Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Inky Reporter Scoops D.A.'s Detectives

The D.A.'s Detectives

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Months ago, our new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, dispatched his crack detectives to find the family of murder victim Antwine Jackson, an 18 year-old man shot to death back in 2007.

Progressive Larry allegedly wanted to tell the Jackson family that as part of his historic reform of the criminal justice system, he was planning to let their loved one's convicted killer out of jail, despite a life sentence, and without having to go through the bother of a new trial.

According to Ben Waxman, the D.A.'s spokesman, in the search for Jackson's family, the D.A.'s gumshoes spared no effort. They knocked on the doors of at least four different addresses, they sent out emails, they even mailed letters to the Jackson family through the usually reliable U.S. Post Office. But for months, despite all those efforts, the Jackson family somehow managed to elude the D.A.'s dragnet.

As a result, when the D.A. went to court last week to let Dontia Patterson, Jackson's convicted killer, out of jail, nobody from the Jackson family was there in front of a judge and a bunch of reporters to speak on behalf of the victim.

Funny how that worked out.

Today, intrepid Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Chris Palmer had a scoop; amazingly, he found Meka Jackson, the murder victim's sister, right outside her Mayfair home.

When reached by email, the modest, mild-mannered reporter accepted Big Trial's congratulations on his scoop. But when asked how on earth he managed to find the victim's sister, Palmer wrote back, "Thanks, but I'll let the story speak for itself."

Meanwhile, according to Palmer's story, Meka Jackson sounded less than convinced that Progressive Larry and his bloodhounds had worked very hard to get in touch with her family.

"If they wanted to hear our side of the story, they could have found us," the victim's sister told Palmer, adding that she felt "disrespected" by the D.A.

Last week, in response to an unopposed motion by the D.A., Common Pleas Court Judge Kathryn Streeter Lewis let Patterson out of jail, after the D.A. claimed the case was "an egregious example of police and prosecutorial misconduct."

Patterson was convicted in 2009 of the broad daylight murder Johnson, outside a corner store on Granite Street, after two eyewitnesses testified against the defendant. The case had been upheld on appeal, and no prosecutorial misconduct had been alleged. But in the motion to dismiss the charges, the D.A.'s office argued that the prosecutors were "completely lacking in integrity" because they supposedly did not disclose evidence about another possible suspect in the murder of Johnson.

In response, a former prosecutor on the case dismissed the D.A.'s charges as "nonsense."

But at the hearing, Anthony Voci, chief of the D.A.'s homicide unit, quoted the Declaration of Independence, and asserted that prosecutors had a duty to ensure that no person in the Commonwealth was improperly denied their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Patterson did a few TV interviews after leaving court.

"They say you are innocent until proven guilty," Patterson told an Action News TV reporter, but he found out "It is the other way around; you're guilty until proven innocent."

"I ain't the only one in this situation," Patterson said. There's "a whole lot of people in my situation."

An official from the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, the group that had lobbied for years for Patterson's release, told the TV reporter that there's "a lot more work to do," because more than 1,000 innocent people are presently locked up in Pennsylvania.

Rest assured, Progressive Larry Krasner may get to all of them.

Patterson was happy to be getting out of jail after being away for 11 years. But Antwine Jackson was not available for comment.

As his sister told reporter Palmer, "We've got to deal with a family member being away for the rest of our lives."


  1. Listen to any defendant, anywhere, and they'll all tell you they're innocent. This is all utter bullshit and Komrade Krasner is complicit in a major atrocity.

  2. What do innocent people say ?

    Your statement has to be the most narrow minded I have ever heard, so everyone that is accused of a crime is guilty , right ? You should never be able to serve on a jury.

  3. Taken from an article in Mother Jones :

    Extrapolating from the 281 known DNA exonerations in the US since the late 1980s, a conservative estimate is that 1 percent of the US prison population, approximately 20,000 people, are falsely convicted.

    In fact, since the late 1980s there have been as many as 850 exonerations nationwide, according to University of Michigan law professor Samuel Gross, a leading researcher in the field. Many of them float under the radar, Gross says, unlike the highly publicized DNA exonerations.

    Listening to Michael Morton, a man from Texas who spent 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife he did not commit, tell the facts of his conviction was chilling. It took the Texas Innocence Project 10 years to get him out of prison. During his trial the prosecutor, who was by then a federal judge hid evidence that would have exonerated Mr. Morton. Had winning not been paramount to this prosecutor another woman would still be alive. The killer had killed another woman in the same fashion. When his egregious behavior was revealed the judge was sentenced to 10 days in prison, he served two days.

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into law The Michael Morton Act , prosecutors are required to turn over to defendants accused of crimes and keep a record of the evidence they disclosed. The act requires disclosure of evidence regardless of its material to guilt or punishment.
    If the Innocence Project took 6 years to get Patterson out of jail, they had more evidence to exonerate him than the prosecution had to convict him. I am siding with the Innocence Project, having watched prosecutors outright lie and invent crimes, I would side with a defendant who maintained his innocence.

  4. Why hasn't the Pennsylvania Innocence Project got involved in the cases of Fr Englehardt and Mr Shero?

  5. The Innocence Project only takes murder cases,they get thousands of requests but can only help a small portion of the number who beg for help. They need donations to help continue their great work, follow the innocenceproject on Instagram or Facebook for updates on their work and new exonerations.

  6. This is from the Innocence Projects website:

    For those of us still coming to terms with how a refulgent blue-and-black dress can appear yellow and gold, 2018’s great yanny vs. laurel debate has exposed that our ears, like our eyes, may also play tricks on us.

    The furor over this latest viral meme arises from a digital audio recording of the word “laurel” that, to a significant number of listeners, actually sounds like an entirely different word, “yanny.” According to sensory perception researchers, a confluence of physical and cognitive factors may be responsible for the disagreements. Bioengineering professor Jody Kreiman explained to the New York Times that the two words possess similar acoustic patterns based on the letters that comprise them. When broadcasted through a distorted recording, the overlap between those vocal patterns creates a sonic ambiguity. Why some of us interpret that uncertainty as gibberish may have as much to do with how our brains work as it does the quality of the recording. Psychologist Elliot Freeman, in the same Times interview, hypothesizes that our individual “ear prints” selectively focus on different aspects of the recording to make sense of the unclear sounds. However, by emphasizing different frequencies within the original recording, we can overcome those unconscious perceptual biases and make the recording sound clearly like either word.

    As the laurel-yanny debate demonstrates, cognitive and perceptual biases often influence how we interpret information. For instance, introducing a visual stimulus—such as an image of someone mouthing a word—can alter how we hear an otherwise unambiguous sound. That phenomenon, known as the McGurk Effect, may also play a role in how we hear the yanny-laurel recording, especially if we are shown the written words while listening to the audio clip.

    In fact, an entire field of research on confirmation bias has shown that humans tend to selectively seek out, interpret, and recall certain information while ignoring other, relevant data. Within the criminal justice system, the consequences of these unconscious biases, when left unchecked, can be disastrous. For example, in over two dozen DNA exoneration cases, unreliable and mistaken voice identifications contributed to a wrongful conviction.

  7. Several studies have also demonstrated how confirmation bias pervades the practice of forensic science, across disciplines as varied as latent fingerprint analysis and forensic anthropology. Last year, Silvon Simmons, a resident of Rochester, New York, faced aggravated attempted murder charges, based almost entirely on a piece of contested forensic evidence. In that case, the prosecution argued that audio recordings by a gunshot detection system known as ShotSpotter could prove their theory of the case by revealing the caliber of the bullets and the number of different firearms expended in the incident. Although no other evidence corroborated the state’s narrative, and despite a lack of any studies demonstrating that the system could be used to identify specific firearms, Mr. Simmons was brought to trial and faced a potential life sentence. In a friend-of-the-court brief, the Innocence Project’s Strategic Litigation Department showed that the ShotSpotter system has a high error rate in identifying gunshot sounds in the first instance. In addition, the brief highlighted how human analysts—who are subjected to the same perceptual biases as anyone trying to parse “yanny” from “laurel”—can override the ShotSpotter system’s determination that a sound was something other than a gunshot. The subjectivity involved in those analysts’ interpretations is especially prone to the dangerous effects of cognitive bias, especially given that analysts may expect, or are told to expect, to hear gunshots.

    Fortunately, Mr. Simmons, who was represented by the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office, was acquitted of the attempted murder charges. The trial court reversed his only conviction stemming from the incident, a weapon possession charge, earlier this year, citing the Innocence Project’s brief and concerns about the ShotSpotter evidence. After all, if there are reasonable doubts among friends about whether our ears hear “yanny” or “laurel,” then a conviction resting on distorted sound evidence is equally suspect.

  8. Palmer's article reported that a Jackson family member did get a letter from the DA's office, months ago, asking that they contact the DA about the case. The family decided not to contact the DA because they were busy with a sick family member.

    I thought investigators found strong evidence that another man was the real murderer but he was killed shortly afterward. That should be some closure for the victim's family.

  9. Rumor has it, that Ralph and Melania have been in hiding together.

    Look out for the next blockbuster which is consuming so much time.

  10. innocenceprojectWhat’s the relationship between jailhouse informant testimony and wrongful convictions? According to Innocence Project legislative strategists, it is a leading cause of wrongful convictions nationally.
    Injustice Watch recently reported on “professional” jailhouse informants, used to elicit confessions in unsolved murder cases in California jails.
    The report focuses on Raymond Cuevas and Jose Paredes, who worked for the Mexican mafia and were facing life sentences until authorities freed them and paid them more than $339,000 to work as “professional” jailhouse informants. They were paid regardless if they succeeded or not.
    Both men were successful in obtaining confessions. Starting in late 2010 or early 2011, police agencies in six California counties used them in approximately 300 undercover jail operations.
    In some instances, the methods Cuevas and Paredes used to elicit a confession were considered illegal in a court of law. Despite the U.S. Supreme Court decision Beecher v. Alabama, which banned the admittance of confessions acquired through “gross coercion” and/or threats of death, court records show that Cuevas and Paredes did sometimes use death threats.
    Michelle Feldman @innocenceproject Legislative Strategist explains, “The promise of benefits creates a strong incentive to lie, and the secretive nature of the jailhouse informant system makes cross-examination and other legal safeguards against unreliable testimony ineffective.”
    There were some instances when Cuevas and Paredes questioned whether the suspect from whom they were obtaining a confession had actually committed the crime. According to Injustice Watch, “How many times that happened is uncertain. But Cuevas and Paredes each testified in 2016 that their work had produced between 40 and 50 cases where they helped establish the innocence of the suspects.” Read more on www.innocenceproject.org

  11. innocenceprojectToday, join us in remembering Levon Brooks on what would have been his 59th birthday. He served 16 years in Mississippi prisons for a 1990 rape and murder he didn't commit. He passed away from cancer in January 2018.
    In 1992, Brooks was wrongfully convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend’s toddler and sentenced to life in prison. That same year, Kennedy Brewer, was also accused of killing his girlfriend’s toddler. He was convicted of capital murder and sent to Mississippi’s death row.
    In both of their trials, medical examiner Steven Hayne used testimony of forensic dentist Michael West to link Brooks and Brewer to the respective crimes. At the time of Brewer’s trial, West was already discredited and became the first member ever to be suspended from the American Board of Forensic Odontology.
    The Innocence Project became involved in Brewer’s case in 2001. DNA test results from the crime scene excluded Brewer as the perpetrator of the crime, and his conviction was overturned. Another round of testing matched the profile of Justin Albert Johnson, a suspect during the initial investigations of both cases. Johnson admitted to committing both murders. Following his confession, Brewer and Brooks were both freed on February 15, 2008.
    In August 2008, just months after the Brewer and Brooks exonerations, the state announced that it was severing all ties with Hayne.


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