Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Bulletin: 'Color of Change'- a civil rights advocacy organization - denounces 'medical terrorism' and calls on prosecutors to protect black mothers - noting that "black pregnant people are exponentially more likely to experience devastating pregnancy outcomes" - such as the many who've been criminalized and arrested for actions that include things like taking legal drugs prescribed by their doctor, having a miscarriage, addiction, getting into a car accident, and even falling down the stairs."..."Law enforcement including prosecutors has no place in pregnancy decisions."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: "Criminalizing reproduction: (Attacks on Science, Medicine and the Right To Choose): I have taken on the  theme of criminalizing reproduction - a natural theme for a Blog concerned with  flawed science in its myriad forms,   and its flawed devotees (like former Doctor Charles Smith) - as I am utterly opposed to the current movement in the United States and some other countries - towards imprisoning women and their physicians on the basis of sham science (or any other basis). Control over their reproductive lives is far too important to women in America or anywhere else so they can  participate  equally in the economic and social life of their nations without fear for  loss their freedom at the hands of political opportunists and fanatics. I will continue to follow relevant cases - and the mounting wave of  legislative attacks aimed at chipping away at  Roe V. Wade - including the current direct  assault now before the conservatively dominated U.S. Supreme Court -  and ultimately dismantling it."

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PASSAGE  OF THE DAY: "Now is your chance to take your support to the next level. Because with your help, we can continue to put pressure on prosecutors and elected officials who have the power to ensure no one is thrown in jail based on a pregnancy outcome."  

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RELEASE: "Prosecutors should do this for black mothers," by Erika Male (Color of Change)  published on July 30, 2021.  (ColorOfChange is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change."

SUB-HEADING: "Join the movement to demand care not cages."

GIST: "Here's the thing: medical terrorism has always been used to perpetuate and enforce racist assumptions about Black women and their bodies.

Look no further than James Marion Sims, also known as the "Father of Gynecology." Sims regularly performed forced surgeries, without anesthesia, on enslaved women under the guise of science.

Followers of this work embraced notions that Black women had a higher tolerance for pain when receiving medical treatment while ignoring that these women were forcibly restrained under threat of death for these procedures. Such stereotypes have informed contemporary medical racism.

Today, Black women in the United States face a maternal health crisis. Regardless of factors like higher education or financial means, Black mothers are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes than white mothers -- the widest of all racial disparities in women's health. These deaths are preventable, and their causes are rooted in structural racism, not race.

As a result, Black pregnant people are exponentially more likely to experience devastating pregnancy outcomes. There are hundreds of pregnant people who've been criminalized and arrested for actions that include things like taking legal drugs prescribed by their doctor, having a miscarriage, addiction, getting into a car accident, and even falling down the stairs.

Harold, we're fighting back, but first, we need your help. Now is your chance to take your support to the next level. Because with your help, we can continue to put pressure on prosecutors and elected officials who have the power to ensure no one is thrown in jail based on a pregnancy outcome.

When our people get access to the reproductive healthcare we need, we thrive. 

That starts with demanding the solutions that will aid in the healing and prioritization of our reproductive autonomy. This includes a world in which our people are treated with dignity, and free to make choices about our own bodies.

We deserve meaningful options regarding where, how, and with whom we will give birth, in a person-centered, anti-racist model of care. We deserve the support of midwives, doulas, and perinatal services that are fully integrated into the maternal care system. Law enforcement including prosecutors has no place in pregnancy decisions. With your help, we can continue our fight calling on them to say NO to criminalizing Black mothers.

Until justice is real."

The entire release can be read at:


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;
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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;

Terry McKirchy: Florida: Shaken Baby Syndrome: More analysis of the troubling case of this woman who pleaded guilty to shaking a baby 35 years ago - and has been charged with his murder upon his recent death at age 37..."Lenore Skenazy is president of Let Grow, a nonprofit promoting childhood independence and resilience, and founder of the Free-Range Kids movement."..."McKirchy, the former Florida babysitter, did in fact plead guilty to shaking the baby. At the time she told the Miami Herald: "I know I didn't do it. My conscience is clear. But I can't deal with it anymore." She would have faced 12-17 years in prison if found guilty. The discrepancy in potential sentences between taking a plea and going to trial is particularly enormous in shaken baby cases, says investigative journalist-turned-filmmaker Susan Goldsmith."


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Goldsmith's documentary, The Syndromeexamines the disturbing willingness of courts and the public to believe a previously unheard-of crime—baby shaking—was suddenly pervasive. She likens it to the panic over Satanism. In fact, her film traces how some of the very same experts who had promoted the idea that day care centers were filled with child-raping Satanists went on to promote the idea that homes were filled with baby-shaking parents. The result, Goldsmith says, is hundreds of parents and caregivers behind bars for the crime of shaken baby syndrome (or, as it has been rebranded, "abusive head trauma"). The exact number is impossible to determine, as the charges fall under so many different names: manslaughter, homicide, child abuse. Tuerkheimer has suggested the wrongful convictions are so numerous, each state should create an innocence commission to review all shaken baby cases."


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COMMENTARY: "Woman will be tried again for shaken baby case from 1984," by Lenore Skenazy, published by Reason.com on July 27, 2021.


SUB-HEADING: "But shaken baby syndrome has become a doubtful diagnosis in the ensuing years."


GIST: "A woman who plead guilty to shaking a baby 35 years ago has been charged with his murder upon his recent death at age 37.


Terry McKirchy, now 59 and living in Texas, was babysitting five-month-old Benjamin Dowling in 1984, in Florida. The parents came home to find the baby turning blue. At the hospital, he was diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome. McKirchy was charged with first degree attempted murder and aggravated battery.


She was six months pregnant at the time and accepted a plea deal whereby she would only have to go to jail on weekends until she gave birth, reported The New York Daily News. Benjamin was severely handicapped the rest of his life. His death triggered the new charges against McKirchy. She now faces a possible life sentence.


There's just one problem.


In the intervening decades, shaken baby syndrome has come under increasing scrutiny as an illegitimate diagnosis.


One recent meta-study, for instance, was titled "Insufficient evidence for 'shaken baby syndrome'—a systematic review." This study of studies found that the once-indisputable proof that a baby was shaken—the trifecta of brain bleeding, swelling, and bleeding behind the eye—could in fact be caused by many other issues.


Deborah Tuerkeimer, a professor of law at Northwestern University, has written extensively on the subject, and noted in a New York Times op-ed all the way back in 2010 that "bleeding in the brain can have many causes, including a fall, an infection, an illness like sickle-cell anemia or birth trauma."

She added:


The new understanding of this diagnosis has only just begun to penetrate the legal realm. In 2008, a Wisconsin appeals court recognized that "a shift in mainstream medical opinion" had eroded the medical basis of shaken baby syndrome. The court granted a new trial to Audrey Edmunds, herself a mother of three, who had spent a decade in prison for murdering an infant in her care. Prosecutors later dismissed all charges.


McKirchy, the former Florida babysitter, did in fact plead guilty to shaking the baby. At the time she told the Miami Herald: "I know I didn't do it. My conscience is clear. But I can't deal with it anymore." She would have faced 12-17 years in prison if found guilty. The discrepancy in potential sentences between taking a plea and going to trial is particularly enormous in shaken baby cases, says investigative journalist-turned-filmmaker Susan Goldsmith.


Goldsmith's documentary, The Syndrome, examines the disturbing willingness of courts and the public to believe a previously unheard-of crime—baby shaking—was suddenly pervasive. She likens it to the panic over Satanism. In fact, her film traces how some of the very same experts who had promoted the idea that day care centers were filled with child-raping Satanists went on to promote the idea that homes were filled with baby-shaking parents.


The result, Goldsmith says, is hundreds of parents and caregivers behind bars for the crime of shaken baby syndrome (or, as it has been rebranded, "abusive head trauma"). The exact number is impossible to determine, as the charges fall under so many different names: manslaughter, homicide, child abuse. Tuerkheimer has suggested the wrongful convictions are so numerous, each state should create an innocence commission to review all shaken baby cases.


But as it stands, says Goldsmith, "Anyone who brings a toddler or infant into an emergency room with some kind of neurological issue going on that they cannot explain—there's a good chance they'll leave the hospital in handcuffs."


The entire commentary can be read at:


https://reason.com/2021/07/27/woman-will-be-tried-again-for-shaken-baby-case-from-1984/


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;
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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;

British maternity care hospital crisis: (Police investigations are under consideration.) Previous posts referred to the tragic unnecessary loss of babies lives at 'East Kent' and 'Nottingham'. Now Guardian reporter Jessica Murray adds 'Morecambe Bay' and 'Shrewsbury and Telford' to the disheartening list in a story headed, "A cascade of catastrophic failings: England's baby death scandals."...Titcombe said he has been appalled to read of subsequent scandals unearthed at hospital trusts around the country over the past few years and feels that government and health officials failed to learn lessons from what happened at Morecambe Bay. “Families are just told, ‘Nothing like this has ever happened before, it was a one-off or it’s just one of those things.’ But there are issues across the system, and they’re systemic, and I think this report finally gets that right,” he said. “The warning from history is that these reports are fine, but unless they’re properly implemented, it’s not going to make a difference.”"


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "The latest maternity services scandal is at Nottingham university hospitals trust, where the NHS care watchdog is considering a criminal prosecution over its failure to provide safe care to mothers and babies. A joint investigation by the Independent and Channel 4 found at least 46 babies have suffered brain damage and 19 have been stillborn at the trust’s maternity units between 2010 and 2020. An inquest into the death of Wynter Andrews 23 minutes after she was born in 2019 concluded she might have survived if “multiple missed opportunities” had been spotted by staff. Sarah Andrews was admitted to hospital six days after initially suffering contractions and a lack of staffing meant concerns about the pregnancy were missed. Wynter was eventually delivered with the umbilical cord “wrapped tightly around her leg and neck”. The assistant coroner, Laurinda Bower, said: “If [she] had been delivered earlier, it is likely that her death would have been avoided."


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STORY:  "A cascade of catastrophic failings: England's baby death scandals," by Reporter Jessica Murray, published by The Guardian on July 6, 2021.

SUB-HEADING:"The failures in maternity care that have been unearthed at hospital trusts around the country over past four years."

SUB-HEADING: "MPs say 1000 babies die preventable deaths each years.

Morecambe Bay:

An investigation into baby deaths at Furness general hospital in Barrow between 2004 and 2013 found a “lethal mix” of failings at almost every level.


Set up in 2013 by the then health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the inquiry found maternity services were beset by a culture of denial, collusion and incompetence, and there was an insistence among midwives to pursue normal childbirth “at any cost”.


The problems led to 20 instances of significant or major failures of care at the hospital, associated with three maternal deaths and the deaths of 16 babies at or shortly after birth.


James Titcombe’s son, Joshua, died in 2008 after hospital staff failed to pick up on signs of an infection for almost 24 hours, even after his wife was treated with antibiotics. “Joshua collapsed and had nine days of battling for his life, and then died as a consequence of this infection. It was horrific,” said Titcombe.


He said their efforts to investigate what went wrong were constantly hampered and medical records went missing. “It took a big fight to campaign for an inquiry, which we eventually got a few years later. But the response to the report missed the opportunity to address the issues identified across the system as a whole.”


Titcombe said he has been appalled to read of subsequent scandals unearthed at hospital trusts around the country over the past few years and feels that government and health officials failed to learn lessons from what happened at Morecambe Bay.


“Families are just told, ‘Nothing like this has ever happened before, it was a one-off or it’s just one of those things.’ But there are issues across the system, and they’re systemic, and I think this report finally gets that right,” he said. “The warning from history is that these reports are fine, but unless they’re properly implemented, it’s not going to make a difference.”


Shrewsbury and Telford:

One of the biggest scandals in NHS history, more than 1,000 families have come forward in a review into maternity cases at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS trust.



The investigation, led by midwifery expert Donna Ockenden, is examining 1,862 serious incidents including hundreds of baby deaths and an unusually high number of maternal deaths, mostly between 2000 and 2018.


An interim review into 250 cases found a major push for natural birth at the hospital, with a caesarean section rate 8 to 12 percentage points below the England average.


West Mercia police has also launched a criminal investigation to establish whether there is enough evidence to bring manslaughter charges against the trust or staff.


Rhiannon Davies said her experience became a “cascade of catastrophic failings” when her baby, Kate Stanton-Davies, died under the trust’s care shortly after she was born in 2009. She said her pregnancy was never risk assessed and when Kate stopped moving “dramatically” during pregnancy concerns were ignored and she was dismissed as having a “lazy baby”.


“But then Kate was born pale, floppy, hypothermic, and there were a series of massive heart decelerations during labour. Everything that should have happened was done wrong, basically,” Davies said. “The midwife panicked and put Kate in the side room and left her to collapse and then failed to resuscitate her.”


Kate was eventually transferred to another hospital via air ambulance but the midwife did not go with her and there were no medical notes. “They didn’t even know her name and I didn’t even get to her before she died,” she said.


Davies welcomed many of the report’s recommendations including the potential benefits of a standard third-trimester scan, increased funding of £200m-350m a year for maternity services and a focus on the difference in outcomes for black, Asian and ethnic minority women.

“If these changes go ahead, they will make a positive difference and they will save baby’s lives,” she said. “And I hope it means other people will get heard much more quickly and their cases looked into appropriately so people are less likely to have to go through what we’ve gone through.”


East Kent

In June, East Kent hospitals university NHS foundation trust was fined £733,000 in a groundbreaking prosecution by the Care Quality Commission for failures during the birth of Harry Richford, who died seven days after an emergency caesarean section.


Harry suffered a severe lack of oxygen and brain damage during his birth due to a series of mistakes by staff, with his mother, Sarah, saying: “I never imagined that I would feel so helpless, exhausted and distressed lying on an operating table listening to a room full of panicking people who I was relying on to safely deliver Harry.”


The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch has been investigating the NHS trust since July 2018 after a series of baby deaths and an independent report published in April outlined 24 maternity investigations, including the deaths of three babies and two mothers.


Bill Kirkup, who previously investigated the maternity care scandal at Morecambe Bay, is heading an ongoing government-ordered review of the trust’s maternity services, which is due to report next year.


Nottingham:

The latest maternity services scandal is at Nottingham university hospitals trust, where the NHS care watchdog is considering a criminal prosecution over its failure to provide safe care to mothers and babies.


A joint investigation by the Independent and Channel 4 found at least 46 babies have suffered brain damage and 19 have been stillborn at the trust’s maternity units between 2010 and 2020.


An inquest into the death of Wynter Andrews 23 minutes after she was born in 2019 concluded she might have survived if “multiple missed opportunities” had been spotted by staff.


Sarah Andrews was admitted to hospital six days after initially suffering contractions and a lack of staffing meant concerns about the pregnancy were missed. Wynter was eventually delivered with the umbilical cord “wrapped tightly around her leg and neck”. The assistant coroner, Laurinda Bower, said: “If [she] had been delivered earlier, it is likely that her death would have been avoided.""


The entire story can be read at:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jul/06/a-cascade-of-catastrophic-failings-the-uks-baby-death-scandals

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;
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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;

Monday, August 2, 2021

Cristhian Bahena Rivera: Iowa: Bulletin: Major Development: Judge denies request for a new trial in Mollie Tibbetts case... Ruling clears the way for Bahena's sentencing to proceed Aug. 30. (Convicted in May of first-degree murder). Reporter William Morris. Des Moines Register. August 2, 2021.


Read breaking story at link bellow:  


A judge has rejected a motion to retry Cristhian Bahena Rivera in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, clearing the path for him to be sentenced in the Brooklyn woman's 2018 murder.


Bahena, a farmhand, was convicted of first-degree murder after a two-week trial in May despite claiming on the stand that two masked men had coerced him into assisting them with Tibbetts' murder. In July, his attorneys asked that he be granted a new trial, saying new evidence pointed to new possible suspects.


At a lengthy hearing July 27, they argued that Tibbetts' death might have been connected to another woman's alleged sex trafficking in a neighboring county, as well as the May 2021 disappearance of 11-year-old Xavior Harrelson of Montezuma.


In his order Monday, Judge Joel Yates denied that motion.


The two new witnesses, who each claimed a man named Gavin Jones had confessed to them he had been the killer, came forward during the trial, and prosecutors informed the defense and offered to delay the trial to investigate.


Although the two sides disagree on exactly what information was conveyed — a fact that "obfuscates the Court’s analysis," as Yates put it — the judge wrote that the defense clearly knew enough to make the informed decision not to pause the trial to seek new witnesses that, as Yates points out, would have significantly contradicted the defendant's testimony.


Bahena's motion "greatly downplays the discrepancies between his testimony at trial and the account that (new witness Arne Maki) reports he was told by Jones," Yates wrote. "For example, the specific details about how Mollie Tibbetts was murdered are vastly different."


"Had both versions of events been presented at trial, the jury would have had to make a credibility determination not between the State’s witnesses and those of the defense, which is a typical scenario, but between the Defendant and his own witness," he added later.


Bahena's attorneys had also argued prosecutors failed to turn over favorable evidence in the form of a 2019 investigation into a man accused of sex trafficking in nearby Mahaska County. Prosecutors are obligated to provide any evidence favoring the defense under a U.S. Supreme Court case known as Brady v. Maryland.


Yates agreed that prosecutors had not provided evidence about the Mahaska County investigation to the defense, and that such information might have bolstered Bahena's case.


 But to be a Brady violation, the evidence in question must be "material" to the question of guilt, and Yates said there's no reason to believe it would have changed the case's outcome.


"Defendant’s trial strategy included casting doubt onto other individuals, such as Dalton Jack and Ron Pexa," Yates wrote. "It is doubtful that adding another possible suspect, one with no apparent ties besides being in the same county as Mollie, would have a reasonable probability of change the result of trial."


Bahena was originally scheduled to be sentenced July 15, but the proceeding was postponed to let the court consider his motion for a new trial. With that settled, the court has set a new sentencing date of Aug. 30, where Bahena faces a mandatory sentence of life without parole.


Bahena's attorneys, Chad and Jennifer Frese, could not immediately be reached for comment."

https://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2021/08/02/judge-denies-new-trial-cristhian-bahena-rivera-mollie-tibbetts-murder/5462498001/

More to follow: HL.  

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;
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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;

Devonia Inman: Georgia: Bulletin: Major Development: Imprisoned for almost 23 years for a South Georgia murder he insists he did not commit, he has won a key ruling that could bolster his chance to win a new trial, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Reporter Bill Rankin) reports..."A man imprisoned almost 23 years for a South Georgia murder he insists he did not commit won a key ruling Monday that could bolster his chance to win a new trial. Chattooga County Chief Superior Court Judge Kristina Cook Graham signed an order that says, in essence, she is under the assumption that Hercules Brown — not Devonia Inman, the man convicted of the crime — is the actual killer. Later, Graham wrapped up a one-day hearing by giving both the state and Inman’s lawyers time to file legal briefs. She is expected to rule in the coming months."


QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Of the more than 1,500 murder cases that  (Justice David) Nahmias said he’s reviewed as a justice, Inman’s case is the one that causes him “the most concern that an innocent person remains convicted and sentenced to serve the rest of his life in prison.”

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PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Inman’s case, chronicled in Season 4 of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast, is extraordinary. With no physical evidence tying him to the crime, he was convicted largely on the testimony of four key witnesses, three of whom have since recanted their testimony. As for the fourth witness, Judge Buster McConnell, who presided over the 2001 trial, has said he didn’t believe that woman when she said she saw Inman in Brown’s car shortly after the killing. Also noteworthy is that before the trial, Inman’s lawyers tried to call witnesses who were going to testify that Hercules Brown, who had worked at Taco Bell and was unrelated to the victim, had told them he committed the murder. But McConnell disallowed that testimony. Brown and another man would kill two people during an armed robbery of Bennett’s Grocery in Adel months after Donna Brown’s killing. Hercules Brown later pleaded guilty to those murders and is serving life without parole."

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PASSAGE TWO OF THE  DAY: "A decade after Inman’s trial, the Georgia Innocence Project was allowed to conduct DNA testing on a makeshift mask found in Donna Brown’s car after the killing. The GBI crime lab found a match: Hercules Brown. Inman’s lawyers filed a motion for a new trial, but McConnell declined to grant it. Inman appealed that order, but in 2014 the Georgia Supreme Court declined to even consider it. Still, lawyers representing Inman filed a lawsuit asking for Inman’s conviction to be overturned because he is actually innocent. The attorney general’s office sought to get that suit dismissed. When Graham declined to do so, the state appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. In another extraordinary development in the case, the high court not only allowed Graham’s decision to stand, two justices wrote concurring opinions questioning the ongoing imprisonment of Inman. One of those justices, David Nahmias, said he regrets the state Supreme Court’s decision in 2014 declining to hear Inman’s appeal. With the new evidence, he wrote, “there is no doubt that a new trial would be very different than the one in which Inman was found guilty.”"

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STORY: "Judge's ruling may bolster new trial bid for man claiming innocence," by Reporter Bill Rankin, published by The Atlantic Journal-Constitution  on June 29, 2021.

GIST: "A man imprisoned almost 23 years for a South Georgia murder he insists he did not commit won a key ruling Monday that could bolster his chance to win a new trial.


Chattooga County Chief Superior Court Judge Kristina Cook Graham signed an order that says, in essence, she is under the assumption that Hercules Brown — not Devonia Inman, the man convicted of the crime — is the actual killer.


Later, Graham wrapped up a one-day hearing by giving both the state and Inman’s lawyers time to file legal briefs. She is expected to rule in the coming months.


Two decades ago, a Cook County jury found Inman, 42, guilty for the 1998 murder of Donna Brown, a Taco Bell night manager who was slain in the restaurant’s parking lot. Her killer took about $1,700 of the day’s receipts from Brown after shooting her in the face.


On Monday, Tom Reilly, one of Inman’s new lawyers, told Graham his client received “a deeply flawed and unfair trial.” He said Inman “has been wrongfully imprisoned for almost 23 years for a murder he did not commit.”


Paula Smith of the state attorney general’s office told Graham that Inman’s new claims are being raised too late and are barred on procedural grounds. “Those should have been raised way back when,” she said.


In court filings, state attorneys contend Inman had assistance in the armed robbery and murder of Donna Brown.


Inman’s case, chronicled in Season 4 of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast, is extraordinary. With no physical evidence tying him to the crime, he was convicted largely on the testimony of four key witnesses, three of whom have since recanted their testimony.


As for the fourth witness, Judge Buster McConnell, who presided over the 2001 trial, has said he didn’t believe that woman when she said she saw Inman in Brown’s car shortly after the killing.


Also noteworthy is that before the trial, Inman’s lawyers tried to call witnesses who were going to testify that Hercules Brown, who had worked at Taco Bell and was unrelated to the victim, had told them he committed the murder. But McConnell disallowed that testimony.


Brown and another man would kill two people during an armed robbery of Bennett’s Grocery in Adel months after Donna Brown’s killing. Hercules Brown later pleaded guilty to those murders and is serving life without parole.


A decade after Inman’s trial, the Georgia Innocence Project was allowed to conduct DNA testing on a makeshift mask found in Donna Brown’s car after the killing. The GBI crime lab found a match: Hercules Brown.


Inman’s lawyers filed a motion for a new trial, but McConnell declined to grant it.

Inman appealed that order, but in 2014 the Georgia Supreme Court declined to even consider it. Still, lawyers representing Inman filed a lawsuit asking for Inman’s conviction to be overturned because he is actually innocent.


The attorney general’s office sought to get that suit dismissed. When Graham declined to do so, the state appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. In another extraordinary development in the case, the high court not only allowed Graham’s decision to stand, two justices wrote concurring opinions questioning the ongoing imprisonment of Inman.


One of those justices, David Nahmias, said he regrets the state Supreme Court’s decision in 2014 declining to hear Inman’s appeal. With the new evidence, he wrote, “there is no doubt that a new trial would be very different than the one in which Inman was found guilty.”


Of the more than 1,500 murder cases that Nahmias said he’s reviewed as a justice, Inman’s case is the one that causes him “the most concern that an innocent person remains convicted and sentenced to serve the rest of his life in prison.”


On Monday, Inman’s new lawyers produced a Sept. 28, 2000, police report that showed Hercules Brown was arrested for illegal gun and crack cocaine possession outside a supermarket in Adel, less than a mile away from the Taco Bell where Donna Brown was killed. Inside Hercules Brown’s car police found a homemade mask.


Brown would be released on bond from those charges and commit the double murder at Bennett’s Grocery a few months later.


Reilly, one of Inman’s new lawyers working free of charge, contended Monday that the state withheld the September 2000 police report tying Brown to another homemade mask even though prosecutors knew the defense was trying to tie Brown to the Taco Bell killing.


Attorney Bud Siemon, who represented Inman years ago in his initial appeals, said he would have pursued the matter if he had only known about it. “It would have been a great issue,” said Siemon, one of two witnesses who testified at Monday’s hearing. “That would have made our argument much stronger.”


Last year, Graham signed an order allowing Inman’s new lawyers and state attorneys to take videoconferenced testimony of Brown on Dec. 7. But an official at the prison where Brown is incarcerated said he “absolutely refused” to come out of his cell and answer questions.


Inman’s lawyers then asked Graham to draw an “adverse inference” against Brown, finding he had incriminated himself in Donna Brown’s murder by refusing to be questioned about it. Over objections by state attorneys, Graham signed the order at the outset of Monday’s hearing.


“Judge Graham, in essence, said she is allowed to assume that Hercules’ refusal to answer questions reflects the fact he is guilty,” said Atlanta defense attorney Don Samuel, who has followed the case. “This may have tipped the balance.'''


The entire story can be read at:

https://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-news/judges-ruling-may-bolster-new-trial-bid-for-man-claiming-innocence/I554L7BI5NDI3IOFQHPIQLZOHU/

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Access up-dated podcast on the case for a new trial for Devonia Inman - and transcript of same - on Intercept Blog 'Murderville Ga'  featuring two of the finest criminal justice scribes around - Liliana Segura and Jordan Smith - at the link below.  

https://theintercept.com/2021/08/02/murderville-podcast-the-case-for-a-new-trial/

PASSAGE OF THE DAY : (Intercept podcast:)  "Liliana Segura: "Devonia reached out to the Georgia Innocence Project not long after he was convicted. They took the case. It took years, but they eventually won permission to test a key piece of evidence for DNA: a homemade mask, made from a pair of gray sweatpants, with eye holes cut out of it. It had been found in Donna Brown’s car after her murder. Almost 10 years after Devonia was sentenced to life in prison, testing of the mask revealed a single genetic profile: Hercules Brown. Devonia had been tried as the sole perpetrator of this crime. And at trial, prosecutors said the killer had worn the mask. But once the DNA came back as a match to Hercules, the state insisted that none of that mattered. And that it didn’t exonerate Devonia. In 2014, the trial court — and the Georgia Supreme Court — agreed. They denied Devonia a new trial."

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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;

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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;

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Thomas Raynard James: Florida: Major Development: Miami-Dade prosecutors have reopened an investigation into a man who has spent 30 years in prison for a Coconut Grove murder that a new national magazine article argues was built on a case of mistaken identity, The Miami Herald (Reporter Charles Rabin) reports..."The piece in GQ contends that Miami police confused Thomas Raynard James for another man with the same name and similar features and that he was convicted in 1991 despite sketchy witness testimony and no physical evidence linking him to the crime. Even before its publication on Wednesday, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Justice Project, which examines cases involving potential wrongful convictions, had been reviewing the case. Journalist Tristram Korten shared information from his year-long investigation with prosecutors in March. State attorney spokesman Ed Griffith confirmed that and said investigators also have received information they requested from an attorney recently hired by James, who is now 54. “We have corresponded with him,” Griffith said. “The review is proceeding.” Korten, a veteran South Florida journalist and author, said his review of thousands of pages of documents — from depositions to trial transcripts to appeals court cases — left little doubt James was wrongfully imprisoned in the robbery and shooting death of Francis McKinnon in a Coconut Grove apartment."


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "His (GQ)  piece traces the identity mistake to a Miami-Dade detective who was told by witnesses about a “Thomas James” being involved. Korten’s research found the detective focused on Thomas Raynard James, who six months later police found being held in jail on an unrelated gun charge. That, the article argues, was the wrong guy. “It was all there in black and white,” Korten said. “For Thomas Raynard James to have done this, it would require a coincidence of monumental proportions, more than even a lightning strike.”


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STORY: "State reviewing case of man in prison for decades," by Reporter Charles Rabin, published by The Miami Herald on July 30, 2021. Miami Herald: "Chuck Rabin, writing news stories for the Miami Herald for the past three decades, covers cops and crime. Before that he covered the halls of government for Miami-Dade and the city of Miami. He’s covered hurricanes, the 2000 presidential election and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting. On a random note: Long before those assignments, Chuck was pepper-sprayed covering the disturbances in Miami the morning Eli├ín Gonzalez was whisked away by federal authorities."


SUB-HEADING:  "Was Miami man’s 3 decades in prison a case of mistaken identity? Prosecutors agree to review."


PHOTO CAPTION: "The case of Thomas Raynard James, who has spent the past three decades in prison for a murder he says he did not commit, is now under review by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. His case was recently written about in GQ Magazine."


GIST: "Miami-Dade prosecutors have reopened an investigation into a man who has spent 30 years in prison for a Coconut Grove murder that a new national magazine article argues was built on a case of mistaken identity.


The piece in GQ contends that Miami police confused Thomas Raynard James for another man with the same name and similar features and that he was convicted in 1991 despite sketchy witness testimony and no physical evidence linking him to the crime.


Even before its publication on Wednesday, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Justice Project, which examines cases involving potential wrongful convictions, had been reviewing the case. Journalist Tristram Korten shared information from his year-long investigation with prosecutors in March.


State attorney spokesman Ed Griffith confirmed that and said investigators also have received information they requested from an attorney recently hired by James, who is now 54.

“We have corresponded with him,” Griffith said. “The review is proceeding.”


Korten, a veteran South Florida journalist and author, said his review of thousands of pages of documents — from depositions to trial transcripts to appeals court cases — left little doubt James was wrongfully imprisoned in the robbery and shooting death of Francis McKinnon in a Coconut Grove apartment.


His piece traces the identity mistake to a Miami-Dade detective who was told by witnesses about a “Thomas James” being involved. Korten’s research found the detective focused on Thomas Raynard James, who six months later police found being held in jail on an unrelated gun charge. That, the article argues, was the wrong guy.


“It was all there in black and white,” Korten said. “For Thomas Raynard James to have done this, it would require a coincidence of monumental proportions, more than even a lightning strike.”


Korten began looking into Thomas Raynard James‘ case in March 2020 after having lunch with a longtime source who told him about the inmate’s plight.

According to Korten, Thomas Raynard James was taken into custody after witnesses claimed a man named Thomas James and his friend Vincent Cephus, who went by the nickname “Dog,” committed the crime. Thomas Raynard James told Korten he was stunned when he first learned he was charged with murder but not scared, because he hadn’t committed the crime.


Still, despite only two of eight witnesses blaming him for the murder — one a brain damaged man who collected cans, the other an older woman who said she never actually saw him — Thomas Raynard James was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.


A year into his sentence, he met someone in prison who told him he knew someone with the same name who committed the crime.


As part of his reporting, Korten tracked down the Thomas James he believes police should have talked to, interviewing him in a federal prison near Daytona Beach.


Almost immediately, Thomas James told Korten he knew Thomas Raynard James was innocent and that police were actually looking for him. But, as it proved out, Thomas James also had an alibi himself. He was in prison on Jan. 17, 1990, when the murder took place.


But Thomas James told Korten he was friends with others plotting the robbery and that there was no chance the other James had been involved because “we would never involve a person who was not on the team. Never would have happened.” He also admitted that before going to prison he had scoped out the very same apartment where the murder went down. He added that he was willing to say as much to detectives and state prosecutors.



“Let the other Thomas James know I feel for him. I’m sorry this happened,” he is quoted as saying in the GQ piece.


Korten said the story took one more unexpected turn. He learned that Thomas Raynard James had actually tried to contact him more than 20 years ago, when Korten was a feature writer for Miami New Times.


In the GQ piece, James said he had tried reaching out to almost every South Florida media outlet over the past 30 years, from the Miami Herald to the South Florida Sun Sentinel to all the major local South Florida television stations. Then, the inmate stunned Korten: “You know I wrote you, back when you were at New Times,” he said.


Korten checked. The claim was true, though the letter he wrote arrived shortly after Korten had left the publication.

“But the fact brings me no relief. Instead, the ‘what ifs’ haunt me,” Korten wrote in the article."


The entire story can be read at: 


https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article253113283.html


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


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic"  section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com.  Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;
-----------------------------------------------------------------
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;