Category Archives: Analysis

Nonsense!

Nonsensical prosecution cases that don’t add up.

(1) Jodi Arias plans a murder in which she takes selfies of herself committing the crime.

(2) Scott Peterson plans a murder, in which he disposes of the body in broad daylight, and then tells the police  where he disposed of the body.

(3) David Temple plans to murder his pregnant wife with a shotgun at 4:10 p.m. in an upstairs room, hoping nobody will hear the shot or notice his vehicle or him leaving the scene.

(4) Justin Ross Harris murders his son, and while doing so, is sexting underage women, an offense for which he is sentenced to 10 years in prison.

(5) Jason Sadowski duct-tapes two women to poles, tortures them, then unties one of them and let’s her call the police on a mobile phone ( also leaves the building, so they are free to leave, no locked doors ).

(6) Darlie Routier murders her sons, with her husband in the house, and rushes outside to plant a sock in an alley-way hoping he won’t come down in the meantime. She then sets about a complex staging of the scene involving nearly killing herself.

(7) Angelika Graswald  murders her fiance by removing a tiny plug on the top of his Kayak, even though the amount of water that can come in due to bad weather there is minimal compared to the amount coming through the large opening where he sits.

(8) Debra Milke murders her son because “she didn’t want him to grow up to be like” his father.

Discussion here

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Invalid juror inference

In this audio interview after the penalty retrial, 14 minutes 20 seconds in, a juror concludes that Jodi lied on the stand.

According to the juror, Jodi testified that when she was looking for a house with Darryl Brewer, they wanted to purchase a house in a good school district, because of his son.

But in earlier testimony, it was stated they only had the Darryl’s son Jack during the summer time.

Juror : “So at that point I felt like, ok, she’s lying to my face, I can’t give any credit to any of her testimony.”

However, in Darryl Brewer’s testimony from the first trial, it was explained that Jack’s mother had plans to re-marry, and move to that area, to be close to Jack. There was shared custody , and Jack would live with Darryl part of the time. So in fact there was no reason to believe Jodi’s testimony was untrue. Darryl was simply doing forward planning for an anticipated change in circumstances.

Were these jurors fit to judge a case of this complexity?

 

Trapped with Ms. Arias

This blog is some observations about Kirk Nurmi’s performance as a lawyer for Jodi Arias, in light of some of the information he discloses about the pre-trial preparations in the first of three books about the case.

Although being a self-published book, presumably written without the aid of a professional editor, the first thing to say is I found the book to be very readable and engaging. Kirk explains his view of the law, the case and his feelings about Jodi Arias with great clarity. For anyone interested in the case, I would say this book is a “must-buy”.

I would also say this is a very honest book. It pulls no punches in making it very clear that Nurmi, before the trial began, did not like Jodi Arias and did not wish to represent her at trial.

There is a lot of fascinating information in the book, much of it new. For example we learn that the first domestic violence expert could not testify due to illness.

I have no criticism of the analysis Nurmi makes about the relationship between Jodi and Travis Alexander. I also agree with his assessment of the State’s professional witnesses. He observes that DeMarte was inexperienced, Flores was evasive, and suggests Dr Horn’s change of theory was suspicious. In addition Melendez was not a true expert, only having minimal training in the operation of Encase.

Now to some criticisms. I have to say Nurmi shows a lack of empathy. Of course an attorney must maintain some distance from his client, but by his own account he had a very poor relationship with both Jodi and her mother. He indicates he was unable to communicate effectively with Jodi at meetings, failing to adapt to any shortcomings she had.

He also jumps to early conclusions. For example he deduces from Jodi’s booking photo that she is mentally ill. According to my sources, the truth of the matter is that when the photo was taken, it was suggested to Jodi that she looked miserable, and so she smiled for the camera.

More seriously, he seems to assume that Jodi and not Travis was the aggressor in the fight that happened on June 4, 2008. I believe this mistaken belief meant that he did not closely examine the evidence at the scene to determine if it could be used to argue that Travis was in fact the aggressor.

He also failed to anticipate that the case would hinge on Jodi’s testimony concerning the gas cans, and failed to obtain evidence that would corroborate her testimony.

Ultimately I believe these failures contributed to Jodi’s wrongful conviction, but on the positive side, I also believe that the State’s case is utterly false, and Jodi should and will win a new trial.

I look forward to parts two and three.

Discussion here.

See also Raising the bar – but certainly not in Arizona by Lise LaSalle.

 

 

 

Richard Glossip – what really happened

In the early morning hours of January 7, 1997, Barry Van Treese was beaten to death in room 102 at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City. The murder weapon was an aluminum baseball bat. During the struggle, the window in room 102 was broken out.

When interviewed by police, Justin Sneed, who admitted to killing Van Treese, after several changes of story, and after suggestions by the police, alleged that Richard Glossip hired him to murder Van Treese “So he could run the hotel without him being the boss“.

According to Sneed “Barry never said anything; he just jumped out of bed“.

However there is a big problem with this:

John Prittie was staying in room 103, a room that shared a wall with room 102, where Van Treese was murdered. At trial, Mr. Prittie testified that he “heard an argument…some muffled arguing or some type of discussion going on.” It was “somewhat” loud. He testified that there was “…more than one person” involved and that there were “….male and female voices that I thought I heard too.”

Mr. Prittie then testified that, after he heard the voices, he heard “objects hitting the ground,” “metallic sounds,” and “possibly glass breaking.” He said he then noticed that things got quiet, only to begin again with “more of the arguing, more of the same.” According to Mr. Prittie, the noise stopped shortly thereafter.

So

  1. Sneed lied, there was an argument.
  2. What can the argument have been about? It doesn’t make sense if this was murder for hire.
  3. The evidence indicates an argument or a burglary gone wrong not a planned murder.

In addition, a large amount of cash was found in the trunk of Van Treese’s car, stained with blue dye.

This was apparently money stolen from a drug dealer, who wanted it back.

The obvious truth : Sneed had been persuaded to steal the car keys so the drug dealer could take his money back.

Sources

  1.  When Eight is Enough How many “true” stories does it take to execute an innocent man? Transcript summary and commentary written by Mr. Glossip’s Innocence Legal Defense Team.
  2. What Richard’s first lawyer, Wayne Fournerat is saying.

Discussion here.

Oscar Pistorius a political prisoner

After the decision was announced, the ANC ruling party made no secret of where it stood on the case, denouncing the former Olympic champion as a “murderer” despite the judge’s ruling that Pistorius was guilty only of unintentionally killing Steenkamp. “Murder of Reeva Steenkamp at hands of Oscar Pistorius is a sore reminder of brutality meted out to and vulnerability of many women,” one tweet posted on its official Twitter feed read.

Via http://time.com/4004551/oscar-pistorius-south-africa-release/

Sigh… this is ridiculous.

This is the tweet:

Politicians never like to admit they were totally, utterly wrong!

See also http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-08-20-analysis-are-politics-keeping-oscar-pistorius-in-jail/

Are judges and lawyers around the country finally realising it’s game over?

I think “game over” is not accurate, but I do think judges and prosecuting attorneys are aware that social media means their conduct is being subjected to closer scrutiny than in the past.

I do actually believe some progress is being made, although of course corruption is still widespread. I am not sure how that can be measured.

The shame is that the spate of DNA-based exonerations which have exposed the problems may be a one-off event, and so far the lessons have not been fully been incorporated into the legal system.

Especially we still don’t really know why jurys convict when proof beyond a reasonable doubt is clearly missing, and little has been done to legally address this fundamental problem.

We do have a kind of informal “citizen review”, but this doesn’t have any legal force. Maybe it should.

Written in reaction to this article, first posted here.

Richard Glossip – reading between the lines

Richard Glossip is due to be executed on September 16 for the murder of Barry Van Treese, who owned the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City where Glossip worked.

At a recent news conference, Attorney Don Knight mentions

“tales of $23,100 in the trunk of Van Treese’s car, some of it covered with blue dye and never properly accounted”

and the article states

Quote

“He [Don Knight] pointed to other possible suspects, including Richard Page (with a long criminal past and a murder conviction in Arkansas), Richard’s brother Bobby “who dealt drugs and had a violent past,” and another Richard – Barrett who, as reporterTim Farley summarized “served prison time and showed a history of violence.”

As has been reported often before now, all three of those men were also at or around the Inn the weekend Van Treese was killed.

End Quote

The large amount of cash in the trunk seems likely to be linked to drug dealing. Recently I noticed claims by a Facebook account claiming to be  Richard Glossip’s first trial lawyer that:

  1. Barry Van Treese was killed because he had Cliff Everhart and Tim Brown steal $25,000 cash from a heroin dealer.
  2. The remainder of $24,100 was found in the trunk of Van Treese’s car, along with the briefcase that the heroin dealer used to safely carry the money in.
  3. The money had blue dye all over it because Van Treese did not have the proper keys to open the briefcase (the heroin buyer had them).
  4. The briefcase was a special briefcase used by drug dealers use which it sets off a blue dye cartridge inside the case when the case is opened without following the proper key sequence.

This sounds quite plausible to me, in fact much more plausible than Richard Glossip wanting his boss murdered for no good reason.

In addition, in another message, I see the following claim:

“It was after the public defenders (Oklahoma Indigent Defense System) hired Cliff Everhart, a rapist ex sheriff of Binger OK, as Richard’s only investigator on his defense team. WTF? Cliff Everhart and Sgt Brown (both employees of the victim) are the reason Det(s) Bemo and Cook believed Richard Glossip mastermind the murder of Barry Van Tresse.”

Was Richard Glossip implicated because Cliff Everhart needed the truth about the murder to be concealed, and was Glossip’s defense fatally compromised by his investigator being someone involved in the affair?

I hope the truth comes out in time to avert the execution.

Juan Martinez Known for Misconduct

Robert J. Smith is a law professor at the University of North Carolina, whose work was cited in Justice Breyer’s dissent on June 29, 2015.

Jodi Ann Arias - Innocent in Arizona

“Gallagher’s colleague in the district attorney’s office, Juan Martinez, has a comparable record. He once likened a Jewish defense lawyer to “Adolf Hitler” and his “Big Lie,” a tactic the Arizona Supreme Court deemed “reprehensible.” One judge noted of Martinez: “You’re at war, almost nuclear war, the minute you come up against him.” The recent trial of Jodi Arias, a woman who claimed that she killed her boyfriend in self-defense, was a rare case in which Martinez failed to secure a death sentence. When defense counsel Jennifer Willmott asserted that the victim had been suicidal, he responded: “If Ms. Willmott and I were married, I certainly would say, I fucking want to kill myself.” The Arizona Supreme Court has found his behavior, like Gallagher’s, to constitute prosecutorial misconduct.

From America’s Deadliest Prosecutors by By Robert J. Smith, May 14, 2015

Note: Robert J. Smith is a law professor at the University…

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Estimating time of death

I was looking at this today, due to the prosecution claims in the Chrisopher Coleman case.

Googling, I found this page: http://www.pathguy.com/TimeDead.htm

and then this online calculator: http://www.swisswuff.ch/calculators/todeszeit.php

I left the “Henssge empiric correction factor” at the default value of 1.

I believe the day was cool (using a weather site), the ambient temperature might have been around 55F = 12.7C

The temperature at 11am was 90.4F = 32.4C ( this should be rectal ).

I guessed the body weight as 70kg.

Using these figures, the calculator says:

“Estimated time of death: 6h 30min (95% tolerance: 3h 30min to 9h 30min); rounded to 30min.”

So based on the temperature, it appears there is in fact no reason to disbelieve Coleman’s testimony that his family was alive when he left the house at 5:43 a.m.