Updated Thursdays

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Slightly Related

Alright ladies and gents; I have a smattering of different topics I want to touch on today, the first being a Facebook page started by an early contributor to the blog. It’s a collection of videos he created, interviews with or about SPM, music, etc. I highly recommend that you take a look: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-SPM-Cant-Trust-the-System/251548814875245

Whenever a link like that goes up, it’s normal to get a few comments from people pointing out that it’s not official, not Dope House Family, or that somebody else did it first. I understand this, and you’ll notice I don’t post many things as ‘official’ this or that. I don’t like to do it unless I can verify it, and I find that trying to verify these pages is generally more trouble than it’s worth. That being said, I do want to provide y’all with the opportunity to connect with others that share an interest in Coy’s case. You can like & follow or not, as you prefer.


Another issue that’s been raised recently is that many of my posts seem only tangentially related to SPM, if at all. I wish I had more recent letters and news to share, but I can’t pull them out of thin air. I post weekly whether I have an update or not; this means that a lot of posts deal with issues related to the justice system and people in situations that are similar to Coy’s. I go back and forth about whether or not I should post when I don’t have a topic that’s directly connected to his case, but ultimately I feel that keeping the blog active is important. I take what I do very seriously, and I appreciate everyone that sticks around when there’s no news for a long period. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Letter to Greg Abbott 2

Time for another letter to the governor! Please, feel free to write your own, copy this one, or just send one of the flyers to your right. Thank you for all your efforts!

Greg Abbot 
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

Sir,

I’m writing today about the case of Carlos Coy, #908426.
As I’m sure you are aware, the Court of Criminal Appeals will soon begin its review of Rodney Reed’s case for DNA testing; whatever your feelings about that case, the years of delay and the fight against an examination of the evidence speaks volumes about the odds against any inmate struggling for exoneration.

     Serious questions have also been raised about Mr. Coy’s case; despite the time that has passed since his conviction, those questions remain unanswered. The lack of physical evidence, the rapidly changing testimony of at least two key witnesses…these are not marks of a strong case. Please, consider assigning Coy’s case to a post-conviction review unit, or take a look at it personally. Help us learn the truth about the his trial.


Me, my address, etc.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Post-Willingham Review

Just a quick note today; new evidence in the Cameron Todd Willingham case suggests that Texas executed a man based on testimony that was purchased with a promise to be lenient in his burglary case; Willingham was executed in 2004, despite the insistence of experts that his conviction was based on faulty science.

Eleven years later, the struggle for exoneration continues; a letter from the records of the jailhouse snitch in question has surfaced, and it looks like he demanded, and received, lesser charges in exchange for his testimony. John Jackson, the prosecutor, secured a new post-conviction judgement that allowed the witness to be considered eligible for parole immediately.

“Things with key witness Webb looked suspicious enough before this new letter was reported. According to Possley's previous reporting, Webb testified against Willingham and did indeed get a lighter sentence, a truck and financial support for years while he was both in and out of prison. He also attempted to recant his statement that Willingham had confessed to murdering his three daughters while he and Webb were in the Navarro County Jail, though the letter he sent was never put in Willingham's file or given to Willingham's lawyers.”


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Letter to Devon Anderson (10)

Time for another letter to the District Attorney; as always please feel free to write your own, copy this one, or just send one of the downloadable flyers to your right. All of you that send out a letter, thank you. 



Devon Anderson
1201 Franklin St
Suite 600
Houston, Tx 77002-1923

Ma’am,

I’m writing today about the case of Carlos Coy, #908426.
Recently, Representative Harold Dutton of Houston introduced a bill to abolish the death penalty in Texas; while I understand this is a controversial topic, I believe that he has raised some valid arguments. Many Texans do question the fairness of our justice system, and question whether we can morally apply the death sentence when we have proof, in the bodies of many, many exonerated men and women, that a conviction does not always unequivocally equal guilt.

            For those sentenced to death, however, there is a system of appeals and review that may eventually lead to their exoneration. For those sentenced to anything less, very little opportunity is given.  Deference is given to the original trial court’s decision, and nothing short of a miracle, or a revelation of gross misconduct is enough to call these convictions into question.

            Ma’am, I am not a lawyer; I do not have the education, training, or experience to remedy what I believe was a terribly mishandled conviction. You are in a position to do so, and your recent support of grand jury reform gives me hope that you may someday take an interest in Coy’s case. Please, take a look at his trial, or have your Post Conviction Review unit begin an investigation. Please, give us justice for this man.

Me, my address, etc  etc etc.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Backlog

When I started this blog, I was under the impression that there must have been some kind of physical evidence collected at the very beginning of the investigation; I assumed (not unreasonably, I think) that when Jane Doe was taken to the hospital that there would have been a rape kit completed, and I tried to find out why it had not been used at trial.

Unfortunately I was unable to get a hold of the police report, and as far as anyone knows, there was no evidence of this kind taken. However, Harris County has been storing thousands of untested rape kits for years, and has only recently gotten around to clearing the backlog.

I think it’s great that it’s finally done, and that the DA’s office is using the evidence collected to put rapists away. I still wonder, though, if there isn’t a kit somewhere from Coy’s case. While it’s great to compare the DNA to the national database to find matches nationwide, I wonder if the District Attorney will see fit to notify those that were convicted that there may be new evidence available in their cases; are they even testing the kits that belong to cases which have already been decided? Will the defense attorneys be notified? What will be done if the DNA from the kit does not match the DNA of the individual convicted of the crime?

"Though the technology to analyze DNA has been around for decades, hundreds of thousands of sexual assault kits all over the country went untested because investigators didn’t consider them important."

The thought that a kit could be shelved just because an investigator decided it would be is extremely unnerving; not only were rapists able to continue their crimes, but innocent people may have been convicted because no steps were taken that could have proven their innocence.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Current Events

The case of Rodney Reed has been much in the news lately; convicted of murdering a police officer’s fiancĂ©e back in 1996, Reed is slated for execution this March. There are quite a few great articles out there with details about the case but long story short, he was convicted mainly because his DNA was found inside Stacey Stites’ body.

After going through the lengthy appeals process Reed is scheduled to die on March 5. As early as 2002, questions have been raised about the reliability of his conviction. It appears that Stites and Reed were involved in a clandestine relationship, which could explain why there was evidence of sex but nothing else linking Reed to the murder.

Misinterpretation of an expert’s testimony regarding the time of death and incorrect testimony about the life of the DNA found contributed to the conviction.

“…there is one essential piece of physical evidence that Reed's defense attorneys say they never even knew existed. A state DPS lab report, dated May 13, 1998, analyzed DNA taken from two beer cans found near Stites' body. For reasons never satisfactorily explained, that lab report was never provided to the defense prior to or during Reed's trial. The analysis excluded Reed, but two other potential suspects -- former Bastrop Police Officer Ed Salmela (now dead, apparently by suicide), and former Giddings Police Officer David Hall, a good friend and neighbor of Fennell -- could not be excluded. Had they been aware of that DNA evidence, Clay-Jackson said, it would have enabled the defense to offer an adequate explanation of how Fennell could have traveled from Giddings to Bastrop and then back home by 6:45am without the pickup truck, when the call came from HEB reporting that Stites had never arrived for work.”

Jimmy Fennell, the fiancé, is currently incarcerated for the raping a woman while on duty. It will be interesting to see how this case turns out, and whether Texas will be willing to take a closer look at another potentially wrongful conviction.






Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Grand Standing

We’ve talked about the Grand Jury system here before, and how prosecutors are allowed to present evidence to get an indictment without a word from a defense lawyer; the case then proceeds and a trial jury is left to assume that the defendant wouldn’t be the defendant if the courts didn’t have a good reason to charge him or her.

Well, it looks like Devon Anderson, of all people, is advocating for a reform of Texas’ ‘key-man’ system, wherein the head of the grand jury is picked by the judge, often from that judge’s friends and colleagues.

From one of the articles linked below:

“Texas law still allows grand jurors to be chosen in a method that has been outlawed in all but one other state and banned from federal courts since the 1960s. Judges may choose pals, or commissioners, to suggest other pals as grand jurors. The system often results in homogeneous grand juries with substantial ties to the criminal justice system.

You may recall the case of Alfred Dewayne Brown, in which a Grand Jury bullied his girlfriend into changing her testimony that he was at her house at the time of the crime. After veiled threats against herself and her children, she wound up testifying against him. Imprisoned since 2005, Brown is now awaiting a new trial after the Grand Jury transcript was made public.

The Judge in that case was Judge Ellis, the same one responsible for Coy’s trial; one can only assume that he picked the ‘Key Man’ for both Brown and Coy’s Grand Juries. It is heartening indeed to see the Harris County D.A. standing up and advocating reform of this sytem.