Thursday, May 23, 2024

Christopher Dunn: Missouri: In closing arguments which have been heard on Christophe Dunn's application to vacate his murder conviction, St. Louis prosecutor Gabe Gore has told court that, "There remains no evidence upon which a reasonable jury could return a verdict of guilty.” (Reporter Holden Kurwicki KSDK) reports.


PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  This Blog is interested in eye-witness identification issues because  wrongful identifications are at the heart of so many DNA-related exonerations in the USA and elsewhere - and because so much scientific research is being conducted with a goal to making the identification process more   transparent and reliable- and less subject to deliberate manipulation.  I have also reported far too many cases over the years - mainly cases lacking DNA evidence pointing to the suspect - where the police have rigged the identification process in order to make an identification inevitable. Sure sounds like  obstruction of justice to me. PS: And what if the 'witness is simply lying, for whatever iniquitous purpose that might be?

Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog.

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PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Dunn's defense team has maintained that there was no credible testimony or physical evidence placing Dunn at the scene of the shooting since two eye witnesses, who were 12 and 14 at the time, have since recanted their testimony. "There remains no evidence upon which a reasonable jury could return a verdict of guilty,” St. Louis Prosecutor Gabe Gore said.  “In fact your honor, in this case there simply remains no evidence at all."

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STORY: "Closing arguments heard in case to vacate murder conviction against Christopher Dunn, by Reporter Holden Kuwicki, published by KSDK on May 22, 2024.

SUB-HEADING: "There remains no evidence upon which a reasonable jury could return a verdict of guilty,” St. Louis Prosecutor Gabe Gore said.'


GIST: "A St. Louis judge is weighing arguments to decide if a convicted killer will be released from prison.


Christopher Dunn has been locked up for more than 30 years after being convicted of murdering a teenager in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood in St. Louis.


As the hearing entered day two, the case continued to hinge on the testimony of witnesses who both state and defense attorneys have called unreliable.


DeMorris Stepp was one of two eyewitnesses to the 1990 murder of 15-year-old Recco Rogers.


Stepp initially testified that Dunn was the gunman on that fateful night, but he has since recanted his statement, and then walked that back, saying he didn't know who the gunman was.         


However, the state may have thrown a curve ball by declining Stepp to the stand.


"This court will see the evolution of Chris Dunn's story,” Assistant Attorney General Tristin Estep said.  “Over time, he or people working for him inside or outside of prison, have cultivated the current version of Dunn's lies."


Nicole Bailey, a childhood friend of Dunn, testified that it wasn't possible for Dunn to have pulled the trigger because he was at home talking to her on the phone at the time Rogers was killed.


"I was a child,” Nicole Bailey said. “I tried to tell them then he couldn't have been there. I was on the phone with him. Anybody that knows us at that time we talked on the phone for hours all the time. I would've known if Chris was upset."


Throughout the trial, Assistant Attorney General Tristin Estep argued that Christopher Dunn was in fact the gunman who killed 15-year-old Recco Rogers based on his 1991 conviction in the case, along with changing stories from both Dunn and his family as to where he was the night of the shooting.


"An innocent man’s best defense is the truth,” Estep said.  “You've just heard lies from Christopher Dunn.  He's never told you where he was that night."


Dunn's defense team has maintained that there was no credible testimony or physical evidence placing Dunn at the scene of the shooting since two eye witnesses, who were 12 and 14 at the time, have since recanted their testimony.


"There remains no evidence upon which a reasonable jury could return a verdict of guilty,” St. Louis Prosecutor Gabe Gore said.  “In fact your honor, in this case there simply remains no evidence at all."

A decision on Dunn's future won't be made immediately."


The entire story can be read at:


 https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/local/closing-arguments-heard-in-case-against-christopher-dunn/63-b90de19a-51b6-40a2-a303-48219377b446



SEE BREAKDOWN OF  SOME OF THE ON-GOING INTERNATIONAL CASES (OUTSIDE OF THE CONTINENTAL USA) THAT I AM FOLLOWING ON THIS BLOG,  AT THE LINK BELOW:  HL:


https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/120008354894645705/4704913685758792985


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FINAL WORD:  (Applicable to all of our wrongful conviction cases):  "Whenever there is a wrongful conviction, it exposes errors in our criminal legal system, and we hope that this case — and lessons from it — can prevent future injustices."

Lawyer Radha Natarajan:

Executive Director: New England Innocence Project;


—————————————————————————————————

FINAL, FINAL WORD: "Since its inception, the Innocence Project has pushed the criminal legal system to confront and correct the laws and policies that cause and contribute to wrongful convictions.   They never shied away from the hard cases — the ones involving eyewitness identifications, confessions, and bite marks. Instead, in the course of presenting scientific evidence of innocence, they've exposed the unreliability of evidence that was, for centuries, deemed untouchable." So true!

Christina Swarns: Executive Director: The Innocence Project;

————————————————————————————


YET ANOTHER FINAL WORD:


David Hammond, one of Broadwater's attorneys who sought his exoneration, told the Syracuse Post-Standard, "Sprinkle some junk science onto a faulty identification, and it's the perfect recipe for a wrongful conviction.


https://deadline.com/2021/11/alice-sebold-lucky-rape-conviction-overturned-anthony-broadwater-12348801


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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Iwao Hakamada: Japan: Prosecutors have again sought the death sentence in the retrial of Iwao Hakamada, an 88-year-old former boxer who spent decades on death row in what his legal team described as a travesty of justice…"After the retrial began in October 2023, prosecutors again argued that Hakamada was guilty and said various evidence presented in his original trial showed that he committed the crime. Five pieces of bloodstained clothing that Iwao was supposedly wearing at the time of the killings were presented as key evidence. Prosecutors claimed Hakamada hid the clothing in a miso tank after he committed the crime, and that they remained immersed in the tank for more than a year. In seeking the retrial, the defense team presented the results of scientific experiments showing that bloodstains would turn blackish after such a long time in a miso tank. The bloodstains in the clothing evidence were reddish in color. In accepting the retrial, the high court said there was a high possibility that the evidence was not only fabricated but also planted. The defense team argued that high court ruling meant the evidence presented by prosecutors was worthless and should be excluded from the retrial. The defense also argued that prosecutors should abandon any plans to seek a guilty verdict because there were many questions concerning their case."


  • PASSAGE OF THE DAY:  "In other retrials, prosecutors sought the same death sentence in four cases from the 1980s, but the defendants were all found not guilty. In another retrial in which prosecutors sought the same life sentence given in the original trial, the court found the defendant not guilty. There have also been some cases in which prosecutors did not seek a guilty verdict in the retrial."


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STORY: "Prosecutors again seek  death for Hakamada in 1966 killings," by Staff Writer Kazufumi Kaneko, published by The Asahi on May 22, 2024.


GIST: "Prosecutors again sought the death sentence in the retrial of Iwao Hakamada, an 88-year-old former boxer who spent decades on death row in what his legal team described as a travesty of justice.

The Shizuoka District Court on May 22 heard closing statements from prosecutors who continue to argue that Hakamada is guilty of murder and should be hanged for the crime committed 58 years ago.

Hakamada was arrested on suspicion of murdering four members of a family in 1966 in Shizuoka Prefecture and setting their house on fire.

Although he consistently said he was innocent, the Shizuoka District Court in 1968 found him guilty and gave him the death sentence, which was finalized in 1980.

At his retrial, prosecutors said, “We can demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.”

However, the prosecutors’ key evidence used to convict Hakamada did not stand up to scrutiny.

During Hakamada’s lengthy imprisonment, his defense lawyers on two occasions filed requests for a retrial.

The Shizuoka District Court in 2014 approved a retrial, and prosecutors appealed the decision. The case reached the Supreme Court, which ordered the Tokyo High Court to redo the proceedings.

In 2023, the high court backed the decision to hold a retrial at the Shizuoka District Court.

After the retrial began in October 2023, prosecutors again argued that Hakamada was guilty and said various evidence presented in his original trial showed that he committed the crime.

Five pieces of bloodstained clothing that Iwao was supposedly wearing at the time of the killings were presented as key evidence.

Prosecutors claimed Hakamada hid the clothing in a miso tank after he committed the crime, and that they remained immersed in the tank for more than a year.

In seeking the retrial, the defense team presented the results of scientific experiments showing that bloodstains would turn blackish after such a long time in a miso tank.

The bloodstains in the clothing evidence were reddish in color.

In accepting the retrial, the high court said there was a high possibility that the evidence was not only fabricated but also planted.

The defense team argued that high court ruling meant the evidence presented by prosecutors was worthless and should be excluded from the retrial.

The defense also argued that prosecutors should abandon any plans to seek a guilty verdict because there were many questions concerning their case.

Hakamada was excused from attending the retrial because his mental health deteriorated so much during his time in prison.

In other retrials, prosecutors sought the same death sentence in four cases from the 1980s, but the defendants were all found not guilty.

In another retrial in which prosecutors sought the same life sentence given in the original trial, the court found the defendant not guilty.

There have also been some cases in which prosecutors did not seek a guilty verdict in the retrial."

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/15276202

SEE BREAKDOWN OF  SOME OF THE ON-GOING INTERNATIONAL CASES (OUTSIDE OF THE CONTINENTAL USA) THAT I AM FOLLOWING ON THIS BLOG,  AT THE LINK BELOW:  HL:


https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/120008354894645705/4704913685758792985


---------------------------------------------------------------


FINAL WORD:  (Applicable to all of our wrongful conviction cases):  "Whenever there is a wrongful conviction, it exposes errors in our criminal legal system, and we hope that this case — and lessons from it — can prevent future injustices."

Lawyer Radha Natarajan:

Executive Director: New England Innocence Project;


—————————————————————————————————

FINAL, FINAL WORD: "Since its inception, the Innocence Project has pushed the criminal legal system to confront and correct the laws and policies that cause and contribute to wrongful convictions.   They never shied away from the hard cases — the ones involving eyewitness identifications, confessions, and bite marks. Instead, in the course of presenting scientific evidence of innocence, they've exposed the unreliability of evidence that was, for centuries, deemed untouchable." So true!

Christina Swarns: Executive Director: The Innocence Project;

————————————————————————————


YET ANOTHER FINAL WORD:


David Hammond, one of Broadwater's attorneys who sought his exoneration, told the Syracuse Post-Standard, "Sprinkle some junk science onto a faulty identification, and it's the perfect recipe for a wrongful conviction.


https://deadline.com/2021/11/alice-sebold-lucky-rape-conviction-overturned-anthony-broadwater-12348801


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Christopher Dunn: Missouri: Wrongful conviction hearing. Day One. Associated Press Reporter Jim Salter… "Christopher Dunn has spent 33 years in prison for a murder he has claimed from the outset that he didn't commit. A hearing this week will determine if he should go free. St. Louis prosecutors are now convinced Dunn is telling the truth, but lawyers for the Missouri Attorney General's Office want him kept behind bars. Dunn, 52, is serving life without parole at the state prison in Locking, Missouri."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  This Blog is interested in eye-witness identification issues because  wrongful identifications are at the heart of so many DNA-related exonerations in the USA and elsewhere - and because so much scientific research is being conducted with a goal to making the identification process more   transparent and reliable- and less subject to deliberate manipulation.  I have also reported far too many cases over the years - mainly cases lacking DNA evidence pointing to the suspect - where the police have rigged the identification process in order to make an identification inevitable. Sure sounds like  obstruction of justice to me. PS: And what if the 'witness is simply lying, for whatever iniquitous purpose that might be?

Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog.

----------------------

PASSAGE ONE OF THE DAY: "Dunn was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 15-year-old Ricco Rogers based largely on the testimony of two boys — 14-year-old DeMorris Stepp and 12-year-old Michael Davis Jr. — who said they witnessed the shooting.  Both later recanted, claiming they were coerced by police and prosecutors. Booker Shaw, a private attorney working on behalf of the circuit attorney, said Tuesday in his opening statement that Dunn was at his mother’s house a few blocks away at the time of the shooting, watching TV with his mother and sister."

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PASSAGE TWO OF THE DAY: "Another judge heard Dunn’s innocence case before. At an evidentiary hearing in 2020, Judge William Hickle agreed that a jury would likely find Dunn not guilty based on new evidence. But Hickle declined to exonerate Dunn then, citing a 2016 Missouri Supreme Court ruling that only death row inmates — not those like Dunn sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole — could make a “freestanding” claim of actual innocence."

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PASSAGE THREE OF THE DAY: "Last February, a St. Louis judge overturned the conviction of Lamar Johnson, who served nearly 28 years for a killing he always said he didn’t commit.  In that case, another man testified that it was he — not Johnson — who joined a second man in the killing, a witness said police had “bullied” him into implicating Johnson, and Johnson’s girlfriend at the time testified they were together that night. Still waiting for a hearing is a man who was nearly executed for a murder conviction. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell filed a motion in January to vacate the conviction of Marcellus Williams, who narrowly escaped lethal injection seven years ago for the fatal stabbing of Lisha Gayle in 1998. Bell’s motion said three experts have determined that Williams' DNA was not on the handle of the butcher knife used in the killing."

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STORY: "Judge hears wrongful conviction claim of Missouri inmate in prison for 33 years," by Associated Press Reporter Jim Salter, published one May 21, 2024.

SUB-HEADING: "Christopher Dunn has spent 33 years in prison serving life without parole for a murder in Missouri he has always claimed he didn’t commit."


GIST:  "Christopher Dunn has spent 33 years in prison for a murder he has claimed from the outset that he didn't commit. A hearing this week will determine if he should go free.


St. Louis prosecutors are now convinced Dunn is telling the truth, but lawyers for the Missouri Attorney General's Office want him kept behind bars.

 Dunn, 52, is serving life without parole at the state prison in Locking, Missouri. He wore a gray suit at the hearing Tuesday before Judge Jason Sengheiser.

A Missouri law adopted in 2021 allows prosecutors to request such hearings when they see evidence of a wrongful conviction. 

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Gabe Gore filed a motion in February seeking to vacate the 1990 guilty verdict, citing “clear and convincing evidence of Christopher Dunn's actual innocence.”

Dunn was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 15-year-old Ricco Rogers based largely on the testimony of two boys — 14-year-old DeMorris Stepp and 12-year-old Michael Davis Jr. — who said they witnessed the shooting. 

Both later recanted, claiming they were coerced by police and prosecutors.

Booker Shaw, a private attorney working on behalf of the circuit attorney, said Tuesday in his opening statement that Dunn was at his mother’s house a few blocks away at the time of the shooting, watching TV with his mother and sister.

Assistant Attorney General Tristin Estep said neither police nor prosecutors coerced the witnesses to testify against Dunn, and evidence will show he was the shooter regardless of how their stories have changed.

“Over the past 34 years, Christopher Dunn has crafted a story, but not a convincing one,” Estep said.

In May 2023, then-St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner filed a motion to vacate Dunn’s sentence.

 But Gardner resigned days later, and after his appointment by Gov. Mike Parson, Gore wanted to conduct his own investigation.

 Gore announced in February that he would seek to overturn the conviction.

Dunn, who is Black, was 18 when Rogers was shot to death on the night of May 18, 1990. 

No physical evidence linked Dunn to the crime but the two boys told police at the time that they saw Dunn standing in the gangway of the house next door, just minutes before shots rang out.

Rogers and the two boys ran when they heard the shots, but Rogers was fatally struck, according to court records.

The judge heard a recorded interview from several years ago in which Davis said he and Stepp lied about Dunn being the shooter. Davis said they named Dunn because they believed he was in a rival gang and wanted to get him out of the neighborhood.


“It was just out of animosity that we said it was him, basically,” Davis said on the recording, which was made while he was jailed in California on an unrelated charge.

Another teenager at the scene at the time, Eugene Wilson, appeared in court on Tuesday. He said he was near Rogers when he was shot, and that it was dark and he couldn’t see the shooter.

 But Wilson testified that one person with a possible motive was a man who had been dating, and abusive, to Rogers’ mother. Rogers and Wilson had recently attacked the man in retaliation, Wilson said.

But under cross-examination, Wilson acknowledged and confirmed his previous testimony, that immediately after the shooting, Stepp yelled out, “It was Christopher Dunn.”

Another judge heard Dunn’s innocence case before.

At an evidentiary hearing in 2020, Judge William Hickle agreed that a jury would likely find Dunn not guilty based on new evidence.

 But Hickle declined to exonerate Dunn then, citing a 2016 Missouri Supreme Court ruling that only death row inmates — not those like Dunn sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole — could make a “freestanding” claim of actual innocence.

The 2021 law has resulted in the the release of two men who each spent decades in prison.

In 2021, Kevin Strickland was freed after more than 40 years for three killings in Kansas City after a judge ruled he had been wrongfully convicted in 1979.

Last February, a St. Louis judge overturned the conviction of Lamar Johnson, who served nearly 28 years for a killing he always said he didn’t commit. 

In that case, another man testified that it was he — not Johnson — who joined a second man in the killing, a witness said police had “bullied” him into implicating Johnson, and Johnson’s girlfriend at the time testified they were together that night.

Still waiting for a hearing is a man who was nearly executed for a murder conviction.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell filed a motion in January to vacate the conviction of Marcellus Williams, who narrowly escaped lethal injection seven years ago for the fatal stabbing of Lisha Gayle in 1998.


 Bell’s motion said three experts have determined that Williams' DNA was not on the handle of the butcher knife used in the killing."


The entire story can be read at:

https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/hearing-determine-missouri-man-prison-33-years-wrongfully-110424281

SEE BREAKDOWN OF  SOME OF THE ON-GOING INTERNATIONAL CASES (OUTSIDE OF THE CONTINENTAL USA) THAT I AM FOLLOWING ON THIS BLOG,  AT THE LINK BELOW:  HL:


https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/120008354894645705/4704913685758792985


---------------------------------------------------------------


FINAL WORD:  (Applicable to all of our wrongful conviction cases):  "Whenever there is a wrongful conviction, it exposes errors in our criminal legal system, and we hope that this case — and lessons from it — can prevent future injustices."

Lawyer Radha Natarajan:

Executive Director: New England Innocence Project;


—————————————————————————————————

FINAL, FINAL WORD: "Since its inception, the Innocence Project has pushed the criminal legal system to confront and correct the laws and policies that cause and contribute to wrongful convictions.   They never shied away from the hard cases — the ones involving eyewitness identifications, confessions, and bite marks. Instead, in the course of presenting scientific evidence of innocence, they've exposed the unreliability of evidence that was, for centuries, deemed untouchable." So true!

Christina Swarns: Executive Director: The Innocence Project;

————————————————————————————


YET ANOTHER FINAL WORD:


David Hammond, one of Broadwater's attorneys who sought his exoneration, told the Syracuse Post-Standard, "Sprinkle some junk science onto a faulty identification, and it's the perfect recipe for a wrongful conviction.


https://deadline.com/2021/11/alice-sebold-lucky-rape-conviction-overturned-anthony-broadwater-12348801


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