Thursday, July 28, 2016

Davontae Sanford: Michigan; Interrogation of juveniles; (Part Two); A young man's first hand account of how, as a juvenile, he was pressured to confess four murders he did not commit by the police - and to plead guilty by his lawyer. Reporter George Hunter; The Detroit Free Press;


STORY: "Death of innocence: Davontae Sanford’s twisted road to freedom," by George Hunter, published by the Detroit Free Press, published on July 25, 2016.

GIST: "A conversation with a cop sent Davontae Sanford’s life spiraling out of control. It was Sept. 17, 2007. Four people had been gunned down in a drug house on Runyon, two blocks from the 14-year-old Sanford’s home on Detroit’s east side. When the teen ventured outside to see what was happening, he said he was approached by a Detroit Police homicide detective, who asked what he knew about the killings. That question and the police’s actions afterward eventually led to Sanford confessing and pleading guilty to murders he didn’t commit. Sanford says he was a naive kid whose confession and guilty plea were coerced by police and his defense attorney. “I was young; I was just lost in space,” he said. “I couldn’t really comprehend what was going on; it all happened so fast. I got arrested, and ... eight months later I was in prison.”.........For Inmate #684070, it would be a long road to freedom. An eight-year struggle by family, lawyers and supporters to exonerate Sanford was repeatedly stymied by prosecutors who insisted his conviction was solid. The case became a national cause for innocence advocates who called Sanford’s conviction a miscarriage of justice. “This is the most compelling case you’ll ever see, because it shows how the system can totally fail a young boy,” said David Moran of the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic, which represented Sanford’s appeal. “It’s the thickest file we’ve ever had here at the Michigan Innocence Clinic, and this case had some of the most complex issues we’ve ever handled. “So many things went wrong at so many levels, and so many actors were involved, that it’s really an indictment on the entire criminal justice system in Wayne County. There’s plenty of blame to go around.”.........Sanford’s luck changed in May, when Michigan State Police submitted the results of their 11-month reinvestigation of the case: They said someone else had committed the killings for which Sanford was convicted.] The findings set off a whirlwind of developments in Sanford’s case, and after fighting for eight years, Sanford’s team was finally rewarded when he walked out of the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia on June 8, smiling and squinting into the sun. He was free.........‘Just sign your initials’: Sanford remembers what his aunt served for dinner the night his life changed nine years ago: A roast with potatoes and carrots. When Sanford returned home, his mother told him four people had just been killed on Runyon. “News vans and police cars had that area blocked off. I start walking up the street … that’s when … (Sgt. Mike Russell) started asking me questions … have I heard or seen anything.” “I told them I didn’t know nothing; that’s when they said they wanted to question me. They brought me back to my house to get a consent form from my grandmother.” Tolbert, then a commander in charge of the Major Crimes Section, drove Sanford around for about two hours, according to Sanford and state police. “(Tolbert) wanted to know who could have done something like this; what guys were doing in the neighborhood, that kind of stuff.”Why was he being interviewed? “I asked them ... They said, ‘this is something we need to do.’ ” At about 3 a.m., Tolbert dropped Sanford off on Runyon, where police technicians tested his hands and clothing for gunshot residue. The test was negative. “We went to Coney Island, got something to eat. We went back to 1300 Beaubien (former police headquarters); they let me get on the computer. (They were) friendly. It wasn’t hostile at all.” Sanford said he was pressured into telling police something, so he made up a story about four older teens from his neighborhood. Police cleared the four after their alibis checked out. “My first statement was took. They all left, and I spent the night at 1300 Beaubien, sleeping on the couch. I was woken up by (homicide investigator) Barbara Simon. She had my statement; she was like ‘sign your name here, here, here, here.’ I told her, ‘I can’t read.’ She said ‘just sign your initials.’ ” Officers then took Sanford home. Later that day, police returned to his house. “They told my mother, ‘we think your son knows something; we think your son’s lying; he needs to tell the truth.’ And I told them repeatedly: ‘I don’t know nothing. I don’t know nothing.’ ” Sanford said Russell told his mom: “We just want to talk to him one more time. I promise you we’re going to bring him home. I promise you we’re going to bring your son back.” Sanford said Russell and Tolbert told him to sign a typewritten statement saying he was involved in the killings. “Once I sign the statement, he was like ‘I’m about to take you to the precinct so we can get this on camera. Once we do that I’m taking you home. “Once they got me there, they fingerprinted me, took pictures. And it’s still not registering to me what is really going on. After the interview was over, I’m thinking, ‘OK, I’m about to go home; this is it.’ When I got back in the back of the car, (Russell) was like, ‘I’m sorry to tell you this, but I can’t take you home. I gotta take you to juvenile.” Detroit police have launched an internal investigation into how detectives handled the case, police Chief James Craig said. Russell, who now runs the Detroit Police Arson Unit, defended his work in the Sanford case. “I did nothing improper, so I’m not worried about anything,” he told The Detroit News. “I handled everything by the book.” Earliest release date: 2046; After Sanford was charged with first-degree murder, he said his attorney Robert Slameka convinced him to plead guilty to second-degree murder, and to seek a bench trial. “(He said), ‘you’re a black kid from the ghetto; these white people from the suburbs are gonna come in here and they’re gonna find you guilty.’ ” Sanford said Slameka, who has been disciplined several times for failing to properly serve clients, said he was friends with the judge, and promised Sanford he’d get a light sentence. Sullivan gave him 37-90 years. Slameka has not returned several phone calls seeking comment."

The entire story can be found at:

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2016/07/25/davontae-sanfords-twisterd-road-freedom/87514192/

See Shaun King's moving commentary in the New York Daily News  'Blind 14-year-old Detroit boy Davontae Sanford spends nine years in prison for four murders he didn't commit' at the link below; "Davontae Sanford might've been a man when he was exonerated, but he was no man when he was wrongfully framed, forced into a confession and convicted for a quadruple murder he did not commit.  He was just a boy — a black boy, completely blind in one eye and developmentally impaired — who was found by police wandering in a Detroit neighborhood in his pajamas the night the murder took place in a nearby drug house. He wasn't bloody. He didn't have a murder weapon. He wasn't covered in gunshot residue from the dozen bullets he would've had to fire to kill four people. He wasn't seen going in and out of the house by eyewitnesses. He wasn't known as a local thug who'd kill you if you crossed him. He was just young and black, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Only 14 years old, Davontae Sanford, after being picked up by police in his pajamas and taken to a local precinct, was interrogated for two days without an attorney or any family present. Finally, Sanford confessed. Any child under so much pressure would've considered the same thing. Even though no evidence backed up Sanford committing the crime, and his outrageous confession got more details wrong about the case than it got right, police made it stick. Officers falsely claimed Sanford drew a diagram of the crime scene. That never happened. Whatever Sanford knew, he knew because police told him. It stuck, though. From that day in September 2007 until last month, Davontae Sanford never saw another free day. Convicted for all four murders, he was tried as an adult, and sentenced to 37 to 90 years in prison.........Davontae Sanford spent each and every day of those nine years in prison. Like most of us would've felt, he wanted to die and attempted suicide while incarcerated. Anything seemed better than being there — for the rest of his life. Then, four full years ago, another man, Vincent Smothers, already in prison for eight other murders, confessed it was him who shot and killed four people in the drug house that night in 2007. He had been hired to do it as he had been hired before. He had never even seen or heard of Davontae Sanford and openly said Sanford played no role whatsoever in the murders. Year after year, Smothers continued to claim the crimes as his own, offering details that only the murderer could've known. Attorneys for Davontae Sanford repeatedly attempted to appeal the conviction, but were denied. In 2014, Smothers even offered a 26-page affidavit in which he detailed every single aspect of the crime. Finally, earlier this year, local prosecutors agreed to hear the case and the wheels were set in motion to free a man who had his childhood stolen from him. Davontae Sanford, in June, without even an apology from prosecutors or police, walked out of prison when a Detroit judge ordered his release because of a wrongful conviction."

The entire commentary can be found at:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/blind-boy-14-spends-9-years-jail-false-murder-convictions-article-1.2720270

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:

I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.
The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:

http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html

Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: 

hlevy15@gmail.com;

Harold Levy;

Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Brendan Dassey; Teina Pora; Interrogation of juveniles; (Part One); Is Brendan Dassey - the American equivalent of New Zealand's Teina Pora?..."Lawyer Jerry Buting compared the two cases while speaking to Paul Henry this morning, saying most people don't realise how common wrongful convictions and false confessions really are. "Wrongful convictions are not unique to America. You've had them in New Zealand," the defence attorney said. "You've had the very well-publicised case of Teina Pora, who spent many years incarcerated in New Zealand and wrongfully and falsely confessed. You see that in this documentary with 16-year-old Brendan Dassey, the nephew of Steven Avery as well. I think people are really shocked that they see [this]. "Dassey, like Pora, has limited intelligence. His uncle had an IQ of 70, and a Newsweek article about the Netflix show said Dassey had "severely below-average intelligence, poor social skills and limited reasoning ability". Pora suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which went undiagnosed at the time of his original conviction. Buting says while Avery remains the only person in the US charged with a homicide after being wrongfully imprisoned and freed, cases like those of Dassey and Pora are all too common. "Particularly the interrogation of juveniles and people of limited mental capacity or disabilities that can fall prey to the sorts of psychological course of techniques that police officers use. That unfortunately is very commonplace, particularly in America." Dassey was interrogated numerous times by police without a lawyer, parent or other adult present, repeatedly accused of carrying out the crimes. Pora initially denied murdering Susan Burdett, but later went to police hoping to win a $20,000 bounty for information about the case. He too was interrogated without a lawyer present."..."Dassey's appeal is currently pending in federal court, and Buting says a decision could be made any day." Reporter Dan Satherly; Newshub. (NZ);


" by Dan Satherly, published by Newshub  (NZ) on July 27, 2016.

GIST: "A teenager is convicted of rape and murder and thrown in prison after giving a false confession. It's the story of Teina Pora's life, but also that of Brendan Dassey, one of the men at the centre of hit Netflix documentary Making a Murderer - at least according to his ex-lawyer. Dassey was 17 when he and uncle Steven Avery were convicted of raping and murdering Teresa Halbach. Avery, who had already spent 18 years behind bars for another rape he was later proven innocent of, denied having anything to do with the 2005 crimes. Dassey, then 16, was his alibi - but the teenager cracked under a controversial police interrogation and confessed. He later recanted - just like Pora, then 17, who had to wait two decades for his freedom. Lawyer Jerry Buting compared the two cases while speaking to Paul Henry this morning, saying most people don't realise how common wrongful convictions and false confessions really are. "Wrongful convictions are not unique to America. You've had them in New Zealand," the defence attorney said. "You've had the very well-publicised case of Teina Pora, who spent many years incarcerated in New Zealand and wrongfully and falsely confessed. You see that in this documentary with 16-year-old Brendan Dassey, the nephew of Steven Avery as well. I think people are really shocked that they see [this]. "Dassey, like  Pora, has limited intelligence. His uncle had an IQ of 70, and a Newsweek article about the Netflix show said Dassey had "severely below-average intelligence, poor social skills and limited reasoning ability". Pora suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which went undiagnosed at the time of his original conviction. Buting says while Avery remains the only person in the US charged with a homicide after being wrongfully imprisoned and freed, cases like those of Dassey and Pora are all too common.
"Particularly the interrogation of juveniles and people of limited mental capacity or disabilities that can fall prey to the sorts of psychological course of techniques that police officers use. That unfortunately is very commonplace, particularly in America." Dassey was interrogated numerous times by police without a lawyer, parent or other adult present, repeatedly accused of carrying out the crimes. Pora initially denied murdering Susan Burdett, but later went to police hoping to win a $20,000 bounty for information about the case. He too was interrogated without a lawyer present.
Buting has testified with supporting evidence that his client was framed for the later conviction as retaliation for rubbing the establishment up the wrong way, after he won his freedom for the original wrongful conviction. Dassey's appeal is currently pending in federal court, and Buting says a decision could be made any day."

The entire story can be found at:

http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/brendan-dassey---an-american-teina-pora-2016072711#axzz4FeFfUNnB

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:

I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:





http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:

http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html

Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: 
 hlevy15@gmail.com;

Harold Levy;

Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;

Oral Nicholas Hillary: New York State; Defence says ssues in the DNA hearing could have nationwide “ripple effect.”..."Criminal and civil rights trial attorney Earl S. Ward, another of Hillary’s attorneys, cautioned that this is not a case where “DNA is the finger of God pointing at the accused.” “This is not that case,” Mr. Ward said. “This is the finger of a statistician pointing at Nick Hillary and that is not what DNA should be all about.”..."Trial is scheduled to start Sept. 6." Watertown Daily Times;


STORY: "Issues in Hillary DNA hearing could have nationwide “ripple effect,” defense says,"  by reporter W.T. Eckert, published by the Watertown Times on July 26, 2016.

PHOTO CAPTION: "Oral “Nick” Hillary, the Potsdam man accused of the 2011 murder of 12-year-old Garrett Phillips, talked with friends Monday prior to the start of a Frye hearing in St. Lawrence County Court, during which his defense team argued the reliability of biological evidence."

GIST: Murder suspect Oral “Nick” Hillary will have to wait for a judge to rule on whether to allow the only reported sliver of physical evidence prosecutors are trying to bring against Hillary at his September trial. Hillary and his team of defense attorneys were in St. Lawrence County Court Monday during a Frye hearing to argue that prosecutors should not be allowed to use a DNA sample produced by STRmix, a forensic software tool used in testing DNA that could implicate Hillary in the 2011 strangulation death of 12-year-old Garrett J. Phillips. Hillary, 41, of 131 Leroy St., Potsdam, is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly strangling the boy on Oct. 24, 2011, at the Market Street apartment where he lived with his mother. Trial is scheduled to start Sept. 6. The issues in the hearing raised Constitutional questions, according to one of Hillary’s attorneys, NYCLU Executive Director Norman Siegel, of Siegel Teitelbaum & Evans, LLP, New York City. “... It could have a ripple effect, as I said before, not just in St. Lawrence County, but across the state and across the country,” Mr. Siegel said. “So my experience is people will rise to the occasion and I am certain that this will happen here as well. Now, after saying all that, we clearly, clearly prefer this to not be admissible because of the arguments that we made today.” Presiding Judge Felix J. Catena, in his granting of the hearing, wrote that there were issues raised in the reliability of the STRmix results in the Hillary case “given that the portion of DNA found in the fingernail scrapings (taken from Garrett) in the 550C2 sample from the minor contributor was very small and would be termed ‘low-template.’” “As such, this court grants defendant a pre-trial hearing on the issue of whether this software program is generally accepted as reliable in analyzing the extreme mixture ratios presented in this case,” Judge Catena wrote. Dr. John S. Buckleton, a forensic scientist from Maryland, formerly of New Zealand, and one of the three developers of STRmix, defended the reliability of the tool when he was called to testify for the prosecutors, Onondaga District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick and St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary E. Rain. “I certainly consider it reliable in my belief and a broader community also does,” Dr. Buckleton said.“I base that on validation studies we have done, validation studies other people have done, on an understanding of how this software works.” Many of those validation studies have been done at low templates, similar to the one in question, Dr. Buckleton said. While Dr. Buckleton said that STRmix is “relatively new software being applied in the field,” he countered that “all science evolves,” calling the software “evolutionary, not revolutionary. “I would hope everything is a work in progress, but this certainly is,” Mr. Buckleton said. “We will continue to make evolutionary improvements.” Dr. Buckleton said the DNA profile he tested seemed to be a mixture of two people, a major and a minor DNA contributor. He said there was no evidence of more than two people, though there could have been more, if that was what he was looking for.........Hired defense expert Dan E. Krane, a professor of biological sciences at Wright State University, Ohio, and president, CEO and co-founder of Forensic Bioinformatics, a consulting and testimony service that reviews cases involving forensic DNA testing, said that STRmix works great when it is fed a lot of DNA; however, as in this case, when it is fed a minute amount — between 4 and 8 trillionths of a gram — it becomes problematic. “I find myself in close agreement with Dr. Buckleton in saying that the most extreme mixture rations I have seen were 25 to 1, with one exception,” Dr. Krane said. “That is what I saw in his June statement for this hearing.” That ratio, around 220 to 1, is a DNA that is low-template and doesn’t show the entire profile, said Clinton Hughes, a staff attorney and member of the DNA unit with the Legal Aid Society in New York City who is working on the Hillary defense team pro bono. “We are dealing with something 10 times that amount with a very, very small, minor component that could be more than one person,” Mr. Hughes said. “It becomes an issue and there are a lot of problems in analyzing it, and that is a concern for us that they would want to attach such a large statistic to such a tiny amount of DNA that is based upon a lot of moving parts.”.........Criminal and civil rights trial attorney Earl S. Ward, another of Hillary’s attorneys, cautioned that this is not a case where “DNA is the finger of God pointing at the accused.” “This is not that case,” Mr. Ward said. “This is the finger of a statistician pointing at Nick Hillary and that is not what DNA should be all about.”

The entire story can be found at:

http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news05/issues-in-hillary-dna-hearing-could-have-nationwide-ripple-effect-defense-says-20160726

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:

I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:

http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html

Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:
 hlevy15@gmail.com;

Harold Levy;

Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;


Raymond Tempest: Rhode Island; Bulletin; Earlier this month, the state's high court upheld a new decision granting him a new trial because the judge found that police and prosecutors had violated Tempest’s right to a fair trial by coaching witnesses, failing to disclose evidence and suppressing key details about a witness’s changing statements. Now the state has filed a petition to re-argue the appeal on the basis that a note written by the then-prosecutor, James Ryan, that reads, "“too late, don’t volunteer new info, will cause big problems,” does not indicate a deliberate intention to obstruct justice..."Respectfully then, it is simply incorrect that 'the former prosecutor's own words 'don't volunteer' are indicative of a considered decision by the former prosecutor to suppress for the purpose of obstructing," read the petition (to re-open the case) signed by Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin." ..."The state asserts that Ryan was concerned about delaying the trial and argues the lower court "committed clear error" by not believing Ryan during a lengthy post-conviction hearing." Reporter Katie Mulvaney; The Providence Journal;


"State prosecutors are asking to argue, again, their appeal before the state Supreme Court in the Raymond D. "Beaver" Tempest Jr. murder case. The state Tuesday filed a petition to re-argue the case, now 34 years after prosecutors say Tempest bludgeoned to death 22-year-old Doreen Picard and severely injured Picard's landlord. The state disputed the value of evidence the high court determined had been withheld and its finding that then-prosecutor James Ryan deliberately failed to disclose witness statements in Tempest's 1992 trial. "Respectfully ... then, it is simply incorrect that 'the former prosecutor's own words 'don't volunteer' are indicative of a considered decision by the former prosecutor to suppress for the purpose of obstructing," read the petition signed by Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. He was referring to a 1992 note from Ryan that read, “too late, don’t volunteer new info, will cause big problems.” The state asserts that Ryan was concerned about delaying the trial and argues the lower court "committed clear error" by not believing Ryan during a lengthy post-conviction hearing. The high court earlier this month found that Tempest was entitled to a new trial. In doing so, the court upheld a decision by Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Procaccini to vacate Tempest’s second-degree murder conviction for Picard's beating death. Procaccini found that police and prosecutors had violated Tempest’s right to a fair trial by coaching witnesses, failing to disclose evidence and suppressing key details about a witness’s changing statements. Procaccini did not declare Tempest innocent, but said he deserved a new trial. Tempest has been on home confinement since September. The high court agreed with Procaccini, with majority finding that Ryan violated Tempest’s due-process rights by failing to disclose witness statements to Tempest’s defense lawyer. In doing so, he violated rules governing the disclosure of exculpatory evidence or evidence that could be used to impeach witnesses at trial. A jury in 1992 convicted Tempest of Picard's murder. He was sentenced to serve 85 years in prison."
http://m.providencejournal.com/news/20160726/state-asks-ri-supreme-court-for-new-arguments-in-tempest-murder-case

See earlier Innocence Project note on the case at the link below:  "On April 22, 1992, Tempest was convicted of the 1982 murder of 22-year-old Doreen Picard. At his trial, the prosecution offered no physical evidence connecting Tempest to the crime, and there were no eyewitnesses claiming to have seen Tempest at the crime scene. The state’s case rested on four individuals who claimed that Tempest had confessed to them.  The individuals were all vulnerable to police pressure, due to their backgrounds in drug trafficking, drug use or prostitution.  Tempest was convicted and sentenced to 85 years."
 http://www.innocenceproject.org/raymond-d-tempest-jr-released-from-prison-on-bail/


Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Kerry Max Cook; Texas; Bulletin; Major (distressing) Development; A judge has recommended against finding Kerry Max Cook 'actually innocent'...“The ultimate issue in this case is a determination of who murdered Linda Edwards, not who had sexual relations with Linda Edwards,” Carter wrote. “(The new evidence) is definitely helpful to Cook’s defense, but this court does not find that it unquestionably proves that Cook is actually innocent. ”Tyler Morning Telegraph;


BACKGROUND: (From Northwestern's Bluhm Legal Clinic: 'Doctors diagnosis was nearly fatal': "Kerry Max Cook was twice convicted and twice sentenced to death for the 1977 murder and mutilation of a 21-year-old secretary in Tyler, Texas. The first conviction, in 1978, rested primarily on the testimony of a jailhouse snitch who claimed that Cook had confessed. Other witnesses testified that Cook had on occasion peered through the victim's window, watching her undress, and that, shortly before the murder, he had watched a movie depicting the mutilation of a cat. Dr. James Grigson, a now-infamous Dallas forensic psychiatrist dubbed "Dr. Death" by defense lawyers, testified that Cook had an antisocial personality disorder, virtually assuring that he would kill again. The prosecutor branded Cook a "little pervert," telling the jury: "I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't eat [the victim's] body parts." The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and death sentence, but in 1988, with Cook 11 days from execution, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Texas court to review the case. Three years later, that court finally granted Mr. Cook a new trial. After one mistrial, Cook was convicted and sentenced to death a second time in 1994. Two years later, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned that conviction saying that "prosecutorial and police misconduct has tainted this entire matter from the outset." By this time, all of the evidence against Cook had been discredited, largely as a result of a reinvestigation conducted by Centurion Ministries. Prosecutors nonetheless threatened to try him yet again, even though DNA testing contradicted their original theory of the case, strongly suggesting that someone else committed the crime. Unaware of the DNA results, Cook agreed to plead no contest to a reduced charge of murder in order to avoid another possible death sentence."
http://www.law.northwestern.edu/legalclinic/wrongfulconvictions/exonerations/tx/kerry-max-cook.html

TYLER MORNING NEWS STORY: Reporter Roy Maynard: (July 25, 2016): "A state district judge has declined to recommend that the state Court of Criminal Appeals approve Kerry Max Cook’s writ of actual innocence in the death of Linda Jo Edwards in 1977. Though Cook was twice convicted of her murder and spent nearly 20 years on death row, his conviction was set aside by Judge Jack Carter in June, following an agreement between Cook’s lawyers and the Smith County District Attorney’s Office. That was based on the fact that false evidence was given by a witness in Cook’s trials. But setting aside that verdict wasn’t a full exoneration. That’s something Cook sought with his writ. But Judge Carter, in his ruling released late Monday, found that Cook hadn’t met the high bar that “actual innocence” would require. “In order to meet this high standard of proof, the convicted defendant must show that new evidence, not available during trial, unquestionably establishes the applicant’s innocence,” Carter wrote. “Said another way, the new evidence must clearly and convincingly establish innocence. The applicant must show by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable juror would have convicted him, in light of the new evidence.” But new evidence must be weighed against the whole, Carter said. And there’s undisputed evidence Cook was in the victim’s apartment - his fingerprint was found. And that witness who lied - former college dean James Mayfield - was shown to have had an affair with Ms. Edwards, but that’s all. “The ultimate issue in this case is a determination of who murdered Linda Edwards, not who had sexual relations with Linda Edwards,” Carter wrote. “(The new evidence) is definitely helpful to Cook’s defense, but this court does not find that it unquestionably proves that Cook is actually innocent.” Contacted late Monday, Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said he’s pleased with the recommendation, which will now go before the Court of Criminal Appeals.........Bingham could conceivably retry Cook on the charges. He did not rule that out Monday night. “If the Court of Criminal Appeals adopts Judge Carter’s findings, then I will decide at that point how I will proceed,” he said. Cook was tried for the crime in 1978, convicted and sentenced to die by a Smith County jury. But the Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the case in 1989, because a psychologist had not read Cook his Miranda warning, thus rendering all information in the psychological interview useless. He was not freed at the time because he remained under indictment for capital murder, and then-Smith County District Attorney Jack Skeen took two more tries at convicting Cook. In 1992, Smith County tried the case, but the jury deadlocked, and a mistrial was declared. In 1994, Cook was found guilty of capital murder, but prosecutors used the testimony of a witness who had died. That was reversed by the Court of Criminal Appeals in 1997. In 1998, as Smith County was moving forward with a fourth trial, Skeen offered Cook a deal that would convict him of murder but would not require him to admit he killed the woman. In exchange for his plea of no contest, Cook was convicted of murder but sentenced to the time he already served. He was released from prison and has been challenging the ruling ever since. If he had been declared actually innocent, Cook would have been eligible for restitution from the State of Texas for as much as $1.6 million."
http://www.tylerpaper.com/TP-News+Local/238815/judge-recommends-against-ruling-kerry-max-cook-actually-innocent

See Texas Monthly article  by Michael Hall (June 6, 2016) - Reversal of Fortune Kerry Max Cook, a subject of The Exonerated, is finally exonerated - at the link below: "For almost 39 years, prosecutors in the Smith County District Attorney’s office have done their best to either send Kerry Max Cook to death row, keep him there, or—after he was freed on bond in 1997—prevent him from ever being able to walk the streets with absolute impunity. Today, these efforts stopped. This morning, in the 114th District Court of Smith County, district attorney Matt Bingham agreed to not contest Cook’s writ of habeas corpus—and to join with Cook’s attorneys in recommending that his murder conviction be overturned. Cook, who has sworn his innocence since he was arrested in August 1977 for the murder of Linda Jo Edwards, has finally been legally exonerated. Cook’s lawyers had filed the habeas writ in 2015, then filed a couple of amended writs this past spring, containing additional grounds. The most important ground, and the one Cook wanted the most, was the first, claiming that he is “actually innocent.” The state didn’t address that claim but agreed the court should grant the writ based on ground number five, that “Mr. Cook’s due process rights were violated by the presentation of false testimony from James Mayfield.” From 1977 to 1992, Mayfield—the boyfriend of Edwards, whom Cook was convicted of killing, had claimed that he and Edwards last had sex three weeks before her murder, and the prosecution used this to back up their assertion that the couple were just friends in that time; thus he had no motive to kill her. But in an April interview, Mayfield admitted that, in fact, the couple had had sex on June 8, the day before she was murdered. Mayfield also testified that he was not with Edwards in her apartment on the night of her murder—but a 1991 police report uncovered by Cook’s lawyers Gary Udashen and Bruce Anton found that Edwards’s roommate had told prosecutors that in fact she had seen Mayfield in the room with Edwards not long before she was murdered. This police report was not turned over to Cook’s lawyers before his trials in 1992 or 1994."

http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/kerry-max-cook-exonerated/

Charles Smith; 'What kind of man series'. Part Ten of ten; Publisher's View: Lessons learned;


PUBLISHER'S VIEW: (Editorial): In the most recent post (Part Nine) I referred to the late Peter Kormos' observation that Justice Stephen Goudge would not let Charles Smith get away with his defence that  his failings were "never intentional."  This reminded me of another one of Smith's many defences - that it was  unfair to pick on him because he acted no differently than any other pathologist would have acted within the prevailing knowledge of pathology at the time.   The flaw in this defence was, of course, that other pathologists in the province hopefully did not lie under oath, hide or destroy evidence  that might show that their  opinion was wrong, see themselves as members of the prosecution team,  falsely pretend that they had superior knowledge to bring  to the forensic issues in the case, or  unfairly disparage the opinions of  truly knowledgeable experts who testified for the defence. One of the biggest lessons I learned from reporting on Smith  for more than a decade was the danger of creating a false impression that innocent people were only being wrongfully charged and convicted because of one  notorious, arrogant, narcissistic, manipulative, opportunistic  pathologist named Charles Smith. While we must always be on guard for forensic frauds such as Manock and Smith, what about all the other parents and caregivers who may have been put through the horror of being wrongfully investigated, charged and convicted based on the evidence of pathologists  or  medical practitioners who, unlike Smith, were well-meaning,  sincere, fair, unbiased and neutral - but reached incorrect conclusions of child sexual abuse because the prevailing, accepted pathology being  taught in the medical schools and practiced in the field at the time was wrong. I learned this lesson around the time of the Goudge Inquiry when I was contacted by a retired physician  who told me that when he began practicing  medicine in the 1950's it was widely taught and believed that the mere existence of an enlarged hymen in a child was an indication that she had been sexually abused. This doctor told me that he and many other doctors of his vintage now, in the light of research and newly acquired knowledge, had suffered restless nights because they had inadvertently helped perpetuate miscarriages of justice because  they had reiterated  the flawed,  prevailing medical orthodoxy  of the time. I thought about my conversation  - and the lessons I have learned - when I read  an article entitled "Medical Considerations in the diagnosis of child sexual abuse," by Felicity Goodyear-Smith, published by the IPT Journal in Volume Six, 1994. The abstract reads: "There are no medical signs in the vast majority of sexual abuse cases.  Many findings promoted as physical indicators of abuse have been shown to be present in nonabused children.  In particular hymenal openings said to measure more than 4 mm, genital rashes and redness, and anal reflex dilatation have been demonstrated to be unreliable medical indicators.  Children can be harmed both by unnecessary invasive investigation (including general anesthesia) and by subsequent interventions if the allegations are false.  Doctors must insure that they have an empirical basis for the interpretation of their findings, and that they do not allow someone else's belief that a child has been abused to color their clinical judgment.  Describing normal findings as "consistent with abuse" is decried.  This practice is likely to mislead a court to erroneously believe that there is physical evidence supportive of abuse."  Goodyear Smith's conclusion is very wise, worthy of framing, particularly relevant to contemporary issues as to whether short falls can kill and shaken baby syndrome  - and will hold a hallowed place on this Blog: "There are no physical signs of abuse to be found in the vast majority of sexual abuse cases.  Medical findings supporting or proving abuse are not as clear cut as may be expected.  Many of the medical indicators advocated are frequently found in non-abused children.  The ubiquitous practice of describing completely normal examination findings as being "consistent with abuse" is likely to be misunderstood in a courtroom as evidence supporting an allegation.  Lay people serving as jurors are particularly apt to be misled by medical experts giving such testimony. Physicians examining a child for possible sexual abuse are likely to have been briefed by other workers who have already decided that the child has been sexually abused.  Many social workers and psychologists believe that false allegations are extremely rare and that "children never lie about abuse," and see their role as a "validator" that the abuse has occurred.  Once a belief that sexual abuse has taken place has become entrenched, very little can be done to sway the believers otherwise.  To even suggest the possibility of a false allegation is often to invite an emotional outburst and accusations of condoning or even colluding with abuse.  Actions and decisions may subsequently be made without scientific substantiation of the allegations. Doctors called upon to perform forensic sexual abuse examinations should have up-to-date information on the range of normal for nonabused children.  They should be very cautious on how they interpret their findings, and insure that they have an empirical basis for their claims.  Children can be seriously harmed both by invasive investigative practices and by subsequent interventions when the allegations are unfounded.  Physicians must always have in mind the Hippocratic vow, primum non nocere: first do no harm."

The entire article can be found at:
http://www.ipt-forensics.com/journal/volume6/j6_2_1.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:

I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:

http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html

Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: 
 
hlevy15@gmail.com;

Harold Levy;

Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;

Monday, July 25, 2016

Leo Ackley; Anthony Ball: Michigan; Bulletin: Shaken baby syndrome; Their lawyers are challenging the scientific evidence in two infant homicide cases..."On Monday a judge ruled in favor of the attorneys, who are hoping to prove that the prosecutor’s scientific experts can’t show that Ackley and Ball shook infants to death. Prosecutors testified that they’ve already proven that the babies suffered head injuries, injuries which ultimately killed them. “They don’t want us to look too closely behind the curtain,” said Ackley’s attorney Andrew Rodenhouse, “they don’t want us to look at the science.” Rodenhouse says Ackley’s case is setting a new standard for infant death cases across the nation and that more and more defense attorneys are challenging the evidence presented by the state. “We’re hoping to shake the science,” said Balls’ attorney Kymberly Schroeder. “We’re hoping to be able to prove that the underlying basis that this must be abuse, it’s always abuse is false. There’s no evidence, there’s no science behind it.”" WWMT;


 "Leo Ackley and Anthony Ball are both behind bars for infant homicide. While Ackley has been granted a new trial by the Michigan Supreme Court, Ball is headed to trial for the first time, but both are working to show that science can’t prove they are killers. It’s a detailed and complicated topic. Attorneys for both men are turning to science to prove or disprove what killed two babies in Calhoun County. “Just because we always do it one way doesn’t make it right,” said Calhoun County Judge John Hallacy. On Monday a judge ruled in favor of the attorneys, who are hoping to prove that the prosecutor’s scientific experts can’t show that Ackley and Ball shook infants to death. Prosecutors testified that they’ve already proven that the babies suffered head injuries, injuries which ultimately killed them. “They don’t want us to look too closely behind the curtain,” said Ackley’s attorney Andrew Rodenhouse, “they don’t want us to look at the science.” Rodenhouse says Ackley’s case is setting a new standard for infant death cases across the nation and that more and more defense attorneys are challenging the evidence presented by the state. “We’re hoping to shake the science,” said Balls’ attorney Kymberly Schroeder. “We’re hoping to be able to prove that the underlying basis that this must be abuse, it’s always abuse is false. There’s no evidence, there’s no science behind it.”"
http://wwmt.com/news/local/attorneys-challenge-scientific-evidence-in-two-infant-deaths