Directly from the desk of Clara Thomas Boggs Two Editorials This Month: Status of our Grant to Publish and Convergence of Powers for Justice?
Anthony Graves -- The confessed murderer says Anthony is innocent. "It was me and me alone. Anthony Graves had nothing to do with it. I lied on him in court. Anthony Graves don't even know anything about it." Robert Carter, the confessed murderer.
Anthony Apanovitch Mentioned in the last two issues of JD, still needs your help.
Inside the World of Darlie Routier Enter the World of Darlie Routier -- a world where good and evil dwell as friends.
Ron Tijerina -- In Defiance/Of Justice. In Defiance County, Ohio, the recipe for injustice may have been easy to mix. Only one judge, one part-time prosecutor, prejudice, a naive defendant, lack of good counsel, and a sex crime to boot, resulted in the perfect ingredients to wrongly convict Ron Tijerina.
Jason Barber, FREE at Last. After serving three years of a thirty-five-years prison sentence, Jason Barber walked out of the Upsur County Justice Center a free man.
Tests Could Prove Innocence of E. Wayne Felker, Executed in 1996.
Ex-CIA Agent Framed by the CIA and Federal Prosecutors The strange case of former CIA agent Edwin Wilson provides a rare proof of the legal and moral corruption pervasive throughout the U.S. Department of Justice and the shortage of compassion endemic in the federal judiciary.
The Case of Joseph Lavigne, Wrongly Convicted of Raping His Five-Year-Old Daughter. The Lavigne family is literally torn apart while the real rapist roams free.
Hell Hath No Fury. On June 18, 1980, Robert J. Kubat was sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. Nine years later, his death sentence was overturned. One year later Bob was re-sentenced in Lake County to 60 years for the charge of murder. He is scheduled for release in 2009, at which time he will be 74 years old.
RUSH TO JUDGMENT. After serving seven years for a crime to which he pleaded guilty, McFarland wanted to put his past behind him -- but that wasn't to happen.
Mark Woodworth: A Juvenile Railroaded Despite an unbelievably shaky case, Mark Woodworth was convicted in May 1995 and sentenced to 31 years in prison. Four years later, a new jury returned an identical guilty verdict, but imposed an even heavier sentence -- four life terms.
Lerlene Roever (Shasta) Update: Bereft, More Alone Than Ever
Texas Death Row Inmate Hank Skinner's Case Raises Questions
DNA test does not rule out death row inmate was at murder scene. An update on the Crosley Green case. Original story follows.
Rally For a Moratorium on Federal Executions.
Why Justice Denied Magazine is Important: A Historical Perspective. Justice Denied is the first regularly published magazine to focus on the pervasive problem of wrongful convictions in the United States. A few courageous people, however, have preceded Justice Denied by writing books and articles disclosing the prevalence and tragedy of wrongful convictions. I think these pioneers deserve to be recognized; they laid the foundation for understanding how wrongful convictions occur.
Compensate the Unjustly Convicted by Dr. Sarnoff. On December 9, 1998, the New Zealand Ministry of Justice instituted a system to compensate people whose convictions of crimes had been overturned on appeal. This precedent-setting act went completely ignored by the American media.
This month in Voices Behind the Bars, we have creative writings by two women deeply affected by wrongful convictions. They are not prisoners but their voices still need to be heard. How Many? By Gaynell Kendrick and The Barrier A Short Story by Elouise Lord
Map of the World.
Reviewed by Hans Sherrer
SnapShots from this issue:
An Innocent Minor on Death Row, and Everyone Seems to Know It
DNA Testing FINALLY frees Larry Youngblood
Statusof our Grant to Publish
For the time being, we have returned the grant money to the G. J. Aigner Foundation until we can organize the effort to publish. The Aigner Foundation has been very gracious and patient with us even though it has been many months since they gave us the grant and we have been unable to publish yet.
There are many reasons for the delay. Sheila Eaken, who was the primary organizer of this effort, had to turn her efforts elsewhere because of life changes. Delays due to my life situations have also been a factor. Other members of our JD Team have each faced various challenges, ranging from the exciting to the daunting. One of the team is working with television crews on a story, another two had medical problems, one has had a severe legal challenge, others have taken vacations, changed jobs, and one of our members, sadly, died. The one who died was planning to come to Oregon to work with me, but is not known to our readers. To this day, we have little information on Deb Tortorigi's death. (We received the news in an email from her sister, but never received a reply to our further inquiries, and have no idea how to discover more.)
Publishing a run of 10,000 issues will require a separate team of JD people only working on that project. We need someone to round up addresses of people to whom we may send the complimentary issues, a person to handle the increased volume of subscriptions, another person to handle the increased prisoner mail that will surely come. In all, it's a big effort. The Aigner Foundation has given us until July of 2001 to reclaim the grant. That is most generous of them, and we appreciate that vote of confidence.
We are entirely open to receiving offers of help in getting our big issue published. We believe that once the average citizen has access to JD Magazine, some real differences will come about. We believe this because even though we are not "out there," we have already made a big difference.
One thing we need is more money. The grant of $6,000 is only enough to cover printing, paper, postage, and whatever is involved with publishing itself. It is not enough to pay for any people involved in the publishing. One way to go would be to seek another grant to cover some modest salaries. For that, we still need some grant writers. Getting a grant writer has been a difficulty. Nevertheless, there is always tomorrow, pregnant with possibilities, and the right person could come at any time.
We have fortunately had our own "Angel" who regularly sends us a donation that largely keeps our work going. He does not want to be identified, so we respect that. Our Angel's donations are the bedrock, although we thankfully do receive other donations from time to time, and full memberships. These allow us to keep the prisoner mail answered (now that we have two of the team handling it), and covers most of our expenses. Unfortunately, there's nothing left over that would qualify for a salary. Still, we have come a very long way, and we're still here advocating for the wronged and making a difference in people's lives.
We again call on you, our readers, to get the word out about JD's work for the wrongly convicted, lend your talents if you can spare time, and give generously to this work of justice.
In the past month or two, two investigators have joined us and will be scrutinizing some of our cases. As volunteers like them join us, we'll be better able to vouch for the stories we bring you. As of now, our policy is to publish the story because the prisoner claims to be innocent. With investigators, we'll know far more, and you can be more confident of the people you want to support.
Our path is onward and upward. There is no turning back. Join us in this righteous cause.
For the JD Team,
Clara Alicia Thomas Boggs
Convergenceof Powers for Justice?
One usually speaks of a convergence in terms of a favorable alignment of planets. Here, I speak of it in terms of a favorable alignment of earthly powers beginning to converge on the justice system in the United States.
Consider all that has happened just since 1993 (the year I began looking for resources) when there was almost nowhere to turn for help if you were innocent.
Grassroots groups sprang up throughout the country. One, the U.N.I.O. N. (United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect, http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Parliament/2398/home.html), has evolved into an increasingly effective tool for prison reform in California. Director B. Cayenne Bird keeps in touch with her "troops" through email, phone and faxes, once bombarding Governor Davis' mailroom (in its "Raise a Stink" campaign) with 456 packages of stinky onions to make their point that a large mainstream group of voters do object to harsh laws and inhumane treatment of prisoners. Until that point, Davis had claimed that only radicals wanted prison reform.Another activist, "Grandma Kay Lee," with her "Making The Walls Transparent" campaign, regularly holds vigils at prisons protesting heavy sentences for marijuana convicts, arguing that treatment and restoration are more viable alternatives than imprisoning more and more people.
By 1995, when I first sought help on the Internet, there was little available, outside of some isolated web sites about prisons and prisoners. Now there are literally hundreds of sites devoted both to prisoners in general and to innocent people in particular. Just a few of these are
The Bannister Foundation (http://www.ibf.brum.net/enter.htm)
Truth in Justice (http://www.truthinjustice.org/)
The Injustice Line (http://www.injusticeline.com/index.html)
Death Penalty Information Center (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org).
Justice: Denied Magazine itself was really "born" in 1995, but had to wait until a convergence of its own was ready and aligned.
It wasn't until 1994 that DNA tests became widely known to the public through the O. J. Simpson trial. Now it has become a real tool to free the innocent. Although many states still resist DNA testing for inmates, the pressure is on many states to allow it to settle the issue of innocence or guilt. The fact that Governor George W. Bush allowed DNA testing for Ricky McGinn, who turned out to be guilty, but did not allow a stay of execution for Gary Graham (Shaka Sankofa) in a possible mistaken eyewitness case, is seen by some as reprehensible. We should not forget that Bush refused a reprieve to Jerry Lee Hogue, executed on March 11, 1998, even though Hogue's lawyers pleaded for DNA testing to confirm other evidence they had of Hogue's innocence -- and that Bush now falsely claims that the lawyers hadn't mentioned DNA. It could be argued that Mr. Bush could only do what the parole board recommended, but in addition to the fact that Bush can unilaterally issue a thirty-day reprieve (exactly as he did to enable McGinn's testing), no one should forget that it's his hand-picked parole board, and that they've largely done as he wanted. Now, of course, Mr. Bush says he endorses DNA testing for inmates.
The death penalty is now a national debate. That was most unlikely just a few years ago. In fact, I proposed that a friend and I write a pro and con pamphlet about the death penalty, and she told me that there was no national interest in the subject. Those now freed thanks to DNA testing has changed many minds.
Meanwhile, the San Diego County district attorney began a policy of offering free DNA testing to inmates who say they were wrongly convicted and would be exonerated by this increasingly common scientific method. This may be a first for the country where a district attorney did not just wait to be petitioned, but took the initiative to seek cases where DNA tests had not been performed originally and where it could change a verdict, or possibly a life. Other counties in southern California are considering similar policies.
Truly, all these events are momentous for the wrongly imprisoned.
Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld have thrown down the gauntlet, challenging a few universities to join their effort to get involved in freeing the innocent, offering their expertise to educate the would-be advocates. Before that, Professor Protess and his students at Northwestern University in Illinois made a sizable dent in the public's perception of the infallibility of our justice system, helping to free so many innocent people that Governor Ryan of Illinois called for a moratorium on that state's executions until some fair system could be established ... or not.
Over the past eight years, the East Coast law clinic has used DNA testing and other means to get convictions overturned for 67 inmates around the country, including eight people on death row.
In the Pacific Northwest, the overturned Wenatchee, Washington cases have caused tremors throughout the legal community there. About 24 people were convicted of child sex abuse on the say-so of Detective Bob Perez. It increasingly came to light that Perez intimidated children and adults of low IQ to come up with bogus convictions. All but two of those convictions have now been overturned, thanks first to Roby Roberson (who was convicted, but later freed), who involved the media, then the world-renowned Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, and Carol Hopkins of the then-Justice Committee.
Now, there are many others involved through the Innocence Project Northwest -- the very group that so far has freed eleven people. So many people freed from one collective case is unprecedented, perhaps in the entire country, but certainly for the state of Washington. In Washington, few people trust the system, with good reason.
University of Washington professors tried to persuade Barry Scheck to speak at a Seattle conference in 1997. Scheck would do it, but only if the UW would consider starting an Innocence Project on the West Coast. Since then, Scheck has offered to help other universities to establish a network of similar clinics in place around the country. Scheck's model is simple -- Law students do the legal research and legwork on a case. If the research and initial inmate contact showed promise, the project would take on the case. With an experienced lawyer, they then would file motions needed to get appellate courts to re-examine the conviction.
More good news is coming from the state of Washington. There have been recent high-powered calls for a moratorium. Of 26 people sentenced to death in this state under current law, there have been only three executions while eleven have had their convictions or sentences overturned.
Within these pages, you've read some estimates of how many innocent people there may be in prison. Any person active in justice issues has offered educated guesses. At JD, we've estimated the numbers to be somewhere between 10 and 20 percent. Just 7 years ago, one study estimated that only one half of one per cent of the people in prison were innocent. Now, in a 1996 report, the National Institute of Justice, the research branch of the Justice Department, estimates that 10 percent of the country's prison population (about 200,000 people) may be innocent of crimes for which they were convicted.
This is progress. When the Justice Department can acknowledge that there is such a high number of possibly innocent people behind bars, you know that the problem is severe indeed.
It's all increasingly out in the open now thanks largely to the activists of all stripes who have brought attention to the dismal failures of our justice system.
It's a convergence, all right -- the power of people has made itself felt. Most activists are guardedly optimistic about truly turning the system around. We believe it can and will happen because no people with any kind of conscience will abide injustice.
For Justice: Denied,
Clara A. Thomas Boggs
Lerlene Roever (Shasta) Update: Bereft, More Alone Than Ever
Lerlene Roever, known as "Peanut" to some friends and "Shasta" to others was dealt a crushing blow on July 20 when she was called in to see her case worker. "I'm supposed to tell you that your uncle is dead. He's been dead for about three weeks and a neighbor found him because of the smell. The District Attorney's office and the Sheriff's office want to know if he had a will, and if so, where it is, and do you want him cremated or buried."
Shasta's story was told in Issue 2 of JD. She was charged with having murdered the man she loved, Ian, although no evidence whatever linked her to the crime. Although he'd been involved with drugs previously and that was the more probable area to look for his killer, the police and DA's office seized on her as the handiest target.
In all Shasta's battles, there was her faithful Uncle Floyd Draper, tirelessly trying to find justice for the niece he knew was innocent. It was he who would write letters to the editor, who called lawyers and asked for them to return calls (in vain). It was Floyd who wrote to Shasta, accepted her collect calls, and who kept all her important papers and the memorabilia of the five generations of her family.
When his death was discovered, the Nye County, Nevada District Attorney and Sheriff sent men to take everything but the furniture from Mr. Draper's home and haul it away in an industrial sized dumpster.
Shasta is understandably in shock over multiple losses, the primary one of losing her best friend and champion. Beyond that, however, she has now lost the only person willing to fight to prove her innocence.
I am making a personal plea for someone to help this woman who has suffered so much, and yet has tried to give so much to others. She is presently working in the education department after having pushed hard to have more programs to help the inmates.
Please see the archives, Issue 2, for her complete story.
Search your heart for willingness to help this woman who is now without the best friend she had in the world. You may write to Shasta directly. If you do, we would like to know who you are, so please drop a note to JusDenMail@aol.com (Nancy Sanders, our mail handler). Thank you in advance for however you are moved to help.
Lerlene Roever 62297
4370 Smiley Road
Las Vegas, Nevada 89115
Texas Death Row Inmate Hank Skinner's Case Raises Questions
By Kira Caywood, Justice Denied Staff Writer
David Protess, a Northwestern University journalism professor whose students have helped exonerate Illinois death row inmates, is now hoping to do the same for a Texas inmate.
Protess says Henry Watkins Skinner's trial defense was inadequate and forensic testing was incomplete. "This evidence wasn't that hard to find," Protess said. "It was found by eight 21-year-olds."
In 1995, Skinner, 38, was convicted of the 1993 murder of his girlfriend, Twila Jean Busby, 40, and the fatal stabbings of her two mentally handicapped sons at their Texas home. Skinner maintains his innocence.
Three hours after the slayings, police found Skinner in a nearby Pampa home, his right hand cut and his clothes spattered with the blood of Busby and one of her sons, 22-year-old Elwin Caler.
That discovery and three bloody palm prints found at the scene were sufficient to link Skinner to the crime, Gray County District Attorney John Mann said.
"Once we had enough to convince a grand jury and a trial jury of his guilt, that was enough to go with and I went with it," claimed Mann.
Skinner disputed that theory in a recent interview. "If I had hit her in the head 14 times with an ax handle, wouldn't you think I would have been covered in blood instead of just a few spots?" he questioned. He said Caler's blood stained his clothes when the fatally wounded man tried to roust him from the living room sofa.
"Here is a case where the physical evidence begs to be tested, to find out whether Hank Skinner deserves to be on death row or a free man," commented Protess. "It's a textbook case of a miscarriage of justice where you have the lethal recipe of police and prosecutorial misconduct, defense ineptitude and judicial indifference."
In Texas, the national leader in executions, about a dozen executions are scheduled between now and the Nov. 7 election. Governor George W. Bush's presidential campaign has helped bring the state to the forefront of the national death penalty debate.
Largely in response to recent findings of inmates' innocence, Gov. George Ryan suspended all Illinois executions in January pending a task force study. In Illinois, Protess and his students have uncovered evidence leading to the exoneration of seven men convicted of murder, including three on death row.
A review of Hank Skinner's court documents and trial testimony shows the following.
In an affidavit, prosecution star witness Andrea Reed said police pressured her and prosecutors gave her prepared testimony to testify that Skinner threatened to kill her at her home after the killings. No court has yet considered her recantation.
Skinner's court-appointed defense attorney, Harold Comer, had successfully prosecuted Skinner for assault and car theft as a district attorney. This fact prevented Comer from objecting during the penalty phase, when these same convictions were presented to prove Skinner's potential danger to society.
The prosecution failed to test three possible murder weapons -- two knives and a bloody ax handle. It did not order DNA tests for flesh found under Busby's fingernails, several hairs found on her body, and a rape kit containing sperm. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Skinner's 1997 motion requesting more testing. Texas Department of Public Safety criminalist Gary Stallings has acknowledged much of the physical evidence wasn't tested.
Police never investigated Busby's uncle, Robert Donnell, despite two witnesses stating that Donnell stalked Busby an hour before her death. Donnell died in 1997.
The Northwestern University investigation uncovered a new witness who saw Donnell rip out his car flooring and paint over the vehicle's interior not long after the murders.
"Everything that would point in Skinner's direction was examined and things that pointed away from him were ignored," said Douglas Robinson, Skinner's attorney.
Although Comer pointed out the lack of testing, the defense attorney never requested the tests. In a letter dated June 25, 1994, Skinner himself asked Comer to conduct the tests.
"Our theory was that it wasn't our obligation. It should have been tested by the state, because they have an obligation to exclude as well as convict," Comer said.
On June 21, 1999, Governor Bush signed into law a bill to give four death row inmates, including Hank Skinner, another chance to enter their Habeas Corpus appeal.
Skinner's case is under federal appeal and an execution date has not been scheduled. He is awaiting trial under case number H-99-0603. / Nature civil rights / Judge Lee Rosenthal.
Hank Skinner has now filed two lawsuits against the Terrell Unit treatment of all death-row inmates since the Thanksgiving night when an inmate escaped. Now, Hank's lawyers made their recommendation to the magistrate, who is expected to rule within one month. As the Habeas Corpus has not been entered yet, Skinner has more time to try to save his life, with another three chances to appeal.
You may write to Mr. Skinner at:
Hank Skinner #999143
12002 FM 350 South
Livingston TX 77351-9630
You may also want to contact Rev. Albert and Mary Maggard, PO Box 1451, Pampa, TX 79066 / Telephone: 806-665-8192 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to help financially, please contact the Maggards on behalf of the "Hank Skinner Defense Fund."
Taken at face value...
DNA test does not rule out death row inmate was at murder scene
By Barbara Jean McAtlin, JD Writer
Death penalty opponents sought and gained DNA testing for 42-year-old Florida death row inmate Crosley Green in an effort that was intended to show that the man had been wrongfully convicted of the 1989 murder of 22-year-old Chip Flynn in a Brevard County orange grove. Green -- along with his state-appointed lawyer -- agreed to provide a blood sample for a type of DNA testing that was not available at the time of Green's 1990 trial.
Even though DNA technology has gained freedom for many wrongly convicted rapists and murderers, this particular test -- at a glance -- seems to show that Crosley Green was indeed at the scene of the murder. Recently, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) released DNA test results that placed Green at the murder scene. When Green was convicted, there was no physical evidence linking him to the murder. Green, who is still on Florida's death row, has maintained his innocence and has always said that he was at his girlfriend's house on the night of the murder.
Shortly after being contacted by a death penalty opponent in Florida, four private investigators took up Crosley Green's case. The investigators told the Seminole-Brevard state attorney that four of the witnesses who had testified against Green -- including his own sister -- had recanted their testimony. The witnesses also told the private investigators that sheriff's investigators and prosecutors had pressured them into implicating Crosley Green in Chip Flynn's murder. These allegations were subsequently published in Melbourne's newspaper Florida Today. After the story was published, Norm Wolfinger, the state attorney at the time of Green's trial, asked the FDLE to conduct an independent investigation.
In addition to releasing the damning DNA test results, the FDLE said that they had also reached the conclusion that the four witnesses who recanted their stories after Green's trial were not credible.
One of the private investigators, Paul Ciolino of Chicago, insists that the method of DNA testing that was used by Lab Corp. of Raleigh, North Carolina, is not reliable and is "suspect." During an investigation that spanned an 11-month period, the lab used this test to match the DNA from Green's blood to DNA that had been found in two hairs that had been vacuumed from the victim's truck after the murder. The investigator also says that there is not one iota of evidence that connects Green to this murder.
Source: St. Petersburg Times
Late Breaking News... Investigators in Green case seek new DNA test
By Barbara Jean McAtlin
The team of four private investigators that still hope to exonerate Florida death row inmate Crosley Green are requesting a judge's permission to conduct their own DNA tests on hairs that a North Carolina lab says link Green to the 1989 slaying of Chip Flynn. The investigators claim that the results of the DNA tests conducted by Lab Corp. of North Carolina are unreliable and do not necessarily point a finger of guilt at Green. They believe that even if their new tests agree with the state's results, the tests only prove the hairs belong to a relative of Green's mother because of the type of DNA test that was conducted. A relative of Green's mother "could be any number of people," said Paul Ciolino, a private investigator who -- along with a team of three colleagues -- has been investigating Green's conviction since 1999.
The DNA test performed by the state was conducted during an investigation into Green's case by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) only after they were requested by the state attorney and after the investigators alleged prosecutorial misconduct and said that at least three witnesses had committed perjury at Green's trial.
The investigators had hoped that the DNA test would help clear Green. Instead, the tests determined that Green's mitochondrial DNA matched that of hairs that had been vacuumed from Flynn's truck after his murder. Mitochondrial DNA testing -- a relatively new process that is used for degraded or smaller evidence samples -- only shows that a group of people has the same mother. Anyone blood-related to Green's mother would have the same mitochondrial DNA. That relative could be a sister, brother, uncle, aunt, or even a distant cousin. The more commonly used nuclear DNA can be matched to only one person but was not used in Green's testing.
Ciolino, who said that mitochondrial testing was "voodoo science," also said the testing is so new that no one is even certain that it is accurate. Even so, the FBI says that mitochondrial DNA testing has been used in criminal court proceedings in 14 states since April 1999 -- including Florida. Mitochondrial DNA testing is normally used to rule someone out in a criminal case -- not in. The hairs tested in Green's case were not large enough for the more accurate nuclear DNA testing. Typically, if the results of a mitochondrial test are positive, they are used in conjunction with other evidence.
Ciolino and the other investigators have repeatedly pointed out the lack of any other piece of physical evidence in Green's case. Out of more than 50 pieces of evidence that were analyzed during the FDLE's reinvestigation of this case, nothing but the hairs came close to linking Green to the murder scene. An assistant state attorney said the recent mitochondrial DNA test results had a vast amount of value as evidence because of the way it conformed to other circumstances of the case: eyewitness identification of Green by Chip Flynn's girlfriend, witnesses who said they saw Green that night, and other witnesses who claimed he had confessed to the murder.
Although several of the witnesses at Green's trial have since recanted, the FDLE report says their credibility as witnesses can no longer be established because it is unknown whether they lied then or are lying now.
Source: Florida Today
The following original story ran as a SnapShot in Volume 1 issue 10.
CROSLEY GREEN'S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM
SnapShot by Barbara Jean McAtlin and Clara A. T. Boggs
Investigative "Dream Team" works to free Green from Florida's death row
Query by anti-death penalty activist starts ball rolling
CBS News' 48 Hours recently focused on a Brevard County man sentenced to death for a murder he says he did not do. Crosley Green, now 41, was convicted in the 1989 death of 22-year-old Chip Flynn, who was fatally shot in a Central Florida orange grove. Police zeroed in on a suspect by the morning after the killing -- Crosley Green, a black man recently released from prison on a drug charge.
The main witness in the case was Kim Hallock, who was 19 in 1990. She and Flynn, her ex-boyfriend, had gone to Holder Park in Mims, FL, a little after 11 p.m. to talk. She told police that a black man with a gun approached them, then robbed and kidnapped them. She said the gunman tied Flynn's hands behind his back, sat Hallock in the middle, then drove Flynn's truck to the orange grove. She said the man grabbed her and forced her out of the truck and onto the ground. Hallock said that Flynn, who was still in the truck, then got his own gun -- one Hallock hid on the car seat earlier. Hallock said Flynn came out of the truck shooting even though his hands were tied behind his back. She told police she then drove the truck to a friend's house and called 911. Flynn died at the hospital a few hours later.
Hallock identified Green from a photo lineup, and several witnesses told deputies an artist's sketch 'resembled' Green. Green's defense attorney, Rob Parker, questioned Hallock's ability to identify Green when it was pitch dark at the time of the crime and she saw him for less than 30 seconds. Soon after Flynn was killed, Hallock told police she didn't remember much about the assailant, but knew he had Jheri-curled hair. Green had a buzz cut.
An all-white jury convicted Green on Sept. 5, 1990 of first-degree murder. Crosley, then 32, was sentenced to Florida's death row, where he is today. Green was offered a plea bargain at his trial. He'd be free today if he'd accepted, but he refused. Green says he didn't kill that young man, "So why should I have taken that plea bargain?"
Green's fight for freedom began in earnest in 1996 after Nan Webb, a 57-year-old white Floridian anti-death penalty activist, began writing to him. Webb contacted Chicago private investigator Paul Ciolino after she became convinced of Green's innocence. Ciolino, who worked with Northwestern University journalism students in freeing a death row inmate in Illinois, was successful at reinvestigating several death penalty cases. He thinks the state eventually will release Green, but says he believes that men with criminal records -- like Green -- are often railroaded by pressure on investigators to solve cases. After concluding that Green was railroaded, Ciolino gathered four other top private investigators to help him convince officials to reopen the case. Ciolino insists there is no case or evidence against Green. Ciolino, as well as the others on the five-man "dream team" of investigators, all worked without pay on the Green case.
Ciolino believes Crosley Green represents the problem this country has with the death penalty -- that we're in a rush to judge, convict and punish people to make ourselves feel good and ease the tension in a community.
When Ciolino raised questions earlier this year, State Attorney Norman Wolfinger asked Gov. Jeb Bush to review Green's case. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is also investigating. Brevard Sheriff Phil Williams, one of the two prosecutors on the Green case, has opened his department's case file on the investigation, although all of the key figures in the investigation stand by the conviction, saying they welcome an investigation, and look forward to addressing the issues in court.
Ciolino and the four investigators are sure of Green's innocence, but their work has been hard. They've had to reconstruct a nine-year-old crime, run down scores of leads and witnesses to interview, many who've moved, and gone down many dead ends. Joe Moura, head of one of the largest detective agencies in the country, philosophically accepts that, comparing it to baseball, "You strike out here, you strike out there. But every once in a while, you get a single, a double."
When witness Alan "Moon" Murray admitted he lied at Green's trial, the case against Green began to crack. At Green's 1990 trial, Murray told the jury that Green had told him he'd killed someone. Murray says he lied because he was on parole and felt pressure to come up with a story about Green. According to Murray, if he didn't say what the detectives wanted, he'd go right back to the "slammer." Detectives videotaped Murray's confession of lying, but that wasn't enough to reopen the case.
Another key witness in the case against Green was his sister Sheila. She told the jury that her brother confessed to her that he killed Flynn. Sheila Green, just convicted of drug charges at the time of the trial, faced a long prison sentence. Ciolino says Green's sister would have said Santa Claus committed the murder if that's what the prosecutors told her to say to escape prison time.
Sheila Green talked with Ciolino and Moura, but refused to let them videotape her statement. Ciolino appealed to her family. Shirley, Sheila's older sister, convinced her to let the detectives videotape her confession. In August, Sheila Green admitted, in a videotaped statement, she had lied at her brother's 1990 trial. Two days later, Sheila publicly admitted that she lied at her brother's trial, hoping to exchange the testimony for a lighter sentence.
Following up on another lead, the hard-working detectives found yet another witness who said he lied to the jury when he testified that Green had admitted the murder to him. Nine years ago, Flynn's friend, Tim Curtis, told police that a police sketch of the assailant matched Crosley Green, and that he heard rumors that Green was the killer. Curtis now owns a successful auto shop and does work for the sheriff's department. Ciolino and team didn't think Curtis would help. They were surprised when Curtis told them he lied 10 years ago because he wanted to help convict the man he believed killed Flynn. He believed then that Crosley Green was guilty. He has since changed his mind.
Four recanting witnesses still weren't enough to turn the tide. The detectives next targeted the physical evidence.
Sheriff's investigators searched Flynn's 1982 Chevy pickup truck in 1990. It was vacuumed and powdered for prints. They found no hair, fibers, blood, fingerprints, or any physical evidence connecting Green to the crime.
One important fact overlooked at trial was that Flynn's truck was a manual shift. Green couldn't drive a stick shift, and even if he'd been a skilled driver, Curtis, who'd sold the truck to Flynn, says this truck would have given him problems because, "You cannot get in that truck and take off without it stalling." Hallock had told police that Green not only drove the truck and shifted the gears, but also held a gun on his victims. Contradicting her, Flynn's father says Hallock told him that she, not Green, shifted the gears on the drive to the orange grove.
Ciolino pointedly asks how Crosley Green, who allegedly abducted the pair in this very truck, drives it, shifts the gears, turns the lights on, touches the glass, the right and left fenders, could leave no fingerprints or footprints. "Unless Green is Casper the ghost in disguise, then he couldn't have committed this crime," says Ciolino.
The words, 'black man' were repeatedly heard in this case at least 60 or 70 times during trial. Ciolino says these words communicated to the jury that Crosley Green was their worst enemy.
Kim Hallock testified that it was Crosley Green who shot Chip Flynn, but she refused to talk to the detectives. She wrote to the TV show, 48 Hours that the "new revelations are insignificant," further saying, "For the last 10 years, I've had to live with the memories and nightmares of that horrific evening. The fact is there are only two surviving witnesses, myself and Crosley, and I'm sure deep down inside Crosley knows he is right where he deserves to be."
One juror now says that Hallock's trial testimony sounded like "a made-up story." Alma Jean Blouse still voted to convict, but now admits that she had doubts. She says she felt pressured.
The detectives decided to offer a $25,000 reward for information leading to Flynn's real killer after three months of work and State Attorney Norman Wolfinger, who ran the office that prosecuted Green and still runs it today, succeeded at getting an independent state investigation of the case.
Ciolino is not impressed that they're doing it because they're nice, but because they were shamed into it by evidence that's so outrageous and corrupt that they are doing it to keep the faith of the public.
Ciolino's dream for Green and Webb of getting a new trial may be a nightmare for Peggy and Charlie Flynn, who remain convinced that Green killed their son, Chip Flynn.
Ciolino and his partners are undeterred. "I want this guy out," he told a Florida reporter. "He deserves to be free."
Sources: Orlando Sentinel, CBS NEWS
By Gaynell Kendrick
Desperate mothers cry,
Not my child, why?
How many have to will die?
The White Lie
Of Black Genecide?
The judicial system manipulation
Has created a steel plated plantation
Complete with concrete slave quarters accommodation
Designed for the black male population
To halt the manifestation of our seed germination
In attempts to achieve race annihilation.
Like our forefathers,
We must outwit our oppressors,
We must foil this sick intent,
We must become the aggressors,
And free our innocent
I believe to the point of knowing,
The number of innocent men
On death row is growing,
God is not pleased at the
Lack of concern we are showing.
We dishonor our ancestors
By not demanding clemency.
We dishonor ourselves by
The unjust monopoly,
Of this black life
(Gaynell Kendrick, the self-published author of "Speak It Loud," a collection of 22 poems filled with food for thought, is the single parent of 3 children. She is the first woman journeyman plasterer ever hired by the city of Detroit, and the first woman journeyman in her field to work on the GM Resource Center Project. She owns a home-based business, "Blaqueen's Creations," where she designs and builds glass and mirror furnishings, art work, African dolls, and other creations.)
A Short Story by Elouise Lord
Edited by Kira Caywood
The day was dull, just like the feelings in her heart.
As she approached the eight-foot wire fence, she gazed up at the double row of razor wire coiled over the entire top of the perimeter barrier. There was a third row nestled in between the two, not as decoration, but as deterrent. She knew this place contained both good and evil within its brick and concrete walls. She knew it also held hope and hopelessness, truth and falsehood, exultation and despair, love and extreme hate, and tension. She felt all these things and more, as she walked across the parking lot in the drizzly rain towards the gate, which would soon open to allow people like her to visit a loved one locked away inside.
As with every visit, she felt fear and trepidation. At the same time, she felt anticipation to once again see his kind and handsome face, even for a short while. She knew he was innocent of the terrible crime of which he had been convicted, but more and more, she was coming to grips with the fact that he still might be locked away from her for a very long time. The realization made her sad, sometimes bringing tears to her eyes as she stood outside in the rain waiting for that damned gate to open.
When she was not there to visit, other emotions raged within her. She feared for his safety, even though he had been there for eight years already. She worried that someone would hurt, or worse, kill him over something as petty as a look or facial expression. She visited those places enough to know things like that happened regularly.
Sometimes these worries weighed on her mind so strongly that she just had to see him to know he was all right. Other times she felt peace, especially after a visit when she found him in a happy mood and he had news of events he was organizing for the other prisoners.
Many thoughts and emotions passed through her mind as she waited with a group of others. She listened in on discussions about certain guards and how they could be so mean to both prisoners and their visitors. There, in the cold drizzle, the visitors voiced complaints that she knew would go no further than the discussion outside those forbidding fences. Complaints about the lack of shelter from the weather, lack of compassion from the guards, and the simple starkness of the place they were about to enter. Everyone knew that if you complained too much, you would not be allowed inside to see your loved one. Stories were told about losing visits because a guard did not like your tone of voice, your body language, or the clothes you wore.
Finally, the processing started -- this time, only three or four minutes after the visit was supposed to start. When the guard announced that they must enter only three at a time, she figured it would be a long wait still. She was twelfth in line.
Twenty-five minutes passed in the drizzling rain. Now it was her turn to go through the processing that all visitors must. The first step was to show picture identification to the guard behind the bullet-proof glass barrier. While he checked to make sure she was on the list, she signed the visitor sheet, filled in her name, the person she was visiting, her car's license number. She asked for a locker key, knowing that all she could take inside the next set of gates was $6.00 in coins to buy a coffee or a chocolate bar from the vending machines set up in the visiting room. She received a locker key from the guard through a slot in the glass and carefully wrote the number of the locker on the sheet. Then she put her purse and identification in the locker and secured the lock, keeping some coins and the key with her. Then there was the next line.
As she waited her turn to be scanned through, she watched the woman ahead and her two children go through the metal detector. Both children were wearing jeans. Of course, the buzzer went off, indicating metal. The guard at the desk then had to scan the children with a wand to find out exactly where the metal was. When the mother went through, the same thing happened, so she was also scanned with the wand. It turned out that her high-heeled shoes contained metal.
The guard counted the mother's coins to make sure that she had no more than the allowed amount, then asked for her glasses to scan for contact with drugs. Beside the guard sat a machine called an ionizer. It checked for the presence of illegal drugs by burning a sample of dust wiped from a visitor's personal object. The computer screen lit up with traces of cocaine. There was another wait while the guard questioned the mother about where she might have come into contact with the drug. It was only a small trace, so the conclusion was that it must have come from handling money to pay for her gas, since she had filled up her car on the way to the prison.
It was her turn next. She approached the guard with trepidation, worried about all the possible things that could prevent her visit. She made it through the metal detector, then the ionizer, and finally, the searching of her coat and counting of her coins. At last, she was cleared to go into the prison itself.
There were two more gates to pass through, one for each fence topped with razor wire, then a long walk down the stairs and pathway to the visiting area.
Some attempts had been made to beautify the area, but she barely noticed the flower gardens on her way down. She had to go through another heavy metal door to get inside the building, then wait until another guard buzzed the electric lock on the door to the visiting room itself.
Relief settled over her. She was there. She picked out a table with two chairs, and sat. She waited, feeling the eyes of others on her. Guards watched her movements, and other visitors and prisoners sized her up. She felt like she was on display.
An Innocent Minor on Death Row, and Everyone Seems to Know It.
By Frank McEvoy
Larry Osborne, now 20, sits on death row for killing no one.
On Kentucky's Death Row in Eddyville, Kentucky, sits Larry Osborne, 20, who when 17 committed the gross offense of having his mother call 911 because he suspected something may have been going on at the Davenport's house. On December 13, 1997, when the bodies of Sam Davenport, 82, and his wife, Lillian, 76, were discovered in their burned house, suspicion fell on Osborne, even though there was no hard evidence to link him to the crime.
The police eventually settled on the testimony of a friend of Osborne's, 15-year-old John Reid, who was promised immunity for his testimony. This testimony is odd for a number of reasons. The first is that the police videotape has Reid asking, "Is this going to get me out of all this stuff?" So we have a focus of Reid's interest.
Second, Reid, in his thirst for the truth, said Osborne left the house after torching it through the back door. Logical, except that the back door had a dead bolt lock, with a double key. No one went through it that night.
Third, Reid drowned after he sang to the Grand Jury, but the judge admitted the testimony. So much for cross-examination. This item is a major focus of Osborne's appeal.
Many Kentucky activists and legal authorities are convinced of Osborne's innocence (as I am, because Larry Osborne is a friend). Some are not, i.e., the DA, the judge, and the surviving Davenport family, one of whom may be the murderer, with a reasonable motive.
DNA Testing FINALLY frees Larry Youngblood
By Stormy Thoming-Gale
In 1983, Larry Youngblood was convicted of child molestation. The Pima County Attorney's Office said that Larry Youngblood was convicted based on the testimony of the victim, collaborating evidence and the technology available at the time.
The Arizona Court of Appeals briefly overturned Larry's conviction on grounds that due process was violated by the failure to safeguard evidence. Police failed to handle an important piece of evidence properly, making it impossible to determine whether semen was evident on Larry's clothing.
In 1988, the Supreme Court reversed that ruling. In a 6 to 3 decision, the Supreme Court held that a defendant's rights were not denied unless the authorities were acting maliciously and knew the evidence could prove innocence.
Dr. Edward Blake, a forensic scientist with expertise in DNA, said that due to its recent ruling, the Supreme Court had established a flawed legal precedent that will lower the standards of evidence collection. The 1988 ruling undermined what were once progressive mandates that put the onus on the government to collect, maintain and properly preserve evidence.
The Arizona Court of Appeals AGAIN set aside Larry Youngblood's conviction in 1990, arguing that the state's constitution was broader than the federal government's.
In 1993, the State Supreme Court AGAIN reinstated Mr. Youngblood's conviction.
Larry Youngblood returned to prison to serve out his sentence.
Summer of 1999, Larry's lawyers requested new DNA tests that were not available in 1983. Although the test results took several months, they completely exonerated Larry Youngblood.
A representative from the Pima County Attorney's Office has publicly apologized for the wrongful conviction. To be sure, he told the public it was an accident and that the office "acted in good faith" but he said the office regretted what had happened and feels bad that Larry was incarcerated.
Larry Youngblood, spent 17 years knowing he was innocent, never confessing, never taking a plea for less time and is understandably bitter.
Justice Denied wishes Mr. Youngblood the very best and hopes that the State of Arizona will take the initiative and offer compensation for the years lost by Mr. Youngblood.
Source: NY Times
Grease the Skids
By Frank McEvoy, Justice Denied Staff
Florida and California try to speed up the death chamber assembly line.
What's a state to do? Lots of litigious convicted murderers, all costing the state thousands of tax dollars, each one searching for better lawyers for countless appeals, clogging the state courts. A cacophony of cries of innocence from lots of the convicts, to boot. Well, Florida and California have found an answer: speed up the process!
In Tallahassee, attorneys for 59 death row inmates have formally requested that the law Governor Jeb Bush signed be struck down by the Florida Supreme Court. This law will speed up their road to the death chamber. The state-funded agency that represents death row inmates brought the suit, asking the Supreme Court to stop the law until the justices decide if it is constitutional or not.
Ironically, the Legislature approved the Death Penalty Reform (the term is here used loosely) Act of 2000 on January 7 during a three-day special session that also permitted lethal injection as an alternate execution method. Until Governor Bush signed this bill, Florida was one of the last four states to use the electric chair (a.k.a. "Old Sparky") as its only execution method.
But this death streamlining was, as one would imagine, the most argumentative part of the bill, a part that Governor Bush smiled upon. Presently, it takes a man 14 years to get to the death chamber; the new law promises to slash that period to five.
Those arguing against the bill contend that cutting back the appeals process is unconstitutional, denying the death row prisoners due process. It also is read to be unjust to prisoners using Public Defenders (a sizable number), since the law lets Florida stop paying those lawyers spending too much time on appeals, something that can have a chilling effect on private attorneys of death row clients. Third, the plaintiffs say that law lets the state map deadlines for judges to follow through the appeals process, something the Supreme Court should establish.
In its zest to reform the system, the lawsuits says that the "Legislature has abdicated its constitutional responsibilities."
There is bizarre patina to all this. According to Todd Scher, litigation director for the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel office for South Florida, the Legislature sloughed off warnings from its own staff, judges, and defense attorneys that much of the law was unconstitutional. Scher stated, "I know [the high court] will look at this more seriously than the Legislature did when it passed the law."
However, the counterpoint was given by Marty Moore, the Attorney General's chief aide. He noted that many objections to parts of the bill were worked out in debate. He noted the suit was "typical whining by CCRC lawyers." (One could say Mr. Moore's view was typical insensitivity by right-wing rich guys.) According to Mr. Moore, the state will hold the suit should have been filed in circuit court, where both sides could interview witnesses and present testimony to a judge. As it now stands, attorneys will present legal arguments to the seven Supreme Court justices.
Florida has a February 8 deadline to respond to the complaint. Everyone should be interested in the outcome, most of all the 366 prisoners on Florida's death row.
A Federal Appeals Court in San Francisco refused for the second time to put appeals on a "fast track." Among other items, this would have given prisoners a six-month limit on making appeals. Appellate judges would have been required to make such cases their first priority, and they would have six months to issue their rulings.
California is trying to implement a 1996 federal law that allowed states to speed up appeals in capital cases, though with the caveat that the state establish binding standards for the appointment, competency, and reasonable payment of lawyers for the condemned after their initial appeals. These second level appeals, the famous writs of habeas corpus (usually the best chances the condemned have to reverse their convictions), usually assert that the condemned's attorney was incompetent. No state has yet qualified for this federal criterion. According to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, California didn't demonstrate that it had any binding standards for its court-appointed defense attorneys.
Prisoners on California's death row now can languish for up to four years before getting a lawyer. Because of this, a California law took effect in January 1998 that increased money for capital case attorneys, opened a new office to train these lawyers, and tightened competency standards.
The court, however, failed to say if this 1998 law would qualify the state for the fast track it sought. Nor is it probable that it will say anything in the near future; cases governed by the new provisions are still inching their way toward federal courts. Defense attorney Michael Laurence, who represents a Sacramento man who became the test case for this law, seems to feel this decision will end the question: "Hopefully, this decision will end the needless litigation over this question."[top]
Clyde Charles -- "He Knew All Along He Was Innocent."
By Kay Ryder-Echols, JD Staff
"The State of Louisiana didn't send Clyde Charles to Prison. His brother sent him there and I think they're trying to make a mockery of the criminal justice system. That's the bottom line," said Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter.
Sheriff Larpenter was the lead investigator of the rape of a 26-year-old woman whose car had a flat tire on the side of a road in 1981. Brothers Clyde and Marlo Charles had been out drinking together at a bar on the same road that night and had gone their separate ways by hitchhiking when the young woman was raped. Although Clyde and Marlo were dressed similarly that night and there was a strong resemblance between the two brothers, the victim identified Clyde Charles as her attacker. Clyde was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
At the trial, Marlo took the stand in defense of his brother, but was not asked if he committed the rape by either defense or prosecution. Clyde's defense attorney, Cleo Fields of Baton Rouge, filed an affidavit during the 1982 trial stating that he believed Marlo to be the rapist. Clyde began requesting DNA testing in the early 1990's but prosecutors allegedly blocked these requests for years. Clyde Charles finally won his freedom after 19 years in the Louisiana State Prison at Angola on December 17, 1999, one month after DNA testing proved his innocence.
His case had caught the attention of the Innocence Project at Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law, New York. Barry Scheck, famed O.J. Simpson defense attorney, and Peter Neufeld head the Innocence Project and have helped free over 35 wrongly convicted people in the United States since 1992. PBS showcased Clyde Charles in its Frontline television program that aired in January.
Marlo Charles was arrested Friday in Hampton, VA after his DNA matched genetic evidence from semen collected from the rape 19 years earlier. Marlo's DNA has been in Virginia's databank since a 1992 maiming conviction. He is charged with aggravated rape and is being held on $1 million bond pending extradition to Louisiana.
Defense attorney Fields maintains that Larpenter helped send an innocent man to prison for 19 years and should be embarrassed. He has stated that he may file a defamation of character lawsuit against the sheriff for accusing one brother of covering for the other. He has already filed a federal lawsuit on Clyde's behalf against prosecutors for allegedly blocking his requests for testing these past years.
Sheriff Larpenter says he feels good for both the victim and the public, now that the truth is known. He accuses the brothers of trying to fool the judicial system. "They were playing a mockery, in my opinion, with the court system."
Clyde Charles has no comment, according to his attorney, "he knew all along he was innocent and all he wanted was evidence that he got." Nineteen years later.
Source: Richard Zitrin, APBnews.com [top]
Arkansas Lawyer goes the distance for Robbie Dale Tubbs, now out of jail pending DNA tests
By Alana Merritt Mahaffey
Tubbs misses trial by a hair
Fletcher Long thought he had the case solved and he was prepared to prosecute Robbie Dale Tubbs, 39, for the murder of 9-year-old Christina Pipkin. The entire case against Tubbs hinged on one strand of hair that belonged to Pipkin, allegedly found in Tubbs' truck, and which would have connected Tubbs to her murder.
DNA testing reportedly showed that one strand did, indeed, belong to Pipkin, who was found drowned in a ditch in Jackson County, AR, in 1991. That hair would have been used to convict and imprison Tubbs were it not for the scrutiny of Tubbs' attorney, Martin Lilly. In the second day of testimony this week, both the prosecutor and the judge had been swayed by Lilly's allegations that the strand of hair had been mishandled and possibly mislabeled in careless preparation of evidence against Tubbs. Apparently, the hair was first misidentified when evidence was transported from the state Crime Lab in Little Rock, AR, to a private testing facility located in Metarie, LA, then to an FBI lab in Virginia.
The prosecutor in the Tubbs case admitted Wednesday that the two hairs taken from Christina at her autopsy had accidentally been compared to each other, not with any hair taken from Tubbs' vehicle. The actual hair found in his vehicle was never tested and was relocated in a sealed package at the crime lab late Wednesday.
"The hair's that important. If it comes back with a DNA match, he's guilty," Long said. "Without the hair, you have a reasonable doubt and you can't convict."
Tubbs, the father of five children, lost twenty pounds while he sat in jail for six months awaiting trial. He was released on $100,000 bond on Wednesday and the judge has issued a two-month continuance in the trial, allowing prosecutors time to study the case further and order additional DNA tests. Tubbs believes the new DNA testing will exonerate him.
Sources: Arkansas news stories and television reports, compiled by our Arkansas Correspondent, Alana Merritt Mahaffey. [top]
Rodney Woidtke: Almost Free at Last
By David C.N. Swanson
Rodney Woidtke, 39, has spent nearly 12 years in prison for a murder that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says "almost no one familiar with his case now believes he committed." He may be freed as early as May 18, depending on what action St. Clair County, Ill., state's attorney Robert Haida takes.
Woidtke was a mentally ill drifter from California who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time: the grounds of a high school on June 26, 1988, the day [that] the body of Audrey Cardenas, a young reporter intern at the Belleville News-Democrat, was discovered there.
Illinois State Police investigators arrested Woidtke and questioned him for three days, producing three confessions, none of which was consistent with the evidence in the case. On the basis of those confessions, then-state's attorney John Baricevic charged Woidtke with first-degree murder. Brian Trentman, a lawyer with one year's experience, was appointed to defend him.
Trentman waived Woidtke's right to a jury trial and pleaded his case before Judge Richard Aguirre. In cross-examining Investigator D. Wayne Heil, Trentman never asked if he thought the evidence showed Woidtke to be guilty. Heil has said that he would have answered no. Aguirre took only a few minutes to arrive at a guilty verdict.
Woidtke did not know his lawyer was also representing Dale Anderson, another suspect in the same crime. A few weeks later, Anderson murdered a pregnant woman and her 3-year-old son.
Heil quit his state police job to help prove Woidtke's innocence. Heil got a confession from Anderson, but Trentman refused to call a hearing on Woidtke's appeal.
Aguirre finally reviewed his case last year, refused to acknowledge the new evidence and upheld his original verdict.
The Illinois 5th District Court of Appeals recently overturned Woidtke's conviction and ordered a new trial, ruling that Trentman had had a conflict of interest and that there was evidence that Anderson committed the crime. The Court ruled against Aguirre's decision not to examine new evidence and described the behavior of Belleville's 20th Judicial Circuit Court as "unconscionable."
The Court of Appeals noted that a clinical psychologist who testified for the prosecution has said he believes Woidtke was a paranoid schizophrenic and homophobe who believed he had to confess to prove he was not gay.
The judges also cited evidence that Anderson had been stalking News-Democrat reporters, had killed again solely to frame his former bosses with the Cardenas murder and had been claiming to investigate that murder.
Haida, the prosecutor, has three choices. He can appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, which could delay Woidtke's release a year. He can grant a new trial, at which Heil says he will testify for the defense. Or he can set Woidtke free at last.
Source: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch [top]
Jason Barber, FREE at Last
Rhonda Riglesberger, Guest writer for JD
On July 7, Jason Barber, 24, of Pritchett, Texas walked out of the Upsur County Justice Center, after authorities recovered new evidence that proved his innocence. Barber had served three years of a thirty-five-year prison sentence.
"Well it's about time." Barber said, upon receiving the news. He quickly fell into the arms of his wife Debbie, daughter Rachel, his parents and several other relatives, who anxiously gathered at the prison gates and welcomed him to freedom. The group exchanged kisses, hugs and cried tears of joy, as they surrounded him.
Barber said, "I know that friends and family and the strength of God, put in me, got me through this. My wife and little girl were there for me every weekend. I'm just elated."
A jury convicted Barber, in June of 1997, for the shooting death of fifteen-year-old Johnny Escalante. The teen was shot through the head while riding on the passenger side of his brother's truck, on September 21, 1996, as the two attempted to leave a party, held on Barber's family property.
Barber's attorney, Melvyn Brouder of Dallas, acting on a tip, led Sheriff's Deputies to the .357 magnum revolver, which authorities believe is the murder weapon.
Upsur County sheriff's deputies arrested William Shane Wood and charged him with the Escalante slaying. They are currently holding him in the Upsur County Jail on a one million-dollar bond.
Source: Texas AP Wire
Rhonda, a native of Northern Nevada, attended a Prison Ministry Training Course in the summer of 1984. In the fall she and her husband Karl embarked on a ministry at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center (Men's Medium Prison Facility) in Carson City, Nevada. Several inmates spoke of the need to reach troubled adolescents, so she later helped launch a ministry to reach incarcerated children in Wittenberg Hall, a juvenile detention center in Reno.
A few years later, Rhonda's involvement led her to minister at the Northern Nevada Women's Correctional Center, where she was active for about twelve years. There she met and bonded with Clara Boggs' daughter, following her daughter's controversial conviction and entrance into the Nevada Prison System.
Rhonda and Karl also helped launch a ministry at the Women's honor camp in Silver Springs Nevada and contributed to the establishment of two halfway houses in Reno where they volunteered their time, realizing the need to extend their ministry to men and women seeking to rebuild their lives after prison.
When the Carson City, Nevada women's facility was moved to Las Vegas, Rhonda, then a part time student, focused on her studies and in 1989 obtained her Business/Accounting degree. After two years into her degree program, her academic interests began to waver between Accounting and Journalism, so she incorporated English, fiction writing and literature classes into her curriculum.
When Rhonda learned that Clara had started Justice Denied Magazine, she offered to use her editing skills to help in any way possible.