Sunday, April 7, 2013

Manuel Velez: Texas; Capital case involving death of child shows importance of defence lawyers challenging state's medical experts - and asking the right questions; American Civil Liberties Union;

POST: "Court rejects ttempts to devalue life of the accused in South Texas capital case," by Brian Stull, published by the American Civil Liberties Union on April 5, 2013.

GIST: "In December of 2012, Judge Lopez held an evidentiary hearing on whether Manuel received effective assistance of counsel at trial. This week's order was the decision on the December hearing. By late in the hearing, the writing was on the wall: Manuel Velez was innocent. He had been convicted of killing the child and sentenced to death only because of ineffective defense attorneys who failed to present available medical evidence conclusively showing that the child's serious head injuries (and other injuries) were caused when Manuel was away working in construction in Tennessee. This evidence shattered the State's circumstantial trial theory that Manuel Velez must have been the guilty culprit because the child was a healthy baby before the last two weeks of his life and had become injured only after moving with his mother and siblings into Manuel's home. At the hearing, one by one the medical experts came to the stand – forensic pathologists, neuropathologists, medical examiners, pediatricians, State's experts, and defense experts. They talked of skull fractures, of microscopically-examined brain hematomas (blood on the brain), of cat scans, and the dramatic increase of the child's head circumference beginning three to four months before his death. All of this evidence converged to show the child had serious head injuries (and other injuries) long before he lived with Manuel Velez, but while he was living with his troubled mother, who had a drinking problem, irresponsible habits, and a bad temper. The experts uniformly stated that had they been called to the stand and/or asked these questions at the 2008 trial, they would have given this same exonerating testimony. But the experts either weren't called or, for those who were called by the State, were not asked the right questions because defense counsel had fallen down on the job."

The entire post can be found at:


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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:

Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.