Defendants Who Have Had

Five Trials

6 Cases

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AZ - Maricopa - Robert Charles Cruz 1980

CA - Los Angeles - Tony Cooks 1978

IL - Cook - Cobb & Tillis 1977

LA - Orleans - Curtis Kyles 1984

NY - Kings - Vincent Rivers 1978

SC - Dillon - Warren Douglas Manning 1988




Date of Alleged Crime


Maricopa County, AZ Robert Charles Cruz Dec 31, 1980 (Phoenix)

Robert Charles Cruz was sentenced to death for the contract murders of two people.   Patrick Redmond, 46, and his mother-in-law, Helen G. Phelps, 70, had been shot to death by three men in Redmond's home.  The assailants also shot Redmond's wife, Marilyn, but she survived.  Cruz had allegedly hired three men to kill Redmond because he wished to take over Redmond's print shop, Graphic Dimensions.  Prosecutors said Cruz wanted to use the firm to launder money from connections in Las Vegas.

The evidence against Cruz came from a felon who received immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony.  On appeal, the Arizona Supreme Court held that the trial court had demonstrated actual prejudice against Cruz, and that the conviction could not stand.  Two subsequent retrials ended in hung juries, but a fourth trial ended again in a conviction and a death sentence.  Once again, however, the Arizona Supreme Court found the conviction to be faulty and sent the case back for a fifth trial.  At this new trial, new evidence emerged about the prosecutors' pressuring of witnesses and offering deals.  The fifth trial jury heard the whole story and acquitted Cruz of all charges.  (State v. Cruz)  [7/05]


Los Angeles County, CA Tony Cooks Jan 19, 1980 (Paramount)

In 1980, eighteen-year-old Tony Cooks was accused of murdering John Franklin Gould.  Gould, 42, had been accosted by three black teenagers one evening while he and his wife walked down a street near their Paramount apartment. Gould was beaten, stabbed, and shot.  Gould's wife told police that the assailant was “a light-skinned black.” Police showed her a photo-lineup in which Cooks was the only light-skinned black, and she told police, “I can't be positive, but I think that's him.”  However, at trial, Gould's wife would positively identify Cooks.

Another witness, Helen Foster, who said she saw the nighttime crime 177 feet from her apartment window, identified Cooks as one of the assailants.  Two days after Cooks' arrest, a 14-year-old youth was also arrested after he confessed to his involvement in the crime; the youth then accused Cooks as also being a participant in the crime.  Based on these identifications, Cooks was indicted for murder.

Cooks' first trial ended up in a hung jury; his second trial ended in a mistrial; his third trial ended in a hung jury. Finally, at his fourth trial, in 1981, Cooks was convicted of Gould's murder. However, the trial judge expressed skepticism about the eyewitness identifications and overturned the conviction.  The prosecutor appealed the judge's decision and an appellate court reinstated the conviction.  The judge, forced to pronounce sentence, ordered Cooks to prison for sixteen years to life, but freed him on $5,000 bond pending appeal.  On appeal Cooks won the right to a fifth trial.

In 1986, at Cooks' fifth trial, it was revealed that the 14 year-old eyewitness against Cooks had told his probation officer that his testimony was a “lie” he made up in order to satisfy a persistent detective who would not take “no” for an answer.  The fifth trial jury voted to acquit Cooks.  (Ramsey Dissertation)  [10/07]


Cook County, IL Cobb & Tillis Nov 13, 1977 (North Side)

Perry Cobb and Darby Tillis (aka Darby Williams) were sentenced to death for the murders of Melvin Kanter and Charles Gucciona.  The murders occurred during a robbery of the victims' hot dog stand.  The prosecution's key witness was a woman named Phyllis Santini, who claimed that she had driven the getaway car for the two men.  The defense argued that Santini and her boyfriend, Johnny Brown, had committed the crimes, and that she was framing Cobb and Tillis.  The first trial ended in a hung jury, as did a second trial.

At the third trial, a witness who had earlier testified that he could not identify the defendants as the men he saw, suddenly changed his story and now claimed that he saw Cobb and Tillis enter the store.  This third trial in 1979 ended in convictions and death sentences.  Judge Thomas J. Maloney presided over the three trials and has since been convicted of taking bribes to fix murder cases.  He was accused of being tough on defendants like Cobb and Tillis who did not offer bribes.  Maloney refused to allow two defense witnesses to testify.  The two claimed Santini had admitted committing the murders with Brown.  The two also said she expected a reward for her testimony against Cobb and Tillis.  (She was in fact paid $1200.)  The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the convictions based on limitations that were put on the defense's ability to argue that Santini and her boyfriend were the true culprits.

While the parties were preparing for a fourth trial, Michael Falconer, a recent law school graduate, happened to read an account of the case in Chicago Lawyer.  Falconer recognized Santini's name because he had worked with her in a factory before going to law school.  At that time, Santini had confided in him that she and her boyfriend had committed a double homicide and that she was working with prosecutors in return for a deal that would keep her from being charged.  Falconer, who had then become a Lake County prosecutor, testified about this conversation at the fourth trial, which again ended in a hung jury.  Finally, at a fifth trial in 1987, both Cobb and Tillis were acquitted of all charges.  (CWC1) (CWC2) (JP) (PC)  [12/06]


Orleans Parish, LA Curtis Kyles Sept 20, 1984 (New Orleans)
Curtis Kyles was sentenced to death for murdering Dolores Dye during a car theft in the parking lot of a Schwegmann's Giant Supermarket.  A man named Joseph “Beanie” Wallace claimed that he purchased Dye's stolen car from Kyles after he was found driving around in it.  Several witnesses also testified that they saw Kyles at the crime scene.  The defense called this testimony into question and the jury in Kyles' first trial was hung.  Upon retrial, Kyles was convicted, but this conviction was ultimately reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that the prosecution had hidden exculpatory evidence about changes in the witnesses' accounts and about the corruption of the investigation.  Had this material been disclosed to the defense, it would validate Kyles' claim that Wallace and the New Orleans authorities were framing him.  The case was remanded for a third trial, which ended in a hung jury, as did fourth and fifth trials.  The DA then conceded defeat and Kyles was freed in 1998.  The case is profiled in the book, Desire Street by Jed Horne (2005)  (TWM)  [7/05]


Kings County, NY Vincent Rivers Sept 16, 1978
“Vincent Rivers was convicted of murder in the second degree in a Kings County retrial in [Nov. 1979], following [a hung jury mistrial].  He was sentenced to twenty-five years to life in prison.  [The victim, Dutch Reid, was shot and killed at 2080 Nostrand Ave. in Brooklyn.]  A third trial ended in a mistrial.  A fourth trial [in 1983], at which Rivers was again convicted of murder, was reversed because of numerous prejudicial errors by the trial court.  On July 17, 1986, following a fifth trial, Rivers was acquitted on all counts.” – Inevitable Error  (1981 Reversal) (1985 Reversal) (91) (94)


Dillon County, SC Warren Douglas Manning Oct 29, 1988
Warren Douglas Manning was convicted of pistol whipping and shooting to death George T. Radford, a state highway trooper.  Manning was sentenced to death.  The trooper was shot at close range with his own revolver.  The defense argued that although the trooper arrested Manning for driving with a suspended license, Manning escaped when the officer stopped another car.  The defense also claimed that if Manning had shot the officer, he would have been covered in blood.  Witnesses who saw Manning minutes after the shooting noticed no blood on him.  A retrial resulted in a hung jury, but Manning was reconvicted at a third trial.  This reconviction was overturned and a fourth trial resulted in a mistrial.  At Manning's fifth trial, his new lawyer told the jury, “The law requires the state prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  Without that, the law says you cannot find him guilty.”  The fifth trial jury acquitted Manning of all charges.  [9/05]