Sunday, November 19, 2017

(False confessions 2): Chicago, Illinois: Patrick Prince: Found innocent after spending 26 years in prison. Global News reports..." Once he was brought to the police station, Prince confessed to the murder and was arrested. His confession was the only piece of evidence used against him."... Defence lawyers claim that when Prince was brought in for questioning, he was physically and verbally abused until he falsely confessed, reciting a story that was spoon-fed to him by a detective named Kriston Kato. In an article published by the organization (The Exoneration Project), they said that Kato had a longstanding “pattern and practice” when it came to getting confessions out of suspects. Since Prince’s trial, over 30 people have claimed that Det. Kato beat or coerced them in his efforts to obtain confessions. According to the Exoneration Project, Kato had been recently asked to testify at a hearing related to the case and was thoroughly impeached. When asked whether he would solve crimes “by any means necessary,” Kato stated plainly: “That was my job.”


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Charles Smith Blog  is interested in false confessions because of the disturbing number of exonerations in the USA, Canada and multiple other jurisdictions throughout the world, where, in the absence of incriminating forensic evidence the conviction is based on self-incrimination – and because of the growing body of  scientific research showing how vulnerable suspects    (especially juveniles)  are to widely used interrogation methods  such as  the notorious ‘Reid Technique.’

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

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 QUOTE OF THE DAY: (Detective Kriston Kato, upon being asked whether he would solve crimes by "any means necessary.")

"That was my job."

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STORY:  "Chicago man found innocent after spending 26 years in prison," by reporter Derek Heraldo, published by Global News on November 17, 2017.


GIST: "A 46-year-old Chicago man was released from prison on Tuesday after being acquitted of a murder charge from 1991. After spending 26 years behind bars, Patrick Prince was embraced by friends and family, including his daughter, outside of the Cook County prison. Prince was 19 years old when he was charged.........According to a court order, a man named Edward Porter was shot and killed on a sidewalk on August 28, 1991. Police received an anonymous tip just a few weeks later which pointed the finger at Prince. Once he was brought to the police station, Prince confessed to the murder and was arrested. His confession was the only piece of evidence used against him. The Exoneration Project, a group of lawyers focused on proving innocent cases, took interest in Prince’s situation and took him on as a client. They claim that when Prince was brought in for questioning, he was physically and verbally abused until he falsely confessed, reciting a story that was spoon-fed to him by a detective named Kriston Kato. In an article published by the organization, they said that Kato had a longstanding “pattern and practice” when it came to getting confessions out of suspects. Since Prince’s trial, over 30 people have claimed that Det. Kato beat or coerced them in his efforts to obtain confessions. According to the Exoneration Project, Kato had been recently asked to testify at a hearing related to the case and was thoroughly impeached. When asked whether he would solve crimes “by any means necessary,” Kato stated plainly: “That was my job.” Lawyers representing Prince also brought new evidence to the case: the informant who had tipped off police about Prince’s involvement in the shooting admitted he had lied. The presiding judge, Judge Thaddeus L. Wilson, wrote in his court order that based on the new evidence and lack of physical or forensic evidence, Prince should be granted a new trial. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office dismissed the charges instead/ Prince maintained his innocence throughout  his 26-year sentence."

The entire story can be found at:
https://globalnews.ca/news/3459100/chicago-man-found-innocent-after-spending-26-years-in-prison/

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.



Saturday, November 18, 2017

False confessions: (1); Jovan Djurdjulov; Chicago, Illinois; Marshall Project 'Case in point': "Confess, or they'll fucking give you the needle."...An idle threat but the teenage suspect confessed." Andrew Cohen comments on The Marshall Project: "In September, an appeals court in Illinois issued a ruling in a Chicago murder case that raises questions about the reliability of a young man’s “confession.” Police interrogators repeatedly threatened him with the death penalty even though he was ineligible for capital punishment because of his age at the time of the crime. There was no torture or physical abuse during the session. Should jurors have heard what the young man told the police?"...(Read on to discover how the court ruled - and then ponder! HL);


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Charles Smith Blog  is interested in false confessions because of the disturbing number of exonerations in the USA, Canada and multiple other jurisdictions throughout the world, where, in the absence of incriminating forensic evidence the conviction is based on self-incrimination – and because of the growing body of  scientific research showing how vulnerable suspects    (especially juveniles)  are to widely used interrogation methods  such as  the notorious ‘Reid Technique.’

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

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POST: "Confess or they will fucking give you the needle," by Andrew Cohen, published by The Marshall Project on November 13, 2017.

GIST: ("In “Case in Point,” Andrew Cohen examines a single case or character that sheds light on the criminal justice system. An audio version of Case in Point is broadcast with The Takeaway, a public radio show from WNYC, Public Radio International, The New York Times, and WGBH-Boston Public Radio.) Recent research tells us that false confessions are more common than we previously thought and that teenagers, in particular, are vulnerable to the kind of police coercion that brings them about. The problem has been particularly acute in Chicago, where incidents of false confession, especially those involving juvenile suspects in Cook County, reportedly occur at far higher rates than they do in other jurisdictions around the country. In September, an appeals court in Illinois issued a ruling in a Chicago murder case that raises questions about the reliability of a young man’s “confession.” Police interrogators repeatedly threatened him with the death penalty even though he was ineligible for capital punishment because of his age at the time of the crime. There was no torture or physical abuse during the session. Should jurors have heard what the young man told the police?"


https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017/11/13/confess-or-they-ll-fucking-give-you-the-needle
 
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, November 17, 2017

Shaken Baby Syndrome; France: The illuminating 'On SBS' Blog, published by Sue Luttner, draws attention to a coalition of more than 100 parents (Association Adikia) who claim that they have been wrongfully accused of violence on their children who are, in fact, suffering from rare diseases. (Misdiagnosis): Their plight has drawn the attention of a mahor French newspaper: Le Monde.., From a Google translation of the article: "Two and a half years ago, one of us created a Facebook group to tell her story. This is where we found ourselves over the months after experiencing the same dramatic situation. While we consult pediatric emergencies for our babies who are uncomfortable, doctors detect signs a priori suggestive of abuse. These are mainly fractures, bruises, or bleeding inside the skull and eyes (subdural hematomas and retinal hemorrhages). These last two signs are typical of the “shaken baby syndrome”. In our case, however, our children have various rare diseases. For example, the son of Virginie (creator of the group) is suffering from hypofibrinogenemia, a rare genetic abnormality of blood coagulation. As indicated by the report of the High Authority of Health on the subject, disorders of coagulation form an important class of differential diagnoses of shaken baby syndrome. Unjustified accusations: The son of Vanessa (president of the association) is one of the many babies in our association with external hydrocephalus. Clinical studies suggest that this pathology may favor the occurrence of subdural haematomas. Marielle’s daughter has osteogenesis imperfecta, or glass bone disease, which can cause fractures. Emi has hypophosphatasia and her son has bone fragility associated with vitamin D deficiency. In an emergency, however, doctors must diagnose quickly and act if they feel the child is at risk in their family. They make a report, which leads to the almost automatic placement of our children. They are withdrawn while we are taken into custody and questioned by the police. As if dealing with the suffering of our babies was not enough, we must also suffer unjustified accusations of abuse. Worse, we must live with the idea that our babies will have to spend the next months or years away from us, when they are sick and need all our love."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Once again Sue Luttner has performed a valuable purpose by pointing out  cases involving the scientifically bereft so-called shaken baby syndrome  in countries throughout the Globe - and the harm the syndrome (it is far from a proven scientifically established disorder) causes to wrongfully accused individuals and their families. The name of the group she discusses is 'Adikia.' Wikipedia tells us that  in Greek mythology, Adikia  is the goddess and personification of injustice and wrong-doing.  Read this one and weep.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

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POST: "Falsely Accused: Organized Parents in France Earn Credible Coverage," published on Sue Luttner's Blog  'On SBS' on November 9, 2017.

GIST: "A coalition of wrongly accused parents in France has caught the attention of Le Monde, which Wikipedia calls “one of the most important and widely respected newspapers in the world.”
Association Adikia put up their web site just last month, although some of the members have had a Facebook presence for some time. Last week Le Monde published a letter from key organizers explaining who they are, what the problem is, and what they plan to do. Here is a Google translation of the published letter: We are wrongly accused of abusing our children as a result of misdiagnosis,” In a tribune in “Le Monde”, a hundred parents testify to their fight, accused of violence on their children while they are suffering from a rare disease. They created the Adikia association to advance their cause to justice. We are more than a hundred parents wrongly accused of abusing our own children as a result of misdiagnosis. Two and a half years ago, one of us created a Facebook group to tell her story. This is where we found ourselves over the months after experiencing the same dramatic situation. While we consult pediatric emergencies for our babies who are uncomfortable, doctors detect signs a priori suggestive of abuse. These are mainly fractures, bruises, or bleeding inside the skull and eyes (subdural hematomas and retinal hemorrhages). These last two signs are typical of the “shaken baby syndrome”. In our case, however, our children have various rare diseases. For example, the son of Virginie (creator of the group) is suffering from hypofibrinogenemia, a rare genetic abnormality of blood coagulation. As indicated by the report of the High Authority of Health on the subject, disorders of coagulation form an important class of differential diagnoses of shaken baby syndrome. Unjustified accusations: The son of Vanessa (president of the association) is one of the many babies in our association with external hydrocephalus. Clinical studies suggest that this pathology may favor the occurrence of subdural haematomas. Marielle’s daughter has osteogenesis imperfecta, or glass bone disease, which can cause fractures. Emi has hypophosphatasia and her son has bone fragility associated with vitamin D deficiency. In an emergency, however, doctors must diagnose quickly and act if they feel the child is at risk in their family. They make a report, which leads to the almost automatic placement of our children. They are withdrawn while we are taken into custody and questioned by the police. As if dealing with the suffering of our babies was not enough, we must also suffer unjustified accusations of abuse. Worse, we must live with the idea that our babies will have to spend the next months or years away from us, when they are sick and need all our love. Their first steps, their first laughs are stolen forever. Strong emotional ties with parents are essential for the neuropsychological development of babies, as pediatrician Catherine Gueguen has shown. We have all had suicidal thoughts, but we must absolutely stand firm for our children. The placements end when the juvenile judges finally feel that we are not dangerous. In a way that is difficult to understand, we are criminally prosecuted when the judicial expertises are carried out. Specialized maltreatment doctors seem to validate the violence systematically, even in the presence of rare and unknown diseases. We have a hard time getting specialists in rare diseases to do their own expertise, even more when the medical records of our children are seized by the courts! The example of the little Luqman is characteristic. At 16 months, he spent 13 away from his parents. More than a year ago, he had hemorrhaging leading to a diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome. An extremely severe vitamin K deficiency (necessary for blood clotting) was quickly detected. It appeared later that Luqman had abetalipoproteinemia, a rare genetic disease that could cause such a deficit. According to several doctors, this disease could explain the symptoms. Shaken baby syndrome: Today, Luqman is still placed, and his parents are indicted. For the legal experts who have access to the whole file, the signs presented are characteristic of shaken baby syndrome and the diagnosis of abuse is therefore certain. Can we really be certain that this disease, which affects less than one in a million babies, can not cause subdural haematomas and retinal hemorrhages? We have trouble making it clear to the various speakers that the words of doctors and experts never have absolute truth. We must all show the greatest humility before the complexity of the human body. We do not know everything about medicine, far from it. We have created our association – Adikia – to support and inform those unfairly accused, to make our testimonies known to the public, and to gain more weight in court. We would like doctors to take every precaution, as far as possible, and for the judges to consider all the elements of the files. Decisions as serious as long-term placements or prison sentences must not be made solely on the basis of medical evidence, however clear and categorical. We would also like to be involved in improving the reporting and diagnosis criteria for suspicion of abuse. Our goal is to avoid unfounded accusations and unjustified placements as much as possible while respecting the sound and indispensable principle of child protection. Virginie Skibinski and Vanessa Keryhuel, for the Adikia association."

The entire post can be read at:

https://onsbs.com/2017/11/09/falsely-accused-organized-parents-in-france-earn-credible-coverage/

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, November 16, 2017

Barton McNeil: Illinois: (Illinois Innocence Project): Bizarre case: He's serving a 150 year murder term for a murder conviction hinging on allegations of sexual assault which modern forensic science suggests may never have taken place. But if there actually was a murder, was it committed by an ex-girlfriend - the same woman later convicted in a separate murder? A pathologist testified that some redness and enlarged orifices on Christina’s body indicated sexual assault, even if there wasn’t deep penetration and no semen was ever found. But in the 20 years since that testimony, forensic science now considers those changes to the human body as part of the natural death process, said Gwen Jordan with the Illinois Innocence Project. The IIP plans to file motions this fall in hopes of winning McNeil a new trial. “That evidence has been completely discredited by scientists today,” Jordan said. “What they know is part of the natural process of rigor mortis is that the orifices open. It means that the body has died and rigor mortis is setting in. The theory that the prosecutor used originally has been discounted by changes in science.” "That evidence has been completely discredited by scientists today." McLean County State’s Attorney Jason Chambers, who did not originally prosecute the case, recently hired a new forensic pathologist to review the autopsy report and photos of the body."...This is Episode 3 of 'Suspect Convictions, headed: Does Modern Forensics Undercut Sex Assault Motive? WGLT; NPR; Illinois State University;


STORY: "Suspect Convictions Episode 3: Does Modern Forensics Undercut Sex Assault Motive?," by Willis Kern and Scott Reeder, published by WGLT on November 10, 2017.

INTRO: "Her father was convicted of the crime but has long maintained his innocence, claiming that an ex-girlfriend was the real killer—the same woman later convicted in a separate murder. New episodes air Fridays on GLT’s Sound Ideas."

PHOTO CAPTION: "Barton McNeil is now serving a 150-year prison sentence at Menard Correctional Center in southern Illinois."

GIST: "When prosecutors accused Barton McNeil of murdering his daughter, their theory about his motive hinged on physical evidence showing the 3-year-old was sexually assaulted prior to her death.
Now, as McNeil’s Illinois Innocence Project defense team works toward his exoneration, questions are being raised about whether any sexual assault ever took place. And if it did, McNeil’s defense suggests that his ex-girlfriend’s troubled background points to her as the abuser—and killer. Episode 3 of GLT’s true crime podcast Suspect Convictions focuses on the signs of sexual assault found on Christina’s body during an autopsy. Her father was eventually convicted of her 1998 murder and is now serving a 150-year prison sentence at a southern Illinois prison. McNeil was never charged with sexually assaulting her. But that accusation weighed heavy during McNeil’s bench trial; prosecutors said it was part of his motive for killing her—to cover up the abuse. A pathologist testified that some redness and enlarged orifices on Christina’s body indicated sexual assault, even if there wasn’t deep penetration and no semen was ever found. But in the 20 years since that testimony, forensic science now considers those changes to the human body as part of the natural death process, said Gwen Jordan with the Illinois Innocence Project. The IIP plans to file motions this fall in hopes of winning McNeil a new trial. “That evidence has been completely discredited by scientists today,” Jordan said. “What they know is part of the natural process of rigor mortis is that the orifices open. It means that the body has died and rigor mortis is setting in. The theory that the prosecutor used originally has been discounted by changes in science.” "That evidence has been completely discredited by scientists today." McLean County State’s Attorney Jason Chambers, who did not originally prosecute the case, recently hired a new forensic pathologist to review the autopsy report and photos of the body. (Christina’s body was cremated, so her body can’t be exhumed for additional testing.) Chambers’ office contends some sexual assault took place, discounting McNeil’s accusations that his ex-girlfriend, Misook (Wang) Nowlin, could have abused Christina with a sex toy. “(McNeil’s) unusual comments and unusual behavior throughout the investigation is some evidence of his consciousness of guilt,” said Mary Koll, an assistant state’s attorney in Chambers’ office. “His unusual attempts to divert attention and to control the investigation, I think, shows that there’s something more going on in his guilty mind than an innocent person.” From the very beginning, McNeil has said he believes Nowlin was the real killer, motivated in part by their recent breakup around the time of the murder. That theory has taken on new resonance after Nowlin was convicted in 2012 of killing her mother-in-law. Nowlin is currently serving a 55-year prison sentence. She could not be reached for comment. Could a woman have committed this crime, including any sexual assault? Yes, says Franca Cortoni, an expert on female sex offenders who teaches at the University of Montreal. Research indicates that women can engage in the same deviant sexual acts as men, though they tend to engage proportionally less often in penetration than men, Cortoni said. “There’s still this idea (among police and the public) that a woman can’t do this, that it’s impossible that it would be a woman to do something like this,” Cartoni said. “It does impact how professionals see potential offenders and potential victims.”

Listen to Episode 3 of Suspect Convictions:  (Click on the link below for the link to the episode. HL);

The entire episode can be heard at:
http://wglt.org/post/suspect-convictions-episode-3-does-modern-forensics-undercut-sex-assault-motive#stream/0
 
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.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ricky Newman: Arkansas: Read this and weep! Criminal justice at its most terrifying. (This should have been run on Halloween! HL)..."Newman’s trial lawyer, Robert Marquette, failed to investigate the case or call witnesses who would have said they saw Newman eating at the transient mission less than four hours after he was seen with Cholette in the liquor store. His clothes—the same ones he was seen wearing in the liquor store video—had no blood on them. DNA testing showed that the hair found on Cholette was hers, and the hairs found on Newman were his. DNA tests on semen found on the blanket in which Cholette’s body was wrapped excluded Newman. The DNA profile was submitted to the FBI DNA database, but no match was found. Moreover, analysis of the blood splatter evidence showed that Cholette was killed elsewhere and then brought to the tent. At the same time one witness saw Newman at the mission eating a meal, another witness reported being at the spot where Cholette was later found but the body was not yet there. Marquette allowed jurors (eight out of the 12) to be seated who were already aware of the case. Some even knew that Newman had admitted to the crime and had been found competent to stand trial."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The National Registry of Exonerations  is a project of the University of California Irvine Newkirk Center for Science and  Society,  University of Michigan Law School and  Michigan State University College of Law. The Registry  presents an interesting, informative, powerful and disturbing  portrait of America's criminal justice system. Each entry flags contributing factors to the miscarriage of justice case. In many of the cases there are one or two. In Ricky Newman's case they are listed as: False confession; False or misleading forensic evidence; Perjury or false allegations; Official misconduct; and, perhaps the most telling one in this case 'inadequate representation. Without it, just about anything goes. Maurice Possley, the author of the exoneration entries, does an amazing job of bringing out the essence of each case. As per his bio: "Maurice Possley is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who recently left the Chicago Tribune after nearly 25 years as an investigative reporter specializing in criminal justice. He was a journalist for 36 years and was a finalist for the Pulitzer three times for his work on wrongful convictions and wrongful executions. In 2008, he was part of team of Tribune reporters who were awarded Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for a series of articles on hazardous children's products that prompted numerous recalls as well as the most comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in the history of the agency. He is the author of two non-fiction books: "Everybody Pays: Two Men, One Murder and the Price of Truth" and "The Brown's Chicken Massacre." He has taught investigative journalism and covering the courts at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and the University of Montana's School of Journalism."

ENTRY: "Ricky Newman: National Registry of Exonerations; By Maurice Possley; Published on October 30, 2017. (A note indicates that at the time of publication there were currently 2,121 exonerations and more than 18,450 years lost.)

GIST: "On February 15, 2001, the badly mutilated and decomposed body of 46-year-old Marie Cholette, a transient rail rider, was found in a tent in a hobo camp known as “Indian Billy’s” in Van Buren, Arkansas. An autopsy revealed that her neck was slashed and she had been stabbed many times. She had been sliced open from her sternum to her pelvic bone, exposing her intestines. Her nipples had been cut off and her liver severed. Her jaw was broken, there was a small cut under one eye, and ashes and burned debris were found inside her pelvic region. In addition, the Crawford County medical examiner concluded that she had suffered extensive trauma to her vagina and anus—both of which had been cut out of her body. The murder was shocking both for its brutality and because murders were rare in the mostly rural county located on the western border of Arkansas. Among those interviewed by Van Buren police that day was 43-year-old Rickey Dale Newman. Newman also was a transient rail rider, although he had grown up in the area and still had family nearby. Newman said that several days earlier, he and Cholette had gone to an area of Van Buren known as “T-Camp.” There, they met up with three men he knew only as “Psycho,” “Snake,” and “Copperhead.” Newman told police that Cholette and the three men huffed paint, and began talking about satanic worship and the need to perform a “human sacrifice once a week.” He said he left because the men were acting “crazy.” Newman also said that the men had said they were staying at Indian Billy’s. Police interviewed Newman again on March 2, 2001. The detectives said they had learned that on February 7, Newman and Cholette went to the home of Newman’s uncle, who drove them to the Shamrock Liquor Store. Video surveillance from the store showed Newman and Cholette buying wine and cigarettes. A detective asked the whereabouts of the navy blue jacket he was wearing at the time. Newman said he had traded it to someone at a mission near the railroad tracks where transients could get meals and spend the night. During the interrogation, which was videotaped, Newman said, “I’ll never say I did it...Psycho probably did it. Rickey Newman didn’t do it.” However, after the detectives falsely told him that they had physical evidence linking him to the murder and promised him help for his mental health problems, Newman ultimately admitted his guilt—although he gave no details about how the crime was committed. Newman was charged with capital murder. A search warrant was executed at the home of his sister to obtain articles of his clothing. At his arraignment on March 27, 2001, Newman appeared without a lawyer. When Crawford County Circuit Court Judge Floyd Rogers asked him if he was able to hire a lawyer, Newman replied, “I waive all my legal rights, Your Honor. I plead guilty to these charges.” Judge Rogers then appointed attorney Robert Marquette to represent him. Marquette requested a mental health evaluation at Arkansas State Hospital—the facility that historically handled such evaluations for the prosecution—and did not request an independent evaluation. Newman was found to be competent to stand trial. Marquette, however, had failed to forward to the mental health evaluators any background information on Newman, who had endured a childhood so tortured that he refused to wear new clothes. He didn’t know his biological father, and his mother died when he was 12. He never received better than D’s or F’s after the first grade. He was turned over to state authorities and ultimately adopted when he was in his early teens. At a hearing on May 9, 2001, Newman announced that he had fired Marquette. He was allowed to represent himself, although Judge Rogers said Marquette would stand by to answer questions and provide advice. In the months leading up to his trial, Newman wrote numerous letters to the judge and the prosecutor. In the first two or three letters after his arraignment, Newman admitted his guilt. But most of the letters asked for or demanded to know the evidence against him. He asked for the death penalty “if the evidence shows I did it.” In March 2002, the prosecution turned over the police arrest report, an autopsy report, the report of his mental evaluation, and some crime lab reports. He also was given crime scene photographs. In May 2002, without informing Marquette, the police and prosecution interviewed Newman in an attempt to get more details about the crime. However, Newman was unable to provide any information beyond what he had gleaned from studying the crime scene photos and other reports previously turned over. Even so, Newman managed to get facts wrong. He said he had drugged Cholette and “punched her eyes out” with a knife. He said she passed out and he “sacrificed her” inside the tent. He said he killed her because she falsely claimed to be a member of the Freight Train Riders of America. None of these claims was true. Newman went to trial on June 10, 2002 in Crawford County Circuit Court. By day’s end, he was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. The entire trial—including jury selection, presentation of evidence, the jury’s deliberation on guilt, and the jury’s separate deliberation on punishment—was completed in one day. Newman insisted on wearing prison garb and shackles during trial. Officer Brent Grill, who had interrogated Newman when he admitted to the crime, testified that Newman never asked about the murder—suggesting that was because he had committed the crime. Grill noted that during the May 2002 interview, Newman mentioned a package of hot dogs on the table in the tent. A review of crime scene photographs showed he was correct, which Grill saw as evidence that Newman killed Cholette. Grill said that Newman could not describe Psycho, Copperhead, and Snake, suggesting that his initial account of their involvement was false. A crime lab analyst testified that a head hair recovered from a sleeping bag in the tent where Cholette was found was microscopically similar to Newman’s hair. In addition, two hairs found on Newman’s clothing were said to be microscopically similar to Cholette’s hair. The jury was also shown the crime scene photographs. Detectives testified that blood spatter found on the tent was evidence that Cholette was killed there. The medical examiner said that Cholette had numerous bruises that were defensive wounds indicating she had struggled before she was killed. Dr. Charles Mallory, a psychologist at Arkansas State Hospital, testified that he evaluated Newman and found that he did not suffer from a mental disease or defect. Mallory said that wanting to confess to a crime and be sentenced to death was not in itself a symptom of mental disease. Newman testified and told the jury: “I bought her alcohol. I drugged her up. I got her drunk and I killed her. Cut her from head to toe. I killed her more than once. I killed her until I got tired of killing her, until the passion of blood went away. Then I left it (to) lay like and dog and walked away. Washed my hands of the whole affair.” Newman added, “I killed her. When I told officer Grill that Psycho killed her, that was a lie. According to all of these experts, there is no Psycho. I know there’s a rage in me.” During closing arguments, the prosecutor suggested that Newman killed Cholette as part of a sex crime after she rejected his advances. Newman then became so disruptive that the judge ordered him gagged with duct tape. After the jury convicted him, Newman testified during the sentencing hearing. “I, Rickey Newman, freely tell the jury that I killed the lady in cold blood. I first cut her a little at a time to make it hurt and then I stabbed her for fun and to watch her bleed,” he declared. “Then I cut her from her neck to her groin, and then I took some of her insides out and cooked some of her organs to see how long they would cook…I enjoyed murdering her very much and I had a lot of fun killing her and making her hurt real bad.” The jury sentenced him to death. Newman unsuccessfully tried to waive his right to appeal. In 2003, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld his conviction and sentence. During a subsequent hearing to consider appointing a lawyer to handle post-conviction proceedings, Newman again sought to waive all attempts to appeal his conviction and sentence. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court to allow for another evaluation by Dr. Mallory at Arkansas State Hospital. After Dr. Mallory found Newman competent, Newman was allowed to waive his post-conviction rights. However, attorney Julie Brain was later appointed to represent Newman. In 2005, Brain filed a 144-page federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The petition outlined a litany of evidence that Newman was not only mentally incompetent to stand trial, but that he was innocent of the crime. As to the issue of competence, evidence showed that Dr. Mallory not only used the wrong tests to determine Newman’s competency, he improperly administered and graded them, resulting in a higher IQ score. The proper tests, when correctly administered, showed his IQ at 67, which is considered mentally impaired. Newman’s trial lawyer, Robert Marquette, failed to investigate the case or call witnesses who would have said they saw Newman eating at the transient mission less than four hours after he was seen with Cholette in the liquor store. His clothes—the same ones he was seen wearing in the liquor store video—had no blood on them. DNA testing showed that the hair found on Cholette was hers, and the hairs found on Newman were his. DNA tests on semen found on the blanket in which Cholette’s body was wrapped excluded Newman. The DNA profile was submitted to the FBI DNA database, but no match was found. Moreover, analysis of the blood splatter evidence showed that Cholette was killed elsewhere and then brought to the tent. At the same time one witness saw Newman at the mission eating a meal, another witness reported being at the spot where Cholette was later found but the body was not yet there. Marquette allowed jurors (eight out of the 12) to be seated who were already aware of the case. Some even knew that Newman had admitted to the crime and had been found competent to stand trial. Marquette also failed to introduce the videotapes of Newman’s police interrogations. Had he done so, the jury would have seen that Officer Grill testified falsely when he said Newman never asked about the crime or described Psycho, Copperhead, and Snake. In contrast to Grill’s trial testimony, the video showed Newman asking such questions numerous times and also providing detailed descriptions of Psycho, Copperhead, and Snake. The videos would also have shown that Newman’s limited descriptions of the crime and the crime scene were factually inaccurate. For instance, he said he stabbed Cholette’s eyes out with a knife, yet the autopsy showed no such injuries. Newman said that he put leaves around Cholette’s body and set fire to them. However, the body had no burn marks and had not been set on fire. The only finding that related to fire was that some ashes were found inside the body cavity. The package of hot dogs on the table—which Grill testified was a fact only the killer would know—was clearly visible in one of the crime scene photos that Newman had studied prior to his trial. In addition, the prosecution failed to disclose several pieces of evidence favorable to the defense. The prosecution did not inform defense counsel that the detectives suspected that Cholette was killed elsewhere and brought to the tent. In January 2001, the month before her death, Cholette stabbed Copperhead during a fight. Copperhead was later looking for her and claiming she stole his wallet. A few days before Cholette was killed, Copperhead was arrested while carrying a hatchet and two knives. In addition, not long before her death, Cholette went to the Crawford County Jail to visit her boyfriend, John Evans. Another friend, Orieste Baker, went there to meet her. Baker later said that she arrived in a car with two men. Baker later said she told him she was afraid of them and that one was repeatedly raping her. None of these facts were disclosed to the defense. Ultimately, the federal court found that Newman had failed to exhaust his state court remedies. Newman then petitioned the Arkansas Supreme Court for permission to seek a writ of error coram nobis, alleging he was incompetent at the time of trial and that the prosecution had withheld exculpatory evidence. In the petition, Newman acknowledged he had sought to be executed, but said it was because his impaired thinking made him believe that death was more bearable than continuing to live. Newman was allowed to pursue coram nobis relief. During a hearing, Dr. Pablo Stewart, a forensic psychiatrist, testified that Newman suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, cognitive dysfunction, major depression, and substance abuse. Dr. Ricardo Weinstein, a forensic neuropsychologist, testified that Newman’s IQ is 67, putting him in the range of mental disability and cognitive deficits that make it difficult to identify problems or determine what is and what isn’t important. The state presented Dr. Clint Gray, a forensic psychiatrist at the Arkansas State Hospital who said that while Newman is mentally deficient, he was competent to stand trial in 2002. In July 2011, Crawford County Circuit Judge Gary Cottrell denied the petition, ruling that Newman was competent and that the state had not concealed evidence favorable to the defense. Newman appealed and in January 2014, the Arkansas Supreme Court vacated Newman’s conviction and death sentence. The court agreed with the defense experts who concluded that Newman’s IQ was in the range of mental disability and that he suffered from major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. “After reviewing the entire record, we are left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake was made,” the court declared. “Taking everything into account, we are persuaded that the record overwhelmingly illustrates that Newman’s cognitive deficits and mental illnesses interfered with his ability to effectively and rationally assist counsel.” In January 2017, Judge Cottrell granted a motion by defense attorney Julie Brain to bar the use of Newman’s videotaped confessions at a retrial. “[B]ased on Mr. Newman’s condition at the time he made those statements,” the judge ruled, “he suffered a mental disease and mental deficits wherein he could not give a knowing or voluntary consent or statement because of that mental condition.” The prosecution appealed and Judge Cottrell’s ruling was upheld. On October 11, 2017, the prosecution dismissed the charge."

The entire entry can be found at:
https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/casedetail.aspx?caseid=5218

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.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ray Krone; Arizona. Junk bite mark science case: Ray Krone explains why wrongful convictions like the one he experienced mean it's time to end the death penalty..."With another Arizona death row inmate taking his case to the Supreme Court, justices ought to keep people like me in mind."..." In 1992, I was convicted of killing a waitress in a Phoenix bar where I sometimes played darts. Because of a car accident in childhood, I had crooked front teeth. The police interrogated me and asked me to bite into a piece of Styrofoam. At my trial and re-trial, a so-called expert said that my teeth marks on the Styrofoam matched teeth marks on the victim’s body. The police decided I did it and built a case against me. No one bothered to test the blood that the real killer left on the victim’s underwear. The crime lab didn’t test the hairs found on her body. Fingerprints from the crime scene weren’t sent to the national database for a match. It wasn’t until 2002 that DNA testing ― which Arizona prosecutors opposed ― showed that I couldn’t have committed the crime and identified Kenneth Phillips, who is now serving a prison sentence for his crime."..."A TV show was able to fix my teeth, but no one has been able to remove mistakes and unfairness from our death penalty system. A sentence of life without parole, which is available in essentially every state, keeps the public safe while affirming our basic humanity. The U.S. Supreme Court should take Hidalgo v. Arizona and end the death penalty in Arizona and everywhere else."


COMMENTARY:  "Wrongful Convictions Like Mine Are Why It’s Time To End The Death Penalty,"  by Ray Krone, published by The Huffington Post on November 9, 2017.  (Death row exoneree, co-founder of Witness to Innocence).

GIST: "With another Arizona death row inmate taking his case to the Supreme Court, justices ought to keep people like me in mind."

GIST: "I have played Dungeons & Dragons with guys on death row. I got new teeth thanks to the TV show “Extreme Makeover” and now have a Hollywood smile.  I am a lifelong Republican and veteran of the U.S. Air Force. All three are true, no lies.  I spent more than 10 years in Arizona prisons for a crime I didn’t commit, including almost three years on death row. In 1992, I was convicted of killing a waitress in a Phoenix bar where I sometimes played darts. Because of a car accident in childhood, I had crooked front teeth. The police interrogated me and asked me to bite into a piece of Styrofoam. At my trial and re-trial, a so-called expert said that my teeth marks on the Styrofoam matched teeth marks on the victim’s body.  The police decided I did it and built a case against me. No one bothered to test the blood that the real killer left on the victim’s underwear. The crime lab didn’t test the hairs found on her body. Fingerprints from the crime scene weren’t sent to the national database for a match. It wasn’t until 2002 that DNA testing ― which Arizona prosecutors opposed ― showed that I couldn’t have committed the crime and identified Kenneth Phillips, who is now serving a prison sentence for his crime. Arizona is back in the spotlight because a man on death row named Abel Hidalgo has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the state’s death penalty statute and abolish capital punishment nationwide. Before all this happened to me, I supported the death penalty. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” sounds good, unless they are talking about you and you were home asleep at the time of the murder. The death penalty is supposed to be applied to the worst offenders, but it’s more often applied to the defendants with the worst lawyers.” Now I join the chorus of voices, including a growing number of conservatives, who say it’s time to end the death penalty in every state. We have been unable to create a system that is applied fairly, reserves the punishment for the most serious crimes and doesn’t make terrible mistakes. The death penalty is supposed to be applied to the worst offenders, but it’s more often applied to the defendants with the worst lawyers. Mr. Hidalgo was convicted in Maricopa County, which uses the death penalty more than any other county in Arizona. That means whether you get the death penalty is an accident of where the crime occurred, not necessarily the facts of the case or the nature of the offender. And all too often, the race of the defendant and the victim drives who gets the death penalty. One study showed that white jurors were more likely to recommend a death sentence for Latinos than for white defendants. The court should look at where we are as a country, find that a national consensus has emerged against the death penalty and rule it unconstitutional, once and for all. Thirty-one states have formally abandoned capital punishment. That figure includes 19 states that have ended it all together, four states that have put the death penalty on hold, and eight others that haven’t had an execution in the past 10 years. All the numbers point toward the death penalty’s demise. Last year, juries imposed 31 death sentences, the fewest since the Supreme Court declared then-existing death penalty statutes unconstitutional in 1972. The 20 executions in 2016 marked the lowest number in a quarter century, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Also last year, national public opinion polls showed support for capital punishment at a 40-year low. I wish I could say my story is unusual. But the truth is, 160 men and women have been exonerated and freed from death row since 1973. I often wonder how the police and prosecutors that railroad innocent people onto the gurney sleep at night. In an op-ed, Marty Stroud, a former prosecutor in Louisiana who caused an innocent man, Glenn Ford, to serve 30 years on death row before being exonerated and released, explained: “In 1984, I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Mr. Stroud is unusual for his honesty, but not for his tactics. A TV show was able to fix my teeth, but no one has been able to remove mistakes and unfairness from our death penalty system. A sentence of life without parole, which is available in essentially every state, keeps the public safe while affirming our basic humanity. The U.S. Supreme Court should take Hidalgo v. Arizona and end the death penalty in Arizona and everywhere else."

The entire commentary can be found at:
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/arizona-wrongly-sentenced-me-to-death-and-my-exoneration-proves-the-death-penalty-is-flawed_us_5a0487dee4b0937b51104054

See National Registry of  Exoneration entry at the link below:  "On the morning of December 29, 1991, the body of 36-year-old Kim Ancona was found, nude, in the men’s restroom of the Phoenix, Arizona bar where she worked.Ancona had been fatally stabbed, and the perpetrator left behind little physical evidence. Blood at the crime scene matched the victim’s type, and saliva on her body came from someone with the most common blood type. There was no semen and no DNA tests were performed. Investigators relied on bite marks on the victim’s breast and neck. Upon hearing that Ancona had told a friend that a regular customer named Ray Krone was to help her close up the bar the previous night, police asked Krone to make a Styrofoam impression of his teeth for comparison. On December 31, 1991, Krone was arrested and charged with murder, kidnapping, and sexual assault. At his 1992 trial, Krone maintained his innocence, claiming to be asleep in his bed at the time of the crime. Experts for the prosecution, however, testified that the bite-marks found on the victim’s body matched the impression that Krone had made on the Styrofoam and a jury convicted him on the counts of murder and kidnapping. He was sentenced to death and a consecutive 21-year term of imprisonment, respectively. Krone was found not guilty of the sexual assault. Krone won a new trial in 1996 after an appeals court ruled that the prosecution had failed to disclose to the defense a report from an expert which said the bite-marks did not resemble Krone's teeth. At a retrial, however, Krone was convicted again, mainly on the state’s supposed expert bite-mark testimony. This time, however, the judge sentenced him to life in prison, citing doubts about whether or not Krone was the true killer.
It was not until 2002, after Krone had served more than 10 years in prison, that DNA testing proved his innocence. DNA testing conducted on the saliva and blood found on the victim excluded Krone as the source and instead matched a man named Kenneth Phillips. Phillips was incarcerated on an unrelated sex crime and, although he had lived a short distance from the bar where the victim worked, he had never been considered a suspect in her murder. On April 8, 2002, Krone was released from prison and on April 24th, the District Attorney’s office dismissed the charges against him. In 2006, Phillips pled guilty to the murder and was sentenced to 53 years in prison. Krone later filed a federal civil rights lawsuit and received $3 million in a settlement with the city of Phoenix and $1.4 million in a settlement with Maricopa County. Krone was the 100th former death row inmate freed because of innocence since the reinstatement of capital punishment in the United States in 1976. He was the twelfth death row inmate whose innocence was proven through postconviction DNA testing. Prior to his arrest, Krone had no previous criminal record, had been honorably discharged from the military, and had worked in the postal service for seven years."

 The entire entry can be found at the link below:
 https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/casedetail.aspx?caseid=3365

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.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Flawed Forensics: The Innocence Project’s 25th Anniversary: Flawed Forensics: One of the Innocence Project's six main causes for wrongful convictions. Columbia Science Review..."The most jarring and often least-suspected element is flawed forensics, which was found in 46% of exonerations."..."Flawed forensics affects the criminal justice system when “scientifically illiterate” judges and juries are unfamiliar with forensic techniques and are thus incapable of knowing whether the scientific evidence that is being presented to them is accurate. In its video, “Getting it Right: Forensics,” the Innocence Project cited “vague and confusing terms” as another issue posed by flawed forensics. Forensic experts will often say that their analyses are “within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty,” when, in reality, this phrase has no meaning in the scientific community and simply works to further play on the judge and jury’s little knowledge of forensic science. The 2016 report to Obama found many similar terms and statements that “may be taken as implying certainty” actually have no scientific basis to claim that level of conviction."


STORY: "Flawed Forensics: The Innocence Project’s 25th Anniversary, by Sonia Mahajan, published by The Columbia Science Review  on November 12, 2017.

GIST: "This year marks the Innocence Project’s 25th anniversary. Created in 1992, the Innocence Project aims to “[exonerate] the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and [reform] the criminal justice system to prevent future injustices.” As of this article’s publication, the organization has used DNA evidence to exonerate 351 people. The Innocence Project identifies six main causes for wrongful convictions: “incentivized informants, inadequate defense, government misconduct, false confessions or admissions, eyewitness misidentification,” and the “misapplication of forensic science.” The most jarring and often least-suspected element is flawed forensics, which was found in 46% of exonerations. The controversy surrounding forensic science was brought to public attention in early October, when popular late-night host John Oliver did a nineteen-minute segment on his show, Last Week Tonight. Oliver and the Innocence Project cited two reports, one published in 2009 and one published in 2016, both of which effectively state that forensic science is not reliable. The 2016 report to former President Obama on the state of forensics claimed, “the historical reality [of forensic science is] that many methods were devised as rough heuristics to aid criminal investigations and were not grounded in the validation practices of scientific research.” The same report also found that flawed methodology had been used to assert the scientific validity of “bullet lead examination,” “latent fingerprints,” “hair analysis,” and “bitemarks.”  In addition, forensic scientists themselves may be influenced by a “cognitive bias,” subconsciously misusing forensic analysis to confirm their suspicions in a case. “Nearly all crime laboratories are tied to the prosecution in criminal cases,” meaning that forensic scientists are biased against the defendant. This inhibits proper forensic analysis, which is necessary for a just evaluation of criminal cases. Consequently, forensic scientists’ biases result in scientifically unsound methods that may influence what could be a life-or-death decision for the defendant. Despite these flaws, some aspects of forensics can be scientifically accurate and properly used in court. One of the authors of the 2009 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report stated in a PBS Frontline article that “DNA is really the only discipline among the forensic disciplines that consistently produces results that you can rely on with a fair level of confidence.” This is part of the reason why the Innocence Project focuses on DNA-evidence-based exonerations and why DNA analysis is considered “the gold standard” of forensics. DNA evidence can be found in “biological evidence,” such as “sweat, skin, blood, tissue,” and “hair,” as well as in “saliva” and other bodily fluids. While contamination is always a risk, DNA evidence is still significantly more reliable than other forms of evidence, such as bite mark analysis and scent analysis, which have no reliable scientific value (there are no standards for bite mark or scent analysis, and no established scientific procedure for matching bite marks or scent). In fact, DNA analysis is one of the few forensic science disciplines that is based on “reliable principles and methods” for “single-source samples” (DNA samples from just a single individual). According to the report to Obama in 2016, scientists worked to develop standards to ensure that DNA evidence was reliable after a 1989 New York court case “declared [DNA evidence] inadmissible” in court. The reliability of DNA evidence was also developed in part by medical scientists, who held DNA to scientific standards in other fields. Most other forensic disciplines do not have the same standards of reliability and do not have the same input from the medical community, granting DNA analysis special repute.  Flawed forensics affects the criminal justice system when “scientifically illiterate” judges and juries are unfamiliar with forensic techniques and are thus incapable of knowing whether the scientific evidence that is being presented to them is accurate. In its video, “Getting it Right: Forensics,” the Innocence Project cited “vague and confusing terms” as another issue posed by flawed forensics. Forensic experts will often say that their analyses are “within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty,” when, in reality, this phrase has no meaning in the scientific community and simply works to further play on the judge and jury’s little knowledge of forensic science. The 2016 report to Obama found many similar terms and statements that “may be taken as implying certainty” actually have no scientific basis to claim that level of conviction. Forensics can be useful in many cases. The applications of this field are exemplified in great causes, such as The Innocence Project, which uses DNA analysis to exonerate the innocent. Yet nothing is perfect; while the American criminal justice system is effective in many ways, it also has its issues. Though it sometimes seems as if our criminal justice system is incredibly flawed, even with regards to its supposedly fact-based application of science, the Innocence Project’s 25th anniversary means that our society is growing increasingly aware of and is interested in fixing the problems we see today.

The entire story can be found at:

https://columbiasciencereview.com/2017/11/12/flawed-forensics-the-innocence-projects-25th-anniversary/

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.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Michael West bite mark junk science travesties; Mississippi: Clarion Ledger: "Under scrutiny: Bite mark testinomy in death row cases. (Reporter Jimmie E, Gates)..."Decades after controversial bite mark testimony by then-forensic dentist Michael West helped send many defendants to death row, courts in the state are still wrestling with what action to take in the cases of those convicted. Bite mark forensic dentistry has been discredited over the years, and even West has testified that DNA evidence should be used instead of bite mark evidence. Last month, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered a new trial for a former death row inmate convicted in part because of West's testimony and the court is awaiting a ruling by a circuit judge in another case in which West testified. Over the years, several men, including Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks, convicted at trials in which West's testimony or opinion was used have been declared wrongly convicted and released from prison after serving lengthy sentences. No one knows for certain how many post-conviction cases there are involving the testimony of West, said Tucker Carrington, director of Mississippi Innocence Project at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Carrington said West also testified in cases in Arkansas, Louisiana and Ohio."


STORY: "Under scrutiny: Bite mark testimony in death row cases," by reporter Jimmie E. Gates, Published by The Clarion Ledger on November 10,  2017.


PHOTO CAPTION: "Jackson resident Cedric Willis discusses his life since being released from prison after serving 12 years for a crime he didn't commit. DNA evidence exonerated Willis 10 years ago."

GIST: "Decades after controversial bite mark testimony by then-forensic dentist Michael West helped send many defendants to death row, courts in the state are still wrestling with what action to take in the cases of those convicted. Bite mark forensic dentistry has been discredited over the years, and even West has testified that DNA evidence should be used instead of bite mark evidence. Last month, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered a new trial for a former death row inmate convicted in part because of West's testimony and the court is awaiting a ruling by a circuit judge in another case in which West testified. Over the years, several men, including Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks, convicted at trials in which West's testimony or opinion was used have been declared wrongly convicted and released from prison after serving lengthy sentences.  No one knows for certain how many post-conviction cases there are involving the testimony of West, said Tucker Carrington, director of Mississippi Innocence Project at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Carrington said West also testified in cases in Arkansas, Louisiana and Ohio. Westlaw, the online legal research service, shows 17 results in Mississippi where West's bite mark evidence was questioned. However, some of the results involved the same defendants. The Innocence Project is representing Sherwood Brown, 49, whose capital murder conviction and death sentence were thrown out and a new trial ordered by the state high court. Brown was convicted and sentenced to death in 1995 in DeSoto County for the 1993 hacking deaths of Betty Boyd, 82, and her daughter-in-law, Verline Boyd, 49. He also was convicted and sentenced to death in the killing of Verline's daughter, Evangelo Charmain Boyd, 13. The teen was also sexually assaulted. In 2012, the state high court ruled Brown could try to prove he didn't commit the crimes through biological evidence if any existed. The court said if DNA evidence existed, the lower court judge could order DNA testing. The main evidence the state used against Brown were two partial bloody shoe prints found in the home where the three were murdered. When Brown was arrested, a pair of his Fila sneakers was confiscated. The sneakers was sent to the FBI for analysis and the FBI found traces of blood on the front portion of the left sneaker's sole. The prosecution alleged Brown had left the partial bloody shoe prints at the crime scene. Also, the prosecution used West, then a Hattiesburg forensic odontologist, who determined during the investigation that a large cut on Brown's wrist was a bite mark from Evangela Boyd. West was unavailable to testify at Brown's trial because he was testifying at another high profile trial — that of Kennedy Brewer in Lowndes County. Another odontologist testified at Brown's trial based on the  earlier analysis by West that the cut was a bite mark left by Boyd, according to court records. DNA testing of Evangela's saliva sample taken during her autopsy concluded Brown's DNA wasn't in her saliva sample. Also, DNA testing of the blood on the shoe determined it was male blood and didn't correspond to any of the blood in the bloody shoe print from the crime scene that was tested. All the victims were female. In last month's opinion, Justice Josiah Coleman wrote that "Having considered all pertinent materials, including the motion and attached exhibits, the state's response, Brown's rebuttal, and the record filed and opinion issued in Brown's direct appeal, the court finds the motion is well-taken and should be granted." Coleman wrote the case should be reversed and the case remanded to DeSoto County Circuit Court for a new trial. "The relief afforded herein is extraordinary and extremely rare in the context of a petition for leave to pursue post-conviction collateral relief, and we limit the relief we today grant to the facts of the above-styled case," Coleman noted. Another case is death row inmate Eddie Lee Howard Jr., 64. The state Supreme Court recently asked for an update on the status of Howard's post-conviction appeal in Circuit Court. The Mississippi Innocence Project is also representing Howard in the appeal. The Innocence Project argues Howard deserves a new trial, that DNA evidence excludes Howard in the 1992 rape and stabbing death of an 84-year-old woman in Columbus. It was West's testimony that bite marks on the 84-year-old woman's body after it was exhumed matched Howard's teeth. Special Assistant Attorney General Jason Davis argued in court papers that Howard wasn't innocent.  He said Howard now comes to the court once again challenging the reliability of the bite mark testimony of  West, under the guise of newly discovered evidence based upon the deposition transcript in which West is questioned regarding bite mark evidence. "While Dr. West states therein, that he no longer offers testimony regarding bite mark evidence, deferring to DNA testing instead, he expressly rejects any suggestion that his prior testimony in cases in which he gave such testimony was incorrect," Davis wrote. Davis said the deposition transcript doesn't constitute evidence that if at the initial trial, would have caused a different result in the conviction or sentence. Carrington said it will be after Jan. 1, when written court briefs are filed in the case. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report, concluding there was no basis in science for forensic odontologists to conclude someone is "the biter," excluding all other suspects. Four years later, the American Board of Forensic Odontology changed its guidelines to bar such testimony."


The entire story can be found at:
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2017/11/10/death-row-cases-bite-mark-testimony-under-scrutiny/839634001/

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.