Newly Written or Updated Case Summaries

4th Quarter 2008 Cases





Date of Alleged Crime


Ontario, Canada Romeo Phillion Aug 9, 1967 (Ottawa)

Romeo Phillion was convicted of the murder of Leopold Roy.  Roy, 48, was stabbed to death on Aug. 9, 1967 at the Churchill Court Apartments located at 275 Friel St. in Ottawa.  Roy worked for the Ottawa Fire Department and was also superintendent of the apartments.  The killer had some claim to have acted in self-defence as Roy had assaulted him merely because his behavior was suspicious.

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Polk County, FL Jeffrey Streeter Apr 1980

Jeffrey Streeter was convicted of a crime for which he was never arrested.  Streeter went to the local courthouse in Bartow, FL on July 15, 1980 to pick up his brother who was due to be sentenced to probation on a robbery charge.  Also at the courthouse was an attorney named Warren Dawson.  Dawson represented defendant Lee Marvin Anderson who was being tried that day on misdemeanor charges of assault, battery, and resisting arrest without violence.  Dawson did not believe that witnesses against Anderson had any independent recollection of who Anderson was.  To prove his point, Dawson asked Streeter to do him a favor and to sit at the defendant's table during the trial where the defendant usually sits.  Streeter agreed and sat in the defendant's chair.  Anderson, the defendant, meanwhile sat in the spectator's section of the courtroom.

After the non-jury bench trial began, three prosecution witnesses identified 19-year-old Streeter as the person who committed Anderson's alleged offenses.  According to the testimony, the assailant was angry that Francis Garell's car was parked too close to his and knocked Garrell down.  Streeter subsequently testified he was not Lee Marvin Anderson. He even showed the judge his driver's license.  Dawson told the judge that Streeter was not the defendant, and called the real defendant, Anderson, to the front of the courtroom and Anderson identified himself.  According to Dawson, the judge would not even listen, he would not even hear from Anderson.

The judge, Edward Threadgill, Jr., dismissed the assault and resisting arrest charges against Streeter because the presented testimony did not support them.  However, he convicted Streeter of battery and sent him to jail.  Streeter was subsequently released from custody after spending 18 hours in jail.  His conviction was dismissed two weeks later.

Streeter and Anderson were both black.  In regard to his incorrect identification, Garrell, 67, said that there were few blacks in Johnstown, PA where he worked before retiring to Florida.  "Since he was sitting at the defense table, I just assumed that was the man.  So did everyone else.  If they had the real man up there I couldn't be certain I could identify him.  It happened three months ago and it was getting dusk."  (Newspaper Accounts)  [12/08]


Mobile County, AL Donnie Mays Apr 12, 2001 (Mobile)

Donnie Mays was convicted of the murder of his wife Kaye.  On the day of Kaye's death, Donnie, who worked for American General Auto Finance, received a phone call from corporate headquarters telling him that someone had forged his signature on expense reports.  Kaye subsequently admitted she had forged Donnie's signature.  Not knowing the severity of the wrongdoing or that Kaye had actually stolen money from his employer, Donnie suggested they call his boss, Jim Martin, whom both Donnie and Kaye were close to.  However, Kaye decided it would be best to wait until the following morning.

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Ontario, Canada Peter Frumusa Aug 22, 1988 (Niagara Falls)

Peter Frumusa was convicted of murdering Richard and Annie Wilson, a married couple.  The victims were found dead in their beds and died as a result of blows to their heads. No murder weapon was found.  There was no evidence of forced entry to their house, or of robbery or vandalism.  Since the man's wallet and money were found close to his body, robbery appeared not to be a motive and the killings were thought to be executions.

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Cook County, IL Earnest Wallace June 17, 1916 (Chicago)

Earnest Wallace was sentenced to death for the shooting murders of two men that occurred during the robbery of a saloon on the southwest corner of Twenty-Seventh and Federal streets in Chicago.  The victims were the proprietor, William Levin, and a customer, William Monroe.  Wallace was convicted of the murders due to the eyewitness testimony of John Porter, Henry Flynn, and Martha Clark.

Porter was the only identifying witness who testified he was in the saloon at the time of the shooting.  He first identified Wallace on the street while he [Porter] was in the custody of the police.  Although the other saloon patrons lived in the neighborhood, Porter did not and claimed he was a first time visitor.  The other patrons said the assailant was masked, but Porter testified the assailant was unmasked.  At trial Porter was unable to recognize any of the other patrons as being present in the saloon at the time of the shooting.  Porter also could not give an intelligible account of his actions or whereabouts after leaving the saloon.

The other two identifying witnesses gave testimony that was unlikely, and even if true, only identified Wallace as being in or near the saloon around the time of the shooting.  Wallace testified that he was playing craps at a pool room on State Street at the time of the shooting and he had three other players corroborate his account of how he spent the evening of the shootings.  Two years after Wallace's conviction, the Illinois Supreme Court vacated it on the grounds that the evidence against him was insufficient to convict.  (People v. Wallace)  [12/08]


Johnson County, IA James Hall Mar 13, 1973 (Iowa City)
James W. Hall was convicted of the strangulation murder of Sarah Ann Ottens in a coeducational dormitory at the University of Iowa.  Ottens, 21, was a UI nursing student who hailed from Morrison, IL while Hall, 20, was a former UI football player who hailed from Toledo, OH.  The murder occurred during spring break.  Hall's conviction was overturned in late 1983 due to the withholding of evidence by the prosecution.  Charges against Hall were subsequently dropped.  Years later Hall was convicted of the Mar. 20, 1992 strangulation murder of 31-year-old Susan Hajek.  This murder occurred in Cedar Rapids, IA.  (Google)  [12/08]


Allen County, IN Ralph Lobaugh 1944-45

Ralph Woodrow Lobaugh was sentenced to death for the murders of three women.  Within an 18-month period of time, four women were abducted and killed in the Fort Wayne area:  Wilhelmina Haaga, 38, on Feb. 2, 1944, Anna Kuzeff, 20, on May 22, 1944, Phyllis Conine, 17, on Aug. 6, 1944, and Dorothea Howard, 36, on Mar. 6, 1945.  The murders of these women were all committed during inclement weather.  They were possibly the work of a single serial killer dubbed "The Killer in the Rain."  There were some differences between the first three murders and Howard's murder, suggesting a different killer had murdered Howard.

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Pulaski County, AR James Dean Walker Apr 16, 1963

James Dean Walker was convicted of murdering Police Officer Jerrell Vaughn of North Little Rock.  Walker and a companion, Russell Kumpe, were at a Little Rock nightclub with two women, one of whom was Linda Ford.  Following an altercation at the club in which another patron was shot, Kumpe, Walker, and Ford left in Kumpe's Oldsmobile.  Kumpe drove, while Walker sat in the passenger seat, with Ford sitting in the center.  Police Officer Gene Barentine pursued and stopped the car and parked his vehicle behind it.  Officer Vaughan arrived on the scene almost immediately thereafter, as did two cabdrivers.

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Washington, DC Bradford Brown Nov 2, 1974
Bradford Brown was convicted of the shooting murder of Rodney Frazier.  The crime happened at 1601 W. Street. SE  A witness, Margaret Holton, saw the killer and would later testify that it was Brown.  "I am sure of this guy's face," said Holton.  "I will never forget that face."  Holton lived with Frazier's father and other witnesses from the Frazier neighborhood corroborated her identification.  Later investigation by Washington Police Detective Robert Kanjian determined that another man, Richard Harris, had committed the crime.  Brown was released and cleared of the conviction in 1979.  (Victoria (TX) Advocate 12-26-79)  [11/08]


Orange County, CA Earl Rhoney Jan 20, 1994 (Irvine)

Earl Henry Rhoney IV was convicted of the murder of 46-year-old Patricia Lea Pratt.  Pratt was beaten and strangled during a burglary at her home in the upscale Turtle Rock neighborhood of Irvine, CA.  Rhoney had committed a burglary with six other teenagers about a mile from the Pratt residence more than a week prior to the murder.  He was arrested for it two weeks after the murder.  Eight months later, police followed Rhoney with a bloodhound upon Rhoney's release from juvenile hall for the prior burglary.  Police had given the bloodhound, named Duchess, material extracted from Pratt's sweatshirt to sniff and videotaped the dog allegedly tracking the scent of Pratt's killer.  The scent material was removed from the sweatshirt using a Dustbuster type device that was called a Scent Machine.  This device was patented by the dog's handler, Larry Harris.

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Huerfano County, CO Loren Hamby June 22, 1937 (Walsenburg)
Loren Hamby was convicted of the murder of George T. Carnes.  Carnes was killed during a holdup at his filling station located at the corner of First and Walsen in Walsenburg.  Hamby claimed he was listening to a broadcast of the Louis-Braddock heavyweight fight at the time of the holdup.  Following conviction, Hamby began a life sentence in 1939.  Some time later, Professor Leonarde Keeler was brought in from Chicago with his invention, the modern-day lie detector.  He found Hamby was telling the truth.  The chief prosecution witness then repudiated his testimony.  In April 1946, Governor John Vivian pardoned Hamby and he was released.  In 1947 the Colorado Legislature awarded Hamby $10,000 for his wrongful imprisonment.  (Evening Independent) (Carnes Obituary)  [11/08]


Gage County, NE Nebraska Six Feb 5, 1985 (Beatrice)

Six people were convicted of charges related to the murder of sixty-eight-year-old Helen Wilson.  The victim had been raped, beaten, and strangled.  The six defendants were Thomas Winslow, Joseph White, Ada Joanna Taylor, Kathy Gonzalez, Deb Shelden, and James Dean.  The initial investigation into Wilson's murder went cold but it was revived in 1987 when a former Beatrice police officer, Bert Searcey, came forward with confidential informants. The informants said Taylor, a former Beatrice resident, admitted involvement in the murder. 

Searcey took over the investigation after being hired by the Gage County Sheriff's office.  Searcy focused on Taylor, White, and a group of friends who drank and took drugs together.  The theory behind the case was that White and Taylor wanted to rob Wilson and that her rape and murder just happened.  The theory left questions:  (1) How could six people could fit into Wilson's tiny apartment without anyone seeing or hearing them?  (2) Who would bring five witnesses to a sexual assault?  (3) If robbery was the motive, why was Wilson's purse filled with $1300 left untouched on a kitchen stool?

Except for White, all confessed to the crime after reportedly coercive interrogation techniques.  The techniques included the use of a psychiatrist to tell the defendants that they had repressed memories of the crime. There was also evidence that the police spoon fed details of the crimes to the defendants.  Several defendants were threatened with the death penalty, including Taylor who was told that she would be the first woman to be executed by the State of Nebraska if she did not confess and cooperate.  Taylor, Shelden, and Dean pled guilty to the crime while Gonzalez entered a no-contest plea.  Gonzalez, Shelden, and Dean were released from prison in 1994.

In 2008, DNA tests were performed which exonerated all of the Nebraska Six and led to the release of Winslow, White, and Taylor from prison.  The tests indicated Bruce Allen Smith of Oklahoma had committed Wilson's rape and murder.  Smith died of AIDS in 1992.  The Nebraska Attorney General's Office is, as of this writing, helping the Nebraska Six to obtain pardons.  The DNA exonerations, the first in Nebraska, were the largest mass DNA-based exonerations, surpassing the 2002 mass DNA exonerations of five individuals convicted of raping a jogger in New York City's Central Park.  (Bluhm) (State v. White)  [11/08]


Milwaukee County, WI David Sanders Convicted 2008 (Milwaukee)

David Sanders, a Franciscan Brother and schoolteacher, was convicted in 2008 of molesting an altar boy more than 20 years earlier.  The victim who knew his molester as "Brother David," picked Sanders out of a photo array and remembered him as the man who taught him First Communion rites at St. Vincent's parish.  The victim also said he visited his molester in Delaware.  Sanders 1980s address was in the address book of the victim's family.  At trial Sanders' defense argued that Sanders had never administered the victim's First Communion nor, as far as anyone could prove, had ever been to Delaware. Sanders had worked at a number of Milwaukee area parishes as a music teacher, but never at St. Vincent's.

Following Sanders' conviction, the victim's grandmother found a letter written by a different "Brother David," named David Nickerson, which implicated that man in the assault.  When confronted, Nickerson admitted he molested the victim.  Sanders was subsequently exonerated after 5 months of imprisonment.  Authorities were debating whether to charge Nickerson, in part, because the victim is far from an ideal witness.  In 2008 the victim was 30 years old and was himself in prison for molesting a child.  (WIP) (MJS)  [11/08]


Jefferson County, AL Louis Griffin Sept 24, 1992

Louis Griffin was sentenced to death for the gunshot murder of Christopher Lynn Davis.  Following Davis's death, two men were indicted for the murder, Anthony Embry and Falanda Miles, based on eyewitness testimony and other evidence.  Embry pleaded guilty to the crime and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment while Miles was tried and acquitted of the charge.  The Davis case was then closed.

In April 1996, Griffin pleaded guilty in New York City to federal RICO law (racketeering) violations.  Griffin was the "security man" for the 142nd Street Lynch Mob Crew. The Crew supplied illegal drugs to various parts of the country, including Alabama.  As part of his plea Griffin entered into an allocation that he had participated in the Alabama murder of Davis.  As a result of this allocation, Alabama authorities exonerated Embry of Davis's murder and initiated proceedings against Griffin.

At trial, Griffin stated that he lied in federal court.  However, he was barred from presenting any evidence that after the initial police investigation, the state believed that Embry and Miles committed the murder, or that Embry entered into a valid plea agreement admitting to the murder.  This evidence was excluded because it was hearsay.  On appeal in 2000, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed Griffin's conviction due to the excluded evidence.  In 2001, Griffin was acquitted at retrial.  (Griffin v. Alabama) (Alabama's Exonerated)  [11/08]


Orange County, FL Tommy Zeigler Dec 24, 1975 (Winter Garden)

William Thomas Zeigler Jr. was sentenced to death for the murders of four people in his furniture store.  The store was located at 1010 S. Dillard St. in Winter Garden, FL.  The victims were Zeigler's wife, Eunice, her parents, Perry and Virginia Edwards, and a black customer, Charlie Mays.  Zeigler, himself, was critically shot.

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Terrebonne Parish, LA Clyde Charles Mar 12, 1981
Clyde Charles was convicted of rape.  Clyde and his brother Marlo Charles had been out drinking together at a bar.  The brothers then went their separate ways hitchhiking.  The victim, a 26-year-old, was subsequently raped after her car had a flat tire on the same road as the bar.  The victim initially told police that her assailant was clean-shaven, but she identified the fully bearded Clyde as her assailant when police brought him to her several hours after the assault.  Police had found Clyde hitchhiking an hour before the assault and had ordered him off the road.  Marlo bore a strong resemblance to Clyde and was dressed similar to him on the night of the assault, but the victim maintained that Clyde was her assailant.  At trial, Marlo testified in his brother's defense, but was not asked by either the prosecution or the defense if he was the rapist.  However, Clyde's defense attorney filed an affidavit stating he believed Marlo was the rapist.  Clyde began requesting DNA tests in the early 1990's but prosecutors blocked these requests for years.  In 1999, DNA tests exonerated Clyde and implicated Marlo.  (IP) (Frontline) (JD12)  [11/08]


Warren County, OH Jack Frederick Apr 23, 1994
Jack L. Frederick was convicted of rape, kidnapping, assault, and domestic violence against Jackie Dawson, an ex-girlfriend.  The lack of physical evidence and the evidence of trial witness perjury not only creates reasonable doubt, but also makes likely Frederick's claim that Dawson fabricated the charges in order to retaliate against him for leaving her and failing to share with her half of his $1200 disability check.  (JD10)  [10/08]


Greer County, OK Troy Hickey Jan 21, 1988 (Granite)

Troy Hickey was convicted of murdering inmate Richard Allen Payne at the Oklahoma State Reformatory at Granite.  Payne's cellmate, Bobby Petkoff, who was serving a life sentence for murdering his brother, first told authorities that he had found Payne lying on the floor, bleeding, when he returned to his cell.  Later, Petkoff changed his story and claimed that inmate Steve Ness stabbed Payne while another inmate, whom he did not know, held him at knifepoint.  When shown a photo lineup, Petkoff picked out the unknown accomplice.  However, Petkoff was later walked past Hickey and changed his identification of the unknown accomplice to Hickey. This identification was illegal because it was a "showup identification."

Three inmates testified against Hickey, including Petkoff.  All were given deals for their testimony, but the existence of the deals were hidden at trial.  Hickey later found out that Petkoff was originally a prime suspect in the murder.  He also found that Petkoff had been covered in blood at the time of the stabbing.  It would seem likely that if Hickey had held him down, Hickey would have been covered in blood as well, but he had no blood on any of his clothing or on anything that he owned.  In 1996, Ness signed an affidavit stating that he murdered Payne and that Hickey was not with him at the time.  The affidavit also stated that Ness hardly knew Hickey at the time of the crime, and that Hickey's conviction was due to mistaken identity by inmate witnesses, after weeks of pressure and coercion by state authorities.  (JD10)  [10/08]


Palm Beach County, FL Paul William Scott Dec 6, 1978 (Boca Raton)

Paul William Scott was sentenced to death for the murder of James Alessi, a Boca Raton florist.  Scott had accompanied a friend, Rick Kondian, to Alessi's home where they smoked some pot.  Unknown to the two, Alessi had laced it with PCP, a dangerous hallucinogen.  Scott laid down in another room.  Meanwhile, Alessi, a 6'2" homosexual, tried to force himself sexually on Kondian.  Kondian screamed for Scott's help, and with his aid managed to subdue Alessi.  Scott then left.  Kondian left, but returned three and a half-hours later to rob Alessi, and killed him with a champagne bottle during the robbery.

Kondian cut his hand badly with the cork wire from the bottle, and while he afterwards threw the bottle in the woods, a circle of blood from the bottle was left at the murder scene.  At Scott's trial, the prosecution withheld this blood evidence.  Two witnesses to the murder have also come forward to exonerate Scott.  A book was written about the case entitled A Circle of Blood by Bob Pauley.  (FYI) (AngelFire) (Scott v. Dugger) (JD03) [10/08]


Wood County, WI Edward Kanieski June 29, 1952

Edward Frank Kanieski was convicted of murdering tavern owner Clara Bates.  Bates, 76, was found strangled and bludgeoned to death in her living quarters at her bar in Wisconsin Rapids.  Kanieski, then 33, was one of two men who found Bates two days after she was last seen alive.  Kanieski had been been an irregular customer at her bar.  He had once told Bates a false story about being an aviator.  When Bates expressed interest in going to Iowa some months in the future, Kanieski had offered to fly her there.  Later he had a fall outside a funeral home, for which his head was bandaged.  Using the bandage as evidence, he told Bates he had a plane accident and could no longer take her.  Kanieski initially lied about being at Bates's bar the night of her murder.  While Kanieski was there, she left other patrons to speak with him for about 15 minutes.  Kanieski left before closing.  Bates subsequently closed her bar early for some unspecified reason, possibly because she planned to meet with her murderer.  Exiting patrons reportedly saw Kanieski's car by the side of the road and he admitted he was parked by the side of the road.

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Dallas County, TX Johnnie Lindsey Aug 25, 1981

Johnnie Earl Lindsey was convicted of rape.  The 28-year-old victim was riding her bike around White Rock Lake about 11 a.m. when she saw a shirtless man in his 20s standing on the path in a wooded area.  As she tried to ride past him, the man grabbed the handlebars of her bike and knocked her off.  He said he had a knife and threatened to stab her if she did not do as he said.  After being sexually assaulted, the woman managed to get away and ran for help.

A year after the assault, when the victim was living in San Antonio, Dallas police mailed her a six-person photo lineup.  Only two of the men in the lineup were shirtless and Lindsey was one of them.  The victim subsequently identified Lindsey as her assailant.  At trial Lindsey had an alibi, time clock punch cards that showed that he was working in a commercial laundry at the time of the assault.  Nevertheless, the jury chose to believe the victim.  Lindsey was repeatedly denied parole because he would not admit to the offense.  According to his attorney, Michelle Moore, "It's been almost 26 years. I can't believe he didn't just admit to the assault so he could be released."  In 2008, DNA tests exonerated Lindsey, and he was released.  In 2009, Governor Perry officially pardoned him.  (DMN)  [10/08]


Fresno County, CA Bernard Vindiola July 22, 1976 (Fowler)

Bernard Vindiola was convicted of the shooting murder of Thomas J. McCoy, a security guard at the Peek-a-Boo Bar in Fowler, CA.  At the time of the shooting, Bernard, his brother, Eddie Vindiola, several sisters and some friends were at the bar.  Christina Vindiola got into a fight with her sisters, Rosie and Elena, and with Eddie's girlfriend, Martina Rocha. McCoy attempted to intervene and stop the fight. In the process he was shot three times, and later died as a result.  After the shooting, Christina Vindiola remained at the bar. She told a number of people that her brother, Eddie, had a gun and had shot the security guard.  She would later testify that she made those initial statements because she was angry with Eddie.  She stated that she did not know whether Eddie had a gun or had shot the victim.

At Bernard's trial, his defense was that Eddie had shot the victim.  Bernard's girlfriend was not involved in the fight or with the security guard, but Eddie's girlfriend was.  Only one witness, Vaughn Donabedian, claimed to have seen Bernard shoot McCoy.  His testimony was questionable for several reasons:  (1) The lighting condition in the bar was dark, and it was crowded with 75 to 85 people.  (2) Shortly after the shooting, Donabedian said the assailant was 5 feet 10 inches tall and in his late 20's or early 30's.  Eddie was 5 feet 9 inches tall and 28 years old.  Bernard, however, was 6 feet 1 inch and 21 years old.  (3) Donabedian was positive that the killer had gotten in the back seat of a car just before it drove away.  However, there was testimony that Eddie, who was unable to drive, got in the back seat, whereas Bernard was in the front seat driving.  (4) The day after the shooting, Donabedian was shown a group of photographs, including Bernard's, but could not identify any of them as the assailant. (5) Donabedian was shown a physical lineup three days later and identified someone other than Bernard as the killer. He later claimed at trial that Bernard had been in that lineup, which was incorrect.

In 1979, a state appeals court overturned Bernard's conviction because the defense was prohibited from introducing Eddie's prior conviction of auto theft to impeach his testimony.  The court also cited other reasons and noted in its opinion the weight of evidence was in favor of Bernard.  It is not known if Bernard was retried, but the Northwestern Law School website lists him as an exonerated person.  (People v. Vindiola)  [10/08]


Erie County, NY Edward Larkman Aug 12, 1925 (Buffalo)

Edward Larkman was convicted of the robbery and murder of Ward J. Pierce, the paymaster of the Art Metal Shop plant in Buffalo, NY.  Dorothy Littleworth, an eyewitness to the crime, said the killer wore dark glasses.  After police forced Larkman to put on dark glasses, Littleworth identified Larkman as the killer.  The identification was performed without any lineup.  Littleworth had said she had seen the killer's profile for only three seconds and his face for only two.  At trial, the jury asked for information on how Littleworth had identified Larkman, but they were not told.  The jury convicted Larkman after 43 hours of deliberation. Larkman was sentenced to death.

The court of appeals affirmed Larkman's conviction, without issuing a majority opinion.  However, two judges issued a minority dissent because they felt that Larkman's identification had not been established beyond a reasonable doubt.  In Jan. 1927, shortly before Larkman's scheduled execution, Governor Alfred E. Smith commuted Larkman's sentence to life imprisonment, as was customary when there was dissent on the court of appeals.

In April 1929, Anthony Kalkiewicz, a Buffalo gangster, confessed to participating in the murder of Pierce with four other men, none of them Larkman.  Larkman was subsequently denied a new trial because the new evidence was not presented within a year of his first trial.  However, in April 1933, Governor Lehman unconditionally pardoned Larkman, mainly because of the identification method used by the police.  (Not Guilty)  [10/08]


Saginaw County, MI Alexander Ripan Oct 25, 1919
Alexander Ripan was convicted of the murder of Luca Tirpula, a prosperous farmer.  The crime occurred near Saginaw, MI.  Ripan was convicted because his revolver had been fired recently, and a bullet taken from Tirpula's body dropped easily through the barrel of the gun.  In 1929, after serving ten years of imprisonment, Ripan escaped prison, but was rearrested six years later.  The prosecutor, Crane, who had brought Ripan to trial was by then not satisfied with his conviction and worked to get Ripan a new trial.  In 1939, at Ripan's new trial, an expert testified that in light of recent discoveries in ballistics, the evidence that convicted him now exonerated him:  A bullet fired from a revolver could not afterwards be reinserted into the same gun except with great difficulty.  The trial judge subsequently dismissed the murder indictment against Ripan.  (Not Guilty)  [10/08]


Huron County, MI Dr. Robert MacGregor Aug 4, 1911

Dr. Robert MacGregor was convicted of the murder of 20-year-old Scyrel Sparling.  Circumstances surrounding Scyrel's death in 1911 were unfortunate.  His father had died in 1908 and two of his brothers died in 1910 and 1911.  Arsenic was reportedly found in Scyrel's body.  The arsenic finding, if true, may have been due to medicines he had taken.  MacGregor's alleged motive in the killing was that his modest doctor fees could be paid from Scyrel's life insurance proceeds.

After Michigan Governor Ferris received an appeal on MacGregor's behalf, he had the case reinvestigated.  The results of the reinvestigation were not made public, so it is not known what facts it established.  Nevertheless, in 1916, the Governor issued MacGregor a full and unconditional pardon.  The Governor took the unusual step of having MacGregor brought to the state capital at Lansing where he handed him the pardon personally.  In his statement the Governor said, "I am firmly convinced that Dr. MacGregor is absolutely innocent of the crime for which he was convicted."  (CTI) (The Sparling Murders) (People v. MacGregor) [10/08]


Los Angeles County, CA Garvey, Lesher, & Rohan Nov 1, 1927
Mike Garvey, Harvey Lesher, and Phil Rohan were convicted of murder in 1928.  The victim was A. R. Miles who was found fatally injured in the drug store that he owned at 2729 West Jefferson Street.  Following the men's convictions, the trial witnesses who identified them were discredited.  A new investigation raised serious doubts about allegations that Miles was tied up when he was found and that money was taken from his cash register.  This evidence led to a conviction on the part of investigators that quite likely there had been no murder or robbery, but that Miles had suffered a fainting spell and in falling received his injuries.  California Governor Young pardoned the three men in 1930.  (CTI)  [10/08]


Polk County, GA Hugh C. Lee Sept 15, 1923
(Federal Case)  Hugh C. Lee was convicted of robbing a post office in Priors, Georgia of 165 blank money orders.  His conviction was due to identifying witnesses.  Another man, Will Barrett, later gave a detailed confession to the crime.  Following Barrett's conviction, U.S. President Coolidge pardoned Lee in 1925.  (CTI)  [10/08]


New York County, NY Oscar Krueger Dec 10, 1910
(Federal Case)  Oscar Krueger was convicted of sending an obscene letter based in part on handwriting analysis.  Following his conviction and his letters of protest to various officials, an Assistant United States Attorney reinvestigated the case and concluded Kreuger was innocent.  Based on the attorney's recommendations, U.S. President Taft pardoned Kreuger and he was released after serving nearly a year of imprisonment.  (CTI)  [10/08]


Whitfield County, GA Wayne Cservak Convicted 1997 (Dalton)

Wayne Cservak was convicted of molesting his girlfriend's 13-year-old-son.  The boy testified that Cservak had molested him night after night for almost two weeks. He said the sexual assaults happened regularly between 3 and 4 a.m. as he slept on the living room sofa.  One juror, Jim Thomas, thought the boy's testimony seemed contrived.  The boy stated he was sleeping on the sofa because he thought there were ghosts in his room. Then he said he was in the living room because his mother had rented out his room for a week to a cousin.  Testimony revealed that investigators had already caught the boy in one lie.  The boy's attitude also gave Thomas pause.  When asked why he didn't immediately report the allegations, the boy wisecracked, "Go figure."  In contrast to the boy's testimony, Thomas felt that Cservak's testimony was real and believable.

However, despite believing Cservak innocent, Thomas was eventually browbeaten into convicting him after eight grueling hours of jury deliberation.  Thomas spoke at Cservak's sentencing hearing and his testimony helped convince the judge to give Cservak only 10 years out of a possible 100-year sentence.  Then Thomas spent thousands of dollars hiring an attorney to appeal Cservak's case.  During the appeal process, the boy recanted his story and told prosecutors that he had lied.  Apparently, the boy's mother and Cservak were talking about marrying and the boy did not like that idea.  Cservak was incarcerated for close to a year.  (JD01)  [10/08]


Randolph County, GA Lena Baker Apr 30, 1944 (Cuthbert)

Lena Baker, a black woman, was convicted of murdering Ernest B. Knight, a white grist mill owner.  After Knight hired Baker to care for him while he nursed a broken leg, a sexual relationship developed between the two.  Following Baker's attempts to break off the relationship, Knight found her and forced her to go with him.  Baker managed to escape, but Knight found her again and locked her in a gristmill.  Later, according to Baker, during a tussle between the two over a gun, the gun went off killing Knight.

In 1998 while the director of a prisoner's rights group, John Cole Vodicka, was visiting the Randolph County Courthouse, the Court Clerk asked him if he wanted to look into Baker's case. The clerk gave him the court file, which included the 10-page trial transcript.  Vodicka later came into contact with a great-nephew of Baker, and in 2003 helped in the filing of a pardon application for her with the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.  Vodicka expressed confidence that "almost any lawyer could have pled Lena Baker not guilty by reason of self-defense.”  The Board of Pardons and Paroles apparently agreed with him and granted Baker a posthumous pardon on Aug. 30, 2005.  (JD29 p8)  [10/08]


Racine County, WI George Hamilton Dec 15, 1917 (Racine)

George E. Hamilton, alias Eli J. Long, was convicted in 1918 of the murder of Edward B. Warner.  Warner was shot during a robbery of the Standard Oil Station that he managed on the corner of Seventh and Main Sts. in Racine, WI.  A 14-year-old boy named Mervil Peil, who was on the sidewalk of the street opposite the oil station, saw the apparent murderer as he ran from the oil station to the sidewalk in front of the station, then north until he disappeared.  The boy picked out Hamilton as "the man who resembled him most" from about a half dozen other men at the police station that evening. The identification was not positive, the boy asserting that "his (Hamilton's) height was about the same, and his dress, and the build of the man."  Peil repeated his statements at trial, as did police officers Yanne and Harms whose hearsay accounts presumably served to corroborate Peil's testimony in the eyes of the jury.

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Jefferson Parish, LA Douglas DiLosa Sept 27, 1986 (Kenner)

Douglas A. DiLosa was convicted of the murder of his wife, Glinda.  When police arrived at DiLosa's condominium following a 911 call from his son, they found DiLosa tied up on the living room floor.  His wife was found bound and strangled on a bed.  DiLosa said he was awakened about 3:30 a.m. to noises downstairs.  When he investigated, he discovered two black male intruders.  The intruders him beat him unconscious.  When he recovered from his unconsciousness, he found himself bound and the house in shambles.  He called out to his son and instructed him to dial 911.  The crime occurred at Apartment 7-C, Chardonnay Village Condominiums, 1500 West Esplanade Ave. in Kenner, LA.

In time, DiLosa was arrested for Glinda's murder based on an alleged lack of evidence supporting his version of events.  Investigators also discovered a possible motive.  DiLosa was out of work, his unemployment benefits were about to run out, a large payment was near due on the condo, and his wife's life was insured for a substantial sum.  At trial the prosecution focused on the lack of evidence that any other perpetrator besides DiLosa committed the crime.  During his closing argument, the prosecutor told the jury, "There was not one, not one shred of black hair found in that residence."  And he also stated, "Did you hear any evidence about any other houses that were hit that night?"

However, there was evidence supporting DiLosa's version of events, but it was withheld from the defense:  (1) Hair of a non-Caucasian type was found on the rope around Glinda's neck and on the bed where her body was discovered. (2) Fingerprints were found in the condo that could not be positively identified.  (3) An attempted break-in occurred at a nearby condo.  (4) A taxi driver had seen a car occupied by two black men exit the condo complex at 5:45 a.m.  The taxi driver said the car's driver looked "tense," faced straight ahead while gripping the steering wheel, and was driving very slowly.

In 2002, the federal 5th Circuit Court overturned DiLosa's conviction due to the withholding of evidence.  It is not known if DiLosa was retried, but a reference source lists DiLosa as having been exonerated in 2003.  (DiLosa v. Cain)  [10/08]


New Zealand David Bain June 20, 1994 (Dunedin)

David Cullen Bain was convicted of murdering his mother Margaret, 50, his father Robin, 58, sisters Arawa, 19, and Laniet, 18, and brother Stephen, 14.  All had died from .22 gunshot wounds to their heads.  The murders occurred at 65 Every Street, Anderson's Bay, Dunedin.  Twenty-two-year-old David was arrested four days after making a frantic 111 call from the family home. Police responding to the emergency found him huddled in the house babbling incoherently.  At trial, David's defense argued that his father Robin killed the family then himself while David was out doing his early morning paper run.  David has consistently maintained his innocence.

The evidence against Robin appears to be greater than that against David, but since none of it is especially strong, one can assume that the evidence against both is evenly divided.  Depending on the weight one puts on various pieces of evidence, it is possible to believe either one of them is the likely perpetrator.  However, reasonable doubt attaches to David because a plausible case can always be made that Robin is the perpetrator.  The motive evidence is stronger against Robin.  Other evidence shows the perpetrator had fought with Stephen, and Robin had six recent abrasions on his hands.  These abrasions were alleged to be due to Robin's replacement of spouting at the family home.

After exhausting his appeals in New Zealand, David appealed to England's Privy Counsel, and in 2007 it quashed his conviction as a miscarriage of justice, based on new evidence that the Crown reportedly disputes. David was subsequently released on bail by the Christchurch High Court.  Two 1997 books were published on the Bain case, the pro-defense David and Goliath by Joe Karam, and the pro-prosecution The Mask of Sanity by James McNeish.  (NZCity) (NZ Herald) (FJDB)  [10/08]


Adams County, WI Kenny Ray Reichhoff Dec 11, 1974 (Friendship)

Kenny Ray Reichhoff was convicted in 1975 of the murders of Marvin Collins and Ervin Schilling.  He was sentenced to life in prison. Nineteen-year-old Reichhoff worked for Collins at his chainsaw shop and lived in a rented trailer next door.  Prosecutors contended that Reichhoff shot Collins to settle an argument that occurred four days earlier and that he shot Schilling, a customer, to silence a witness.  Police found Reichhoff's .22 caliber pistol, which they said was the murder weapon, under Reichhoff's porch.

The state crime laboratory found eight latent fingerprints in the chainsaw shop that did not match Reichhoff or the victims.  The prosecution contended that Reichhoff entered the shop by the rear door when he killed the two, but testimony established that it was barred and padlocked.  Police confiscated another gun that belonged to Claude Hayes, Collin's father-in-law, but never tested it to see if it matched the spent shell casings.  They also did not consider that Collin's wife may have been the intended target of the attack.  Instead of opening the shop as usual, she went to the hospital to pick up her son.  Reichhoff had no dispute with her and probably did not know that she was not there.  Cracks in the case were enough for Reichhoff's to get a new trial.  In Oct 1977, a retrial jury acquitted Reichhoff.  (101 Wisconsin Unsolved Mysteries)  [10/08]


Baltimore County, MD Cornell Avery Estes Convicted 1979
Cornell Avery Estes was 15 when he was sentenced in 1979 to life in prison for stabbing a woman to death on Security Boulevard. Less than a year after Estes's conviction, somebody else confessed to the murder and Estes was released.  In 1984, Estes was awarded $16,500 for his wrongful imprisonment.  (Baltimore Sun)  [10/08]



Roger Beardmore 1991-1993
Roger Beardmore was convicted in 1998 of pedophile rape after being accused by an 11-year-old girl.  At the time of the alleged offense, Beardmore was living at a farmhouse 15 miles from Stoke-on-Trent.  The girl told her mother that between the ages of three and six she had been raped and interfered with when visiting Beardmore's farm.  Three years later the girl admitted that she made the whole thing up to gain the attention of her mother.  She said, "I have put a man in prison for no reason."  The girl now says she never wants to see her mother again.  She expressed the wish to right a wrong which had been keeping her awake, crying at night.  Following the girl's admission, Beardmore's conviction was quashed and he was released from prison.  (Innocent)  [10/08]


Netherlands Cees Borsboom June 2000 (Schiedam)

Cees Borsboom was convicted of raping and murdering Nienke Kleiss, a 10-year-old girl.  He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Kleiss's 11-year-old male friend named Maikel.  After being severely beaten, Maikel survived by pretending to be dead.  Borsboom came across the victims and reported the crime to police on his cellphone.  After being arrested for these crimes, Borsboom confessed his responsibility for them to police officers, to a prosecutor, and to the investigative judge.  After a while, Borsboom withdrew his confession, claiming it was coerced by the police.

Borsboom's confession was given in vague terms, without providing specific information and without his defense lawyer being present.  Peter R. de Vries, a Dutch TV journalist, thought the case was fishy and did some investigation. He found that Borsboom did not fit the description given by Maikel, nor did Maikel recognize Borsboom.  De Vries also found that Borsboom did not have time to commit the crime, especially since there was a second witness on the scene right when he called 112 (the Dutch equivalent to 911).

In 2004, another man, Wik Haalmeijer, who got caught for two other child molestation crimes, confessed to the crimes for which Borsboom was convicted.  Further investigation revealed that the DA and the National Forensic Institute had known all along that Borsboom did not commit the crime.  They had performed DNA tests which excluded Borsboom as the perpetrator, but had withheld the test results from Borsboom' defense.  This DNA evidence was matched to Haalmeijer following his confession.  Borsboom was exonerated and released in 2005.  He was also awarded $706,000 for his wrongful conviction and imprisonment.  (JD34 p23) (VDG) (Utrecht Law Review) [10/08]


Chattanooga County, TN Ed Johnson Jan 23, 1906
Ed Johnson, a black man, was sentenced to death for the rape of a 21-year-old white woman.  The victim, Nevada Taylor, was assaulted near Forest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga.  Johnson appealed his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds that he had not been accorded due process of law.  The Supreme Court accepted his case and issued a stay of execution.  The county sheriff and judge did nothing to diffuse local outrage at what was viewed as Supreme Court meddling.  On Mar. 19, 1906, within hours of telegrams announcing the stay, a large mob seized Johnson from the Chattanooga County Jail and lynched him on the Walnut Street bridge.  Sheriff Joseph Shipp and other officials were subsequently tried and convicted by the U.S. Supreme Court of criminal contempt.  The proceedings were the only criminal trial ever held by the U.S. Supreme Court.  In 2000, Johnson's conviction was posthumously vacated.  (Famous Trials) (FJDB)  [10/08]


Mexico Rivera & Calderón Jan 24, 2002 (Ensenada)

Francisco Rivera Agredano and his brother-in-law, Alfonso Calderón León were convicted of drug trafficking after 37 pounds of marijuana was found in the door of a Nissan Pathfinder SUV that Rivera was driving.  Calderón was a passenger.  The two were stopped at a checkpoint near Ensenada, which is more than 70 miles from the U.S. Border.  Rivera, a Tijuana printer, had bought the car four months before for $2,600 at a U.S. government auction in San Ysidro, CA.  It had previously been seized when 59 pounds of marijuana was found inside its gasoline tank.

Rivera had crossed the U.S.-Mexican border five times without incident after he bought the car.  Under Mexican law the two men were presumed guilty.  They were convicted after a Mexican judge rejected their claim that U.S. customs did not thoroughly search the car.  The two were sentenced to five years in prison.  The U.S., not only ignored their pleas for help, but fought to keep exonerating evidence from their attorneys.  After a year in prison, the convictions of the two were vacated after Rivera's lawyer was able to convince a Mexicali appeals court that the moldy marijuana found inside the Pathfinder was too old to be of resale value.

Rivera was later awarded $551,000 in a suit against the U.S. government, and may get an additional sum for costs incurred by his U.S. lawyers.  Calderón could not sue because because of a U.S. Supreme Court precedent barring lawsuits against the federal government for incidents arising outside the U.S.  U.S. District Judge Emily Hewitt ruled that she did not know how customs missed the contraband, but she rejected the claim advanced by Rivera's lawyers that the Customs Service does not thoroughly search vehicles because doing so could cause damage them and decrease their resale value.  In legal documents, U.S. attorneys said the government did nothing wrong and that the onus is on the buyers to make sure the cars are drug free.  According to Teresa Trucchi, attorney for Rivera and Calderón, "I don't think 'as is' to the normal consumer means, 'If I buy it and it's stuffed full of drugs that I'm unaware of and I get arrested, that's my problem.'"  (SD Union-Tribune) (CBS)  [10/08]


Pinellas County, FL Raymond Baugh Jan 13, 2002 (St. Petersburg)
Raymond Andrew Baugh was convicted in 2002 of the capital sexual battery of a 7-year-old girl, identified as C. P.  Baugh lived with Rachel, the girl's mother.  C. P. said he molested her behind a locked bedroom door.  She subsequently told investigators that Baugh had molested her 12 previous times. There was no physical evidence supporting the molestation. A month later, C. P. told her mother that she had lied.  She said she was mad at Baugh and wanted to get him in trouble, but not too much trouble.  She claimed she initially maintained her story about Baugh because she was afraid of what her mother might do if she found out that she, C. P., had lied.  At trial, C. P. testified there was never any molestation.  However, the prosecution presented the girl's previous statements that she had given.  Baugh was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.  The 2nd District Court of Appeal subsequently upheld Baugh's conviction, based on prosecution claims that the girl's original accusation was more believable than her recantation.  However, in 2007 the Florida Supreme Court quashed Baugh's conviction on the grounds that such claims were simply inadequate to support a conviction.  (Baugh v. Florida) (SP Times)  [10/08]


Cumberland County, NC Lee Wayne Hunt Mar 7, 1984 (Eastover)

Lee Wayne Hunt was convicted of the murders of Roland "Tadpole" Matthews Jr. and his wife, Lisa K. Matthews.  Both were shot execution-style, their throats slit, in their home on a dirt road near Fayetteville.  Prosecutors argued that the murders were punishment for an alleged theft of marijuana by Roland from Hunt's drug ring.  Hunt was an admitted marijuana dealer.  A codefendant, Jerry Dale Cashwell, was also convicted.

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England Ryan James Jan 13, 1994

Ryan James was convicted of the murder of his 39-year-old wife, Sandra James.  Sandra died from drinking a glass of orange juice that contained a fatal dose of immobilon, a horse tranquilizer.  Ryan, a veterinarian, had access to the drug.  He also been having an affair with another woman, Catherine Crooks.  The lovers had left their spouses to live together, but the cost of running two homes drove Ryan back to his wife.

Sandra's death would have allowed Ryan to start a new life with Catherine on the proceeds of a £180,000 life insurance policy.  Besides these proceeds, £143,000 in debts were wiped out by Sandra's death.  At trial, Ryan's defense argued that Sandra had committed suicide, but made it look like murder.  However, the crown argued that it was murder made to look like a suicide.  Ryan was sentenced to life in prison.  His trial judge, Justice Anthony Hidden, told him he was "the most evil, selfish, and criminally callous man" he had ever sentenced.

While in prison Ryan married Catherine, who never believed he killed his wife.  While going through her new husband's belongings, Catherine found a handwritten note stuffed inside one of Ryan's professional journals.  It was in Sandra's handwriting and said, "Ryan, I leave you absolutely nothing but this note - if you find it in time, Sam."  Sam was Sandra's pet name.  Because the note indicated suicidal intent, Ryan's conviction was quashed in 1998 and he was released from prison.  There was some additional evidence that Sandra was depressed.  She had taken anti-depressants in the 1970s.  At the time of Sandra's death there were puncture wounds in her foot.  It was alleged that she had experimented with the immobilon drug by injecting it into her foot, then injecting herself with the antidote shortly thereafter.  (Innocent)  [10/08]


Broward County, FL Robert Burkell Nov 22, 2003 (Tamarac)

Robert Burkell was convicted of the murder of 81-year-old Charles Bertheas.  Bertheas, a French national, rented a room inside Burkell's home at 9107 NW 72 Court, in Tamarac, FL.  Burkell told investigators he discovered Bertheas lying on the floor inside his room and called 911.  Tamarac Fire Rescue responded to the scene and determined Bertheas was dead.  Bertheas had been bludgeoned with repeated blows to the head, but no weapon was ever identified or found.  His death was ruled a homicide due to blunt trauma.  Bertheas was found on a Sunday afternoon.  It was determined that he died approximately 18 hours before, placing his murder on the previous night.  Bertheas was last seen around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday evening.

Burkell had remodeled his house to provide lodging to Bertheas.  Bertheas had given Burkell his power of attorney.  Burkell had cashed a $10,000 check drawn on Bertheas's bank account on the day before his death.  Burkell had dined with Bertheas just hours before his death, but there was no hint of friction between the two.  Burkell was also a beneficiary of the Bertheas's will, an estate worth nearly $300,000.

Burkell, his wife, and his adult daughter were home the night of Bertheas's murder, although his wife had left for a brief period to visit a friend.  Bertheas's room had two sets of sliding glass doors, none of which were locked. Other doors leading into the family room of the house were also unlocked.  At least 12 latent fingerprints found at the scene could not be matched to Burkell or any member of his family.

A bloody (barefoot) footprint belonging to Burkell was found in Bertheas's room.  The state presented it as evidence, but presented no evidence that this print was left at the time of the murder.  Nor did the state eliminate the possibility that it was left when Burkell found the body.  Burkell had told police he thought he was wearing sandals when he discovered the body.  The state also found specks of blood belonging to both Burkell and Bertheas in the floor mat and in the sink in Bertheas's bathroom.  No evidence was presented regarding the age of these specks.  No other evidence was presented by the State.

In 2007, the Florida Court of Appeals vacated Burkell's conviction on the basis of insufficient evidence and ordered his acquittal.  It ruled that that the state had not proven Burkell guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because "The State's evidence in this case did not eliminate every plausible theory of innocence."  (BSO) (Burkell v. Florida)  [10/08]



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