Updated Thursdays

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Letter to Judge Ellis

I was not sure I would ever write the judge who presided over SPM's case, but I think that time has come. Please feel free to copy this letter or write your own, but please join me in calling for justice.

 

 
The Honorable Judge Mark Kent Ellis   
Harris County Criminal Justice Center   
1201 Franklin, 14th Floor   
Houston, Texas 77002  
 

Sir,

I’m writing today about the case of Carlos Coy, #908426. Although his case took place some 13 years ago, you may recall it. He is a local rapper convicted of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child.

News reports at the time portrayed the case as cut and dried, nearly a sure thing. Over the years, however, more information about the evidence against him has come to light and raises questions, in my opinion, about his trial and his guilt.

It appears that the testimony against him was shaky, at best. The complainant stated multiple times in court that she wasn’t sure if the assault had occurred, and her mother seemed confused about multiple details. This may not have been such a problem if the original outcry statement had been preserved, but it was not. Neither the child’s taped statement nor her mother’s written one survived that first meeting. The statements were re-done days later.
 
I understand how many letters wend their way through your courtroom, and how unbelievable some of them are; still, I ask that you take a second look at Coy’s case. Your recent action on the Alfred Dewayne Brown case gives me hope that you may be willing to reconsider whether or not Coy received a fair trial.

Thank you for your time,

Me, my address, etc.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Lie

This is an interesting article about a so-called ‘recovered’ memory. Meredith Maran decided that she had been molested by her father, but not until she was “30-something”. Although she did not press criminal charges, she did apparently abandon their relationship.

Until she decided that, what do you know, she made the whole thing up.

It’s an interesting look at an issue from an unusual perspective; we know that Jane Doe testified more than once that she wasn’t sure that the assault happened, only months after the initial ‘lost’ outcry interview. Although we don’t know how many times prosecutors met with the family, it’s likely that she was encouraged to repeat it in therapy, and as practice for the trial. Still, she wasn’t sure it happened.


The justice system acknowledges that false memories are easy to create in the minds of impressionable children. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that Jane Doe still struggles with the question of whether or not she was ever assaulted.



http://www.salon.com/2010/09/20/meredith_maran_my_lie_interview/

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

History of Forensics

Just a brief post today; I ran across Radley Balko's Brief History of Forensics and was struck by how many questions still remain about the scientific validity of 'hard evidence' like bite marks, hair matching, and even fingerprinting.

It's unbelievable what has been passed off as sure-fire proof of guilt in courtrooms, and it throws into stark relief the culture of 'conviction at any cost' that seems to haunt to many trials. While this doesn't touch on Coy's trial, as there does not seem to have been any physical evidence offered, it offers a peek at the mindset behind those prosecuting him.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Media


Alright, here's my letter to Lisa Falkenberg, whose work has been linked to pretty frequently. She is a (recently Pulitzer-prize winning) columnist for the Houston Chronicle and has done some amazing pieces on the Grand Jury system and the Alfred Dewayne Brown case, among others. The good news is, you can send your letter via email. Please take a moment to send her a brief message explaining why you would like to see SPM receive a new trial, whatever issue you think is most significant to his case, or just how his music has affected your life. You can do that here: 


Just click the 'Email' link. Thanks again for your continued efforts!

Ma’am,
Hello, and congratulations on your recent Pulitzer award; I have followed your coverage of Alfred Dewayne Brown’s case and am glad to see you recognized for your excellent work.
I’m writing today in the hope that I can interest you in another case that, in my opinion, needs to be brought to the public’s attention. 

Carlos Coy, a local Houston rap artist, was convicted in 2002 for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. The heinousness of the accusations ensures that most people don’t think twice about his guilt, but there were several peculiarities on his trial that his supporters would like to see addressed.

For one, the testimony against him seems to have changed from time to time; the complainant’s initial statement to the police was not recorded, and her mother’s statement from that day was discarded. Both were redone days later. There was never any physical evidence collected, even though the supposed incident was reported the next day. Coy has pointed out that it would have been physically impossible for him to commit the attack, but this was never addressed in court.

I believe he is innocent, but I can’t prove it; I, along with his many supporters and fans, would like very much to see him receive a new trial. I started a blog at Spmaftermath.com where I, and sometimes Coy, talk about the case and try to raise awareness. I would be happy to speak with you about the case, and outline a few other issues with his trial. I have asked the blog readers to contact you and let you know why they’d like to see his case investigated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this; whatever your decision, I appreciate your work on behalf of the wrongfully convicted and I hope you continue helping those who have been abandoned by the justice system.
My contact info, etc.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Recan't


The San Antonio Four are currently preparing for a hearing to determine whether or not they are ‘actually innocent’. This will determine whether they are entitled to full compensation from the state of Texas for their imprisonment or retried, potentially re-convicted, and sent back. One former accuser says they are innocent, the other says they are guilty.

The thought that four convicted sex offenders could get this far in their appeals is awe-inspiring; aided initially by a blogger and then eventually by the media and the National Center for Reason and Justice these four women have another shot at justice.

However, this case continues to highlight the problems with victim recantation. If Jane Doe went to the press tomorrow and stated that Carlos Coy had not assaulted her, or that she had been coached by her parents or prosecutors, that wouldn’t mean that he would immediately be freed. The courts don’t like to see their verdicts overturned, and the entire exoneration is a push against the enormous weight of a system designed to keep those have been convicted from challenging that conviction.


That’s why I encourage you not to rely too much on the chance of Coy’s accuser recanting. I think our best chance at justice lies with raising public awareness about his case. I’m putting together a let for a reporter that, I hope, will be interested in his case. I will post it next week, but I would prefer you not copy & send it as we do with the letters to the District Attorney. Instead, please spend a few minutes this week thinking about what you’ve learned about the case and what you find most significant about his case.  I’ll post the address and my letter  next week and hopefully we can get his case some more media attention this year.




Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Cops in Lab Coats

Grits For Breakfast brought this fascinating article to my attention; it’s written by Sandra Guerra Thompson, who helped transition the God-awful Houston Crime Lab into the (hopefully) less scandal-ridden Houston Forensic Science Center.

"Crime labs (in the past) haven't focused as much on scientific research but more on law enforcement and getting convictions and being helpful to the police and prosecutors," Thompson said. That can be through both conscious and unconscious biases and on outside pressures that are brought to bear on the scientists doing the analysis, she said.


We’ve talked quite a bit how bias may have played a role in Coy’s conviction, and the convictions of many like him. It’s a great article, and I’m pleased that Ms. Thompson is involved with the Harris County Justice System.