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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Not admitting you were wrong can be deadly

Recently I followed a documentary about a case for murder.  It was where the husband had killed his wife's killer, after, of course, this killer had supposedly just killed his wife. The husband was hailed a hero and the case was closed after the two victims were buried; both were forgotten for a while. One early believer and detective started to self-doubt and doggedly pursued the case a little further, and when the case was officially closed, he kept it privately open even though ridiculed, and his older partner joined in that ridicule against him.

The light bulb eventually came on for the older detective and joined his partner to petition to reopen the case against all the odds and did. That joint determination was to get the 'hero' husband to be tried and be convicted of the double murder of his wife and of the man that was supposed to have been her killer. They believed and proved that it was the husband who had lured the man to his own house to kill him, supposedly during the act of self defence of his wife. The man that lay dead even had a history of mental illness which helped the husband spin his yarn of homicidal deceit initially. It looked like the perfect crime and almost was.

The two detectives relied on forensic evidence with testimony to get their man despite going against their own precinct, community, and the media. The older detective said later it was not a problem to admit that he had been wrong earlier in the case for he, like everyone else, had believed the husband to be a hero. He also believed that this case would make his precinct and him better at doing their jobs. What a difference it would have been had these two same men being on the following case where a man, a former policeman, was convicted twice for the murder of his entire family.

It seemed straight forward at the beginning before suspicion fell on him. His wife and two infant children were shot dead in their car as they went to exit it from the family garage. The husband had come home after a basketball game and found them in this state; there was blood everywhere. The last known person to see them alive or dead is always a good place to start except it was not him. He did not interview well either; shock might have had something to do with it. Tunnel vision had begun.

They needed motive, and the police with a skewed prosecutor came up with one tailored made just for the suspect: Yes, he had sexually molested his daughter, (no proof), his wife was going to go to the Police, he was going to be exposed, be ruined, lose his house and custody of his children. They all had to die and he acted alone. (all of this with no proof) Oh, yes, and there was all those affairs with other women as well. Slam dunk it seemed. Even some forensic evidence around as well, like eight specs of blood on his tea shirt, helped. A rock solid alibi of eleven people that he played basketball with when the crime was being committed was no help at all. A slam dunk it was too for the husband was sentenced to three life sentences.  Everyone believed he was guilty except for one or two attorneys. They can be pesky enough if they really believe that you were not guilty. They started to dig, getting deeper all the time, and just kept digging. 

What they turned up was the nickname of the real killer written in pen on his own sweater which was placed under the head of the ex-policeman's wife, after ‘her shoes had been removed’ and placed on top of her car. His prints and DNA were also found at the scene which turned up his real name. Looking good at last for the innocent man. The new suspect was arrested and set to be prosecuted while the husband had all charges dropped and released without prejudice. The only thing untrue about that statement was the prejudice part and the husband just might sue, and for the police and the prosecueter, that was the scariest part of all. All of this only took five years from the first trial.

After cherry picking over the new and second suspect’s many contradictory statements and landing on one they felt might stick on him and the husband, the police and state prosecutors decided to recharge the latter again as an accessory instead to murder along with the second guy. The second guy, who turned out to have had a lot of sexual violence in his history and had a foot fetish, hence the shoes being placed neatly on top of the car, was found guilty of triple murder and sentenced to an even longer sentence than the first guy. Some believe it might have had something to do with the fact that he was a black man; (just made that last sentence up but that is what people gossip about)

They then decided to retry the husband again separately They continued to make fiction into fact and fact into fiction, and he was found guilty again. But things were looking up: this time he only got a life sentence without parole. Ali V Frazier rubber match was around a long corner.

Several years more passed, and the third trial was finally based on the facts and evidence alone and justice was served against all the odds, and the husband was freed afer 13 years in prison. One juror said: “I felt so badly for him. I mean here’s a man who has been ‘persecuted’ for thirteen years for a crime I don’t believe he commited, and he lost -”

Most people carry prejudices of one kind or another and generalisations can subconsciously promote it. Doctors, even religous one, are taught to look at the condition based on the facts in order to detemine a cure, and not an opinion based on a divinity or the dislike of another. And you can stop a thief but never a liar and only facts will ever be able to show the difference. In pursuit of justice, looking at the whole case as a medical condition rather than going by a gut instinct that can’t think is too often the wrong diagnosis. No one has the right to judge others based upon an expectaion of behaviour or because a suspect does not interview well. It is by the knowledge of the facts alone should anything be determined first and behaviour with motive should always be second. 

The Police and prosecutors in the above case should have had a case to answer in law for breaking it, or at the least circumventing it. They had started off with an honest mistake that quickly morphed into a dishonest conspiracy. The very least that should happen is that they should be fired and stripped of pension, for if they are not, then they are well capable of doing it again to someone else. Until that happens, they will always believe that they are above the law and well justified in that point of view.

Barry Clifford