Saturday, April 4, 2020

Kenneth Weathersby: California: Last trial in California: Courtrooms, pandemics, alleged prosecutorial misconduct (Withholding of exculpatory DNA evidence): Fascinating story from 'The Appeal" beautifully written by Reporter Brian Kranz. Dramatic revelation that prosecutors withheld exculpatory DNA evidence from the defence. Defence lawyer wants a delay to respond to the disclosure and save all participants from the ravages of the pandemic. Prosecutors - supported by the judge wants to proceed. What happens next? Read on. (Truly fascinating. I will be following this case closely HL)

 STORY: "The Last Trial In California," by Reporter Brian Krans,  published by 'The Appeal' on April 2, 2020." 

SUB-HEADING: 'As the novel coronavirus spread in California, a Solano County judge denied numerous motions to continue a troubled double kidnapping and rape case marred by allegations that a Vallejo police detective withheld exculpatory evidence.' 

GIST: When jury selection began in the trial of Kenneth Weathersby Jr., COVID-19 wasn’t a household name in the United States. It was late February. The novel coronavirus had not been declared a pandemic. No U.S. cities or states were under travel restrictions. And the public symbol of the virus, the Grand Princess cruise ship, hadn’t yet docked in Oakland, California, which shares the San Francisco Bay with Vallejo in Solano County, where Weathersby was charged with kidnapping and abduction. 

Solano County is also where a woman was believed to be the first person in the U.S. to be infected with the virus through community transmission.  

On Feb. 26, Judge Robert S. Bowers started the trial as scheduled with 12 jurors and three alternates, and dozens of other people in a courtroom. It was a normal trial setting. But soon after proceedings began, COVID-19 became a pandemic and public health experts warned that people should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. California courts then stayed jury trials. On March 19, Solano County Deputy Public Defender Nick Filloy requested a delay in the trial because of coronavirus concerns. Bowers, smirking from the bench, denied the motion. 
Bowers did institute some precautions, such as attempts at social distancing and having hand sanitizer available for people as they entered the courtroom. 
As the world drastically changed, the jury heard testimony from dozens of witnesses presented by the Solano County district attorney’s office against Weathersby, accused of kidnapping and raping two teenage girls in Vallejo two weeks apart in July 2018. DNA evidence played a crucial role. 
But prosecutors hadn’t disclosed all of their evidence, including  DNA tests that excluded Weathersby as a suspect. On Feb. 20, well before the trial began, Filloy requested a 45-day extension to review the evidence. Bowers ruled against him. 
Then coronavirus arrived in Solano County. 

Continue reading at the link below:

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: 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;
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;