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Investigating Actual Innocence

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Title: Investigating Actual Innocence


1
Investigating Actual Innocence
  • Bill Clutter , Presenter
  • World Investigators Conference
  • Dallas, Texas
  • March 13, 2010

2
Downstate Illinois Innocence Project
  • University of Illinois at Springfield
  • Our focus is on investigations
  • Affiliated with the Innocence Network
  • http//www.innocencenetwork.org/members.html

3
Kirk Bloodsworth
  • First death penalty DNA exoneration case in the
    country
  • Former Marine convicted in 1985
  • Murder/rape 9 year-old girl
  • 1993 released from prison
  • Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld bombarded with
    requests from inmates all over the US

4
Innocence Project
  • Founded 1992 at Cardozo Law School
  • As of March 9, 2010
  • 251 DNA exonerations in US
  • http//www.innocenceproject.org

5
THE ELEMENTS OF A WRONGFUL CONVICTION CASE
  • MISTAKEN EYE-WITNESS IDENTIFICATION
  • FALSE CONFESSION
  • TUNNEL VISION
  • JUNK SCIENCE
  • JAILHOUSE SNITCH TESTIMONY
  • POLICE AND PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT
  • LACK OF INDIGENT FUNDING
  • SUBSTANDARD REPRESENTATION

6
Rolando Cruz/Alex Hernandez
7
The Nicarico case
  • Illinois first death penalty DNA exoneration.
  • The beginning of the Innocence Project movement
    in Illinois.

8
Nov. 11 2009 Dugan convicted
9
Post-conviction forensic testing statues
  • Illinois was the first state in the nation in
    1997 to adopt a post-conviction forensic testing
    statute
  • 725 ILCS 5/116-3
  • Motion for fingerprint or forensic testing not
    available at trial regarding actual innocence

10
Proving Actual Innocence
  • Identification of actual perpetrator
  • DNA
  • Fingerprint (AFIS)
  • Ballistics (IBIS)
  • Confession of actual perpetrator
  • Eye-witness identification

11
The Innocence Protection Act of 2004 Bloodsworth
Grants
  • Post-conviction DNA Testing Assistance Program
  • Gives indigent prisoners access to DNA testing to
    prove a claim of actual innocence
  • States may use the money to pay private
    investigators for case review and to locate
    evidence
  • Applications are due April 22, 2010
  • http//www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/journals/262/postconv
    iction.htm
  • http//www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/sl000922.pdf

12
First Touch DNA Exoneration
13
US Supreme Court
  • Has yet to recognize a claim of actual innocence
    as a legally permitted constitutional claim
    Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390, 113 S. Ct.
    853, 122 L.Ed.2d 203 (1993)
  • . . .the execution of a legally and factually
    innocent person would be a constitutionally
    intolerable event.
  • After all, the central purpose of any system of
    criminal justice is to convict the guilty and
    free the innocent.

14
Justice Scalia
  • This Court has never held that the Constitution
    forbids the execution of a convicted defendant
    who has had a full and fair trial but is later
    able to convince a habeas court that he is
    actually innocent. Quite to the contrary, we
    have repeatedly left that question unresolved,
    while expressing considerable doubt that any
    claim based on alleged actual innocence is
    constitutionally cognizable. Dissent in Writ of
    Habeas Corpus Re Troy Anthony Davis decision
    Aug. 17, 2009

15
States have a different interpretation
  • People v. Washington, 171 Ill.2d 475, 488-489,
    665 N.E.2d 1330 (1996)
  • A defendant can raise a stand alone
    post-conviction claim of actual innocence under
    State Constitution
  • No statute of limitation for asserting actual
    innocence claim

16
Traditional Post-conviction claims
  • Attacks validity of conviction
  • Must raise a violation of a constitutional right
  • 5th Amendment right to counsel
  • Ineffective assistance of counsel
  • Failure to investigate
  • Due Process4th and 14th Amendments
  • Brady violations
  • 2nd Prong of Test
  • New evidence would have changed the outcome of
    the jury verdict

17
Randy Steidl/Herb Whitlock
18
Post-Conviction Investigation
  • No DNA
  • Real killer never identified
  • Actual innocence claim not asserted

19
ForensicsLamp Evidence
20
  • "As presented at trial, the lamp was a
    significant detail used to bolster Rienbolt's
    credibility. . .to offset her doubtful
    credibility and the inherently unbelievable
    nature of her story
  • Had defense counsel presented expert testimony .
    . .it would have gone a long way toward
    convincing the jury that Rienbolt's trial
    testimony was not actually an eyewitness account
    of the murders . . . would have resulted in a
    different outcome at trial. US District Judge
    Michael P. McCuskey June 17, 2003

21
17 years laterfree 5/17/04
22
9/6/07 Whitlock conviction vacated
  • The State violated Brady by failing to disclose
    (1) the fact that Herrington originally
    identified Jim and Ed as the perpetrators of the
    crime . . .and that the police provided alcohol
    to Herrington.
  • 4th Dist. Appellate Court Rule 23 Opinion

23
21 years laterfree 1/9/08
24
THE IMPACT OF DEATH PENALTY EXONERATIONS IN
ILLINOIS
  • Each branch of government examined what went
    wrong
  • LegislatureTask Force on Prosecutorial
    Misconduct
  • GovernorCommission on the Death Penalty
  • IL Supreme CourtRule 416
  • Reforms were put in place to prevent the
    conviction of the innocent

25
Money for Investigators
  • Capital Litigation Crimes Act 725 ILCS 124/1
    effective date Jan. 1, 2000

26
INNOCENCE PROJECT CASES
  • Julie Rea-Harper
  • The Slover case

27
Julie Rea Harper Oct. 13, 1997
28
Julie-Rea Harper
  • Indicted Oct 12, 2000 for the murder of her
    10-year old son Joel.
  • Three year delay
  • Prosecutors announce to media intent to seek
    death penalty.

29
June 2000 I Get a Call From Julies Attorney
  • Real killer may be Tommy Lynn Sells
  • A serial killer who targeted children
  • Del Rio murder of Kaylene Harris-13
  • Killed before in Southern Illinois

30
ABUSE OF PROSECUTORIAL DISCRETION
  • Julie files pro se motion for appointment of two
    capital qualified attorneys.
  • Prosecutors file intent not to seek death penalty

31
Denied essential resources to investigate her
claim of innocence
  • ABA Guidelines require the appointment of an
    investigator who has received specialized
    training in criminal defense investigations.
  • Counsel lacks the special expertise required to
    accomplish the high quality investigation to
    which a capital defendant is entitled. . .

32
PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT Use of emotionally
charged evidence
  • Julie talked about having an abortion when she
    found out she was pregnant with Joel.
  • Julie brewed raspberry tea to induce labor so
    birth would occur on 13th of July.

33
A modern day witch trial
  • Now what about the obsession with the number 13?
    Well I will tell you what about it . . . She was
    born on December 13th, 1968. Her husband, Len,
    was born July the 13th. She insistedfrom the
    evidence, she insisted that they be married on
    the . . .13th of the month . . . she drank a
    concoction on the 12th of July so she could have
    Joel on the 13th. Is that a coincidence? . . .
    Is it a coincidence that Joel died on October
    13th when he was ten years and three months old
    to the day? Ed Parkinson Special Prosecutor

34
ABC 20/20 Airs Julies story
  • To believe her, you would have to believe that
    this assailant came into her home in the middle
    of the night . . . for the sole purpose of
    killing a 10 year-old boy. And yet he also
    forgot to bring a murder weapon along and used
    her kitchen knife to do it with . . . total
    nonsense. Ed Parkinson Special Prosecutor May
    31, 2002

35
True Crime Writer Diane Fanning Writes Sells
  • The other night, I was watching a story on TV
    about a woman who was in jail for killing her
    son. She claims someone broke into her house and
    killed him. . . And heres my very favorite on
    the stupid scale the prosecutor said A person
    does not come into someones house without a
    weapon and then pull a knife out of the kitchen
    drawer in the house and use it. After hearing
    that garbage, I believe it is very possible that
    woman is telling the truth. Tommy, I think if I
    never heard of you, I still would have thought
    these guys were idiots. June 9, 2002

36
6/14/2002 Sells Writes Back
  • Diane . . . About that woman claims someone brak
    (sic) in to her house? Was that like maby (sic)
    2 days befor (sic) my Springfield MO murder?
    Maby (sic) on a 13th.

37
UIS INNOCENCE PROJECT CORROBORATES CONFESSION
  • Witness at diner places Sells in Lawrenceville
  • Greyhound Bus ticket agent
  • Affidavit of Texas Ranger John Allen

38
Julies description matched Sells
39
Suspect Sketch
40
Winnemucca, Nevada
41
Audio interview of Sells provides details that
only the killer would know.
  • During the struggle Sells said she had hold of
    his leg and he dragged her on the carpet.
  • Julie told police I grabbed at his legs and
    wouldnt let go.
  • Police reports and hospital records indicate she
    had rug burns on her knees, consistent with what
    she told police.

42
Do Prosecutors seek justice?
  • They call Sells a serial confessor.

43
7/26/06 Not guilty!
44
THE SLOVER CASE
  • Indicted Jan. 27, 2000.
  • First case eligible for CLTF
  • Most complex criminal case of my career
  • Over 17,000 pages of discovery
  • Funded as a capital case gt 1 yr

45
ON FEB. 2, 2001 PROSECUTORS FILED INTENT NOT TO
SEEK DEATH
  • If you take away the death penalty, they cant
    tap into that slush fund. . . Macon County
    States Attorney Scott Rueter did not deny the
    allegations, and said the Capital Litigation
    Trust Fund was one of the issues discussed in the
    decision making process. But Rueter also said,
    Its not a main reason for what were doing. Any
    aspect that may affect the litigation of the case
    is a factor, and I cant deny that we looked at
    that issue. I dont believe it was a main
    emphasis. (Source Decatur Herald Review
    (Hearns unhappy with decision to drop death
    penalty, Feb. 6, 2001)

46
Denied essential resources to investigate claim
of innocence
  • Court denied motion for county to fund
    investigators.
  • Without the services of investigators Mr. Slover
    cannot present an adequate defense or receive a
    fair trial.

47
Innocence Project investigates
  • Blue fiber evidence
  • Short blue wool fibers have been located in the
    vehicle that Karyn Slover was driving, in at
    least one gray plastic bag which contained body
    parts of Karyn Slover, and on the duct tape used
    to seal the gray plastic bag. The source of
    these short blue wool fibers has not been
    located. (M/Sgt. Colin McClain, Investigative
    Summary Sept. 27 thru Dec. 31, 1996, at p. 2,
    Control 2208)

48
Alternate suspects
  • Doreen told me . . . there was a long-haired
    white male who appeared to be a truck driver
    standing inside the rest area wearing a blue
    flannel shirt. (Oct. 2, 1986 interview of
    Doreen Requarth report of R. Chaney Control 132
    at A).

49
Evidence from Kankakee Co.
50
Tinted Windows?
  • Defense witness Vickie Gagnon
  • Her school bus was passed by a black Pontiac
    Bonneville lic. CADS 7
  • Unable to see the driver because the vehicle had
    tinted windows

51
The State challenged Gagnons testimonyQ You
see any tinting on any of these windows? A No.

52
David Swann
  • Q Did it have tinted windows?
  • A No sir, it did not.
  • witness shown photo of car
  • Q And that shows the absence of any tinted
    windows?
  • A That is correct.

53
Perjured testimony?
54
  • Bill Clutter
  • Director of Investigations
  • Downstate Illinois Innocence Project
  • University of Illinois at Springfield
  • Email billclutter_at_email.com
  • www.clutterinvestigations.com
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