In 2002, Jeff Havard was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in Mississippi for the sexual assault and murder of his girlfriend’s six-month-old daughter, Chloe Britt. The truth about this case is clear. Chloe slipped from Jeff’s arms while lifting her from a tub after a bath, causing her head to hit a nearby toilet. New expert evidence supports Jeff’s claims. Chloe’s death was a tragic accident, not a murder. Jeff Havard is innocent.
In May of 2016, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered an evidentiary hearing for Jeff’s case based on defense claims of new evidence due to changes in the science behind Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS).
Unfortunately, the court limited the scope of the hearing to SBS, which barred the defense from addressing the now fully debunked charge of sexual assault. The evidentiary hearing took place in August of 2017, in the courtroom of Adams County Circuit Judge, Forrest Johnson. Johnson is the same judge who presided over Jeff’s trial in 2002.
Jeff’s evidentiary hearing took three days. The judge listened to testimony from four experts who testified for the defense and heard testimony from a pediatrician who testified for the prosecution. The hearing, which was limited to a single topic, and provided no immediate decision, took one day longer than the entire trial that landed Jeff on death row in 2002.
Judge Johnson waited over sixteen months to rule on the evidentiary hearing. Johnson’s report sided with the state. The report, which was less than five pages in length, made it clear that Johnson had put his own best interests ahead of his duties as a judge. Johnson lazily copied most of his skimpy ruling directly from previously written decisions. In doing so, he completely ignored compelling expert evidence presented to the court. Instead of taking new evidence into account, Johnson recycled provably false allegations that have been parroted by the state for years.
In a weak attempt to show impartiality, Johnson ordered that Jeff be resentenced in front of a jury, rather than reinstating Jeff’s previous sentence of death. Why would Johnson do that if he truly felt Jeff was guilty of raping and murdering an infant? Johnson’s ruling suggests that he was moved by the powerful evidence proving Jeff’s innocence, but he lacked the courage to do what was right. Johnson’s decision was self-serving because it was favorable to the state. The jury at the resentencing hearing only had two options to choose from; the death penalty or life in prison without parole. The state wanted this case to go away in a hurry. Locking up Jeff for life and forgetting about him worked just fine for the state of Mississippi.
On December 18, 2018, Jeff was resentenced to life without parole. Jeff is now off of death row, but his fight is far from over. In September of 2019, Jeff’s defense team took their case back to the Mississippi Supreme Court arguing that the Adam’s County Circuit Court errored by not granting Jeff a new trial based on newly discovered evidence that would dramatically alter the outcome if the case was tried again before a jury.
The state responded to the defense arguments on January 19, 2020. Jeff’s defense team then responded to the state’s response on April 15, 2020. Unfortunately, this is how slowly the system works. It has been nearly three years since Jeff’s evidentiary hearing, and the Mississippi Supreme Court has not yet weighed in on the ruling of the Adam’s County Circuit Court.
The April 2020 response from Jeff’s defense team is powerful. It completely dismantles the arguments and delay tactics put forth by the state. Jeff’s defense shows in detail that the newly discovered evidence would have most certainly changed the outcome of Jeff’s trial. They also provide solid legal arguments to show that the new evidence is not barred by time as argued by the state. The primary argument being made by the state is that Jeff can no longer fight for his innocence because all arguments are barred by time. The state is doing nothing to present factual information. Their strategy is to block any and all new evidence that can prove Jeff’s innocence. Their position is outrageous and should be condemned.
Jeff’s defense team does an outstanding job of showing what a jury would hear today compared to what the jury heard at Jeff’s trial in 2002. They present the information in an easy to read table detailing how striking the new evidence is.
You can learn more about Jeff’s appeal by listening to the latest Injustice Anywhere Podcast. In this podcast, we hear from Jeff’s dear friend and advocate Lori Howard about the latest court filing. We also hear about Jeff’s current living conditions, and information is provided to Jeff’s supporters on how they can help Jeff as he waits for the Mississippi Supreme Court to rule on his case.
Listen to the latest podcast on Spreaker.
Learn more about Jeff’s case at FreeJeffreyHavard.org.
Keep up to date with current events on Facebook.
Support Jeff by donating to Jeff’s canteen and phone account through Paypal using this email address: Myloridarlin66@gmail.com.
You can also support Jeff by participating in Jeff’s letter-writing campaign to the Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch: https://www.facebook.com/events/2527072554290043/