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Endorsed Case: David Thorne

David Thorne

David Thorne was convicted in January of 2000, and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, for allegedly hiring an acquaintance to kill his son’s mother, Yvonne Layne, in March of 1999.

David Thorne has proclaimed his innocence from day one, and evidence clearly shows that he was falsely arrested and wrongfully convicted. Continue reading about this compelling case on the Free David Thorne website →

 


After Seventeen Years David Thorne Continues To Wait For Justice

This article was written by Bruce Fischer on January 17, 2017. Originally published on Wrongful Conviction News.

David Thorne was convicted on January 25, 2000, and sentenced to life without parole in Ohio, for allegedly hiring an acquaintance to kill his son’s mother Yvonne Layne in 1999. The problem is that evidence clearly shows that David Thorne is an innocent man.

The appeals system in the United States operates at an incredibly slow pace, making it difficult to correct a wrongful conviction no matter how strong the case for innocence may be. And, as seen in Thorne’s case, the system often fails to recognize wrongful convictions even when presented with overwhelming evidence of innocence. As a result, an estimated 100,000 innocent people remain in our prisons today, all but forgotten by society.

Thorne has proclaimed his innocence from the beginning, and evidence has come forward since his trial showing that egregious misconduct took place during the investigation and prosecution of his case. Investigators displayed a bad case of tunnel vision by failing to pursue other possible suspects. They also obtained a coerced false confession from a young man with a cognitive deficiency, who not only implicated himself but also implicated Thorne. The prosecution furthered the misconduct by withholding exculpatory witness evidence from the defense which could have greatly benefited their case. Sadly, two innocent people are now in prison, while the perpetrator remains free.

Thorne, who has an iron-clad alibi, was implicated by a mentally and emotionally impaired man named Joseph Wilkes. After being interrogated and threatened with the death penalty, Wilkes told his interrogators that he was hired by Thorne to commit the murder. The problem was that Wilkes was unable to provide accurate details of the crime scene. Forensic Scientist Brent Turvey analyzed the case for Thorne’s defense during his appeals. According to Turvey, Wilkes got every detail of the crime wrong, except the type of weapon used. Shockingly, the jury bought the flawed confession, despite its glaring inconsistencies, putting Wilkes and Thorne in prison for the rest of their lives. Wilkes has since recanted his confession and implication of Thorne, stating that he recited everything the police told him because he was fearful of being put to death.

Brady Rule

Cornell University Law School: “The Brady Rule, named for Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), requires prosecutors to disclose materially exculpatory evidence in the government’s possession to the defense. “Brady material” or evidence the prosecutor is required to disclose under this rule includes any evidence favorable to the accused– evidence that goes towards negating a defendant’s guilt, that would reduce a defendant’s potential sentence, or evidence going to the credibility of a witness.”

In addition to obtaining a completely unreliable confession from Joseph Wilkes, the prosecution also committed a blatant Brady violation. During their investigation, police interviewed a man named George Hale. Hale lived in the neighborhood where the murder took place. The morning after the murder occurred, Hale witnessed a man walk out of Layne’s home carrying a garbage bag. Hale approached the police to tell them what he had seen. This led police to present Hale with a photo lineup of possible suspects. During the first photo lineup session, which did not include a photograph of Thorne, Hale picked a police officer out of the lineup. This may seem like an honest error on the surface, but it’s far more suspicious when looking at the troubled history Layne may have had with local law enforcement.

After Thorne’s photograph was taken by police, Hale was called back in for a second photo lineup. This time, the lineup did include Thorne, but Hale failed to pick Thorne out of the lineup. After Joseph Wilkes was arrested, police never considered having Hale come in a third time to view a possible lineup including Wilkes. Why? Their entire case was built on the theory that Wilkes was hired to commit the crime. Wouldn’t it have been wise for investigators to see if Hale recognized Wilkes as the man leaving the scene of the crime?

The prosecution never told the defense that Hale identified a police officer in the first lineup. Why is this important? According to Turvey’s report, a police officer may have been pressuring Layne into providing sexual favors. According to Turvey: “Alliance Police Officer Quintin Artis had issued Yvonne Layne a summons prior to her death. He took her driver’s license and returned it at a later date while apparently off duty. It has been stated by various witnesses that Yvonne Layne claimed that Officer Artis wanted sexual favors in return for the license. This does not appear to have been investigated.”

Layne, according to various witnesses, was having trouble with a police officer. A witness who saw a man leaving the scene of the crime identified a police officer in a photo lineup. This information is certainly exculpatory and should have been given to the defense. The information is also disturbing in light of the fact that police stopped pursuing Hale as a witness after he identified a police officer in a lineup, all while failing to identify Thorne.

Tunnel Vision

Yvonne Layne’s lifestyle may have led her to have relationships with unsavory people. Turvey’s report suggests that Layne may have been working as a prostitute. According to Turvey: “There were many opened and unopened packs of condoms lying in plain sight in Yvonne Layne’s bedroom area. This should have clued investigators into the possibility that this victim may have been engaging in prostitution. There is, in fact, little investigation into the victim’s background at all. If the victim were engaged in prostitution, this would put her at extremely high risk for suffering injury or death related to criminal activity. It would also dramatically increase the suspect pool in this case.”

Investigators failed to properly investigate the murder of Yvonne Layne. Any possible link to a police officer possibly being a suspect was hidden away, never to be looked at again. And Layne’s background was all but ignored. A proper investigation would have worked to exhaust all leads, which obviously did not happen in this case.

I have written about this case in the past, and much of the information in this article can be read in my previous articles. I will continue to highlight this case until justice is served. The fact that David Thorne sits in prison as an innocent man will not change. There is not one shred of evidence to show that Thorne had anything whatsoever to do with the murder of Yvonne Layne.

Unfortunately, Thorne has exhausted his appeals leaving him with few options. He is now seeking the help of a lawyer (who is willing to work pro bono) to file a request to have the DNA tested in his case. There are several key pieces of evidence that have never been fully investigated. The items include a bloody footprint on the victim’s back, blood on the victim’s pillow from the murder weapon, a large knife bearing an unidentified thumbprint, and two ashtrays containing two different brands of cigarettes. DNA evidence from the crime scene will certainly not point to Thorne or Wilkes, because they were not there, but the evidence may very well lead to the actual perpetrator.

David Thorne has now been incarcerated for 17 years for a crime he did not commit. Please visit The Wrongful Conviction of David Thorne to learn more about this case.

You can also keep up to date with the case by visiting the Free David Thorne Facebook page.

Featured Case: Charles Erickson

Please visit the Injustice Anywhere Free Charles Erickson website to view extensive analysis, court transcripts, and to keep up to date with recent updates on this compelling case.

Charles Erickson and Ryan Ferguson were wrongfully convicted in 2005 for the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt in Missouri. There were no witnesses, no physical evidence, no DNA, no motive, in fact nothing tying either of them to the crime. 

Thankfully, Ryan Ferguson is now rightfully a free man. Unfortunately, Charles Erickson remains wrongfully convicted and is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in Missouri for the murder of Kent Heitholt. Anyone that supports Ryan Ferguson should support the release of Charles Erickson.

Charles Erickson had absolutely nothing to do with the murder of Kent Heitholt. It is understandable that many of Ryan’s supporters may feel that Charles bears some responsibility for Ryan’s wrongful conviction. People really need to take the time to learn about false confessions before passing judgment. The police are responsible for extracting a false confession out of a young man that was in no position to give a proper statement. Charles must not be held accountable for the egregious misconduct of the police investigating the Heitholt murder. Charles must not continue to be punished for a murder he did not commit. The Heitholt family deserves justice. The continued incarceration of Charles Erickson brings no justice and no real closure for the family of the victim.

Case Updates

December 17, 2018: Charles Erickson seeks release from prison in Heitholt homicide

Media Coverage Update: Supporters For The Wrongfully Convicted Gather At Columbia Missouri’s Earth Day 2016 Festival

MAY 15, 2017: Court Junkie PodcastCharles Erickson and The Murder of Kent Heitholt

March 10, 2016, Charles Erickson to appeal conviction in 2001 killing

Website

Injustice Anywhere launched FreeCharlesErickson.org in 2014. The website was created to help bring a better understanding to Charles Erickson’s case. It is now blatantly obvious that Charles Erickson had absolutely nothing to do with the murder of Kent Heitholt. This case continues to highlight the terribly flawed Missouri justice system. It is time for the nonsense to end.

Social Media

Supporters of Charles Erickson have created a Facebook cause page to help bring more attention to his case. Please visit the Charles Erickson Facebook page to learn more about this case and to keep up with current events.

www.facebook.com/FreeCharlesErickson

Successful Case: Debra Jean Milke

Debra Jean Milke

“The trial itself was a miscarriage of justice, but the appeals process to which I am entitled proved even more alarming”

“I’m not a guilty person looking for a legal loophole. I’m an innocent person looking for justice.”  

Arizona Supreme Court declines review of appeal that freed Debra Milke

Arizona Supreme Court refuses to let Maricopa County retry Debra Milke for the 1989 murder of her son, and refuses to compel testimony from a controversial detective. Read More »

Arizona woman released after decades on death row

An Arizona woman who spent more than two decades on death row was released on bond Friday afternoon after a judge ruled there’s no direct evidence linking her to the death of her young son. Debra Milke walked out of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s jail after supporters posted $250,000 bond. Read More »

Get the Facts

Debra Milke Case Overview

Debra Milke News Articles

Debra Milke You Tube Channel

Debra Milke Downloadable Documents

Case Introduction

Written by Douglas Matthews

On Saturday, December 2, 1989, Christopher Milke, Debra Milke’s 4 year old son, was shot to death in the desert, in an area just North of Phoenix, Arizona. It was a horrible, senseless crime. Despite little to no evidence she had anything to do with Christopher’s death, Debra Milke was convicted of his murder, sentenced to death, and is currently awaiting execution in an Arizona prison. After suffering the ultimate horror of any parent, the murder of her only child, Debra has faced the further trauma of being convicted, jailed for the past 22 years, and sentenced to death for a crime she didn’t commit.

The only evidence against Debra Milke for the murder of her son is a confession that she allegedly gave to Armando Saldate, a detective with the Phoenix police department. After her son’s body was found, Saldate had Debra called in to the Pima County Jail, and interviewed her in a small room with just the two of them present. Debra denies that she ever confessed to Saldate, and no record of the interview exists. Saldate did not record his interrogation of Debra, and claimed later that the notes he took had been destroyed. There was no statement ever signed by Debra, as is normal procedure when the police interview someone in a murder case. Yet Debra Milke was convicted almost exclusively because of the testimony that Armando Saldate gave about what he has claimed took place in that interview room.

In the time leading up to her son’s murder, Debra was sharing an apartment with a friend, a Viet Nam veteran named James Styers. She had been having a series of problems with her ex-husband, Mark Milke, who was also Christopher’s father. Mark was a drug addict and had been in prison, and Debra had gotten a restraining order against Mark so she could have control over when and where he saw Christopher. While working and trying to save up enough money to get a new place to live for her and her son, she moved in with Styers on a temporary basis. It was an arrangement of convenience for both of them – she could have a safe place for Christopher to stay while she was working, and Styers got help with the rent. She was planning to move out after Christmas to her own place with Christopher, but tragedy interjected and that move never took place.

On the day of the murder, James Styers asked Debra if he could use her car to go to the Metro Center Mall to do some shopping. Christopher begged his mother to let him go along, because he wanted to see Santa Claus again. Debra asked James if that was OK, and he agreed to take Christopher to the Mall with him while Debra stayed home to do some chores. Later that afternoon, Styers reported Christopher as a lost child to the mall security, and called Debra, telling her Christopher was missing. To support his story, Styers told the police who had come to investigate that he had a friend, Roger Scott, who had seen him at the mall with Christopher.

Throughout the night police questioned both men, Styers and Scott. Styers was released in the morning hours of that Sunday, whereas suspicions against Scott increased due to his inconsistent statements. When homicide detective Armando Saldate took over that interview at around 1 p.m. he threatened to ransack the apartment of Scott’s elderly mother. Eventually, according to police, Scott admitted that he knew that Christopher was dead and he agreed to show them where the dead body was. Detective Saldate reported that, en route to the murder scene, Scott made the claim that the boy had been killed because Debra Milke wanted it done. The report from another detective, who was driving the car, does not mention any such claim by Scott. James Styers has denied Debra was involved in Christopher’s death, and Roger Scott never accused her in his court testimony. Yet Scott’s alleged statement in that patrol car is what led police to suspect, and ultimately charge, Debra Milke with ordering the murder of her son.

Debra Milke was subsequently arrested, jailed, and charged with Christopher’s murder, with the only real evidence against her being the brief charge by the person who is most likely the actual killer, Roger Scott, and Detective Saldate’s testimony that she “confessed” to being involved. She was subsequently caught up in a whirlwind of crazy media stories, negative public opinion, and what appear to be out and out lies by both the police and prosecutors. Detective Saldate had a court-documented history of tainting confessions, committing perjury under oath, and lying to his supervisors. The prosecutor in Debra’s case has wrongfully convicted two other defendants who were later exonerated by DNA evidence.

With little money, and even less support from most of her family, Debra was stuck with substandard legal representation, and never had a chance at the trial. There were many key details about the case that were never told to her jury that might have affected the verdict. As a result, Debra Milke faces execution in the near future if something is not done.

Additional Resources

Injustice Anywhere: The Death Penalty

Successful Case: Amanda Knox & Raffaele Sollecito

March 27, 2015: Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have been fully exonerated. There will be no more trials. It’s over. 

Please visit our Injustice in Perugia website and our Amanda Knox Case wiki to view extensive analysis, court transcripts, crime scene photographs, videos, and recent updates on this compelling case.

Meredith Kercher was murdered by Rudy Guede in Perugia Italy, November 1st, 2007. Meredith was a beautiful young woman who had her life stolen from her in an act of pure evil. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito had absolutely nothing to do with her murder. They are both innocent.

  • On December 4, 2009, Amanda Knox & Raffaele Sollecito were wrongfully convicted for the murder of Meredith Kercher.
  • On October 3, 2011, Amanda and Raffaele were declared innocent on appeal and were released from prison.
  • On March 26, 2013, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the acquittals and ordered the case back to the appellate level.
  • On January 30, 2014, the appeals court in Florence reinstated the guilty verdicts for Amanda and Raffaele. The court released a motivation document on April 29, 2014, explaining the decision.
  • Amanda and Raffaele appealed the guilty verdicts to the Italian Supreme Court.
  • On March 27, 2015: Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were fully exonerated by the Italian Supreme Court. The case against them is now permanently closed.

Injustice Anywhere Forum

Join the discussion on the Injustice Anywhere Forum

Successful Case: Kirstin Lobato

December 29, 2017: Kirstin Lobato is free. It is finally over. Charges dismissed with prejudice!

17 Years After Being Convicted Of A Grisly Murder In Vegas, Kirstin Lobato Sees Her Charges Dismissed, by Jordan Smith


Kirstin “Blaise” Lobato was convicted in October, 2006, of voluntary manslaughter and sexual penetration of a corpse. There is absolutely no evidence implicating her to the crime and she has a rock solid alibi. The authorities failed to properly investigate this crime leading to a wrongful conviction. The facts of this case clearly show that Kirstin Lobato is innocent.

The Justice4Kirstin Campaign has done an excellent job of presenting the facts of this case on Kirstin’s official website www.justice4kirstin.com. The website contains important court documents, including trial transcripts, and petitions filed by the defense.

December 21, 2017: Kirstin Lobato’s Conviction has been overturned!

Las Vegas Penis Murder Conviction Overturned, by Jordan Smith

Feb 9, 2016: Kirstin Lobato Case Featured On FOX5 News Las Vegas

FOX5 Vegas – KVVU
FOX5 Vegas – KVVU

Get the Facts

Prosecuting Kirstin Lobato

Friends of the Justice4Kirstin Campaign  have created a petition you can sign to show your support for Kirstin. Please sign the petition today.

Important Resources

Recommended Book

“Kirstin Blaise Lobato’s Unreasonable Conviction — Second Edition” is now available in PDF format at no charge on the Justice Denied website at: http://justicedenied.org/books/lobato_conviction_2nd.pdf

Retired DC Attorney Philip J Mause Asks Clark County District Attorney Steven Wolfson About the Case on a Local Radio Program

New Infographic Created By Justice4Kirstin

Please use this link to view and share this infographic picture about Kirstin’s case: http://injusticeanywhere.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/sharethis.jpg

Injustice Anywhere Forum

Join the discussion on the Injustice Anywhere Forum

Featured Case: Nicole “Nyki” Kish

Nyki Kish was convicted on March 1, 2011, of second-degree murder for the stabbing death of Ross Hammond in Toronto, Canada, on August 8, 2007. Kish has steadfastly maintained her innocence since her arrest and there is no credible evidence to justify her conviction.

Get the Facts

Additional Resources


“It is terrifying to be continually punished for this crime I did not commit. And it is damning to have to wonder why every night. I am no murderer and my heart is not selfish. If I was responsible for the death of another human being, I would have never plead not guilty. I would never suffer everyone involved this costly pain. This long, mentally diminishing, emotionally incapacitating process, this is the stuff true nightmares are made of. I did not kill Ross Hammond and I wish I had proven myself innocent beyond a reasonable doubt as I am innocent.”

– Nicole Kish at her sentencing on April 4, 2011

Featured Case: Jamie Snow

Jamie Snow was convicted in 2001 for the 1991 murder of William Little, a gas station attendant in Bloomington, Illinois. Jamie is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in Stateville prison in Joliet, Illinois.

Jamie Snow has proclaimed his innocence from day one. In the years following his conviction, new information has come to light clearly showing that police misconduct and bad lawyering sent the wrong man to prison for William Little’s murder. Jamie Snow is innocent.  Continue reading case overview →


Snow Files Podcast

Presented by Injustice Anywhere. A deep dive into the wrongful conviction of Jamie Snow, and how McLean County got away with it.


Unjust & Unsolved Episode 3: Jamie Snow


Truth & Justice with Rob Ruff

The Jamie Snow case was recently featured on the Truth & Justice podcast with Bob Ruff. Jamie’s case kicked off season seven of the podcast on Sunday, July 14. The Truth & Justice podcast performs independent, in-depth investigations of wrongful conviction cases, with the unique feature of using crowd sourcing, which utilizes their 100k plus followers to elicit expertise in various aspects of each case they present.

Here is the first episode of the series:


Please visit www.FreeJamieSnow.com today. The Committee to Free Jamie Snow has done extensive research on Jamie’s case and continues to work diligently to provide a wealth of information including court documents, videos, and news reports. FreeJamieSnow.com is Jamie’s official website. The site is a vital resource for anyone interested in learning more about the injustice committed against Jamie Snow.


Please Sign our Petition Asking McLean County State’s Attorney Jason Chambers To Allow DNA Testing In The Jamie Snow Case

change.org


Jamie Snow Media Coverage

Jamie Snow News Archive

Additional Resources Provided By the Committee to Free Jamie Snow

If you have information regarding this case, please call the Committee to Free Jamie Snow Tipline: 888-710-SNOW (7669)

Featured Case: Jeffrey Havard

Jeffrey Havard

In 2002, Jeffrey “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. 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. In September of 2018, Jeff’s death penalty sentence was vacated, and a resentencing hearing was ordered. 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.

The truth about this case is clear. Chloe slipped from Jeff’s arms while lifting her from the 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.

Please visit our Free Jeffrey Havard website to view extensive analysis, court transcripts, videos, and recent updates on this compelling case.

What really happened in this case?

On the evening of February 21, 2002, Jeffrey Havard’s live-in girlfriend went to a store to buy groceries, leaving her six-month-old infant, Chloe, in Jeff’s care. Chloe spit up on her clothing and bedding. Jeff gave her a bath, and he accidentally dropped her. Her head struck the toilet.

Chloe did not seem to be seriously injured, so Jeff changed her into clean clothes, put her to bed, and said nothing about what had happened. When the baby’s mother first checked on her that evening, she seemed fine. A short time later, however, she discovered that Chloe did not appear to be breathing. She and Jeff took the baby to a hospital emergency room, where she died after attempts to resuscitate her failed.

There is no question that Jeff exercised bad judgment that night. He should have explained what had happened right away. But he did not want to admit he had dropped the baby, so he said nothing. It was a big mistake. Medical personnel did not know what had triggered the emergency, and they misunderstood what they saw. Serious brain damage often causes a patient’s sphincter muscle to relax, so the anus becomes dilated. That was what happened to Chloe. The doctors and nurses treating the baby thought it meant she had been anally raped.

They were not the first medical professionals to misread this condition. Similar allegations have arisen in enough cases to warrant a systematic study of accidental deaths involving children. Researchers found that anal dilation in such cases is a common phenomenon. It is not an indicator of sexual abuse.

The hospital staff who treated Chloe, and the police who were called in to investigate, did not know this. Jeff was arrested and held in custody. Two days later, when he finally told police what had happened, the late disclosure only served to damage his credibility. By then, authorities believed he had raped and killed an infant.

This was the story that circulated through the community as well. Rumors took on a life of their own, blurring the line between fact and imagination. By the time Jeff was tried, in December 2002, witnesses who had seen the baby at the hospital were recalling injuries that are not shown in photos or recorded in the autopsy report. Defense attorneys did little to challenge these witnesses or explain the medical evidence, which they did not understand themselves. Jeff was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in a proceeding that lasted less than two days.

The jury may have reached the only decision they could, because the trial did not clarify the facts of the medical report or what these facts really mean. Two forensic pathologists examined the medical report after the trial, and both concluded that Chloe’s death was accidental. Her autopsy revealed none of the injuries that would surely be present had she been sexually assaulted. Even the prosecution’s medical expert, Dr. Steven Hayne, has repeatedly stated that the evidence does not support a claim of sexual assault.

Hayne clarified in a 2014 affidavit that he specifically told prosecutors on more than one occasion prior to trial that he could not support a finding a sexual abuse. This information was withheld from the defense, which is a Brady violation.

Most shockingly, the defense learned in January of 2014, 12 years after the conviction, that Hayne had looked at tissue sections under a microscope and found definitively that there was no evidence of sexual assault. In a case where suspicion of sexual assault only arose when ER doctors and nurses noticed what they believed to be physical evidence of sexual abuse. Hayne’s microscopic findings were clearly exculpatory, and would have positively shown that the doctors and nurses had simply misinterpreted what they saw. The state withheld this evidence from the defense as well and failed to tell the doctors and nurses about it before they testified.

Unbelievably, the State chose to ignore Hayne’s findings and prosecute Jeff for murder during the course of a sexual assault.

Prosecutors stood before the Court and told the jury that Dr. Hayne had “confirmed the nurses and doctors worst fear, that this child had been sexually abused.” They knew that Dr. Hayne had done no such thing; in fact, he had done just the opposite. Jeffrey Havard is on death row because the prosecution lied to the jury.

A reasonable jury, presented with the evidence that was illegally withheld from the defense, would have reached a different verdict.

Jeffrey Havard is the first to admit he was guilty of bad judgment on the night Chloe died. He was 22 years old, and he was scared. But he did not commit murder in the course of a sexual assault. He has spent more than a decade on death row, awaiting execution for a crime that never took place.

Unjust & Unsolved Episode 9: Jeffrey Havard

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