Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Darts and Laurels: Johnny Ray Kennedy: Michigan: Dart to Wayne County Judge Craig Strong (for refusing the defence request to fund DNA testing at public expense in a 1993 cold homicide case); Laurel to court-appointed defence lawyer John Holler for hiring the expert with roughly $1,800 out of his own pocket - though he couldn't pay for the expert's full assistance; Laurel to The Michigan appeal's court for unflinchingly standing up for Kennedy's right to present a defence - even though Kennedy, now 64, was convicted of murder in 2014 and has been serving a life sentence..

WORDS TO HEED: FROM OUR POST ON KEVIN COOPER'S  APPLICATION FOR POST-CONVICTION DNA TESTING; CALIFORNIA: (Applicable wherever a state resists DNA testing - or a court refuses to fund it): "Blogger/extraordinaire Jeff Gamso's blunt, unequivocal, unforgettable message to the powers that be in California: "JUST TEST THE FUCKING DNA." (Oh yes, Gamso raises, as he does in many of his posts, an important philosophical question: This post is headed: "What is truth, said jesting Pilate."...Says Gamso: "So what's the harm? What, exactly, are they scared of? Don't we want the truth?" 

DARTS AND LAURELS: As per the Associated Press article below: Dart to Wayne County  Judge Wayne Strong for denying the defence request for denying public funding for DNA testing in this murder case. (Not much of a surprise: Johnny Ray Kennedy was convicted).  Laurel to defence  court-appointed lawyer  for hiring the expert out of his own pocket, roughly $1,800, though he couldn't afford  to hire the expert's  full assistance. Laurel to the Michigan appeal's court for unflinchingly standing up (unanimously)  for Kennedy's right to present a defence - even though Kennedy, now 64, was convicted of murder in 2014 and has been serving a life sentence.

Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog.


STORY: "Conviction set aside in 1993 Michigan cold case in dispute over DNA expert," the Associated Press (Reporter Ed White) reports (published in The Detroit Free Press).

GIST: "The Michigan appeals court overturned a murder conviction in a 1993 homicide, saying a man's rights were violated when he wasn't allowed to hire a DNA expert at public expense.

"The private interest at stake here is defendant's liberty and his right to present a defense to the charge against him," the court said in a 3-0 opinion Thursday. "These interests have been recognized as substantial."

Tanya Harris' body was discovered in an abandoned building in Detroit in 1993 and remained a cold case for years. Johnny Ray Kennedy was charged in 2013 when police linked him to DNA found on the victim's body.

Kennedy's court-appointed lawyer, John Holler, sought approval to hire an expert at public expense, but Wayne County Judge Craig Strong turned him down. So the attorney hired the expert out of his own pocket, roughly $1,800, though he couldn't afford Brian Zubel's full assistance.

Holler was "doomed to fail in any effort to cross-examine the state's experts," said Kennedy's appellate attorney, Erin Van Campen. Kennedy, now 64, was convicted of murder in 2014 and has been serving a life sentence.

Prosecutors, who had their own experts, agreed that Judge Strong erred in failing to appoint Zubel for the defense but argued that it was harmless.

The judge seemed to presume that Holler could defend Kennedy "through reading and soliciting the advice of some mythical expert who would consult for free," the appeals court said.

Holler said he's pleased with the decision.

"The DNA is strongly in dispute. Even if his DNA was on her body, it doesn't mean he killed her," Holler said Friday. "There was no need to treat the defense in this case shabbily. We should have fair and just trials."

The prosecutor's office said it will ask the state Supreme Court to look at the case. Kennedy was charged in Harris' death just before he was to be released from prison for second-degree murder in a different homicide."

Thee entire story 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;
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 (FOR NOW!): "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;