Category Archives: Case Summary

Scott Peterson’s Habeas Appeal

Scott Peterson’s Habeas appeal is a lengthy document, running to 285 pages, so I thought it might be useful to write a short summary. Very briefly, the case is as follows:

Case summary

On December 24, 2002, Scott reported that his wife Laci was missing from their Modesto, California home. Laci was eight months pregnant with a due date of February 10, 2003. The couple had planned to name her baby boy Conner. The story attracted nationwide media interest. Scott told police that he had made a trip to Berkeley Marina that day, and police made an intensive but unsuccessful search of the Bay near that location, suspecting that he may have murdered Laci and disposed of the body there.

On April 13, 2003, Conner’s body was found close to shore just North of Berkeley Marina, and the next day Laci’s body was found in the same area, also close to the shore. The exact date and cause of Laci’s death could not be determined.

Scott was arrested, tried and found guilty of the murder of his wife and unborn son, and sentenced to death on March 16, 2005.

The fundamental question is whether Scott disposed of Laci’s body, or whether some unknown person or persons planted the bodies in order to cause his arrest and trial.

The State alleged that the murder was premeditated, and that Scott bought a boat to dispose of Laci’s body. Police found a concrete anchor Scott had made, and suggested that he had made four similar anchors to weigh Laci’s body down. A single hair, said to have been Laci’s, was found on a pair of pliers from Peterson’s boat. The state suggested that Laci was murdered before Scott left the house on December 24,

In more detail, the state’s theory was that

  • Scott killed Laci in their home between the night of December 23 and the morning of December 24, possibly by suffocation.
  • Scott put the leash on McKenzi and let him loose in the neighborhood so that it would appear that Laci had been abducted while she walked the dog. Scott moved the body to his Modesto warehouse by putting it in a toolbox in the back of his truck.
  • At the warehouse, Scott then attached homemade cement anchors to the body and placed it in the back of his 14-foot Sears-Roebuck boat which he then towed to the Berkeley marina.
  • When Scott got to the marina he launched the boat and, once on the bay, he pushed the body (with the anchors) overboard.
  • Scott committed the crime either for financial reasons or to obtain freedom from Laci and Conner.

It is not disputed that Scott took his boat out on the bay, but the state did not prove Laci’s body was in it. Scott accurately described an island he visited near the marina.

The state suggested that police dogs had detected Laci’s scent at the marina.

The Habeas Appeal

The appeal makes nineteen claims in all, I will concentrate on those that seem to me to be the strongest points.

  1. One of the jurors lied during voir dire when asked if she had ever been the victim of a crime. In fact, “when the juror was four and one-half months pregnant in November of 2000, she and her unborn baby were threatened, assaulted and stalked by her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend”.
  2. An expert called by the prosecution testified that Conner, Laci’s unborn child, died on Dec 23 or Dec 24, 2002, using a formula devised by by Dr. Phillipe Jeanty. However, the defense alleges that the estimate was not done correctly, and the correct calculation would indicate that Conner did not die until January 3, 2003, undermining the State’s case.
  3. An expert  on canine scent detection, Dr. Myers, has concluded that the claim that a dog detected Laci Peterson’s scent at the Berkeley Marina on December 28, 2002, is completely unreliable, and would have appeared completely unreliable to any expert adequately trained in the field of canine scent detection.
  4. The defense claims that a state expert wrongly testified that the bodies must have been placed in the bay near Brooks Island, where Scott went fishing.
  5. The defense has discovered evidence that the Petersons’ gate was open between 10:35 and 10:50 a.m. on Dec 24, 2002. This is very significant, because 15 to 30 minutes earlier a witness had put the family dog Mckenzi back into the yard and closed the gate. The only reasonable conclusion is that Laci took the dog for a walk around 10:30am, meaning that Scott is innocent.
  6. In addition, there were three eyewitnesses who saw Laci walking Mckenzi.  Diane Campos saw a “very pregnant” woman walking a dog  that looked like a golden retriever with a white marking down the front of his chest around 10:45am. Two days later, Campos saw a poster of Laci Peterson, and stated she was sure it was the same person, and reported the sighting to the police. Frank Aguilar reported seeing a pregnant woman walking a Labrador Retriever some time between 9:30am and 11:00am. Aguilar was sure the woman he saw was Laci Peterson. Finally, William Mitchell also saw Laci and Mckenzi on December 24, 2002.
  7. Finally, a corrections office heard Adam Tenbrink telling his brother that Steven Todd admitted that Laci had seen him breaking into the Medina’s home,  some time after 10:35am on Dec 24.

Of course this quick summary is no substitute for reading the full appeal, and I would urge anyone interested in the case to do just that. It is available here.

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McKenzi

 

 

 

The Kirstin Lobato Case: An American Miscarriage of Justice ( Copy )

The Kirstin Lobato Case: An American Miscarriage of Justice

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GroundReport | Author: Joseph Bishop
Filed Under: Opinion, US | Posted: 05/24/2012 at 12:43PM
Comments | Region: Nevada | United States

Last week marked ten years since Kirstin “Blaise” Lobato was initially found guilty in the killing of Duran Bailey, a 44 year-old homeless man who had been stabbed and sexually mutilated in Las Vegas in July 2001.  Despite substantial evidence affirming her innocence and clear reversible error by the presiding judge, Ms. Lobato remains in the same Nevada prison where she has spent most of the last decade.  Her case is now emerging as one of the foremost unjust convictions in the United States today.

The case is marked by a rock solid alibi (170 miles from the crime scene) and a complete lack of physical evidence linking her to the crime.  Blaise’s conviction was based entirely on statements she had made about a similar but unrelated altercation that occurred weeks before the murder.  During Blaise’s second trial in 2006, Judge Valerie Vega ruled that the jury could not hear the exonerating testimony of eight eye-witnesses who had at times prior to the July 8 murder seen Blaise speak of this same incident that she later described to investigators.

The Case

The body of Duran Bailey was found at 10:30PM on July 8, 2001 in a Las Vegas trash enclosure.  The location was in the parking lot of a bank in a well-populated area of town where it is unlikely that a violent struggle during daylight hours would have gone unnoticed. The victim had been repeatedly stabbed and his penis had been amputated.   Medical examiners noted full rigor-mortis at 3:50AM that morning but did little else to effectively determine the time of death.  In her latest appeal documents, defense experts pointed out that the lack of insects near the body almost certainly meant that the time of death was after sundown that day.  Daytime temperatures had reached 95 degrees at midday.

By the spring of 2001 Kirstin Lobato, then 18, had completed high school and had started to use methamphetamines. On May 25, 2001 she was attacked in the early morning hours by an unknown assailant in the parking lot of a Las Vegas Budget Suites Hotel.  As she describes it, she fended off the attempted sexual assault by using a knife to slash at her the attacker’s groin.  This man has never been located and never apparently sought medical attention for any of his possible injuries.

Over the following six weeks, Blaise described these traumatic events to at least eight different people who were not family members.  When Las Vegas police officers investigating Bailey’s death became aware of these conversations, they decided to follow up.  The similarities between Bailey’s July 8 murder and the May 25 attack were significant.  In both cases the attacker was black and there were slash wounds to the groin. Both events occurred in Las Vegas although Blaise gave a specific location eight miles away.

Kirstin Blaise Lobato never met Duran Bailey. She did not know who he was and she was never present at the location where the murder took place.  No one saw her in Las Vegas during the relevant times and there is not a shred of physical evidence linking her to the crime.

The eight people who heard Blaise talk of the May 25 incident are Doug Twining, Steve Pyskowski, Michelle Austria, Heather Mcbride, Kimberlee Isom Grindstaff, Daniel Lisoni, Chris Collier, and Catherine Reininger. Links to their statements are available at the end of this article.

The Alibi

 The first place that anyone seeking serious information about the case should look is the alibi table put together by Hans Sherrer, available in the links below.  See also the statements of those referenced in his table. Mr. Sherrer’s superb book about the case, Kirstin Blaise Lobato’s Unreasonable Conviction, is available on Amazon.com.

Kirstin Blaise Lobato was in Panaca, Nevada continuously from July 2 up until the time that Duran Bailey’s body was discovered on July 8, 2001.  Panaca is 170 miles from the crime scene meaning that a round trip by car would take at least six hours.  Not surprisingly the only witnesses who can verify that Blaise was asleep in her room during the night of July 7-8 (between 14 and 20 hours before the discovery of the body) are her parents and other relatives who lived in the same house with her.  Other witnesses not related to Blaise give specific details in sworn affidavits about her presence in Panaca on both the evening of July 7 and the early morning of July 8. The idea that she made the six hour round trip that night is just grasping at straws.  

The Appeals

Blaise was tried twice for the crime.  In both cases Judge Valerie Vega presided.  Her first conviction in 2002 for first degree murder was overturned on appeal.  The second trial in 2006 ended in a conviction for voluntary manslaughter and sexual penetration of a corpse. Blaise was sentenced to 13-35 years.  Both the prosecution and defense believed that the verdict represented a compromise between jurors.  Blaise had in fact been offered a plea deal that would have only resulted in a three year prison sentence.

Judge Vega is a controversial judge who is now best known for directing a jury in another murder trial to deliberate through the night after having spent the entire day listening to testimony.  She was concerned that any unanticipated extension of the trial might interfere with her vacation plans.

Over the past five years all of Blaise’s appeals have been denied.  Her present counsel appears to be doing a pretty good job but there are serious questions about the quality of her court appointed attorneys in the earlier proceedings.  At least one petition to the US Supreme Court has been denied.  At present she is presenting a lengthy Habeas Corpus petition to the Nevada Supreme Court.  For reasons that remain unclear, that court is refusing to accept an Amicus Curiae brief prepared by a group of wrongful conviction organizations.

The Hearsay Rulings

Investigators believed that statements made by Blaise about the May 25 incident actually referred to the July 8 murder.  This “confession” formed the basis of the case against her. As stated before, the defense sought to present powerful eye-witness statements of those who had seen Blaise talk of these same events prior to July 8, but Judge Vega considered this testimony to be hearsay and ruled it inadmissible.

Hearsay is an important legal concept designed to insure that any statements presented in court are subject to cross examination. If you testify that you saw something then it’s not hearsay.  If you testify that something happened because somebody told you about it, then it’s hearsay.  Hearsay is generally inadmissible although there are a number of exceptions defined in federal and state law.  Examples include dying statements, excited utterances, and prior inconsistent statements.  In all there are about 30 exceptions.

Central to the concept of hearsay is the “matter asserted.”  Typically if a witness describes a conversation with someone in the past, some elements of the conversation are hearsay and some aren’t depending on what is trying to be proven. Sworn testimony describing a conversation can be used to show that someone was alive at that time or present at a certain location. It might also be used to show that the person had specific knowledge at a point in time. The details of what the person described are considered to be hearsay.

Curiously her present lawyers may not be making the best arguments about the testimony excluded on hearsay grounds.  In Ground 46 of the Habeas Corpus petition they seem to concede that the prior incident testimony is hearsay but say it should be admitted under one of the exceptions allowed under Nevada law.

The better argument is that the testimony in question is not in fact hearsay.  The “matter asserted” is that at a time prior to July 8 Blaise had spoken of the same events that she described to investigators on July 20, 2001.  Based on what the eye-witnesses describe, the jurors would be free to consider the critical point of fact of whether Blaise was talking about the same incident that she later described to investigators. Any determination of what actually occurred on the night of May 25, 2001 would in fact be hearsay but that is irrelevant to the question at hand.

The Link to the Amanda Knox Case

Over the past several years a powerful grass roots organization came together surrounding the case of Amanda Knox, an American exchange student whose murder conviction in Perugia, Italy was recently overturned.  The case was a tabloid sensation in Europe largely because both the victim and one of the accused were attractive young women.  Blaise’s case has so far attracted none of the media attention present in that case.  In recent weeks a number of those who had worked so hard to argue for the innocence of Amanda Knox have taken an interest in the case of Kirstin Blaise Lobato.

Blaise’s case is similar to Amanda’s in some ways and quite different in others. In Amanda’s case there was limited access to the trial record and the result was an important public debate largely based on Internet blog hearsay. Rival groups emerged and a ferocious online conflict ensued, often featuring outright hate speech.  In Blaise’s case there is exquisite access to the relevant trial materials online.  Not one observer of the case has emerged to argue for her guilt.

Kirstin Blaise Lobato is innocent of the murder of Duran Bailey.  Her case is every bit as outrageous as Amanda Knox’s.  Stay tuned.

 

Main Site                                http://www.justice4kirstin.com/
Injustice-Anywhere             http://www.injustice-anywhere.org/

Habeas Corpus Petition
http://justicedenied.org/lobato_habeas.pdf

Alibi Table
http://justicedenied.org/kl/kbl_uc_table3.pdf

Prior Statement Witnesses

http://justicedenied.org/kl/habeas/exhibits/10_doug_twining_statement.pdf

http://justicedenied.org/kl/habeas/exhibits/11_steve_pyszkowski_affidavit.pdf

http://justicedenied.org/kl/habeas/exhibits/12_michelle_austria_affidavit.pdf

http://justicedenied.org/kl/habeas/exhibits/13_heather_mcbride_affidavit.pdf

http://justicedenied.org/kl/habeas/exhibits/14_dixie_tienken_affidavit.pdf

http://justicedenied.org/kl/habeas/exhibits/15_kimberlee_isom_grindstaff_affidvit.pdf

http://justicedenied.org/kl/habeas/exhibits/17_daniel_lisoni_affidvit.pdf

Alibi Witnesses

http://justicedenied.org/kl/habeas/exhibits/15_kimberlee_isom_grindstaff_affidvit.pdf

http://justicedenied.org/kl/habeas/exhibits/21_kendre_thunstrom_affidvit.pdf

http://justicedenied.org/kl/habeas/exhibits/24_john_kraft_affidvit.pdf

http://justicedenied.org/kl/habeas/exhibits/10_doug_twining_statement.pdf

http://justicedenied.org/kl/habeas/exhibits/20_marilyn_parker-anderson_affidvit.pdf

http://www.justice4kirstin.com/transcripts2/Trialday16.pdf (Robert McCrosky p.5-20)

http://www.justice4kirstin.com/transcripts2/Trialday16.pdf (Wanda McCrosky p.20-30)

http://www.justice4kirstin.com/transcripts2/Trialday6.pdf (Paul Brown p.113-143)

http://www.justice4kirstin.com/transcripts2/Trialday8.pdf (Chris Carrington p.88-143)

http://justicedenied.org/kl/habeas/exhibits/12_michelle_austria_affidavit.pdf

http://www.justice4kirstin.com/transcripts2/Trialday19.pdf (Doug Twinning p.29-94)

http://www.justice4kirstin.com/transcripts2/Trialday17.pdf (Clint Hohman p.87-111)

http://www.justice4kirstin.com/transcripts2/Trialday15.pdf (Jo Dennert Wuori p.6-29)

http://www.justice4kirstin.com/transcripts2/Trialday15.pdf (Shayne Kraft p.82-113)

http://www.justice4kirstin.com/transcripts2/Trialday15.pdf (John Kraft p.114-133)

http://www.justice4kirstin.com/transcripts2/Trialday17.pdf (Kendra Thurston p. 111-117)

Casey Anthony

Casey Anthony
Casey Anthony reacts while listening to the defense’s closing arguments in her murder trial in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, July 3, 2011. Anthony has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty, if convicted of that charge. (AP Photo/Red Huber, Pool)

Preface: I did not follow this trial, but decided to have a look at the case, as comparisons have been made with the trial of Jodi Arias. Please regard this article as a first draft, prone to error, I expect to revise and improve it after comments.

The case

Casey Anthony was tried for the murder of her daughter Caylee, and was found not guilty of murder on July 5th, 2011 after a widely publicised six week trial.

On July 5th, 2008 Casey’s mother Cindy called 911 to report that Caylee was missing. During the call Casey claimed that Caylee had been missing for 31 days with a babysitter she identified as Zenaida Gonzales Fernandez (a lie).

Cindy said Casey had given varied explanations as to Caylee’s whereabouts before finally telling her that she had not seen Caylee for weeks. Casey told detectives several falsehoods, including that the child had been kidnapped by a nanny on June 9, and that she had been trying to find her, too frightened to alert the authorities.

On October 14, 2008 Casey was indicted on charges of first degree murder and other charges.

On December 11, 2008, Caylee’s skeletal remains were found with a blanket inside a trash bag in a wooded area near the family home.

Jose Baez, Casey’s attorney, interviewed Casey’s former boyfriend Jesse Grund. Grund said Casey told him she never left Caylee alone with her brother because she was scared he would “touch her inappropriately,” as he had done to her when she was a teenager. The conversation with Jesse took place two-and-a-half years before Casey was charged with murder.

According to Jose Baez, Casey’s attorney, Casey said:

  • Her father and brother sexually abused her when she was a child.
  • Early on the morning of June 16, 2008, she awoke to hear her father shouting “‘Where the hell is Caylee? Where the hell is Caylee?’”
  • Caylee usually slept in my bed, but on this morning I was alone.
  • They searched the house and the garage, and she noticed that the pool ladder was still attached. Then she saw her father carrying Caylee. “I could see Caylee was dripping wet. I could tell she was dead”.
  • Her father yelled ‘It’s all your fault. Look what you’ve done. You weren’t watching her. You’re going to go to fucking jail for child neglect…It’s all your fault.”
  • Her father told her not to tell anyone what had happened, especially her mother, and that he’d take care of everything.

Phone records show that when her father went to work that morning Casey tried to call her mother six times in four minutes. When she didn’t answer, Casey went to Tony’s house and acted as if nothing had happened.

According to  Casey’s father, George Anthony, Casey left the family’s home on June 16, 2008, taking Caylee (who was almost three) with her and did not return for 31 days. However, Krystal Holloway, who said she had an affair with George, said investigators questioned her about him, and that around a month before Caylee’s body was found, he told her the toddler died by accident. “He was sitting on a chair and I was sitting on the floor and he grabbed my hands and he said it was an accident that snowballed out of control”.

George’s first wife said that her former husband was a pathological liar: “George couldn’t tell the truth to save his life.

In addition, phone and computer records show that George’s testimony that Casey left with Caley at 12:50pm is false, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Casey_Anthony_case. Note that much of this information wasn’t found until after the trial, see here.

On January 22, 2009, George purchased some beer and went to a hotel room. , saying he was going to kill himself by drinking the beer and taking some prescription medication. He called several members of his family and texted others of his intention, and left a long suicide note addressed to his wife Cindy:

Cynthia Marie,

As you get this letter, this should be no surprise that I have decided to leave the earth, because I need to be with Caylee Marie.

I cannot keep going because it should be me that is gone from this earth, not her. I have lived many years, I am satisfied with my decision because I have never been the man you, Lee, Casey & especially Caylee Marie deserved.

I have never been the man any of you could count on. I have always let each of you down in more ways than I can remember. I do not feel sorry for myself, I am just sorry I burden all of you the way I have.

My loss of life is meaningless.

Cynthia Marie, you have always worked the hardest, given the most to me, and I have never Thanked you. 28+ years ago, you corrected me, a man who has now found his identity in life. What I mean is, you always challenged me the right way and I always could never live up to your expectations. You have always been smarter, more knowledgeable & thought things through & I love you for that.~~

I cannot be strong anymore. Caylee Marie, our grand-daughter, I miss her. I miss her so much. I know you do too.

You were always the one that provided for her. What did I provide?

I blame myself for her being gone! You know for months, as a matter of fact for a year or so I brought stuff up, only to be told not to be negative.

Caylee Marie, I miss her. I miss her. I want my family back.

I sit here, falling apart, because I should have done more.

She was so close to home, why was she there? Who placed here there? Why is she gone? Why?

For months, you & I, especially you always questioned, why?

I want this to go away for Casey. What happened? Why could she not come to us? Especially you, why not Lee?

Who is involved with this stuff Caylee?

I am going Krazy because I want to

Go after these people Casey hung with prior to Caylee being gone.

That is why I got that gun. I wanted to scare these people. You know, they know more than they have stated, you cannot sugar coat, kid glove these people. They need hard knocks to get info from.

Sure that will not bring Caylee Marie back, but was Casey threatened? You know, Casey does not deserve to be where she is.

I miss her, I miss her so much. I am worried for her. Her personal safety is always on my mind.

I try to deal with so-so much, as I do you also.

I have never wanted to my family for sorrow in any way. I realize families have ups & downs but we have suffered our share & then some.

Cynthia Marie, you have always deserved more, and with me being gone, you will. I have always brought you down. You know that. You are better off. Lee will be there for you. Mallory is such a great woman. I see how you are with her. She is a keeper. Future

daughter-in-law. I smile when I say her name. Mallory, please take care of yourself, Lee & Cindy. Someday you will be a great wife to Lee, and a fantastic mom. Cindy is a great Grammy and will love you forever.

Getting back to why I cannot live anymore: I cannot function knowing our granddaughter is gone. Caylee Marie never had a chance to grow. I wanted to walk her to school (the 1st day). I wanted to help her in so many ways….I could go on & on.

I sit here empty inside for her. For you, for us. Jose keeps calling.

Yes, you deserve more & you will have freedom to enjoy what you deserve.

I have taken what meds was given to me with alcohol & I am ready to give up. As I can tell by my writing and thinking, I am getting very stupid. Wow, what a word STUPID. Yes, I am. Again, I do not feel sorry for myself(…unintelligible) I am STUPID. I cannot deal with stuff anymore.

The loss of Caylee Marie. The loss of Casey. The loss of us, Cynthia Marie, the meds, I am ready.

Saying good bye, please understand it is for the best. I do not deserve life anymore. Anymore us.

You are the best, you always have been. I am sorry for all that I have done to us.

You know I never got to say goodbye. I am at this place and all is getting foggy & my writing is all over the place.

I love you, I love you, I hope you get to see Casey soon. All the people we met, wow, the writing is getting weird, I love you, I am sorry – I will take care of Caylee – once I get to God hopefully

I want to hold her again, I miss her, I will always love us, I am sorry Cynthia Marie, I called my mom today, ….(unintelligible) I am so tired, at least I shaved today, wow – I’m tripping out, I am sorry,

I love you – Cynthia Marie

Caylee Here I come

Lee, I am sorry

Soon after, police found George at the Hawaii Motel in Daytona Beach. They knocked on the door, which he opened, and, after speaking with the officers, he walked with them to their police cars. An officer then drove him to the hospital where he was admitted for mandatory observation. Almost immediately after his release from the hospital, George and Cindy flew to California to appear on several TV shows. Upon their return, they were booked into the Ritz Carlton hotel, a stay paid for by media. [Source]

Post trial, George continued to point the finger at Casey.  On 14th November, 2011, on a TV show he said:

“I believe something else happened to her. … I believe Casey or someone else she was with possibly gave too much to Caylee. She fell asleep and didn’t wake up”. When asked, “Too much what?” George replied, “Possibly some kind of drug or something like that. The drugs would have allowed Casey to go out and have a good time. To be with friends.”

However Cindy said “I don’t know, but something happened that day that forever changed [Casey’s] behavior,” she said. “I buy the part that Caylee drowned but I don’t buy the circumstances surrounding the drowning.”

The prosecution made a circumstantial case for murder, pointing to an internet search for “chloroform” several months before, and suggested that Casey wanted to be free from parental responsibility.

Analysis

The key issue is the conflict between Casey’s account and her father’s account of events on June 16.

Casey had no rational motive to murder her child. Caylee was nearly three years old, which rules out post-partum depression. By all accounts Caylee was a much loved child.

George’s account does not ring true, and he seems far too keen to blame Casey for Caylee’s death. The suicide attempt seems staged to me, and not a serious attempt at taking his own life. In my opinion it’s likely that he lied about the circumstances of Caylee’s death, and may well have been partly or fully responsible.

Some commentators suggest he may have abused Caylee, and may have choked her and unintentionally killed her for fear she would report the abuse to her mother, or perhaps he feared Casey would notice the abuse ( see comments here ). By concealing the body, any forensic signs of abuse or that Caylee’s death was not entirely accidental would be destroyed. Alternatively he may have feared that if Casey was questioned by police, suspicion would fall on him.

Even supposing George did not lie, it seems impossible to rule out that Caylee died in an accident.

In my view the jury returned the correct verdict.

Post trial interview with Casey’s attorney July 2014

Addenda:

See here for discussion of the timeline.

Almost Executed by Mississippi Michelle Byrom is Now Free

Excellent write-up.

Dare to Think

byrom

The woman who came very close to being the first woman executed in Mississippi since WWII was set free in the same courtroom she was sentenced to death. Michelle Byrom (left) spent 16 years behind bars, 14 of them on death row for the murder of her husband, Edward Sr. in 1999. Byrom maintains her innocence, but agreed to a plea deal in order to avoid a retrial.  She pled no contest, which means she maintains her innocence but agrees that it is possible for prosecutors to convict her, in exchange for immediate release.  Her plea deal sentence was 20 years with 4 years suspended.In 2014, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed Byrom’s conviction and ordered a new trial, citing numerous issues with her case.  Byrom’s attorneys failed to present mitigating evidence at her sentencing.  Specifically the fact that she suffered great physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at the hands of her…

View original post 710 more words

Ruth Ellis

Key points

  • Last woman to be executed in the UK
  • Desmond Cussen heavily involved
  • chose solicitor Bickford
  • after trial Ellis dismissed Bickford

Timeline

10 April 1955 : Killed abusive partner David Blakeley.
10 June 1955 : Trial. Jury convict after 16 minutes deliberation. Mandatory death sentence.
12 July 1955 : Makes new statement to new solicitor Victor Miscon. Home Office refuses to take action.
13 July 1955 : Executed just after 9am,
Early 1970: Bickford states that Cussen told him in 1955 that Ellis lied at the trial. After a police investigation, no action regarding Cussen taken.
2003 : Criminal Cases Review Commission.refers case to Court of appeal which refuses to hear appeal, stating “On any view, Mrs Ellis had committed a serious criminal offence.”
2007 : Petition to Gordon Brown to reconsider and grant pardon.

The statement on 12 July 1955

  • Gun was provided by Cussen
  • Cussen drove her to the murder scene

Extract from TruTv.com:

“Ruth visited him here frequently, but again, developed a phobia that George was having improper relationships with the staff and female patients. On one occasion, she became so inflamed, ranting and raving and screaming in coarse, uncouth language, she had to be forcibly restrained and sedated. Dr Rees, a psychiatrist who was looking after George, prescribed drugs for Ruth and from that point on until the day she killed David Blakley, she was under his care. It has always remained a mystery why her defence counsel at her trial did not call him to give evidence of her state of mind, and that fact that the legally prescribed sedatives, combined with alcohol, could have made her incapable of rational behaviour at the time she fired the fatal shots.”

Conclusions

  • Ineffective defense, solicitor chosen by Cussen [who may have provided gun and drove her to murder scene – not proven]
  • Ruth Ellis was convicted on the basis of her own perjured evidence
  • State assisted suicide
  • Domestic violence – type : Mutual violent control
  • Final “hesitation” ineffective – it was too late
  • Legally prescribed sedatives, combined with alcohol are the key

References

How low can you go? Ask the Indonesians.

The following day, Aldo was caught trying to sell some of that marijuana on the street, and in an attempt to curry good favor with law enforcement, he led police to Zainal’s house where they found the rest of his stash. Aldo told police the marijuana belonged to Zainal, who was promptly arrested.

He was tried and convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to a term of years; the prosecution appealed , asking the court to impose a harsher sentence. The appellate court obliged and sentenced him to death. Zainal’s lawyer then filed an appeal, and Zainal waited for his day in court. He waited, and waited, and waited, but that a never came –not really.

Read more at https://www.facebook.com/notes/jen-fitzgerald/how-low-can-you-go-ask-the-indonesians/10153525183988888

Jodi and the Magic Flute

I went to see the Magic Flute in Bristol recently.

In the second act, Tamino is tutored in how to overcome the fear of death, and faces trials, of silence, fire and water.

Jodi has learned to overcome the fear of death. It was recently revealed that she declined a plea bargain in which she was offered a life sentence to avoid the possibility of a death sentence. She declined.

But this post is more about Jodi’s trials. The never-ending tests of the veracity of her testimony, that she killed Travis in self-defense after he attacked her, which the State has tested at extraordinary length.

Wise observers have said “it’s better not to testify”. Unfortunately, Jodi, like Tamino, was not so good at enduring the trial of silence after killing Travis, and spoke to the police and public at length, with an account of events that was often the opposite of the truth.

  • She claimed Travis did not own a gun [ since if he did, how come it was missing if she didn’t take it ]
  • She claimed she never went to Mesa. Photographs recovered at the scene showed this to be false.
  • She later claimed intruders appeared just after she was taking pictures of Travis in the shower.

Perhaps these lies created the need for her to testify, and testify she did, for 18 days, through many days of cross-examination by both prosecutor Juan Martinez and the jury, who were able to ask their own questions.

The prosecution had any number of reasons to suspect Jodi of premeditated murder.

Jodi’s Hair Color

Prosecutor Juan Martinez claimed that Jodi had blonde hair when she hired a car ( the car rental guy testified to this ), but changed her hair to brown to go to Mesa, in an attempt at disguise. The defense however introduced photographs showing that Jodi dyed her hair brown many weeks before.
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Perhaps the car rental guy remembered Jodi’s driving license:

fc jodi license

Not to be deterred, the prosecution claimed in closing arguments that Jodi had “blonde locks” before the trip, not detectable in poorly lit photographs of her in Travis’ bedroom on the day of the killing. Did the jury buy it? Nobody knows.

But Jodi’s trials were not over, not by a long chalk.

The Shelves

Jodi testified that she jumped up to get the gun from a high shelf, momentarily stepping on some shelving. The prosecution suggested the shelf would have tipped, disturbing items on the shelving, which appeared neat and tidy, after despatching lead detective Flores to the scene, nearly five years later. Flores testified that he was able to tip a shelf using just his finger, although no items were on the shelf, and Jodi may have stepped near the point where the shelf was supported. Was the jury convinced? Nobody knows.

The Porn

Jodi testified that she caught Travis masturbating to a picture of a young boy clothed in underwear. Moreover she suggested looking at Travis’ laptop, for signs of pornography use. Jodi also testified there was a virus on the laptop, and this had caused Travis to be angry earlier in the day. The State called witnesses to expose these lies – State witness Melendez testified he found no virus or pornography on the laptop, and a defense witness found nothing either. In closing Juan Martinez claimed Jodi lied about this as well. Another nail Jodi’s coffin.

The Magic Bullet

Just before trial, apparently to prove Jodi lied about having shot Travis first, the prosecution changed it’s theory, asserting that Jodi shot Travis after he was dead. The Medical Examiner testified that the bullet travelled through Travis’ brain, without leaving any trace, even though he was able to examine slices of the brain. He further asserted his own autopsy report must be erroneous, as it stated the Dura Mater was intact.

The Gas Cans

The culmination of Juan Martinez’ demonstration of guilt was Jodi’s use of gas cans. He theorized that Jodi decided to avoid using her credit card to buy gas while in Arizona, and calculated that she needed three gas cans to achieve this. Two cans were borrowed from her ex, Darryl Brewer, and a third was purchased from Wal-Mart. Jodi had kept the receipt:

WalmartReceipt1

Juan surely had his prey cornered, this seemed the decisive proof of guilt he was searching for, and now Jodi apparently panicked, and declared that she returned her purchase to Wal-Mart. Now Juan pounced, he called Amanda Webb, a Wal-Mart employee, who declared that she could find no record of the return. Jodi’s fate was sealed. Her diabolical secret murder mission was exposed.

Defense counsel Kirk Nurmi had no explanation. He feebly claimed Jodi didn’t say she returned the gas can to the same store, but the jury were not fooled. Some trial observers noted that Walmart Salinas relocated in 2010, but the witness and counsel seemed blissfully unaware of this circumstance.

The Verdict

The jury duly found Jodi guilty of 1st degree murder, in May 2013, but there was a hitch – they could not all agree that she should be executed. In Arizona, this meant a retrial. Jodi was offered a life sentence, but as mentioned above, overcame any fear of death, and declined ( acceptance would have meant giving up all hopes of appeal ).

The Penalty Retrial

After a lengthy interval, Act 2, the Penalty retrial began in September 2014. Instead of backing down on the assault on Travis’ character, the defense persisted, and with some success. After many bitterly disputed hearings, it was established that there were indeed pornographic videos on Travis’ laptop – they had been deleted, but could be recovered from the disk free space. And there was a signed affidavit from a witness who claimed Travis downloaded child pornography on a shared computer around January 2001. An attempt by the State to blame someone else ended in disaster – “Did you know he was married in 1999?“.

Moreover, Amanda Webb testified again, and this time she was forced to admit she did not know if the records moved intact to the new store when Wal-Mart Salinas relocated in 2010.

The jury again could not agree that Jodi should be executed, with a single holdout being subjected to threats as a result. Jodi was therefore sentenced to be sent to prison and not to be released for any reason for the remainder of her natural life.

The Appeal

And that is the where we are. Jodi has been convicted based on very uncertain evidence, of a crime that makes no sense. She had nothing to gain from Travis’ premeditated murder, and everything to lose. Jodi needs to appeal. The State’s case has already been undermined, if she can prove she only used two gas cans, Juan’s main argument for guilt is destroyed.

Jodi needs money to fight her wrongful conviction. Please donate to the appeal fund if you can afford it. The forces of evil, symbolised by the Queen of the Night and the traitorous Monostatos in the Magic Flute need to be overcome!

 

A quotation from the English Libretto :

Ladies: Listen, Tamino, you are lost! Think of the Queen! There are many rumours concerning the wicked ways of these priests!

Tamino (aside)A wise man seeks proof and disregards what the common rabble say.

See Who is Jodi to learn more about who Jodi really is.

Jodi’s attorney – post trial interview

MK: Jennifer, you’ve been on the Jodi Arias defense team since 2012 after several other attorneys dropped off for various reasons. Did you ever imagine the furore and the fallout the trial has generated?

JW: No, I mean I had no idea when I first came onto the case I had never heard of Jodi’s name before and I didn’t even know the any of the facts of the case, I had no idea it would turn into something like this.

MK: How much has it affected your life?

JW: Quite a bit. I mean for the first year that when I was just preparing for trial, it was just like any other case. Once we started trial in January 2013, I went through death threats, my family, they threatened my children, having deputies walk up across the street with hands on their guns, things like that I have never experienced before and I really didn’t think this would be this type of case to have that.

MK: Do you think this is an example of how cases are going to be in the future?

JW: I hope not. I don’t see the attraction to this case, I don’t know why there were followers, why people would show up every day. I really hope that as a State, as a Country, as a world, people wouldn’t be that fascinated with someone’s murder. I think it’s a sad commentary.

MK: At sentencing, Jodi admitted for the first time that she remembers slitting Travis Alexander’s throat, and she claimed she did it in self defense, now, during her first trial she claimed that she didn’t remember detail, all she remembered was shooting him. How did she recover that memory, or did she remember it all along?

JW: The memories were always there, it’s just that her ability to deal with it, she wasn’t able to handle them, so as a protection she was dissociating from them, she wasn’t remembering them, so all along I can tell you she did not remember anything, everything that she testified to was what she remembered.

Shortly after the trial, the first trial, after having to go through all the facts, is when she started to remember more, and that’s when she remembered actually cutting his throat.

MK: Or was she lying? She did lie several times at the beginning of this trial… or at the beginning of this case.

JW: At the beginning of the case. I know the prosecution wanted to label her a liar, and she did, she lied when she was first arrested, she lied about some of the things that she knew about Mr. Alexander, she didn’t want all of his skeletons coming out of the closet, as she told us yesterday, but when she testified, no I don’t believe she lied.

MK: You and Kirk Nurmi made a pretty thorough record of your allegations of misconduct by prosecutor Juan Martinez. What’s the process for appeals, and who will do it?

JW: Within 20 days we have to file what’s called a notice of appeal, and that’s something I will do, that’s something that trial attorneys do. And from there, it gets assigned.

MK: What will grounds for appeal be?

JW: That’s for the appellate attorney to decide. I imagine prosecutorial misconduct will be one.

MK: Now County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a press conference last week that Jodi or her team might have been responsible for revealing the identity of the hold-out juror #17, and other jurors. How do you respond to that?

JW: That would be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Juror #17 is the one who saved Jodi’s life, whether she realises it or not, but by hanging in there, and by literally hanging the trial, she saved her life, so there is no way that we would ever disclose her name. The fact that all of the defense team has been subject to so many threats and different types of harassment, knowing that that’s what happens when someones name leaks out, I could never imagine any one of us doing something like that. There would be no point, because we got life, we were very happy and content.

MK: Thank you Jennifer Willmott.

JW: Thank you very much.

Jodi sentenced to life in prison

Jodi Arias has now been sentenced to life in prison after a ridiculous and unjust circus trial, and the appeal process can at last commence.

( Sandy speaks at  51:30, Jodi speaks at 56 minutes, the judge speaks at 1:17:50  )

That a woman so patently innocent can be convicted of murder is not unprecedented, you only have to look back at the convictions of Amanda Knox, Debra Milke and Hannah Overton.

That so many people can be so easily fooled is not unusual either.

All we can do is shake our heads at such folly.

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” — Charles Mackay