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libstaK

I was on Death Row and I was Innocent

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Excerpts from the article:

"I was the first person in the United States to be exonerated from death row because of DNA testing."

"There was no physical evidence against me. During the trial, I was convicted primarily on the testimony of five witnesses who were later shown to be terribly mistaken. It took the jury less than three hours to convict me. When they announced my death sentence, the courtroom erupted in applause."

'The prosecutor almost brought my innocence claim to a halt when she sent a letter with a devastating message: The biological material in my case was inadvertently destroyed. Miraculously, the judge from my second trial had decided to keep some of the physical evidence and store it in his chambers."

", DNA evidence has been used to exonerate more than 300 individuals in capital and non-capital cases. Approximately 75% of these cases involved inaccurate or faulty witness identification."

Read more:

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/07/opinion/bloodsworth-death-penalty/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

I find it particularly poignant that Kirk's surname is "Bloodsworth" - his blood was certainly worth testing - it saved his life. :yes:

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There's only one rather glaring problem with his story and that is the judge keeping DNA evidence in his chamber. That taints the evidence because the chain of custody is broken.

Granted many people have been freed as a result of DNA testing, but a sitting judge is supposed to have broken a solemn vow as an officer of the court? And it flies, and it's all good? Really? So that means if I can produce DNA that I've kept in an old mayonnaise jar in my basement and it proves Charlie's Manson is innocent then it's all good, right? Right?

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There's only one rather glaring problem with his story and that is the judge keeping DNA evidence in his chamber. That taints the evidence because the chain of custody is broken.

Granted many people have been freed as a result of DNA testing, but a sitting judge is supposed to have broken a solemn vow as an officer of the court? And it flies, and it's all good? Really? So that means if I can produce DNA that I've kept in an old mayonnaise jar in my basement and it proves Charlie's Manson is innocent then it's all good, right? Right?

Why do you believe he broke any vow? As a sitting judge he could have signed for that evidence as he was reviewing the case pending an upcoming appeal. The wheels of justice are slow, from the date when the intention to appeal was made to the time it was reviewed could have been significant. If the officer aka: judge who signed for the evidence had the evidence in his custody in a secure location ... does that legally mean the chain of custody was broken?

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The chain of custody exists to prevent any evidence from being tampered with, and no Judge's chamber is a secured location. This story reeks of BS, while it might be based on a factual story. Say the judge ordered the evidence held in a different location for safe keeping, but then that wouldn't have quite the same dramatic impact, now would it?

Sorry, that dog won't hunt.

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Here we go again; yet another wrongful conviction in a murder case- a capital case! Here we've got false confessions and false witness testimony- one or the other and often both are common in wrongful convictions, and in this case, I think, corrupt investigators and inept counsel because even at the time, there was evidence that the confessions had to be false because for starters, the co-defendant was actually in custody when the crime occurred!

I think injustice will continue as long as authorities aren't held accountable. :angry:

Here's another article about the case.

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2004-05-21/news/0405210277_1_ruffner-dawn-hamilton-bloodsworth

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The chain of custody exists to prevent any evidence from being tampered with, and no Judge's chamber is a secured location. This story reeks of BS, while it might be based on a factual story. Say the judge ordered the evidence held in a different location for safe keeping, but then that wouldn't have quite the same dramatic impact, now would it?

Sorry, that dog won't hunt.

IMO, you're really missing the most important point of this case, since the DNA sample wasn't found tossed in the trunk of the defendant's family car or his lawyer's bathroom. The egregious problem for our legal system illustrated here is the impact of erroneous eye witness identification, made even more complicated in KB's case by the claims of multiple eyewitnesses. Juries find it almost impossible to disbelieve an eyewitness who points a finger at some one and identifies that person as a perpetrator--UNLESS those juries are educated in the science of witness memory and eyewitness identification.

It's unfortunate that many police forces remain equally uneducated about this science, some even resisting DOJ guidelines urging specific changes that would reduce problems during the investigation stage. On the plus side, 48 of 50 states now allow expert testimony in the courts to educate juries, the same way experts educate juries re DNA, fingerprints, etc. (though my state is sadly one of the 2 refusing to allow these experts).

Innocence Projects across the country have overturned an astounding number of convictions predicated largely on eyewitness testimony using DNA. That number should make us gasp--and wonder how many eyewitness cases have no DNA to use as an avenue for over turning the cases. Rape cases form the bulk of the reversals, where there is almost always available DNA. Not every crime is so likely to leave DNA evidence.

All just my opinion, but based on a great deal of prior reading on this subject.

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Sorry, but you need to remember there are no guilty men in prison, everyone is a victim. Granted, that is the case in some but not all and in this case the whole thing reeks. Sorry if I don't jump on the "free them all" bandwagon, but in my honest opinion that judge should investigated and de-frocked.

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The chain of custody exists to prevent any evidence from being tampered with, and no Judge's chamber is a secured location.

There's obviously a severe chain of custody issue here. I mean, it was reported the evidence had been destroyed....

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There's obviously a severe chain of custody issue here. I mean, it was reported the evidence had been destroyed....

Yes, then it magically reappeared via a sitting judge.

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Yes, then it magically reappeared via a sitting judge.

It might depend on the state- I don't know- but it seems that, if possible, cases are remanded back to the original trial judge...

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Posted (edited)

Sorry, but you need to remember there are no guilty men in prison, everyone is a victim. Granted, that is the case in some but not all and in this case the whole thing reeks. Sorry if I don't jump on the "free them all" bandwagon, but in my honest opinion that judge should investigated and de-frocked.

How does "the whole thing" reek? The real killer has been identified using that same DNA sample and has now pled guilty to the crime. Whatever the facts or loopholes for Bloodsworth what "reeked" was his 9 year incarceration for a crime he didn't commit. The fact that he was freed via DNA evidence that was verified as being from the crime and belonging to someone else cannot in any way be construed as "reeking". What does reek is that evidence held by the prosecutors was "inadvertantly" destroyed - if anyone should be dis-barred it should be those that destroyed that evidence, a man was sitting on death row - his very life on the line. The appeals process was far from complete, yet somehow in the chain of custody evidence was allowed to be destroyed.

I am glad that the stench of the Judge's custody of the additional DNA evidence was available under those circumstances because an innocent man being railroaded into a death sentence is what really does reek about this whole sordid series of events.

Edited by libstaK
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Jeez, I just explained it to you.

All the evidence is gone then suddenly the judge violates the chain of custody and like magic we have DNA evidence that clears the accused.

.....and that doesn't seem a tiny bit odd to you?

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Posted (edited)

Worth reading section 412, re the grants for the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA grants, and Section 413, esp. Subsection B re preservation of evidence as necessary for grants including those described in 412:

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-108publ405/html/PLAW-108publ405.htm

If there had been any kind of post-conviction chain of custody issue uproar in this case, I suspect the post-conviction DNA review would never have gotten a green light in the first place, nor would we have grants named for the case, shining a spotlight on it for years afterward. My opinion only. So far with some quick googling, I have seen no chain of custody questions arise in the post-conviction, only those issues addressed with the grant monies, which makes perfect sense.

ETA: It would seem no one, including the CNN article, has described the conditions under which the judge kept the DNA in his chambers. Was the sample locked away? Left carelessly in an unlocked desk drawer? The assumption here seems to tilt toward the latter. I would be interested in knowing how and where the judge stored this sample.

Edited by 2-B
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Jeez, I just explained it to you.

All the evidence is gone then suddenly the judge violates the chain of custody and like magic we have DNA evidence that clears the accused.

.....and that doesn't seem a tiny bit odd to you?

The only person claiming that chain of custody has been violated is you. What rules pertaining to chain of custody have been broken? Can you cite them and address how they apply to the facts of the case - not just the snippet from CNN, which clearly was short on detail.

What I find odd is your fixation on this part of the story, yet you don't even blink about the missing evidence that the police / prosecution "inadvertantly" destroyed?

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If it's believed that evidence has been destroyed, it's because that's what records indicate. Now, if that evidence is later discovered in a judges' chambers, then obviously, there exists a serious, serious break in the chain of custody of that evidence.

To me, that's only logical.

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The only person claiming that chain of custody has been violated is you. What rules pertaining to chain of custody have been broken? Can you cite them and address how they apply to the facts of the case - not just the snippet from CNN, which clearly was short on detail.

What I find odd is your fixation on this part of the story, yet you don't even blink about the missing evidence that the police / prosecution "inadvertantly" destroyed?

Oh? That wasn't the question. Evidence is destroyed all the time one of the most infamous examples was in the investigation and subsequent trail of Sirrah-Sirrah in the assassination of RFK. However, if that evidence were destroyed like it's supposed to have been then suddenly a Judge from the trail has it in his garage at home and it suddenly shows Sirrah was innocent that would stink to high heaven. Just like this does.

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Oh? That wasn't the question. Evidence is destroyed all the time one of the most infamous examples was in the investigation and subsequent trail of Sirrah-Sirrah in the assassination of RFK. However, if that evidence were destroyed like it's supposed to have been then suddenly a Judge from the trail has it in his garage at home and it suddenly shows Sirrah was innocent that would stink to high heaven. Just like this does.

I don't know what the heck you're talking about but there was definitely something 'up' with the DNA evidence in this case and I don't know what that was precisely, but there's plenty of other evidence of this man's innocence.

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People recant testimony all the time, which is why most courts take a very dim view of it. It could be they simply feel guilty about sending a man to a death sentence or they simply want it all to go away. But the evidence was gone, destroyed by accident then magically reappears because a judge violated chain of custody smell bad to me.

If there is other evidence other than someone changed their story after a number of years then let's hear it.

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Oh? That wasn't the question. Evidence is destroyed all the time one of the most infamous examples was in the investigation and subsequent trail of Sirrah-Sirrah in the assassination of RFK. However, if that evidence were destroyed like it's supposed to have been then suddenly a Judge from the trail has it in his garage at home and it suddenly shows Sirrah was innocent that would stink to high heaven. Just like this does.

But the evidence in this case was not supposed to be destroyed - he was on death row and that includes a series of appeals right up to the last minute before the sentence is carried out. So it is nothing like common evidence being destroyed - it is a miscarriage of justice, but you are okay with that - nothing suspicious about that at all?

Given the above, the evidence held by the judge had many reasons to be in his custody - not least of which is the possible review of a case where the prisoner is facing an "as yet to be determined" date for final sentencing aka: carrying out of the death penalty. Again, there is no suggestion outside of your claims that the evidence in the Judge's chambers broke any chain of custody protocol - there is only a lack of information supplied by the news reports thus far for why it was there and there are legal and valid reasons for why it could have been there.

More importantly - are you suggesting he was set free in error? That he committed the crime? What exactly is your basis of comparison with Sirhan Sirhan?

If the two defendents are not of the same callibre then you are comparing apples to oranges or building a strawman, take your pick.

Correct me if I am wrong but you seem to be determined that the use of the DNA evidence to exonerate Bloodsworth was a miscarriage of justice, rather than looking at all the facts which show it was actually justice served. Most specifically the fact that the same DNA evidence then allowed the real killer to be identified - once identified that real killer confessed and pled guilty.

An innocent man received justice - I really need to know how that is such a big problem for you. If there was a doubt as to the authenticity of the DNA don't you think the prosecution would have exploited that by any means possible? Further when the real killer was identified and subsequently confessed - would not his own defence team have done everything in their power to exploit any doubts?

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libstaK, if you're going to participate in a discussion then it's important that you follow it. I have already explained my reason for the comparison. Fact is you don't like it and it's sound logically so now you're falling back on an old trick of trying to act that you don't get it. You get it. It's simple as dirt and you are not an idiot, so you get it as well.

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People recant testimony all the time, which is why most courts take a very dim view of it. It could be they simply feel guilty about sending a man to a death sentence or they simply want it all to go away. But the evidence was gone, destroyed by accident then magically reappears because a judge violated chain of custody smell bad to me.

One has to consider the big picture; all of the evidence in this case wasn't "gone" or "destroyed by accident" or "magically reappeared", so what you're going on about is beyond my comprehension.

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I have made no mention of the other evidence, I don't know anything about the case one way or the other. My only point is that if evidence, DNA or fingerprint, or whatever was destroyed, then as if by magic reappears from someplace odd, like a judge, of all people who took it and held it in his chamber secretly. Then boom there it is just in time to over turn a verdict then I have to wonder what the heck is going on.

Don't get me wrong, people do get new trials every day and they get either re-convicted or they get exonerated. I also know that DNA technology has improved to the point that we have what is called touch DNA, where if you touched a sheet of paper they can read your DNA from the cells you left on the paper. That's part of the system and I see no problem with it.

However, an obviously critical piece of evidence gets destroyed by mistake, but actually it wasn't destroyed, the judge had in in his office for ever how long it was and suddenly it comes out at a critical point in a re-trial and that doesn't sound fishy to you? Really? I bet if the guy was supposed to be guilty of some other crime and you felt he got what he deserved then this would sound fishy to you, but in this case you're in favor of kicking the guy free. So, no issue.

It's fishy, regardless of how you stand personally on the guilt or innocence of the person in question. I don't know anything about the case and I haven't read anything intentionally because what is right is right regardless of anything else or my or your personal feeling in the case.

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Posted (edited)

libstaK, if you're going to participate in a discussion then it's important that you follow it. I have already explained my reason for the comparison. Fact is you don't like it and it's sound logically so now you're falling back on an old trick of trying to act that you don't get it. You get it. It's simple as dirt and you are not an idiot, so you get it as well.

Please don't play pot calling kettle black with me keninsc - I have followed it, your reasoning is a strawman.

The two events are completely disparate from each other there is nothing logically sound about your comparison. It is you who are continuously claiming to "not get it". You are claiming that the judge's holding the dna was a failure in the chain of custody and you have yet to prove that this was the case. The fact that the case proceeded to the extent that I have repeated on two occasions that it did - is evidence that no chain of custody issues were raised. Can you cite me the law where the judge was actually at fault in this case? First you would have to investigate and know how the evidence arrived into his chambers of course .... you have yet to read fully what has been presented to you so I hold little hope you will bother.

Why don't you answer my question - do you believe a miscarriage of justice occurred in the exoneration of Bloodsworth? Is that what this is all about? And if so, what do you think of the actual killer later confessing to the crime?

Edited by libstaK
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I have made no mention of the other evidence, I don't know anything about the case one way or the other. My only point is that if evidence, DNA or fingerprint, or whatever was destroyed, then as if by magic reappears from someplace odd, like a judge, of all people who took it and held it in his chamber secretly. Then boom there it is just in time to over turn a verdict then I have to wonder what the heck is going on.

There is the problem right there, along with your assumptions from that point on that the evidence "magically" appeared in the Judge's chambers or as you are now claiming, "held it in his chamber secretly".

There is nothing that has been presented that suggests either magic or secrecy was involved. The exonerated Bloodsworth equated it to a "miracle" but that is understandable given that some of the evidence which was not with the Judge at the time had "inadvertantly been destroyed". If you had bothered to read up on the case you would understand that there was much more than just this piece of DNA in the judge's office on offer - the witnesses were shown to be "very mistaken" in their identification of Bloodsworth in the first place as well.

However, an obviously critical piece of evidence gets destroyed by mistake, but actually it wasn't destroyed, the judge had in in his office for ever how long it was and suddenly it comes out at a critical point in a re-trial and that doesn't sound fishy to you? Really? I bet if the guy was supposed to be guilty of some other crime and you felt he got what he deserved then this would sound fishy to you, but in this case you're in favor of kicking the guy free. So, no issue.

Some evidence was actually "inadvertantly destroyed" - another crucial piece of evidence was in the hands of the Judge from the second appeal in his chambers. It was not the same evidence that was being spoken about - it was two separate pieces of evidence.

It's fishy, regardless of how you stand personally on the guilt or innocence of the person in question. I don't know anything about the case and I haven't read anything intentionally because what is right is right regardless of anything else or my or your personal feeling in the case.

If you don't read about the case - then you are just being myopic about a single point and not seeing the full story. How can you stand on "what is right is right" when you only have one fragment of the puzzle - and a fuzzy logic filled in fragment at that?

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Hey, I'm going by nothing but evidence magically appearing, and that's what you guys told me. NY only comments have been about the break in the chain of custody. Now you guys want me to forget about it and declare it's all good.

Sorry, can't do that.

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