4th Quarter 2009 Cases

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Baltimore City, MD
Kenneth Barnes

Kenneth Barnes was charged with sexual assault after the 8-year-old sister of his girlfriend claimed he had raped her. In 1998, prior to trial, Barnes' mother (and court-appointed guardian) met with his attorney, Warren Brown. Brown explained a prosecution offered plea agreement in which Barnes did not have to admit guilt for which he would receive no jail time, only probation. It seemed like a good deal so Barnes took the plea. However, the defense attorney never explained that Barnes would be branded a sex offender for life and have his name, picture, and address placed on the Maryland Sex Offender Registry.

In 2005, Barnes, who is mentally ill, was given a suspended sentenced for being days late in failing to register a change of address. Months later he was jailed for a year and a half for maintaining a separate address. In 2007, Lydia Fitzsimmons, the owner of a Tropicool Italian ice stand on Falls Road in Roland Park, found that Barnes lingered near her business before and after ordering an ice and then sat in his car watching customers. Many of the customers were children. Barnes may have been watching the young mothers, though no one really knows. He denies having a prurient interest in children. After being told by a customer that Barnes was on the sex-offender registry, Fitzsimmons called the police. Since watching customers was not a crime, police could not do anything, but Fitzsimmons wrote a letter to Barnes' parole board asking them to incarcerate him. Parole officials complied on the grounds that Barnes was in a “pre-contemplative state of re-offending.”

Later that year, the girl who made the rape allegation against Barnes was located and she admitted Barnes did not rape her. The girl, named Marian, then age 20, said she accused Barnes because she was jealous of her older sister's closeness to him and wanted to break them up. Those who support Barnes are seeking to get his conviction overturned so that it cannot be used as an excuse to incarcerate him at will for alleged non-crimes.  (City Paper) (2) (3) (4)  [12/09]

Cumberland County, PA
Dr. Paul Schoeppe
Jan 28, 1869 (Carlisle)

Dr. Paul Schoeppe was convicted of the murder of Maria Steinnecke. Steinnecke, who was about 65 years of age, was a patient of Schoeppe, who was then about 25. The two became engaged to marry, but Steinnecke unexpectedly died. Upon Steinnecke's death, her relatives expected her property to be left to them, but they were much disappointed that her will stated she was leaving all her property to Schoeppe. At first Steinnecke's relatives proclaimed the will a forgery; later, they claimed Schoeppe must have murdered her.

At trial, an unqualified pathologist asserted Steinnecke was poisoned as he found faint traces of prussic acid in the contents of her stomach. However, the testimony of other experts was such that the judge instructed the jury to reject this theory and inquire into other poisons. But the presented evidence indicated that no other poisons were found in her. The jury convicted Schoeppe and he was sentenced to death. On retrial in 1872, Schoeppe was acquitted.  (Buffalo Medical Journal) (The Schoeppe Tragedy)  [12/09]

Pickaway County, OH
Paul Freshour
Feb 1983 (Circleville)

Paul Freshour was convicted of the attempted murder of his sister-in-law, Mary Gillispie, a school bus driver. In 1976 Mary received a letter in the mail telling her that the letter writer was aware that she was having an affair with the superintendent of schools and that it had better stop. The letter also contained the threat, “I know where you live. I've been observing your house and know you have children. This is no joke. Please take it serious.” The envelope was postmarked Columbus, Ohio. There was no return address, no signature inside, no way to tell who sent it.
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Cook County, IL
Haymarket Eight
May 4, 1886

Eight men were convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the death of police officer Mathias J. Degan. On May 1, 1886 there were general strikes throughout the United States in support of an 8-hour workday. On May 3 there was a rally of striking workers at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company plant in Chicago. This rally ended with police firing on the workers. Two workers died although some newspaper accounts reported six fatalities.
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Montgomery County, AL
Robert Doyle

Robert Doyle was convicted of the sexual abuse of his two young daughters. His conviction was later vacated due to the withholding of exculpatory evidence.  (FJDB) (JD Blog)  [12/09]

November 2009

Louisa County, VA
Mike Johnson
Dec 3, 1997 (Louisa)

(Federal Case)  Coleman Leake Johnson, Jr., also known as Mike, was convicted of the bombing murder of his ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Tammy Lynn Baker. Four months after the murder, two other bombings occurred within 30 minutes of each other in the same area of Louisa as the one that killed Baker. These bombings injured three people. There was no known connection between any of the bombings.

At the time of Baker's death, she was pregnant with an unborn child. Although she was not certain who the father was, post-mortem tests determined the father was Johnson. It was then alleged that Johnson killed Baker because he wanted to avoid paying child support. However, Johnson lived 140 miles away in Newport News and had an airtight alibi. Baker had moved to Louisa after she became pregnant and Johnson said he was not even aware of where she lived. He also had no criminal history.

Senior Special Agent David M. Riley, of the Virginia State Police, was assigned to investigate the case. Riley had previously built a murder case against another Virginian, Beverly Monroe, who was eventually freed from her wrongful conviction. In regard to that case a federal judge found that “the tactics engaged in by Riley were deceitful, manipulative and inappropriate.” In regard to Riley's work in building a case against Johnson, state authorities thought the evidence against him was so weak that they declined to prosecute.

Nevertheless, a federal prosecutor brought charges against Johnson with this same weak evidence along with solicited testimony, most of it from convicted felons. Witnesses testified in exchange for plea deals and a stake in a $36,000 reward offered in response to the bombings. Johnson was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. He currently resides at the top federal prison in Florence, CO.  (TruthInJustice) (News Article)  [11/09]

Hampden County, MA
Daley & Halligan
Nov 9, 1805 (Wilbraham)

While traveling from Boston to New York, Dominic Daley, 34, and James Halligan, 27, both Irish immigrants, were arrested on Nov. 12, 1805 for the murder of farmer Marcus Lyon. Lyon's horse was found wandering three days earlier and his murdered body was found two days earlier in Wilbraham. Wilbraham was then located in Hampshire County. The defendants were incarcerated in Northampton while their captor received a $500 reward.

At trial, the main evidence against the defendants was the testimony of 13-year-old Laertes Fuller who said he saw the pair on the road, then saw them again minutes later with the victim's horse. It is not clear why the defendants would have the victim's horse as the horse was later seen wandering around freely. Legally, witnesses were required to be 14 years old to testify, but the judge overrode this rule in Fuller's case. Fuller's testimony suggested the defendants killed Lyon during the interval between his sightings of the defendants. However, Lyon had been shot and, when questioned, Fuller reported he did not hear a gunshot, even though he could not have been very far from the murder.

There appears to be reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendants because: (1) Fuller was at best marginally qualified to testify. (2) The details of his testimony contained nothing that compelled one to believe its accuracy. (3) The reward offered created an incentive for perjury. (4) Even if Fuller's testimony was true, it did not definitively establish that the defendants had murdered Lyon. Besides the lack of credible prosecution evidence, there was a lack of due process because the defendants were not allowed to testify in their own defense and were only assigned a lawyer two days before trial.

The defendants were convicted and sentenced to death. Both were hanged on June 5, 1806 in Northampton before a crowd of 15,000. It was alleged and widely accepted in the 20th century that Daley and Halligan were framed and convicted because they were Irish Catholics, but historical records do not support any overt prejudice. In 1984, Gov. Dukakis issued a proclamation exonerating the two. A 2005 book about the case was published entitled The Garden of Martyrs by Michael C. White.  (CIPM) (Resources)  [11/09]

Oklahoma County, OK
Kenneth Trentadue
Aug 21, 1995

(Federal Case) Kenneth Michael Trentadue, a prisoner at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center, was murdered by federal authorities. Trentadue was mistaken for Richard Guthrie, a second suspect in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. There is reason to believe Guthrie knew too much about FBI involvement with individuals directly involved in the bombing. This bombing, which occurred four months before Trentadue's death, killed 168 people and injured more than 680 others.
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Multnomah County, OR
Edward Westerdahl
Mar 12, 1987 (Portland)

(Federal Case)  Edward Gordon Westerdahl, III, was convicted of robbing the First Interstate Bank in Portland, Oregon. The robbery was committed by two men, one of whom was found dead in the getaway vehicle after being shot by a sheriff's deputy. To convict Westerdahl, prosecutors granted plea/immunity agreements to three witnesses who gave incriminating testimony against him. However, the prosecution refused to offer a similar immunity agreement to a fourth witness who was willing to testify that Westerdahl had nothing to do with the robbery. As a result of the fourth witness's failure to secure an agreement, he refused to testify at trial based on his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. On appeal the Ninth Circuit Court found that the prosecution distorted the fact finding process by its partiality in “purchasing” testimony. The Court vacated Westerdahl's conviction in 1991.  (Appeals)  [11/09]

England (Leeds CC)
Mark Dallagher
May 7, 1996

Mark Dallagher was convicted of the murder of 94-year-old Dorothy Wood. Wood was found dead at her home on Whitby Avenue in Huddersfield. She had been smothered with a pillow. A burglar had entered the home through a transom window above her bed. Wood was profoundly deaf and slept downstairs because of a heart condition.

Ear prints were found on the glass immediately below the transom. West Yorkshire police sent these prints along with prints of Dallagher's ears to Cornelis Van der Lugt, an alleged ear print expert. Police suspected Dallagher might be the culprit because he was a small-time burglar who lived in the area. Van der Lugt was Dutch police officer for 27 years and a lecturer at the Dutch Police College. He had no formal qualifications, but he had become interested in ear print identification and read what was available on that topic. He had built up a portfolio of about 600 photographs and 300 ear prints.

At trial, Van der Lugt testified that he was “absolutely convinced that the prints of [Dallagher's] left ear were identical with the prints of the left ear on the window.” Another Crown expert, Peter Vanezis, considered Van der Lugt to be the ear print expert in the world, and testified that “it was very likely that it was this defendant who made those prints,” although he could not be one hundred percent certain. Vanezis was Regius Professor of Forensic Medicine and Science at the University of Glasgow.

Following Dallagher's conviction, two other criminal convictions that relied on ear print evidence were overturned, one in the U.S. (David Kunze), and another in the Netherlands. Both relied on Van der Lugt's testimony. In 2002, an appeals court also overturned Dallagher's conviction because it found fault with the manner in which the experts expressed their opinion of Dallagher's guilt. Following the reversal, an initial report given by Van der Lugt surfaced in which he stated that the ear prints found on Wood's window were definitely not those of Dallagher. The words “definitely not” were underlined twice.

A retrial for Dallagher began in 2003, but it was halted after 10 days as the prosecution sought to gather additional evidence. However, additional evidence was not forthcoming and DNA tests of the ear prints showed they did not belong to Dallagher. As a result, charges against Dallagher were dropped in 2004. He was released from imprisonment after serving seven years of a life sentence.  (Innocent) (Forensic-Evidence)  [11/09]

Australia (VIC)
Tomas Klamo
July 2005

Tomas Klamo was convicted of manslaughter in the alleged shaking death of his four-week-old son, Izaiah. Klamo admitted to having shaken Izaiah a little harder than normal a week or two before his death. Izaiah subsequently died of a brain hemorrhage. At trial the crown's medical expert was unable to say what caused the hemorrhage, but said he did not believe it was caused by shaking as Izaiah had no other injuries consistent with shaking. Klamo was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment. On appeal in 2008, the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal found the evidence against Klamo was insufficient to convict. It quashed his conviction and ordered his acquittal.  (R v. Klamo) (Herald Sun)  [11/09]

Australia (SA)
Raymond Geesing
Jan 4-5, 1983

Raymond John Geesing was convicted of the abduction and murder of 10-year-old Louise Bell. Bell was last seen at 10 p.m. on Jan 4, 1983 in the bedroom of her family home at 5 Meadow Way in Hackham West, an Adelaide suburb. She was discovered missing the next morning and her body has never been found. Geesing was convicted of the crime in 1983 due to the testimony of four prison informants who alleged he had confessed to them. One informant later retracted his original statement and the testimony of another informant was declared inadmissible. In 1985 an appeals court overturned Geesing's conviction after ruling that the prison informants were unreliable and untrustworthy witnesses. The court also ordered that there be no retrial. Geesing was released after serving 17 months of a life sentence.  (JD33)  [11/09]

Newport County, RI
Claus von Bülow
1979-1980  (Newport)

Claus von Bülow was convicted of two counts of attempting to murder his wife, Martha “Sunny” von Bülow. It was alleged that Claus had on two occasions injected Sunny with an overdose of insulin causing her to fall into a coma each time. The alleged crimes occurred at the couple's estate, Clarendon Court, in Newport, RI.

Sunny was a former princess because of her first marriage to Prince Alfred von Auersperg. She was also the daughter of a utilities magnate, George Crawford, and had inherited a reported $100 million from him at age 4. Sunny had two children, Alexander and Ala by Prince Alfie and another daughter, Cosima, by Claus. Claus was a British socialite and the son of Danish aristocrats. He had worked as a personal assistant to oil magnate J. Paul Getty.
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Greenbrier County, WV
Marybeth Davis

Marybeth Davis was convicted of the attempted murder of her son and the murder of her daughter. In Sept 1981, Davis's two-month old son Seth went into convulsions and ended up in a permanent vegetative state. Six months later Davis's daughter Megan went into convulsions and died. Following these incidents, police launched an investigation, but concluded there was not enough evidence of foul play to charge Davis with any crime.

In 1995, Davis's case was reopened by State Trooper Michael Spradlin as part of a task force committed to solving cold cases. The following year, prosecutor Mark Burnette took the case to trial, stating “the medical evidence was overwhelming.” The prosecution claimed Davis injected Seth with insulin and poisoned Megan with caffeine. It also presented Dr. Basil Zitelli to give his expert opinion that Davis committed the alleged crimes because she suffered from Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

Münchausen Syndrome is an alleged psychological disorder in which one feigns, exaggerates, or creates symptoms of illness in oneself in order to gain the sympathy or attention of others. Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy is similar except that one purportedly feigns, exaggerates, or creates symptoms of illness in another person, such as a child, in order to gain sympathy.

Following Davis's conviction, Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy was debunked by many experts in psychology. Courts in England and Australia have prohibited medical experts from testifying that anyone has MSBP after ruling the syndrome is merely descriptive and not a psychiatrically identifiable illness or condition.

Advanced testing showed that Seth's illness was related to a human growth hormone deficiency and other evidence showed that that Megan died from from a rare condition known as Reye's Syndrome. In 2007 Davis was released from prison after agreeing to a plea deal, that gave her a time served sentence.  (Justice)  [11/09]

Erie County, PA
Corinne Wilcott
June 8, 2002  (Erie)

Corinne Wilcott was convicted of fetal homicide. During a fight, Wilcott had twice kicked her husband's pregnant lover, Sheena Carson, in the belly. Wilcott later said she did not believe Carson was pregnant. Following the fight, doctors could not detect a fetal heartbeat. The baby was stillborn four days later. Although there was no bruising on Carson’s abdomen, Dr. Eric Vey, a pathologist, told Wilcott's jury that the fetus suffocated when the blunt force trauma of Wilcott’s kick separated the placenta from the uterine wall.

Dr. Miles Jones, the defense’s forensic expert, testified that such kicks would not constitute enough trauma to cause a placental abruption. He said the impact would have to be equivalent to a serious car accident. He also suggested significant bacteria found on Carson’s placenta showed the child could have died as much as a month prior to the fight. He added Carson had no pain, bleeding, or spiked heart rate normally associated with a placental abruption. Wilcott was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Other evidence supports the defense view that Carson's baby was dead long before the fight. Based on her prenatal examination, Carson should have been 18 to 19 weeks pregnant. Vey, who did not view Carson's previous medical history, determined the fetal age to be 15.2 weeks, based on the size and development of the baby’s organs. Dr. Mark Caine, a gynecologist, said his examination of autopsy photographs show no placental abruption occurred,. He also concluded that the fetus was dead long before the fight.  (Justice)  [11/09]

October 2009

Harris County, TX
Carlos Coy
Sept 1, 2001

Carlos Coy, a rapper whose stage name is South Park Mexican, was convicted of the sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl. The girl had been invited over to Coy's house by his 6-year-old daughter. She claimed Coy touched her inappropriately during a supposed sleepover while a Scooby Doo tape was playing on the VCR and Coy's daughter had fallen asleep next to her. No physical evidence corroborated her accusation. During initial questioning at trial, the girl said she wasn't sure what had happened and thought it could have been a dream. She also said she did not remember the incident clearly. Given the girl's youth, she was highly susceptible to persuasion by relatives who may have wanted to target Coy because of his money and fame. Coy has at least six music albums with collective sales topping 1.5 million. The trial judge sentenced Coy to 45 years in prison. Three months after Coy's sentencing the girl's family filed a civil suit against him seeking unspecified damages.  (HC) (SPM's Music Videos)  [10/09]

Australia (NSW)
Ananda Marga Trio
Feb, June 1978

At 12:40 a.m. on February 13, 1978, a bomb exploded outside the Hilton Hotel on George St. in Sydney, Australia. The explosion occurred during a prime ministers' conference attended by 12 prime ministers of Asian and Pacific British Commonwealth countries. All were staying at the hotel. The bomb had been placed in a trash bin in front of the hotel and exploded after it was emptied into a trash truck. It killed two trash collectors and a policeman who was standing in front of the hotel. It also injured eleven others.
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Australia (WA)
Walsham Three
Feb 28, 1998 (Stirling)

Salvatore (Sam) Fazzari, Jose Martinez, and Carlos Pereiras were convicted in 2006 of the murder of 21-year-old Phillip Walsham. The three allegedly pushed Walsham off of a pedestrian bridge that spanned a highway onramp. At approximately 2:12 a.m. on Feb. 28, 1998, Walsham had gotten off a train at Stirling station with two friends, Craig Betts and Spencer Toogood. Betts walked ahead of Toogood and Walsham. When Toogood realized that Walsham was not following, he went back to the station and found Walsham there. Walsham was heavily intoxicated and not feeling well. Toogood then set off to catch up with Betts.
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Australia (SA)
Frits Van Beelen
July 15, 1971

Frits Van Beelen was convicted of the murder of 15-year-old Deborah Leach. Leach was last seen near her home in Adelaide at 4 p.m. on July 15, 1971. She was crossing a paddock and heading towards the beach. The beach was covered with seagrass that was up to 2 meters (6-7 feet) high. Her partially clothed body was found at 4:20 a.m. the next morning in the seagrass. There were no signs of bruising to her body and a medical examiner ruled that she had been drowned.
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Benton County, MS
Thomas Gunter
July 1929  (Ashland)

Thomas G. Gunter was convicted of the murder of his son-in-law, Marlin Drew. Marlin and his wife, Pearl, lived with their three children at the home of Pearl's parents. Marlin was found dead in his bed with a bullet through his heart and a revolver nearby. Authorities concluded his death was a suicide. Following the death, Pearl sent their seven-year-old daughter, Dorothy Louise Drew, to visit relatives in Tennessee. While there Dorothy related how she had been sleeping with her “pop,” when her “granddad,” Thomas Gunter, came into the room and shot him. Pearl soon confirmed the story. Gunter's wife insisted that Pearl had shot Marlin in a fit of jealousy while Gunter was drunk in another part of the house. Gunter was soon convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison.

Three months later, after Pearl gave birth to her fourth child, she confessed that she had killed Marlin and requested that her 63-year-old father be pardoned. Pearl said she had coached Dorothy Louise to implicate her father. She added it was always her intention to tell the truth after the birth of her baby, and that she could not bear the thought of it beginning its life in prison. Mississippi Governor Bilbo then granted Gunter a 90-day suspension of sentence as Pearl was bound over for an appearance before the Grand Jury. After the Grand Jury indicted Pearl for murder and perjury, Pearl was arraigned and pled guilty. The judge, however, used his statutory discretion and suspended Pearl's sentence.

When Gunter's 90-day suspension expired in Feb. 1930, the governor denied his application for a pardon and ordered him to return to prison. The governor stated, “Somebody ought to be in the penitentiary all the time for the murder of a sleeping man. If Judge Pegram does not believe Mrs. Drew is guilty enough to serve her term, then the man convicted of her murder will have to serve his term. Husbands ought to have some protection.” Gunter, however, refused to return to the penitentiary and as of Feb. 1931 when an account of the case was written, both he and Pearl had fled the state of Mississippi.  (CTI)  [10/09]

Seminole County, OK
Paul Goodwin
July 4, 1936

Paul Goodwin was convicted of the murder of Officer Christopher C. Whitson of the Seminole Police Department. Another man, Horace Lindsay, gave a statement in which he confessed to shooting Whitson. Lindsay also led police to the location where he had hidden Whitson's gun. Some time later Lindsay gave a second statement in which he implicated Goodwin as the shooter, but he refused to testify against Goodwin at his trial. At Goodwin's trial, Lindsay's second statement was read into evidence before the jury by the Chief of Police of Seminole County. Goodwin was permitted no opportunity to cross-examine Lindsay, nor was he permitted to introduce Lindsay's earlier statement which contradicted the presented statement. Although paroled in 1961, Goodwin was reincarcerated in 1962 on a parole violation. In 1969 Goodwin was released from prison after the 10th Circuit Federal Court ruled that he was denied due process.  (Appeals) (Seminole PD) (ISI)  [10/09]

Union County, NC
Johnathan Hoffman
Nov 27, 1995 (Marshville)

Johnathan Gregory Hoffman (aka Jonathan) was sentenced to death for the robbery and murder of jewelry store owner Danny Cook. Cook was shot to death during a robbery of his Marshville store by an assailant wearing a ski mask and carrying a sawed-off shotgun. At trial, the state’s star witness, Johnell Porter, testified that Hoffman made a a jailhouse confession to him. The prosecution hid evidence that Porter was receiving significant concessions for his testimony. Because of this withheld evidence Hoffman was granted a new trial in 2004. In 2006 Porter recanted his testimony and admitted it was false. In 2007 all charges against Hoffman were dropped.  (AE) (DW) (Appeals)  [10/09]