Thursday, September 14, 2006

When should DNA evidence not count?

When the accused Texas black man was having an affair with the victim and this evidence is not brought up by his court appointed attorney!

Rodney Reed was having an affair with a young white woman, Stacey Stites. She was living with a former police officer - Jimmy Fennel. When she was murdered the former police officer was the prime suspect but during the investigation, by his former fellow officers, Rodney Reed became the accused. Jimmy Fennell failed two polygraph tests but hey, a black man was available. Reed was convicted after a trial in which the court appointed lawyer offered no alibis and no defense. There is a film about this case. Rodney Reed is on death row awaiting execution.

A major problem with the death penalty in Texas is the system of court appointed attorneys. Judges appoint attorneys for all cases in their courts who will work cheap and fast, not those who will defend their clients. They were appointing attorneys as favors or appointed those who donate to their campaigns or to their parties. After complaints for years, now the law requires that for non-capital cases a defendent gets the next available lawyer from a list. The list is any lawyer who wants to work for low pay.

There is another prisoner serving a life sentence who also had a court appointed lawyer who called no witnesses. Looks like he is innocent too but there has been no change since a couple of newspaper stories last year. Bob Ray Sanders at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that nothing has changed. Why?
You see, in Texas, once a defendant is found guilty by a jury, innocence really doesn't matter. Only the conviction counts.

Besides, who in any police department, district attorney's office or judge's chamber is ever willing to admit a mistake?
When will they let a black guy go unless forced to?

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