Prison & Police Custody Cases

19 Cases

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CA - Santa Barbara - Kenneth Krause 1999

CA - Santa Clara - Ernest Graham A1973

FL - Bradford - Bennie Demps 1976

FL - Santa Rosa - Lance Fierke 2001

FL - Union - Brown & Troy 1981

FL - Union - Raiford Prison Inmates

IL - Cook - House of Torture Victims 1973-93

LA - West Feliciana - Angola Three 1972

MO - Cole - Missouri State Massacre 1954

MO - Cole - Missouri State Seven 1954

MO - Cole - Lloyd Schlup 1984

MO - Cole - Joseph Amine 1985

MO - Greene - Eric Clemmons 1985

NY - Clinton - David Wong 1986

NY - Wyoming - Attica Massacre Victims 1971

OK - Greer - Troy Hickey 1988

PA - Chester - Wade Evan Deemer 2002

PA - Philadelphia - Edward Ryder 1973

Canada (AB) - Richard McArthur 1986




Date of Alleged Crime


Santa Barbara County, CA Kenneth Krause May 8, 1999

(Federal Case)  Kenneth Krause's cellmate, Jeff Milton, at USP Lompoc, challenged corrections officer Anita Pahnke after she mouthed off outside their cell.  Milton said, “That's tough talk behind a cell door.”  Against regulations Pahnke opened the cell door, at which point Milton punched her with such force that she fell down.  Although Krause never touched Pahnke, both he and Milton were dragged out of their cell and severely beaten before being stripped and chained hand and foot to a concrete slab for a solid week.  They were not only forced to lie naked in their urine and fecal matter for the week they were chained to the slab, but they were repeatedly brutalized by several guards who punched and kicked them.

Krause was convicted of assault despite corrections officers testifying in his defense against inmate informants testifying for the prosecution.  A videotape surveillance camera recorded the assault, but Krause's defense was not allowed funds to enhance the video.  Krause was also transferred to the top federal supermax facility, USP Florence, in Colorado.  (JD31 p14)  [12/06]


San Joaquin County, CA Ernest Graham Nov 7, 1973 (Tracy)
In 1973 Ernest “Shujaa” Graham and co-defendant Eugene Allen, both blacks, were charged with killing Jerry Sanders, a white prison guard, while incarcerated at Duel Vocational Institute in Tracy, CA.  Graham's first trial resulted in a hung jury.  Graham was convicted and sentenced to death in 1976 after his second trial.  The California Supreme Court overturned that conviction.  Graham's third trial ended in another hung jury, and he was acquitted at his fourth trial.  (DPIC)  [12/05]


Bradford County, FL Bennie Demps Sept 6, 1976

Bennie Eddie Demps was sentenced to death for the murder of Alfred Sturgis inside Florida State Prison.  At trial, inmate Larry Hathaway testified that he reported seeing James Jackson stab Sturgis with a shank, while Demps held down Sturgis and Harry Mungin acted as lookout.  Demps, Sturgis, and Hathaway were all convicted murderers.  Two prison guards, A.V. Rhoden and Hershel Wilson testified that Sturgis named Demps as one of his three assailants.  Demps had previously been sentenced to death for a double homicide, but his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1972 when the U.S. Supreme Court declared capital punishment unconstitutional because it was carried out in an arbitrary manner.  Demps claimed prison officials framed him for the Sturgis killing because he had escaped his earlier death sentence.

Before trial, Hathaway told an attorney for a prisoners rights group that he did not witness the Sturgis murder. After the trial, three inmates came forward to say that Hathaway was nowhere near the scene of the stabbing.  In 1994, Hathaway told a defense investigator that he had lied at trial.  Seven months after the Sturgis killing, inmate Leroy Colbroth was murdered.  Several inmates swore in depositions that Colbroth was killed because he had stabbed Sturgis. Other inmates later said that they saw Colbroth kill Sturgis or that he admitted killing him.  This information was withheld from Demps' lawyers.  Some of these inmates were willing to help Demps, but did not, stating in sworn affidavits that prison officials either threatened them with retribution if they testified or offered incentives, such as transfers or shorter sentences, for refusing.

Gerald Kogan, the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, later stated that he had “grave doubts about Kemps,” even though he did not vote to give Demps a new trial.  Demps was executed by lethal injection on June 7, 2000.  (Chicago Tribune) (JD12)  [8/08]


Santa Rosa County, FL Lance Fierke June 25, 2001
Lance Fierke's cellmate at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution had raped him and had threatened to rape him again.  Fierke reported the incident and when he refused to go back to his cell for more, Officer Dean beat him.  (Report)  [9/05]


Union County, FL Brown & Troy July 7, 1981 (UCI)
Willie Brown and Larry Troy were sentenced to death for the murder of Earl Owens, a fellow inmate in Union Correctional Institution.  Another inmate, Frank Wise, testified that he saw Brown and Troy leave the victim's cell shortly before his body was discovered.  During appeals, Brown married a German anti-death-penalty activist named Esther Lichtenfels.  She took an interest in the case and fitted with a legally authorized wire, obtained an admission from Wise that he had lied about the two men's involvement.  Wise offered to tell the truth for $2000.  Wise was then convicted of perjury and Brown and Troy were released in 1988.  (PC) (CWC) (FLCC) (ISI)  [7/05]


Union County, FL Raiford Prison Inmates (Raiford)

Inmate John Lee Fort confessed on national television to the murder of another inmate and claimed it was a guard-ordered assassination.  Officials blamed Thomas Craig for the murder and kept him in solitary confinement for two years.  At trial, he was acquitted of the murder in 56 minutes and released a few months later.  Officials had reason to blame Craig.  According to Craig, “I was on the burial squad.”  “They would take us out and have us burying these guys who had supposedly died of natural causes.  I managed to get a look into a couple of those coffins – one had an obvious bullet hole, another's skull was crushed.”

Another inmate, Bennie Demps, was executed in 2000 despite the existence of a DOC report that seemed to point to his innocence.  There was irrefutable evidence that Martin Anderson, a 14-year-old inmate, was brutally beaten to death.  The state's medical examiner initially claimed he had died of his sickle cell anemia.  The state of Florida now openly admits that inmate Frank Valdes was killed by out-of-control correctional officers.  (TruthInJustice)  [9/06]


Cook County, IL House of Torture Victims 1973 - 1993

Lt. Jon Burge and his fellow detectives at the Area 2 & 3 Police Station on the Southside of Chicago tortured at least 60 persons between 1973 and 1993.  The types of tortures used included Russian roulette, cigarette burns, electrical shocks, suffocation, radiators, telephone books, sticks, beatings, cattle prods, and threats.  It took the specific case of Andrew Wilson in 1982 to finally bring the truth to light.  Jon Burge and his detectives had gone overboard by leaving obvious signs of bruises all over Andrew Wilson's body.  An OPS investigation led to the Goldston Report, which stated and confirmed a systematic pattern of torture and abuse by detectives under the supervision of Jon Burge.  In 1993, Burge was allegedly fired and two detectives were suspended.  However, Burge receives his full pension and benefits.

Those tortured include the Death Row 10:  Madison Hobley, Leonard Kidd, Aaron Patterson, Andrew Maxwell, Stanley Howard, Derrick King, Ronald Kitchen, Reginald McHaffey, Leroy Orange, and Jerry McHaffey.  Frank Bounds is an 11th death row inmate tortured but he is now deceased.  Gov. Ryan has pardoned four of the Death Row 10.  (CCADP)  [9/05]


West Feliciana Parish, LA Angola Three Apr 17, 1972 (Angola)

Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, both blacks, were convicted of murdering white prison guard Brent Miller in Louisiana's State Penitentiary at Angola, the largest U.S. Prison.  Evidence against them seems to depend solely on coerced or bribed testimony.  Woodfox and Wallace were known prison activists, and the conviction allowed the prison to keep them permanently in solitary confinement.

Robert King Wilkerson, also a prison activist, was also held initially in solitary confinement because officially he was “under investigation” for the death of Miller, although he was not at Angola at the time of Miller's death.  Later he was charged and convicted of killing inmate August Kelly, but there was compelling evidence of his innocence.  His conviction was later overturned.  Afterwards, apparently to avoid being sued, the state insisted he plead guilty to conspiracy and receive time served.  Wilkerson agonized over the decision, but agreed to it and was released.  Woodfox got a retrial in 1998, but despite the lack of evidence was re-convicted.  (JD01, Herman Wallace)  [6/05]


Cole County, MO Missouri State Massacre Sept 22, 1954 (Jefferson City)
In response to a prison riot at Missouri State Penitentiary, authorities shot four inmates to death and wounded another 30.  Most were apparently inmates who had fled the riot.  None of the inmates were armed.  (CrimeMagazine)  [9/05]


Cole County, MO Missouri State Seven Sept 22, 1954 (Jefferson City)
During a prison riot at Missouri State Penitentiary, the prison's most notorious stool pigeon, Walter Lee Donnell, was murdered by one or more inmates.  Donnell had testified against many members of a St. Louis armed robbery clique including Irv Thomas.  These obvious suspects were not even questioned about Donnell's death.  Instead, the leaders of the riot were tortured into confessing to the murder.  When a smaller riot occurred in October, its leader was also tortured into confessing.  The prison authorities wanted to send a message:  “Cause trouble and you will be forced to confess too.”  All seven were convicted of the murder, but a look at the evidence gives little reason to believe the confessions.  The real killer, Irv Thomas, had his sister release his confession to the killing upon his death in 1981.  (CrimeMagazine)  [9/05]


Cole County, MO Lloyd Schlup Feb 2, 1984
Lloyd Schlup was convicted of murder in the stabbing death of Arthur Dade, a fellow inmate at the Missouri State Penitentiary.  Dade, a black inmate, was stabbed to death in a crowded cellblock by Robert O'Neal, a hit man for the Aryan Brotherhood, a white prison gang.  Two prison guards testified that Schlup held Dade while O'Neal did the stabbing.  Schlup was sentenced to death.  Numerous eyewitnesses knew Schlup had not participated the crime, but investigators had not questioned them.  After Schlup's execution was scheduled in 1993, the victim's mother called the Missouri Governor saying she did not believe Schlup killed her son.  Her emotional appeal was helped by an Inside Edition report that brought national attention to the case.  Schlup's conviction was overturned.  Rather than face trial in 1994, he took a plea deal that would not interfere with his ability to seek parole in 2003 on the assault charge for which he was originally imprisoned.  (Schlup v. Delo) (Time)  [10/05]


Cole County, MO Joseph Amrine Oct 18, 1985
Joseph Amrine was convicted of murdering another prisoner, Gary Barber, at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.  Amrine was sentenced to death.  He was convicted on the testimony of three jailhouse snitches, in spite of a prison guard testifying that one of the snitches was the actual killer.  Six other inmates stated that Amrine was elsewhere in the prison, playing cards at the time.  The three snitches later admitted they lied to escape relentless rape or prosecution for the prison murder.  The case is the subject of a documentary, Unreasonable Doubt: The Joe Amrine Case.  During Amrine's appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court, the prosecution argued that Amrine should be executed even if the court found him innocent, but the court established “actual innocence” as a Missouri standard that allowed it the right to overturn convictions that contained no technical errors.  The court overturned Amrine's conviction in 2003 and prosecutors released him three months later after they decided not to retry him for the crime.  (KC Star) (JP)  [12/06]


Greene County, MO Eric Clemmons Aug 7, 1985

Eric Darnell Clemmons was convicted of the murder of Henry Johnson, a fellow prisoner at the Missouri State Penitentiary.  Clemmons had been cellmates with Johnson, but was moved to a different cell on July 1, 1985 after he accused Johnson of making sexual advances towards him.  There was no reported trouble between the two following the move.  This move occurred more than a month prior to Johnson's murder.  Prison guard Thomas Steigerwald testified that as he was walking towards a group of inmates, he saw an inmate strike Johnson. Johnson then ran past Steigerwald, at which point, Steigerwald realized that Johnson had been stabbed.  Steigerwald then pursued the inmate who struck Johnson. This inmate turned out to be Clemmons.

According to Clemmons, Steigerwald did not witness the stabbing, but had merely seen Johnson running into him after he had been stabbed by inmate Fred Bagby.  Several other inmates testified that Bagby had stabbed Johnson.  Following Johnson's stabbing, Bagby himself was stabbed three months later and died prior to trial.  The State argued that the testimony of Clemmons' witnesses should be discounted because it was easy for them to try to help Clemmons by blaming someone who could not defend himself.  Handling his own appeal, Clemmons discovered an internal DOC memorandum that had been withheld from his defense in violation of Brady v. Maryland.  The memo related that minutes after Johnson's stabbing, an inmate named Dwight Clark had told a guard captain that two men had performed the stabbing.  Clark thought one inmate was Fred Bagby, but the other inmate he only knew by sight.  On retrial in 2000, Clemmons was acquitted.  (Google)  [4/08]


Clinton County, NY David Wong Mar 12, 1986

David Wong, a busboy in Manhattan's Chinatown, was arrested for participating with co-workers in an armed robbery of his employer's Long Island home in 1983.  While serving his sentence upstate at Clinton Correctional Facility, he was charged with and convicted of murdering inmate Tyrone Julius.

In March 1999, a New York Times article quoted former prison employees who stated that Wong's innocence was “common knowledge” at the prison.  Fellow inmates understood that Nelson Gutierrez, a long-time rival of Julius, had killed him, but they were afraid to speak up at the time.  Gutierrez was paroled in 1994 and returned to the Dominican Republic where he died of an apparent drug overdose in May 2000.  By 2002, almost a dozen former inmates had signed affidavits supporting Wong's innocence.  Wong was denied a new trial, but the decision was reversed on appeal and all charges against Wong were dropped in 2004.

Wong, an undocumented alien, remained held by immigration authorities until Aug 2005, when they deported him to Hong Kong.  (Asianweek) (  [11/05]


Wyoming County, NY Attica Massacre Victims Sept 13, 1971

Prompted by horrendous conditions, the 1281 inmates at the New York state prison in Attica took over the prison on Sept. 9, 1971 and took the guards there hostage.  One guard died died during the takeover due to his own attempt to be heroic.  The hostages were treated well and were guarded by the inmate leadership from potential assault from lone inmates.  The guard hostages were dressed in ordinary inmate clothing so that potential outside snipers would not be able to tell whom they were shooting at.  The uprising began as an unfocused riot, but grew into a focused and reasonable demand for better prison conditions.

The authorities were appalled that the uprising had attracted the attention of the national news media.  In response, the authorities cut off lines of communication from the area to give them time to create cover stories for whatever might happen.  Then they overdosed the prison with tear gas, completely incapacitating everyone inside, and rendering some unconscious.  Then to teach the inmates a lesson, 500 state policemen attacked the incapacitated occupants, firing 2200 bullets in 9 minutes.

In the attack, the authorities murdered 39 individuals including 10 prison guards who they presumably mistook to be inmates.  They also wounded at least 86 individuals.  Four others were murdered following the attack.  Mike Smith, an Attica guard who was shot in the stomach, said, “I don't know any other employer who could murder their employees and get away with it, except the government.”

At the time of the attack, the news media dutifully reported official lies.  The prison guard hostages who died were reported as having had their throats slit by inmates.  However, autopsies soon revealed that no throats were slit.  Instead, the guards' bodies were riddled with bullets.  None of the inmates possessed or gained access to firearms.

The inmates who survived the massacre were beaten, burned with cigarettes, threatened with castration and death, forced to play Russian roulette, and forced to walk a glass strewn gauntlet while barefoot (actually naked) and being beaten as they walked.

None of the authorities who participated in the massacre of 43 American citizens were ever criminally charged.  New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller who ordered the attack went on to become an unelected U.S. Vice President.  A quarter century later, Attica inmates were awarded $12 million for the wrongs they suffered.  [7/05]


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]


Chester County, PA Wade Evan Deemer Aug 24, 2002 (West Chester)
Wade Evan Deemer hanged himself in a West Chester police station after being arrested for a rape he did not commit.  He did not have his bipolar medication with him.  DNA testing conducted after his death excluded him as the rapist.  (FJDB)  [7/05]


Philadelphia County, PA Edward Ryder Aug 17, 1973
Edward Martin Ryder, Jr. was convicted of the murder of Samuel Molten, a fellow inmate in Holmesburg Prison.  Molten had been fatally stabbed.  Centurion Ministries' investigation found an eyewitness, who identified the real killers.  Ryder was granted executive clemency by Gov. Robert P. Casey and freed in Sept. 1993.  After his release, Ryder's conviction was vacated in 1996 because of prosecutorial misconduct.  (CM)  [5/05]


Alberta, Canada Richard McArthur Jan 24, 1986
Richard McArthur was convicted of the stabbing murder of a fellow inmate at the Drumheller Penitentiary.  Following McArthur's conviction he met four witnesses in regard to the stabbing while serving time at the Edmonton Institution.  They informed him of what they knew about the stabbing, explaining their earlier denial of knowledge to Drumheller investigators was because they did not want to get involved.  These witnesses supported McArthur's contention that he killed the deceased in self-defence.  Three of these witnesses saw the deceased, armed with a knife, go to McArthur's cell shortly before the stabbing incident.  Based on this new evidence, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned his conviction.  Since McArthur had already served the minimum time for his conviction and the crown did not wish to retry him, the Court also ordered his acquittal.  (R. v. McArthur)  [8/09]