. Butler Jr. had been freed on bond since January 7 by the trial court judge pending the outcome of his pardon request.

Butler, 45, spent about 10 years trying to persuade judges and other officials to allow DNA testing in his case. The Governor decided to grant the pardon after the prosecution, defense attorneys, trial court judge and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reviewed the new DNA test results. They all concluded that the test results constituted new, valid evidence of Mr. Butler's innocence when reviewed in context with other evidence in the case. Butler had been serving concurrent 99-year sentences for the abduction and rape of a Tyler woman in 1983.

Butler's request for DNA testing was not granted until he finally hired Randy Schaffer, a Houston attorney who got authorities to use the test. The results caused the DA's office to question Butler's possible innocence.

This pardon was the 15th for Bush while he's been governor of Texas, and his third clemency approval based on DNA evidence.

The justice system of Texas is now being criticized for another case in which DNA testing is at issue -- that of Ricky Nolen McGinn, scheduled to be executed for the 1993 rape and killing of his 12-year-old stepdaughter, Stephanie Rae Flanary. The Texas Court has so far denied a request for more DNA testing in this case, but Bush, campaigning in Albuquerque, N.M., told reporters he's "inclined to" give McGinn a 30-day reprieve as his lawyers push for renewed DNA testing of crime scene evidence.

In Butler's case, the only evidence linking him to the rape was the victim's testimony. There were no footprints or usable fingerprints, even though the victim testified her attacker tried for several minutes to push her car out of the muddy field where he raped her.

There is seldom a reason to congratulate Governor George Bush for doing the right thing. This is one of those rare times. Let's hope for some repeats.

Coerced, Farnsworth Confesses Theft. Exonerated After Lost Deposit Found Stuck in Bank Drop.

By Hans Sherrer

Edited by Kira Caywood

On March 11, 1999, Robert Farnsworth Jr., a 29-year-old day manager of a Wendy's in Jackson, Michigan, deposited two bags of checks and cash in the night drop of the restaurant's bank. The next day, the bank found only one of the bags in the night drop. The missing deposit bag contained $2,289.20.

When questioned about the missing money, Farnsworth insisted he deposited both bags in the night drop, and said that if the bank found only one bag, then the other bag was still in the machine. Even though Farnsworth was a ten-year employee with an impeccable record, his boss at Wendy's didn't believe his claim and fired him a month after the money disappeared.

Later, while being questioned by the state police, Farnsworth confessed to stealing the money. However, he immediately recanted the confession. He claimed it wasn't true, and that the police had badgered him into falsely confessing.

Farnsworth's claim of innocence was ignored, and he was criminally charged with the theft of the missing money. In July 1999, a jury convicted Farnsworth, relying partly on his recanted confession and partly on bank employees who testified it was "absolutely impossible" for a deposit put into the night drop to be lost. Farnsworth was sentenced to a six-month suspended jail term with three years of probation, and was ordered to repay the missing money.

Although Farnsworth's claim of innocence fell on deaf ears, the owner of a local car wash who used the same night drop knew who to call when a deposit he made in February 2000 could not be found. The car wash owner knew the bank's president, and on February 28, the night drop was opened and inspected. Three deposit bags were found -- the car wash's, the missing deposit Farnsworth had made, and a deposit by Rite Aid that hadn't been reported missing.

On March 8, Circuit Judge Charles Nelson, who presided over Farnsworth's trial and sentenced him eight months earlier, ordered that his conviction be set aside, that his police photos, fingerprints, and police file be destroyed, and the restitution and fine he paid be returned. The judge said at the hearing, "It is obvious you didn't do it." The public recognition that he was innocent was hollow consolation for Farnsworth, who had to declare bankruptcy after going broke paying his legal fees and court ordered payments after being falsely convicted.

Farnsworth is married with two daughters. Since being fired from Wendy's, he works at a factory and struggles to make ends meet, because he is making much less than he did as the restaurant's day manager.

Talking about his ordeal, Farnsworth said, "I told them and I told them that the deposit bag had to be in that bank, and they did not believe me. Their attitude was that I was guilty and they were going to get me. Everybody turned their backs on me. Everybody believed I took the money."

Jackson County Chief Assistant Prosecutor David Lady defended his prosecution of Farnsworth by telling reporters it was based on the evidence that was available. This evidence consisted of Farnsworth's recanted confession and the testimony of bank employees that it was "absolutely impossible" for a deposit to be trapped inside the bank's night deposit.

The most remarkable and disturbing aspect of Farnsworth's wrongful conviction is the incontrovertible proof that his confession was false. There is no question that Farnsworth didn't steal the money and was telling the truth. Yet, he confessed to stealing the money after being subjected to questioning techniques routinely used by every law enforcement agency in this country. Referring to her husband's confession after his exoneration, his wife said, "It was their words, not his. They had pressured him into a confession."

The ease with which Farnsworth was induced to falsely confess is not only an indication of how susceptible to coercion people can be, but is also a real world confirmation of how hollow and ineffective a Miranda warning is to protect the innocent from falsely confessing. An expanding body of research shows this is partly because, with the tacit consent of the Courts, police in the United States are openly flaunting the spirit of the Miranda decision by continuing to question suspects after they assert their right to remain silent and request the presence of a lawyer.

In 1990, the Canadian Supreme Court tried to rectify some of Miranda's shortcomings that contribute to false confessions by adopting the Brydges rule (R. vs. Brydges). Under Brydges, the police must immediately provide a suspect with a list of legal aid or lawyers on call 24 hours a day, as well as access to a telephone so they can consult with a lawyer. If, after talking with the lawyer, the suspect asserts his or her right to remain silent or to personally talk with a lawyer, then the police cannot question the person. This is a sensible rule that has proven workable in Canada. Furthermore, it respects the enormous and confusing pressures exerted on the suspect's psyche, which can cloud the ability to make sound decisions about something as important as waiving fundamental rights like remaining silent and consulting a lawyer before talking with the police.

The potent power of standard police questioning techniques to elicit a false confession from an innocent person has rarely been made so evident as in Robert Farnsworth's case. Mr. Farnsworth is an ordinary "Joe" like people we meet every day. In the blink of an eye, he found himself in the extraordinary situation of being treated like a criminal. When confronted by police interrogators, he mentally folded like a house of cards and told them what they wanted to hear.

Robert Farnsworth's case shows that innocent people, perhaps even more than guilty people, are susceptible to police interrogation techniques designed to create a psychological environment conducive to extracting confessions.

The susceptibility of an innocent person such as Robert Farnsworth to making a false confession is even statistically predictable. Professor Richard Ofshe, one of the world's leading experts on false confessions, estimates that 60% of adults randomly selected from the population can be expected to falsely confess to *murder* if subjected to the psychological pressure of normal police questioning techniques. His estimate is conservative when compared to the 70% of American POWs held in China during the Korean War who were induced by psychological techniques to falsely confess to war crimes or otherwise collaborate with the Chinese. The general percentage of between 60% and 70% of "normal" people susceptible to falsely confessing is further supported by Professor Stanley Milgram's experiments at Yale University in the 1960s that demonstrated 67% of Americans are inordinately obedient to authority. It can be considered an act of obedience when someone obeys police inquisitors and falsely confesses to a crime.

Robert Farnsworth's case is a somber warning that innocence is no bar to being browbeaten into falsely confessing to a crime[,] even in the absence of being physically harmed. One can only hope someday courts will recognize how prevalent false confessions are, and that an important step in eliminating them is forcing the police to abandon the use of psychological techniques that provide no way of determining whether a confessor is guilty or innocent.


"Conviction of restaurant manager overturned after stolen money found in bank vault," (staff), Detroit Free Press, March 10, 2000.

"Bank Finds Lost Cash Stuck in Vault: Ex-Wendy's Manager Convicted of Stealing is Vindicated," (staff), Detroit Free Press, March 13, 2000.

"Convicting the Innocent: The Story of a Murder, a False Confession, and the Struggle to Free a "Wrong Man," edited by Donald S. Connery, Brookline Books, Cambridge, MA, 1996, esp. pp. 97-99, 188.

"The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control," John Marks, Times Books, NY, 1979, esp. Chapter 8: Brainwashing, pp. 125-146.

"R. vs. Brydges: The Inadequacy of Miranda and a Proposal To Adopt Canada's Rule Calling For The Right To Immediate Free Counsel," Grace F. Ashikawa, Southwestern Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas, Vol. III, No. 1, 1996, p. 245.

R. v. Brydges, 1 S.C.R. 190 (1990)

"Whither Miranda: Is the Supreme Court's review of the case moot," David Cole, American Lawyer Media, March 20, 2000, http://www.lawnewsnetwork.com/opencourt/stories/A19043- 2000Mar19.html.

"Obedience To Authority," Stanley Milgram, Harper & Row, NY, 1975.

Grease the Skids

By Frank McEvoy, Justice Denied Staff

Florida and California try to speed up the death chamber assembly line.

What's a state to do? Lots of litigious convicted murderers, all costing the state thousands of tax dollars, each one searching for better lawyers for countless appeals, clogging the state courts. A cacophony of cries of innocence from lots of the convicts, to boot. Well, Florida and California have found an answer: speed up the process!


In Tallahassee, attorneys for 59 death row inmates have formally requested that the law Governor Jeb Bush signed be struck down by the Florida Supreme Court. This law will speed up their road to the death chamber. The state-funded agency that represents death row inmates brought the suit, asking the Supreme Court to stop the law until the justices decide if it is constitutional or not.

Ironically, the Legislature approved the Death Penalty Reform (the term is here used loosely) Act of 2000 on January 7 during a three-day special session that also permitted lethal injection as an alternate execution method. Until Governor Bush signed this bill, Florida was one of the last four states to use the electric chair (a.k.a. "Old Sparky") as its only execution method.

But this death streamlining was, as one would imagine, the most argumentative part of the bill, a part that Governor Bush smiled upon. Presently, it takes a man 14 years to get to the death chamber; the new law promises to slash that period to five.

Those arguing against the bill contend that cutting back the appeals process is unconstitutional, denying the death row prisoners due process. It also is read to be unjust to prisoners using Public Defenders (a sizable number), since the law lets Florida stop paying those lawyers spending too much time on appeals, something that can have a chilling effect on private attorneys of death row clients. Third, the plaintiffs say that law lets the state map deadlines for judges to follow through the appeals process, something the Supreme Court should establish.

In its zest to reform the system, the lawsuits says that the "Legislature has abdicated its constitutional responsibilities."

There is bizarre patina to all this. According to Todd Scher, litigation director for the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel office for South Florida, the Legislature sloughed off warnings from its own staff, judges, and defense attorneys that much of the law was unconstitutional. Scher stated, "I know [the high court] will look at this more seriously than the Legislature did when it passed the law."

However, the counterpoint was given by Marty Moore, the Attorney General's chief aide. He noted that many objections to parts of the bill were worked out in debate. He noted the suit was "typical whining by CCRC lawyers." (One could say Mr. Moore's view was typical insensitivity by right-wing rich guys.) According to Mr. Moore, the state will hold the suit should have been filed in circuit court, where both sides could interview witnesses and present testimony to a judge. As it now stands, attorneys will present legal arguments to the seven Supreme Court justices.

Florida has a February 8 deadline to respond to the complaint. Everyone should be interested in the outcome, most of all the 366 prisoners on Florida's death row.


A Federal Appeals Court in San Francisco refused for the second time to put appeals on a "fast track." Among other items, this would have given prisoners a six-month limit on making appeals. Appellate judges would have been required to make such cases their first priority, and they would have six months to issue their rulings.

California is trying to implement a 1996 federal law that allowed states to speed up appeals in capital cases, though with the caveat that the state establish binding standards for the appointment, competency, and reasonable payment of lawyers for the condemned after their initial appeals. These second level appeals, the famous writs of habeas corpus (usually the best chances the condemned have to reverse their convictions), usually assert that the condemned's attorney was incompetent. No state has yet qualified for this federal criterion. According to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, California didn't demonstrate that it had any binding standards for its court-appointed defense attorneys.

Prisoners on California's death row now can languish for up to four years before getting a lawyer. Because of this, a California law took effect in January 1998 that increased money for capital case attorneys, opened a new office to train these lawyers, and tightened competency standards.

The court, however, failed to say if this 1998 law would qualify the state for the fast track it sought. Nor is it probable that it will say anything in the near future; cases governed by the new provisions are still inching their way toward federal courts. Defense attorney Michael Laurence, who represents a Sacramento man who became the test case for this law, seems to feel this decision will end the question: "Hopefully, this decision will end the needless litigation over this question."

Clyde Charles -- "He Knew All Along He Was Innocent."

By Kay Ryder-Echols, JD Staff

"The State of Louisiana didn't send Clyde Charles to Prison. His brother sent him there and I think they're trying to make a mockery of the criminal justice system. That's the bottom line," said Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter.

Sheriff Larpenter was the lead investigator of the rape of a 26-year-old woman whose car had a flat tire on the side of a road in 1981. Brothers Clyde and Marlo Charles had been out drinking together at a bar on the same road that night and had gone their separate ways by hitchhiking when the young woman was raped. Although Clyde and Marlo were dressed similarly that night and there was a strong resemblance between the two brothers, the victim identified Clyde Charles as her attacker. Clyde was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

At the trial, Marlo took the stand in defense of his brother, but was not asked if he committed the rape by either defense or prosecution. Clyde's defense attorney, Cleo Fields of Baton Rouge, filed an affidavit during the 1982 trial stating that he believed Marlo to be the rapist. Clyde began requesting DNA testing in the early 1990's but prosecutors allegedly blocked these requests for years. Clyde Charles finally won his freedom after 19 years in the Louisiana State Prison at Angola on December 17, 1999, one month after DNA testing proved his innocence.

His case had caught the attention of the Innocence Project at Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law, New York. Barry Scheck, famed O.J. Simpson defense attorney, and Peter Neufeld head the Innocence Project and have helped free over 35 wrongly convicted people in the United States since 1992. PBS showcased Clyde Charles in its Frontline television program that aired in January.

Marlo Charles was arrested Friday in Hampton, VA after his DNA matched genetic evidence from semen collected from the rape 19 years earlier. Marlo's DNA has been in Virginia's databank since a 1992 maiming conviction. He is charged with aggravated rape and is being held on $1 million bond pending extradition to Louisiana.

Defense attorney Fields maintains that Larpenter helped send an innocent man to prison for 19 years and should be embarrassed. He has stated that he may file a defamation of character lawsuit against the sheriff for accusing one brother of covering for the other. He has already filed a federal lawsuit on Clyde's behalf against prosecutors for allegedly blocking his requests for testing these past years.

Sheriff Larpenter says he feels good for both the victim and the public, now that the truth is known. He accuses the brothers of trying to fool the judicial system. "They were playing a mockery, in my opinion, with the court system."

Clyde Charles has no comment, according to his attorney, "he knew all along he was innocent and all he wanted was evidence that he got." Nineteen years later.

Source: Richard Zitrin, APBnews.com

Arkansas Lawyer goes the distance for Robbie Dale Tubbs, now out of jail pending DNA tests

By Alana Merritt Mahaffey

Tubbs misses trial by a hair

Fletcher Long thought he had the case solved and he was prepared to prosecute Robbie Dale Tubbs, 39, for the murder of 9-year-old Christina Pipkin. The entire case against Tubbs hinged on one strand of hair that belonged to Pipkin, allegedly found in Tubbs' truck, and which would have connected Tubbs to her murder.

DNA testing reportedly showed that one strand did, indeed, belong to Pipkin, who was found drowned in a ditch in Jackson County, AR, in 1991. That hair would have been used to convict and imprison Tubbs were it not for the scrutiny of Tubbs' attorney, Martin Lilly. In the second day of testimony this week, both the prosecutor and the judge had been swayed by Lilly's allegations that the strand of hair had been mishandled and possibly mislabeled in careless preparation of evidence against Tubbs. Apparently, the hair was first misidentified when evidence was transported from the state Crime Lab in Little Rock, AR, to a private testing facility located in Metarie, LA, then to an FBI lab in Virginia.

The prosecutor in the Tubbs case admitted Wednesday that the two hairs taken from Christina at her autopsy had accidentally been compared to each other, not with any hair taken from Tubbs' vehicle. The actual hair found in his vehicle was never tested and was relocated in a sealed package at the crime lab late Wednesday.

"The hair's that important. If it comes back with a DNA match, he's guilty," Long said. "Without the hair, you have a reasonable doubt and you can't convict."

Tubbs, the father of five children, lost twenty pounds while he sat in jail for six months awaiting trial. He was released on $100,000 bond on Wednesday and the judge has issued a two-month continuance in the trial, allowing prosecutors time to study the case further and order additional DNA tests. Tubbs believes the new DNA testing will exonerate him.

Sources: Arkansas news stories and television reports, compiled by our Arkansas Correspondent, Alana Merritt Mahaffey.

Rodney Woidtke: Almost Free at Last

By David C.N. Swanson

Rodney Woidtke, 39, has spent nearly 12 years in prison for a murder that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says "almost no one familiar with his case now believes he committed." He may be freed as early as May 18, depending on what action St. Clair County, Ill., state's attorney Robert Haida takes.

Woidtke was a mentally ill drifter from California who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time: the grounds of a high school on June 26, 1988, the day [that] the body of Audrey Cardenas, a young reporter intern at the Belleville News-Democrat, was discovered there.

Illinois State Police investigators arrested Woidtke and questioned him for three days, producing three confessions, none of which was consistent with the evidence in the case. On the basis of those confessions, then-state's attorney John Baricevic charged Woidtke with first-degree murder. Brian Trentman, a lawyer with one year's experience, was appointed to defend him.

Trentman waived Woidtke's right to a jury trial and pleaded his case before Judge Richard Aguirre. In cross-examining Investigator D. Wayne Heil, Trentman never asked if he thought the evidence showed Woidtke to be guilty. Heil has said that he would have answered no. Aguirre took only a few minutes to arrive at a guilty verdict.

Woidtke did not know his lawyer was also representing Dale Anderson, another suspect in the same crime. A few weeks later, Anderson murdered a pregnant woman and her 3-year-old son.

Heil quit his state police job to help prove Woidtke's innocence. Heil got a confession from Anderson, but Trentman refused to call a hearing on Woidtke's appeal.

Aguirre finally reviewed his case last year, refused to acknowledge the new evidence and upheld his original verdict.

The Illinois 5th District Court of Appeals recently overturned Woidtke's conviction and ordered a new trial, ruling that Trentman had had a conflict of interest and that there was evidence that Anderson committed the crime. The Court ruled against Aguirre's decision not to examine new evidence and described the behavior of Belleville's 20th Judicial Circuit Court as "unconscionable."

The Court of Appeals noted that a clinical psychologist who testified for the prosecution has said he believes Woidtke was a paranoid schizophrenic and homophobe who believed he had to confess to prove he was not gay.

The judges also cited evidence that Anderson had been stalking News-Democrat reporters, had killed again solely to frame his former bosses with the Cardenas murder and had been claiming to investigate that murder.

Haida, the prosecutor, has three choices. He can appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, which could delay Woidtke's release a year. He can grant a new trial, at which Heil says he will testify for the defense. Or he can set Woidtke free at last.

Source: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch