Justice: Denied -- The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted




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Innocents Death Row Watch



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Issue # 3- Originally published 4/8/99

Part Two Hans Sherrers' Book (Part one was published in Issue 2)
Paul William Scott
Keith Doolin
Kevin Cooper
Joy Wosu
Carol Stanton
The Sweet Air of Freedom by Charles Sparks
Michelle Fox- Hero At The Bar
Anthony Porter Update

From the Editor
Our Personal Responsibility: Anger and Righting Wrongs

International and national tensions are high as one event after another hits the news. Kosovo is bombed just as Iraq was bombed months earlier. Nervousness about the impending Y2K crises escalates. Closer to home, Amadou Diallo is wrongly shot down in a rain of police bullets. Our prisons bulge with over 1.9 million people, most of them non-violent. We live in the times we have created. Injustice is rampant and mercy is scarce, yet only our efforts to keep virtue alive holds hope for any of us. In the Diallo tragedy, citizens took a stand against injustice in one of the largest civil disobedience campaigns of recent years, with arrests topping the thousand mark. People are seeing for themselves that neither police brutality nor imprisonment of the innocent are rare events, but are almost a common part of being an American. Our anger grows. As has been said of another era, we live in "the best of times and the worst of times."

Our troubles were not born ex-nihilio (out of nothing), but are part of the whole fabric which is us, whether we caused it, perpetrate or tolerate it. The single realization that we are a part of any wrong we may suffer could do much to dispel our sense of self-pity when we face injustice in our own lives. Once we do that, we can begin to understand that we must be part of the solution in bringing justice to every part of our lives and that of others.

Among the many national and international tensions and fears, the concern of Justice Denied zeroes in on injustice, for just as the homeless, the poor or victims of racism symbolize what is wrong for some Americans, for us, the innocent imprisoned are a distressing indicator of all that is wrong with our "justice" system.

The "worst" of our era is that we see injustice done by Americans to Americans (and others) in unprecedented numbers. We have seemingly become callous people, but fortunately that is only part of the picture. The "best" of our times is that an authentic movement is emerging from the shapeless suffering of thousands no longer willing to share in the debasement of their fellow humans. As in all movements, leaders are emerging to guide the angers of the restless to positive ends.

Defending the Indefensible

When the system's elite close ranks and protect their own in response to outrage over injustices, anger grows. Where can we find justice if our own systems and people deny it? We don't trust our criminal justice system with great reason. Among many other wrongs, it has killed innocent people, imprisons the non-violent and has mocked the very concept of justice. We want our criminal justice system to serve us with honor and honesty. We want to see chiefs of police, prosecutors and others who have participated in or allowed wrongs to be called to account. Most of all, we want them to honor justice over the hollow victories of convictions gotten at all costs. (One DA is reputed to have worn a T-Shirt saying, "Convicting the guilty is not the challenge, convicting the innocent is.") We must oppose these evils with everything we have, for each person reading this could very well be the next target.

Do any of us believe that just because we ask the system to act with honor that it will? Unlikely. Fortunately, we still are not completely dependent on the good will of a system unwilling to reform itself. We can litigate. Whether or not an innocent person wins redress from the courts, it is crucial that lawsuits be pressed. The message will survive intact: we are battering down the gates of the elites' immunity.

What positive ends could there be to restless anger? If not channeled, anger will increase grief, but if it is righteous and enlightened by constructive plans to create more justice for everyone, it can fuel social changes. Those who avert their eyes from wrongs to others partake in those wrongs. If, however, we have "enlightened selfishness," we will understand that to free others from wrongs is to guarantee mercy and justice for ourselves. Any injustice diminishes us all. We call to you to change your corner of the world by speaking out, by taking a stand, or by supporting those who are making a difference. You and I have a personal, individual obligation to do what is right. We cannot wash our hands of injustice to others and count ourselves moral or just. Vote your conscience with your time and money. This very day an innocent person needs you to help him or her to freedom. There is a Movement against injustice. Be counted. Stand with us against ALL injustice.

Clara A. Thomas Boggs
Chief Editor and Producer of Justice Denied
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Hans Sherrer Part Two

This is the second installment of the introduction and preview of the book, "The Innocents: the prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment of the innocent," by author Hans Sherrer. In part one, we read about the enormity of the problem of the wrongly convicted and how easy it can be for a person to haplessly find himself in prison and even on death row for a crime he did not commit. There are no easy solutions, or rather, there are easy solutions but the authorities who are imprisoning America are, so far, not making it easy to resolve these shameful abuses of power. In this second part, Sherrer offers his ideas for resolving the growing problem of innocent people in prison.

We will notify our readers when "The Innocents" is available to buy. Contact Author Hans Sherrer at ipse@teleport.com

The Innocents: the prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment of the innocent

by Hans Sherrer

Introduction (Part Two) You may read Part One of the introduction in Issue 2

Not only is guilt not a necessary requirement for being thrown into the midst of the foreign and frightening world of the criminal legal process in this country, but once ensconced inside of it your fate has little to do with anything you can do to help yourself.  You are on the home turf of those who control the system, and your destiny is in the hands of those who have the power to charge you, prosecute you, preside over your trial and, if convicted, sentence you.  It is childish naiveté to think that a lack of guilt is sufficient to stop the speeding train of the criminal justice system so that you can get off before such a fate befalls you. Many tens of thousands of Americans are given the opportunity to learn this hard truth from first-hand experience every year.

Seeking an understanding of the forces involved in the immersing of men and women who aren't guilty into the depths of the criminal justice system is a bit like embarking on a journey into sketchily charted waters.  This is partly because the problem is studiously ignored by those most personally responsible for its occurrence.  This blind eye prevails among judicial officials, prosecutors, politicians and the police.   It can probably be safely said that they don't want to know how serious a problem it is because that might compel them to take remedial action.

However, a collective blind eye by those within the criminal justice establishment doesn't change the fact that there are several dozen documented cases in this century of the most extreme injustice  imaginable occurring -- the execution of an innocent man. Aversion to such injustices has resulted in only a couple of known instances of a public official having the courage to recognize that the justice system had made an irrevocable mistake. One was in 1893 when Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld pardoned the three imprisoned men known as the Haymarket Square Anarchists.  He did so on the grounds that no evidence of their guilt had been presented at their trial, which was conducted in a carnival-like atmosphere of hysteria. [12] It was too late, however, for him to save their four innocent fellow defendants who had been executed by strangulation prior to his election as governor. [13]

The official invisibility of the problem of prosecuting and imprisoning men and women who aren't guilty, particularly when it results in their execution, is a consequence of a widespread fear of those involved in the process of creating the appearance that such injustices occur.  This head-in-the-sand attitude was perhaps best expressed by federal judge Learned Hand when he wrote, "Our procedure has always been haunted by the ghost of the innocent man convicted.  It is an unreal dream." [14]  To publicly admit otherwise, would raise the specter that if the system can err once, then it can err a hundred or a thousand or a million times. This is exactly what it does.  Drawing attention to the inherent fallibility of the justice system could strike a hypersensitive nerve in enough people to mandate a review of the entire manner in which it functions, and has institutionalized the commission of such egregious errors.

The same tunnel vision that permits the execution of men and women who aren't guilty is less sensationally evident, but nevertheless is at work in the day-to-day operations of the law enforcement system. The smugness we feel because of our technological proficiency doesn't prevent this from being as true today as it was in the 19th century.  The enormous number of men and women enmeshed at some level of the criminal justice system every year who aren't guilty of what, at a minimum, they are suspected of doing emphasizes the importance of considering the ways and means that such injustices continue to occur daily. These methods are not mysterious and unknowable.  They are a combination of systemic defects, psychological factors, and social and cultural biases that are built into the system.  And they make the production of large numbers of wrongful convictions in the United States as certain as the rotation of the earth around the Sun.

In an effort to bring the light of day to this almost taboo issue, this book details eleven of the factors contributing to the commonness of innocent men and women being entrapped within various stages of the criminal justice system.  These are: prosecutorial misconduct, false police testimony and misconduct, false identification, false confessions, false physical evidence, inadequate counsel, plea bargaining, lack of accountability by those within the justice system, judicial complicity and indifference, lack of intent, and jury usurpation.  Each of these factors contributes in its own particular way to the preying of the criminal justice system on innocent men, women and, yes, even children, with alarming regularity.

However, as grievous as this state of affairs is, there is hope it won't continue forever.   The last two chapters of the book present four ways to effectively reduce the preying of the criminal justice system on the innocent.

The next to last chapter presents three of these ideas.  The first idea is to eliminate the privileged cloak of judicially and legislatively granted immunity that protects judges, prosecutors, and police from being held personally accountable for their injurious actions against people. Eliminating their artificial shield of immunity would simply make them as responsible for what they do as are all other Americans, from minimum-wage convenience store clerks to corporate CEOs. The second idea is to eliminate the plea bargaining process that infects the entire criminal justice system with the plague of false confessions and convictions, and makes the attainment of justice an irrelevant consideration for the police, prosecutors, and judges who prey on those accused of criminal wrongdoing.  The third idea is to recognize the power of jury prerogative to act as a shield between the innocent, and the false accusations made against them by police and prosecutors.

The last chapter presents the fourth idea that personal and social empowerment is an effective means of countering the politically protected and encouraged actions of those within the criminal justice process and the larger governmental system of which it is a part.

Therefore, although telling the story of how millions of innocent Americans are branded as criminals may be disturbing, it is necessary to get to the point of explaining how the carnage can be stopped.

Footnotes for (Part Two) Introduction:

[12] [11] These cases, as well as 400 other cases of innocent men and women who were convicted and imprisoned for varying lengths of time, are documented in "In Spite of Innocence: Erroneous Convictions in Capitol Cases."  This book is an expansion of an earlier article containing much of the same research: "Miscarriages of Justice in Potentially Capital Cases," Hugo Adam Bedau & Michael L. Radelet, Stanford Law Review, November, 1987, Vol. 40, pp. 21-179.
It should be noted that the standard the authors use for innocence, is pure innocence.   That is, they not only weren't legally guilty, but they didn't commit the act -- in some cases being hundreds of miles away. If one were to take into account the legally innocent men and women executed in this century, the number would undoubtedly be many times greater than 23.  A good example is Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who, although they may have committed some of the things of which they were accused -- were in all probability legally innocent. See e.g., "Capital Punishment: Is it justice or ritual murder?" Antony James, Belmont Tower Book, New York, 1977, pp. 186-197.
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[13] [12] There are a number of accounts of this 1886 episode in Chicago.  The Haymarket Square case is a classic example of how innocent men can be convicted on the basis of inflammatory publicity which allows emotions to overwhelm reason and the facts of the case.  Because he was the lawyer for the three surviving "anarchists" pardoned by Governor Altgeld in 1893, Clarence Darrow wrote movingly of the courage displayed by the governor's unprecedented act in pardoning them.  See:
"Attorney For The Damned," Edited by Arthur Weinberg, Simon & Schuster, N. Y., 1957.  For Altgeld's own account, see: "Reasons for Pardoning Fielden, Neebe, and Schwab," John Peter Altgeld, State of Illinois Printing Presses, 1893.
For an excellent biography of Altgeld, see: "The American: A Middle Western Legend," Howard Fast, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, NY, 1946
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[14] [13] Officially, the men were hanged, but their nooses had all been tied so loosely that instead of having their necks broken, they dangled from the scaffold for eight minutes while being strangled to death. See: "We the Jury: The Impact of Jurors on Our Basic Freedoms," Godfrey D. Lehman, Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY, 1997, pp. 287-288. [15] [14] United States v. Garsson, 291 F. 646, 649 (S.D. N.Y. 1923)
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The Innocents: the prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment of the innocent by Hans Sherrer 12-1-98 Page 45.

Hans Sherrer: ipse@teleport.com
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Can you help Save Paul Scott's Life?

Update: Paul Scott has been offered help this year from Ms. Dixie Lawrence-Tafoya, a DNA specialist, and from Dr. Glenn Larkin, noted forensic pathologist. Dr. Larkin says: "Given an appropriate hearing, Paul Scott should get a reversal, or a full pardon." He has studied the case and avows the trial was a total sham.

With the good work of the Innocence Project by Barry Scheck and the Schools of Law and Journalism at the Northwestern University, reversing many death penalty cases in recent months, we are hopeful Paul has a better chance of winning his freedom. There are hundreds of innocent people on our death rows nationwide, put there with "unacceptable frequency," according to the Florida Supreme Court. Paul Scott is but one of many. The University of Notre Dame Law School has offered, through Professor Charles Rice, to assist as they can. Michael Mello, Professor of Law at the University of Vermont and author of the excellent book "Dead Wrong" has offered his guidance on the Paul Scott case as needed.

Jeb Bush, Florida's new governor is Catholic and is caring, both of which could be helpful to Paul's cause. Sister Helen Prejean ("Dead Man Walking") has studied Paul's case and declares: "Paul Scott is innocent!" Later this year the Chickensoup book series will publish "Chickensoup for the Prison Soul," and will feature an article about Paul written by Bob Pauley Bpauley@compuserve.com.

Editor's note: With permission, we excerpted and edited Bob Pauley's published writing about Paul William Scott for Justice Denied.

 Paul William Scott

"A Circle of Blood" -- The Story of Paul William Scott

Preface to paraphrased Excerpts from "A Circle of Blood": The Story of Paul William Scott

By Robert A. Pauley

Writing Paul William Scott's story began for me the night young attorney Joe Wyckoff, who had just joined the ranks of Palm Beach county, Florida's public defenders, entered the Plush Pony Lounge on South Dixie Highway looking for songwriter Bob Pauley (that's me). The year was 1979. Joe didn't know me but was familiar with one of the songs I had penned for country singer Mel Tillis, "A Brandy Alexander." Joe had a fantastic story to relate that night, then asked a burning question: "Could you write a song about this?" Or, more importantly, "Would you write a song about this, knowing it to be a matter of life and death?" Joe's boss, a public defender with few kind words for his most recent client, was about to let this innocent man be railroaded to his death.

Joe then related the story of Paul William Scott, a homeless young man who spent his first twenty years trying to escape the Long Beach, California ghettos by coming to Florida to find his father. Paul had no sooner arrived in this southernmost state when he became a scapegoat-- wrongfully accused of the brutal bludgeoning death of a known homosexual in the plush suburbs of Boca Raton, Florida.

A soulful version of "Dixie" played in the background: "Oh, I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray! Hooray! In Dixieland I'll take my stand...To  live and die in Dixie...Away! Away! Away down south in Dixie!" Those mournful words rang out the honest-to-God plight of drifter Paul William Scott, who loved Florida with all his heart -- while Florida didn't give a damn for Paul William Scott. To the state of Florida, Scott was nothing more than a meddling outsider and Florida does not take kindly to indigent outsiders.

The legend of Paul William Scott in song became "A Prisoner's Lament" and was recorded by country songstress Susan Stryker nineteen years ago. Royalties from this tune with accompanying promotional efforts earned the money necessary to keep Paul William Scott alive for lo, these many years.

                A PRISONER'S LAMENT

It's been two years since I've felt the light of day
When that judge said you've a lifetime boy to pay
The view here from my prison cell is but an empty wishing well
For me to wish this wasted life away

Cause I'm here for murder in the first degree
And yet a spark of hope still flickers inside me
For with that jury's final word I swear the truth was never heard
Do I die tonight or will they set me free

Oh, I could climb these walls to freedom and escape this deathly place
But then I'd know no one would listen, deaf ears still haunt my case
Past the guards' eternal rounds, the barbed wire and barking hounds
But what's the good of freedom if I can't show my face

I was guilty in their eyes before my plea
Yes the governor made it clear with his decree
The lights grow dim they test the chair, the smell of death is in the air
But I'm innocent!  And that's what's killing me

Oh, I could climb these walls to freedom and escape this deathly place
But then I'd know no one would listen, deaf ears still haunt my case
Past the guards' eternal rounds, the barbed wire and barking hounds
But my name would still be whispered and I couldn't show my face

It's been two years since I've felt the light of day
When the judge said you've a lifetime boy to pay
The lights grow dim they test the chair,
the smell of death now fills the air
But I'm innocent!  And that's what's killing me

   I'm innocent!  And that's what's killing me
   I'm innocent!  And that's what's killing me

Copyright ©1980 Bob Pauley Music

"A Circle of Blood": The Story of Paul William Scott (Paraphrased excerpts)

By Robert A. Pauley

In 1979, an innocent man was sentenced to die on Florida's Death Row. In 1997, eighteen years later, evidence was revealed clearly proving his innocence. A circle of blood made by the champagne bottle -- the actual murder weapon -- had been concealed by the prosecution. Every last member of the original jury now acknowledges being deceived, and agrees that Paul William Scott must be released.



The following story is true. You'd swear this could never happen in a civilized country, least of all the United States of America, but it is happening right now! Paul is a man who was at the wrong place at the wrong time. "History is replete," I once read, "with examples of wrongfully convicted persons who have been pardoned in the wake of after-discovered evidence establishing their innocence."

Paul William Scott, an indigent drifter from California, had come to Florida to visit his long-lost father back in 1978. At age 21, Paul had spent most of his teen years in a California Youth Authority reformatory. In the projects where Paul was raised, using drugs and stealing to obtain drugs was an accepted way of life. Since age 7, Paul was hooked on drugs, first legal (thorazine), then illegal (heroin).

Now, thought Paul, a new beginning -- a whole new life -- would be possible in the "promised land" of which his father had spoken many times before leaving his destitute family to the ravages of the ghetto. But then, thrown out on his ear for not allowing his father to molest his girlfriend, Bernadine, reality quickly destroyed his lifelong dream. Paul William Scott, the adult, was in for another rude awakening in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

After meeting Rick Kondian, an 18-year-old drug-crazy street hustler, Paul was invited to "earn twenty bucks" if he'd accompany Rick to the house of a known homosexual, James Alessi, to do the man a "favor." Alessi had sexual plans for the evening with the two, which began with lacing their "smoke" (pot) with a little PCP, a dangerous hallucinogen known as "angel dust." In Alessi's Boca Raton home, on December 5, 1978, that evening it was around 11:30 p.m. when the events which would forever change Paul's life unfolded.

Drug-wise Paul left the room immediately to lie down, knowing the effects of this potent mixture. Kondian unwittingly became dangerously high on the concoction. Alessi disappeared for a moment into his master bedroom, then returned totally nude, intent on forcing himself sexually into Kondian's face. As a street-hustler, Kondian would accept the reverse of this situation for a fee, but would never perform the act of oral sex himself. Enraged, he resisted the encounter, and screamed into the other room for Paul's help.

Alessi, age 28, was a huge man, 6'4", drug-crazed and intent on having sex with the diminutive Kondian, but Kondian, even intoxicated by the drugs, was not about to let this happen. Responding to Kondian's yell for help, Paul entered the room to assist a tumultuous battle. The much smaller and overpowered duo began to hit Alessi with anything within reach, including a vase, flower pot and a chair. As Paul swung the chair, Alessi turned from  Kondian to Paul and flung Paul across the room. Seeing this, Kondian took a  heavy oval-shaped glass paperweight and knocked Alessi senseless.

Paul ran for the door, only to find Alessi had locked it from the inside with a keyed dead-bolt. He then ran for the rear door, across the pool deck and through the screened enclosure to make his exit. This was the end of Paul William Scott's involvement with James Alessi, which had been solely to help Rick Kondian in a desperate battle of self-defense. Had the story ended there, on a level playing field, Paul Scott would have been questioned by the police and promptly released.

Later that evening, by now around 3:30 a.m., Kondian had recruited two "pals" to return to the scene of the crime to do two things. The first was to remove all fingerprints and evidence from the scene, the second was to relieve Alessi of his jewelry (both from Alessi's house and from his florist shop in Boca Raton).

James Alessi, still addled, was lying on the floor by the living room couch, his hands and feet bound earlier by Kondian with electrical cord from lamps about the house. As Kondian's friend began to remove a large diamond ring from Alessi's finger, Alessi regained consciousness. Seeing Kondian there, wiping prints from their drink glasses, Alessi shouted obscenities at him and became violent. Kondian was handed an unopened bottle of Dom Perignon champagne from a nearby wine rack, and he began to pound it on Alessi's skull until he breathed no more.

Richard Kondian's left hand was torn badly from the wire of the cork of that bottle. Two of Kondian's friends witnessed this murder of James Alessi some three and a half hours after Paul William Scott had left the premises. The trio returned to Paul Scott's motel room to tell him things had gone badly. In a state of panic, Kondian and Scott, their girlfriends, and one of the "pals" left Ft. Lauderdale in Alessi's car, which Kondian had stolen, and traveled north.

In Orlando, Florida, the third man pawned Alessi's diamond ring and took the check from the pawn shop to a nearby Bank of America and cashed the check for $700. With this, Kondian and his girlfriend boarded a bus for Cranston, Rhode Island. Paul, Bernadine, and the man boarded another bus for Sacramento, California. This "third man," having gone to Reno, Nevada, to save his own hide because of another robbery, told the authorities of Paul's whereabouts  in California and of the Florida murder for which he was sought -- knowing Paul to be innocent. He had not told the authorities of his involvement in the crime, because the police were totally unaware of his presence that night in Boca Raton, Florida. Later, Paul explained to me, "I'm not a snitch, Bro'." Paul William Scott never once told authorities of the two witnesses to the murder until now, reluctantly, nearly 20 years later. With his thieves' "code of honor," there is nothing worse in Scott's mind than a "snitch."

The other unidentified man died in a Florida prison, leaving a signed confession that was to clear Paul Scott of any part in that grisly murder. This note was confiscated by the prison authorities and denied to Scott. Kondian readily admits he "killed a fag." His parents' money ($45,000) bought Kondian a "plea-bargained" sentence of 15 years which he has since served.

Paul Scott was not so lucky.  Having no money, no friends, no ability to speak out for himself (Paul had an IQ of 69), the indigent drifter from California received the death penalty for the murder of James Alessi.  "Too many tattoos," the assistant public defender told friends, as an obviously innocent man was being railroaded to the electric chair for something he had not done.  That was almost 20 years ago -- a lifetime of pure hell for a man who is innocent of this crime for which he was convicted.

Friends of Paul Scott have tried over the years to free him and, much like Jean Valjean of Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables," Scott is still mercilessly manipulated by the authorities. Paul will face death in the electric chair if the governor does not act to prevent it. From all indications, no one plans to prevent this. Attorneys assigned to Scott, all governor appointees, have been involved in a scandal over having a "betting pool" to determine which of their clients will be executed next. To them, it is only a game played by affluent lawyers who don't give a damn for their assignees.

For Paul William Scott the end is dangerously close at hand. Does it matter that he is absolutely innocent? Can this actually be happening in the land of "liberty and justice for all"? And, as these attorneys so dedicated to ending Paul Scott's life piously intone that "all men are created equal," the truth is, they know it is not so.

For reasons hard to imagine other than embarrassment for the blunders they undeniably made, the circle of attorneys, judges and lawmakers of Florida continue to press for the death of Paul William Scott. They will not be content, it seems, until that high-voltage chair of theirs has taken the final beat from Paul William Scott's brave heart, unless we can cheat the chair of its wrongful prey. May God have mercy upon their souls!

There are no wealthy murderers on death row. Why? There are innocent indigents on death row, however, and Paul Scott is only one of them. The almighty dollar determines who is executed and who goes free, regardless of the elegant oratories we hear to the contrary. We need to act now, concerned citizens, don't let this innocent man be killed by the state of Florida -- please!

There are those who know Paul Scott is innocent and fight desperately to win his freedom. There are those out there Hell-bent on seeing him burn in Florida's electric chair -- damn the facts.

There's more, much more. To help, or for information on my book, "A Circle of Blood" which describes the facts in 350 pages of story, song and picture, please contact Bob Pauley: BPauley@compuserve.com.

Thanks to the Internet, Paul now has hundreds of friends, and we hope you will write to him and express your feelings at the address given below. E-mail may be sent to Paul at jomel@nni.com. More information on Paul is available at www.angelfire.com/ok/sotodeoro/paulscott.html.

Paul William Scott 071615 / P3111S A-1
Post Office Box 221
Union Correctional Institution
Raiford, Florida 32083
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Why did the DA order Channel 26, KMPH to get rid of tapes saying Keith Doolin was not the murderer?

    Keith Doolin

By Charles and Donna Larsen
(Keith Doolin's Mother and Step-Father)

Editor: Michael Carter

Keith Doolin, 22, was arrested in Fresno, CA, on October 18, 1995, for the murders of two prostitutes and the attempted murders of four others. Backed by several alibi witnesses, he claims to have been out of town during two of the six crimes and has extensive alibis and documentary evidence confirming his whereabouts during all the crimes.

Keith's trial began on March 25, 1996. Convicted and sentenced on June 17, in an exceptionally short time for a capital case, he headed to death row at San Quentin Prison.

In November and December of 1994, two prostitutes were shot and wounded. In July 1995, twice in one night, and later in August and September of that year, more attacks took place. In one July assault and the September one, two women were murdered.

Keith was out of town when two of the six crimes, the November and December 1994 attacks, occurred. He has alibis for the other crimes in 1995, provided by his mother and stepfather, Donna and Charlie Larsen, his sister Shana, his aunt, uncle, great grandmother, and several cousins and friends. Also, individuals where Keith made purchases during the times of the crimes, such as an Exxon service station and a Greyhound bus station/depot, recognize and remember Keith's being there during those times. (When Keith was arrested, police confiscated all his possessions including his wallet, which contained numerous cash receipts for gas and fast food purchases placing him in certain locations at certain times.)

Most importantly, the assaulted victims who weren't killed did not recognize Keith as their attacker. Some instead described him as Hispanic, balding with some curly hair, thin mustache, shabby and dirty looking, apparently unbathed, height 5'7" to 5'9", weight 160 to 190 pounds, thin face, and age about 26-32. Keith, conversely, at the time of the crime was 22 years old and weighed approximately 220 to 230 pounds. A Caucasian with abundant hair and full mustache, glasses-wearing Keith has a left lower gold tooth that is clearly visible when he talks or laughs.

One victim named a perpetrator she recognized and gave his name to police, but police failed to follow up on her lead or to investigate that man. This incident and others lead some to speculate Keith might have been framed in an attempt to cover up the real attacker -- perhaps even a police officer whose physical description Keith resembled at the time.

Surviving victims gave a vehicle description: a brown or white pickup truck -- Keith's truck  was a light cream color with black primer paint on a damaged fender as well as a badly cracked sunroof. The license plates given -- 4Y35816 -- did not match Keith's truck plates of 2J92826.

There was no lettering on the tailgate of Keith's pickup, but witnesses had described the suspect vehicle as having the red letters OY on the tailgate. There were two motorcycles and a moped in the bed of Keith's pickup standing upright with bright red straps holding them. Witnesses said the bed of the suspect pickup was empty. The interior of Keith's pickup was brown and the dashboard was dark brown. Witnesses say the interior of the suspect's pickup was blue.

There was no transfer of physical or trace evidence such as fingerprints, dog hair, blood, semen, fibers, or human hair. DNA test on three victims excluded Keith. DNA test on another victim did not include Keith on the preliminary testing, but a secondary test was never done. KMPH-TV Channel 26, a local Fresno station, had agreed to pay for this test and had already sent a check to the laboratory when the judge denied this motion. No DNA testing was done on the other two victims

Tire tracks did not match Keith's, no polygraph was given, and no line-up was conducted. Keith's gun that police alleged was the crime weapon was actually in the possession of Keith's cousin at the time of the crimes. The gun was brand-new and had never been fired until police fired it for ballistics tests. Surviving victims described a gun different from Keith's. The first ballistic report showed the bullets did not match, yet after Sergeant Rose withheld Keith's gun for 14 hours (violating Fresno Police protocol for booking evidence) the police claimed they had a match, yet another report states the ballistic report was inconclusive. At the trial, prosecutors displayed a large number of bullets from a variety of crime scenes. They said they "thought" the bullets belonged to the same crime, but they offered no proof.

Eye witnesses who said Keith was not the perpetrator were never called to testify or give a declaration. Channel 26, KMPH, interviewed prostitutes and aired several pieces of news bytes that suggested Keith was not the guilty person, but the DA's office ordered Channel 26 to get rid of the interview tapes.

Keith's court-appointed attorney conducted no investigation, no research, or prepare for the trial, called only a few alibi witnesses and no expert witnesses, put on no case and raised no mitigation issues during the sentencing phase. He did not recall the officers and victims who lied on the stand to impeach them as he told Keith he would. He failed to file documents timely, and was denied a discovery request and completion of DNA testing due to his lateness in filing. He failed to make objections during trial, refused to meet with Keith and the investigator before and during the trial, refused Keith's phone calls at all times, and was habitually late for court.

Keith's attorney made a practice of arriving at 10:30AM or later (one day at 1 PM) for a 9:30 AM court call. He introduced no exhibits, photos, receipts, or any other exculpatory evidence. He refused to have co-counsel. An attorney not connected with the case overheard him asking the judge to deny his request for co-counsel so Keith's family would stop pestering him. He filed a fraudulent bankruptcy, was admonished by the judge for tax evasion, lying to the IRS, fraudulent use of credit cards for gambling debts, embezzling client funds, and co-mingling funds. The bankruptcy judge told the attorney he should not practice law until he got his finances in order. (Source:
Bankruptcy trial transcripts). Nonetheless, this attorney conducted a capital defense while his personal affairs and finances were in disorder, and while gambling and drinking heavily throughout the trial.

Police Chief Ed Winchester, Investigator Robert Schiotis, Prosecutor Dennis Cooper and Sheriff Steve Magarian held a press conference before Keith's arraignment and stated: "And make no doubt about it, he's the guy. Many times during the press conference, they repeatedly said "This is the guy." Officers Todd Frazier, Robert Schiotis and Albert Murrietta lied under oath about obtaining the search warrant and about Keith's interrogation.

During trial, prosecutor Dennis Cooper was seen having lunch with the jury foreman. He withheld exculpatory evidence including interviews with prostitutes who had survived attacks and who said Keith was not the person who attacked them. Cooper made a false claim of conflict of interest so he could have Public Defender Driling removed and have the court-appointed lawyer substituted, and objected to the appointment of any other defense attorney.

Three letters were sent to Mr. Cooper and the DA's office stating Keith was not their man, and the real killer was still at large. One letter was from a Kevin Smith, who said the perpetrator was Larry Aaron from Clovis, CA. Another letter was from a prostitute who was assaulted but survived. Mr. Driling also says the PD office received many phone calls from numerous sources stating Keith was not the killer. Cooper did not permit Keith to use notes during cross-examination, but allowed other witnesses to use notes, ledgers, and calendars. Cooper even pointed to the area of notes so some witnesses could look at or read from them. Many claims and allegations have been made about Cooper's character including spousal abuse, fighting, and workplace sexual harassment.

Judge Quaschnick did not allow "Alternate Suspect Theory" to be introduced. He conducted the preliminary hearing and bound Keith over for trial, then acted as trial judge. He placed a gag order on Keith's mother, ruled Keith to be incompetent to represent himself because Keith didn't graduate from a high school but "just had a GED" he earned in jail while awaiting trial, but later ruled Keith competent to receive the death penalty. The judge fell asleep during trial and allowed media to "try the case" in the press. The judge hurried the trial because he and Dennis Cooper had planned a vacation in Hawaii together. The judge denied Keith a competent attorney by denying all four Marsdan motions which showed the court-appointed lawyer to be incompetent. Several well-qualified attorneys offered their services pro bono but the judge refused to allow their participation.

A prospective juror (panel #126) wrote a letter to the court stating that other prospective jurors had already convicted Doolin and wanted him to die. Jurors brought in newspapers each morning with Keith's story visible, talked about Keith's case in elevators, in hallways at lunch, asked friends to observe the defendant's mother who was seated in the hallway and report to jurors what she was doing, asked friends to come to court and give them feedback in the courtroom. One juror falsely told other jurors, who then went to the judge, that Keith's family and friends were filming them, causing jury members to panic and ask the judge for police escorts to their cars. Several jurors slept throughout the trial and the bailiff told Keith that the jurors never looked at the evidence box or exhibits during deliberations.

Doolin's was the first case tried under Fresno County's new ruling allowing maximum $40/60/80,000 payment for court-appointed lawyers in capital cases. Out of this, the attorney was to pay for expert witnesses and investigation. Keith's attorney received $80,000 plus $14,000 for investigation and another $20,000 for second-chair defense counsel. He did not use co-counsel, nor did he conduct an investigation. He did pay an investigator $2,500 to serve subpoenas and paid $3,000 for experts. The attorney received a total of $114,000 and spent $5,500, leaving him with $108,500.

Several media people who tried to reveal the truth were fired from their jobs and then left town, including Kevin Cox of Channel 30 and Monty Manibog of Channel 26. Pablo Lopez of the Fresno Bee was also censured by his employer for his work on Keith's story. A number of defense attorneys including Public Defenders sat in the courtroom daily and tried to tell the media the truth. Several of these attorneys told Keith's mother that because they "took sides"  in Keith's case, the DA's office and some judges were treating them unfairly in their own cases.

Doolin had no priors, did not use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, had no gang affiliation, does not fit the FBI serial killer profile, and continues to maintain his complete innocence. Keith suspects the actual perpetrator is a police officer to whom Keith bears a very strong physical resemblance. The prosecutor never presented any theory of crime.

Several unusual occurrences near the time of Keith's arrest cause him to think he may have been "set up." A convenience store clerk talked him into driving an unknown woman to the Greyhound bus station. He was followed home from there by an undercover police officer posing as a gang member. The next night, he was convinced by two young women to bring them to his home because they claimed they were being followed. There is suspicion these women were police "plants." Keith's pickup "disappeared" from the police impound lot where it was being held as evidence, then later mysteriously reappeared.

A post-conviction investigator developed a chart that shows many overlapping and questionable relationships, and conflicts of interest between and among the judge, prosecutors, police, possible suspects, witnesses, victims, and the defense attorney.

Keith Doolin # 5E-Y-25
PO Box K-13400
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, California, 94974

There is more information about Kevin Doolin at this website address: http://home.att.net/~charlie-donna/Index-page-2.html
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  Kevin Cooper

Handfuls of blonde hair were found in the victims' hands. It certainly wasn't Kevin Cooper's.

Kevin, an African American, was only 14 months old when the Cooper family of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania adopted him. The family also had a biological daughter five years older than Kevin. Mr. Cooper worked as a fire captain and was able to provide his family a middle class home, but something went terribly wrong in this household. Kevin's earliest memories are of his father beating him. Kevin began to run away. He feared being home. His school records indicate he was a slow-learner and hyperactive. Running away became habitual. If asked today about his childhood, he responds, "I didn't have one. I grew up in juvenile detention." On the streets Kevin associated with pimps, prostitutes and criminals. In time, he, too became a criminal, but limited himself to stealing and unoccupied house burglary.

Despite his habitual "running away" and criminal bent, Kevin's mother says he was a caring young person. She recalls, "He once rescued a litter of homeless puppies, nurturing, keeping them warm and eventually finding homes for all of them." Young Kevin also displayed wonderful artistic talent.

In 1982, Kevin was accused, but never convicted of kidnap and rape. He was sent to a Pennsylvania State hospital for observation, where he escaped and fled to California. Following his usual criminal activities, Kevin burglarized a house. He was caught, convicted and sentenced to three years in Chino Institution for Men, a minimum security prison in southern California. Kevin escaped from Chino in June 1983 and fled to the Chino Hills area of San Bernardino County, staying temporarily in an unoccupied house (owned by a man named Lease) before crossing the border to Mexico.

On the day Kevin fled to Mexico, four people were heinously murdered in the house next door. The victims were Doug and Peggy Ryen, their daughter, Jessica (12), and an overnight houseguest, Chris Hughes. Eight-year-old Josh Ryen was left for dead. Young Josh told the police that "three white or Hispanic guys" had murdered his family. The attack occurred after midnight and Josh had only the briefest look at his assailants before his throat was savagely cut. He was certain there were three people. When Josh saw a picture of Cooper on TV in the hospital, he said that was not one of his attackers. At trial, the prosecution downplayed Josh's report by saying "he was only eight years old, had suffered incredible shock, and thus, his statement was not credible."

A week after the murders, a woman contacted the deputy sheriff to report that she had a pair of blood-splattered overalls in her possession that may have been worn by the murderer. She asked to speak directly to the investigating homicide detective, however, no one contacted her. About six months after taking receipt of the overalls, the deputy sheriff threw them away in a dumpsite without submitting them to the department crime lab or attempting to contact Cooper's defense team to advise them of this exculpatory evidence. During Cooper's trial the deputy maintained that he alone decided to destroy the overalls, but in the fall of 1998, Kevin's investigator found an internal police document indicating that the deputy acted under his supervisor's order.

In August 1983, Cooper was apprehended in Santa Barbara. During his brief stay in Mexico he changed his name and hired on as a hand on a fishing boat. Storms along the coast forced the skipper of the boat to pull into port, bringing Cooper back to US soil. He was captured a month later.

Telephone records indicate that he had been in the house next door to the Ryen's so Cooper was charged with the crime. Having a convenient escaped convict with a criminal past, and a community frightened and outraged by the biggest murder case ever to take place in San Bernardino County, the police decided that Cooper would be "their murderer," despite the lack of evidence. It didn't matter that forensic experts stated that there were multiple perpetrators because four people were murdered and a fifth severely injured in approximately 90 to 120 seconds. Forensic experts also said that four different weapons were used (a knife, ice pick, screwdriver and a hatchet). Experts agreed that it would be impossible for one person to use four weapons, kill four people, and leave a fifth for dead, in approximately two minutes.

It also didn't matter that there was no physical evidence linking Cooper to the crime scene, save one drop of blood found on a wall several rooms away from the crime scene. The outdated procedures used to test this blood have now been rejected by several courts and credentialed experts. The inventor of the testing procedure, Brian Wraxall, has been discredited.

The prosecution said that Cooper's motive for being in the Ryen house was to steal money. Indeed, Cooper needed money and the phone calls made from the Lease house were for precisely that purpose. The illogical part of this theory is that a substantial amount of folding money was left untouched and in plain sight in the Ryen house. To also refute that theory is the fact that the Ryens, an upper middle class family, had numerous valuable items in the house, none of which were removed.

The case was so sensational that a change of venue was granted and the trial took place in San Diego County. On the opening day someone hanged a monkey in effigy with an attached sign which read, "Kill The Nigger."

David Negus was assigned as Kevin's public defender. This was Negus' second homicide case. In an affidavit prepared years after he defended Cooper, Negus said he was overworked at the time he represented Cooper. He explains that he didn't have time to read all the documents and was physically ill some of the time. Recently, after reviewing hair and clothing evidence which came to light through a 1998 investigation, David Negus admitted, in a telephone  conversation with Cooper's current lead attorney, Robert Amidon, that Cooper is an innocent man. He has no explanation for his incompetent defense of Cooper. In general, a defense attorney for an indigent client is often without basic resources such as staff assistance, an investigator and co-counsel. However well-meaning the defense attorney, s/he is no match for the prosecution, which usually has unlimited funds for a capital case along with a district attorney who acts as the "gatekeeper" for all information and evidence.

During trial it came to Negus' attention that a prisoner in Vacaville State Prison in northern California had information about the Ryen murders. The prisoner had been in a cell with a white man who had no connection to Cooper. The cellmate knew about the blood-splattered overalls and he knew the name of the woman who had given them to the deputy sheriff. The inmate was willing to try to find out more, but wasn't encouraged to do so. Learning of this development, Negus took a one hour break. He returned to the trial without mentioning or pursuing this critical piece of information. When asked, in 1998, why he did this, Negus responded, "I don't remember." The jury found Cooper guilty and sentenced him to death. In 1985 Cooper was transferred to Death Row at San Quentin State Prison, where he is now.

Mark Cutler served as Kevin's attorney for his post conviction appeals from June 1985 until Feb. 1996. Cutler, who did no work on Cooper's behalf, repeatedly asked the judge to remove him from the case because he simply had too much work to adequately represent Cooper. The judge refused to replace him until 1996. Charles Mauer was appointed and served as the attorney of record for the next two years. Mauer also asked the court to remove him as the attorney of record because of his work load and personal issues in his life. His request was eventually granted since he had taken no action on Cooper's behalf.

During the long years of incompetent counsel, Kevin went through a series of stages in his personal transformation. Initially there was the inevitable rage at being wrongfully convicted of murder and condemned to die. In those early months Kevin had to make some very basic decisions. He made the decision not to join a gang. He decided he would get fresh air, sunshine and exercise. He made the decision to be clean and take pride in his personal appearance.

In time, Kevin decided to make a life in prison. He turned his cell into a classroom. He watched public television, he read about his case, the history of his people, and the history of the death penalty. He taught himself to type so he could reach out to community and religious organizations for help. He honed his artistic skills and found several galleries to represent him. He wrote hundreds of letters trying to find support and assistance. He remains steadfast in his refusal to give up.

In addition to painting, Kevin expresses himself by writing essays and articles. He tackles difficult social and justice issues. He wrote a powerful essay on the history of the death penalty and another on the need for blacks to unite to defeat this repressive form of punishment. He sends his articles to people across the United States in the hope of educating them, and searches for opportunities to publish.

As a seasoned veteran at San Quentin, Kevin offers help to men who come to death row, some as young as 18. He encourages his fellow inmates to develop a support system and "not sit on their butts waiting to die." He has become a light in the darkness at San Quentin. Kevin's ambition is to be free so he can work for the abolition of the death penalty. He wants to work with young, at-risk black men to encourage them to avoid a life of crime. Finally, he very much wants to be a "real" father to his fifteen year-old son who was born the month and year of his arrest -- a son he met for the first time in December 1998.

Personal responsibility is a key element in every individual's transformation. Kevin Cooper candidly admits that it was his "life of crime that set the wheels in motion for a false conviction and a sentence of death." He offers no excuses for his criminal past, only regret. His transformation is complete.

In 1996, Kevin acquired his current attorneys, Robert B. Amidon and William McGuigan. Through their diligence and careful review of the evidence still preserved, they have identified crime scene photos which clearly show large clusters of blond hair in the hands of all the victims. It is likely that this hair belonged to one of the killers, pulled out as the victims fought and struggled for their lives. It certainly isn't Kevin Cooper's black hair!

Recent investigation has turned up disturbing police conduct and incompetent defense. It has also pointed to the real killers who are believed to be two blonde, white women and a dark-haired white man. Kevin's attorneys have enough information to positively link one killer with the hair through DNA testing. Another killer can be identified through a T-shirt found near the Ryen house which has Doug Ryen's blood on it. DNA tests on sweat will reveal that Cooper didn't wear the shirt. Cooper's attorneys think they know who did wear it and DNA tests can confirm this.

In 1998, Kevin's attorneys filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with both the Ninth District of the Federal Court and the California Supreme Court, asking that DNA testing take place on fifty-three pieces of evidence. The defense team is awaiting word from the courts.

The Kevin Cooper Legal Defense Fund has been established to raise money for the DNA testing and ongoing investigation which will exonerate this innocent man.

Mr. Kevin Cooper C65304-3-E-82
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94974
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Joy WoSu

By Joy Wosu and Barbara Lyn Lapp
Editor: C'Rene Dana

As a Naturalized United States Citizen, Joy Wosu immigrated to Detroit, Michigan from Nigeria in 1979, graduating from Wayne State University with a Master's Degree in Public Administration. She was convicted of child sexual abuse in November 1993, in a joint jury trial with codefendants Dominic Okongwu and Louis Eze.

Joy was a substitute High School teacher with the Detroit School Board, and after receiving her Master's Degree, she worked at the Detroit Office of the U.S. Department of Veterans affairs. Joy took a job transfer and moved to Buffalo, New York on April 7, 1991. Joy found a Nigerian Community contact service in Buffalo through which she met Louis Eze, a landlord. She stayed with him for about three weeks until the apartment she was to rent became available.

On Sunday the 26th of May 1991, Louis and a relative of his, Dominic Okongwu, picked up Joy at her home to attend a Nigerian Community Union meeting in Buffalo. Dominic's twin daughters, then six years old, N and C, were with him.

When the meeting ended, Louis told Joy he was going to take the girls home. They arrived at a house where the girls got out while Dominic remained in the car. Joy asked Louis, "Is this their home?" Louis responded, "Yes," and added that they lived with their foster mother.

Joy was shocked, and asked Louis to please explain the differences between adoption and foster home. These were words Joy had heard on TV and read about in the papers, but now they began to take on real meaning. She continued, "In foster care kids go back to the original home but in adoption they stay in the new home?" Louis said, "Yes" and indicated that they would be returning to their father's (Dominic's) home in a couple of months. Joy asked if a lawyer was helping them and Louis said yes, but indicated that Dominic does not like people inquiring into his business.

Joy learned from Louis that Dominic had been accused of abusing the girls. Joy thought abusing meant Dominic was beating the children, but Louis explained that Dominic's baby-sitter had taken the girls to Children's Hospital and alleged that Dominic sexually violated them in 1987 and 1988 when they were only three years old. Joy was told that shortly after that, however, the baby-sitter's boyfriend was suspected of the acts, and Dominic was cleared of the sexual abuse charges, but that the Court still ordered him to attend counseling for child neglect for having had an unscrupulous baby-sitter. The court later appointed Louis to supervise Dominic's visits with his children, N & C.

In early September 1991, Louis notified Joy that the girls' birthday celebration would be on the 14th. Joy asked to go with them. After she came home from work, Dominic, Louis and the girls picked up Joy and went directly to a pizza restaurant on Niagara Falls Blvd. Louis told everyone that the girls must be returned to their foster mother's home before 8:00 p.m., and they did exactly this after leaving the restaurant.

On Oct. 25, with Louis' help for transportation, Joy went shopping for supplies for a meeting she was hosting. Louis was supervising Dominic's visitation with N & C that weekend, so he had no choice but to bring the girls along. The girls had a good time with Joy, even asking her help with math assignments Dominic had given them before they went shopping. When Louis stopped at a convenience store and went in, Joy enjoyed the opportunity of chatting with the girls, asking about their educational levels and what they would like to be when they grew up. Then Joy and the girls went into the store, and the girls happily grabbed M&M candy and asked Joy to buy it for them. Louis said they had just eaten and should not ask people for things, but Joy persisted and bought the candy. Arriving at the fruits and vegetables store, the girls picked up apples but because of Louis' previous words, Joy told them she did not have enough money to pay for them. That day one of the girls asked Joy, "Is it true if we go to Africa with Daddy we will not come back to America?" Joy asked them who told them that. "Our foster mother," they said. Joy later found out that Dominic had no intention of returning to Nigeria with the girls.

On October 27th, Joy called Louis to tell him how much she appreciated his help with shopping, and also told him her fiancé would be visiting for the Thanksgiving holidays. She asked Louis if she and her fiancé could visit so her fiancé could meet the person who'd first helped her when she arrived in Buffalo. However, Louis was unhappy about her fiancé's visit so Joy did not speak to him for several months after that. Because of this, Joy also did not see Dominic and his daughters until the allegation of abusing the two girls came up.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 28, Joy and her fiancé ate dinner at the Hyatt Regency near her home. They returned to her place shortly after dinner because Joy's brother and two of his friends from out of state were visiting and bringing a new car Joy had bought in Tennessee several weeks earlier.

On December 12, 1991, the twins' foster mother reported that "the girls were playing in the bedroom when I happened to walk in and found N was down on C and she was moving in a way that she shouldn't have been moving. I asked her 'why are you doing what you are doing' and she said she was doing it because that is what their daddy does to them at home."

Eight days later, on December 20, N and C were interviewed by Detective Marcia C. Scott, Buffalo Police Dept. and CPS worker Josie Lenz, in the Sunshine Room of Buffalo Police Dept. Headquarters. The police report says that C stated her father took her to the basement, hit her with scissors, a knife and a belt, then wrapped her sister's mouth and hers with gray tape and "put his privates into our privates." She said that her uncle Louis was in the living room. Neither sister mentioned Joy directly or indirectly. This was confirmed by Detective Scott on the witness stand during their trial.

At the trial, Detective Scott said she saw no marks or signs of violence on either of the girls. She testified that a search of the home and basement revealed none of the items allegedly used to assault the girls.

The foster mother testified the girls showed no bruises or unusual behavior when they returned to her home -- within an hour of the alleged incidents, and said they always looked forward to the visits with their father.

N & C were not taken to the hospital for physical and sexual abuse examinations until January 6, 1992 -- a full three weeks after the foster mother says she observed the alleged incident in their bedroom. At trial, the foster mother said the social worker in charge had no explanation for the delayed medical examination.

In January 1992, The Nigerian Community Union called for an emergency meeting to ask for legal assistance for Dominic. He was scheduled to be in Court in June 1992. At this meeting, Joy said that to the extent she knew Dominic and Louis, she did not see or hear anything suspicious. She also told them about the question N & C had posed to her about the trip to Africa, saying that it seemed to indicate their foster mother was telling them stories to make them afraid of their father. It was around this time that TV broadcasts were showing pictures of starving Ethiopian children with flies clustered on their eyes. To 7-year-old children, this would indeed paint a fearful prospect of going to Africa.

On March 30, 1992, Dominic's attorney called Joy to tell her that the twins were alleging that Dominic, Louis and Joy had been drinking alcohol and showing them nude videos at Dominic's home. After the attorney's call, Joy talked to Louis and Dominic by phone. This was the first time Louis and Joy had spoken to each other since Oct. 27, 1991.

Joy does not drink alcohol nor does she serve alcoholic drinks. The video mentioned was a Richard Simmons' exercise video she played to help her keep the children occupied when they attended the Union's meeting at her home on October 26, 1991. The twins were among seven children who came with their parents. This portion of the story, along with the allegation of nude videos, disappeared "in the  forest." Joy called Dominic's attorney and learned that the CPS worker, Josie Lenz, had dropped her name and Louis' from the charges.

Louis and Dominic were arrested in December, 1992, one year after the alleged report of sexual abuse on Dominic's twin daughters. When she heard they were in jail, Joy called various Police Precincts, the Sheriff's Office and the Buffalo County jail to find out what was happening. That was how Joy came in contact with Assistant District Attorney Carol Bridge. Joy introduced herself and asked to know what was going on. DA Bridge asked for Joy's assistance as a state witness. Joy told her that in the interest of justice, she could not play that role because she did not know anything. That's why Joy became a part of this case.

Because Joy did not believe her Nigerian friends were guilty of the crime and refused to testify against them, she became an adversary of the state, and a suspect as an accomplice to crimes that never happened. From there, the state had the alleged victims in continuous therapy, and a year later apparently had convinced the girls that Joy was part of the crime. There was absolutely no evidence other than their tainted, coerced testimony which, two years after the alleged incidents at the time of the trial, was grossly distorted from the initial police statements.

On December 22, Joy, along with Assistant DA Ms. Bridge and a lawyer, appeared before Judge John Rogwoski for something Joy thought would be like: "Did you witness anything?" etc. Instead, Ms. Bridge introduced Joy as one of the defendants' companion and she was arrested. Her assigned lawyer explained that Joy was not involved and asked for a dismissal. That was not granted and bail was set at $5,000. Ms. Bridge wanted Joy in jail without bail "for a  couple of days to do a background check." The judge denied her request but increased Joy's bail to $10,000. On December 23, they appeared before another Assistant DA. Joy asked for records of these two days, but never got them. Records were altered and none exists for 12/23.

Joy's attorney told her the District Attorney had no medical records on the girls that would substantiate any of the allegations against her. However, two weeks later medical records showing indications of sexual injury were produced. These turned out to be the same records used in the 1988 incident involving Dominic and the baby-sitter's boyfriend in which Dominic's charge was reduced to neglect. The only difference was a fresh signature and a current date.

The Trial:
The case went to trial in October and November of 1993. The dates given for the alleged sexual abuse were between June 1 and 30, 1991, Sept. 1 and 30, 1991, and between Nov. 1 and 30, 1991. These dates were later narrowed down to days the twins could remember: the Juneteenth Event of June 15-16 (Juneteenth is an African celebration), the birthday celebration on Sept. 14, and Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1991.

JUNE EVENT, 1991: The twins alleged that Dominic, Louis, Joy, and the twins rode together to the Juneteenth events, that they walked around, ate pizza, and then after the event Louis dropped the girls off with Dominic at his residence and left to take Joy home. Dominic allegedly sexually violated them in the basement. (Joy did not go with Dominic and Louis to this event, as she had a ride with a friend visiting from Canada.) Dominic was convicted of this charge.

BIRTHDAY EVENT: The twins testified that Louis, Dominic, and Joy attended a college graduation of Dominic's friend with N & C instead of having the birthday event for them. They said they were later taken down in the basement, all nude, and that Louis and Dominic took turns in tying them up and sexually violated them while Joy did not participate. (That was the day Joy went with them to Pizza Hut, and they were returned directly to their foster mother after dinner.) Dominic and Louis were convicted of this charge.

THANKSGIVING DAY: The twins testified that Joy, along with Louis and Dominic ate dinner with them at Dominic's place. That afterward they were taken down in the basement by the defendants, who again took turns in tying and sexually violating them. That Joy further cheered Louis & Dominic by saying, "Go deeper!" That Joy "tried to stick her private into our private very deep." That Joy put her finger into their "private." Joy's attorney asked N & C who taught them the words of "private" and "penis." They pointed at Assistant District Attorney Michael Cooper. They testified that their foster mother helped them with rehearsing the "scripts" ("Like doing a spelling test") Mr. Cooper had provided on a white piece of paper. Mr. Cooper refused to provide this script for defense attorneys. Please remember that this was the Thanksgiving Day Joy ate at the Hyatt Regency with her fiancé, and that after dinner, Joy returned home to see her brother and two of his friends from out of state to receive the car she had bought in Tennessee. This was also the time frame in which Joy had no contact with Louis, Dominic, and the twins.

Joy's brother was not allowed to testify by the Court, after the DA said the time of his arrival at Joy's residence was uncertain. Her fiancé did testify as an alibi witness, for his Northwest Airline ticket showed he arrived in Buffalo from Detroit on that date. The Hyatt dinner was paid with cash. Joy and her fiancée both gave consistent testimony regarding that meal. Still, Joy was convicted on this charge, along with Dominic and Louis.

Joy was sentenced with her codefendants on January 18, 1994, to 8 1/3 to 25 years. Before trial, the ADA had offered Joy five years probation and no jail time, in exchange for an admission of guilt and testimony against her co-defendants.

APPEAL: Joy's appeal was based on the judges' answer to the jury regarding the time frame of the alleged offense. Because of Joy's alibi, the jury came back with questions on whether dates in November other than Thanksgiving Day could be considered for the crime. The judge said they could consider any  date from November 1 to November 30, even though the twins' testimony on this incident related only to Thanksgiving Day. Joy's conviction was affirmed in the Appellate Court's three to two decision. The Court of Appeals later affirmed the majority's decision, citing that the girl's memory keyed around the Thanksgiving holidays, not just Thanksgiving Day.

The twins, the alleged victims, are now 14 and still living with the same foster mother who orchestrated this case. Dominic's parental rights have been terminated and the foster mother is in the process of adopting them. Note also that this foster mother had testified that the trial outcome would not affect her status as a foster mother, disclaiming any motive to implicate Dominic. What the jury did not hear was that just before she made the allegations against Dominic there was a native Nigerian family in Buffalo that had been approved to take over the care of the twins by Dominic's request. This upstanding family had gone through all the home study requirements for taking the twins into their home. Just before the twins were to be moved to their new home, the process was stopped, citing that this abuse occurred.

Joy filed a coram nobis petition which was denied by the Appellate Court. After that, she asked that the court and DA give her a copy of the felony complaint at the time of her arrest, pre-sentence report and grand jury minutes to use in preparing her criminal procedure law 440.00 motion. These were all denied. Among their reasons for refusing, the DA said that the Court of Appeals denied her the Leave to Appeal. Joy says this is a false reason. Joy has filed a motion to the Appellate Court to ask the Trial Court to review the District Attorney and Probation Department's denial.

Last August, Joy told a friend that her likelihood of getting parole is very low, for she refuses to enroll in sexual offender programs at the jail. It could mean 20 more years for her, versus 3 years until parole if she would confess to the "crime" she insists never happened. "I don't mind taking the program to enrich my knowledge," she said, "but not in any relation to a crime I never committed."

In an August 1998, letter to a friend, she writes: "Though I am imprisoned, I am free in my spirit, knowing that I have not hurt anybody... The children in my case are in the worst condition in that they still reside with the chief fabricator of the allegations, who is still feeding them poison disguised as love... I pray that there will soon be a hotline where children who were pressured into falsification of stories can call in... Joy Wosu."

As of last month Joy's supporters have been working at hiring an attorney knowledgeable about false accusations of child sex abuse. They will be able to afford this help through the goodwill of an Ohio businessman who read about her plight in Family Alert and is willing to fund the appeal defense.

Joy Wosu, 94G0120
Albion Correctional Facility
3595 State School Road
Albion, NY 14411

Contact: Barbara Lyn Lapp -- nlllapp@netsync.net. Barbara Lyn is the author of "No Law Against Mercy," a chronicle of her battle against the system as she protected a defenseless young boy. Barbara Lyn also is head of the Chautauqua County VOCAL, and publishes Family Alert.

(Editor's note: We hope to bring you the stories of Dominic and Louis in the future.)

If you, or anyone you know has been falsely accused of child sex abuse, you may want to see The Child Abuse Defense Kit.
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Carol Stanton:

"I did not kill my ex-husband for 300 dollars."

By Carol Stanton
Edited by Clara A. Thomas Boggs

I met Louis Stanton in 1965, we married that year. Louis was an alcoholic, so we had some very rough years. We divorced in 1974, but always remained friends through it all, supportive and helpful to each other. He regularly helped around the house with cleaning, cooking and yard work.

When our son, Larry Stanton, enlisted in the Marine Corps, that left me alone in my house. Louis, getting ready to retire, was looking for another place to live. I asked him to move in with me as my boarder. He did, and the arrangement worked very well for three and a half years. He still drank, but our son was no longer around to see him, so it didn't bother me.

Just before Christmas of 1989, Louis received a Christmas card from his brother Bill's wife and in the card was a picture of Bill and her taken at their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Louis had not spoken to Bill in ten years. After he thought about it, he decided to go to Los Angeles and make up with his brother.

On Sunday, March 4, 1990, Louis drank all day. He arrived home about 9:30 p.m. and said he was going to go to Los Angeles by Greyhound Bus. I told him Greyhound was on strike and a driver had been killed in Redding, just three days earlier. I wanted him to take an airplane, but he refused and said he would walk the eleven miles to the bus depot. I said "No," I would drive him.

That same night, we arrived at the bus depot about 10:30 p.m. There were no parking places, so I double parked. Louis got out of the car, took his suitcase from the back seat and went through the doors of the depot. That was the last time I saw Louis alive.

Believing he was in Los Angeles, I wasn't worried about not hearing from Louis, knowing from years past that he disliked writing.

When the detective came to my home on April 4, 1990, and informed me they had Louis' body up in Sutter County, I was shocked and very upset. I didn't cry because it had not registered in my mind as to what the statement really meant.

Later the detective claimed I did not show any remorse, or even cry, even when they told me where they had found the body. Since I am not familiar with Sutter County, nothing they said made any impact on my dense fog.

A week later the two detectives, Skinner and Parker, returned to talk to me about Louis and my living arrangement with him. I explained it to him again. I did not realize that they were taping the conversation. Later, I realized they were going to try to make it look as if I did the murder, because they did not look for any other explanation. I did not know what to do. I tried contacting local lawyers, but discovered I could not afford an attorney.

I was not arrested until July 17, 1990. The police told me that a witness had come forward, a Mr. Willis of Pacheo, California. Willis stated he saw me at highway 113 and Varner Road in Sutter County on March 5, 1990, at or about, 2:00 a.m.

Willis stated that the first time he saw me I was standing in front of a U-Haul truck with the headlights behind me. He then said he went on down the road and made a U-turn with his truck and came back. He said he did not see me at that time, but stopped and spoke to a man in his twenties through the passenger window. He said the man assured him everything was okay so he drove forward and made another U-turn and was heading back home when he looked back  and said he saw me in his rear view mirror for 6 seconds at the back of the U-Haul truck.

Not knowing where this intersection is located in Sutter County, I was confused as to how I was spotted and identified at this location.

When I asked how I was supposed to have moved Louis' 200 pound body from my house into a U-Haul truck, and then unload his body, they came up with the idea that I had an accomplice.

Beyond investigating the men in my family, they didn't look for this accomplice. They located the U-Haul I had rented to haul away some of the junk that had accumulated on the patio while Louis was gone. They returned it to Yuba City and thoroughly checked it out and found nothing to show a body was ever in the vehicle.

When I was charged, they added forgery charges because I had done a lot of Louis' banking (deposits and withdrawals) for him and they had pictures of me at the ATM . There was an FBI person from San Francisco who came to the jail and took some samples of my handwriting. He said my handwriting did not match any of the endorsements on the checks. All the checks were put into Louis'  bank account.

Since I could not afford my own attorney, a Public Defender was appointed to me. He had an investigator who said he would not investigate the witness because, "Mr. Willis was an upstanding citizen." I asked him, "When did I  give up being an upstanding citizen?" He said, "When you were put behind bars."

During the trial, they did not bring up forgery charges but just said I did the murder for money and insurance -- referring to a policy made out to me for $300. What they did not say, but I made the statement to them, was that Louis lent me money off and on, but was always paid back. Louis liked brand-new one hundred dollar bills. So when I'd pay him back, I would go to the bank and ask them to repay him. Louis had the habit of hiding these bills all over the house. That is why, when he left for Los Angeles, I had no idea how much money he had with him. When my stepson, Danny, and Larry, our son, went through Louis' property, they found more money hidden in his room.

The Sutter County Medical Examiner could not determine what killed Louis, so they sent specimens to the FBI laboratory in Washington, DC. When their officer testified, he stated the cause of death could be one of three things: Arsenic (which Louis kept in the house to use on his plants), Lead Poisoning  (Louis painted pictures for many years using lead-based paints), or he could have been beaten to death. They could not rule out beating because he had been lying in the sun almost 30 days before his body was discovered. Several death certificates had been issued, listing different causes of death.

While the FBI officer was testifying, he let it slip that he was not the person who tested the specimens in Washington. For this, the judge stated he was tempted to, and should have, thrown it out of court. But he did not.

I asked my public defender why he didn't call my medical doctor or my psychiatrist to testify that I was physically and mentally unable to do this murder. He said that in his opinion, it would have done more harm than good in the eyes of the jury.

When the public defender called my character witnesses, all five were lined up in front of the witness box and not allowed to say anything. They were only allowed to shake or nod their heads to the questions asked.

The judge was very vague when giving directions to the jury, which is probably why the jury had a lot of questions while in session. Every question the jury sent back by the officer was answered the same way: "Read the transcript." Now my trial was only five days long. Monday, day one, was jury selection. The next three days were the trial. On Friday morning, the fifth day, my case went to jury. They took eight hours to bring in a conviction, and that was after both detectives went in and talked to them. It did not seem right, but I was not allowed to complain. Afterward, they denied that the visit to the jury room ever happened, and of course, it is not in the court records, so it is our word against theirs.

After the verdict came in and the court was dismissed, the courtroom was supposed to be empty, but the judge, district attorney, my public defender and my investigator were standing in a group in the courtroom and the judge made the statement, "Well, we know she didn't do this, but when she is sentenced, whoever did this will come forward." What they did not realize was that there was a witness to this conversation. I cannot give a name at this time, but this statement was relayed to me later.

After the sentencing, there was such an uproar at the jail about the sentence of life without parole, one female officer quit. She cleaned out her desk and walked out. The officer who drove me back and forth during the trial and sentencing, was in tears and when we got back to the jail, he was sent home for the rest of the week.

I was sentenced on March 4, 1991. Four days later, on March 8, 1991, I was taken to prison. They were afraid there would be trouble at the jail, so they got me out of there as fast as possible.

I have adjusted well to prison, it is now just a few months short of eight years. I have never had any trouble and have not given any trouble. I have never had a disciplinary infraction.

For all these years, I have been fighting through the court system on appeal. I have been denied by the Ninth Circuit Court on my Federal appeal. I have had court-appointed attorneys, but they did not seem interested in my story. They went only by the court transcripts, not taking into account things not listed in the transcripts.

As you can see, I need help. I need someone to believe my side of this case and delve more deeply than what has been done previously.

I am currently housed at Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison in Las Vegas, Nevada, where I was transferred from California. Carol Stanton, Case No. CIVS95-2146 DFL GGH P (Federal Court), C010628 (State Court).

Carol Stanton #42829
4370 Smiley Road
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89115-1808
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The Sweet Air Of Freedom

By Charles Sparks

Static Inertia relates to Newton's First Law of Motion which states in part that a body at rest has a tendency to stay at rest unless an outside force is applied to overcome its resistance to movement. The greater the weight at rest, the more force is needed to get it to budge even the slightest. Stay with me here....

In the world of criminal courts the static inertia to do nothing in the area of self-examination is immense. Nevertheless, this week something unprecedented happened. This mountain of accumulated injustice budged just a smidgen. The static weight of so many wrongful convictions stacked upon the benches of justice moved. However slightly, the fact remains, it moved, damn it! And, with it, the static inertia has been broken.

It started with last summer's Conference on the Death Penalty and Wrongful Convictions in Chicago. Men and women from death rows across the country who had been vindicated by people outside the legal system were presented as witnesses to this failing system. 60 Minutes reported on this conference, as did many others. Then, in February, a Chicago journalism professor and his class did what the courts and police were unwilling to do. As a result, Anthony Porter, a man less than 48 hours from death, was freed because these citizens outside the system proved he was innocent. That week, in the same state, seven members of the courts and law enforcement are on trial for knowingly deceiving a jury into rendering a conviction against another innocent man -- Rolando Cruz.

The media is reporting the worrisome implications this bodes for prosecutors should this trend of exposing prosecutorial conspiracy gain in popularity. Business as usual is at stake. Why, they say that accountability and full disclosure could threaten the entire legal system as it operates today. Imagine that! It is indeed a brave new world.

Perhaps the system is self-correcting but, until now, for those unjustly rotting away in our prisons the process is on the same time scale as watching the continental drift. This analogy is not a bad one. As the courts continue to add pressure to the fault lines with every new unjust conviction, the tension rises, silently building below the surface. As with all geological events, great expanses of time pass between epochal events producing tremendous upheaval occurring in the blink of an eye. Our justice system is sitting on the equivalent of the San Andreas Fault. With any luck we're seeing the initial rumblings just before The Big One. This has all been brought on by some honest investigative reports not beholden to the system, the cries of families who know the truth, concerned citizens who understand no one is safe when justice breaks down and, lastly, by those few still inside the justice system itself who retch at what is obvious to anyone with two good eyes.

While there are a lot of judges, prosecutors, law enforcement and even public defenders who deserve to be swept into the sea as their feet fall out from underneath them, there are even greater numbers in prisons who could appreciate a nice clear view of that same ocean from high upon a hill breathing the sweet air of freedom.

Charles Sparks, of the Prison Inmate Services Network   may be reached at advocate@pennpals.org

The relatively small group of people who finally achieved the goal of  freedom from the wrongs they suffered. We cannot call it "Justice at last" because it is no justice for an innocent to have to spend precious years of their lives fighting for a freedom which should never have been taken from them.

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Our Hero at The Bar is Michelle Fox, an attorney who tried her case in the media -- and WON!

Story Compiled by Clara A. Thomas Boggs             hero background.jpg (2255 bytes)

Michelle Fox, a Legal Aid lawyer, earned her place as a Hero on the pages of Justice Denied by never giving up until she won freedom for Jeffrey Blake, a 29-year-old Brooklyn man who spent eight years in prison for a double murder he did not commit. Even the judge in the case apologized for the entire judicial system.

A realist, Michelle Fox, confesses that she loses 95 percent of her cases, as do most appeals lawyers. The big victory of freeing an innocent client is not likely to change her routine much, and she will show up, as usual, to work at the Legal Aid office in downtown Manhattan. The clients clamoring for her services there will not be the rich and famous, but are more likely to be prisoners pleading with her to handle their cases.

The forty-something Ms. Fox was raised in the little town of South Hadley, Massachusetts by her father, a postal worker and active unionist, and her mother, a pharmacist. Surely her father's activism and her mother's career of serving people played a part in Ms. Fox's desire to be "one of those lawyers who fight for justice."

After Ms. Fox graduated from Columbia Law School she joined Legal Aid, later marrying her colleague, David Crow, with whom she has two small children.

Ms. Fox received Jeffrey Blake's case In 1992. Blake was a stock clerk in a religious-supply company with a ninth-grade education and a prior conviction for drug possession. When Michelle Fox got his case he'd been sentenced to 36 years to life in prison for the murder of two men with an Uzi submachine gun in the summer of 1990. Fox didn't believe Blake did it after reading the trial transcript and seeing that the case against him was very weak. The only witness the prosecution had was Dana Garvey, a man Garvey's own cousin called a liar, saying Garvey wasn't even in New York at the time of the crimes.

Ms. Fox  succeeded in getting videotaped admission from Garvey that he had lied, but he perversely refused to testify on the stand, and Ms. Fox's appeals for a new trial were denied.

Greatly troubled by Blake's conviction, Fox worried about him until December of 1996, when she and Legal Aid investigator Janice Mitchell tracked down Garvey's girlfriend, because Garvey had testified that she had also seen the crime. The girlfriend told her Garvey had lied. Fox now had a way to reopen the case, but in January 1997, her daughter, Helen, then 6, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and she had to take a nine-month leave of absence before resuming her fight for Blake.

After the Federal District Court in Brooklyn turned down her appeal for Blake, Ms. Fox petitioned the Brooklyn District Attorney's office to reopen the case and also called for help from Bob Herbert, a columnist for the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. In August, 1998, Herbert called the case against Jeffrey Blake "virtually nonexistent." In October, the Brooklyn District Attorney's office asked for Blake's conviction to be set aside, and the court did so.

Justice Denied joins others who have honored Ms. Fox as a hero: New York magazine honored her in December, 1998 as a New York hero.

Ms. Fox does not see the Blake case as a triumph of the legal system, for she didn't win his case on legal grounds, and says it was media pressure that freed Jeffrey Blake.

Sadly, we agree. At Justice Denied we are learning over and over the lesson that proofs of innocence can be beside the point and that the system's seemingly insatiable appetite for winning can overshadow conscience and the obligation to investigate cases to make sure beyond "reasonable doubt" that the accused are, in fact, guilty. We count ourselves as part of the powerful movement to restore true justice to this country. Join us in honoring the heroes and exposing injustice as we put the criminal justice system on trial.

Thank you, Michelle Fox, for your persistence in gaining freedom for an innocent man. May many others be inspired by you and those like you who labor for true justice.

(If any reader of Justice Denied knows how to contact Michelle Fox, please let us know.)
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Anthony Porter Update:

Anthony Porter, Freed Inmate, In Trouble With Law

Anthony Porter,  read his original story in Volume 1 Issue 2, jailed again March 23 charged with domestic battery against his daughter and her mother, according to news reports. Porter allegedly struck one woman in the face and hit and kicked the other several times, then fled before police came.

Porter turned himself in at the courthouse, and his bond was set at $20,000 on each of the charges, and is now at the Cook County Jail waiting for his April 1 court date. Porter had just been pardoned by Governor George Ryan, having been freed in February after a Northwestern University journalism class and a private investigator were able to prove that 48-year-old Alstory Simon committed the murders for which Porter was imprisoned.

Writer William Kreuter points out that being free of prison bonds may only be the beginning of new troubles for those who were wrongly convicted. We can only imagine the angers which build in the hearts of the wronged after years of mistreatment. The same mistreatment is given to the guilty, with the effect of producing cycles of violence in our society while never solving the problem of crime. Far from causing us to react with fear, the failures of our ex-inmates, along with the great numbers of innocent people being convicted, should convince us we need to take a hard look at how our criminal justice system functions and change it after sober reflection rather than fearful reaction.

by William Kreuter

As a followup to our report on Anthony Porter, Porter was arrested again a few days after his formal pardon on March 19 by Governor Ryan. This arrest was for domestic assault.

Porter, you may recall, was the most recent Illinois death-row inmate to be released after his innocence was demonstrated by Northwestern University journalism students who were given the case as a homework assignment, but not by a fair and diligent justice system.

"I got to go home, you understand, and get my life together," he told reporters as he left the Cook County Jail. Porter had turned himself in on the newest charges.

Porter is a severely retarded man; his life was saved last fall only because a court was deciding whether execution of someone with an IQ of 51 violated the Constitution. In conjunction with Porter's retardation, he has had lifelong emotional problems which surely were not improved by the seventeen years he spent on death row for a crime of which he was innocent.

(Note: Since Porter's court appearance was to be April 1st, we may have further news, and will bring it to you as it becomes available.)

You may write to William Kreuter at billyk@drizzle.com

Please read Anthony Porter's original story in Volume 1 Issue 2.

©Justice: Denied

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