Sharing Views on Prosecutorial Reform

Well said.

I wish that conventional media would also play a more active role, acting more decisively and with less timidity to expose corrupt prosecutors.

Finally I do think Social Media may have a role to play here. It may be that prosecutors become aware that there is oversight by “the people” that they cannot safely ignore.

Wrongful Convictions Blog

If you’ve read much of my stuff on this blog, you must know that prosecutors, as a group, are not my favorite people. I am a person driven by logic, fairness, reason, and justice. Given their position, I would expect prosecutors to be the same. After all, they’re supposed to be “ministers of justice,” but my observation is that’s so often not the case. I will grant that because of the work that I do, I routinely have exposure to prosecutorial behavior that is less than ethical, is not in the interest of true justice, and is sometimes just criminal. And because they’re “prosecutors,” they get away with it. I do not believe that prosecutors are inherently evil and unethical people; but they are human beings, subject to all the same human frailties that we all are. In fact, I believe their behavior, given the incentives built into the…

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Bryan Stephenson on Charlestown and Race

CJ: Does that mean Dylan Roof should not get the death penalty?

BS: I don’t think anybody should get the death penalty. I’m against the death penalty. Not because I believe people don’t deserve to die for the crimes that they commit. I think that we don’t deserve to kill. The system of justice in South Carolina is not going to be better or more racially just based on whether this kid gets executed or not. If I were the governor of South Carolina, I’d say: “We’re going to abolish the death penalty, because we have a history of lynching and terror that has demonized and burdened people of color in this state since we’ve became a state. I’m not gonna end the death penalty because there are innocent people on death row, I’m not gonna end the death penalty because I think it’s unreliable or it’s too expensive, I’m gonna end it because in South Carolina, we have a history of bias and terror and violence and segregation, and the death penalty has been a tool for sustaining that, and I’m gonna say we’re not gonna have that.” And most African Americans in South Carolina would celebrate that. That actually would be the first time somebody has done something responsive to this history of racial hierarchy and bigotry. And I think every southern governor should do the same. That’s when you’d get the different conversations starting in this country. Then you might get some progress.


Dylan Roof

Predictably, someone is calling for the death penalty for Dylan Roof.

The crime was undeniably appalling, at every level.

But there is always a reason why death for death is not the right response.

I say the death penalty would validate the crime, by implying that the person committing the crime was not insane.

As usual, it’s the wrong response.

Edgar Patino

Wrongly Convicted Group Website

Sergeant Edgar Patino plead guilty to a murder he did not commit.

On June 14, 2008, Megan Touma, 7 months pregnant was murdered. Her body was found on the 21st June, 2008, at the Cross Creek Mall Fairfield Inn, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Patino worked for the Criminal Investigation Command of the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg.

When police entered, they found the Zodiac sign written in lipstick on a mirror.

Megan was killed in the bathtub and had been rabbit punched in the throat.

A Zodiac letter, dated June 17, 2008 (four days before the body was found), was sent, claiming responsibility.

On June 28, 2008, Edwards went online, using his grandmother’s name “Anibal”, implicating Patino.

Patino was arrested on June 28, 2008. He denied the murder.

In 2010, threatened with a charge of 1st degree murder, and a possible death penalty, Patino plead guilty to 2nd degree murder…

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Edward Edwards was the Zodiac Killer

A few months ago John A. Cameron sent me a copy of his book about Edward Wayne Edwards.

It’s an extraordinary and complex story, with nearly 100 murders, a big cast of characters, and the details cannot be absorbed easily or quickly. This article is about the basic thesis in the book : that Edwards was the Zodiac killer.

First some basic facts. Edwards was born on June 14, 1933 in Akron, Ohio. In 1956 after a series of armed robberies, he spent 3 years in Deer Lodge prison, Montana. In May 1962 he was sentenced to 16 years in prison. In 1967, he was paroled.

Now the thesis, and some of the evidence that supports it.

December 20, 1968, was the date of the first Zodiac Killer murders in California. The objective of Edwards was apparently to frame Frank Dryman, who he had met in Deer Lodge prison, 12 years earlier. The Zodiac Killer (Edwards) told one survivor that he had been in Deer Lodge prison, and wore a costume with a Zodiac symbol, as Dryman had done while in Deer Lodge prison.

Per wikipedia:

On August 1, 1969, three letters were received at the Vallejo Times Herald, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The San Francisco Examiner. The nearly identical letters took credit for the shootings at Lake Herman Road and Blue Rock Springs. Each letter also included one-third of a 408-symbol cryptogram which the killer claimed contained his identity.

A week later, the cryptogram was decoded, including the statement “all that I have killed will become my slaves”.

The last confirmed victim of the Zodiac was cab driver Paul Lee Stine, 29: shot and killed on October 11, 1969, in the Presidio Heights neighborhood in San Francisco.

In 1972, Edwards wrote an autobiography titled The Metamorphosis of a Criminal: The True Life Story of Ed Edwards.

In this autobiography he describes an inmate in Deer Lodge prison, stating “He believed that anyone he killed would be his slave in the next life”, this is intended to be Frank Dryman, who was paroled to Vallejo in January 1969. Apparently Edwards made a mistake in committing the first Zodiac murder just before Dryman was paroled.

Also in the autobiography, (page 392) Edwards quotes his aunt asking him to get out the cab two blocks from her house, due to his noteriety. This apparently refers to Beatrice Bellett, the first wife of John Bellett, Edward’s uncle.

It’s Me” page 87 shows a Christmas 1970 photograph of Edwards (referred to as Wayne), with Edith Bellett (described as Edwards’ aunt), Ediths’ brother-in-law, Annabelle Meyers (“Wayne’s grandmother”), John Bellett, and “Kay” (described as “Wayne’s wife”).


The photo was obtained from Dawn Bellett, John Bellett’s daughter from an earlier marriage, who Cameron interviewed. Dawn said her mother, Beatrice, worked at “Lefty O’Douls”, an Irish pub in San Francisco, close to the intersection of Mason Street and Geary Boulevard, the location where Stine picked up the Zodiac before being murdered. Dawn also said her mother lived two blocks from where Stine was killed by the Zodiac in October 1969.

So it seems likely that Edwards picked up a cab after leaving the pub where Beatrice worked, then murdered the driver Paul Lee Stine, when he was dropped off, perhaps over a dispute over the fare or for some other reason.

Edwards sent anonymous tips to newspapers, this (recovered from a box of paper Edwards left, It’s Me page 68) was published in 1971: Zodiac Killer Leads Page 1

Zodiac Killer Leads Page 2
Note Edwards carefully mentions that he is married “I told my wife”, and describes himself as a “retired soldier” and “former convict”, while remaining anonymous “He may come after me”.

On November 2, 2001, the day after Kent Heitholt was murdered, Edwards mentioned in a blog that it was the 35th anniversary of the death of CJB, meaning Cheri Jo Bates, who, aged18, was stabbed to death and nearly decapitated on October 30, 1966, at Riverside City College in Riverside. Bates’s possible connection to the Zodiac only appeared four years after her murder when San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery received an anonymous tip regarding similarities between the Zodiac killings and the circumstances surrounding Bates’s death. It seems that Edwards wanted to make this connection, as he was in prison at the time this murder was committed.

In 2010, the final part of the Zodiac cryptogram was finally decoded, it reads “I’m Edward E. Vexed I.Q. Hath You Greater Than I”, the final confirmation that Edwards was indeed the Zodiac.

In 2014, Cameron’s book was published. He stated that Edwards was responsible for the death of Laci Peterson.

In March 2015, a very similar Edwards cryptogram signature to a confession “I killed Laci Peterson” was decoded by myself, as “Edward E”. A final confirmation that Edwards was indeed the killer of Laci Peterson.

See also Edward Wayne Edwards : Relations.

Note 1 ( October 10, 2019 ): When I wrote this in 2015, I didn’t notice the Zodiac Killer Leads article had two unnamed sources not one.

Note 2 ( October 2019 ): It turns out Edwards may very well have been born on May 30, 1929, and not June 14, 1933. See for example here.

From death row to suicide : Paula Cooper

The more Bill learned about Paula, the more he was certain his grandmother would have forgiven her. He tried to visit her in prison, but was denied permission — it was against policy to allow convicted murderers to see members of their victim’s family. So Bill and Paula wrote letters. Their correspondence would last years. When 19-year-old Paula’s death sentence was commuted to 60 years in July 1989, Bill’s first words were, “Praise the Lord!” And by the time she was released on good behavior, on June 17, 2013, neither was the same person they had been in 1985. Paula was a grown women who had earned her GED, multiple degrees, and the support of prisoners and activists alike. Bill, now in his 60s, had founded Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing, one of the most influential anti-death penalty groups in the country, led by victims of crime. He had also gained permission to see Paula, visiting her 14 times.

Women on Death Row in The United States

I have previously looked closely at the list of women executed in the United States,I thought it would be interesting to look at the list of women currently on death row.

The list is dominated by California, with 20 cases. California’s death penalty system is demonstrably broken, with no recent executions.

Texas has 6 cases, one of whom is certainly innocent, Darlie Routier, and I suspect Linda Carty as well. Texas has undoubtedly executed many innocents, including a woman, Frances Newton.

Florida has 5 cases. Notably Casey Anthony was found not guilty by a jury some years ago after the State sought the death penalty, to the surprise of many. Another disputed case is Ana Maria Cardona, which I have not studied in detail.

Arizona has an especially catastrophic record : Debra Milke was recently exonerated more than 25 years after her son was murdered, I suspect Shawna Forde is also innocent, and but for a single juror, Jodi Arias, also innocent, might be on Arizona death row. That leaves just Wendi Adriano.

Mississipi has one case, another Michelle Byrom who is innocent, was awarded a last minute retrial in March 2014.

Generally speaking, there are several cases when the woman allegedly acted with her boyfriend or husband, some cases of extreme child neglect, and some with mental disorders.

My general conclusions:

(1) The execution of women in the United States is serving no useful purpose.
(2) There are a significant number of wrongful convictions.

[ Article may be updated over time ]

See also Marilyn Mulero

Supreme Court Justice’s perfect capital-punishment case – exonerated

What an idiot this judge on the US Supreme Court is : did he HAVE to pick a case where the accused was innocent.

Wrongly Convicted Group Website

A little over two decades ago, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was dismissive of then-Justice Harry Blackmun’s concerns about the death penalty. In fact, Scalia had a case study in mind that demonstrated exactly why the system of capital punishment has value.
As regular readers may recall, Scalia specifically pointed to a convicted killer named Henry Lee McCollum as an obvious example of a man who deserved to be put to death. “For example, the case of an 11-year-old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat,” Scalia wrote in a 1994 ruling. “How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection compared with that!”
For Scalia, McCollum was the perfect example – a murderer whose actions were so heinous that his crimes stood as a testament to the merit of capital punishment itself.
Yesterday, McCollum was pardoned. Scalia’s perfect example of a…

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