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Innocence Means Little

Posted on September 22, 2009 at 12:39 PM

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."

 

 

 

 

References:

 

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.

 

 

Categories: Problems in Justice System

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