Category: tunnel vision

A crumbling cover-up: Mississippi prosecutor hides the truth about his star witness

Troubled prosecutor Doug Evans

By Alan Bean

If you want to understand just how flawed the case against Curtis Flowers is, consider the state’s failed conspiracy to conceal the sad truth about its star witness.

The defense attorneys representing Curtis Flowers have filed a supplemental motion for a new trial.  As previously reported on this blog, Patricia Sullivan, the state’s key witness against Mr. Flowers was convicted on eight counts of income tax fraud in early 2011 and sentenced to 36 months in federal prison.  But Ms. Sullivan was indicted on February 17, a full four months before Curtis Flowers was convicted in Winona, and therein lies the problem. (more…)

Innocent man finally exonerated

Richard Miles served 14 years in prison for the murder of one man and the attempted murder of another.

Miles’ guilt rested on the testimony of one eyewitness who claimed that he saw Miles shoot two men in a Texaco parking lot. Similar to the Curtis Flowers case, detectives pinpointed Miles and decided that he was guilty within a few hours of the shootings. Miles had an alibi and several individuals who corroborated his story, but that was irrelevant. 

Despite little evidence, Miles was found guilty and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

As of yesterday, however, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that Richard Miles is officially exonerated.

Unlike most of the exonerations thus far, there was no DNA to test. After it was discovered that prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense, Miles was released in 2009 (but not officially exonerated). In 2010, the original eyewitness recanted his testimony, claiming that prosecutors coerced him into identifying Miles as the perpetrator.

Miles is one of many men who have recently been exonerated in Dallas, TX. The stories of several of these men are told in the book “Tested: How Twelve Wrongfully Imprisoned Men Held Onto Hope” by Peyton and Dorothy Budd. MWN

Two Years After Wrongfully Convicted Richard Miles Was Released, He’s Officially Innocent

by Leslie Minora

Free for two years, Richard Miles has nevertheless waited and waited for today — the official acknowledgement that he did not commit the  murder and attempted murder at a Texaco near Bachman Lake in 1994 for which he was sent to prison. The detailed 52-page opinion handed down from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reads like the outline of a Hitchcock film, detailing two police reports that weren’t disclosed at the time of Miles’s conviction, a 2010 recantation from the only uninvolved eyewitness and the determination that the small amount of gunshot residue on Miles’ hand was inconclusive. All of which amounted to the decision that the wrong man spent 14 years behind bars.

“When we balance the newly available evidence … with other exculpatory evidence and the evidence of guilt presented at trial, we are satisfied that Applicant has shown by clear and convincing evidence that no rational jury would convict him in light of the new evidence,” reads the court’s opinion released today.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s office recommended Miles’s release in 2009 after they determined that flaws in his trial violated his constitutional rights. Since his release more than two years ago, he’s been working, piecing his life back together and finding support in other exonerees as he waited for a decision from the state court, which must rule on all exoneration cases. But finally, as of today Miles can file for state compensation for his years spent locked up.

“This is going to be great for him because now he can do some of the things he wanted to do” like help his mother, said Charles Chatman, an exoneree who was released in 2008. Chatman and the other exonerees, including Miles, meet monthly, and Chatman tells Unfair Park that he and the other guys have given Miles a helping had since his release.

“We have helped him,” Chatman says, quickly adding that Miles isn’t “the kind of person who just depends on nobody.” Miles has been getting by working at a hotel, Chatman said, but even finding a job was difficult without a declaration of “actual innocence.”  (more…)

Improving Criminal Investigations

By Lisa D’Souza

On the national front, a bill pending in Congress seems to have stalled. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), acting under statutory authority from Congress, published a blistering report on the state of forensic science. The report criticized crime labs for their reliance on improper or unproven scientific techniques and for exaggerated expert testimony, both of which can lead to wrongful convictions. The report called for the creation of an independent agency to govern forensic science standards.

While the bill in Congress calls for implementation of the report’s recommendations, it would house the forensic science agency within the Department of Justice. A Pro Publica’s article  explains why this would create a conflict of interest and do little to achieve the progress envisioned by the NAS report.

The U.S. Congress asked our preeminent scientific body to investigate the state of forensic science in our country. Congress received clear recommendations for improvement, but there is still no federal action. (more…)