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Saturday, 4 July 2015

The West Memphis 3: A Miscellany of Incompetence.

Warning: 
This article contains graphic descriptions and pictures from a murder scene.


The Murders.

Wednesday, May 5, 1993. West Memphis, Arkansas. 7:00 pm. Several neighbors see eight-year-olds, Christopher Byers, Michael Moore and Steven Branch riding their bicycles on Goodwin Avenue towards a wooded area known locally as Robin Hood Hills, where the boys often played together. On a balmy evening in West Memphis, nobody could possibly envisage the horror that is about to unfold over the next twenty-four hours.

Christopher Byers is the first boy to be reported missing. According to the police log, John Byers, Christopher's adoptive father, phones the West Memphis police at 8:08 pm and tells them his son has not returned home. A little over ten minutes later Officer Regenia Meeks arrives and interviews Byers. An initial search of the area is made but nothing is found.

Around 9:00 pm, Michael Moore's mother calls at the Byers' home and reports to Officer Meeks that her son is also missing. She tells the officer that Steven Branch was with him. With the light fading, a cursory search of the area reveals nothing. As darkness descends on West Memphis, the search is abandoned and people begin to fear the worst. Prosecutors later claim that the boys were murdered between 9:30 and 10:00 pm, which, if the timing is correct, means they were still alive while the search was going on.

John Mark Byers. 1993
The next morning the Crittenden County Search and Rescue team is called in and focuses attention on Robin Hood Hills, a dense, wooded area with a creek and a large drainage channel.

11:45 am, John Byers talks to a local news crew. "I'm scared for the safety and welfare of all three boys. And would appreciate any help anyone can give us in recovering our three boys."

Several hours into the search a boy's black shoe is found floating in shallow water. This discovery leads searchers to the bodies of the three boys, which are found in the creek. Against all crime scene protocol, police move the bodies to a shallow ditch nearby.

Following an autopsy, forensic pathologist, Frank J. Peretti, indicates that the three boys had been stripped naked, beaten and mutilated. Christopher Byers had suffered the most with lacerations to most parts of his body. He died of multiple injuries. Michael Moore and Steven Branch died of multiple injuries with drowning. Police also believed all three boys had been raped.

Two of the injuries were particularly significant. The left side of Steven Branch's face had been gouged out and Christopher Byers had been castrated. Both these injuries became focal points during the subsequent trial. In all, the autopsy revealed that the boys had sustained 146 specified injuries. The pathologist suggested that a serrated knife had been used to inflict the injuries.

Christopher Byers
All the boys were hog-tied with their own shoe laces, right ankle to right wrist, the same with their left arms and legs.

Several Items of clothing were found in the creek. Some of it had been twisted around sticks and thrust into the muddy waters in an attempt to hide it.

Police discovered that five socks and two pairs of underwear belonging to the boys were missing, leading investigators to believe that they were killed elsewhere and then dumped in the creek. However, even if the creek or ditch was not the murder scene, police recovered a significant amount of forensic evidence from this area, which, when DNA profiling became available some years later, should have led investigators to the sadistic murderers of the three young boys - unfortunately, it didn't.



The Police Investigation.


The BOLO (click to read)

At 10:38 pm, May 6, 1993, police issue what they call a 'BOLO' - Be On Look Out. Although the BOLO refers to "two white male hitchhikers in their 20's". detectives assigned to the case believe the most likely perpetrators to be sexual deviants, transients or even truckers passing through the area.

Robin Hood Hills is adjacent to a popular truck stop a little more than a block away from the murder scene. Names and credit card receipts from anybody visiting the truck stop the previous day are checked. Several transients and truck drivers are taken in for questioning; all are cleared and released without charge.

After just twenty-four hours, the investigation, led by Chief Inspector Gary Gitchell, is faltering as forensic evidence has failed to provide any real clues the investigators can use. With increasing frustration, Gitchell now orders his men to canvass more than 500 addresses in the neighborhood adjacent to Robin Hood Hills.

No significant information is uncovered.

Damien Echols. 1993
On the same day police are questioning truckers, the name of Damien Echols, an eighteen-year-old with a history of mental illness, is raised for the first time by assistant juvenile probation officer, Steve Jones.

Echols, who dresses all in black and listens to heavy metal music, is seen by West Memphis residents as a weird loner who engages in satanic rituals - an accusation which is simply untrue.

Apparently, rumors of cult activity in the West Memphis area, including satanic rituals, sexual deviancy and animal sacrifice, were being bandied about by neighborhood teenagers who had "seen things".

Steve Jones tells investigators that he himself has seen "a marked increase" in "satanic-related graffiti" in the neighborhood. He also states that Damien Echols has a tendency to violence and is "capable of murder".

It is likely that if Detective Gitchell and his men had been following up solid leads or suspects, the nonsense spouted by Steve Jones and some of the residents of West Memphis would probably have been ignored. Unfortunately, with little physical evidence, the investigators have to follow up whatever leads they can get, and, presumably, if investigating so-called satanic rituals help to solve the murders, then so be it.

Damien Echols. 1994
Within hours of Steve Jones' statement, Damien Echols is interviewed by detectives. Photographs are taken. They are looking for marks or scratches on his hands, face and torso which may indicate involvement in the murders.

There are none.

He answers all their questions, although the detectives consider some of his answers odd. This is hardly surprising as Echols has spent several months in hospitals and detention centers undergoing therapy for his many personality disorders.

With the investigation veering off in all directions, investigators begin to rely on polygraph tests (lie detectors), which are notoriously unreliable. Unfortunately, West Memphis detectives decide that if a person of interest passes the test they are dismissed as suspects. It is believed that at least one of the murderers underwent a polygraph test, passed it, and was released.

In the days that follow, Damien Echols is interviewed several times by different detectives assigned to the murder investigation. On May 10, 1993, unaccompanied by a lawyer, Echols is yet again interviewed and then subjected to a polygraph test. Investigators report that Damien "had been untruthful, and according to the polygraph, was involved in the murders".

That may well have been the police view, but, other than hearsay and rumor, investigators do not have any evidence against Damien Echols. Reluctantly, they are obliged to release him. And now they really do have problems. As each hour passes and the case grows colder, the pressure to find the murderers forces investigators into making unwise decisions.

Victoria Hutcheson. 1994
Firstly, they listen to West Memphis resident, Victoria Hutcheson, who informs them that both Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley were involved in cult activities and in the murders.

And then investigators, for reasons best known to themselves, interview Victoria's eight-year-old son, Aaron Hutcheson, who tells them he often played with the murdered boys in Robin Hood Hills and had seen men sitting in a circle singing songs to the devil and doing "what men and ladies do".

But that, apparently, was not all he saw. Aaron Hutcheson is interviewed by police on several occasions. In one interview he says he witnessed the murders but can not identify the attackers. In another interview he tells police that he saw a victim being abducted by a black man in a maroon car.

His subsequent statements become even wilder; in yet another interview he says that he was forced to participate in the murders. He then identifies John Mark Byers as the murderer until the arrest of Damien Echols whom he then identifies as the murderer. And still investigators listen to him. He is down to testify as a witness, but, unsurprisingly, he is never called to the stand.
  
Victoria Hutcheson is given a polygraph test which police report as being "truthful".  (She later recants her statements and testimony saying she "probably slept the night drunk on the lawn".)

Jessie Misskelley. 1993
One month after the murders, investigators interview Jessie Misskelley. Despite his low IQ (borderline intellectual functioning) and his status as a minor, he is questioned without a guardian or a lawyer present.

Against all police procedure, Misskelley is questioned for more than twelve hours, only 46 minutes of which is recorded. Eventually, he tells police what they want to hear. Despite several inconsistencies in his story police shape what they are told to fit the known facts.

In one example from the confession detectives correct Misskelley and actually tell him what he saw. In the transcript, Detective Bryn Ridge says, "Alright, we are going to correct that even further ... you were standing at the top of the bank on the west side, were you looking down at what was going on?"

Three words in brackets.
Indeed, the detective noted at the end of his report that Misskelley was "lying his ass off" during the polygraph. If he was lying his ass off, at what point did he begin telling the truth?

The confession implicates Damien Echols and 16-year-old Jason Baldwin, a schoolfriend. Despite a lack of physical evidence against any of the three boys, on June 3, 1993, Misskelley, Baldwin and Echols, are arrested and each charged with three counts of capital murder.


June 4, 1993. During a press conference following the arrests, Chief Inspector Gary Gitchell is asked how strong the case against the three boys is, rated from 1 to 10 - he unwisely replies, "Eleven."




The Trials.



August 4, 1993. A pre-trial hearing is held before Judge David Burnett in Marion, Arkansas. Judge Burnett rules that Misskelley should be tried separately. Controversially, the judge also rules that Misskelley's "confession" can be introduced by the state, even though it was obtained under coercive circumstances. He further rules that the three defendants can be tried as adults.

January 18, 1994. Jury selection in the Misskelley trial begins. It is a difficult process because most prospective jurors know all about Misskelley's "confessions", (Police record at least three different versions). Although West Memphis detectives deny having anything to do with it, the "confessions" are conveniently leaked to news media several days before jury selection begins.

Police also choose this very moment to reveal that they have discovered a serrated knife in a lake some forty-seven feet from Jason Baldwin's home. Even though forensic evidence taken from the knife does not implicate Jason Baldwin or Damien Echols in any way, (it looks similar to one Echols may have owned previously) investigators make sure that a connection between Echols and the knife is made public knowledge. Police also maintain that the lacerations and marks on the bodies of the murder victims are made specifically by this knife.

During the trial, twenty different knives are entered into evidence. Three were found near the murder scene, four were retrieved in searches, six came from suspects, six unaccounted for and one came from the lake behind Jason Baldwin's home. This final knife becomes State exhibit 77.

Judge David Burnett. 1994
Misskelley's trial begins on January 26, 1994. His defense argues that his "confession" does not match the facts of the case on key issues.

An expert witness for the defense, Dr. Richard Ofshe, testifies that the interview that leads to Misskelley's "confession" is a classic example of police coercion.

He goes on to say that the tapes sound as if the police are confessing to the murders. During the interview, leading questions containing confidential information about the murder scene, known only to the investigators, are directed at Misskelley, Graphic details, of which he has no knowledge, are provided by his interviewers.

After several hours of  persistent and relentless interrogation, he just agrees with everything investigators say and tells them what they want to hear.

Two major flaws in the confessions stand out.

Firstly, the time Misskelley says he was at the murder scene is at least three hours too early. The persistent questioning by detectives, suggesting different times to Misskelley, eventually pays off when they get him to admit to the time they believe the murders were committed.

Secondly, at the time of the Misskelley interrogation, detectives believe that the boys have been raped and ask him about that. Misskelley admits that "he watched Damien rape one of the boys". There is no forensic evidence indicating that any of the boys have been raped. DNA profiling later confirms it.

And that flawed "confession" is all the evidence the state have against the defendant. It doesn't matter. On February 5, 1994, 18-year-old Jessie Misskelley is convicted of one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder. He is sentenced to life plus 40 years.

Following the trial, prosecutors apply pressure to Misskelley, (they offer him a reduced sentence of forty years for his testimony) and he agrees to testify against Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin.

He makes a statement under oath accusing Echols and Baldwin of murdering the three boys. Twenty-four hours later, he changes his mind and decides not to testify. In all, Jessie Misskelley makes five separate "confessions" to police about the West Memphis murders - and then on June 3, 1993, claims his innocence, before making his sixth and final "confession".

Juror's notes - pros and con re. Jason Baldwin
Three weeks later, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin go to trial. The prosecution has no forensic evidence that links either Echols or Baldwin to the murders.

It is suggested that the motive for the murders is "occult sacrifice" and "devil worship". Black t-shirts and heavy metal lyrics are introduced as evidence of cult tendencies.

A juror's notes - pros and cons referring to Jason Baldwin - is pictured right. It is all hearsay and speculation with not one iota of hard evidence regarding the murders.

The blacked out section contains the words "Jesse Misskelley confession" - something these jurors should not have been considering. Indeed, written next to it are the words "NO DISCARD". Had this been known to the defense lawyers at the time they could have called for a re-trial.

Jason Baldwin. 1994
Again, the lack of hard evidence and jury coercion does not seem to matter. On March 19, 1994, Echols and Baldwin are found guilty on three counts of murder. Damien Echols is sentenced to death, Jason Baldwin receives a life sentence.

Steve Jones, the probation officer who thought Damien Echols "capable of murder", later says that he "cannot, in retrospect, accurately attribute to Baldwin any interest or association with the occult". He also acknowledges that he does not believe Jason Baldwin was involved in the murders.

As they say in Arkansas - a day late and a dollar short.




The Aftermath.

Following the trial, there is widespread criticism of the West Memphis Police Department. An attorney involved in the case states that the crime scene was contaminated from the moment the boy's shoe was found in the creek. So many different people had entered the scene that the area was "literally trampled, especially the creek bed".

The bodies are removed from the creek before the coroner arrives, making it difficult for him to determine a time of death. Police then allow the bodies to decay on the creek bank, exposing them to sunlight and insects. Investigators involved in the case also fail to control disclosure of information relating to the case. Sensitive information, vital to solving the crime, is allowed to enter into the public domain.

One attorney is quoted as saying, "Police records were a mess. To call them disorderly would be putting it mildly".

Damien Echols is held in solitary confinement and on death row for more than eighteen years. He writes the following words. "For a split second today I could smell home. It smelled like sunset on a dirt road. The world I left behind was so close I could almost touch it. Everything in me cried out for it. It's amazing how certain shades of agony have their own beauty."

State Exhibit 77 - The Lake knife
Despite numerous appeals over the years, Judge David Burnett steadfastly refuses to sanction a hearing, no matter how strong the evidence appears to be.

On 29 October, 2007, Damien Echols' defense lawyers file papers seeking a retrial or his immediate release from prison. The papers cite new DNA evidence linking Terry Hobbs (stepfather of Steven Branch) to the crime scene, Defense lawyers also have a damning statement from Hobbs' ex-wife.

Lawyers are able to show that the bodies had not been mutilated with a serrated knife. They can also prove that many of the lacerations and wounds, including the castration and the ripping of the flesh on one of the boys faces, had been caused by animals predating the bodies.

And the legal papers also reveal that bite marks on the face of one of the victims (unbelievably, not noticed until after the original trial) do not to match any of the three convicted men.

Unfortunately, this is still not good enough. Almost one year later, on September 10, 2008, Judge David Burnett denies the request for a retrial, citing the DNA tests as inconclusive.

(Interestingly, Terry Hobbs and John Mark Byers had all their teeth removed in the mid-nineties before police were able to compare bite marks to those found on the victims. Both men said they suffered from periodontal disease.  

Denis Riordan. Defense lawyer. 2010
Echols' defense lawyers, refusing to cede the case, appeals Judge Burnett's ruling to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which agrees to hear arguments in the case.

The court convenes on September 30, 2010, more than two years after the papers seeking a retrial had been filed.

Five days later, after hearing all the arguments, the Arkansas Supreme Court finally grants the West Memphis Three an evidentiary hearing in which all new evidence could be presented to the court.

And then something very strange happens. After 18 years and 78 days incarceration, the West Memphis Three are called to appear before an unexpected circuit court session - four months prior to the scheduled evidentiary hearing.

Rather than wait years for a retrial, they enter Alford guilty pleas whilst stating their innocence, in exchange for being sentenced to time served. In other words, the state tells them that the convictions are not being overturned, but plead guilty to these crimes and you walk free - today.

Scott Ellington. Prosecuting Attorney.
After denying eighteen years of appeals, refusing to review new evidence and seemingly hell bent on keeping these three wrongly convicted men incarcerated, why did the state of Arkansas suddenly change tack and go down this particular road? Can any body answer that question?

Well, one man tried. Step forward Mr. Scott Ellington, Prosecuting Attorney, 2nd Judicial District of Arkansas. What follows are his exact words transcribed from the news conference on the day the West Memphis Three were released.

Scott Ellington, "Some are happy, some are sad and some are perplexed. And that's the case at the end of every trial, and it's no different in this case. Guilt or innocence was never on the table. Today's proceedings allow the defendants to have the freedom to say that they're not guilty. But, in fact, they just pled guilty."

(That allows the state of Arkansas to have their cake and eat it. Very Clever, Mister Ellington.)

Question from the media: "Were you concerned about the evidence the defense was going to present at the upcoming evidentiary hearing, including allegations of juror misconduct?

Drawing the short straw...
Scott Ellington: "When the Supreme Court handed down this decision re-opening issues of juror misconduct and all the other matters, and on the basis of new DNA, then that causes some troubles.

(I'll bet it does, Mister Ellington)

And this Judge was most likely, (yep, Judge Burnett has gone and he can no longer help you) and I mean we would have done the best we could with the evidence, but these defendants could most likely have been acquitted."

Of course they would have been acquitted, Mister Ellington, they were innocent of all charges. That DNA profiling is just so inconvenient at times. It is also hard to string a coherent sentence together under this pressure, isn't it?

And, of course, if they overturn this miscarriage of justice it means paying out tens of millions of dollars in compensation to the three defendants, and the real killers will have to be found. Much, much, easier this way.


18 years and 78 days later...freedom






Are the real Murderers finally uncovered?

In 2013, Billy Wayne Stewart and Bennie Guy sign affidavits detailing the circumstances surrounding the murders of  Christopher Byers, Michael Moore and Steven Branch. While the level of detail is plausible, it does beg the question as to why they wait twenty years to tell their stories. 

And, as of July, 2015, West Memphis PD have shown no interest in the affidavits.

Terry Hobbs and David Jacoby. 1993
What did Billy Wayne Stewart say happened? 

On May 5, 1993, they were driving around West Memphis in Terry Hobbs' truck with David Jacoby, Hobbs' friend and two local teenagers, L.G. Hollingsworth and Buddy Lucas.

(In the days following the murders, Terry Hobbs, stepfather to Steven Branch, is interviewed by detectives and passes a polygraph test. Some years later, DNA profiling links both him and David Jacoby to the murder scene. Police decide it is inconclusive.) 

On the day in question, they are drinking whiskey and smoking pot. It seems that Terry Hobbs is bi-sexual, with a preference for sex with young boys. At some point they reach Robin Hood Hills and Hobbs, Jacoby, Hollingsworth and Lucas go into the woods and engage in homosexual activity. It is at this point that the three boys appear on their bikes. Hobbs shouts, "Get them little fuckers."

Terry Hobbs. 2011
While Jacoby beats one of the boys, Hobbs orders Hollingsworth and Lucas to pull off the boy's pants. Hobbs then cuts the boy's genitals before announcing that the other two boys have to be killed because of what they have seen.

Hobbs and Jacoby kill all three boys. Their clothes and bodies are thrown into the creek, their bicycles dumped in the drainage channel.

Bennie Guy's affidavit tells a similar story with a few added details. Apparently, Terry Hobbs becomes enraged when one of the boys kicks him. Hobbs beats the boy around the head and says,"I'm going to teach your fucking ass."

Guy's account confirms that Terry Hobbs cuts the genitals of one of the boys with a knife before dumping the body in the creek

Bennie Guy also states in his affidavit, that he sent a detailed letter to Prosecutor, Scott Ellington, (yes, that's the same Scott Ellington who can't string a coherent sentence together) explaining the whole scenario. Guy says Mister Ellington never responded.

Is anybody surprised?

And that's it. 4000 words, and still no conclusion. 
Let's hope the perpetrators of this crime burn in hell...in perpetuity.



R.I.P

Christopher, Michael and Steven


 Three tragically unfulfilled lives.

* * *

Information and pictures courtesy of:

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky. (HBO)

www.wm3.org

www.theguardian.com

University of Missouri - Kansas City. www.law2.umkc.edu

The Daily Mail (UK)

Martin David Hill
wwwJivepuppi.com 

Arkansas Judiciary

Arkansas Supreme Court

Office of the Arkansas Attorney-General

West Memphis Police Department





Monday, 9 February 2015

Kevin Lee Green: Semper fidelis*


Sunday, September 30, 1979. Tustin, Orange County, California. 01:05 am. 21-year-old Marine Corporal Kevin Lee Green leaves his home shortly after one o'clock in the morning. He has been arguing with his 20-year-old wife, Dianna, who is in the ninth month of her pregnancy.

This was not the couple's first argument. Tustin police had intervened on several occasions when arguments had escalated to physical confrontations.

On this particular Sunday morning Kevin decides to defuse the situation by going out and getting a couple of burgers from the local Jack in the Box. However, instead of going to the outlet across the street from his apartment, he drives to a Jack in the Box more than fifteen minutes away.

This spur of the moment decision will change his life forever.

At 01:35 am, warm burgers in hand, Kevin arrives back at his apartment. His first concern is that the door to the apartment is ajar. He enters and calls out Dianna's name. The only noise he can hear is what he later describes as a snorting or snoring sound coming from the bedroom. He enters the bedroom to find his wife lying on the bed among a tangle of blood-stained sheets.

Dianna Green had been raped, strangled and hit on the forehead with a blunt object. At first, Kevin thinks his wife has been shot in the head, but it later turns out that the object she was hit with contained a nail or a bolt which caused a bullet-like entry wound to the middle of her forehead.

Kevin checks to see if his wife is still alive. She is. Barely. Police and ambulance arrive within minutes and Dianna is transported to hospital. Doctors detect a faint fetal heartbeat, but Dianna's head injuries are so severe doctors believe that an immediate caesarean section would endanger the lives of both mother and baby. Twenty-four hours later, doctors remove a baby girl from Dianna, but are unable to save her. Dianna lapses into a coma.

Kevin remains by her side.

With very little evidence recovered from the crime scene and no signs of a forced entry to the apartment, police investigators zero in on Kevin Green as the prime suspect. They ask him about the volatile nature of his marriage to Dianna. Had he ever struck his wife during an argument?

Yes. They were both responsible for physical confrontations, but they were now trying to reconcile their differences and Kevin hoped that the arrival of their baby girl would help the marriage recover.

On the night Dianna was attacked did she deny him sex?

Yes. But it wasn't a big issue.

Nevertheless, did they argue about that?

No.

What did they argue about?

Something and nothing. It was just a trivial argument. One of many.

They don't believe him. Police investigators are relentless. The questioning goes on for several hours. They are convinced Kevin brutally attacked his wife after losing control. They think he raped her and then bludgeoned her with a piece of wood. Unfortunately, there is no direct evidence, and the detectives have no other suspects.

The young Marine doesn't realize it, but the circumstantial evidence is piling up against him.

They ask him if he attacked his wife after losing his temper. No, he didn't. Did he rape her? Absolutely not. Kevin remains calm and answers every question thrown at him. Police are becoming frustrated. They believe that he didn't use the local Jack in the Box across the street from his apartment, but chose to drive to one fifteen minutes away to create a timing alibi. Conveniently, they say, he was gone for more than half an hour, rather than the couple of minutes it would have taken to cross the street, thereby giving an "intruder" time to enter the apartment and attack Dianna.

Kevin disagrees. He says he didn't use the local Jack in the Box because the drive through was backed up. He also says that the short drive to the second outlet gave him time to clear his head. He wasn't upset or angry. He was, in fact, quite calm.

Detectives ask Kevin if he knows of anybody else who might be responsible.

No. But he did see a black man in the parking lot close to his apartment around the time he left to get the burgers. He saw the same man about to get into a van when he returned. The man appeared to hide his face as he passed him. Unfortunately, Kevin gives police a generic description that could fit any young black man. Investigating detectives do not believe him, but with no hard evidence they are unable to charge him.

The investigation grinds to a halt.

Several weeks after the attack, Dianna is released from the hospital. Still traumatized, she refuses to return to her apartment and moves in with her parents.

Dianna has sustained severe brain damage which affects her memory. She also struggles to string a sentence together and requires constant medical care, which includes extensive speech therapy sessions.

Despite suffering severe memory loss, just three months into her recovery, Dianna drops a bombshell. She contacts police and tells them she has now remembered what happened the night she was attacked. She tells detectives that she was beaten and raped by her own husband, Kevin.

Police immediately arrest Kevin Green and charge him with assault with a deadly weapon and the second degree murder of his still-born daughter. He is taken into custody, but it will be almost a year before the case comes to trial. Despite accusing her husband of battery and rape, it appears that Dianna is still suffering from amnesia and aphasia - a loss or impairment of the power to use or comprehend words.

Kevin's trial begins on October 2, 1980. The case rests upon the testimony of his wife as the prosecution offers no corroborative evidence. Dianna Green's testimony is almost incoherent and she struggles to spell her own last name for the court record.

Kevin Green's defense team, shocked by Dianna's condition, request that an independent psychiatrist evaluate her mental state.

The request is denied.

Dianna testifies that she and Kevin got into a fight when she refused him sex because of her pregnancy. Neighbors remember hearing the couple fighting on the night of the attack. It is also noted that the couple had heated arguments on numerous occasions during their seven-month marriage. Dianna tells the court that Kevin hit her with a key retractor which caused the blunt trauma injuries to her head, and then he raped her. The prosecution use Dr Martin Brenner, a psychiatrist, to confirm that Dianna Green is a reliable witness.

The prosecution present forensic evidence suggesting that Dianna was brutally raped and produce semen samples found at the scene. Unfortunately, DNA profiling will not become available for another seven years so the sample cannot be used to link anybody to the crime. The only evidence that in any way connects Kevin Green to the crime is his wife's testimony, and it is very persuasive.

The jury deliberates for ten hours, and on November 7, 1980, Kevin Lee Green is found guilty of the second degree murder of his unborn child, the attempted murder of his wife, and assault with a deadly weapon. He is sentenced to 15 years to life.

Kevin is incarcerated in Soledad Prison where he continues to proclaim his innocence. He requests and passes a polygraph test. It makes no difference.

In 1982, two years into his sentence, his appeal reaches the district court. The conviction is affirmed. Kevin petitions the Supreme Court of the State of California but gets no response.

By 1984, knowing he is innocent but with appeals and petitions going nowhere, he is on the brink of suicide. His lowest moment comes when he learns that he is to be dishonorably discharged from the USMC. Discharged Marines are ineligible for any veterans benefits and often encounter difficulty in securing gainful civilian employment. It is the final blow. Kevin remembers the moment he decided to accept his situation. 'I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't keep fighting,' he recalls. 'It dawned on me that I needed to get on with my life.'

He studies computers and earns a degree.

Kevin continues to maintain his innocence, but over the years he becomes a model prisoner. He works as a warden's secretary, giving tours of the prison to college students and organizing Christmas parties. Jerry Smith, spokesman at Soledad Prison said, 'Kevin had a very good rapport with both inmates and staff and it was built on respect,'

In early 1991, after serving eleven years Kevin is eligible for parole. As he refuses to admit guilt, his parole application is refused. In the years that follow, he is denied parole a further three times. His sister tells him, 'If all they want you to say is you did it, go ahead."

Kevin quickly realizes that he is never going to admit to something he didn't do, even if he has to serve out the full sentence. 'I never considered admitting guilt as a possibility.'

In 1996, after serving 16 years, Kevin's luck changes. Detectives from Tustin and Costa Mesa are working on a batch of unsolved murders which go back as far as the seventies. They link the killings and sexual assaults against several women aged between 17 and 31 to a single perpetrator, named as former Marine, Gerald Parker, also know to police as the 'Bludgeon Killer'. With DNA profiling now available detectives discover that the semen sample found at Kevin Green's apartment also matches the DNA of Gerald Parker. They have their man.

Fortunately, Parker is incarcerated in a local prison and detectives quickly set up an interview with him to discuss the twenty murders they have linked to him.

Although confronted with irrefutable evidence, Parker refuses to cooperate until detectives mention the Kevin Green case. Parker tells detectives that as a former Marine himself it has always bothered him that he did this to a fellow Marine.

Apparently, being in the USMC for seven years was the only good thing he ever did in his life. He offers a full confession.

Gerald Parker was the black youth that Kevin Green saw loitering outside the apartment on the night of the attack.

In his testimony to an Orange County Grand Jury, Parker said, 'Out of all the murders and the crimes that I committed over the years that was the one that bothered me the most.'

He is sentenced to death. As of February 9, 2015, he is still on death row awaiting execution. With California suspending capital punishment for an indefinite period, it is more than likely that Gerald Parker will eventually face a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Kevin Green was released on June 6, 1996. Unfortunately, his nightmare still wasn't over. While he was in prison, his former wife, Dianna, sued him for wrongful death and won a multi-million dollar payout.
 
Kevin had the judgement overturned and after receiving $650,000 in compensation, he gave Dianna $50,000 for the legal fees she had incurred whilst suing him.

Despite the DNA evidence and Gerald Parker's confession, Dianna still insists that her husband was in some way involved. While she concedes that he may not have struck the 'final' blow she still says that Kevin raped and beat her that night and got everything he deserved. She also says that if Kevin had not left the door open when he went out none of this would have happened.

For his part, Kevin feels that while he lost sixteen years of his life it was nothing compared to the damage Dianna suffered during this ordeal. She has lost most of her hearing, most of her sense of smell, and has trouble writing or articulating a thought. Despite her continuing animosity towards him, Kevin Green has consistently excused his former wife's attitude, accusations and actions over the years. He understands that she is angry, frustrated and bitter and concedes that she was as much a victim of the system as he was.

One of the first things Kevin did after his release was to visit the grave of his unborn daughter to tell her that he did not kill her.

He moved to Missouri to be closer to his family and has since remarried. In the years since his release he has spent much of his time talking to law classes and criminal justice conventions about his case. He hopes that prosecutors and investigators will focus more on the facts rather than trying to achieve unrealistic targets.

To this day, Kevin Green believes that well-intentioned family members and investigators planted suspicions in his ex-wife's head. It was these false memories that cost him sixteen years of his life.




Dianna D'Aiello and Kevin Lee Green

Victims of the system


  
Information and pictures courtesy of:


www.innocenceproject.org

On the case with Paula Zahn: 'Painful Memories'

www.exonerated.org

www.crimemagazine.com

www.fbi.org/

Los Angeles Times

Tustin Police Department



*Semper fidelis 

(Always faithful)
Motto of United States Marine Corp




Friday, 16 January 2015

JFK: The Final Twist.


Warning: This article contains extremely graphic details and photographs of gunshot wounds.


Friday, November 22, 1963. Dallas, Texas. 12:29 pm. Everybody hears the first shot, but most of the onlookers watching the Presidential motorcade moving sedately along Dealey Plaza assume a firecracker has been thrown or a car has backfired.

Immediately after the shot, the President raises his right hand to his face and leans forward in his seat, his head tilted slightly to the left. He looks shocked. Jackie Kennedy glances across at her husband. Four seconds after the first shot there is no mistaking the sound of a second gunshot. The President grasps his throat and slumps forward in his seat.

Just 1.6 seconds later, captured with horrifying clarity in both sound and vision, a third shot blasts away the right side of President Kennedy's skull. Jackie Kennedy, in a state of abject panic, clambers out of her seat and scrambles across the trunk of the limousine towards Secret Service agent Clint Hill, who has jumped from one of the following cars and is now standing on the rear fender. He urges the first lady to get back in her seat, which she does.

The President's car speeds away and disappears through the triple underpass at the western perimeter of Dealey Plaza. Time appears to stand still. John F. Kennedy is fatally wounded and Texas Governor John Connally is seriously wounded. Half an hour later, at 1:00 pm, the Parkland Hospital issues a statement confirming President Kennedy's death.

Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested at 1:45 pm inside a movie theater and charged with the murders of President Kennedy and Dallas police officer, J.D.Tippet, who was shot four times while trying to question Oswald.

At 2:07 pm, in contravention of Texas law, the President's body is taken from Parkland Hospital by Secret Service agents and driven to Air Force One. The body is removed before a forensic examination can be conducted by the Dallas County Coroner, Earl Rose, who has jurisdiction. At 2:38 pm Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson takes the Presidential Oath of Office on board Air Force One just before it departs from Dallas Love Field airport.

Two days later, Jack Ruby, a Dallas night club owner, shoots and kills Lee Harvey Oswald in an underground car park while he is being transferred to Dallas County Jail.

Ruby is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. After his arrest Jack Ruby tells several witnesses that he shot Oswald to help the City of Dallas redeem itself.

But it is later revealed that he also wrote a note to his attorney, Joesph Tonahill, saying, "I was told to say that I shot Oswald so that Caroline and Mrs. Kennedy wouldn't have to come to Dallas to testify." After four years on death row, Jack Ruby is granted a retrial after an appeal. With impeccable timing, he suffers a pulmonary embolism and dies before he can be retried.

With the nation in mourning, President John F. Kennedy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery on November 25, 1963.

Four days later, on November 29, 1963, President Johnson sets up 'The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy', also known as 'The Warren Commission'.

The 889-page report is presented to President Johnson on September 24, 1964. It concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President Kennedy and wounding Texas Governor John Connally and that Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald two days later.

The Commission's findings prove to be controversial.

Public opinion polls consistently show that a majority of Americans believe there was a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. However, Gallup polls also find that 30% of the population believe that Oswald acted alone.

The truth is that many people do not know what to believe. In 2013, it was estimated that during the fifty years since that fateful November day in Dallas, a total of 42 groups, 82 assassins, and 214 people have been accused in John F. Kennedy conspiracy theories.

How can a crime witnessed by hundreds of people at the scene, filmed by at least thirty of them, watched by billions on television and more documented than any other assassination in history remain so unresolved?

Maybe because what happened was too obvious, and everybody missed it.

Has the answer to this mystery been staring us in the face all the time? Is the answer to who shot JFK so absurdly uncomplicated that it has just been overlooked in the rush to blame the CIA, the Russians, the Mafia and even Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro?

Let's start with the man who pulled the trigger. Lee Harvey Oswald. A former U.S. Marine who defected to the Soviet Union in 1959. Disillusioned, he returned to the United States in June 1962.

Like all Marines he was taught how to shoot. Despite being court-martialed twice he scored above average with a rifle and was eventually designated a marksman.

In March 1963, Oswald purchased a mail order 6.5 mm Carcano Model 91/38 bolt action carbine with a 4 x scope. Introduced into the Italian army in 1891, the Carcano had a poor service record, being unreliable and inaccurate. It was not the weapon a would-be assassin would normally choose.

So, the only way to discover the truth is to ask questions. The first question is simple: Using an obsolete, bolt action army surplus rifle, could Oswald have fired three shots in 5.6 seconds?

The answer is yes, it is possible. In 1967 CBS recreated Dealey Plaza. They placed eleven marksmen in a tower. A target, positioned at the same distance and same height as the President's limousine, moved away from them at 11 mph. All the marksmen were able to fire three shots in 5.6 seconds, but only one of them hit the target, and that was on his third attempt.

Jackie Kennedy later stated that after the first shot the President raised his right arm and said, "I've been hit." If he was still able to speak at that time then it wasn't the first shot that went through his throat and severed his larynx and windpipe, it was the second. It has been suggested that the first shot hit the sidewalk causing a small piece of stone to fly up and hit the President. Witnesses said they saw sparks on the sidewalk and assumed it was a firecracker.

Virgie Rachley made the following statement:

Warren Commission Vol II, Page 509
July 22, 1964.
'I thought it was a firecracker. It looked just like it. You could see sparks from it.'


Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman, riding in the front seat of the Presidential limousine, made the following statement:
  Warren Commission Vol II, Page 73
  March 9, 1964
'There was a report like a firecracker. Pop. As I turned my head to the right to see whatever it was, I believe it was the President who said 'My God, I'm hit.' I turned around and he had his right hand up to his throat.'

That was the first shot.

The second shot passed through the base of the President neck, exited below his Adam's apple and struck Governor Connally below his right arm pit, shattering four inches of his right rib, exiting under the right nipple before passing through his right wrist and lodging two inches deep into his left thigh.

The only bullet capable of doing that is a full metal jacket. It is a bullet used in combat and it ensures that if a soldier is wounded it will pass through his body, giving him a higher survival rate.

Oswald's Carcano rifle was loaded with 6.5 mm full metal jacket bullets.

Governor John Connally made the following statement:
'I am convinced beyond any doubt that I was not struck by the first bullet. I know that I heard the first shot, that I turned to my right to see what was happening. Seeing nothing, I was in the process of turning to my left when I was struck by a second shot. The third shot struck the President but did not strike me. As I said earlier, this testimony was presented to the Warren Commission, but they chose to disagree with my interpretation and my memory of what had occurred.'

Question. Why did the third shot do so much damage? It hit the President in the back of his head, and instead of passing through as you might expect a full metal jacket bullet to do, it exploded outwards - something that particular bullet would not do.

Why did that third bullet behave so differently?

Was it because the first two were full metal jackets and the third a hollow-point that exploded on impact, leaving a gaping wound on the right side of the President's head? If so, who fired the third shot? It could not have come from the infamous 'Grassy Knoll' area to the right of the limousine because a shot from that direction would have shattered the left side of the President's head. It didn't come from the far side of Dealey Plaza because the First Lady was blocking that line of fire.

One possible answer is that the hollow point bullet which did so much damage was fired from a position behind the President.

There is also something interesting about the timing of each shot. The time between the  first and second shot is four seconds. After the first shot Oswald has to pull the bolt back, reload, take aim and fire. Four seconds is probably about right for a man high on adrenalin and nervous energy. The anomaly is that the third shot follows just 1.6 seconds later, far too quickly for Oswald to have reloaded, aimed and fired - and, the third shot sounds different. Watch the piece of footage below and listen for the gunshots.

video



Question. How many shots did Oswald fire?

Three spent 6.5 mm Cacano shells were found at Oswald's sniper position in the book depository. One of the three casings was found away from the other two.

The single casing was dented which suggests that it may have been used as a chamber plug. This stops moisture and grit getting into the chamber, a trick that was often used by combat soldiers on the battlefield. Did Oswald eject this chamber plug before taking up his firing position?

If so, then he only fired two shots.

One piece of evidence that strengthens the suggestion that Lee Harvey Oswald did not fire the third shot comes from another page of the Warren Commission report.

Warren Commission Vol II, Page 352
March 16, 1964.
Bethesda Naval Hospital autopsy report: 'The bullet entrance wound is 6 mm. Bullet tunnels through President's head for 15 mm before fragmenting.'


A bullet wound in the skull always makes a hole bigger than the diameter of the bullet. Oswald's Carcano bullets are 6.5 mm in diameter.

If the shot came from Oswald's gun the entrance wound in the President's skull would have to be at least that diameter or bigger.

It is impossible for the bullet that created a 6 mm entrance wound to have come from Oswald's Cacano. So where did it come from?

Howard Donahue, a ballistics expert, spent twenty-five years researching the John F. Kennedy assassination, chronicled in Bonar Menninger's book, 'Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK.' Donahue discovered that the trajectory of the third shot did not emanate from the 6th floor of the book depository. The trajectory of the fatal shot led back to the Secret Service follow up car behind the Presidential limousine.

Donahue wrote to the Secret Service requesting the names of the agents riding in the follow up car, the weapons they were carrying and the calibers. The Secret Service replied that they didn't disclose such information, other than that agents carried .38 revolvers.

The letter also added that Secret Service agents fired no shots at that time. Donahue thought that final comment a strange response to a question he hadn't asked.

Question. Is it possible that the third shot was fired accidentally by a Secret Service agent riding in the follow up car?

Of course, anything is possible, but this is not just a stab in the dark. Ten different witnesses smelled gun powder shortly after the third shot. Dallas patrolman Earl Brown was standing at a railway bridge overlooking Dealey Plaza.

He made the following statement.

Warren Commission Vol VI page 233
April 7, 1964
'I heard the shots then I smelled this gun powder come on a couple of minutes later or so. At least, it smelled like it to me.'

Question. With a 15 mph wind blowing towards the book depository where did the smell of gunpowder come from?

Dallas Mayor, Earle Cabell and his wife Elizabeth were sitting in a convertible four cars back from the Presidential limousine. Elizabeth Cabell made the following statement:

Warren Commission Vol VII, Page 486
July 13, 1964
'Well, I turned around to say to Earle that was a shot. Just as soon as I got the words out two second shots rang out. I was acutely aware of an odor of gun powder.'

Senator Ralph W. Yarborough was traveling with Vice President Lydon B. Johnson in a car directly behind the Secret Service follow up car. Yarborough is a war veteran with over fifty years experience with firearms. He made the following statement in an interview with the Dallas Times Herald, March 28, 1975.
'I knew there were rifle shots and there were three of them. A second or two later I smelled gun powder. I always found that strange because being familiar with firearms I could never see how I could smell the powder from a rifle in that high building. You don't smell powder unless you are upwind of it and it blows in your face.'

Question. Did anybody see a Secret Service agent in the follow up car holding a gun? Remember the Secret Service response to Howard Donahue's letter? The Secret Service categorically stated that agents were armed with .38 revolvers. There was no mention of agents carrying rifles.

The Secret Service follow up car behind the Presidential limousine

The weapon being held by the Secret Service agent in this photograph is an AR-15 assault rifle. It was taken seconds after the third shot. The motorcade, still on Dealey Plaza, is now racing toward Parkland Hospital.

22-year-old Hugh Betsna was standing in Dealey Plaza taking photographs as the motorcade passed. He gave a statement to the Dallas Sheriff's department later that day, November 22, 1963. It was entered into the record of the Warren Commission.

Warren Commission Vol XXIV, Page 200
Exhibit 2003
'I heard at least two shots fired. I also saw a man in either the President's car or the car behind his pull out what looked like a rifle.'

Senator Ralph Yarborough also testified that he saw a Secret Service agent in the follow up car pull out a rifle.

Warren Commission Vol VIII, Page 439
July 10, 1964
'I heard three shots, no more. All seemed to come from the right rear. Some of the Secret Service men looked backward and to the right in the general direction where the explosion seemed to come from. One of the Secret Service men sitting in the car in front of us pulled out an automatic rifle. He looked backward.'

Secret Service agent George Hickey holding an AR-15 assault rifle

Senator Ralph Yarborough asked one of the most telling questions of all. If a Secret Service agent was seen waving an assault rifle around at the the exact time of the shooting why did the Warren Commission never investigate this particular sequence of events?

Question. What might have happened?

Agent George Hickey hears the first shot, reaches down and picks up the AR-15 from the floor of the follow up car and flicks the safety off. As the the second shot hits the President and the car jerks forward, the gun accidentally discharges, tragically hitting the President in the back of the head.

What agent George Hickey said about the incident.

Warren Commission Vol. XVIII, Page 763
Nov 30, 1963
'I reached to the bottom of the car and picked up the AR-15 rifle. Cocked and loaded it, stood part way up in the car.'

What agent Roy Kellerman said.

Warren Commission Vol. II, Page 69
March 9, 1964
'We have an AR-15. It's out of the case, laying on the floor. She is ready to go.'

These two statements are contradictory. Either the gun was cocked and loaded and ready to go, or it wasn't. Which one is the truth?

What agent Winston Lawson said.

Warren Commission Vol. IV, Page 353
April 23, 1964
'I also noticed right after the reports an agent standing up with an automatic rifle in his hand. And the first thing that flashed through my mind was that he had fired, because this was the only weapon I had seen up to that point.'

Question. What happens next?

The Presidential limousine and the Secret Service follow up car arrive at Parkland Hospital at 12:36 pm. County medical Examiner, Earl Rose, tells Senior Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman that as this is a homicide Texas law requires that an autopsy be preformed before the body can be shipped out of the state.

Despite Rose's protests, agent Roy Kellerman insists that any autopsy on President Kennedy will be carried out in Washington. Flaunting all legal protocols, the President's body is flown out of Dallas Love Field Airport en route to Washington. The time is 2:38 pm.

Question. Why did the Secret Service not want Earl Rose to conduct an autopsy?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to that. What is known is that the autopsy carried out at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland descends into farce. Representatives from the three armed forces and the FBI crowd into the small autopsy room. There are also reporters and photographers present. Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman appears to take charge.

Despite the fact that a President had been assassinated, this autopsy formed part of a homicide inquiry and a cause of death should have been established. Bullets should have been matched to the neck and head wounds. Blood stained clothing from the First Lady and Secret Service agents in the line of fire, particularly George Hickey, should have been sent for forensic examination. All exhibits should have been bagged and labeled. None of these normal forensic procedures happened.

Agent Roy Kellerman took possession of all photographs, x-rays and pathology slides and none of these items were ever seen again.

The most damning piece of evidence should have been President Kennedy's brain. Forensic examination might have revealed the size and type of bullet that caused a 130 mm hole in the President's skull.  

Unfortunately, if any forensic evidence was uncovered it was never revealed because John F. Kennedy's brain simply disappeared.

It has been suggested that Robert Kennedy asked for his brother's brain, but he never received it. Nobody, even to this day, appears to know where it is. An inquiry ordered by President Bill Clinton in the late 90's into John F. Kennedy's death revealed that all Secret Service records pertaining to the assassination had either been destroyed or misplaced.

Secret Service agent George Hickey was a dedicated man who served his country by putting himself in the line of fire. If the sequence of events described above is anywhere near the truth then it was a tragic accident. As Richard Nixon discovered, it's not the deed that shames the devil, it is the cover up that follows.

The American people deserve to know the truth, but it is unlikely they ever will. Secret Service agent George Hickey died in 2005.


(May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963)
Rest in Peace, Mister President.




Information and pictures courtesy of:

JFK: The Smoking Gun (Cordell Jigsaw Productions)

The Warren Report

United States National Archives and Records Administration

United States Government Documents - Internet Archive

www.jfklibrary.org

www.fbi.gov/

www.secretservice.gov/

Wikipedia

Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK
by
Bonar Menninger


JFK: The Smoking Gun
by
Colin McLaren