Monday, October 18, 2021

Scott Watson; New Zealand; Reliability of hair testing; Major Development: He has been declined bail pending an appeal featuring significant forensic evidence, as is reported by The New Zealand Herald (Reporter Kurt Bayer)..."The evidence of two hairs found on a blanket in Watson's boat, and said to match that of Hope, was one of two central planks in the Crown case at trial. (Defence lawyer) Chisnall said the Court of Appeal now has two scientific reports completed by a forensic scientist, which have been peer-reviewed, and point to a lack of due procedures to prevent sample contamination, and that the evidence overstated the strength of the match. The lawyer says that if that evidence was inadmissible, and should have been excluded, it is likely a miscarriage of justice occurred "inasmuch as the jury would have been substantially influenced by it", says the Court of Appeal decision rejecting Watson's bail. Chisnall also raised issues around the evidence of the boatman, the late Guy Wallace, and the photomontage used to identify Watson, which the Crown objected to. Justice Kós' ruling declining bail says while the scientific reports "may raise doubts about the reliability of an important aspect of the prosecution case", a bail hearing is "not an appropriate time at which to prejudge the merits of an appeal".


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "The police investigation that led to Watson's arrest has been criticised in numerous newspaper articles, documentaries and books, particularly Trial by Trickery by Auckland journalist Keith Hunter, a stinging attack on those who put Watson away. Watson and his supporters - the case has long divided public opinion – were given fresh hope in June last year after Justice Minister Andrew Little announced that Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy had referred his case back to the Court of Appeal for a new hearing. It came after an investigation by former High Court judge Sir Graham Panckhurst QC raised concerns about forensic evidence used to convict Watson. "The primary basis of his application was that the DNA evidence linking two hairs removed from a blanket seized from Mr Watson's boat with Ms Hope was unreliable," the Ministry of Justice said. The latest Court of Appeal hearing is scheduled for June next year."

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STORY: "Marlborough Sound convicted murderer Scott Watson has bail declined ahead of final appeal,"  by Reporter Kurt Bayer, published by The New Zealand Herald on October 17, 2021.

GIST: "Convicted double-killer Scott Watson has today been denied bail. Watson, 50, had applied to be released from prison on bail to prepare for his last chance to overturn convictions for the 1998 murders of Olivia Hope, 17, and Ben Smart, 21.


He has spent more than 23 years behind bars after being sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

His latest bail application, which was opposed by the Crown, was heard at the Court of Appeal in Wellington on Friday.


Justice Stephen Kós, President of the Court of Appeal, released his decision today.

At the bail hearing, Watson's lawyer Nick Chisnall argued it was in the interests of justice that bail be granted, saying it was a unique case given Watson's steadfast assertion of innocence and the reference of a further appeal to the Court of Appeal in the exercise of the Royal prerogative of mercy.


The evidence of two hairs found on a blanket in Watson's boat, and said to match that of Hope, was one of two central planks in the Crown case at trial.


Chisnall said the Court of Appeal now has two scientific reports completed by a forensic scientist, which have been peer-reviewed, and point to a lack of due procedures to prevent sample contamination, and that the evidence overstated the strength of the match.


The lawyer says that if that evidence was inadmissible, and should have been excluded, it is likely a miscarriage of justice occurred "inasmuch as the jury would have been substantially influenced by it", says the Court of Appeal decision rejecting Watson's bail.


Chisnall also raised issues around the evidence of the boatman, the late Guy Wallace, and the photomontage used to identify Watson, which the Crown objected to.

Justice Kós' ruling declining bail says while the scientific reports "may raise doubts about the reliability of an important aspect of the prosecution case", a bail hearing is "not an appropriate time at which to prejudge the merits of an appeal".


The Crown was also willing to allow Watson use of a computer, with access to all documentation, while in custody, along with a meeting space or video links with his lawyer within operational hours of 7am to 7pm "including if necessary for full days".


"These are commendable, and relatively unusual, proposals," Justice Kós said, while also raising the possibility that Watson would meet with counsel for extended periods while on temporary release – something he is yet to apply for.


"Mr Watson has not discharged the onus of showing it would be in the interests of justice for him to be granted bail pending appeal," Justice Kós concluded.

"The application for bail pending appeal is declined."


The former Picton boatbuilder has always denied killing, or even ever meeting, Hope and Smart after New Year's celebrations in a Marlborough Sounds holiday hideaway.


The friends disappeared after boarding a stranger's yacht early on January 1, 1998, after marking the new year with friends at Furneaux Lodge, a century-old, boat access-only resort in Endeavour Inlet. Their bodies have never been found.


The police investigation that led to Watson's arrest has been criticised in numerous newspaper articles, documentaries and books, particularly Trial by Trickery by Auckland journalist Keith Hunter, a stinging attack on those who put Watson away.


Watson and his supporters - the case has long divided public opinion – were given fresh hope in June last year after Justice Minister Andrew Little announced that Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy had referred his case back to the Court of Appeal for a new hearing.

It came after an investigation by former High Court judge Sir Graham Panckhurst QC raised concerns about forensic evidence used to convict Watson.

"The primary basis of his application was that the DNA evidence linking two hairs removed from a blanket seized from Mr Watson's boat with Ms Hope was unreliable," the Ministry of Justice said.

The latest Court of Appeal hearing is scheduled for June next year.



An earlier appeal to the Court of Appeal in 2000 was unsuccessful, as was his subsequent application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council.

Watson then applied for a royal prerogative of mercy in November 2008.


That was assessed by Kristy McDonald QC and also ultimately declined by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae in July 2013, on the advice of the then-Minister of Justice Judith Collins.

Watson applied again in 2017.

He is scheduled to appear before the Parole Board again next month.

His third bid for parole was declined last year, with panel convenor Sir Ron Young telling Watson he needed to address risks raised in psychiatric reports through psychological treatment programmes before parole could be granted.

But Watson said although he was "willing to do the treatment", he said that the programmes "demand I confess and explain a crime I didn't commit".""


The entire story can be read at:

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/marlborough-sounds-convicted-murderer-scott-watson-has-bail-declined-ahead-of-final-appeal-bid/CPHCE6W6U6VDR3BLPE7BPKDBMQ/

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;
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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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FINAL, FINAL, FINAL WORD: “It is incredibly easy to convict an innocent person, but it's exceedingly difficult to undo such a devastating injustice. 
Jennifer Givens: DirectorL UV

Part Five: Flawed pathologist Marc Krouse; Texas: Turmoil in Tarrant County medical examiner's office reflected in yet another case: Was 28-year-old Christopher Allen Whitely killed mountain lion - or was he the victim of a homicide? A top-notch investigation by The Dallas Morning News which finds that the investigation into the Texas man's death, "was riddled with false assumptions and errors." (Like the two flawed homicide investigations in Tarrant County previously featured in this series on flawed pathologist Marc Krouse.) Superb reporting by Dallas News Reporter Charlie Scudder, in a story headed, "‘Nobody will tell me the truth’: US man’s death pinned on cougar attack; wildlife experts say no way."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Nizam Peerwani has had the following 'correction' placed in some newspapers:


"This story has been edited to clarify that an investigation into the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office was related to dozens of mistakes in autopsies by a deputy medical examiner that were cited in an audit report by Peerwani. Separately, in March, a Tarrant County District Court judge found that Peerwani provided false, inaccurate and misleading testimony in a death penalty case that ended in a conviction in 2006. Peerwani said his retirement was planned prior to those events, and he disputes the judge’s characterization of his testimony, which is under appeal."


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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Then why were authorities so quick to pin the death on a cougar?

Christopher Whiteley’s mother thinks it might be because of who he was. The mistakes he made. The crimes he committed. Kimberly Spruill remembers her son as a jokester, often laughing and poking fun at his family and friends. “Me and Christopher, we were tight,” said Spruill, who lives in rural Limestone County. “He loved to make me turn red. He loved to embarrass me, because me and him, like I said, we joked a lot.” Court records show Whiteley’s teenage years were marked by criminal behaviour and drug use. He was accused of sexual crimes against two toddlers, court records show, but he later denied the charges. Those records show he was incarcerated for those and other crimes as a minor. He and his longtime girlfriend, Samantha Messina, who goes by the name Tylor, had a daughter in the summer of 2012, when Whiteley was 19. In November 2013, Messina delivered their second child, a boy, who tested positive for marijuana at birth, court records show. Starting in 2013, CPS was called to their home multiple times after allegations about the couple’s drug use and abuse in the relationship. Family members told CPS in 2014 that Whiteley had beaten Messina with a pipe. They said that Whiteley might have had ties to the Aryan brotherhood or Aryan nation." Messina and Whiteley denied the allegations."


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PASSAGE ONE OF THE DAY: "Before wildlife experts could evaluate all the evidence, the Hood County sheriff’s office issued a warning: Residents needed to be on the lookout for a killer feline. Bodenchuk had already seen photos from the autopsy by the time he arrived for the December 7 meeting in Fort Worth. He had already visited the creek bed where the body was found. He knew it was practically impossible that a wild animal was involved. He brought the mountain lion skull because he thought it would help explain to the sheriff’s deputies and medical examiners why they were wrong. But when the meeting started, it was clear they had already made up their minds. While Bodenchuk and the others argued, Jonah Evans listened through a speakerphone. Evans was then the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s state mammalogist, and is an internationally recognised expert in tracking all kinds of wildlife, including mountain lions. He was asked to lend his own expertise to the case, and he meticulously chronicled his worries throughout the investigation in a journal on his computer. “Perhaps the concern is that if it is a homicide, they may have severely mishandled the case,” Evans wrote after the meeting. “I don’t understand how the sheriff’s office and M.E. [medical examiner] could so quickly rule out a homicide. “I’m really concerned about the possibility that a murder[er is] out right now and has gotten away with this crime.”


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PASSAGE TWO OF THE DAY: "From its earliest moments, an investigation by The Dallas Morning News has found, the examination into Whiteley’s death was riddled with false assumptions and errors that forensics and wildlife experts say left too many unanswered questions. Both the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office and the Hood County sheriff’s office, the two agencies responsible for determining if a crime was committed in Whiteley’s death, have been under fire recently for sloppy work and incomplete investigations. The News reviewed hundreds of photos, emails, text messages, reports and other documents from local, state and federal agencies that investigated the case. They show that soon after finding his body, Hood County investigators landed on an improbable theory of a mountain lion attack."


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PASSAGE THREE OF THE DAY: "This isn’t the first time the Hood County sheriff’s office has come under scrutiny for cursory death investigations. Last year, Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds faced two challengers in the Republican primary for only the second time since he was first elected in 2008. During the campaign, both criticised the department’s investigations under Deeds’ leadership and suggested more training and oversight are necessary. David Streiff ran against Deeds after a 34-year career in law enforcement and private security. Streiff said deputies are underpaid, undertrained and reluctant to do the hard work of investigating serious crimes. “Hood County has a reputation as the good-ol-boy network,” Streiff said. “There’s an urgency to clear those as quick as they can rather than do a thorough investigation.”


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PASSAGE FOUR OF THE DAY: "Deeds also said the Tarrant County medical examiner’s findings showed the animal attack theory was valid, but the practices and thoroughness of that office have also been criticised this year. In the months since Whiteley’s autopsy, the two highest-ranking leaders in the office – chief medical examiner Nizam Peerwani and deputy chief medical examiner Marc Krouse – have left the office amid a series of errors and controversies. In March, a Tarrant County judge found that Peerwani had given “false or misleading” testimony in a 2006 capital murder case, saying a victim had been smothered, when he’d actually died of cardiac arrhythmia. The Dallas County district attorney’s office is conducting an independent review of Krouse’s work after an internal audit showed a “lack of due diligence” and “egregious” errors. Krouse was placed on administrative leave in March and left the office in April. A few weeks later, Peerwani announced he would step down at the end of this month. Another deputy medical examiner, Susan Roe, completed Whiteley’s autopsy. Through a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office, Roe declined to answer questions about the investigation."


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PASSAGE FIVE OF THE DAY:  "During the autopsy at the Tarrant County office the next day, Whiteley’s vital organs appeared normal. His trachea did not appear broken, but his larynx was removed for further testing. A toxicology report later showed he had methamphetamines, amphetamines and THC in his system when he died. Susan Roe, the deputy medical examiner, wrote in preliminary findings that the neck wound was the cause of death and that it was “consistent with that of a large cat (mountain lion).” After the autopsy, Rose (Lieutenant Johnny Rose, a spokesman for the Hood County sheriff’s office) said Whiteley’s body was washed with a bleach solution as a Covid-19 precaution. Washing bodies with water or a soap solution is common practice for forensic investigators and medical examiners. Washing them with bleach – even during the pandemic – is not, according to medical examiners The News contacted in Dallas and Collin counties. If there had been any DNA evidence to prove anyone or any animal was near Whiteley’s body, the bleach washed it away forever."


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PASSAGE SIX OF THE DAY: "On January 25, Gwinn, the justice of the peace, certified Whiteley’s death certificate. “Accident,” it reads, “attacked by an animal of some sort.”


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STORY: "‘Nobody will tell me the truth’: US man’s death pinned on cougar attack; wildlife experts say no way," by Reporter  Charles Scudder published by Dallas News on October 14, 2021. (Charlie Scudder is a general assignment reporter and has worked on the features and news desks for seven years. He's also an adjunct professor at UNT's Mayborn School of Journalism. Raised in Colleyville, he is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and Indiana University.)


SUB-HEADING:  "An investigation by US new service The Dallas Morning News has found that from its earliest moments, the examination into a Texas man’s death was riddled with false assumptions and errors."


GIST: With a mountain lion skull tucked safely under his arm, Mike Bodenchuk walked a couple of kilometres across downtown Fort Worth, Texas to the medical examiner’s office.


A US federal wildlife expert with more than four decades of experience, Bodenchuk had been asked to help with a death investigation. The body of a 28-year-old man found dead four days earlier was already on an exam table when he arrived.


His obvious cause of death was a jagged tear around the right side of his neck. It had exposed vital tissue and opened his jugular vein.


A wild predator must have killed him, deputies and medical examiners assumed within hours of finding the body near a wooded creek bed about 88.5km away in Hood County. Maybe, they thought, a mountain lion.


Before wildlife experts could evaluate all the evidence, the Hood County sheriff’s office issued a warning: Residents needed to be on the lookout for a killer feline.


Bodenchuk had already seen photos from the autopsy by the time he arrived for the December 7 meeting in Fort Worth. He had already visited the creek bed where the body was found.


He knew it was practically impossible that a wild animal was involved. He brought the mountain lion skull because he thought it would help explain to the sheriff’s deputies and medical examiners why they were wrong.


But when the meeting started, it was clear they had already made up their minds.


While Bodenchuk and the others argued, Jonah Evans listened through a speakerphone. Evans was then the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s state mammalogist, and is an internationally recognised expert in tracking all kinds of wildlife, including mountain lions.

He was asked to lend his own expertise to the case, and he meticulously chronicled his worries throughout the investigation in a journal on his computer.


“Perhaps the concern is that if it is a homicide, they may have severely mishandled the case,” Evans wrote after the meeting. “I don’t understand how the sheriff’s office and M.E. [medical examiner] could so quickly rule out a homicide.


“I’m really concerned about the possibility that a murder[er is] out right now and has gotten away with this crime.”


Christopher Allen Whiteley, a chronic methamphetamine user with a long and violent criminal record, was found dead last December outside Lipan, a town of about 400. His autopsy showed he was probably high when he died.


Two days after finding him, Hood County investigators told his family and the public that an animal was to blame. They stuck to their story and still do, though the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and other experts say that it’s extremely unlikely that a wild animal killed Whiteley.

The wildlife experts’ belief that an animal couldn’t possibly have killed her son has also left Whiteley’s mother unsure of whose story to trust and what really happened.


From its earliest moments, an investigation by The Dallas Morning News has found, the examination into Whiteley’s death was riddled with false assumptions and errors that forensics and wildlife experts say left too many unanswered questions.


Both the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office and the Hood County sheriff’s office, the two agencies responsible for determining if a crime was committed in Whiteley’s death, have been under fire recently for sloppy work and incomplete investigations.


The News reviewed hundreds of photos, emails, text messages, reports and other documents from local, state and federal agencies that investigated the case. They show that soon after finding his body, Hood County investigators landed on an improbable theory of a mountain lion attack.


Lieutenant Johnny Rose, a spokesman for the Hood County sheriff’s office and the supervisor of the criminal investigations division for the department, was at the scene the night Whiteley’s body was found. He’s convinced that his death was not a homicide.


He said Whiteley’s neck wound did not appear as though it came from a knife or other weapon. By the morning after they found Whiteley’s body, investigators began thinking “outside the box,” Rose said, eventually landing on the theory of a mountain lion attack.


When asked whether other possibilities were considered and what specific evidence was used in developing their theory, Rose said that no other option made sense.


“At the end of the day, you stand on facts and not speculation,” Rose said. “It was pretty clear it wasn’t a homicide or a suicide. The determination that it was a wild animal attack, I was comfortable with that.”


This isn’t the first time the Hood County sheriff’s office has come under scrutiny for cursory death investigations.


Last year, Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds faced two challengers in the Republican primary for only the second time since he was first elected in 2008. During the campaign, both criticised the department’s investigations under Deeds’ leadership and suggested more training and oversight are necessary.


David Streiff ran against Deeds after a 34-year career in law enforcement and private security. Streiff said deputies are underpaid, undertrained and reluctant to do the hard work of investigating serious crimes.


“Hood County has a reputation as the good-ol-boy network,” Streiff said. “There’s an urgency to clear those as quick as they can rather than do a thorough investigation.”


Deeds ultimately won the Republican primary with 66 per cent of the vote, beating Streiff and the other challenger, a former Dallas police officer.


In an interview with The News this week, Deeds said his investigators did all the right things when looking into Whiteley’s death. He said the blood pattern at the scene, the unusual shape and size of the neck wound and location of the body made it unlikely a human was responsible for the death.


Biologists, however, point to the same evidence to say an animal couldn’t have killed him.

“I can’t believe this has drug out this long,” Deeds said. “People want to crucify us for working as hard as we did, and we did our best. We did everything we could, we got the help that we needed.”


He said they relied on the expertise of other agencies like the Texas Rangers, although none of the reports from his office or any other investigating agency mentions the Rangers’ involvement.


A Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman confirmed that the Rangers were called, but directed questions back to the Hood County office.


Rose said a Ranger who was at the scene the night Whiteley’s body was found came to the same conclusions as the local investigators. Rose said the Rangers were not involved after investigators decided an animal was to blame.


Deeds also said the Tarrant County medical examiner’s findings showed the animal attack theory was valid, but the practices and thoroughness of that office have also been criticised this year.


In the months since Whiteley’s autopsy, the two highest-ranking leaders in the office – chief medical examiner Nizam Peerwani and deputy chief medical examiner Marc Krouse – have left the office amid a series of errors and controversies.


In March, a Tarrant County judge found that Peerwani had given “false or misleading” testimony in a 2006 capital murder case, saying a victim had been smothered, when he’d actually died of cardiac arrhythmia. The Dallas County district attorney’s office is conducting an independent review of Krouse’s work after an internal audit showed a “lack of due diligence” and “egregious” errors.


Krouse was placed on administrative leave in March and left the office in April. A few weeks later, Peerwani announced he would step down at the end of this month.


Another deputy medical examiner, Susan Roe, completed Whiteley’s autopsy. Through a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office, Roe declined to answer questions about the investigation.


Several forensic investigators who were not involved in the case looked at photographs of Whiteley’s body, his autopsy report and other investigative documents for The News. All said it was unclear how Whiteley was injured.


Kendall Crowns, a deputy chief medical examiner in Travis County with a specialty in dog bites and animal-related deaths, said that Whiteley’s neck wound probably came from a bite but that he couldn’t say from what kind of animal.

“Something bigger than a dog,” Crowns said, “so that would rule out coyotes quite quickly, and domestic dogs.”


But that’s the very theory that authorities eventually settled on in January: a dog, or other unspecified animal, was the culprit.


Mountain lions, cougars, pumas – they’re all the same animal, Puma concolor. They’ve never been seen in Hood County, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Only about 20 confirmed sightings have occurred outside far South and West Texas in the last five years.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department does not have any records of a mountain lion fatally attacking a human in the state’s history. Fewer than 30 have happened nationwide in the last 100 years.


When wildlife experts were called to the creek bed where Whiteley was found, they looked for evidence of any kind of animal attack. If wildlife was involved, then tracks or prints, scat or signs of a struggle such as broken tree limbs or drag marks would be nearby on the ground. They also would expect to see signs of predation – feeding – on Whiteley’s body, and deep cuts from claw marks or at least the tell-tale puncture wounds of feline teeth.

They found none.


Then why were authorities so quick to pin the death on a cougar?

Christopher Whiteley’s mother thinks it might be because of who he was. The mistakes he made. The crimes he committed.


Kimberly Spruill remembers her son as a jokester, often laughing and poking fun at his family and friends.


“Me and Christopher, we were tight,” said Spruill, who lives in rural Limestone County. “He loved to make me turn red. He loved to embarrass me, because me and him, like I said, we joked a lot.”


Court records show Whiteley’s teenage years were marked by criminal behaviour and drug use. He was accused of sexual crimes against two toddlers, court records show, but he later denied the charges. Those records show he was incarcerated for those and other crimes as a minor.


He and his longtime girlfriend, Samantha Messina, who goes by the name Tylor, had a daughter in the summer of 2012, when Whiteley was 19. In November 2013, Messina delivered their second child, a boy, who tested positive for marijuana at birth, court records show.


Starting in 2013, CPS was called to their home multiple times after allegations about the couple’s drug use and abuse in the relationship. Family members told CPS in 2014 that Whiteley had beaten Messina with a pipe. They said that Whiteley might have had ties to the Aryan brotherhood or Aryan nation.


Messina and Whiteley denied the allegations.


The couple refused to seek treatment for their drug use. Their two children were removed by a court order, and Messina has terminated her parental rights.


In June 2015, Whiteley was arrested for attacking Messina with a shank fashioned from a tree trimmer. She told police about other times when he tied her up and left her without food or water. She said she’d been poked with knives and whipped with electrical cords.


Whiteley pleaded guilty to second-degree felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon involving family violence and was sentenced to five years in prison.


Spruill said that Whiteley got clean in prison. He was released in June 2020 and told his mother he had landed a job in the oil fields of West Texas.


“He did get in some trouble. Yes, he did ... but he got himself straight,” Spruill said. “That boy was happy. He was proud of himself to be making that kind of money.”


Within a few months of getting out of prison, Whiteley was back with Messina. They lived in a house on a lifestyle block about a two kilometres outside Lipan. Later, Messina told Spruill that she and Whiteley started using meth again soon after he arrived.


The News contacted Messina multiple times over several months, but she declined to answer questions about the night Whiteley disappeared.


“When he left, a whole part of me left too,” Messina texted a reporter in April. “Is anyone really OK after they lose the love of [their] life, the father of my children and my high school sweetheart”


On December 2, Spruill had trouble getting in touch with her son. She called him twice, but there was no answer, no reply. She tried calling some of his friends. She messaged Messina on Facebook, asking if her son was with her.

“Ya were nappin’,” Messina wrote.


One of the friends whom Spruill called dialled emergency services the next afternoon, saying Whiteley’s disappearance “sounded suspicious”.


Two Hood County sheriff’s deputies came to Messina’s door. She told them she had been sleeping in the previous morning and didn’t realise Whiteley had left.


The sheriff’s deputies searched the area and found his body about 500 metres southwest of the house, across the creek bed and down a rough trail through a patch of junipers.


Whiteley sometimes cut north through the creek bed to hitchhike on the main road nearby, Spruill said. But his body was found south of the home.


He was lying on his left side under a twiggy tanglewood bush. He was shirtless, with scratches on his face, chest, back and arms. His jeans, bloody from the knees up, were torn.

Kathryn Gwinn, a Hood County justice of the peace, was on call. It would be her job to determine the cause and manner of death. She immediately knew that Whiteley’s unusual wound would need to be seen by a doctor, and ordered that his body be sent to Fort Worth.

Gwinn said she didn’t hear anyone mention an animal attack that night in the woods, but by the next morning the sheriff’s deputies had begun to focus on that theory.


“I could see a large gash-like area, which could be from wild animals chewing at his neck,” Hood County investigator Toby Fries wrote in an incident report. He also saw that the zip on Whiteley’s jeans had been undone, and shorts he wore underneath had been pulled out, “as if a wild animal was pulling at them or dragging him”.


Bodenchuk and Evans say this is not how mountain lions attack or kill. They sneak up from behind, make one bite on the neck and break the trachea, killing the prey. The cougar would then remove and discard the stomach and digestive tract before dragging the body to a secluded spot to feed on other vital organs. None of that appeared to have happened.

Rose and Deeds later said there had been multiple mountain lion sightings in that area near Lipan. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, that’s not the case. Citizen-reported sightings like the ones the sheriff’s department relied on are often inaccurate, the agency said.

During the autopsy at the Tarrant County office the next day, Whiteley’s vital organs appeared normal. His trachea did not appear broken, but his larynx was removed for further testing. A toxicology report later showed he had methamphetamines, amphetamines and THC in his system when he died.


Susan Roe, the deputy medical examiner, wrote in preliminary findings that the neck wound was the cause of death and that it was “consistent with that of a large cat (mountain lion).”

After the autopsy, Rose said, Whiteley’s body was washed with a bleach solution as a Covid-19 precaution. Washing bodies with water or a soap solution is common practice for forensic investigators and medical examiners. Washing them with bleach – even during the pandemic – is not, according to medical examiners The News contacted in Dallas and Collin counties.


If there had been any DNA evidence to prove anyone or any animal was near Whiteley’s body, the bleach washed it away forever.


That afternoon, after Hood County investigators had decided that a killer mountain lion was on the loose, Rose realised they’d need help to trap the animal.


So nearly 24 hours after Whiteley’s body was found, Rose called the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.


The next morning, two state biologists, a game warden, Bodenchuk and George Zamarron, Hood County’s lead investigator on the case, carefully inspected the area where Whiteley was found, taking photographs, video and notes.


The News tried to interview Zamarron about the case, but Rose said Hood County policy prevents him from commenting publicly. Documents The News obtained and others who were at the scene that morning described how the team looked for evidence of an animal attack.


They followed the creek bed south from the main road, towards the home where Whiteley had been staying. The light sand and few pools of water showed plenty of animal tracks – coyotes, hogs, domestic cats and dogs. But none from cougars.


The next morning, two state biologists, a game warden, Bodenchuk and George Zamarron, Hood County’s lead investigator on the case, carefully inspected the area where Whiteley was found, taking photographs, video and notes.


That Monday, four days after Whiteley’s body was found, Bodenchuk walked to the medical examiner’s office, mountain lion skull tucked under his arm.


Once inside he showed the small, yet powerful, jaws that clamp down on the neck of its prey. The area of Whiteley’s neck that was torn open would not have fit in a cougar’s mouth, he said.

Besides, he said, what about claw marks? Whiteley was covered in superficial scratches, but not the deep lacerations a cougar would leave.

The group agreed that Bodenchuk and Evans couldn’t claim to be experts in human pathology but that the tear in Whiteley’s neck probably was not from a mountain lion.


In a kind of compromise, they posited that a domestic dog might be to blame.


Evans still felt uncomfortable. As part of his job to confirm cougar attacks on livestock or other animals, he has to know what dog bites look like to rule them out. Whiteley’s wounds looked unlike any dog bite he’d seen.


He sat down at his computer.


“I find myself unable to shake the possibility that this was a homicide,” Evans wrote in the journal. “Perhaps it was even done intentionally to try to look like a bite wound.”


Partly out of frustration, partly to get his own emotions and blunt recollections out while they were fresh, he reconsidered all he’d seen:


“The evidence appears very shaky … I left the meeting questioning whether the people running the meeting were more concerned with finding out the true cause of death, or whether their reputation would be damaged if they retracted their original statement.”


In January, Hood County sent Whiteley’s boots, pants and fingernail clippings to a US Department of Agriculture wildlife research lab at Bodenchuk’s suggestion.


The researchers found mould growing in the pocket, a sign that the evidence had begun to deteriorate. If the jeans had been frozen, a research scientist wrote to Zamarron in Hood County, any traces of saliva could have been preserved.


“We cannot make a conclusion about wildlife species involvement in the case,” a federal researcher wrote.


On January 25, Gwinn, the justice of the peace, certified Whiteley’s death certificate. “Accident,” it reads, “attacked by an animal of some sort.”


The biologists who worked on the case still maintain there is no evidence of an attack from any wildlife species. Forensic pathologists who know what dog bites look like rule that theory out, too. The sheriff’s deputies in Hood County and Tarrant County medical examiners say a human couldn’t have killed Whiteley, either.


The case has stuck with some of the wildlife officials who were asked for their advice but say they were ignored when Hood County officials pressed on with their mountain lion theory. Some say it has kept them up at night.


“Everybody wants to play CSI,” Bodenchuk said. “I wonder what we might have done differently. … I think the fact that it’s an unknown animal still leaves some questions, you know. Was it a domestic dog? Was it a feral dog? Was it something else? Why would it be out there?

“There’s still a lot of questions that I can’t … I can’t reconcile.”


Spruill said she still has trouble sorting through what the different experts have said about her son’s death.


“You know, that’s what hurts because we really don’t know the damn truth,” she said. “It’s horrible. Whatever happened is horrible. It’s a nightmare. I can’t heal. Nobody will tell me the truth.”


It’s a horrific and tragic thought, made all the more frightening knowing that whatever did tear Whiteley’s neck open is likely still out there.


Somewhere, a killer could be on the loose."


The entire story can be read at:


https://www.dallasnews.com/news/investigations/2021/09/23/authorities-say-a-hood-county-man-was-killed-by-a-cougar-texas-wildlife-experts-say-its-impossible/


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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FINAL, FINAL, FINAL WORD: “It is incredibly easy to convict an innocent person, but it's exceedingly difficult to undo such a devastating injustice. 
Jennifer Givens: DirectorL UVA Innocence Project.

Technology: 'E-carceration': Yet another new world of technology in the criminal justice system: How 'electronic monitoring' - a form of 'punitive technology' - has widened its net amid Covid, by James Kilgore and Emmett Sanders, published by 'Truthout'...Publisher's Note: "Once in a while come across an article that makes me pause, think hard, and say 'wow' - this is one of them." HL;


QUOTE  OF THE DAY: " Puck Lo, research coordinator at Community Justice Exchange, contends, “We need to go someplace we haven’t been before and to do that we need to think differently.”  In the realm of surveillance technology, Lo views the merging of location tracking and biometrics as creating more potential for the criminalization of individuals through the use of technology.  She maintains this may direct us to needing to find ways to “erase databases rather than control them.” But whether the aim is controlling the technology or erasing it, the key rests with building popular support for measures to undermine the power of Big Tech, EM companies and elected officials like Newsom and Sheriff Tom Dart who provide finance and political cover for widening the net of e-carceration."

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PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Once in a while, I come across an article that makes me pause, think hard, and say 'wow' - this is one of them. Of course I knew that electronic (ankle) monitoring  becoming popular in many jurisdictions throughout the world. I did not no however, how little we know about it. Up to now there has been a  paucity of data, However, that's changing, thanks to people like James Kilgour, and Emmett Sanders, the authors of this article, which appeared in 'Truthout' - a non-profit needs organization which is dedicated to sparking action by revealing systematic injustice.  That's exactly Kilgour and Emmett do in this article,  relying on their impressive experience. Kilgour is an activist and researcher based in Urbana, Illinois who spent a year on an electronic monitor as a condition of his parole. He is the director of the Challenging E-Carceration project at MediaJustice and has authored six books, including Understand E-Carceration (The New Press) slated for release in January 2022. In his hometown, Kilgore is the co-director of FirstFollowers Reentry Project.  Emmett Sanders is a formerly incarcerated researcher and writer who spent three months on an electronic monitor as a condition of his release after more than 22 years in Illinois prisons. He is the author of “Full Human Beings,” a report that argues for incarcerated voter enfranchisement. In this eye-opening article (my eyes, anyway) the co-authors stress the need to fuel a campaign to block extended  use of  "electric monitoring and other punitive technologies" - and they tell us how community  organizations and advocates are pushing back against the expansion of e-carceration and all of its dangerous effects, which include a huge assault on privacy, human dignity, the presumption of innocence - and so much more. A great deal of  the research  finally being conducted into electronic monitoring is also being brought to our attention, including expanded use because of Covid and the immigration surge on America's borders and elsewhere.  So, to Truthout - and the co-authors' - thanks for the enlightenment. I will be following developments closely.

Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog.

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

 POST: "Electronic monitoring has widened the net amid covid," by James Kilgore and Emmett Sanders, published by 'Truthout' on October 4, 2021.

PHOTO CAPTION: "Faustina Alvarado Garcia sits next to her daughter Madelin Souza Alvarado, 11, as she adjusts her ankle monitor in the community room at Hamilton shelter in San Francisco, California, on June 18, 2019. Her ankle monitor was put on her by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and has been causing her pain."

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GIST: For Mohawk Johnson, the next call from the Cook County Sheriff’s department may come at any time. It could be at 4 a.m. or smack in the middle of dinner. Over the course of a year on house arrest on a GPS monitor, Johnson estimates the sheriff’s department has called more than 60 times accusing him of being AWOL when he is asleep in his bed, watching television or taking a shower. 


As a self-defense mechanism, Johnson has posted videos of many of these calls to his Twitter account showing himself crawling out from under the blankets to answer the phone or trying to relax in front of Captain America on the TV screen as the call arrives. Johnson’s tweets, along with high-profile cases like those of activist lawyer Steven Donziger and Baltimore grandmother Gwen Levi, have given the punitive vagaries of electronic monitoring (EM) a touch of media play.


But until recently, researchers have not stepped forward to provide data to substantiate stories like Johnson’s and provide fuel for activist campaigns against EM. The lack of data about electronic monitoring is shocking. 


To begin with, no national census of monitors exists. While prisons and jails produce population counts regularly, the last attempt at a national tally of electronic monitors was a 2016 census by Pew Charitable Trusts which concluded that 131,000 devices were in use, excluding those used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).


 Yet Pew’s total seems questionable, since a 2009 report by the late EM expert Peggy Conway placed the total number of monitors at nearly 200,000. State and local authorities shed little additional light.


 Most keep no serious records of who is on the monitor, how often people are returned to custody due to violating the frequently irrational rules of EM or how many false alarms trigger undue arrests or harassment. Even basic annual reports or assessments are rare. 


The major companies that provide the devices and often run the programs — BI, Satellite Tracking of People (STOP), Sentinel, Attenti and SuperCom — are also notoriously secretive about their data.


 While knowledge of the harms done by these technologies to individuals like Johnson and Donziger has become well known, the normalization of GPS trackers in smartphones, fitness devices that record biometrics and the addition of Amazon Ring to millions of front doors have softened popular concerns about the impact of carceral technologies like GPS ankle monitors.



New Research:

However, in the past three years, activist-researchers have begun to apply a critical lens to electronic monitoring. 


Three factors have precipitated this shift. First, the rise of the movement to end cash bail often prompted authorities to release people on monitors. Impacted individuals and many activists quickly realized release did not always equate with freedom. Under EM, people often landed back in jail for violating some petty rule. Alternatively, regulations like those applied to Mohawk Johnson frequently subjected them to extreme regimes of confinement in their own homes. As Timothy Williams, who spent several months on a pretrial monitor in Chicago put it, electronic monitoring is “hell … the same as jail. There’s no difference.”


 Second, ICE has steadily increased the use of GPS tracking and other surveillance devices on immigrants. Lastly, during the pandemic, popular pressure to release individuals from the pressure cookers of carceral spaces prompted a turn to releases on monitors. As David Gaspar, The Bail Project’s national director of operations noted to Truthout, “It has become ridiculous how quick they are to hand out what has become their go-to piece of jewelry.” Since March 2020, the Federal Bureau of Prisons alone has granted early release to over 30,000 people, thousands of whom landed on house arrest with an ankle monitor.


Researchers like Ruha Benjamin, author of the prize-winning Race After Technology, George Washington University law professor Kate Weisburd, Chaz Arnett, Ali Panjwani and Puck Lo, as well as organizations like Mijente, Just Futures Law, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts, and the Community Justice Exchange have led important efforts to unearth the details of electronic monitoring.


 All told, the results of this new wave of research are providing the kind of data needed to fuel campaigns to block expanded use of electronic monitoring and other punitive technologies, often referred to as “e-carceration.”


At least three studies are surfacing previously unknown details about both the policy and operations of electronic monitoring and the overall industry. “Electronic Prisons: The Operation of Ankle Monitoring in the Criminal Legal System,” released by George Washington University (GWU) Law School in late September, constitutes the most comprehensive examination yet of EM policies and laws.


 In this study, a team led by Kate Weisburd collected and analyzed 247 records from 101 agencies in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Their scope included pretrial and post-prison EM, as well as juvenile applications of monitors. Weisburd, who in her courtroom days defended dozens of youths placed on electronic monitors, told Truthout she aims to add “to the efforts of community organizers and advocates who are pushing back against the expansion of e-carceration.” 


The GWU work depicts “how monitoring is used, including the terms and conditions that people on monitors must abide by.” Weisburd said their project documents “the restrictive nature of monitoring that, like prison, infringes, if not eliminates, fundamental rights and undermines privacy, financial security, autonomy and dignity.”

 Some of the restrictions the team unearthed were staggering. In Kanawha County, West Virginia, for example, authorities compel a person on EM to agree that: “I will not allow persons of disreputable character to visit my residence during the period of home confinement.” 


In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, those on monitors are compelled to conduct themselves in “an orderly manner at all times.” No definition of “disreputable” or “orderly manner” are offered.


The normalization of GPS trackers in smartphones [and] fitness devices that record biometrics have softened popular concerns about the impact of carceral technologies like ankle monitors.

The Louisville Metro court specifies that a person under “home incarceration” must remain inside the house proper. For those authorities, “inside means no decks, patios, porches, taking out the trash, etc.” In Milwaukee, individuals are only allowed to go to the grocery store for one hour per week.


The language of the rules is often as punitive as their content. The Florida Department of Corrections informs people under their program: “You will charge the tracking device for a minimum of four (4) hours a day and at all times while at home unless otherwise directed.” In Kansas, a person is banned from sleeping while charging their device.


Privacy is another key issue. In San Francisco, people on monitors must “acknowledge that my EM data may be shared with other criminal justice partners.” No specific partners are mentioned. Six agencies actually require people on EM to submit to warrantless searches of their cellphones and other devices. 


The report also notes how devices are increasingly adding on features like two-way audio, meaning that the person’s ankle can operate like a speaker phone, “talking” loudly to the person on the device at any moment chosen by law enforcement.


 This creates a fear on the part of the user that the device may start “talking” while a person is at work or in other places where such an interruption would be problematic.


Weisburd’s team also compiled a detailed list of the daily user fees for many of the jurisdictions. These charges, simply for being on the monitor, range from $1.50 per day in Lancaster County, Nebraska, to $47 per day for a self-employed person in Sacramento County, California. The charges in Sacramento would add up to over $17,000 per year, more than half the earnings of a person on minimum wage.


While the GWU study provided a broad overview, the Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts produced the most detailed case study of an EM program to date: 10 Facts About Pretrial Electronic Monitoring in Cook County


Focusing on what is the largest and likely the most punitive pretrial electronic monitoring program in the country, this research aimed to refute arguments advanced by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart that people on pretrial release on electronic monitors were contributing to heightened violence in Chicago.


Appleseed Senior Policy Analyst Sarah Staudt, who led this research project, systematically refuted Dart’s allegations. In the kind of deep-dive research previously unseen in the world of electronic monitoring, Staudt exposed how the Cook County EM program has been dramatically expanding since the pandemic, that people are being kept on house arrest for longer periods than ever, and like every aspect of the criminal legal system, EM disproportionately impacts Black people.


 While Black people only comprise 23 percent of the county’s population, they constitute 74 percent of those on electronic monitoring.


While the number of charges for acts of violence committed by people on a monitor has not grown, the figures for people sent back to jail for minor violations of monitoring rules has.


The Appleseed document totally undermines Dart’s contentions that EM and pretrial justice reform are linked to violence. Contrary to Dart’s allegations, which are not supported by data, Staudt’s calculations show only 1 person in 12 on electronic monitoring is arrested on new charges. 


While the number of charges for acts of violence committed by people on a monitor has not grown, the figures for people sent back to jail for minor violations of monitoring rules has. Reincarceration for acts like failing to charge a battery, returning home late from work or not having a place to live more than quadrupled from 2019 to 2021.


 Moreover, people are spending longer periods on pretrial monitoring. At the time of the Appleseed research, over 1,000 people had been on EM for over a year, proving that Mohawk Johnson is not an exception.


 Lastly, the report debunked one of the major motivations for pretrial EM, ensuring attendance at court appearances. A survey of Cook County EM from 2016-2018 showed virtually equal rates of appearance for all court appointments, for those on a monitor (83.52 percent) and those not on a monitor (82.75 percent).


 The study concluded that EM has “no clear benefit to the public” and at an annual cost of over $30 million, represents a drain from funding streams that could “prioritize investments in grassroots, non-court-related services to support people involved in the criminal legal system.”


While research in the criminal legal system has opened up lots of new territory, equally important advances in unearthing the complexities of electronic monitoring have come from immigrant rights activists. 


A collaboration among Freedom for Immigrants, Immigrant Defense Project and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law surveyed the harms of EM for people under the authority of ICE. In perhaps the first serious look at the health implications of being on EM, their report found that more than 70 percent of the 147 respondents reported “aches, pains and cramps,” 55 percent reported numbness and roughly 1 in 5 said they had received electric shocks from the device. 


These findings raised possibilities for further study and even litigation concerning the health effects of ankle shackles, an aspect of EM that has been ignored by authorities and providers for decades. 


This work has melded with studies of the role of Big Tech in immigration carried out by a collaboration involving Mijente, Just Futures Law, Immigrant Defense Project and the National Immigration Project.


EM and State Struggles:

The expansion of EM research coincides with intense struggles in state legislatures over pretrial reform where electronic monitoring has become an important contestation point. These fights demonstrate a growing understanding that electronic monitoring, like cash bail, cannot be attacked with a single-issue focus.

 

Pilar Weiss, the director of the Community Justice Exchange, a network that organizes over 100 community bail funds, argues that framing is critical. She stresses that letting people out of jail without payment of bail opened the door to a range of post-detention conditions of which EM was one of the most common and likely the most restrictive. She reminded Truthout that “the problem is not with the person but with the system.”


While Black people only comprise 23 percent of the county’s population, they constitute 74 percent of those on electronic monitoring.

In at least three states, activists made serious interventions to block the use of electronic monitoring as part of legislative reform. In New York, blockage of EM came via banning the introduction of private companies or fees in monitoring programs. This forced jurisdictions to assume operational and financial responsibility for EM, a burden most authorities weren’t willing to cover.


In the words of Katie Schaffer, who was active in the legislative campaign as director of advocacy and organizing for the Center for Community Alternatives, the bill made EM “functionally not an option.”


In Illinois, sparked by the work of the statewide Coalition to End Money Bond, the legislature took a different path, passing the Illinois Pretrial Fairness Act (PFA), the first legislation in the country to ban cash bail.


 While the activist critique of EM was not enough to convince the legislature to totally ban electronic monitoring, the PFA ultimately called for mandatory court hearings to place a person on EM, coupled with a compulsory review of the electronic monitor’s continued use after 60 days. 


As Sharlyn Grace, a past leader of the Coalition recently wrote, the reforms “take away some power and prevent harmful practices from continuing unchecked.”

The California process was more complicated and remains unresolved. After many years of battling over pretrial reform, authorities advanced Proposition 25 to the November 2020 ballot. 


The proposition aimed to enact SB10, a bill which would have ended cash bail via intensive use of racially biased risk assessment tools and expansion of harsh conditions of release like EM. While mainstream Democrats and some progressives supported Prop 25, the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, and a broad spectrum of abolitionists and radical reformers campaigned against Prop 25.


 Predictably, the bail bond industry also opposed the measure because it would have nullified most of their revenue stream. In the end, 55 percent of voters opposed the referendum. Activists hoped this would bring the use of risk assessment-based reform to a halt and provide space for community-driven initiatives based on participatory defense and transformative justice. 


These approaches mobilize families and communities to contest individual cases as well as push to change the underlying structures that continue to propel Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other marginalized folks into the system. 


But in the spring of this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom stepped in and allocated $140 million to place pretrial services statewide under the authority of the Department of Probation, effectively sidelining community-led efforts. This move will doubtless lead to the expansion of electronic monitoring. 


As campaigner Ivette Ale told Truthout, “Probation loves EM.” In their capacity as a leading member of the CARE First Coalition, which aims to derail Newsom’s moves, Ale told Truthout the organizing strategy is to build grassroots structures in each of the state’s 58 counties. “We only win by mobilizing more people than anybody,” Ale emphasized.

Grassroots efforts have scored many victories in the fight against mass incarceration’s numerous fronts. But perhaps pushing back against technology also requires some additional strategies.

 Puck Lo, research coordinator at Community Justice Exchange, contends, “We need to go someplace we haven’t been before and to do that we need to think differently.”

 In the realm of surveillance technology, Lo views the merging of location tracking and biometrics as creating more potential for the criminalization of individuals through the use of technology. 

She maintains this may direct us to needing to find ways to “erase databases rather than control them.” But whether the aim is controlling the technology or erasing it, the key rests with building popular support for measures to undermine the power of Big Tech, EM companies and elected officials like Newsom and Sheriff Tom Dart who provide finance and political cover for widening the net of e-carceration.""

James Kilgore: James Kilgore is an activist and researcher based in Urbana, Illinois who spent a year on an electronic monitor as a condition of his parole. He is the director of the Challenging E-Carceration project at MediaJustice and has authored six books, including Understand E-Carceration (The New Press) slated for release in January 2022. In his hometown, Kilgore is the co-director of FirstFollowers Reentry Project. 

Emmett Sanders is a formerly incarcerated researcher and writer who spent three months on an electronic monitor as a condition of his release after more than 22 years in Illinois prisons. He is the author of “Full Human Beings,” a report that argues for incarcerated voter enfranchisement."

The entire story can be read at:

https://truthout.org/articles/electronic-monitoring-has-widened-its-net-amid-covid/

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;

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FINAL, FINAL, FINAL WORD: “It is incredibly easy to convict an innocent person, but it's exceedingly difficult to undo such a devastating injustice. 
Jennifer Givens: DirectorL UVA Innocence Project.