|Posted on February 6, 2010 at 9:17 PM||comments (0)|
Following the blogs from the past of "How Far is Too Far for a Conviction" I list the final installment where a jury suddenly feels the witness is "not credible." It's always interesting to me how when a mother of three children is up on drug trafficking a jury found him quite credible, but now that it's about an authority figure the onus is suddenly much stricter.
It took 2 days after a 4-week long trial, but the "not guilty" verdict was handed down on all the counts of perjury and falsifying investigation reports.
While he has been acquitted on the criminal charges, civil charges are forthcoming. According to today's paper, "a number of civil lawsuits have been filed" and this includes the "Sheriff's office that worked with Lucas on the investigation" (Plain Dealer, 2010).
While his attorney is claiming this will help his civil cases, it doesn't entirely ensure a victory there (lest we've forgotten O.J. Simpson's criminal and civil cases). Civil cases have a lower burden of proof compared to criminal, which amounts to "preponderance of evidence" as opposed to "beyond a reasonable doubt" and both sides have the ability to appeal the verdict. The only difference, as the new civil plaintiffs' attorney is quoted as saying is that when Lucas testifies there won't be a guilty criminal verdict to question him about (to sway the jury).
The civil charges are not the same as the criminal and include conspiracy, failure to turn over evidence, manufacturing evidence among others.
Additionally, he is up for pending administrative violations, which his attorney is allegedly "amounts to paperwork issues" (Plain Dealer, 2010).
I will be following the civil cases and updating as needed.
(to be continued...)
Krouse, P. (2010). DEA agent Lucas acquitted of all charges in drug probe. The Plain Dealer. Saturday, 2010, February 6. A1.
Krouse, P. (2010). DEA may act on future of Lucas. The Plain Dealer. Tuesday, 2010, February 9. B1.
|Posted on January 5, 2010 at 1:10 PM||comments (0)|
Some of you might remember my previous blog: http://www.theamandatruthproject.com/apps/blog/show/1864087-problems-with-justice-how-far-is-too-far-for-a-conviction- about the potentially tumultuous end of the 19-year career of an Ohio DEA agent, Lee Lucas. There were actually quite a few more than only 15 people who were put into prison on account of his witness lying under oath. Most of the innocent took guilty pleas!
One thing I commonly am asked is why a guilty man would take a plea. Well, you’ve got at least 13 in this case alone. These accused watched how the first trial (that of Geneva France) unfolded and then rolled over, taking a plea to avoid the scrutiny of a trial, the ensuing media circus, and perhaps a stiffer sentence, among other things. Most likely they were also pressured by their own lawyers who knew that these men’s cases stemmed from France’s. The woman was found guilty and it would be used to convict the other men at their subsequent trials.
I promised an update and well, the DEA agent is finally headed to trial January 6, 2010, unless in an ironic twist of fate he takes a plea himself. To date, after being indicted on a diversity of charges of 18 counts including perjury, making false statements in the internal DEA reports, violating three people’s civil rights (shame the rest of these victims’ rights didn’t qualify, just a side-bar note here), obstruction of justice, etc. [1, 2].
Geneva France was convicted of dealing drugs and spent 16 months in prison. She had three young girls. And imagine how much family was involved in the 17 other cases wrongly convicted.
During his indictment, Lee Lucas appeared relaxed and thanked his supporters. “An uniformed Cleveland Police officer is quoted stating: ‘THAT’S WHAT REAL POLICEMEN DO; THEY STAND UP FOR EACH OTHER’” .
Meanwhile, prosecutors are calling him “a ‘loose cannon’ with sloppy investigative techniques”  Yet, these same prosecutors “(stress) that he was credible, and they believed what he told them” .
This is not the first time Lucas has had problems with his informants, however. In Florida, a Miami businessman spent $356,000 trying to defend himself 15 years ago and in September 2008 a judge was to decide how much he ought to be reimbursed ! Under federal rules, a person can seek damages if the government has “acted in bad faith”, such as recovering the cost of attorney fees . The Florida attorneys point out, “’The government, rather than heed (the judge’s) warnings regarding Agent Lucas, instead allowed him to go off to Ohio to imprison other innocents’” .
 Turner, K. (2009, May 13). DEA Agent Lee Lucas indicted on perjury, civil rights charges; pleads not guilty. Cleveland Plain Dealer. Metro Section
 Caniglia, J. (2009, December 27). DEA agent Lee Lucas going to trial on charges he lied in testimony. Cleveland Plain Dealer. Metro Section.
 Merritt, J. (2008, September 28). A DEA Agent and His Rogue Informant to Cost Taxpayers $356k. Message posted to: http://www.talkleft.com/story/2008/9/28/125522/819
|Posted on December 17, 2009 at 4:32 PM||comments (0)|
By now we've all heard a story (or two...or a dozen) of those who are being cleared by DNA evidence in cases over a decade since determined and closed, cases where innocent people have been stuck in prison and forgotten except by their loved ones.
13 years a Canadian man spent in prison before he was acquitted of murder back in October 2009. He'd been serving a life sentence for a sexual assault he never committed of a teenager. In this case, a hair was found on the victim's body and an expert testified that it was this man's. Kyle Unger is now a free man finally. 
In Ohio, a couple was finally acquitted of molesting children in 1994 and after serving 14 years in prison had their charges dropped. Nancy Smith "was sentenced to 30 to 90 years in prison for gross sexual imposition, rape and attempted rape. Allen was sentenced to life for rape, felonious sexual penetration and gross sexual imposition." The prosecutor is considering appealing. .
The reason I was thinking about this issue is because a man was released from prison in Florida today after serving 35 years for a crime he never committed. James Bain was convicted of rape at 19 years old. His entire youth was stolen from him because of this injustice. This man never used a cell phone before today if that puts things into perspective! "(Bain) said there are others in prison wrongly convicted and offered support for them. He said all those years of filing his own motions all of which were denied, paid off when the Innocence Project stepped in." 
I can't stress how important these Innocence Projects are, but thus far my contact with the Ohio director has yielded little help. There is no DNA exonerating evidence to be had in this case. There is no smoking gun or witness that turns this into an open and closed case of mistaken identity. This is a fight to the finish and the prosecution will be out for blood. We have to raise buckets of money we don't have and never did have to hire experts to testify about mechanics and injuries and bore a jury to tears and in the end they may just come back with a guilty charge anyway. After all, there's a baby who is dead and someone had to have done it, they'll think. If our experts don't convince all the members of a jury that they're right and the prosecution's doctors are wrong, if our experts can't explain every injury in a believable manner (truth after all is stranger than fiction) then the jury might come back with a guilty verdict. I realize this.
Additionally, the Ohio Innocence Project receives anywhere from 800 to 1,100 requests for help yearly . They're usually going to pick the easier cases to win I would imagine. Ours doesn't fit that bill -yet.
However, in a rare move the Ohio Innocence Project has decided to back a death row case in Ohio. Kevin Keith has maintained his innocence in the 1994 shootings that killed 3 people and wounded three others. "Keith's public defenders say there is another suspect and that a police detective lied about a witness' statement." It appears that the problem with the open discovery (or lack thereof) in criminal cases lead to being able to suppress the fact that there was another suspect, something not mentioned at Keith's trial. 
The idea I'm trying to generate with this blog today is that there are ever so many innocent people in prison. Some of them even took pleas when they knew they were innocent (see case outlined in blog: http://www.theamandatruthproject.com/apps/blog/show/1864087-problems-with-justice-how-far-is-too-far-for-a-conviction-). It is important to realize that the justice system is definitely not perfect as with my blogs I hope to demonstrate. It is seriously flawed, allowing innocent people to be condemned and guilty to be set free on technicalities or short sentences. Cops and prosecutors can do shady things when they believe they've got a guilty person. See the case where a man's daughter was killed and the wrong person was accused and sent to prison. This might have been in part because of evidence that was never tested. Someone killed that beautiful little girl in this case, but instead of investigating and properly ensuring they had the right suspect, the sheriff and prosecutor appear to have taken the easy way out (not unusual, as I said, when they believe they have the right person, it becomes a self-righteous effort to ensure that the guilty gets punished). 
 Associated Press. (2009). After 13 Years in Prison, Man Cleared of Murder. The Chronicle Telegram [Saturday, October 24, 2009] A6.
Caniglia, J. (2009). Nancy Smith, Joseph Allen acquitted by Lorain County judge in Head Start sex abuse case after serving 14 years in prison. The Cleveland Plain Dealer [Wednesday, June 24, 2009]. Retrieved December 17, 2009, from http://www.cleveland.com/crime/index.ssf/2009/06/charges_dismissed_in_lorain_he.html
 Morelli, K. (2009). Wrongly Convicted for 35 , Bain Gets Release from Prison. The Tampa Tribune [2009, December 17). Retrieved December 17, 2009, from http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/dec/17/171049/after-35-years-prison-inmate-released-prison/
 Associated Press. (2009). Police go to Ohio Innocence Project for Help. The Mansfield News Journal [Monday, December 7, 2009]. Retrieved December 17, 2009 from http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/12/07/z-apoh_innocenceproject_1205.ART_ART_12-07-09_B3_PHFTSQ1.html
 Welsh-Huggins, A. (2009). Condemned Ohio Killer of Three Says He's Innocent. Dayton Daily News [Tuesday, June 30, 2009]. Retrieved December 17, 2009, from http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/ohio-news/condemned-ohio-killer-of-3condemned-ohio-killer-of-3-says-he-s-innocent-184206.html
 Renner, J. (2009). The Coldest Cases: BOOYAH!!!!! Ohio Innocence Project Sends Wayne County “Preservation” Letter in Tina Harmon Cold Case [November 12, 2009]. Retrieved December 17, 2009, from http://jamesrenner.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/booyah-ohio-innocence-project-sends-wayne-county-preservation-letter-in-tina-harmon-cold-case/#comments
|Posted on December 14, 2009 at 7:45 PM||comments (0)|
Just in case anyone out there disbelieves that CPS is out of control, let's revisit a 2008 case...or cases as it was.
There was a fundamentalist Church where over 400 children were removed from the care of their parents and put into foster care until those families could prove their innocence (remember our right to a presumption of innocence...I guess that's only in cases where CPS isn't involved).
I'll be the last person to admit that I would or could ever condone the practice of polygamy; however, there are those in the world who make a good argument for it and that's their concern.
But does that make it acceptable to remove children? I thought this country was supposed to be one of religious tolerance among other rumors back in the 1770s of "certain unalienable rights" for all men or something along those lines in this weird document called...hmm...something or other Declaration of Independence.
The children were in foster care for a couple months from what I was to understand. Why were they punished and the families ripped apart over one unsubstantiated, alleged phone call from a pregnant girl claiming she was abused? On top of that, they treated the entire compound as a "single-family" and rounded up every child, half of which were under 5 and surely had no idea why they were being taken forcibly from their crying mothers. Am I being melodramatic? I think not given the images burned on my memory of some of those mothers in blue dresses crying for their babies.
Given one additional memory of a moment when I thought that the woman at Fairview Hospital might not allow me to see my daughter...I got to tell you I almost saw red and went ballistic. Luckily I don't have to know what I'd have done if they tried to prevent me from going to her and touching her and letting her know "Mommy's here." Knowing that one brief moment of panic and anxiety and fear doesn't compare to weeks or months of not even knowing where my daughter is, I can't imagine what those mothers went through. I honestly cannot imagine.
When the courts ruled CPS had no right to take those children, the spokesman for the organization mentioned appealing. They still were upholding that they were in the right! Now whether that was to save face or they honestly felt virtuous is neither here nor there. How much longer do we persecute these people?
Now consider what red tape you have to go through to just get a sticker for your car registration every year that we place on our license plates. What these families had to do - drive dozens of miles to courts, hire lawyers (with their own money - guilty until proven innocent and even then you don't get your money back when you win a case like this), listen to judges tell them what they had to do to get their children back, and wait for lawyers to sort out which children are yours, where they got placed, etc. - is surely appalling.
When's the last time a government agency misplaced an important document of yours? Can you imagine if it was up to you to find that piece of paper? Now imagine that it's your child.
CBS (2008). Court: Texas Had No Right Taking Sect Kids. Retrieved December 14, 2009, from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/22/national/main4118720.shtml?source=RSSattr=HOME_4118720
|Posted on December 8, 2009 at 2:35 PM||comments (0)|
U.S. Constitutional Amendment 8 - Cruel and Unusual Punishment
"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."
In Ohio, this morning, we executed a man using a 1-drug lethal injection as opposed to the usual 3-drug cocktail (one would allegedly cause the person to be paralyzed and be unable to notify if the drug didn't take effect yet, and/or wasn't enough, wasn't working and excruciating pain would follow). This man probably deserved to die after the way he killed a woman in 1991 and left pieces of that woman in two states (OH and PA); however, the question I pose is this: is it humane?
We have inalienable rights to not experience cruel and unusual punishment. I know the victim's family members would surely not care, but most of us are not that victim's relatives so we can pose ourselves this question.
There are 36 death penalty states that use lethal injection presently and it appears except for Ohio all the rest rely on that 3-drug cocktail method.
Consider this quote:
"Ohio overhauled its procedure after a failed attempt to execute Romell Broom, a procedure halted by Gov. Ted Strickland in September. Executioners tried for two hours to find a suitable vein for injection, hitting bone and muscle in as many as 18 needle sticks that Broom, 53, said were very painful."
How long are these inexperienced executioners allowed to keep trying for a vein?
"The execution team tried for several minutes to find usable veins, including inserting needles several times in both arms, before eventually completing the process on just his left arm after about 30 minutes."
If someone had to draw my blood, I think after the first 5 minutes I'd be ready to stick the phlebotomist with the needle myself!
How do we possibly know what pain or not is felt by this 1-drug injection?
Consider this quote:
"After the chemical started flowing at 11:37 a.m., Biros' chest heaved up and down several times, and he moved his head a couple of times over about two minutes before his body stopped moving."
Ohio spent about 5 years searching for a way to limit the doubts surrounding death by lethal injection, but apparently still lacks limits on how long an executioner is allowed to attempt venous injection. Essentially, as stated in the news source I'm using, this 1-drug method is "'impermissible human experimentation'" entirely.
So let me go back to the original question: what is cruel and unusual punishment? Do death-row inmates still have these inalienable rights? When is a human life not a human life? When does cruelty on our end not constitute cruelty against another? Are we accepting of this denigration to the level of a killer to execute one?
I've always had a bit of an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach about death penalties. When my husband was originally indicted, he was indicted on aggravated murder, which carries the death penalty in Ohio. He is innocent, as I would hope by this point you'd all have read the contents of this website and agree with me at least that there's absolutely reasonable doubt for a murder case surrounding my daughter's death. Given this thought in mind, Ohio's total executions in 2009 rank under AL and TX for 3rd most executions (DPIC, 2009).
One Public Defender says that Ohio is rushing through executions faster than our highest year in 2004 and worries "careless mistakes" may be made (Smith, 2009). He continues, "'There is an incredible amount of work that goes into one of these cases, and to ask people to do it faster than it is normally done is unacceptable...'" (Smith, 2009).
Additionally consider the 168 inmates sentenced in the 1980s - early '90s didn't have the option of life without parole as an option (Smith, 2009).
Finally consider the amount of exonerations with DNA evidence. I know "everyone" is going to tell you they're innocent, but the facts speak for themselves with how many are literally becoming freed by DNA evidence. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled death row inmates do not have a federal right to DNA testing to prove their innocence (Smith, 2009).
I'm not making this about whether or not we should have a death penalty, but there are some very valid issues on the table that appear to be outright ignored time and time again (see my blog about Wilingham from TX http://www.theamandatruthproject.com/apps/blog/show/1794975-innocence-means-little).
DPIC. (2009). Number of Executions by State and Region since 1976. Retrieved December 8, 2009, from http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/number-executions-state-and-region-1976
Welsh-Huggins, Andrew. (2009). Ohio executes inmate with 1-drug lethal injection. (Associated Press. 8Dec2009). Retrieved December 8, 2009 from http://apnews.myway.com//article/20091208/D9CF9KTO0.html
Smith, M. (2009). Executions are coming too fast, Ohio Public Defender Tim Young says. Plain Dealer. (10 Aug 2009). Retrieved December 8, 2009 from http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/08/executions_are_coming_too_fast.html
|Posted on October 3, 2009 at 6:06 PM||comments (5)|
It made front page news in Ohio (2008) about how a prosecutor used tainted "eye-witness" testimony to get 15 men into prison - convicted of selling cocaine to the informant. This perjured testimony is what was used to convict the 1st defendant (Geneva France) to 10 years. The rest of the 14 fell into line afterward and took pleas. France protested her innocence and is "a mother of three with no record."
Combined, these defendants have now spent 30 years in prison based on testimony that was eventually recanted in 2007 by the informant. Some of these men had "no prior run-ins with the law" according to the article in the Plain Dealer on January 23, 2008.
Despite everything, prosecutors refuse to "characterize the men as innocent." Why? Their cases were largely based on the informant's testimony? This informant has admitted to lying.
Originally the grand jury indicted 26 people in this drug bust case. Now these defendants are going back in front of the judge to be set free; there is no evidence to convict them of selling cocaine to the informant if the informant says it was all a lie to begin with.
So how far is too far? We've all heard stories in recent years where a convicted rapist who protested his innocence the entire time spends 18+ years in prison for a crime he didn't commit - proven after DNA testing finally shows he was nowhere near the crime!
How bloodthirsty are we as a society that we need to have someone to blame for every crime? Are we so worried to have open cases that we're willing to convict the nearest scapegoat so that we can feel "safe" again? How much pressure do we put on prosecutors to win their cases? Is it so great that they're willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they win their case now-a-days? Or is it such a new thing after all? How long has this been going on - really?
Interesting to me is that this online version of the article is missing a few key sentences that were in the printed version, namely regarding how this particular prosecutor likes to win "big" cases and often has. What am I to take away from that? Why are those couple sentences missing now? What are we afraid of? The truth?
Our justice system has needed a rehaul since a long time. Otherwise, men on death row wouldn't be getting released based on the DNA evidence proving someone else committed the crime, of which they were tried and convicted. It's not escaping my notice that 14 out of 15 defendants too pleas and that's considered justice in this day and age either.
Does anyone get their right to a trial anymore? I understand our courts are jammed to the corners with paperwork filed and defendants to try. However, my question is if there was less corruption in the ranks maybe those defendants wouldn't be on trial in the first place. Why not do things right and get the conviction the old fashioned way? Why are so many people being denied their rights and bulllied and scared into taking pleas anymore?
I don't know if this is happening all over, but it's certainly a problem in Northeast Ohio the past decade or more. I saw it during jury duty when the defense attorney asked if they took fingerprints to prove the defendant was even at the man's home that night. The officer told him, "No. Usually when we have an eye witness..." I have to admit I was more than a little concerned at that point. So one white man points at a black man...and that's all that was needed to put this man in jail until his trial came up 1 year later? Unbelievable, but true.
Something needs to change. Our rights were quite clear in the Constitution: due process and all that.
Due process includes, but is not limited to things like:
* Right to a fair and public trial conducted in a competent manner
* Right to be present at the trial
* Right to an impartial jury
* Right to be heard in one's own defense
Now we all know that doesn't happen all the time. My question is when does it happen? I'm starting to see more and more of these articles where people are being released. The only surprising thing to me in this instance is that it was on the front page of the paper, not tucked away safely and quietly in the Metro section where all of the local news is usually printed.
Does this mean a new dawn for an age of honesty in court rooms? If we can't trust our police and district attorneys, who can we trust?
Link to the article is here: http://www.cleveland.com/plaindealer/stories/index.ssf?/base/iscri/120108062741840.xml&coll=2
"Americans should ask why the US locks up so many more of its citizens than do Canada, Britain, and other democratic countries. The US is even ahead of governments like China that use prisons as a political tool." ~ David Fathi, director, US Program of Human Rights Watch
|Posted on September 22, 2009 at 6:25 PM||comments (0)|
I was watching Headline News on CNN this morning and heard a disturbing, but all too familiar, story about children protective services. It was on the Morning Express segment.
By now you might have heard of Peoria, IL couple suing a local WalMart and the state over the incident involving naked photos of their three daughters in the bath tub. They were accused of sexual abuse and the children were forcibly taken from them when WalMart techs contacted the police and turned over the "evidence" of these naked photographs.
Without any question or investigation, CPS takes the children away, not allowing the parents and children to even see each other for several days. They didn't regain custody for an entire month while they tried to clear their reputations and prove they would never do this to their children.
Interestingly, the comments have been supportive for this family...now on news blogs such as: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/09/17/20090917gl-peowalmart0917-ON.html
I'm betting when the story first broke it wasn't so kind. I cannot imagine what this couple went through as they are citing "economic losses" as part of their complaint.
This is by far the only story. I could probably make a category solely to CPS filled with horrible stories like this. No questions asked, your children are taken away from you.
Know that if I'd had any other children they would have been taken from me on June 29, 2007. They probably would be held hostage, as in most cases, until I agreed to testify against Elwood.
|Posted on September 22, 2009 at 1:12 PM||comments (1)|
In 2007, Ohio Rule 16 was not yet revised to mandate that prosecutors turn over all evidence against (and for) the defendent when his/her attorney requested discovery in a criminal case. That means, for a civil case, such as a credit card company suing for non-payment, or a fender-bender car accident, you were entitled to full discovery and you'd know if there was an eye-witness that had come forward to tell the prosecutor you weren't even there in the first place. But woe to the person who was up for the death penalty, such as my husband, accused of murder, felonious assault, and a number of other charges falling in this category because legally it was not required of a prosecutor to let known the fact an eye witness might have exoneration information about you!
In the event that someone is not familiar with the 2008 article in the Plain Dealer (largest newspaper in Ohio) let me post some memorable quotes here now:
"This month, a federal ap peals court overturned yet another death-penalty sentence in a case tried in Cuyahoga County because prosecutors had hidden evidence the defense should have had" (Gaylord, 2008).
"Reginald Jells has languished on death row for 20 years while this miscarriage of justice persisted" (Gaylord, 2008).
"Consider Carmen Marino - a former star prosecutor (in Cuyahoga County) criticized for repeated prosecutorial misconduct, including failing to disclose exculpatory evidence" (Gaylord, 2008).
Maybe this is okay, though. I mean after all, as I said in the first journal, a "fair trial" and "due process" is served so on appeal, which is his right, he'll be found innocent and all's well with the world again. Consider the fact that Mr. Jells spent 20 years in prison anticipating being put to death for a crime he did not commit. 20 years.
Maybe it's not so okay, is it?
I helped get a few signatures for the lobby to push the Supreme Court to vote favorably for Full Discovery; while most defense lawyers were obviously onboard with it, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office protested (other prosecutors were accepting of it). On April 30, 2009, "After decades of passionate debate, prosecutors and defense lawyers throughout the state have joined forces in crafting a proposal for sharing evidence in criminal trials" (Atassi, 2009). Except in cases where it would potentially endanger a witness, the defense attorney is now be allowed to see everything, make photocopies and not be forced to speed write as a prosecutor reads select passages or just outright doesn't offer the excuplatory evidence.
It makes me wonder about two missing blood tests allegedly not ordered. It's altogether possible since everyone seemed to be working under the conclusion that their assumption was based in scientific fact at Rainbow Babies that my daughter was the victim of abuse, namely "Shaken Infant Syndrome" as was the diagnosis littered throughout the medical records. But there are other things my husband's defense team never gave me, indicating to me they didn't have them. Was it their error? Did they just not realize to get the information or is it that it was never offered? Rumors tell of DNA evidence telling where my daughter fell, of DNA not found on the coffee table my husband fell on earlier in the day proving my daughter was not involved with it, and a few other items. Why weren't the lab results included with the defense attorney's copies? My belief is they did not have it.
On the other hand, police are allowed to lie to an accused during interrogation. Oh yes, they are! Surprising isn't it? They can lie like a rug and it's all perfectly legal. So maybe it never really existed to begin with (like the standard blood tests allegedly not ordered)...right?
I asked for things like that about a month ago and was told the prosecutor's office would have been turned over anything like that. No word about what existed only that the prosecutor's office had it and I'd have to ask them. After all, the wonderfully sympathetic people at the prosecutor's office would surely be willing to hand over their evidence to me if I asked them nicely and said "pretty please". Lol...
But what does it matter in the long run? Justice isn't about the truth necessarily. It's just about whatever can be convinced to a jury. Silly me, looking for the truth again. After all, it wasn't their daughter, husband and family.
Atassi, L. (2009, May 2). Ohio prosecutors, defense lawyers to draft proposal to share evidence in criminal trials. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/cuyahoga/124125327775460.xml&coll=2
Gaylord, B. (2008, August 26). Ohio justice should be blind; defendants should be able to see -. The Plain Dealer, p.
|Posted on September 22, 2009 at 12:39 PM||comments (0)|
Some of you are probably wondering how an innocent person would get caught up in this. After all, I've heard enough times "where there's smoke there's fire" so I'm sure you'll all be familiar with that assumption as well.
I was reading an article in Newsweek (it was an available recent magazine in the doctor's office yesterday and that's all) yesterday and in looking for the article on Frankenstein Revisited instead stumbled upon "Innocent Until Executed: We have no right to exoneration" (Lithwick, 2009).
My blog isn't about death penalty arguments, although I suppose since the article was slanted in that manner it could be. "The Innocence Project...claims there have been 241 postconviction DNA exonerations, of which 17 were former death-row inmates spared execution" (Lithwick, 2009). I just want to make my point about how innocent people get caught up in a system. The way this man, Cameron Todd Willingham, got stuck in its grasp is essentially the same as my husband; a crime was created where there really wasn't one.
Essentially, Willingham had a house fire in 1991 that killed his daughters and was found guilty at "a fair trial" to use Chief Justice John Roberts' words (Lithwick, 2009). The house fire was deemed arson and yet in 2004 acclaimed scientist and fire investigator, Gerald Hurst, "conducted an independent investigation of the evidence...and came away with little doubt that it was an accidental fire - likely caused by a space heater or faulty wiring" (Lithwick, 2009). The Innocence Project took the case on, but Willingham was unable to convince the Texas governor's office or State Board of Pardons and Paroles that it was good enough to say his execution. "In 2007 the state of Texas commissioned another renowned arson expert, Craig Beyler, to examin the Willingham evidence" (Lithwick, 2009). He too concluded that the original investigation that proved Willingham was guilty of arson and 3 counts of murder had "no scientific basis" (Lithwick, 2009).
My husband was originally up for aggravated murder charge, which carries the death penalty in the state of Ohio. I have to wonder at it all because look at how close he became to being the Ohio version of Willinham. I shudder to even imagine it.
Two cases. Two different men. Both are caught up in a system that ignores truth or science or facts in lieu of this ideal of law being blind, a fair trial means due process was served (or in my husband's case, defense lawyers so far in over their heads convincing their client to plead guilty to murdering his daughter and spend life in prison because after all he must be guilty if they can't find the defense), and therefore not worth listening to those trite pleas of innocence afterward. After all, "everyone in (prison) is innocent, you know that" (The Shawshank Redemption, 1994).
In my husband's case, the three appellate judges concluded that as my husband took a guilty plea, which is a legal confession regardless of actual reasons for pleading it, then even though the trial court made any mistakes then it didn't matter. Any protestations now of innocence are "self-serving" and such is the lingo of appeals.
Our third appeal will have a different approach; obviously I cannot tell you anything about it, but as soon as I can afford to get experts ready...it will be filed. Please take the time to go to the homepage of this site and consider making a donation. Everything helps. Obviously if some billionaire were to stumble on this website and want to donate a considerable amount to our defense fund that would be extraordinarily great luck for us. In the meantime, I appreciate anything you can offer, even if it's just the equivalent of a dinner out with the family or taking a sandwich to work and donating the difference of the cost in eating out that day. I certainly won't turn that away. It all goes toward helping me get those experts at trial, postage to mail files, copying and scanning costs at an unmentioned place is akin to highway robbery and the mafia has no market cornered on rackets like fees and costs at the courts associated with things like obtaining copies of transcripts or whatnot.
Thank you for reading my blog today. Stay tuned when I discuss "Full Discovery in the State of Ohio."
Lithwick, D. (2009, September 14). Innocent until executed: we have no right to exoneration. Newsweek, p. 25
Marvin, N. (Producer), & Darabont, F. (Director). (1994) The Shawshank Redemption [Motion Picture]. USA: Columbia Pictures.