Saturday, March 2, 2024

Henry Lee: Ralph Birch and Shawn Henning: Connecticut: $25 million for what Lee's lawyer calls 'incorrect' testimony! Lawmakers have approved a $25M settlement in a case involving the state's top criminologist, The News Times (Reporter Lisa Backus) reports…"Birch and Henning were teenagers when they were convicted of killing Everett Carr in his New Milford home in 1985. The pair served more than three decades in prison before having their convictions overturned in 2019. Their convictions were based on testimony delivered from Lee, the then-head of the State Police Forensic Crime Laboratory, who said that towels found at the crime scene tested positive for blood — a fact that prosecutors later pointed to while arguing that the killers had wiped themselves clean. However, the towels had not been properly tested for blood, and subsequent tests found no evidence of blood on the towels."


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "The federal lawsuit filed in 2020 against Lee, the state and the town of New Milford, raised questions about the criminologist's credibility, particularly after a judge ruled in July that the professor emeritus at the University of New Haven could be held liable for faking evidence in the case.  But Eileen Meskill, the state's deputy attorney general who represented Lee and the state in the federal lawsuit, said the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that Lee's testimony in the trial in the 1980s was not intentional, "but was incorrect." 

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STORY: "CT lawmakers approve $25M settlement in case involving Henry Lee," by Staff Writer Lisa Backus, published by The News Times, on March 1, 2024.

SUN-HEADING: "Henry Lee, the state's top criminologist, seen here in a file photo, was part of a $25 million settlement for two men wrongly convicted of a 1985 New Milford murder based on his testimony."


GIST: "The state legislature's Judiciary Committee agreed Friday to pay a $25 million settlement for two men wrongfully convicted of a 1985 New Milford murder in a case involving forensic science expert Henry C. Lee. 


Ralph Birch and Shawn Henning, who were imprisoned for decades based on the erroneous testimony of Lee, Connecticut's top criminologist, agreed in September to settle a federal lawsuit against the state for $25.2 million. 


But the legislature still must approve the deal; Friday's action before the Judiciary Committee was the first step before the entire General Assembly will vote on the settlement, officials said.


If the General Assembly doesn't take action in 30 days, the settlement will be considered approved. 


Lee's name came up several times as the catalyst for the wrongful conviction as the office of state Attorney General William Tong presented details regarding terms of the settlement before the committee voted to approve the payment. 


Birch and Henning were teenagers when they were convicted of killing Everett Carr in his New Milford home in 1985. The pair served more than three decades in prison before having their convictions overturned in 2019.


Their convictions were based on testimony delivered from Lee, the then-head of the State Police Forensic Crime Laboratory, who said that towels found at the crime scene tested positive for blood — a fact that prosecutors later pointed to while arguing that the killers had wiped themselves clean. 


However, the towels had not been properly tested for blood, and subsequent tests found no evidence of blood on the towels. 


"There is no amount of money we can pay that will give these kids their life back," said Judiciary Committee Co-Chair Stephen Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, before explaining that the state needs to consider a defendant's age before issuing a lifelong sentence  to a teen who has committed even a heinous crime. 


The federal lawsuit filed in 2020 against Lee, the state and the town of New Milford, raised questions about the criminologist's credibility, particularly after a judge ruled in July that the professor emeritus at the University of New Haven could be held liable for faking evidence in the case. 


But Eileen Meskill, the state's deputy attorney general who represented Lee and the state in the federal lawsuit, said the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that Lee's testimony in the trial in the 1980s was not intentional, "but was incorrect." 


When the federal judge found him liable in July, his portion of the lawsuit moved to a jury determining damages, Meskill said. 


The state filed an appeal, but then also started negotiations for a settlement that didn't require the state to admit wrongdoing, she said. 


The settlement effectively ends the lawsuit for the state and Lee but an appeal filed by the town of New Canaan is continuing, she said.


Sen. John Kissel, R-Windsor, called the wrongful conviction "unfathomable" but defended Lee, saying that the forensic scientist was upset by the federal judge's ruling. "I don't look at this as some type of disparagement of him," Kissel said. "I know he was very upset about this, but forensic science was different back then." 


The system, from prosecutors to police to their own defense attorneys, failed Birch and Henning, said Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford. "Someone was stabbed 27 times, that indicates a crime of passion," said Fishbein, who also questioned whether the men would have to pay taxes on the settlement. 


Carr, 65, was found stabbed repeatedly in his New Milford home by his daughter in December 1985. His wounds included a deep cut that severed his jugular, and investigators found blood pooled around his body and sprayed against the nearby walls.


Police believed the killing was the result of a burglary gone wrong, and soon narrowed in on Henning and Birch, a pair of teenagers linked to several local burglaries and who were living in a stolen car at the time.


The two teens were taken in as suspects and, while they confessed to stealing the car and to committing four area burglaries, they steadfastly insisted they were not involved with the Carr murder.


In subsequent searches of the car, police found no evidence tying the pair to the crime scene, a fact the prosecutors sought to explain by arguing the killers had cleaned up using towels at the crime scene, according to court records.


Tong announced the settlement in September, but the lawsuit was put on hold until March so the legislature could vote to approve the amount, according to documents filed in federal court. It is unclear when, or if, the entire legislature will vote on the settlement."


The entire story can be read at: 


https://www.newstimes.com/news/article/ralph-birch-shawn-henning-henry-lee-18696412.php

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  I am monitoring this case/issue/resource. 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;


SEE BREAKDOWN OF  SOME OF THE ON-GOING INTERNATIONAL CASES (OUTSIDE OF THE CONTINENTAL USA) THAT I AM FOLLOWING ON THIS BLOG,  AT THE LINK BELOW:  HL:


https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/120008354894645705/4704913685758792985


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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YET ANOTHER FINAL WORD:


David Hammond, one of Broadwater's attorneys who sought his exoneration, told the Syracuse Post-Standard, "Sprinkle some junk science onto a faulty identification, and it's the perfect recipe for a wrongful conviction.


https://deadline.com/2021/11/alice-sebold-lucky-rape-conviction-overturned-anthony-broadwater-12348801

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Friday, March 1, 2024

Robert Mailman and Walter Gillespie: New Brunswick: Bulletin: ('Incentivized witnesses' and much more): New Brunswick has reached a 'conditional' settlement with these 2 men who were wrongfully convicted of a 1983 murder, CBC News (Reporter Bobbi-Jean McKinnon) reports…"Ron Dalton, co-president of the non-profit organization that represents wrongfully convicted people and took on the Saint John men's case in 2018, said Thursday that he could not discuss the details of the settlement. He said he expects non-disclosure agreements to be signed by the parties. But the government "got off rather cheaply, in my humble view, because of the desperate circumstances that the two gentlemen are in," he said.


FROM A PREVIOUS POST: "FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 2024:(Aftermath 1): Exonerated thanks to Innocence Canada: Robert Mailman and Walter Gillespie: (Incentivized witnesses and much more): CBC Journalist Aiden Cox unravels a case that left 2 men wrongfully convicted of murder for 4 decades…Understatement of the year? "Those witnesses, Janet Shatford and John Loeman Jr., were the only people who testified to seeing Mailman and Gillespie commit the murder. But what the Saint John Police, as well as the Crown prosecutors failed to tell defence attorneys at the time, was that Shatford and Loeman had something to gain by offering their testimony. "There was undisclosed information in relation to financial benefits paid to Ms. Shatford and financial benefits given to Mr. Loeman Jr," said Jerome Kennedy, one of the lawyers who worked on getting Mailman and Gillespie acquitted. "So that obviously would affect their credibility, something that the jury should have been aware of."

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PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Mailman, 76, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in November and given three months to live, so "no amount of money is going to change the trajectory of what's left of his life very much," Dalton said. "He does hope to have a nicer apartment to leave his common-law wife in when he does pass, but he knows that the end is near for him.”

In Gillespie's case, the day he got acquitted, he had to move out of the halfway house where he was living and lost the part-time job he had there. "So he was physically and financially worse off after he got acquitted than when he was serving his life sentence," said Dalton. He's now living in a one-room apartment in a former Saint John hotel, "so he's looking forward to getting into some better digs and having some more comfort for what's left of his days. "He's over 80 years old, so they both know that the time clock is ticking."

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STORY: "N.B. reaches conditional settlement with 2 men wrongfully convicted of 1983 murder," by Reporter Bobbi-Jean McKinnon, published by CBC News, on February 29, 2024.

SUB-HEADING: "Robert Mailman and Walter Gillespie were acquitted last month of 2nd-degree murder."


GIST: "The New Brunswick government has reached a conditional settlement with Robert Mailman and Walter Gillespie, who were acquitted last month after being wrongly convicted of murder nearly 40 years ago.


Ron Dalton, co-president of the non-profit organization that represents wrongfully convicted people and took on the Saint John men's case in 2018, said Thursday that he could not discuss the details of the settlement.

He said he expects non-disclosure agreements to be signed by the parties.

But the government "got off rather cheaply, in my humble view, because of the desperate circumstances that the two gentlemen are in," he said.

Mailman, 76, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in November and given three months to live, so "no amount of money is going to change the trajectory of what's left of his life very much," Dalton said.

"He does hope to have a nicer apartment to leave his common-law wife in when he does pass, but he knows that the end is near for him.”

In Gillespie's case, the day he got acquitted, he had to move out of the halfway house where he was living and lost the part-time job he had there.

"So he was physically and financially worse off after he got acquitted than when he was serving his life sentence," said Dalton.

He's now living in a one-room apartment in a former Saint John hotel, "so he's looking forward to getting into some better digs and having some more comfort for what's left of his days.

"He's over 80 years old, so they both know that the time clock is ticking."

The two men could not be reached for comment.

Office of the Attorney General and Premier Blaine Higgs's office did not respond to requests for comment.

But Bruce Macfarlane of the Executive Council Office, told CBC, "We can confirm a tentative deal has been reached."

He did not respond to other questions, such as the amount of the deal, how it's structured, or whether it comes with an apology.

No apology yet

Mailman and Gillespie were convicted of second-degree murder in May 1984 in the November 1983 death of George Leeman, whose beaten and burned body was found in the woods at Rockwood Park.

They were sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole, for 18 years.

The two always maintained their innocence.

In December, the federal justice minister overturned their convictions, saying new information led him to believe "a miscarriage of justice likely occurred." He granted them a new trial.

But On Jan. 4, the Crown presented no evidence and Court of King's Bench Chief Justice Tracey DeWare ruled Mailman and Gillespie were not guilty. She also apologized.

"The justice system in this case failed Mr. Mailman, Mr. Gillespie and Mr. Leeman," she wrote.

"For that, as Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench of New Brunswick, I offer my sincere apology."

Mailman and Gillespie have not received a formal apology from the Saint John Police Force, the Attorney General's Office or the premier, according to Dalton.

Innocence Canada, an advocacy group for the wrongfully convicted, says a conditional settlement has been reached between the New Brunswick government and the two men who were wrongfully convicted of a 1983 murder in Saint John.


"They tend to apologize with their chequebooks."

Innocence Canada was not involved in the settlement negotiations, he said.

"Our organizational effort pretty much ended when their convictions were overturned and the acquittals were entered."

But "I've got a bit of a personal interest in this one," said Dalton, who served alongside Mailman and Gillespie at Renous prison in 1990s and has also been exonerated for a murder he didn't commit.

Compensation rare

Fewer than half of the wrongly convicted people in this country have ever received compensation, according to Dalton.

"I'm delighted that a satisfactory settlement has come to fruition for these two gentlemen."

Innocence Canada has been involved with cases in other provinces where Dalton alleges governments "have literally waited for someone to die and not had to settle with them at all."

He believes the national media attention that Mailman and Gillespie's case garnered may have helped.

"There is a cost to injustice," he said.

"With 40 years of your life gone —half of Mr. Gillespie's life and over half of Mr. Mailman's life —  the least we can do is try and make the rest of their days somewhat comfortable."

The entire story can be read at:


https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/robert-mailman-walter-gillespie-settlement-new-brunswick-1.7130234

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  I am monitoring this case/issue/resource. 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;


SEE BREAKDOWN OF  SOME OF THE ON-GOING INTERNATIONAL CASES (OUTSIDE OF THE CONTINENTAL USA) THAT I AM FOLLOWING ON THIS BLOG,  AT THE LINK BELOW:  HL:


https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/120008354894645705/4704913685758792985


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;

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

YET ANOTHER FINAL WORD:


David Hammond, one of Broadwater's attorneys who sought his exoneration, told the Syracuse Post-Standard, "Sprinkle some junk science onto a faulty identification, and it's the perfect recipe for a wrongful conviction.


https://deadline.com/2021/11/alice-sebold-lucky-rape-conviction-overturned-anthony-broadwater-12348801

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Anthony Wright: Philadelphia: Major (Welcome) Development: (False confession, DNA, perjury and much more); Former detectives Martin Devlin, Manuel Santiago and Frank Jastrzembski - three retired detectives accused of fabricating evidence against him in, a 1991 rape and murder case - have been charged for misconduct by District Attorney Larry Krasner…"Wright, who left school in seventh grade, was arrested at age 20. He spent two decades in prison before DNA testing seemingly cleared him of the crime. Nonetheless, Krasner's predecessor chose to retry him, and called the detectives out of retirement. Besides the DNA, the other key piece of evidence in the retrial was Wright's confession. His lawyers argued that it was coerced. The detectives denied it. In a dramatic courtroom showdown, lawyer Sam Silver, representing Wright, asked Devlin to write down the nine-page confession in real time, as Devlin said he had done "word for word" in 1991. The once-famed detective — who helped nab a New Jersey rabbi in his wife’s murder-for-hire — jotted down only six words before giving up. Wright told jurors that police had made him sign the confession without reading it. They deliberated just a few minutes before acquitting him, and the forewoman hugged Wright before sending him home."


PASSAGE ONE   OF THE DAY: "Santiago and Devlin are accused of lying about the confession. Santiago and Jastrzembski are accused of lying when they testified they didn’t know about the DNA problem. Jastrzembski is accused of lying about finding the victim’s clothes in Wright’s bedroom. They are all now in their mid- to late 70s and maintain their innocence."

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PASSAGE TWO OF THE DAY: "Experts in the exoneration community can cite just a handful of similar efforts to charge police or prosecutors in their cases. Meanwhile, public agencies across the country have paid out $4 billion to compensate people for the nine years, on average, they wrongly spent in prison, according to The National Registry of Exonerations. "We’re willing to accept remediation of the harm, but we’re not prepared to accept accountability of the culpable," said Alan J. Tauber, a Philadelphia defense lawyer who has helped free three men from prison after wrongful convictions."


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PASSAGE THREE OF THE DAY: "The detectives' trial was set to start in January, but is on hold while a judge reviews defense objections to grand jury testimony that suggested Devlin had a history of coercing confessions and that a jury in another case had found him "evil." Common Pleas Judge Lucretia Clemons agreed the jury note was "inflammatory," according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. It’s unclear if that's enough to taint the case."

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STORY: "Philadelphia DA accuses 3 retired police detectives of lying under oath in 1991 murder case," published by Associated Press, on February 1, 2024.

SUB-HEADING: "Anthony Wright spent 2 decades in a PA prison before being cleared by DNA testing."


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  • KEY POINTS: Three retired Philadelphia police detectives are accused of fabricating evidence in a 1991 rape and murder case.
  • District Attorney Krasner was able to charge the detectives due to a series of factors, including their testimony at the retrial of Anthony Wright.
  • Wright, convicted in 1993 and later acquitted, spent two decades in prison before DNA testing cleared him.

GIST: "Of the nearly 3,500 people exonerated of serious crimes in the U.S. since 1989, more than half had their cases marred by alleged misconduct by police or prosecutors, according to a national database.

But experts say it’s rare for anyone to be held accountable for the harm — for the coerced confessions, hidden evidence, false testimony and other dubious work that contributes to flawed convictions.

The pending perjury trial of three retired Philadelphia police detectives could prove an exception, if they themselves are not cleared by alleged mistakes by District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office. Former detectives Martin Devlin, Manuel Santiago and Frank Jastrzembski have asked a judge to dismiss the case. The judge plans to rule by April.

An unusual confluence of factors allowed Krasner to charge the three in the case of exoneree Anthony Wright, who in 1993 was convicted of the 1991 rape and murder of an elderly widow. Chiefly, the detectives had testified at his retrial in 2016, reopening a five-year window to file perjury charges.

Wright, who left school in seventh grade, was arrested at age 20. He spent two decades in prison before DNA testing seemingly cleared him of the crime. Nonetheless, Krasner's predecessor chose to retry him, and called the detectives out of retirement.

Besides the DNA, the other key piece of evidence in the retrial was Wright's confession. His lawyers argued that it was coerced. The detectives denied it.

In a dramatic courtroom showdown, lawyer Sam Silver, representing Wright, asked Devlin to write down the nine-page confession in real time, as Devlin said he had done "word for word" in 1991. The once-famed detective — who helped nab a New Jersey rabbi in his wife’s murder-for-hire — jotted down only six words before giving up.

Wright told jurors that police had made him sign the confession without reading it. They deliberated just a few minutes before acquitting him, and the forewoman hugged Wright before sending him home.

That trial testimony was still fair game when Krasner, a civil rights lawyer focused on criminal justice reform, took office in 2018. He has championed 40 exonerations to date, and pursued a small number of police perjury cases, often over active investigations.

He charged the Wright detectives in 2021, days before the five-year deadline expired.

Santiago and Devlin are accused of lying about the confession. Santiago and Jastrzembski are accused of lying when they testified they didn’t know about the DNA problem. Jastrzembski is accused of lying about finding the victim’s clothes in Wright’s bedroom. They are all now in their mid- to late 70s and maintain their innocence.

Experts in the exoneration community can cite just a handful of similar efforts to charge police or prosecutors in their cases. Meanwhile, public agencies across the country have paid out $4 billion to compensate people for the nine years, on average, they wrongly spent in prison, according to The National Registry of Exonerations.

"We’re willing to accept remediation of the harm, but we’re not prepared to accept accountability of the culpable," said Alan J. Tauber, a Philadelphia defense lawyer who has helped free three men from prison after wrongful convictions.

There's also a high legal bar for proving perjury. Marissa Bluestine, the former director of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, said testimony needs to be intentionally deceitful, not just mistakenly so, to convict someone of perjury.

"It’s an incredibly hard burden to meet," said Bluestine, now assistant director of the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania.

Last year, a mistake by prosecutors sank a police perjury case in Manhattan, when a judge halted the trial over their failure to turn over evidence to the defense. And an FBI racketeering case against Philadelphia’s narcotics unit, which alleged members routinely robbed drug dealers and lied about it, ended with a 2015 jury acquittal. The only officer sent to prison had testified against his colleagues.

Wright, 53, settled a lawsuit against the city for nearly $10 million. In all, he spent 25 years in prison.

"That case was remarkable. There was a DNA exclusion, and they said they were going to try it anyway," said Maurice Possley, a senior researcher at the exonerations registry.

The group's data show the disproportionate harm that botched prosecutions cause Black defendants like Wright. Black people make up 13.6% of the U.S. population but 54% of the 3,433 exonerations studied. (The total is now 3,464.) And they lose more years of their lives — 10.1 years vs. 7.7 years for white people and 8.3 years for Hispanic people — before being cleared.

The detectives' trial was set to start in January, but is on hold while a judge reviews defense objections to grand jury testimony that suggested Devlin had a history of coercing confessions and that a jury in another case had found him "evil." Common Pleas Judge Lucretia Clemons agreed the jury note was "inflammatory," according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. It’s unclear if that's enough to taint the case.

Defense lawyer Brian McMonagle accused Krasner’s office of trying to "smear" the detectives’ reputations. He declined to comment on their behalf outside the courtroom.

Wright has been outspoken since leaving prison, but declined an interview while the case is in limbo. However, he once told The Inquirer that it would "mean everything to me if those guys individually can be held accountable for what they did to me."

As part of Wright's lawsuit, the detectives had to give videotaped depositions. At one point, his lawyers ask Santiago which is worse: to put an innocent man in prison or let a guilty man go free. The retired sleuth said each would be a "terrible thing," but settled on the latter.

"When the guilty man walks away, only those responsible for his walking away … have to live with it. So yeah, it’s worse," Santiago said.

Tauber, who served as the city's top public defender, said the statement shows "the values that our system is founded on have been turned on their head."

"And not only turned on their head, but adopted and internalized by the people largely responsible for investigating and administering justice.""

The entire story ca be read at:

https://www.foxnews.com/us/philadelphia-da-accuses-3-retired-police-detectives-lying-oath-1991-murder-case

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PASSAGE ONE OF THE DAY: (NATIONAL REGISTRY OF EXONERATIONS: "On June 8, 1993, the jury convicted Wright of capital murder, rape, theft, burglary, robbery and weapons violations. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on imposing the death penalty, voting 7-5 in favor of death. With no unanimous verdict, Wright was sentenced to life in prison without parole. In 2005, Wright sought DNA testing of the evidence, but in 2006, a judge denied the motion, citing Wright’s confession. Wright appealed and the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the ruling. In 2011, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court set side the decision and remanded the case back to the trial court, ruling that a confession is not a bar to DNA testing. In 2013, DNA tests performed on the clothing revealed Talley’s DNA inside the sweatshirt and jeans, an indication that the clothing had been worn by Talley and was in fact her clothing—not Wright’s. The test finding suggested that the detectives had falsely claimed the clothing was found in Wright’s room. Moreover, DNA testing of the rape kit revealed the DNA profile of Ronnie Byrd, a Philadelphia crack dealer who in 1991 lived in the same neighborhood as Talley. Byrd died in a South Carolina prison in 2013 at age 62. In March 2014, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office agreed to vacate Wright’s conviction. However, the prosecution claimed—for the first time—that Wright committed the crime with Byrd."

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NATIONAL REGISTRY: PASSAGE TWO OF THE DAY: "Wright went to trial a second time in August 2016. James and Richardson were dead, so their testimony from Wright’s 1993 trial was read to the jury. Nixon and Alston, who testified at Wright’s original trial that they were standing on the street with a friend, Antonio Johnson, and saw Wright go into Talley’s house, testified and said their testimony in 1993 was false and been coerced by police. Johnson also testified and said that he did not see Wright on the street when he was with Nixon and Alston. The prosecution attempted to impeach Nixon and Alston with their testimony from 1993 and also presented Wright’s confession. The detectives insisted they found the bloody clothing in Wright’s bedroom and maintained that Wright voluntarily confessed. Represented by Innocence Project lawyers, Wright again testified on his own behalf and denied any involvement in the crime. Wright testified that after three or four hours of accusations that he repeatedly denied, he was handcuffed to a chair. One detective held his neck while the other put his face so close that their noses touched. One detective said he would “poke his eye out” and sexually assault him, Wright testified. The jury also was presented with the DNA test results linking Byrd to the crime as well as evidence that Byrd was nearly twice as old as Wright at the time of the crime, that he was a crack cocaine addict friendly with James and Richardson and that he and Wright did not know each other. On August 23, 2016, the jury acquitted Wright and he was released. In September 2016, Wright filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia police department. In June 2018, the lawsuit was settled for $9.85 million.

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Read the National Registry of Exoneration entry by Maurice Possley (August 13, 2021) , at the link below. Contributing factors: "False Confession, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct. DNA evidence contributed to the exoneration)

https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/casedetail.aspx?caseid=4970

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GIST: "On October 19, 1991, police discovered the body of 77-year-old Louise Talley on the second floor of her home in the Nicetown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Talley had been raped and stabbed to death and her home was looted.

Police said that someone approached them on the street outside the house and reported that 20-year-old Anthony Wright was involved in the crime and that he was staying at a home on nearby Bott Street with someone named Saint James. Police went to the home, which was located about 300 feet from Talley’s residence, and found Roland Saint James and his roommate, John Richardson.

After James admitted to police that he and Richardson rented rooms in the residence to people who smoked crack cocaine and helped procure crack for them, he was taken in handcuffs to a police station. There, he was advised he was the “primary suspect” in the murder because police found a television belonging to Talley in the house.

Subsequently, James signed a statement saying that Wright told him he had stabbed a woman and that Wright brought in the television so that James could sell it for him.

Richardson, after being at the station for nearly 24 hours, signed a statement saying that Wright asked him to be a lookout when he went to Talley’s house, but that Richardson refused because he knew the woman and he did not break into houses.

On October 20, 1991, police went to Wright’s home and he voluntarily went with them to the police station. Detectives Martin Devlin, Manuel Santiago and Frank Jastrzembski said that within two hours, Wright signed a nine-page typed statement admitting that he raped and killed Talley after going to her house to rob her of money and valuables so he could buy crack cocaine. The statement said that Wright was wearing a Chicago Bulls sweatshirt, jeans and Fila shoes and that those items were still in his bedroom.

At that time, Wright was charged with capital murder, rape, robbery, burglary, theft and weapons violations.

The detectives then obtained a search warrant and returned to Wright’s home where they later said they discovered the bloodstained clothing in Wright’s room.

Wright went to trial in May 1993 in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. James and Richardson testified and implicated Wright in the murder. Two teenaged youths, Greg Alston and Shawn Nixon, also testified and said they were on the street with a third friend, Antonio Johnson, when they saw Wright go into Talley’s home. Johnson did not testify, but police said he gave a statement concurring with Alston and Nixon.

The detectives testified that they found the bloody clothing in Wright’s room. A crime laboratory analyst testified that he found blood on the sweatshirt and jeans that was the same blood type as Talley’s. The analyst said semen was identified on the jeans and it could have come from Wright.

Wright’s mother, Myrtle Martin, testified that when the detectives left her home after searching Wright’s room, they only took a white jumpsuit which Wright wore to work and did not take a Chicago Bulls sweatshirt, jeans or shoes. Martin said her son did not own such clothing items.

Wright testified and denied ever being in Talley’s house, let alone raping or killing her. He said he did not know James, Richardson or any of the three teenagers and had not seen any of them before.

Wright told the jury that on the night of October 18, 1991, he worked all day and returned about 5 p.m., then went to a club around 11 p.m. and returned home at 4 a.m. on October 19. He said he slept until 10 a.m. and went shopping with some friends and then attended a concert. He denied the clothing was his and said the shoes were size 11 and he wore size 9½ and that he wore jeans with a 38-inch waist—two sizes larger than the jeans police said they recovered from his room.

Wright said the confession was false and that he signed the statement only after detectives threatened to physically assault him if he continued to refuse to do so.

On June 8, 1993, the jury convicted Wright of capital murder, rape, theft, burglary, robbery and weapons violations. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on imposing the death penalty, voting 7-5 in favor of death. With no unanimous verdict, Wright was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In 2005, Wright sought DNA testing of the evidence, but in 2006, a judge denied the motion, citing Wright’s confession. Wright appealed and the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the ruling. In 2011, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court set side the decision and remanded the case back to the trial court, ruling that a confession is not a bar to DNA testing.

In 2013, DNA tests performed on the clothing revealed Talley’s DNA inside the sweatshirt and jeans, an indication that the clothing had been worn by Talley and was in fact her clothing—not Wright’s. The test finding suggested that the detectives had falsely claimed the clothing was found in Wright’s room.

Moreover, DNA testing of the rape kit revealed the DNA profile of Ronnie Byrd, a Philadelphia crack dealer who in 1991 lived in the same neighborhood as Talley. Byrd died in a South Carolina prison in 2013 at age 62.

In March 2014, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office agreed to vacate Wright’s conviction. However, the prosecution claimed—for the first time—that Wright committed the crime with Byrd.

Wright went to trial a second time in August 2016. James and Richardson were dead, so their testimony from Wright’s 1993 trial was read to the jury.

Nixon and Alston, who testified at Wright’s original trial that they were standing on the street with a friend, Antonio Johnson, and saw Wright go into Talley’s house, testified and said their testimony in 1993 was false and been coerced by police. Johnson also testified and said that he did not see Wright on the street when he was with Nixon and Alston.

The prosecution attempted to impeach Nixon and Alston with their testimony from 1993 and also presented Wright’s confession. The detectives insisted they found the bloody clothing in Wright’s bedroom and maintained that Wright voluntarily confessed.

Represented by Innocence Project lawyers, Wright again testified on his own behalf and denied any involvement in the crime. Wright testified that after three or four hours of accusations that he repeatedly denied, he was handcuffed to a chair. One detective held his neck while the other put his face so close that their noses touched. One detective said he would “poke his eye out” and sexually assault him, Wright testified.

The jury also was presented with the DNA test results linking Byrd to the crime as well as evidence that Byrd was nearly twice as old as Wright at the time of the crime, that he was a crack cocaine addict friendly with James and Richardson and that he and Wright did not know each other.

On August 23, 2016, the jury acquitted Wright and he was released. In September 2016, Wright filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia police department. In June 2018, the lawsuit was settled for $9.85 million.

In August 2018, Innocence Project lawyers filed a complaint against the prosecutor in the retrial, Bridget Kirn, accusing her of knowingly allowing retired homicide detectives Santiago and Jastrzembski to testify falsely. The complaint, filed with the Disciplinary Board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, said that during the retrial, the detectives said they knew very little about the post-conviction DNA testing and results, but that subsequently, they said in sworn depositions in the civil lawsuit that Kirn had briefed them extensively about the DNA evidence prior to the retrial.

"It is difficult to conceive of a more textbook violation...than when an attorney for the commonwealth fails to correct a pivotal law enforcement witness's false denial of knowledge about facts that she herself provided to the witness in their pretrial preparation session," the complaint said. "Here, Ms. Kirn stood mute while not one, but two, of the commonwealth's most critical witnesses perjured themselves in this fashion. And she did so as an experienced homicide prosecutor, serving as lead counsel for the commonwealth in a case where the defendant faced mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted."

Kirn was among 31 employees of the Philadelphia District Attorney's office who were terminated in January 2018 after Larry Krasner was elected District Attorney. 

Two brothers, Shaurn Thomas and Clayton “Mustafa” Thomas Jr. were exonerated in 2017 and 2019 of a 1990 murder in Philadelphia. Devlin was a detective involved in that case as well.

In October 2019, Willie Veasy was exonerated of a 1992 murder in Philadelphia. He had been convicted in part because of a false confession obtained by Devlin and fellow detective Paul Worrell. 

In June 2020, Walter Ogrod was exonerated and released from Pennsylvania's death row. He had been convicted in Philadelphia of the murder of a four-year-old based on a false confession obtained by detectives Devlin and Worrell.

Also in June 2020, Andrew Swainson was exonerated of a Philadelphia murder investigated by Detective Manuel Santiago, who worked with Detective Devlin. Swainson was released after more than 31 years in prison.

In August 2021, Santiago, Devlin and Jastrzembski were charged with perjury and other crimes for their conduct in the investigation and prosecution of Wright. Philadelphia County District Attorney Larry Krasner said Santiago and Devlin had coerced what was a clearly false confession from Wright. He said Santiago and Devlin used “unlawful tactics in order to coerce Wright” into signing the confession. Krasner said they prevented him from reading what he had signed, had made false promises that he could go home if he signed the document and made violent threats toward him.

Krasner said Jastrzembski lied under oath about finding the bloody clothing that linked Wright to the crime while searching his room. Krasner said the clothes were actually found at the victim’s house—————————————————————————

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  I am monitoring this case/issue/resource. 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;


SEE BREAKDOWN OF  SOME OF THE ON-GOING INTERNATIONAL CASES (OUTSIDE OF THE CONTINENTAL USA) THAT I AM FOLLOWING ON THIS BLOG,  AT THE LINK BELOW:  HL:


https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/120008354894645705/4704913685758792985


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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YET ANOTHER FINAL WORD:


David Hammond, one of Broadwater's attorneys who sought his exoneration, told the Syracuse Post-Standard, "Sprinkle some junk science onto a faulty identification, and it's the perfect recipe for a wrongful conviction.


https://deadline.com/2021/11/alice-sebold-lucky-rape-conviction-overturned-anthony-broadwater-12348801

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