Kara Garvin

Wrongly Convicted Group Website

Featured case #47

On December 22, 2008, between 6 and 6:38 pm, a man, his wife, and his 20-year-old daughter were shot in an execution style murder. Their 6-year-old grandson was present.

The child ran to a neighbor who called his mother and her uncle. He then called 911. On the 911 call the child said a girl with black hair came in and shot his papaw, mamaw and sissy, he did not know her name. The child could NOT have seen what he testified to after being coached by the State – his original statements are in conflict with his testimony. Kara’s hair was blonde not black.

There was no physical evidence linking Kara to the crime, and other conflicts in the State’s theory.

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Causes of wrongful convictions

When studying wrongful convictions, there are many causes. The most routine causes are witnesses who are either mistaken or who have a motive to lie. For example:

  • Faulty eyewitness identification
  • Guilty parties putting the blame on others
  • Incompetent expert witnesses ( liars-for-hire )

Then we have coerced false confessions ( or even confessions that never happened ). I suspect that with recording of suspect interviews, such confessions are now relatively rare.

Next, we have innocent people who lie, which is not exactly a false confession, but can easily cause a wrongful conviction. Examples are self-defense cases where the killing is not immediately reported, lying about being at the scene of a crime.

Then we have cases where there are ambiguous suspicious circumstances. For example a gun being stolen, which might be the murder weapon. A person being a prime suspect ( perhaps simply by being at the scene ). It can be a strange occurrence that has no obvious innocent explanation ( perhaps the Owl attack in the Michael Peterson case ). Or an event that might or might not be an accident (often the death of a child).

Then there is police manipulating evidence, coercing witnesses, suppressing evidence favorable to the accused, or not investigating alternative theories, to get a conviction.

Finally, we have cases where there is some combination of the above causes.

When investigating an alleged wrongful conviction, after establishing the facts, the key is to identify the causes.

… To Be Completed …

Jodi Arias Witness : “Child porn popped up, Alexander’s name on file”

Same witness claims when he opened download file of communal computer at bishop’s house, child porn popped up, Alexander’s name on file. ( https://twitter.com/michaelbkiefer/stat … 3481608194 )

Witness says in affidavit he took Alexander out to car to talk to him about the child porn and Alexander said he had been abused at age 12.  ( https://twitter.com/michaelbkiefer/stat … 8420862978 )

Geffner looks at an affadivit is which witness claimed to see Alexander holding Deanna Reed down on a couch. https://twitter.com/michaelbkiefer/status/557677271730126849

According to witness affidavit, Alexander screaming, “get it through your f-ing head, I’m not going to marry you.”

Earlier:

Defense witness Dr. Robert Geffner testified. He spent most of the day dissecting the victim’s Travis Alexander’s attitude towards women. Geffner testified Alexander showed patterns of exploitation and manipulation. According to the defense, Alexander was involved with multiple women at the same time. Geffner said Alexander told women he was a 30-year-old virgin to coerce them to sleep with him. This is a text message Alexander sent another woman about Arias back in 2007.

“It is a lose-lose situation. If I avoid her I deal with lots of tears. So I deal with it. Don’t get me wrong. She is an amazing girl. A better person than me but we are not right for each other. I don’t think she has that entirely figured out. It’s a tough spot to be in.”

http://www.abc15.com/news/region-phoenix-metro/central-phoenix/jodi-arias-trial-update-sexual-texts-cheating-and-lies-in-convicted-murderers-retrial

20Jan2015
Jodi in court on 20 January, 2015

Facebook Note

Hubert Mayhugh Update

Update on Hubert Mayhugh.

My attention has been drawn to Megan Mecum’s appeal: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/08211402mpb.pdf

Reading it quickly, two things stand out:

Mecum was arrested and, while she was being booked and completing a suicide questionnaire, Mecum stated, “I just killed my f*****g husband what makes you think I won’t kill myself.”

and

That same day, Rachel saw J.R. go into the backyard with a trash bag, and J.R. told a friend, while crying profusely, “I didn’t mean to do it.”

I believe Rachel was lying and made this up. The crucial question would seem to be : who was the “friend”?

This “friend” could confirm that Rachel was lying.

Is Judge Sherry Stephens Confused?

In a long ruling issued 14th January 2015, Judge Sherry Stephens writes at the bottom of page 8:

Defendant argues that failure to provide the June 11, 2008 mirror image could have affected the jury’s verdict in the guilt phase trial because the State argued during closing argument that there was no corroboration for the defendant’s claim that she saw the victim viewing child pornography on his laptop computer.

However, trial watchers know that Jodi testified that the child pornography was on paper, NOT on a computer. Although, Alyce LaViolette also said she had assumed it was on a computer in notes when Jodi first related the incident to her.

Michael Kiefer writing for the Arizona Republic summarised the complaint thus:

During Arias’ 2013 guilt-or-innocence trial, and during the present sentencing retrial, Mesa police officers testified under oath that the computer was free of pornography and computer viruses. Prosecutor Juan Martinez used that testimony to refute Arias’ assertions that Alexander was sexually attracted to young boys and he branded her a liar for saying the porn and viruses were there.

and a defense motion says

Thus, when guilt phase proceedings began on January 2, 2013, Ms. Arias. despite her best efforts had no evidence that any pornography was on Mr. Alexander’s Compaq Computer. Thus, when Ms. Arias took the stand and testified that on or about January 21, 2008, she caught Mr. Alexander masturbating to an image of a child, she had no objective support for the reality that Mr. Alexander viewed child pornography. Thus, at various stages of the proceedings the State claimed that Ms. Arias was lying about this incident, that she was making this incident up to disparage Mr. Alexander and that Ms. Arias was a “liar” whose testimony should not be believed.

This attack on Ms. Arias’ credibility also expanded to include attacks upon Ms. Arias’ expert witnesses. In particular, the State went on to attack the professionalism of Domestic Violence Expert Ms. Alyce Laviolette and psychologist Dr. Richard Samuels because they based their diagnosis on the words of a “liar,” Jodi Arias.

Is judge Sherry Stephens confused or what?

Jodi Arias and the Scientific Method

Someone said:

“George, that is, well, not how we come to verdicts here in the US…..is that common in the UK, where people just throw out all the evidence and go on their feelings? ”

My answer: No! I am not “throwing out” ANY evidence. I am NOT going on “feelings”. I am applying the SCIENTIFIC METHOD.

This works because using “feelings” sometimes does NOT work. I haven’t ranted about this for a while, but this is the whole problem. What is essential to first establish what the two competing hypotheses are and then to decide which can be true.

So : what is the prosecution case? We don’t discuss it enough, perhaps because everyone recognises it isn’t true. The prosecution case is that Jodi stole her grandpa’s gun and used gas cans to keep her trip to Mesa secret. Then when she gets there, she doesn’t shoot Travis, instead they take nude photos of each other, and then she attacks Travis with a knife she also has brought with her, besides the gun. She also has the camera strapped around her neck with a mysterious strap (which is a big problem with the State’s case). Then after being attacked with the knife in the shower, Travis goes and stands at the sink, turning his back on Jodi, letting her stab him repeatedly in the back, but her finger hurts so the cuts are shallow (this is wrong, because the cuts are wide and shallow). And WHY does she want to murder Travis? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Finally Jodi shoots Travis after he is dead.

Besides being nonsense, this prosecution case is incompatible with the evidence. It’s simply NOT true. So it didn’t happen. We can definitely reject it and laugh at how stupid it is. Except Jodi is locked up.

Arias in court Monday

Judge must dismiss charges in Jodi Arias case

The prosecution tampered with Travis’ laptop to conceal pornography, and then argued that Jodi lied using this tampered evidence. The charges must be dismissed.

Report here

During Arias’ 2013 guilt-or-innocence trial, and during the present sentencing retrial, Mesa police officers testified under oath that the computer was free of pornography and computer viruses. Prosecutor Juan Martinez used that testimony to refute Arias’ assertions that Alexander was sexually attracted to young boys and he branded her a liar for saying the porn and viruses were there.

Mesa police have since admitted that the computer did have significant amounts of pornography and viruses despite the earlier testimony by the trial’s case agent and a police forensic expert.

Arias in court Monday

The Magna Carta (1215 anno domini) is in the news

I read in my paper today that “The hypocrites have jumped aboard the Magna Carta bandwagon“. Peter Oborne of the Telegraph thunders that “Neither the Government nor the VIPs celebrating the historic charter’s anniversary give a damn about its principles”. It looks like he has done his homework.

Graham Allen MP on the other hand claims “We need a new Magna Carta, fit for our modern democracy“. I am not convinced, I think we just need to stick with the current version.

The vital clause, courtesy of wikipedia is

XXIX. NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land.

This is the essense of Habeas Corpus. Let’s get it done!

Why does the majority often get high profile cases wrong?

Scales of JusticeLooking back at the year 2014, I followed two South African trials in some detail.

In both cases, before trial, it would have been hard to be confident of the outcome without a detailed knowledge of the evidence.

Oscar Pistorius was alleged to have deliberately shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp after an argument.

Shrien Dewani was alleged to have hired men to murder his wife.

I will not go into the evidence here, please refer to the hyperlinks, except to state that the evidence in both cases was conclusive. There is no doubt whatsoever that the allegations were false, after the evidence was examined in court.

What I find interesting though is that in both cases, it appears the prejudice of the majority was totally wrong. The man on the street (or perhaps I should say on the internet) apparently concluded well in advance of trial, and with little doubt, that both men were guilty as charged. This prejudice seems to have only strengthened as the evidence was heard.

For countries that rely on juries to come to correct conclusions, the implications are alarming. It seems that the man on the street is not reliable, and is easily inflenced by pre-trial publicity. It is therefore not surprising that wrongful convictions can easily occur in such circumstances.

And that’s the memo!