Saturday, November 07, 2009

Cameron Todd Willingham's Wrongful Execution - and Others

This blog does not open ilinks in a new window. Please read about all the cases before opening any links, or use your back arrow to return and complete the strong cases for innocence regarding death row inmates in several states, and cases of aggrevious excessive sentencing.



Cameron Todd Willingham

PRESSURE MOUNTS on Texas' governor regarding what appears to be the wrongful execution of a young father. Cameron Todd Willingham was convicted for setting fire to his home with his three children inside. The children perished in the fire, and Willingham was charged with arson and murder. At a time when Todd's heart was breaking from the tragic loss of his children, he had to defend himself (unsuccessfully) for murder. He was on death row for over 12 years, which was certainly long enough to determine the cause of a fire. In fact, a determination was made prior to Willingham's execution. An arson report wherein fire investigators determined there was likely no arson was recently made public. Many people are calling for a moratorium on capital punishment in Texas, which holds the record for executions in America. A lawsuit has been filed against Governor Rick Perry in connection with Willingham's 2004 execution. The governor's office reportedly received a fax of the arson report stating that there was likely no arson before Willingham's execution.

Learn more about the Willingham case and access a petition to sign in support of his post mortem exoneration. The petition sponsored by the Texas Moratorium Network can be accessed at this site: http://freespeakblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/execution-of-cameron-todd-willingham.html - The site also has a VIDEO about another executed Texan who was also allegedly innocent. The case regards a middle-aged Latino man named Leonel Herrera.

The fire report that caused public outrage and convinced many people that Willingham was innocent, which was instrumental in getting Ernest Ray Willis exonerated and released from Texas death row, is below:
Analysis of the Fire Investigation Methods and Procedures Used in the Criminal Arson Cases Against Ernest Ray Willis and Cameron Todd Willingham - http://alt.coxnewsweb.com/shared-blogs/austin/investigative/upload/2009/08/execution_based_on_bad_investi/D_Beyler%20FINAL%20REPORT%20082509.pdf

Governor Perry is campaigning for re-election. He acknowledges no wrongdoing regarding Willingham's execution. Please see the newscast below.




Please be aware that other likely innocent people are on death row.
Consider Thomas Arthur who awaits execution in Alabama. His DNA test results were returned in July stating that Arthur was ruled out as contributor for any of the crime scene evidence tested. A judge sealed Arthur's test results, his lawyers were forbidden to disclose his innocence, and the Alabama D.A.'s office reported to Birmingham News in August that a death warrant would be sought for Arthur.



Thomas Arthur

Mainstream media did not report Arthur's DNA results, although the media had closely followed his quest for post-conviction DNA testing for many years. All was silent when the test results came back with Arthur negative as Troy Wicker's murderer. The only exceptions to the silence that I found on the Internet was a report about Arthur's DNA test results from another blogger and myself. This writer had major problems publishing the news about Arthur's DNA test results. Care2 reported a cyberattack on September 1, which was the day I tried to send the news out via ecards. Gmail, which I use for prisoner advocacy, suddenly had an outage. I worked all night fighting cyberstalkers to get the article published about Arthur's DNA test results on August 31, and it finally made front page news at Care2 News Network. So far, Arthur still breathes. Arthur's daughter posted his DNA test results on her father's website. www.thomasarthurfightforlife.com/

See more about that drama at this link:

Should Thomas Arthur be Executed for Telling a Fibb?
http://www.votingcentral.com/VotingCentral/displayPoll.do?pollId=1236f80e-49c4-163d-b520-0cb9ffffffd4



Troy Davis

Troy Davis is another condemned man who has substantial evidence of innocence that arrived after his conviction for the murder of Officer MacPhail, a Savannah, Georgia police officer. Despite the fact that seven of nine witnesses have recanted or contradicted their testimony against Davis in his murder case that had no forensic evidence, the system repeatedly refused to grant Davis a new trial. Millions of people over the world cheered this summer when the Supreme Court ordered that Troy Davis' case would be reviewed again by another Georgia federal judge who will decide whether Davis will finally have his "just day in a fair court" (Davis' words). However, the High Court determined that the judge can only consider new evidence that was not available to Davis' attorney initially. Davis' attorney for his appeals case had 70 other active cases at the time, and it is unlikely that his first state-appointed attorney had the opportunity to adequately defend him on a capital murder charge. The High Court further ruled that Davis' innocence must be proved by the new evidence he presents to the federal judge, despite the fact that Davis has no DNA evidence to present. Davis must do better than prove there is a reasonable doubt of his guilt like other defendants - he has to prove actual innocence. Otherwise, Davis could be executed like Cameron Todd Willingham was.

Just as the media is silent regarding Thomas Arthur's DNA test results indicating innocence, Troy Davis is under a gag order and not allowed to speak with the press.

Alternet recently published the stories of four other men who may be wrongly convicted, including some on death row. The article is at this link:
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By Liliana Segura, AlterNet
October 26, 2009

4 Prisoners Facing Executions or Serving Extreme Jail Sentences Who Very Well May Be Innocent
http://www.alternet.org/rights/143499/4_prisoners_facing_executions_or_serving_extreme_jail_sentences_who_very_well_may_be_innocent/?page=entire

Texas is gearing up to execute another prisoner tomorrow, a man named Reginald Blanton, who has a very strong innocence claim of his own. (Blaton was executed. Read about his case at this link.) http://www.alternet.org/rights/143417/innocent_until_proven_dead:_will_texas_execute_another_innocent_man/.)

Cruel and unusual though it might seem, for a person to be sentenced to die for a crime he or she did not commit is hardly a unique phenomenon in this country. In the past 35 years, no fewer than 138 people have been released from death row after proof of their innocence was discovered -- including eight this year alone.

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ANOTHER CONDEMNED MAN who has a strong case of innocence is Darrell Lomax, who is on California's death row. California has not executed anyone in many years, but made an announcement that executions will soon resume there. Darrell's story and evidence are presented in this article.

Supreme Court Rules Inmates Have No Constitutional Right to DNA Testing Although Study by Expert Criminologists Shows Capital Punishment Is No Crime Deterrent
http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/supreme-court-dna-ruling-study-shows-dp-no-crime-deterrent

This is a link to Darrell Lomax's website: http://www.freedarrell.com/

My name is Darrell Lomax and I have been wrongly incarcerated on death row at San Quentin State prison for over 14 years. I was convicted even though:




I passed a gunshot residue test

even though I have an alibi

even though the eye witness said it wasn't me

even though the fingerprints on the gun weren't mine

and it was found in someone else's car

even though the footprint wasn't mine

My witnesses were never called

and I couldn't afford a lawyer so I had to share a public defender with the man who made a deal to testify against me.

When the situation with the public defender was discovered he was replaced by a former DA who made no effort to find the witnesses for my defense.

A second website for Darrell Lomax sponsored by the Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty is at this link: www.ccadp.org/darrelllomax.htm




Jeffrey Wood, Texas Death Row (Law of Parties)

There are numerous other cases of likely innocent people on death row across America. Part of the reason is because the mentally ill and juveniles are especially likely to sign false confessions, because they are easily intimidated. Jeffrey Wood awaits execution in Texas, a mentally ill man who was very young when a robber induced him to drive with him to the store. Jeff was instructed to wait in the truck for Daniel Reneau, who went into the store, robbed and shot the manager. Jeff had no knowledge that a robbery/murder was taking place. Nevertheless, Jeff is on Texas' death row under the Law of Parties. He was treated for mental illness after his arrest to get him trial-ready. Jeff's attorneys reported that their client refused to allow them to vigorously defend him. Jeff requested to defend himself, but the judge refused. He insisted on dictating to his attorneys, however, how the case should be handled. Since he was declared mentally sound, his attorneys were limited. The actual shooter in the case has already been executed by the State of Texas.

Although this writer is against all executions, cases involving condemned mental patients are of particular interest to me as director of Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill. I wrote about Jeff Wood in an article that made front page at OpEdNews on the day Jeff was scheduled for execution in 2008, and the article at the link below, which was carried in my lineup of articles at http://NowPublic.com/duo - The NowPublic article received some interesting comments, including some from persons who represented themselves as being a relative of David Reneau, the shooter in the murder for which Jeff faces execution, and a member of Jeff's family. See the article and comments at this link:

Scheduled for Texas Execution: Jeff Wood, a Mentally Challenged Young Man
http://www.nowpublic.com/world/scheduled-texas-execution-jeff-wood-mentally-challenged-young-man

Petition: Save Jeff Wood from the Executioner http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/save-jeff-wood-from-the-executioner



Andre Thomas was ruled "crazy, but sane under Texas law," by a judge this year after the mentally ill man ate his left eye. Thomas ate his right eye while awaiting trial several years ago after killing his wife and children and walking around with their hearts in his pocket. Now poor Andre is blind, "crazy," and awaiting a Texas execution. (The judge used the word "crazy," not this writer.) Andre Thomas' petition is below:

Petition to Save Andre Thomas and Stop Executing Mental Patients
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/No-Executing-Mental-Patients



There are many more inmates who were excessively sentenced due to mandatory sentencing laws and three-strikes laws (that disallow judges using their own discretion). Consider the case of Jeremy Smith. He is a young man who was schizophrenic from childhood. He allegedly hit another mental patient in his mental hospital, and was induced to sign a plea bargain for EIGHT YEARS imprisonment in California, a state that its governor reports is practically breaking under the weight of its prison costs. While in prison, he allegedly made "terrorist threats" to a guard and was further charged for that, which may substantially lengthen his sentence. California is paying at least $70,000 per year to punish the sick young man in a solitary confinement prison hole 23 hours per day. Gov. Schwarzenegger's efforts to effect prison reform are reportedly hampered by members of the state legislature.



Jeremy Smith, Schizophrenic California Prisoner

California had to send its senior citizens IOU's rather than live checks this year, but no cost is spared to imprison mental patients like Jeremy who do not deserve to be punished for having a disability. No one can be punished or rehabilitated into a state of good mental health. See Jeremy's petition below:

Justice 4 Jeremy Petition - Lifelong schizophrenic in CA prison hole - http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/JusticeForJeremy

Wrongful convictions will undoubtedly continue to happen, because much can go wrong with evidence and witnesses between the time a defendant is arrested and brought to trial, sometimes years later. However, wrongful convictions can be reduced by increasing the amount of money states spend for public defenders. Saving innocent people from prison or execution is not only humane and just, it also saves taxpayers a good deal of money in an economy where every dollar counts. It is more financially prudent to increase spending for indigent defense to accomplish real justice than to have to pay over $50,000 per year per innocent inmate who is sentenced to many years in prison due to inadequate representation. Wrongful convictions are substantially more expensive than the cost for upgrading public defenders' budgets.

The USDOJ has made several grants recently to curtail wrongful convictions and to stop prisons' revolving door for mentally dysfunctional people. Regarding the shocking propensity courts have to ignore evidence of innocence that arrives after conviction, Attorney General Holder made it clear that real justice must take precedence over procedure.



The Scott Sisters - Life Sentences for $11 Theft Conviction
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Excessive sentencing is also unnecessarily cruel and expensive. Yet, in Mississippi, two sisters were given life sentences for the theft of $11, and they, too, have a strong case for innocence - the Scott Sisters. Many people believe Gladys and Jamie Scott were wrongly convicted just as they assert, but even if they are guilty, life sentences for $11 with no one physically harmed seems to be excessive sentencing. They have already been imprisoned for around 15 years. Mississippi taxpayers are sentenced right along with the women, because taxpayers must foot the bill.

The petition for the Scott Sisters is at the link below:

Gladys and Jamie Scott Wrongful Conviction Case Petition
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Free-Jamie-Gladys/index.html

The website for the Scott Sisters is: Free the Scott Sisters
http://search2.comcast.com/?cat=dnsr&con=ds&url=www.freethescottsisters.com

There is also a blogspot for the Scott Sisters called FREE JAMIE AND GLADYS SCOTT.
Their contact person is Nancy Lockhart at thewrongfulconviction@gmail.com


DEATH TO THE DEATH PENALTY!

Objections to the death penalty include:


~ It targets the poor

~ It is racist

~ It kills the innocent

~ It is barbaric

~ It does not deter crime

~ It is expensive
(Taxpayers pay $90,000 per year per condemned inmate over and above incarceration costs for inmates in maximum security prisons, according to the Death Penalty Information Center)

Thou shalt not kill. ~ Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

~Exodus 20:16

Mary Neal
http://wrongfuldeathoflarryneal.com


Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill
http://www.Care2.com/c2c/group/AIMI

Donations are appreciated to continue to fight the good fight of faith for justice and human rights for prisoners in obedience to Hebrews 13:3 and Matthew 25 at http://FreeSpeakBlog.blogspot.com

Thank you for your interest in justice and human rights for prisoners.

4 comments:

SursumTX said...

add this name to your list of those who have a plausible claim of innocence and a harsh sentence: Hannah Overton. Convicted of murdering her child by an act of omission because she didn't know he was suffering from salt poisoning and it was an hour and a half from the time he first became ill to when they got him to an emergency clinic. She got life without parole. She has 5 other children. www.freehannah.com

dudleysharp said...

Troy Davis: Both sides need to be told
Dudley Sharp, contact info below

Anyone interested in justice will demand a fair, thorough look at both sides of this or any case. Here is the side that the pro Troy Davis faction is, intentionally, not presenting.

(1) Davis v Georgia, Georgia Supreme Court, 3/17/08
Full ruling http://www.gasupreme.us/pdf/s07a1758.pdf
Summary http://www.gasupreme.us/op_summaries/mar_17.pdf

" . . . the majority finds that 'most of the witnesses to the crime who have allegedly recanted have merely stated that they now do not feel able to identify the shooter.' "One of the affidavits 'might actually be read so as to confirm trial testimony that Davis was the shooter.' "

The murder occurred in 1989.


(2) "THE PAROLE BOARD'S CONSIDERATION OF THE TROY ANTHONY DAVIS CASE" , 9/22/08, http://www.pap.state.ga.us/opencms/opencms/

"After an exhaustive review of all available information regarding the Troy Davis case and after considering all possible reasons for granting clemency, the Board has determined that clemency is not warranted."

"The Board has now spent more than a year studying and considering this case. As a part of its proceedings, the Board gave Davis� attorneys an opportunity to present every witness they desired to support their allegation that there is doubt as to Davis� guilt. The Board heard each of these witnesses and questioned them closely. In addition, the Board has studied the voluminous trial transcript, the police investigation report and the initial statements of all witnesses. The Board has also had certain physical evidence retested and Davis interviewed."


(3) A detailed review of the extraordinary consideration that Davis was given for all of his claims,
by Chatham County District Attorney Spencer Lawton http://tinyurl.com/46c73l

Troy Davis' claims are undermined, revealing the dishonesty of the Davis advocates . Look, particularly, at pages 4-7, which show the reasoned, thoughtful and generous reviews of Davis' claims, as well a how despicable the one sided cynical pro Troy Davis effort is.


(4) Officer Mark Allen MacPhail: The family of murdered Officer MacPhail fully believes that Troy Davis murdered their loved one and that the evidence is supportive of that opinion. http://www.markallenmacphail.com/

Not simply an emotional and understandable plea for justice, but a detailed factual review of the case.


(5) "Death and Dying", by Cliff Green, LIKE THE DEW, 7/22/09,
http://likethedew.com/2009/07/22/death-and-dying/

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The 130 (now 139) death row "innocents" scam
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/03/04/fact-checking-issues-on-innocence-and-the-death-penalty.aspx


"The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents"
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/10/08/the-innocent-executed-deception--death-penalty-opponents--draft.aspx

SursumTX said...

Mr. Sharp,

Your argument seems to be that the number of innocent people in prison and on death row is inflated by those who oppose the death penalty or advocate for the innocent.

You don't say that none were actually innocent.

Does it matter whether it's 130 or 25 innocent people who were saved from a wrongful execution?

What failure rate of the legal system is acceptable to you?

How many factually innocent people can be imprisoned and/or executed according to your moral code?

Mary Neal said...

Thank you, BreaktheChains, for re-publishing. We must never regard human suffering with apathy. My articles are heavily censored, and I appreciate your help protesting injustices.

MR. DUDLEY SHARP, you report that Officer MacPhail's family is fully convinced that Troy Davis is guilty as though that has bearing on the matter. We sympathize with the family, but they were not there. The witnesses who were at the scene recanted or corrupted their testimony except for one man and his friend. The man who implicated Troy Davis seems to be more suspect than Davis. He got an attorney before MacPhail's body cooled. He lied about having a .38, then admitted his lie and said he lost the gun. Read my Troy Davis articles, please:

UPDATE ON THE TROY DAVIS MATTER
www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/1407047

BACKGROUND ON THE TROY DAVIS CASE
freespeakblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/background-on-troy-davis-case-by-mary.html

MORE "TROY DAVIS" ARTICLES BY MARY NEAL
http://www.nowpublic.com/search?fulltext=1&type=story&keys=mary+neal+troy+davis

Especially see the article entitled: "Troy Davis Appeal Denied by Georgia Court - NO SURPRISE TO THE NEAL FAMILY"

I've followed the Davis case for a while. I object to people being executed, especially without irrefutable proof of guilt. Regarding Troy Davis' death sentence,

I RESPECTFULLY DISAGREE
http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/1415095

Mary Neal
http://WrongfulDeathOfLarryNeal.com