Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rodricus Crawford: Louisiana: U.S. One of the four more exonerations from death row in the United States in 2017, bringing the total to 160 men and women exonerated since 1973, the Death Penalty Information Center reports...."Crawford had been sentenced to death in 2012 for the alleged murder of his one-year-old son, despite compelling evidence that the baby had died from natural causes. An internal memorandum by Cox said that Crawford deserves as much physical suffering as it is humanly possible to endure before he dies.” Report Death Penalty Information report. (2017)



PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  One of the most important sections of the annual Death Penalty Information Center Report is the one that deals with exonerations from death row. In themselves, these exonerations point out - amongst many other reasons - why the death penalty, wherever it exists, must be abolished.  Rodricus Crawford, of Louisiana  - a case  in which there was no murder  -which this Blog followed very closely  was one of the four men exonerated from Death Row in 2017.  (Because of my experience in studying and reporting the Charles Smith cases,  in which, similarly the deceased children had died from natural causes, I was invited to assist Rodricus Crawford's incredibly devoted lawyers with some aspects of the defence.) "As the Report notes: "Rodricus Crawford was exonerated in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, in a case of highly suspect forensics that drew national attention because of the racially-biased practices and inflammatory remarks made by lead prosecutor. Dale Cox. Crawford had been sentenced to death in 2012 for the alleged murder of his one-year-old son, despite compelling evidence that the baby had died from natural causes. An internal memorandum by Cox said that Crawford deserves as much physical suffering as it is humanly possible to endure before he dies.” The Louisiana Supreme Court granted Crawford a  new trial because Cox had unconstitutionally excluded black jurors on the basis of race. A new prosecutorial administration then reviewed the evidence in the case and dropped the charges against Crawford. "

POST: "There were four more exonerations from death row in the United States in 2017, bringing the total to 160 men and women exonerated since 1973,  and the sentences of four condemned men were commuted to life imprisonment. In January, Isaiah McCoy was acquitted of murder, five years after having been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in Delaware as a result of what the state’s supreme court called “ pervasive unprofessional conduct ” by the trial prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General R. David Favata. Favata was temporarily suspended from practice after belittling McCoy for choosing to represent himself, making intimidating comments during a break in proceedings, then lying to the judge about making the comments. No physical evidence linked McCoy to the murder and his two alleged accomplices—one of whom received a sentence reduction for his testimony—gave contradictory testimony against him.  Rodricus Crawford was exonerated in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, in a case of highly suspect forensics that drew national attention because of the racially-biased practices and inflammatory remarks made by lead prosecutor. Dale Cox .Crawford had been sentenced to death in 2012 for the alleged murder of his one-year-old son, despite compelling evidence that the baby had died from natural causes. An internal memorandum by Cox said that Crawford deserves as much physical suffering as it is humanly possible to endure before he dies.” The Louisiana Supreme Court granted Crawford a  new trial because Cox had unconstitutionally excluded black jurors on the basis of race. A new prosecutorial administration then reviewed the evidence in the case and dropped the charges against Crawford. Ralph Daniel Wright, Jr.  who was sentenced to death by a 7–5 jury vote under a Florida sentencing law that has since been declared unconstitutional, was exonerated in May when the state supreme court found that the “purely circumstantial” evidence in the case was insufficient to convict. DNA tests on a glove allegedly worn by the perpetrator excluded Wright as the source of the DNA, and no tests had been done to compare the DNA to that of an alternative suspect. Nineteen of the 21 death-row exonerations from Florida in which the jury vote is known involved non-unanimous jury recommendations of a death sentence or judicial override of a jury recommendation of life.  Rickey Dale Newman was exonerated in Arkansas nearly 16 years after he was convicted. Despite major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and an IQ that placed him in the intellectually disabled range, Newman was found competent to stand trial and represent himself. In 2005, his execution was stayed just four days before it was to be carried out. Prosecutors had withheld evidence that contradicted details from Newman’s confession, and DNA testing of hair found on Newman’s clothes disproved prosecutors’ claims that it had come from the victim. After learning that the state doctor had made significant errors in administering and scoring the psychological tests on which he based his competency opinion, the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned Newman’s conviction and barred the use of his false confession. Prosecutors then dropped the charges against him.  Four death-row prisoners received commutations in 2017. On January 17, President Barack Obama commuted the death sentences of Abelardo Arboleda Ortiz, an intellectually disabled federal death-row prisoner, and Dwight Loving, a prisoner on the U.S. military death row. On April 20, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe commuted the death sentence of Ivan Teleguz  whose sentence was obtained through false testimony that he had been implicated in a second murder, when in fact the supposed second murder had never occurred. Jason McGehee was granted clemency by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson in October. Hutchinson cited a variety of reasons for the commutation, including the disproportionality of McGehee’s sentence compared to those of his co-defendants."

The entire report can be found at:

https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/2017YrEnd.pdf

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.











Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Brent Houdeshell: Arlington; 2 medical examiners offer opposing views at murder trial into death of 2-year-old Breydon Ferrell in March, 2016 (The Courier) the Forensic Magazine reports..." The only witness called by the defense, Dr. Werner Spitz, a forensic pathologist and professor of pathology at Wayne State University in Detroit, said in his professional opinion, Breydon died of brain swelling caused by falling out of his crib and hitting his head on a carpet-covered concrete floor. “This child climbed out of his crib and fell, a complicated fall, but one fall,” Spitz said."


STORY: "2 medical examiners offer opposing views at murder trial,"  published by The Forensic Magazine (The Courier) on January 17, 2018.

GIST: "Two medical examiners offered opposing views Tuesday during the murder trial of Brent Houdeshell, an Arlington man accused of killing 2-year-old Breydon Ferrell in March 2016.  The only witness called by the defense, Dr. Werner Spitz, a forensic pathologist and professor of pathology at Wayne State University in Detroit, said in his professional opinion, Breydon died of brain swelling caused by falling out of his crib and hitting his head on a carpet-covered concrete floor. “This child climbed out of his crib and fell, a complicated fall, but one fall,” Spitz said. Houdeshell is accused of killing Breydon, the son of Houdeshell’s former fiancee, on March 31, 2016, at a Findlay apartment. Houdeshell, 29, was watching Breydon and called 911 at about 9 p.m. that night. Police said Houdeshell told them the child had fallen out of his crib. Spitz, who said he is 91, has testified before Congress concerning the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. Spitz said in forming his opinion in this case, he recreated the fall and reviewed documents from the boy’s autopsy and from Findlay police. Using a doll, he gave jurors in Hancock County Common Pleas Court a demonstration of his ideas about the fall. Spitz said he believes Breydon tried to get out of the crib, got his foot caught under the mattress, then fell out of the crib, likely hitting a table and television near the crib as he fell, then fracturing his skull on the floor. The floor was concrete under a thin carpet and a pad. Spitz said the child had a lucid interval after the fall, where he likely ate ice cream, as indicated by a brown, milky-like substance found in the child’s stomach during the autopsy. Houdeshell has told police he gave Breydon ice cream after the fall. “This is not an abused child. I cannot see an abused child,” Spitz said. He said the injuries on an abused child are inconsistent with those found on Breydon. Spitz said marks found on the face and arms of the child were caused by the fall, and injuries to the child’s chest would likely have been from CPR, administered after Houdeshell called 911. In cross-examination, Hancock County Assistant Prosecutor Colleen Limerick asked Spitz if he had taken into account a thin pad between the carpet and the cement. Spitz said no one told him there was a pad. Limerick asked Spitz if a fracture of the skull could be caused by someone slamming Breydon’s head into the carpet. Spitz it was possible, but he said injuries around the inside of the skull would not also have appeared. Limerick asked Spitz if he knew the doll he used in the courtroom demonstration was shorter and heavier than Breydon’s measurements at his autopsy. Spitz said he did not know. Limerick also pointed out that during the doll demonstration Spitz put on for the jury, the doll’s right foot was caught in between the crib slats. Limerick said Breydon’s left leg was fractured, as shown during the autopsy. Another forensic pathologist was called Tuesday by the prosecution as a rebuttal witness, and disagreed with Spitz’s conclusions. Dr. Jamie Downs, a medical examiner, forensic pathologist and medical legal consultant, has testified before Congress and in military trials in the Air Force and the Army. He specializes in child abuse cases. Breydon’s “multiple blunt force injuries were due to child abuse,” Downs said. “Breydon died as a result of multiple blunt force injuries.” Downs said at least eight injuries on the child’s face and on the inside of the skull could not have occurred in just one fall, even a fall when someone hits multiple things on the way down. Downs said even if the child fell and hit multiple objects, as Spitz described, there would have been no more than four bruises. Downs insisted the injury on the back of the boy’s head could not have been caused by a simple fall, because the fracture was at the base of the skull near the neck in a spot that is recessed. Downs said there would not have been a lucid interval after the fall, because the blow to the head would have caused the boy to lose consciousness. Downs suggested that Breydon had been picked up and slammed into the carpet. “You can’t do what was done to Breydon in a fall scenario,” Downs said. He said injuries that Breydon had on his arms were consistent with grab marks, and internal injuries in his lungs and liver were not consistent with CPR. Downs also said the mattress on the crib would have been too light to trap Breydon’s foot. Downs said he did not believe the milky white substance found in the boy’s stomach was ice cream, and if it was, it did not indicate Breydon ate ice cream at a specific time. Houdeshell’s trial began Jan. 8 and is now in its second week. Houdeshell is accused of murder, an unclassified felony; endangering children, a second-degree felony; and tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony. The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday with Judge Reginald Routson presiding. The prosecution rested its case Tuesday. The defense has not indicated it will call any more witnesses, so closing arguments are expected Wednesday."

The entire story can be found at:
https://www.forensicmag.com/news/2018/01/2-medical-examiners-offer-opposing-views-murder-trial

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog."

Hassan Diab: Canada; Bulletin: Significant development: He's home!; CBC News (Reporter Evan Dyer) reports..." Judges in France ordered Diab's release on at least eight occasions before he was finally set free, but under the French system prosecutors were able to keep him behind bars by appealing those release orders on grounds that Diab was a flight risk and public danger. He remained imprisoned despite the fact that he did not match a fingerprint left by the perpetrator of the Paris bombing in 1980, and could demonstrate that he was in fact sitting exams in Beirut at the time it occurred. Both university records, and the stamps in Diab's passport, backed his claims." CBC NEWS; 16 January, 2018.



http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/hassan-diab-back-in

See earlier post of this Blog: "Diab's lawyer, Donald Bayne, argued a handwriting analysis linking Diab to the bombing was "manifestly unreliable" and should be thrown out. Judge Robert Maranger said "scathing criticism of the French evidence" from three defence handwriting analysis experts was not sufficient to meet this burden. The French evidence is "presumptively reliable" under extradition statutes, Maranger said, though he likened handwriting analysis to a "pseudo-science."
 http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2011/02/hassan-diab-handwriting-evidence-from.html

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog."

Sandra Higgins: Ireland: Bulletin; Jury discharged in retrial of childminder accused of causing harm to baby; Legal issue arose in second retrial of Cavan child-minder; Reporter Declan Brennan; Irish Times ;17 January, 2018..." On Tuesday morning he told the jury that unfortunately the legal issue now means that the trial is not ready to proceed. He discharged the jury and remanded Ms Higgins on continuing bail. He set a new trial for June 11th next."

 

"A judge has discharged the jury because of a legal issue in the second retrial of a Cavan childminder accused of causing serious harm to a baby. Sandra Higgins (36), of The Beeches, Drumgola Wood, Cavan town, Co Cavan denies a charge of intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the baby at her home on March 28th, 2012. On Monday morning, Judge Cormac Quinn empaneled a jury to hear the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. It was scheduled to last two weeks.  That afternoon a legal issue arose before the trial opened in evidence. Judge Quinn sent the jury home to deal with the issue. On Tuesday morning he told the jury that unfortunately the legal issue now means that the trial is not ready to proceed. He discharged the jury and remanded Ms Higgins on continuing bail. He set a new trial for June 11th next."

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/jury-discharged-in-retrial-of-childminder-accused-of-causing-harm-to-baby-1.3357902

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog."

Tyler Haire: Mississippi; From our read this and weep column: (Another important piece of investigative journalism - on aspects of the criminal justice systems which are usually ignored (kept blissfully out of sight)...‘What Are We Going to Do About Tyler?’...Tyler Haire was locked up at 16. A Mississippi judge ordered that he undergo a mental exam. What happened next is a statewide scandal."..."As Tyler celebrated his 18th, 19th and 20th birthdays in the jail, the sheriff, Greg Pollan, served as the young man’s only vigilant advocate. Every month, Pollan called the state hospital in Whitfield for an update on where Tyler stood on the waiting list for one of the 15 beds in the hospital’s forensic unit, which handled psychiatric evaluations in criminal cases. He taped a note to the corner of his office computer: “Call Whitfield.” Pollan was optimistic when told Tyler was No. 3 on the list, only to be told in his next call, without explanation, that Tyler was now No. 10. On Jan. 13, 2014, the state hospital said it should be able to admit Tyler “in two weeks,” according to a note in Tyler’s case file. It would take another two and a half years."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This piece truly belongs in our "Read this and Weep" department. As reporter Sarah Smith tells us: "Tyler’s defense lawyer, appointed by the court, informed the judge in a court filing that his attempts at speaking with the boy had made it apparent the 17-year-old did not have “sufficient mental capacity” to understand the charge he was facing. The lawyer wanted Tyler to undergo a psychiatric examination. He listed the many reasons why that was appropriate: During his childhood, Tyler had been found to be suffering from seven different mental disorders, the first diagnosis coming when he was just four years old; he had threatened to bomb his school; he had chased his two siblings with a knife trying to stab them; his family suspected that he’d strangled a cat to death with his bare hands; he’d been hospitalized on several occasions and later placed in a home for troubled boys. The local prosecutor joined the defense lawyer’s request for an evaluation, and Judge John A. Gregory immediately signed an order to have Tyler assessed at the state hospital in Whitfield to determine if Tyler had a factual and rational understanding of the legal proceeding against him, as well as whether, at the time of the non-fatal assault, he knew the “difference between right and wrong.” “It is therefore ordered and adjudged,” Gregory wrote on April 23, 2013, “that the defendant Tyler Douglas Haire be given a mental evaluation at the earliest possible date.” Tyler’s evaluation would not happen for three and a half years."..."Sarah Smith was a reporting fellow at ProPublica. She previously interned at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she wrote about police misconduct. A story she co-authored on allegations of police abusing arrestees in the back of vans contributed to a victim getting a payout from the city and the police review of transport policies. She recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where she spent most of her time at the school paper. One of her stories at Penn involved a whistleblower from the school's mental health center leaking 11 years of internal documents that showed inadequacies in how the center treated students with mental illness. She's also been a fellow at The Atlantic, National Journal and Politico."

Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;

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STORY: ‘What Are We Going to Do About Tyler?’ by reporter Sarah Smith, published by ProPublica on December 28, 2017.

GIST: This is a story that cannot be summarized or reduced to a precis. It deserves to be read word by word.  But a few words will explain why I found Tyler's story so compelling - and why I think reporter Sarah Smith and ProPublica deserves Kudos for telling it..." Louis Masur, the psychologist who had evaluated Tyler, said he couldn’t discuss the specifics of Tyler’s case. But he once more made clear the problems at play as Mississippi struggles to deal with its long list of prisoners awaiting evaluations. The long lapses in time complicate determining whether someone was sane at the time of a crime. And while he can offer the court some information about a prisoner, he said he’s really in no position to offer definitive determinations. “It’s almost impossible to do,” he said.
Judge Andy Howorth, the senior judge in Calhoun County, said cases like Tyler’s haunt him. What happens to someone who’s competent but mentally ill? What happens to someone who’s incompetent but dangerous and handed to an underfunded system for the mentally ill? Mostly, they wind up behind bars. “Of course,” Howorth said, “I worry that this is what I’m participating in — the warehousing of the mentally ill.” ProPublica made the first of repeated requests to interview officials at Whitfield last summer. That and each subsequent request were rejected. Instead, Whitfield provided a statement through a public relations official declining to comment on Tyler’s case due to privacy restrictions. The statement acknowledged evaluation delays due to issues getting case information and the lack of bed space but pointed to initiatives the hospital has taken to improve its situation, such as new jail-based competency restoration program in one of the regional mental health centers.
When he retires, Calhoun County Sheriff Greg Pollan said, he aims to sit down and write his autobiography. Tyler will be a full chapter. No psychologist or psychiatrist in the country, he said, will ever convince him Tyler doesn’t have profound mental problems. The sheriff wishes Tyler had been committed to Whitfield for treatment for at least some time. He doesn’t think things will end well once Tyler is walking the streets again. “I just felt like everybody in the world let him down somewhere,” Pollan said. “Mom, dad, grandfather, grandmother, the school system, Alabama, Mississippi let him down. And, I guess, me, to a certain degree. “Or I would have figured out a way quicker to get him out of here than four years. I wish I’d have been smarter and could have figured out a way sooner to help.” HL.

The entire story can be read at the link below:

https://features.propublica.org/tyler-haire-mississippi/tyler-haire-mississippi-mental-health-evaluations-criminal-justice/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog."

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Kirstin Lobato: Nevada: Reporter Jordan Smith explains in The Intercept how the Innocence Project successfully presented nearly a week's worth of testimony from several renowned entomologists and a medical examiners "each of whom demonstrated why the state’s narrative never made any scientific sense..."In short, had Bailey been slaughtered in the pre-dawn hours and his body left outside all day in the summer heat, as the state claimed, blowflies — nature’s swift and ubiquitous first responders to scenes of death — would have quickly colonized his remains, leaving visible clusters of eggs in his various wounds. Still, the prosecution would not be bowed: At the October hearing, prosecutor Sandra DiGiacomo tried to peddle the notion that flies in Las Vegas behave unlike flies everywhere else in the world. It didn’t work."


PASSAGE OF THE DAY:  "Despite a crime scene rich with potential evidence, Las Vegas detectives Thomas Thowsen and James LaRochelle ignored obvious leads and instead focused their investigation on 18-year-old Lobato, based solely on a third-hand rumor."

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It is the end to her nearly 17-year nightmare.  “It’s over.”

Vanessa Potkin, director of post-conviction litigation for the Innocence Project.

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STORY: "17 Years After Being Convicted of a Grisly Murder in Vegas, Kirstin Lobato Sees Her Charges Dismissed," by reporter Jordan Smith published by   The Intercept on December 29, 2017.

GIST:   "On December 29, more than a decade after she was first sent to prison in Nevada for a murder she did not commit, Kirstin Blaise Lobato saw the charges against her dismissed. “It is the end to her nearly 17-year nightmare,” said Vanessa Potkin, director of post-conviction litigation for the Innocence Project, which took on Lobato’s case. “It’s over.”  Lobato was twice convicted of the gruesome murder of a 44-year-old homeless man named Duran Bailey, whose body was found behind a dumpster off the Las Vegas Strip just after 10 p.m. on July 8, 2001, covered in a thin layer of trash. Bailey’s teeth had been knocked out and his eyes were bloodied and swollen shut; his carotid artery had been slashed, his rectum stabbed, and his penis amputated. It was found among the trash nearby.  Despite a crime scene rich with potential evidence, Las Vegas detectives Thomas Thowsen and James LaRochelle ignored obvious leads and instead focused their investigation on 18-year-old Lobato, based solely on a third-hand rumor.  Lobato, who was a stranger to Bailey, had an alibi for the day of the crime: She was at home with her parents in the small town of Panaca, nearly three hours northeast of Las Vegas near the Utah state line. Still, detectives and prosecutors insisted that Lobato had been in the city during the early morning hours of July 8, killing Bailey before setting off in her old Pontiac Fiero for the long drive up the unlit, mountainous highway, making it home in time to get cleaned up before being seen around the neighborhood later that morning.  The state’s theory of the crime fell apart this past October, when Potkin and a team from the Innocence Project presented nearly a week’s worth of testimony from several renowned entomologists and a medical examiner, each of whom demonstrated why the state’s narrative never made any scientific sense. In short, had Bailey been slaughtered in the pre-dawn hours and his body left outside all day in the summer heat, as the state claimed, blowflies — nature’s swift and ubiquitous first responders to scenes of death — would have quickly colonized his remains, leaving visible clusters of eggs in his various wounds. Still, the prosecution would not be bowed: At the October hearing, prosecutor Sandra DiGiacomo tried to peddle the notion that flies in Las Vegas behave unlike flies everywhere else in the world. It didn’t work. In a detailed opinion filed December 19, Judge Stefany Miley concluded that the testimony of Lobato’s experts was credible, and had a jury heard such evidence, she might have been acquitted. Miley granted Lobato a new trial.  That left District Attorney Steven Wolfson with three possibilities: appeal the ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court (a longshot given the court had granted the hearing before Judge Miley based on its determination that Lobato’s alibi evidence was strong); retry the case (another loser option, particularly since Miley’s ruling left the DA without any evidence to try the case again), or dismiss the charges and free Lobato.  On Friday morning, Wolfson chose option three, and prosecutors went to court to ask that a judge dismiss the charges against Lobato “with prejudice” — meaning the state could never seek to prosecute her again for the crime.  By Friday afternoon, Potkin said she had spent the day on and off the phone with the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center in Las Vegas trying to arrange for Lobato’s immediate release — as was called for in the judge’s order. “The defendant shall be released from the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections forthwith,” Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez wrote. If Lobato isn’t released on December 29, Potkin said, she will have to remain in prison through New Year’s Day.  For Michelle Ravell, Lobato’s dedicated advocate, her release can’t come a minute too soon. Ravell said that Lobato, now 35, will live with her while she works to put her life back together. Indeed, Lobato has spent most of her adulthood locked up for a crime she did not commit. “I always knew this was going to happen,” Ravell said. “I just want to go and get her.”

The entire story can be found at:

https://theintercept.com/2017/12/29/las-vegas-murder-kirstin-lobato-wrongful-conviction/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Steven Avery: Making a murderer: Blood Spatter Tests Prove He Was Framed, ‘Making A Murderer’ Attorney Kathleen Zellner Exclusively Says, Newsweek reports...“The experiments show the blood in the RAV4 was planted,” said Zellner, who was not involved in Avery's original case, which was grippingly portrayed in the Netflix series. “We’re not saying the cops planted it; we’re saying the killer planted the blood.” Zellner and bloodstain pattern analyst Stuart James re-created as much of the actual scene as possible—with the lawyer and expert using real blood from a volunteer, the actual sink from Avery’s trailer and a RAV4 of the same make and model as the victim’s."


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Zellner has had past success with experiments intended to prove the innocence of her clients. She once dropped a dead lamb into a creek as part of a successful attempt to free a father who had been arrested for the murder of his daughter. She conducted a similar experiment in the Avery appeal with a bookshelf and the key to a RAV4, which Newsweek reported on earlier this month. In October, a county judge turned down Avery’s motion for a new trial, but his appeal will now be considered by a Wisconsin appeals court, online court records state."

STORY: "New Steven Avery Blood Spatter Tests Prove He Was Framed, ‘Making A Murderer’ Attorney Exclusively Says," by  reporter Josh Saul. published by Newsweek on December 28, 2017.

GIST: "The Wisconsin man whose conviction was portrayed in the popular Netflix documentary Making a Murderer was framed for the 2005 crime, his defense attorney told Newsweek, citing new experiments she conducted with a bloodstain expert. The experiments are among multiple tests overseen by attorney Kathleen Zellner to demonstrate flaws in the prosecutors’ original murder case against Steven Avery. In 2007, he who was found guilty of killing a woman, in part because his blood was found in the Toyota SUV she had driven to the Avery family’s auto salvage yard. “The experiments show the blood in the RAV4 was planted,” said Zellner, who was not involved in Avery's original case, which was grippingly portrayed in the Netflix series. “We’re not saying the cops planted it; we’re saying the killer planted the blood.” Zellner and bloodstain pattern analyst Stuart James re-created as much of the actual scene as possible—with the lawyer and expert using real blood from a volunteer, the actual sink from Avery’s trailer and a RAV4 of the same make and model as the victim’s. Prosecutors said Avery fatally shot Teresa Halbach, burned her body and then drove her RAV4 to a corner of the yard, leaving his blood in multiple places inside the vehicle.
But the new experiments undermine those claims, Zellner said. For one thing, flakes of blood were found on top of the driver side’s carpet floor. But in their experiment, Zellner and James hypothesized it could not have been Avery’s because fresh blood would have soaked into the carpet instead of sitting as flakes on top of the fibers. To prove this, they transferred two samples of blood from Avery’s sink to the RAV4, first a sample of blood that had been allowed to dry on the rim of Avery’s sink and then a sample of fresh blood from the sink. The liquid blood soaked into the car’s carpet. The dried blood remained on top of it, casting doubt on the prosecutors’ claim that Avery bled directly from a cut finger into the car. “The bloodstains belonging to Mr. Avery are consistent with an explanation other than Mr. Avery being in the RAV4 and depositing his blood in those locations with his actively bleeding cut finger,” James wrote in an affidavit filed with the court. Zellner was more succinct. “The killer took the blood out of the sink,” she told Newsweek. In a court filing last month, Zellner identified two alternative suspects: Avery’s nephew Bobby Dassey and brother-in-law Scott Tadych–both of whom had access to Avery’s trailer and Halbach’s RAV4. Time is not an issue. James’s affidavit says he was able to deposit the blood samples in the RAV4 in less than three minutes, giving a killer plenty of time to frame a man for murder. The video of the experiments also shows James applying fresh blood to the RAV4 near the vehicle’s ignition to show those bloodstains were most likely purposefully left by a Q-tip or some similar method—and not accidentally by Avery. “To a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, Mr. Avery would not have deposited blood at that location with his right middle finger while turning the key in the ignition,” James wrote in his affidavit. Defense attorney Kathleen Zellner conducted experiments that she says show Steven Avery is innocent of murder. In this one, a bloodstain expert applied blood near the ignition in the same type of car as the murder victim to disprove what prosecutors said at trial. Kathleen Zellner video James also wrote that if Avery had actually driven the RAV4 while he was actively bleeding, he would have left blood and bloody fingerprints in more places inside and outside the vehicle. The last experiment shown in the video above was conducted to cast doubt on the amount of blood prosecutors said was spilled inside the RAV4. Zellner has had past success with experiments intended to prove the innocence of her clients. She once dropped a dead lamb into a creek as part of a successful attempt to free a father who had been arrested for the murder of his daughter. She conducted a similar experiment in the Avery appeal with a bookshelf and the key to a RAV4, which Newsweek reported on earlier this month. In October, a county judge turned down Avery’s motion for a new trial, but his appeal will now be considered by a Wisconsin appeals court, online court records state. A spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which is arguing against Avery’s appeal, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. Avery, who is now 55 years old, is currently serving a sentence of life in prison without parole at Waupun Correctional Institution in Wisconsin. "

The entire story can be found at:

http://www.newsweek.com/steven-avery-appeal-blood-evidence-innocent-guilty-kathleen-zellner-making-762639

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog."