Saturday, September 24, 2016

Rodricus Crawford: Death Row; Louisiana: Timely New York Times story by reporter Roni Caryn Rabin (published September 19) could help save Rodricus Crawford's life; It's headed, "Could it be sepsis? C.D.C. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) wants more people to ask," - and makes the point that there is so much ignorance about sepsis as a cause of mortality in the USA - including infant mortality - that "The C.D.C. is aiming efforts at health care providers, urging them to consider sepsis and act quickly, and investing in research to study risk factors. It is also emphasizing prevention through better management of chronic diseases, vaccinations and appropriate use of antibiotics."........."The baby seemed fine when Dr. Thomas R. Frieden left for work that July morning in New York more than 20 years ago. But when he returned home several hours later, his son was pale and blazing hot, limp in his wife’s arms. “My first thought was that he was dead,” said Dr. Frieden, now the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It was so scary, even for someone trained as a physician, to see how quickly someone who’s healthy can become critically ill.” Dr. Frieden, an infectious diseases specialist, knew time was of the essence. His hunch, which turned out to be correct, was that his son had developed sepsis, a life-threatening condition triggered by an infection that can very quickly spiral out of control. He called the child’s pediatrician, and within hours, the infant had received a broad-spectrum antibiotic. He recovered within a few days. Many patients are not so fortunate. Between one million and three million Americans are given diagnoses of sepsis each year, and 15 percent to 30 percent of them will die, Dr. Frieden said. Sepsis most commonly affects people over 65, but children are also susceptible. According to one estimate, more than 42,000 children develop sepsis in the United States every year, and 4,400 die."........."Sepsis is a contributing factor in up to half of all hospital deaths, but it’s often not listed as the cause of death because it often develops as a complication of another serious underlying disease like cancer. So although death certificates list sepsis as a cause in 146,000 to 159,000 deaths a year, a recent report estimated that it could play a role in as many as 381,000. Yet advocacy organizations say many Americans have never heard of sepsis and don’t know the signs and symptoms."........."The new campaign was spurred in part by the latest C.D.C. study, which examined the hospital records of 246 adults and 79 children, finding that in nearly 80 percent of cases, sepsis had started when the patient was at home. The study also shed light on who is most susceptible to sepsis. Though it occurs most often in people over 65, infants under the age of 1 are also susceptible, as are people with chronic diseases like diabetes or immune systems weakened from tobacco use, for example. And healthy people can develop sepsis from an infection that’s not treated properly as well."..."The new C.D.C. study found sepsis is most often associated with lung, urinary tract, skin and gut or intestinal infections, and that many sepsis patients had visited a doctor or been in a health care setting before developing the infection."..."Dr. Frieden said he wanted to share his personal experience with sepsis so people would have a better understanding of the condition. He encourages vaccinating against the infection that caused his son’s sepsis, which was pneumococcus. There was no vaccine available at the time, but it has since been developed. “I’m like the thousands of parents and loved ones who experience this every year,” Dr. Frieden said. His son “could have died from it. And far too many people do die from sepsis today.” Reporter Roni Caryn Rabin; New York Times.


COUNTDOWN: 12 days to Wrongful Conviction Day: (Thursday October 6, 2016);


STORY: "Could it be Sepsis? C.D.C. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)  wants more people to ask," by Roni Caryn Rabin,  published by The New York Times on September 19, 2016.

PHOTO CAPTION: "Dr. Thomas Frieden, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, holds a photo with his infant son who developed sepsis 20 years ago. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times."

PHOTO CAPTION:  "Dr. Thomas Frieden, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wants sepsis to become a household word to get at-risk patients medical treatment sooner. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times."

GIST: "The baby seemed fine when Dr. Thomas R. Frieden left for work that July morning in New York more than 20 years ago. But when he returned home several hours later, his son was pale and blazing hot, limp in his wife’s arms. “My first thought was that he was dead,” said Dr. Frieden, now the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It was so scary, even for someone trained as a physician, to see how quickly someone who’s healthy can become critically ill.” Dr. Frieden, an infectious diseases specialist, knew time was of the essence. His hunch, which turned out to be correct, was that his son had developed sepsis, a life-threatening condition triggered by an infection that can very quickly spiral out of control. He called the child’s pediatrician, and within hours, the infant had received a broad-spectrum antibiotic. He recovered within a few days. Many patients are not so fortunate. Between one million and three million Americans are given diagnoses of sepsis each year, and 15 percent to 30 percent of them will die, Dr. Frieden said. Sepsis most commonly affects people over 65, but children are also susceptible. According to one estimate, more than 42,000 children develop sepsis in the United States every year, and 4,400 die. Sepsis develops when the body mounts an overwhelming attack against an infection that can cause inflammation in the entire body. When that happens, the body undergoes a cascade of changes, including blood clots and leaky blood vessels that impede blood flow to organs. Blood pressure drops, multiple organs can fail, the heart is affected, and death can result. “Your body has an army to fight infections,” said Dr. Jim O’Brien, the chairman of Sepsis Alliance. “With sepsis, your body starts suffering from friendly fire.” Sepsis appears to be rising. The rate of hospitalizations that listed sepsis as the primary illness more than doubled between 2000 and 2008, according to a 2011 C.D.C. study, which attributed the increase to factors like the aging of the population, a rise in antibiotic resistance and, to some extent, better diagnosis. Sepsis is a contributing factor in up to half of all hospital deaths, but it’s often not listed as the cause of death because it often develops as a complication of another serious underlying disease like cancer. So although death certificates list sepsis as a cause in 146,000 to 159,000 deaths a year, a recent report estimated that it could play a role in as many as 381,000. Yet advocacy organizations say many Americans have never heard of sepsis and don’t know the signs and symptoms. Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton, a Queens couple who lost their son Rory, a sixth-grader, to sepsis in 2012, discovered the condition was not even listed on the A to Z index of the C.D.C.’s website at the time. They met with Dr. Frieden and urged him to use his bully pulpit to educate Americans about the disease. Now the C.D.C. is starting a major public awareness campaign to make sepsis a household word. The first step is to teach people to seek treatment quickly when a loved one begins to show symptoms of sepsis, which include chills or fever; extreme pain or discomfort; clammy or sweaty skin; confusion or disorientation; shortness of breath; and a high heart rate. The campaign, which has developed educational fact sheets, encourages lay people to suggest the diagnosis to health care providers who may overlook it. Ask the doctor, “Could it be sepsis?” or say, “I’m worried about sepsis.” “We want people to be able to recognize sepsis just like they recognize a heart attack or stroke, and know they shouldn’t wait until Thursday when the doctor can see them, but go to the emergency room right away,” said Thomas Heymann, executive director of Sepsis Alliance. The group’s motto is, “Suspect sepsis, save lives.” When blood pressure drops and chokes blood flow to the body’s organs, a person can develop septic shock. For every hour without antibiotics, the probability of dying goes up by 8 percent, Dr. O’Brien said. While earlier initiatives have focused on reducing sepsis deaths that developed in hospitals, newer studies suggest most cases start in the community setting, before people are hospitalized. The new campaign was spurred in part by the latest C.D.C. study, which examined the hospital records of 246 adults and 79 children, finding that in nearly 80 percent of cases, sepsis had started when the patient was at home. The study also shed light on who is most susceptible to sepsis. Though it occurs most often in people over 65, infants under the age of 1 are also susceptible, as are people with chronic diseases like diabetes or immune systems weakened from tobacco use, for example. And healthy people can develop sepsis from an infection that’s not treated properly as well. The Stauntons’ son died after developing an infection that wasn’t recognized by emergency room doctors who examined him at NYU Langone Medical Center. A new state law passed after his death requires hospitals in New York to screen all patients for sepsis in order to start treatment early.  The C.D.C. is aiming efforts at health care providers, urging them to consider sepsis and act quickly, and investing in research to study risk factors. It is also emphasizing prevention through better management of chronic diseases, vaccinations and appropriate use of antibiotics. Dr. Frieden said he wanted to share his personal experience with sepsis so people would have a better understanding of the condition. He encourages vaccinating against the infection that caused his son’s sepsis, which was pneumococcus. There was no vaccine available at the time, but it has since been developed. “I’m like the thousands of parents and loved ones who experience this every year,” Dr. Frieden said. His son “could have died from it. And far too many people do die from sepsis today.”

The entire story can be found at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/well/live/could-it-be-sepsis-cdc-wants-more-people-to-ask.html?mi_u=57629086&_r=0

See also a previous post of this Blog at the link below; (The affidavit provided for Rodricus Crawford's recent "actual innocence" appeal - decision reserved - by Dr. Phillip Fernsten,  who has had more than 17 years of experience evaluting immunological responses to vaccines)...")..."In summary, it is highly unlikely that Roderius Lott was fully protected against pneumonia or sepsis caused either by streptococcus pneumoniae or by a number of other pathogenic bacteria that cause these life-threatening infections in young children. There are numerous material errors in Dr. Traylor's (Prosecution witness HL)  testimony at trial regarding the children's succeptibility to pneumonia.""

Saturday, September 3, 2016


Rodricus Crawford; Louisiana death row. Part 15; Key document: Affidavit of Dr. Phillip Fernsten - more than 17 years of experience evaluting immunological responses to vaccines). Part of a series in anticipation of his appeal set for Wednesday (September 7)... "In summary, it is highly unlikely that Roderius Lott was fully protected against pneumonia or sepsis caused either by streptococcus pneumoniae or by a number of other pathogenic bacteria that cause these life-threatening infections in young children. There are numerous material errors in Dr. Traylor's testimony at trial regarding the children's succeptibility to pneumonia. 

DOCUMENT:   "The affidavit provided to the Rodricus Crawford's lawyers by Dr. Phillip Fernsten, who has more than 17 years experience evaluating immunological responses to vaccines."

GIST: "Based on my review of the materials provided to me, it is my opinion that the testimony of Dr. James G. Traylor, Jr, MD, at the trial of Rodicrus Crawford, contained material errors related to my area of expertise which were left unanswered by the State and defence. These areas are listed below. (It's a long list. HL)......... "In summary, it is highly unlikely that Roderius Lott was fully protected against pneumonia or sepsis caused either by streptococcus pneumoniae  or by a number of other pathogenic bacteria that cause these life-threatening infections in young children. There are numerous  material errors in Dr. Traylor's testimony at trial regarding the children's succeptibility to pneumonia."

The entire document can be found at:

https://rodricuscrawford.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/fernsten-affadavit-final-signed-notarized.pdf

 http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2016/09/rodricus-crawford-louisiana-death-row_3.html

See CDC alert at the link below: 'CDC urges Sepsis awareness.'

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgTQLTjrTqA&feature=youtu.be

See CDC Sepsis fact sheet at the link below; (Numerous resource materials);

 https://www.cdc.gov/sepsis/

See 'The Advocate story on the September 7 'actual innocence' hearing at the link below: "Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll cast perhaps the most doubt from the bench as she questioned Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorney Tommy Johnson over the office's decision to seek death for Crawford. "Is there any evidence he occasionally abused the child or was rough with the child?" Knoll asked. "No, your honor," Johnson responded. "Then how did the state come about (to the position) that this was a first-degree murder case, on circumstantial evidence, with a child that an autopsy had discovered had sepsis, and ask that this man be put to death on weak circumstances? You don't even have a motive," Knoll said.  Johnson responded that there was no proof the boy had sepsis at the trial. He acknowledged that prosecutors suggested a motive -- a rift with the mother of Crawford's older child -- but never backed it up with evidence."

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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.

Melissa Calusinski: Illinois; Bulletin: Chicago Tribune reports that a ruling has been delayed to September 30) in her effort overturn her murder conviction for the death of a toddler who was in her care... "Shanes had indicated he might need more time to make a ruling in the complex, controversial case, which has received national attention. The judge oversaw Calusinski's 2011 trial and later sentenced her to 31 years in prison. If he tosses out the conviction, prosecutors would then have to decide if they would retry her, while her attorneys would likely seek to have her released from prison. Calusinski was convicted based in part on medical testimony that backed up her confession to police that she became frustrated while working at the Lincolnshire day care center and slammed Benjamin's head to the ground. The Deerfield boy died later that day at a Libertyville hospital. Since Calusinski was imprisoned, though, a purportedly new set of X-rays of Benjamin were found in the Lake County coroner's office that Calusinski's lawyers assert were withheld from them before her trial. They also say the X-rays show that Benjamin died not from a skull fracture caused by Calusinski but from a prior injury. "Reporter Robert McCoppin;


COUNTDOWN: 12 days to Wrongful Conviction Day: (Thursday October 6, 2016);

"A ruling has been delayed in the case of a Carpentersville woman seeking to overturn her murder conviction for the death of a toddler who was in her care. Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes initially indicated he might announce a decision Friday in the case of Melissa Calusinski, who was convicted of inflicting a fatal injury to 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan at a suburban day care center where she worked in 2009. The hearing has been rescheduled for Sept. 30. Shanes had indicated he might need more time to make a ruling in the complex, controversial case, which has received national attention. The judge oversaw Calusinski's 2011 trial and later sentenced her to 31 years in prison. If he tosses out the conviction, prosecutors would then have to decide if they would retry her, while her attorneys would likely seek to have her released from prison. Calusinski was convicted based in part on medical testimony that backed up her confession to police that she became frustrated while working at the Lincolnshire day care center and slammed Benjamin's head to the ground. The Deerfield boy died later that day at a Libertyville hospital. Since Calusinski was imprisoned, though, a purportedly new set of X-rays of Benjamin were found in the Lake County coroner's office that Calusinski's lawyers assert were withheld from them before her trial. They also say the X-rays show that Benjamin died not from a skull fracture caused by Calusinski but from a prior injury......... Whatever Shanes decides, it is likely to be appealed to a higher court by one side or the other."
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-day-care-murder-ruling-delay-met-20160922-story.html

Pillaged Braintree evidence room: Massachusetts; WCVB says the "focus sharpens" on the officer in charge of evidence room..."Obviously someone compromised the evidence," said retired State Police Maj. Bruce Gordon, who performed the audit. "She was in charge of the evidence locker at the time." Zopatti took her own life within a week of meeting with Gordon. The events in Braintree have led many to question if there were any warning signs missed."


COUNTDOWN: 12 days to Wrongful Conviction Day: (Thursday October 6, 2016);

STORY: "Focus sharpens on Braintree officer in charge of evidence room," by reporter Kathy Curran, published by WCVB on September 23, 2016.

SUB-HEADING:  "5 investigates story of missing drugs, money from Braintree Police Department evidence room."

GIST:  "As the Braintree Police Department scandal unfolds, 5 Investigates has learned the focus is turning to whether red flags were missed about the officer in charge of the evidence room where drugs, guns and cash have gone missing. That officer, Susan Zopatti, joined the Braintree Police Department back in 1995. She worked patrol until becoming the evidence officer in 2013. A recent audit of the department concentrated on the years Zopatti was in charge of the evidence room and discovered the missing money, firearms and seized drugs. That tainted and missing evidence has already led to criminal charges being dropped for dozens of alleged drug dealers. "Obviously someone compromised the evidence," said retired State Police Maj. Bruce Gordon, who performed the audit. "She was in charge of the evidence locker at the time." Zopatti took her own life within a week of meeting with Gordon. The events in Braintree have led many to question if there were any warning signs missed. Sources tell 5 Investigates that members of the department had suggested there were problems with the evidence and that Zopatti was disoriented at work and needed help. But according to documents obtained by 5 Investigates, her department record was clean......... From the start, Mayor Joe Sullivan has been troubled by the apparent lack of oversight in the department. "We obviously have some real concerns about what's transpired here," he told 5 Investigates. Police Chief Russell Jenkins, who put Officer Zopatti in charge of the evidence room, has announced his retirement, effective in two weeks. The attorney general is investigating and sources tell us more changes within the department may be on the way."

The entire story can be found at:

http://m.wcvb.com/news/focus-sharpens-on-braintree-officer-in-charge-of-evidence-room/41804204

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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.

Pillaged 'Precinct 4' evidence room: Harris County Texas; The Houston Chronicle's St. John Barned-Smith reports that an evidence destruction report describes deeper problems - and that drugs, cash, weapons found piled up during probe of Pct. 4 property room...." Meanwhile, the district attorney's office also said that it had received word from the Harris County auditor about the possibility of missing evidence from the Precinct 7 Constable's Office."...". The property area looked like a hoarder's home, according to Lacher's statement in the complaint, with a gun room "in total disarray" and various long guns piled on top of each other. In another area, boxes of drugs were stacked 8 feet high, making passage impossible. More than $100,000 in cash was found in a storage locker and deputies recovered dozens of stolen items that should have been returned to their owners, Lacher said.........Lacher said he and another investigator handled 350 boxes containing over 2,000 cases with evidence or recovered items, according to a written statement provided to internal investigators. "We processed 1,062 items that qualified for transfer to Harris County Purchasing, 462 items were documented for destruction, 18 recovered stolen Handguns, Shotguns and Rifles were released to owners, 44 recovered stolen or found items were released to owners and 340 items were marked as recovered stolen property with no owner contact," Lacher's account states. A company in La Porte incinerated more than 1,300 pounds of evidence hauled in three pickup trucks, the IAD report says." Reporter St. John Barned-Smith;


COUNTDOWN: 12 days to Wrongful Conviction Day: (Thursday October 6, 2016;
PICK OF THE DAY: Pennsylvania Innocence Project:  This year...the Pennsylvania Innocence Project is asking our friends and supporters to mark Wrongful Conviction Day by creating a Wall for Innocence: just a wall, or blackboard, or space on the ground where people can share their thoughts about what “Innocence Means …”.All the information on how to set up a Wall for Innocence can be found in our Complete Wrongful Conviction Day Toolkit. You’ll find handouts, instructions, information about compensation, and pledge cards for people to express their commitment to help #RightTheWrong in Pennsylvania. You can also act RIGHT NOW by heading to our Legislative Action Center to contact state legislators and ask them to pass compensation legislation now! During the day, we ask organizers to encourage people to take the time to ask their state legislators to enact compensation legislation to help those leaving prison regain something of what was taken from them. Handouts explaining how are included in the Toolkit.

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STORY: "Precinct 4 evidence destruction report describes deeper problems," by reporter St. John Barned-Smith, published by The Houston Chronicle on September 22, 2106.

SUB-HEADING:   "Drugs, cash, weapons found piled up during probe of Pct. 4 property room."

PHOTO CAPTION:  "Constable Mark Herman blames the evidence destruction in his department on a veteran evidence manager."

GIST:   One of the first hints of trouble in the Precinct 4 property room came in an email from evidence manager Christopher T. Hess. Harris County District Attorney "Investigator Kerry Gillie called today about the evidence for case 13-50054," he wrote on Feb. 29 to his supervisor, Lt. Christian Nicholson. "I explained that the drugs had been recently destroyed. He then asked for a court order for destruction copy. I told him there was not one to my knowledge." The drugs - and thousands of pieces of other evidence - had been improperly incinerated in a massive, weeks-long cleanup in January of the Precinct 4 Constables Office's evidence room, which at the time contained about 61,000 pieces of evidence. Seven months later, the District Attorney's Office and the Precinct 4 Constable's Office remain embroiled in the fallout, with District Attorney Devon Anderson dismissing more than 100 criminal cases. She has ordered prosecutors to review pending and disposed of Precinct 4 criminal cases dating back to 2007 as her office conducts a criminal investigation into the destruction. Officials with the prosecutor's office now say they believe the total number of pending cases in which evidence was destroyed was limited to 101 cases. Prosecutors have begun checking to see if evidence has been destroyed in completed cases where inmates are jailed or received deferred adjudication probations or other sentences, a spokesman said Thursdaydrugs, cash, weapons found piled up during probe of Pct. 4 property room. . Meanwhile, the district attorney's office also said that it had received word from the Harris County auditor about the possibility of missing evidence from the Precinct 7 Constable's Office. Hess, a master peace officer who began his career with the constable's office 25 years ago, according to state records, told investigators repeatedly that the destruction was supervised by a now-retired colleague, Cpl. Mike Lacher. Hess has claimed Lacher ordered him to destroy drugs, even if they pertained to open cases, according to the Precinct 4 internal affairs complaint that the Chronicle obtained under a public records request. The 25-page document shows investigators believed Hess broke evidence tampering laws and Harris County policies on evidence handling and truthfulness. The documents show the constable's property room was operated with little oversight and reveal that a string of errors led to wrongful evidence destruction. The scope and duration of the scandal raise deeper questions about operational failures inside the Precinct 4 Constable's Office, said Samuel Walker, professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. "You get a picture of an incredibly poorly run operation," said Walker, who studies police accountability and department management. "If the staffing is poor, if the facilities, the room itself, is overcrowded, it creates a potential problem that could jeopardize criminal cases. That's a big deal." Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman, appointed in May 2015 after former constable Ron Hickman became sheriff, said Hess wrongfully destroyed evidence for as long as nine years and never sought court orders required to destroy guns or drugs as required under state law. Herman fired Hess in April and said his investigators found Hess improperly destroyed 7,761 pieces of evidence, 861 of which were tied to 470 open cases. More than meth, marijuana and other drugs went into the incinerator in the ongoing Precinct 4 evidence destruction scandal. Syringes, scales, bongs, a coffee grinder, a woman’s purse and a whole host of evidence were tossed too, according to a list obtained by the Chronicle through a Texas Public Information Act request. Hickman, Herman's predecessor who served from 2001 to 2015, said he does not believe any cases handled during his tenure have been compromised. "We did have audits, so if there were any inappropriate destructions, where are all the cases that would be dismissed as a result of that?" Hickman said. "And where are the criminal cases that were disposed of because we didn't have the evidence? I haven't seen anything." The constable's office previously had destroyed other evidence in 2007, 2010 and 2012 without destruction orders, according to the complaint. Burt Springer, Hess' attorney, said his client had requested assistance running Precinct 4's property room but had been ignored. Springer said Precinct 4 lacked transparency. Command staff issued verbal orders and then scapegoated subordinates when things went awry, he said. "Herman verbally, in front of two other commanding officers … told [Hess] in front of them to let Lacher be in charge (and) did he have a problem with that?" Springer said his client was asked. "Those were the exact words." In an interview Thursday night, Herman called Springer's assertions "totally ludicrous," and said Hess has been the only employee he has fired since taking over the department. "I cannot tell one corporal he's in charge of another corporal," he said Thursday, adding that Lacher had been asked to help because he had worked in the property room at the department's Humble office. "They're both of equal rank. What they were told was they will work together and work the process." "I've been saying, we've got a rogue employee who decided to do what he did, and he has devastated a lot of people," Herman said. "He really has." A performance evaluation from September 2015, which Springer gave the Chronicle, shows Hess received high praise from his superiors. "Though the Department has about doubled in size, Cpl. Hess has maintained the Property Division in a professional manner," his evaluator wrote. "He is very good at what he does and I am proud to have him in my chain of command." Hess first blamed Lacher, who he said was assigned to supervise the clean up, according to the complaint. Also assigned to the clean up were Cpls. Todd Black, Don Owens and Deputy Anthony Smith. The property area looked like a hoarder's home, according to Lacher's statement in the complaint, with a gun room "in total disarray" and various long guns piled on top of each other. In another area, boxes of drugs were stacked 8 feet high, making passage impossible. More than $100,000 in cash was found in a storage locker and deputies recovered dozens of stolen items that should have been returned to their owners, Lacher said.........Lacher said he and another investigator handled 350 boxes containing over 2,000 cases with evidence or recovered items, according to a written statement provided to internal investigators. "We processed 1,062 items that qualified for transfer to Harris County Purchasing, 462 items were documented for destruction, 18 recovered stolen Handguns, Shotguns and Rifles were released to owners, 44 recovered stolen or found items were released to owners and 340 items were marked as recovered stolen property with no owner contact," Lacher's account states. A company in La Porte incinerated more than 1,300 pounds of evidence hauled in three pickup trucks, the IAD report says. Hess has denied responsibility in the wrongful destruction of evidence, internal investigators wrote, adding that they believed he lied at least three times during the investigation. Hess also denied being untruthful when confronted with the findings by Precinct 4 staff. "The notion that Hess even tries to distance himself from responsibility of his primary function as the Property Room Manager is ludicrous. … His claim that he was simply following Cpl. Lacher's direction/order is nothing more than an attempt to deflect from his own inadequacies," the internal investigator wrote."

The entire story can be found at:

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Precinct-4-evidence-destruction-report-describes-9240298.php

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Rodricus Crawford: Louisiana; In the aftermath of his recent 'actual innocence' hearing in the Louisiana Supreme Court, Alex Mikulich eloquently argues (what hopefully will be obvious to the justices) that excluding Blacks, Catholics from juries is an injustice - with specific reference to Rodricus Crawford, an innocent man who is locked up on Louisiana's death row. "Removing jurors based upon their religious beliefs violates our most basic principle. When Louisiana seeks to execute a citizen, it does so in the name of all of its citizens. And yet it does not permit me to say, not in my name. Crawford’s case is perhaps the worst perversion of this principle. After excluding from the jury all those who opposed the death penalty based upon their religious views, the prosecutor argued to those remaining that the teachings of Jesus Christ required the imposition of the death penalty on Rodericus Crawford. More than 100 members of the clergy filed an amicus brief at the Louisiana Supreme Court, explaining that the prosecutor’s argument was both wrong as a matter of faith, and improper as a matter of justice. We hope the court will listen." The Advocate.


COUNTDOWN: 13 days to Wrongful Conviction Day: (Thursday October 6, 2016);

PICK OF THE DAY:The Innocence Network"Legendary folk singer and human rights activist Joan Baez is joining the fight against wrongful conviction as she partners up with the Innocence Project and other members of the Innocence Network on her latest concert tour, slated to kick-off  on Wrongful Conviction Day in Portland, Maine. The folk music icon and longtime human rights campaigner will be accompanied on her 20-city tour by volunteers from Innocence Network organizations who will inform concertgoers about work to exonerate people who have been wrongly convicted of crimes and to reform the system to prevent further injustice. At each of the stops, local Innocence Network members will bring attention to individuals in that state who are fighting for justice. “I am pleased and grateful to collaborate with the Innocence Project and Innocence Network members,” Baez declared. “We hope to provide a platform which will amplify the heartbreaking stories of men and women wrongfully convicted, who suffer so needlessly. The fight against their unlawful convictions shines a light on both a broken criminal justice system and the racial inequality of people serving time. I hope my audiences will be motivated to support their work.”

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COMMENTARY: "Guest column: excluding black, Catholic jurors  an injustice, by Alex Mikulich, published by 'The Advocate' on September 22, 2016. (Alex Mikulich is assistant professor of African and African American Studies at Loyola University of New Orleans.)

GIST: "Our nation was founded on a belief in fairness and justice, and the principle that anyone charged with a crime was entitled to a jury of peers acting as the conscience of the community. Moreover, from its founding, America has held firm that no religious test should ever be imposed on a citizen in the fulfillment of his duties. Nowhere do these principles of faith matter more, than when a state decides to seek the death penalty. This week, the Louisiana Supreme Court began hearing the capital appeal of 25-year-old Rodricus Crawford. Crawford was convicted by a Caddo Parish jury of first-degree murder in 2013 with nominal evidence. That same jury sentenced Crawford to death after prosecutor Dale Cox argued that it's what Jesus would do. Caddo Parish has been highlighted by the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard as an outlier county, responsible for a disproportionate number of death sentences. The report identifies the combination of overzealous prosecutors, overwhelmed defense lawyers, and racism as the reason for these disproportionate death sentences. A study done on Caddo Parish showed that African Americans are struck from death penalty cases at three times the rate of nonblack jurors. Discrimination based upon race or religion is anathema to the core values of the state and the country. And yet, a new empirical study indicates that roughly a quarter of those called for jury service in Louisiana capital cases were disqualified for their religious views. Sixty percent of African-Americans were removed based upon their conscientious views on the death penalty......... As opposition to the death penalty increases, the percentage of citizens excluded from this process will also grow. A poll by the Public Religion Research Institute in 2015 showed that a majority of Catholics prefer life in prison without the opportunity for parole to a death sentence, and for that they can be dismissed from their civil service. In a state that is one-third Catholic and one-third African-American, these exclusions result in a jury that no longer represents the accused “peers” and cannot be the conscience of the community. Even worse, at the time where a citizens' moral, religious, and conscientious views matter the most, they are allowed to exercise them the least.........We need a system that acknowledges self-transformation, grace and redemption; a system that doesn’t predetermine a person’s fate by discriminating based upon race or religion. Removing jurors based upon their religious beliefs violates our most basic principle. When Louisiana seeks to execute a citizen, it does so in the name of all of its citizens. And yet it does not permit me to say, not in my name. Crawford’s case is perhaps the worst perversion of this principle. After excluding from the jury all those who opposed the death penalty based upon their religious views, the prosecutor argued to those remaining that the teachings of Jesus Christ required the imposition of the death penalty on Rodericus Crawford. More than 100 members of the clergy filed an amicus brief at the Louisiana Supreme Court, explaining that the prosecutor’s argument was both wrong as a matter of faith, and improper as a matter of justice. We hope the court will listen."

The entire commentary can be found at;

http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/opinion/article_a0e57f00-8014-11e6-adb2-4744ec1efcd4.html

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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 'Nick' Henry: New York; Bulletin: After Closing Arguments, Fate of Nick Hillary Now in Judge's Hands: (Reporter Emily Shapiro; ABC News); Defence attorney Earl Ward: Ward said Hillary was the suspect from Day 1, before any evidence had even been gathered, and said his "life was under a microscope" from that moment. He said the prosecution, "without any evidence tying Nick Hillary to the crime ... has cobbled together fabrics of so-called evidence" to give the judge a "torn and tattered quilt" that they call "circumstantial evidence." "Lack of evidence is reasonable doubt," Ward said. "And this case is riddled ... with lack of evidence." He added: "There is absolutely no direct evidence connecting Nick Hillary to this crime," including no fingerprints." Fingerprints found at the crime scene have not yet been identified, including on the window through which the killer is suspected to have escaped. Authorities ran the prints of everyone who had access to the apartment, Ward said, including Hillary. His prints were not a match to those found. "Whose print was on that window?" Ward said. "It wasn't Nick Hillary's." Ward noted that the prosecution argued that Hillary wore gloves during the crime, but Ward said no forensic evidence was recovered from gloves taken from Hillary's home and tested. Ward said New York State Police investigators "went through that apartment looking for clues to solve this crime." "This was not some ... sloppy investigation. This was a serious investigation," he said. "They went there three times." He also said nothing was ever found from searches of Hillary's home, car, phone and office. "They found no hair, no fibers, no trace evidence connecting him to the death of Garrett Phillips," Ward said. "You cannot ignore the lack of evidence in this case."..."Judge Catena said after closing arguments that he expects to have a decision by next Wednesday or Thursday." (September 22, 2016);

   

COUNTDOWN:  13 days to Wrongful Conviction Day: (Thursday October 6, 2016); 

PICK OF THE DAY: Hawaii Innocence Project to hold a program on 'eyewitness Identification' in which audience members will be challenged to see how well they can identify a possible suspect in a mock exercise. http://www.uhm.hawaii.edu/news/article.php?aId=814

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"The prosecution and the defense gave their closing arguments today in the murder trial of Oral "Nick" Hillary -- an upstate New York former soccer coach accused of killing the 12-year-old son of his ex-girlfriend. The young boy's mother looked on during the proceedings. The defense said today that prosecutors are trying to "demonize" Hillary and accused them of weaving a "torn and tattered quilt" and calling it "circumstantial evidence." Meanwhile, the prosecution said the testimony of Hillary's main alibi witness, his daughter Shanna-Kay, was "obviously orchestrated," adding that Hillary has "convicted himself" with his "lies, his car, his hatred and insidiously enough, his daughter." It was Oct. 24, 2011, when Garrett Phillips, a popular and athletic 12-year-old, was found strangled to death in his home in Potsdam, New York. Garrett had just begun the sixth grade when his mysterious murder shocked the small town just south of the Canada border. Hillary had dated Garrett's mother, Tandy Cyrus, for about a year, and the two broke up a few months before Garrett's death. Hillary, who has always insisted he is innocent, was charged with second-degree murder several years after Garrett died. Hillary requested a bench trial and his fate is now in the hands of Judge Felix Catena. Defense Attorney Earl Ward said in closing arguments this morning that he understands the community wants justice and someone to be held accountable, but there is "no direct evidence that Nick Hillary did anything on Oct. 24 of 2011 at 100 Market St." Ward said Hillary was the suspect from Day 1, before any evidence had even been gathered, and said his "life was under a microscope" from that moment. He said the prosecution, "without any evidence tying Nick Hillary to the crime ... has cobbled together fabrics of so-called evidence" to give the judge a "torn and tattered quilt" that they call "circumstantial evidence." "Lack of evidence is reasonable doubt," Ward said. "And this case is riddled ... with lack of evidence." He added: "There is absolutely no direct evidence connecting Nick Hillary to this crime," including no fingerprints." Fingerprints found at the crime scene have not yet been identified, including on the window through which the killer is suspected to have escaped. Authorities ran the prints of everyone who had access to the apartment, Ward said, including Hillary. His prints were not a match to those found. "Whose print was on that window?" Ward said. "It wasn't Nick Hillary's." Ward noted that the prosecution argued that Hillary wore gloves during the crime, but Ward said no forensic evidence was recovered from gloves taken from Hillary's home and tested. Ward said New York State Police investigators "went through that apartment looking for clues to solve this crime." "This was not some ... sloppy investigation. This was a serious investigation," he said. "They went there three times." He also said nothing was ever found from searches of Hillary's home, car, phone and office. "They found no hair, no fibers, no trace evidence connecting him to the death of Garrett Phillips," Ward said. "You cannot ignore the lack of evidence in this case.".........Judge Catena said after closing arguments that he expects to have a decision by next Wednesday or Thursday."
PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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.

 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Texas.......PCAST (Part 5)... (President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology)...Houston Press reports that "Texas Is ahead of the feds when It comes to forensic science in courtrooms."... " "Texas has been really ahead of the curve in understanding that much of the pattern forensic evidence may be flawed," said William Press, vice chair of the council and a computer science and integrative biology professor at the University of Texas. "Texas is in a better position than most states to take the necessary steps to bring science into forensic science, and to make sure that we convict the right people." The science and technology council's findings particularly line up with those of the forensic science commission on bite mark analysis, hair analysis and complex DNA mixture analysis."...Reporter Meagan Flynn; Houston Press;


COUNTDOWN: 14 days to Wrongful Conviction Day: (Thursday October 6, 2016);

STORY: "Texas Is Ahead of the Feds When It Comes to Forensic Science in Courtrooms," by reporter Meagan Flynn, published by The Houston Press on September 21, 2016

The entire story can be  found at:

http://www.houstonpress.com/news/texas-is-ahead-of-the-feds-when-it-comes-to-forensic-science-in-courtrooms-8786863

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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.