Thursday, February 29, 2024

Ivan Cantu: Texas: Bulletin: (Another shameful moment in American criminal justice - no political or judicial will to examine evidence which could show he was innocent: HL)...Texas executes Ivan Cantu, despite calls to spare his life, Crime and justice News reports…"His advocates have long pleaded for Cantu to have another day in court — claiming that prosecutorial and defense misconduct, the discovery of physical evidence and a witness’s admission to lying during the trial should have warranted a pause to the execution."


QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “I can’t say for sure that he’s innocent; but I can’t say for sure that he’s guilty,” Abraham Bonowitz, executive director of the anti-capital punishment organization Death Penalty Action, said during an online vigil Wednesday for Cantu. “There’s just too much doubt.”

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

ENTRY: "Texas Executes Abner Cantu, Despite Calls To Spare His Life," published by Crime and Justice News, on February 29, 2024.


GIST: Wednesday evening, the state of Texas executed Ivan Abner Cantu, a 50-year-old Dallas native who maintained his innocence and garnered support from celebrities asking for his life to be spared, the Washington Post reported


Cantu’s execution — the first one carried out in Texas this year — comes more than two decades after he was convicted in a fatal shooting in 2000. 


Cantu’s case drew the attention of celebrities Kim Kardashian and Martin Sheen, as well as U.S. Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), all of whom supported Cantu. 


His advocates have long pleaded for Cantu to have another day in court — claiming that prosecutorial and defense misconduct, the discovery of physical evidence and a witness’s admission to lying during the trial should have warranted a pause to the execution.


“I can’t say for sure that he’s innocent; but I can’t say for sure that he’s guilty,” Abraham Bonowitz, executive director of the anti-capital punishment organization Death Penalty Action, said during an online vigil Wednesday for Cantu. “There’s just too much doubt.”


The entry can be read at:


https://www.ncja.org/crimeandjusticenews/texas-executes-abner-cantu-despite-calls-to-spare-his-life

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


————————————————————————————————

Marcellus Williams: Missouri: Innocence Project: A proposed bill to regulate the use of informants in criminal cases, "could stop wrongful convictions of innocent people like Marcellus Williams whosits on death row due to testimony from two incentivized, jailhouse informants…"Ten months after Felicia Gayle, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, was fatally stabbed in her own home, all leads went cold. A jailhouse informant, seeing an opportunity to secure a deal in his own cases, provided information to the police. Henry Cole told investigators that Mr. Williams had admitted to the crime while they were both in prison and that he would testify to that if they helped him in return. Prosecutors gave Mr. Cole $5,000 in exchange for his testimony. Mr. Williams’ ex-girlfriend, Laura Asaro, mentioned to a neighbor that she also received payment for her testimony in the case. Not only did Ms. Asaro have a history of deception but she lied under oath in her recorded deposition regarding her arrest history, and at one point, police considered charging her as an accomplice in the murder."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: What do police informants have to do with forensic science? (I'm glad you asked). Investigative  Reporter Pamela Colloff give us  a clue when she writes: "I’ve wanted to write about jailhouse informants for a long time because they often appear in troubled cases in which the other evidence is weak." That's my experience as  will as a criminal lawyer and an observer of criminal justice. Given the reality that jurors - thanks to the CSI effect - are becoming more and more insistent on the need for there to be forensic evidence, it is becoming more and more common for police to rely on shady tactics such as use of police snitches (paying them for their favourable  testimony occasionally), staging lineups, coercing, inducing, or creating false confessions out of thin air, procuring false eyewitness testimony or concealing exculpatory evidence. 


Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;

————————————————————————————————

PASSAGE OF THE DAY: “Jailhouse informants pose a critical threat to the integrity of our justice system. They typically expect leniency or other benefits in return for their testimony, which is a strong incentive for them to lie,” Tricia Rojo Bushnell, Midwest Innocence Project’s executive director who is on Mr. Williams’ legal team, wrote in The Kansas City StarAccording to the National Registry of Exonerations, incentivized witness testimony has contributed to 14% of death penalty cases that later led to a DNA exoneration. Only eight states have created a statewide database to track and disclose the use of incentivized, jailhouse informants. But legislation is moving in states across the country, not just Missouri, to enact this key legislation and help prosecutors fulfill their existing Brady disclosure requirements."

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

POST: "This Missouri Bill Could Stop Wrongful Convictions of Innocent People Like Marcellus Williams," by Alyxaundria Sanford, published by The Innocence Project, on January 31, 2024.


SUB-HEADING:  "Missouri Senate Bill 1271 would require prosecutors to show evidence that testimony of a police informant is reliable."


GIST: "A new senate bill in Missouri, sponsored by Senator Nick Schroer (R-Mo.), could regulate the use of informants in criminal cases.

The Missouri General Assembly is currently debating Senate Bill 1271, which would require “a record of each case in which an informant was endorsed by the state to testify against the defendant, the substance of the testimony, and any benefit the informant was offered.” 

The bill could stop the wrongful conviction of people like Marcellus Williams, whose conviction primarily relied upon the inconsistent testimonies of two incentivized witnesses and who has spent 24 years on death row for a murder that DNA evidence proves he didn’t commit.

“S.B.1271 would make it crystal clear what steps district attorneys must take when using this risky information, and in addition, it would create a central database so that prosecutors can easily and quickly access all the pieces they already need to disclose,” said Bay Scoggin, a state policy advocate at the Innocence Project.

Ten months after Felicia Gayle, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, was fatally stabbed in her own home, all leads went cold. A jailhouse informant, seeing an opportunity to secure a deal in his own cases, provided information to the police. Henry Cole told investigators that Mr. Williams had admitted to the crime while they were both in prison and that he would testify to that if they helped him in return. Prosecutors gave Mr. Cole $5,000 in exchange for his testimony.

Mr. Williams’ ex-girlfriend, Laura Asaro, mentioned to a neighbor that she also received payment for her testimony in the case. Not only did Ms. Asaro have a history of deception but she lied under oath in her recorded deposition regarding her arrest history, and at one point, police considered charging her as an accomplice in the murder.



5 reasons why Marcellus Williams is innocent.


“Jailhouse informants pose a critical threat to the integrity of our justice system. They typically expect leniency or other benefits in return for their testimony, which is a strong incentive for them to lie,” Tricia Rojo Bushnell, Midwest Innocence Project’s executive director who is on Mr. Williams’ legal team, wrote in The Kansas City Star.

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, incentivized witness testimony has contributed to 14% of death penalty cases that later led to a DNA exoneration.

Only eight states have created a statewide database to track and disclose the use of incentivized, jailhouse informants. But legislation is moving in states across the country, not just Missouri, to enact this key legislation and help prosecutors fulfill their existing Brady disclosure requirements.

“Prosecutors, and the state of Missouri, already bear the burden of disclosing when they use jailhouse informant testimony and what those informants receive in return for their testimony. Unfortunately, cases like Marcellus Williams’ show us that prosecutors either don’t understand those obligations, or worse, are willing to feign such ignorance,” said Mr. Scoggin.

Mr. Williams sits on death row due to testimony from two incentivized, jailhouse informants. Help the fight for justice to stop his execution."


Stop Missouri from executing an innocent man

The entire story can be read at:

https://innocenceproject.org/missouri-bill-could-stop-wrongful-convictions-of-innocent-people-like-marcellus-williams/

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

————————————————————————————————

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Ivan Cantu: Publisher's Note: (Just a few hours left for the authorities to postpone his execution and hear new evidence which strongly points to his innocence - before placing him on a gurney and killing him. They must heed his plea for life and for justice. HL)..."Texas is scheduled today to execute Ivan Cantu, who claims he is innocent of a 2000 double murder", CNN (Reporters Dakin Andone, Ed Lavandera and Ashley Killough) reports, noting that Cantu’s execution could yet be halted or postponed, though a federal appeals court on Tuesday declined to stop the planned lethal injection or let the 50-year-old raise new challenges…"The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals also rejected an appeal and a motion for a stay of execution. Still, Cantu’s advocates – among them three jurors in the case – continue to call on the state’s Republican governor to give Cantu a 30-day reprieve, the most he could grant after the parole board’s unanimous rejection this week of the inmate’s clemency petition. His other advocates include reality star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian, the actor Martin Sheen and anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean of “Dead Man Walking” fame."


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "In court filings, Cantu and his attorney claim false testimony was presented at trial by the state’s key witnesses, including one who has since recanted. They also contend newly uncovered evidence supports an account Cantu told at the time of the killings, suggesting Mosqueda – an alleged drug dealer, per the inmate’s filings – was targeted and killed by rivals who also threatened Cantu over his cousin’s alleged debts. Cantu also has argued ineffective assistance of counsel, pointing in part to his trial attorneys’ decision to not call a single witness during the guilt-innocence phase of his trial."

————————————————————

PASSAGE TWO OF THE DAY: "Jury foreman now sees ‘holes’ in the case: Collectively, the evidence has been enough to convince three of Cantu’s jurors to join the effort to halt Wednesday’s execution. They include the panel’s foreman, who now fears the jury was presented with an incomplete picture of the case, he told CNN."

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

STORY: "Texas is scheduled today to execute Ivan Cantu, who claims he’s innocent of 2000 double murder, CNN (Reporters  Dakin Andone, Ed Lavandera and Ashley Killough)  reports, on Wednesday February 28, 2024.

"Texas is preparing to execute Ivan Cantu, a death row inmate who claims he’s innocent of the murders for which he’s to be put to death Wednesday evening, more than 20 years after his conviction.

Cantu’s execution could yet be halted or postponed, though a federal appeals court on Tuesday declined to stop the planned lethal injection or let the 50-year-old raise new challenges. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals also rejected an appeal and a motion for a stay of execution.

Still, Cantu’s advocates – among them three jurors in the case – continue to call on the state’s Republican governor to give Cantu a 30-day reprieve, the most he could grant after the parole board’s unanimous rejection this week of the inmate’s clemency petition. His other advocates include reality star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian, the actor Martin Sheen and anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean of “Dead Man Walking” fame.

The inmate’s staunchest supporter, though, may also be his first: His mother, Sylvia Cantu, remains convinced of her son’s innocence – and that his life will be spared – she told CNN on Tuesday.

“I’m still holding out hope that they press the pause button and they allow Ivan’s attorney to go in there and present the evidence that she has,” Sylvia Cantu said, “and hopefully, be able to exonerate him.”

In pressing for such a halt, Ivan Cantu has pointed to the cases of other Texas death row inmates – Rodney Reed and Melissa Lucio – who claim they also were wrongfully convicted. Indeed, at least 196 people sentenced to death in the United States since 1973 have been exonerated, 16 of them in Texas, according to the non-profit Death Penalty Information Center.

It’s unclear whether Cantu will ask the US Supreme Court to intervene, and CNN has reached out to his attorney. It’s not uncommon for death row inmates to turn to the high court to avoid execution, and sometimes those requests come at the last minute.

Now, Cantu hopes his execution is stopped so he can argue he was deprived of a fair trial and framed by those who, in his telling, are truly responsible for the 2000 killings of his cousin James Mosqueda and his cousin’s fiancĂ©e, Amy Kitchen, a nursing student.

Even so, Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis remains “fully convinced” of Cantu’s guilt, he said in a statement, citing the “undeniable evidence” featured at trial.

Prosecutor still ‘convinced’ of Cantu’s guilt

In court filings, Cantu and his attorney claim false testimony was presented at trial by the state’s key witnesses, including one who has since recanted. They also contend newly uncovered evidence supports an account Cantu told at the time of the killings, suggesting Mosqueda – an alleged drug dealer, per the inmate’s filings – was targeted and killed by rivals who also threatened Cantu over his cousin’s alleged debts. Cantu also has argued ineffective assistance of counsel, pointing in part to his trial attorneys’ decision to not call a single witness during the guilt-innocence phase of his trial.

Prosecutors, however, reject these claims, writing in their own court filings that Cantu’s arguments do nothing to “impugn the integrity of the guilty verdict.”

Cantu’s fingerprint was found on the magazine inside the gun used to kill Mosqueda and Kitchen, and DNA analysis showed blood on jeans found in Cantu’s trash can belonged to Mosqueda and Kitchen, according to prosecutors.

“It’s my firm belief that justice has been done in this case and that a Collin County jury’s verdict should be carried out on February 28th,” Willis said.

Cantu’s case was previously upheld on appeal. But he and his attorney say the evidence now supporting his innocence claim – much of it uncovered by podcaster Matt Duff – has not been heard by the courts.

Similar arguments were included in an appeal last April, shortly before Cantu was last scheduled to be executed. A judge subsequently withdrew Cantu’s execution date, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ultimately dismissed Cantu’s request without considering the merits of the claims.

Jury foreman now sees ‘holes’ in the case

Collectively, the evidence has been enough to convince three of Cantu’s jurors to join the effort to halt Wednesday’s execution. They include the panel’s foreman, who now fears the jury was presented with an incomplete picture of the case, he told CNN.

What happens during a typical three-drug lethal injection

“I’m convinced that there’s some holes in this,” Jeff Calhoun said, adding he took his responsibility as a juror very seriously.

Meanwhile, Cantu’s supporters have dedicated themselves to raising awareness about the case – a petition calling for a withdrawal of his execution date has garnered nearly 150,000 signatures – and to pressing GOP Gov. Greg Abbott to issue a reprieve.

“There are all these questions over the actual guilt of this man,” Prejean told CNN’s Jake Tapper this week, calling on people to contact Abbott on Cantu’s behalf. “He has one of the last vestiges of the divine right of kings. He’s a safety valve in all this. When justice is not done in the courts or you question it … he can grant a reprieve long enough to be able to look at the new evidence, which no court is yet willing to hear.”

Cantu asked in his clemency petition for a hearing and either a commutation to a life sentence or a 120-day reprieve."

The entire story can be read at:

https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/28/us/texas-execution-ivan-cantu/index.html


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

————————————————————————————————

\

'Excited Delerium'. (Said by critics to be "pseudoscience" that has been used for decades to excuse deaths in police custody): Major (Welcome) Development; Doctors are adding their voice to those who question use of 'excited delirium' to explain deaths of suspects in police custody, The American Bar Association Journal (freelance journalist and editor Andrew Engelson) reports…"Organizations, including Physicians for Human Rights, argue that excited delirium has no medical foundation and that its origins are plagued with racism. The term’s role in high-profile police misconduct cases, including the deaths of Ellis, Elijah McClain, and George Floyd has prompted major medical organizations to repudiate its use."


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "The term “excited delirium” first appeared in two medical papers on the effects of cocaine intoxication by Charles Wetli and David Fishbain in 1981 and 1985. Wetli, was Miami’s deputy chief medical examiner, later applied his theories to the deaths of 14 black women in Miami between 1986 and 1988. In an interview with the Miami News, Wetli attributed the deaths to excited delirium, saying he believed Black people were particularly susceptible: “For some reason, the male of the species becomes psychotic, and the female of the species dies in relation to sex.” It was later determined that the 14 women had been murdered by a serial killer. Joanna Naples-Mitchell, an attorney and researcher with Physicians for Human Rights, says racist notions like to Wetli’s have pervaded the literature describing excited delirium, including the 2009 ACEP paper. “That paper really laid out the criteria for identifying the signs and symptoms of excited delirium,” Naples-Mitchell says. “And some were overtly racist, including noting that someone might be possessed with superhuman strength or be impervious to pain—which are racist stereotypes about Black people that have led to all sorts of medical racism in this country for decades.”
——————————————————————

STORY: "Doctors question use of 'excited delirium' to explain deaths of suspects in police custody," by  award-winning freelance journalist and editor Andrew Engelson, published by The American Bar Association Journal, on February 13, 2024.

GIST: "In October 2023, three Tacoma, Washington, police officers went on trial for the 2020 death of Manuel Ellis, a Black man who died after he was punched, put in a chokehold and tased during a confrontation with police. In December, a jury acquitted the officers of second-degree murder and manslaughter.

One detail in the defense’s case may have influenced the jury: A paramedic at the scene testified that he believed Ellis showed signs of “excited delirium”—a controversial diagnosis that law enforcement agencies and some medical examiners use to describe a dangerous, agitated condition often brought on by drug use. Critics, however, say that excited delirium is pseudoscience that’s been used for decades to excuse deaths in police custody.

Though the Pierce County medical examiner described Ellis’ death as a homicide caused by hypoxia due to restraint, the defense pointed out that Ellis had methamphetamines in his system to make the case that excited delirium might have been to blame rather than excessive police force.

But critics say excited delirium is pseudoscience that’s been used for decades to excuse deaths in police custody.

Organizations, including Physicians for Human Rights, argue that excited delirium has no medical foundation and that its origins are plagued with racism. The term’s role in high-profile police misconduct cases, including the deaths of Ellis, Elijah McClain, and George Floyd has prompted major medical organizations to repudiate its use.

A movement begins to ban excited delirium

In October, California became the first state to ban the use of excited delirium as a cause of death in medical examiner reports—prompted by the 2021 death of Angelo Quinto, a Filipino American veteran who was experiencing a mental health crisis and died after police kneeled on his back for five minutes. Medical examiners described the cause of death as excited delirium, and a later coroner’s report called the death an accident rather than a homicide.

Roger Mitchell, a professor of pathology at Howard University, says excited delirium should not be used as a cause of death because it includes a constellation of symptoms but no pathophysiological mechanism. “It’s not specific in all the symptoms that have been attributed to it,” Mitchell said. “You can have all or you can have none. At the end of the day, the mechanism that leads to death is often either cardiac, respiratory, or metabolic.”

In 2020, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) issued a statement saying it does not recognize excited delirium as a mental disorder, and in 2021, the American Medical Association stated that excited delirium is not an official diagnosis. The National Association of Medical Examiners followed suit in 2023, stating it should no longer be cited as a cause of death. The APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has never recognized excited delirium, but does list “delirium, hyperactive type,” a more limited and specific diagnosis.

Others, however, such as James Gill, Connecticut’s chief medical examiner and author of a 2014 paper describing excited delirium as a valid diagnosis, believe that a life-threatening condition—often involving drug use—exists and can result in paranoid, agitated and violent behavior that needs medical terminology to describe it.

Gill notes that stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, can produce a surge in adrenaline and other hormones, which can lead to a surge in blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, and in some cases, death. “Sometimes that happens before the police ever show up,” Gill says. “Sometimes it happens while the police are subduing the person. Sometimes it happens in the emergency room or the ambulance.”


"Excited delirium has been a placeholder for real diagnosis for decades." —Roger Mitchell


The American College of Emergency Physicians—whose policies inform decisions made by paramedics and first responders—published a controversial 2009 paper that was often used to allow court testimony in favor of excited delirium.

But in 2023, after a grassroots effort by some members, the organization dropped its endorsement of that paper, noting “ACEP’s 2009 White Paper Report on Excited Delirium Syndrome is outdated and does not align with the college’s position based on the most recent science and better understanding of the issues surrounding hyperactive delirium.”

According to ACEP board chair Jeffrey Goodloe, the physicians organization prefers to use a more specific, limited and accepted diagnosis—hyperactive delirium with severe agitation. “Despite good intentions of the 2009 paper,” Goodloe says, “there perhaps was not enough emphasis on the importance of everyone—from law enforcement officers to first responders to EMS professionals to emergency department-based medical professionals—that first and foremost, we make sure we’re addressing these individuals as patients and prioritizing their medical care.”

Questionable origins of a relatively new diagnosis

The term “excited delirium” first appeared in two medical papers on the effects of cocaine intoxication by Charles Wetli and David Fishbain in 1981 and 1985. Wetli, was Miami’s deputy chief medical examiner, later applied his theories to the deaths of 14 black women in Miami between 1986 and 1988.

In an interview with the Miami News, Wetli attributed the deaths to excited delirium, saying he believed Black people were particularly susceptible: “For some reason, the male of the species becomes psychotic, and the female of the species dies in relation to sex.”

It was later determined that the 14 women had been murdered by a serial killer.

Joanna Naples-Mitchell, an attorney and researcher with Physicians for Human Rights, says racist notions like to Wetli’s have pervaded the literature describing excited delirium, including the 2009 ACEP paper. “That paper really laid out the criteria for identifying the signs and symptoms of excited delirium,” Naples-Mitchell says. “And some were overtly racist, including noting that someone might be possessed with superhuman strength or be impervious to pain—which are racist stereotypes about Black people that have led to all sorts of medical racism in this country for decades.”

Excited delirium became more prevalent in medical examiner reports after the 2005 publication of a book on the topic by Theresa Di Maio and Vincent Di Maio, which claimed that many deaths in police custody were wrongly attributed to positional asphyxia rather than excited delirium.

According to Naples-Mitchell’s research, the TASER corporation (the manufacturer of nonlethal taser weapons) bought and distributed at least a thousand copies of the Di Maios’ book and distributed them to medical examiners across the country.

Naples-Mitchell says TASER was closely allied to the movement to recognize excited delirium. She noted that a 2021 study by Osagie Obasogie in the Virginia Law Review found that of 166 deaths attributed to excited delirium in police custody between 2010 and 2020, 46 percent involved Taser use.

Obasogie’s study also found that 43.3 percent of people whose in-custody deaths were attributed to excited delirium were Black and 56 percent were either Black or Latino. Mitchell notes that as video of encounters with law enforcement become more common—as in the case of George Floyd or Alexander Rios, an inmate in Ohio who died in 2019 after being held down by corrections officers—it becomes harder to attribute a death to excited delirium.

Not doing things the old way

“Excited delirium has been a placeholder for real diagnosis for decades,” Roger Mitchell says. “And now that we have third-party objective video, the medicine has an opportunity to evolve.”

Though Gill claims that deaths from excited delirium sometimes happen outside of contact with law enforcement—he remembers filing one report involving a man who had an episode after taking PCP who died in his home—most these deaths take place in custody. A 2020 paper in Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology found that 90% of excited delirium deaths involved some form of restraint.

Daniel Wohlgelernter, a cardiologist who testified in the trial of the Tacoma police officers, says he’s confident that Ellis died of cardiopulmonary arrest triggered by restraint-related asphyxia—not excited delirium, as the defense contended.

“There was little to no probability that Ellis would have died in the absence of the prone restraint actions by the law enforcement officers,” Wohlgelernter says. This is contrary to claims made by the defense, including reference to a 1997 paper by Theodore Chan and Gary Vilke, which found that in simulated situations, restraint did not significantly affect respiratory function. Wohlgelernter says those studies neglected to consider the stress of encounters with law enforcement.

“If instead, I had you run up 20 flights of stairs in a commercial office building and then put you in a prone position with five people sitting on your back,” Wohlgelernter says, “you’re gonna run out of oxygen pretty darn quickly.”

Demands for better police accountability

Decades of substituting excited delirium for other causes has served to shift blame away from law enforcement, says California Assemblyman Mike Gipson, who introduced the bill banning excited delirium as a cause of death.

“I think one can draw the conclusion that this was to cover up people dying at the hands of law enforcement,” Gipson says. He noted that Colorado legislators interested in passing a similar bill recently reached out to him about details. In December, Colorado’s Peace Officers Standards and Training board struck all references to excited delirium from its training materials.

In February, the ABA House of Delegates recommended that all deaths in police custody be accounted for and receive proper scrutiny. It passed a resolution urging state and local governments to follow the federal Death in Custody Reporting Act and ensure there are independent investigations into all deaths in police custody and at correctional institutions. The resolution also recommends a check box on all US standard death certificates specifying whether a death is in custody.

When Elijah McClain was confronted by police in Aurora, Colorado in 2019, paramedics diagnosed the young Black man with excited delirium. After being beaten and put in a chokehold by police, McClain was injected with the sedative ketamine by paramedics, went into cardiac arrest, and died four days later.

“It was the protocols on excited delirium,” says Naples-Mitchell, “that led to the administration of ketamine, which seems to have caused his death, in addition to the excessive force used by officers when he was stopped while walking home, totally healthy.”

In December, two paramedics who administered ketamine to McClain were found guilty of criminally negligent homicide. When asked by the ABA Journal whether ACEP was considering revising a policy that recommends administering ketamine to those experiencing hyperactive delirium, Goodloe said, “The evidence-based recommendations in the 2021 paper specifically address prudent dosing of ketamine. The outlined dosing regimen is notably different than paramedics were reported to have administered in the encounter involving Mr. McClain.”

Many local jurisdictions still have emergency service procedures that mention excited delirium and advise responding with ketamine. Joe Meinecke, a spokesperson for the Tacoma Fire Department, which employs the paramedic who testified in the trial of the officers involved in Ellis’ death, said that its first responders follow county protocols—which currently advise responders to work with law enforcement officers to restrain people experiencing excited delirium and to sedate them with a 4mg/kg dose of ketamine.

Mitchell hopes other states will follow California’s lead in banning excited delirium.

“We should get rid of excited delirium because it’s not an accurate diagnosis of what has caused death,” Mitchell says. “It’s a description of circumstances.”

Gipson says his bill has brought the Quinto family some consolation. “They’ve said to me that these policies can’t bring Angelo Quinto back but can hopefully make sure that no one will have to go through what their family did and what Angelo experienced.”

The entire story can be read at: 


https://www.abajournal.com/web/article/doctors-question-use-of-excited-delirium-to-explain-deaths-of-suspects-in-police-custody

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

————————————————————————————————