STORY: "Retain a Just Nebraska Reports That Beatrice Six Caused Prosecutors to Oppose Death Penalty," by reporter July 8, 2016.
GIST: "A 25-year, tough-on-crime, criminal prosecutor who supervised the 2008 DNA testing that freed the Beatrice Six, says Nebraska’s death penalty should be replaced with life in prison without the chance of parole. Previously a staunch supporter of the death penalty, former Gage County Attorney Randall Ritnour said overseeing the largest false confession case in U.S. history, caused him to change his mind on the death penalty. “It was an astonishing discovery that led to my decision to oppose the death penalty,” Ritnour said. A federal court jury on Wednesday awarded a $28 million verdict for a reckless investigation that sent the wrong people to prison for the 1985 rape and homicide of 68-year-old Helen Wilson. James Dean, Kathleen Gonzalez, Debra Shelden, Ada JoAnn Taylor, Thomas Winslow and Joseph White served a combined 77 years in prison. They were the first people in the state cleared by DNA evidence. “I was an aggressive, no-nonsense prosecutor. My experience with the Beatrice six case has convinced me beyond all doubt that it is possible to come to the wrong conclusion in a criminal investigation and that it is possible to convict innocent persons of a capital crime,” he said. Had it not been for the fact that some of the Beatrice Six had made plea agreements and received lesser sentences, it is likely that some or all of them would have been sentenced to death and perhaps executed before the truth was discovered. The prosecution, in fact, suggested that a death sentence was appropriate and desired,” he said."
The entire story can be found at:
PS: I can't resist republishing my post on former prosecutor Marty Stroud's heartfelt public statement to the Shreveport Times (Louisiana) after the Death Row exoneration of Glenn Ford which can be found at the link below: " "Glenn Ford should be completely compensated to every extent possible because of the flaws of a system that effectively destroyed his life. The audacity of the state's effort to deny Mr. Ford any compensation for the horrors he suffered in the name of Louisiana justice is appalling.I know of what I speak. “Glenn Ford deserves every penny owed to him under the compensation statute. This case is another example of the arbitrariness of the death penalty. I now realize, all too painfully, that as a young 33-year-old prosecutor, I was not capable of making a decision that could have led to the killing of another human being..........At the time this case was tried there was evidence that would have cleared Glenn Ford. The easy and convenient argument is that the prosecutors did not know of such evidence, thus they were absolved of any responsibility for the wrongful conviction. I can take no comfort in such an argument. As a prosecutor and officer of the court, I had the duty to prosecute fairly. While I could properly strike hard blows, ethically I could not strike foul ones.........The jury was all white, Mr. Ford was African-American. Potential African-American jurors were struck with little thought about potential discrimination because at that time a claim of racial discrimination in the selection of jurors could not be successful unless it could be shown that the office had engaged in a pattern of such conduct in other cases. And I knew this was a very burdensome requirement that had never been met in the jurisprudence of which I was aware. I also participated in placing before the jury dubious testimony from a forensic pathologist that the shooter had to be left handed, even though there was no eye witness to the murder. And yes, Glenn Ford was left handed.All too late, I learned that the testimony was pure junk science at its evil worst.......... In my rebuttal argument during the penalty phase of the trial, I mocked Mr. Ford, stating that this man wanted to stay alive so he could be given the opportunity to prove his innocence. I continued by saying this should be an affront to each of you jurors, for he showed no remorse, only contempt for your verdict. How totally wrong was I. I speak only for me and no one else. I apologize to Glenn Ford for all the misery I have caused him and his family. I apologize to the family of Mr. Rozeman for giving them the false hope of some closure. I apologize to the members of the jury for not having all of the story that should have been disclosed to them. I apologize to the court in not having been more diligent in my duty to ensure that proper disclosures of any exculpatory evidence had been provided to the defense. “Looking back at that period of time in my life, I was not a very nice person, and I had no business trying a death case for the state. My unintended victim, Glenn Ford. Glenn Ford deserves every penny owed to him under the compensation statute. This case is another example of the arbitrariness of the death penalty. I now realize, all too painfully, that as a young 33-year-old prosecutor, I was not capable of making a decision that could have led to the killing of another human being. No one should be given the ability to impose a sentence of death in any criminal proceeding. We are simply incapable of devising a system that can fairly and impartially impose a sentence of death because we are all fallible human beings. The clear reality is that the death penalty is an anathema to any society that purports to call itself civilized. It is an abomination that continues to scar the fibers of this society and it will continue to do so until this barbaric penalty is outlawed. Until then, we will live in a land that condones state assisted revenge and that is not justice in any form or fashion. I end with the hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford. But, I am also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it."
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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:
Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
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