Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fran and Dan Keller: Texas: Reporter Jordan Smith's perspective on their exoneration: She conducted a reinvestigation of the case which turned up evidence that would ultimately lead to their release from prison..."When I began reinvestigating the case in 2008 for the Austin Chronicle, I was stunned to learn that police and prosecutors who had worked the case back in the early ’90s still believed some of the most outrageous allegations leveled against the Kellers. The Austin Police Department refused to release its investigative report on the case, forcing the Chronicle to take the agency to court. We ultimately won the right to full, unredacted access. After reading the report, it was not hard to understand why the department had fought to keep it secret. It was an ALL-CAPS, run-on-sentence fever dream full of breathless accusations and absent any actual investigation that could prove or disprove the claims. On multiple occasions, the lead investigator took the girl who accused the Kellers to lunch at McDonald’s before setting out for drives in the neighborhood where she would point out locations: Yes, she had been abused there; yes, she recognized the cemetery where the Kellers had killed and buried babies; yes, many of the residents of the quiet neighborhood were in on the hi-jinx. Not once did investigators question the child’s statements. My reinvestigation of the Keller case turned up evidence that would ultimately lead to their release from prison."

STORY: "Couple Exonerated 25 Years After Being Convicted of Lurid Crimes That Never Happened," by Jordan Smith, published by Th...

Kevin Cooper: California: New York Times Columnist Nicolas Kristoff: "On Death Row, but Is he innocent?"..." A man named Kevin Cooper is on San Quentin’s death row awaiting execution for the murders, even though a federal judge says he probably is innocent. “He is on death row because the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department framed him,” the judge, William A. Fletcher of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, declared in a searing 2013 critique delivered in a distinguished lecture series. Fletcher was in the minority in 2009 when his court refused to rehear the case. His dissent, over 100 pages long, points to Cooper’s possible innocence and to systematic police misconduct. It’s a modern equivalent of Émile Zola’s “J’accuse.” At least 10 other federal judges have also expressed concerns about Cooper’s conviction. Many other eminent legal experts, including the then-president of the American Bar Association, have also called on Gov. Jerry Brown to intervene. The evidence of police tampering is overwhelming. When lawyers working on Cooper’s appeal asked for DNA testing on a T-shirt believed to belong to the killer, the lab found Cooper’s blood on the shirt — but also something astonishing: The blood had test tube preservative in it! In other words, it appeared to have come from the supply of Cooper’s blood drawn by the police and kept in a test tube. Kevin Cooper was sent to death row at San Quentin State Prison after his conviction for a quadruple murder. Judges and others question the reliability of the evidence. When the test tube was later examined, it had the DNA of at least two people in it. It appeared that someone had removed some of Cooper’s blood and then topped off the test tube with the blood of one or more other people to hide the deception. What’s extraordinary about the case is that not only is it likely that Cooper is innocent, but that we also have a good idea who committed the murders."

COMMENTARY: "On Death Row, but Is He Innocent?," by Nicolas Kristof, published by The New York Times on June 17, 2017. GIST: &q...
Friday, June 23, 2017

Brendan Dassey: Wisconsin; Significant Development: Appeal court upholds ruling that Dassey's confession in the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach (featured in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer”) was involuntary..."In an Associated Press article, Steven Drizin, an expert on false confessions, Co-founder of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth at Northwestern University, and one of Dassey’s attorneys said, “While these tactics might not have overwhelmed a seasoned criminal or a 30-year-old with a law degree, they clearly overwhelmed a 16-year-old, socially avoidant, intellectually limited (youth) who had never been interrogated by the police before.”..." In the article we get a fascinating glimpse of how officials differ in viewing common interrogation techniques that have contributed to false confessions… “The appellate panel split, with Judges Ilana Rovner and Ann Williams affirming and David Hamilton in dissent. The majority opinion by Rovner said ‘no reasonable court’ could have any confidence that Dassey’s confession was voluntary. It cited ‘the leading, the fact-feeding, the false promises, the manipulation of Dassey’s desire to please’ as among many factors that cast it in doubt. “Hamilton, in dissent, wrote: ‘The majority’s decision breaks new ground and poses troubling questions for police and prosecutors. It calls into question standard interrogation techniques that courts have routinely found permissible, even in cases involving juveniles.’ ” In this writer’s view, the problem with these “standard interrogation techniques,” which we now know risk prompting false confessions, is that they botch attempts to find the truth. This does not serve the interests of victims, defendants, or public safety.":

STORY: "Appeals Court Concurs: Brendan Dassey’s Confession Was Involuntary," by Nancy Petro, published by The Wrongful Conviction...