Category: Innocence

“Convicted defendants left uninformed of forensic flaws found by Justice Dept.”

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

When you cover and read about this sort of thing everyday, you can sometimes build up a resistance to headlines like the one above.

But I mean holy hell. This ought to be pictchforks-in-the-streets stuff.

Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.

Officials started reviewing the cases in the 1990s after reports that sloppy work by examiners at the FBI lab was producing unreliable forensic evidence in court trials. Instead of releasing those findings, they made them available only to the prosecutors in the affected cases, according to documents and interviews with dozens of officials.

In addition, the Justice Department reviewed only a limited number of cases and focused on the work of one scientist at the FBI lab, despite warnings that problems were far more widespread and could affect potentially thousands of cases in federal, state and local courts.

As a result, hundreds of defendants nationwide remain in prison or on parole for crimes that might merit exoneration, a retrial or a retesting of evidence using DNA because FBI hair and fiber experts may have misidentified them as suspects.

If it isn’t there already, the next sentence should put your chin on the floor.

Justice Department officials said that they met their legal and constitutional obligations when they learned of specific errors, that they alerted prosecutors and were not required to inform defendants directly.

I mean, think about that. Taxpayer-paid employees of the Justice Department had direct and exclusive knowledge that there may be hundreds of innocent people in prison, they knew that flawed forensics in these cases needed to be reviewed, and their justification for not doing more as these people continued to rot in prison was, Hey, we did the bare minimum required of us by law.

The immediately obvious problem here is that the ethical requirements need to be strengthened. If the task force charged with investigating possible wrongful convictions is only required to report what it finds to the prosecutor offices that won those convictions—and who obviously have a strong incentive to keep the new information under wraps—what the hell was the point of forming the task force in the first place? And why keep the task force findings from the public?

But even beyond the problematic ethical requirements, I’m having a hard time fathoming how no one on this task force felt morally compelled to go beyond those requirements—to, you know, actually reach out defense attorneys, or attempt to actually reach the convicts or their families. How in the world can you possess this sort of information, then still sleep at night, year after year, knowing that (a) the information obviously isn’t reaching the people who have an incentive to actually put it to use,  (b) you’re one of the few people who could make that happen, and (c) because the information was only available to select group of people, if you or one of your colleagues doesn’t act, no one else will?

I’m obviously fairly skeptical of government. And the criminal justice system is loaded with bad incentives. But I can’t really even think of what poorly-structured incentive would have prevented the members of this task force from doing more than the bare minimum that was required of them. It isn’t as if they were personally responsible for these mistakes. The mind boggles at the mental firewalls an otherwise decent person would have to construct to know this was happening, and still do nothing to stop it.

More on the Charging Power

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

First from Glenn Reynolds, who throws out one proposal for reform:

That “absolute immunity,” by the way, is entirely a judicial creation and — except, I suppose for absolute judicial immunity — as overweening an example of “judicial activism” as you’ll ever find, though this is seldom noted. If such immunity is to exist, it should be legislatively arrived at, not the product of judicial fiat.

Personally, I think that overcharging should cost prosecutors something. How about this — the state is on the hook for a pro-rata share of defendant’s legal expenses based on the number of offenses charged, but not convicted. Charge with 20 crimes, convict on 2, you pay 90% of the defendant’s legal fees.

Or maybe it should be based on years: Charges adding up to a maximum penalty of 100 years; actual sentence, 1 year. Government pays 99%. What do you think? I think that we need more oversight of prosecutors, and since I have little faith that the legal establishment will provide it, I’m looking for structural ways to give them skin in the game.

I think defendants should definitely be reimbursed for legal fees any time they’re acquitted. Or to be honest, any time they’re charged and never convicted. They should probably be compensated for any time they spent in jail awaiting trial in those cases, too. They certainly should be compensated in cases where there’s both prosecutorial misconduct and there was never a conviction. As I understand it, that’s supposed to be how the federal system works, but it doesn’t usually happen that way.

Absolute Immunity is just insanity. And as Reynolds points out, we only have it by way of SCOTUS fiat, a point it was amusing to see former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement make to Justices Roberts and Alito during oral arguments in the most recent immunity case. At the very least, prosecutors should be subject to civil suits when they actually break the law.

New York criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield, who is probably one the few people more cynical about this stuff than I am, also weighs in with the gloomy but probably observation that even if some reform were to pass, it’s unlikely that it would be enforced. After detailing how the system is supposed to work in theory, Greenfield opines:

The problem with this very nice, very sanitary discussion is that the process doesn’t necessarily happen this way.  Radley attributes this to a need or a higher burden before subjecting a person to the rest of the ride (since courts have refused to do much of anything to eliminate the first 24 hours or so of hell, from arrest to arraignment).  I have little faith in amorphous legal standards to begin with, and am firmly of the view that all the players in the system can ignore a higher standard just as easily as it ignores a lower one.

Not that I have anything against a higher burden before subjecting a person to the nightmare of prosecution, but the fundamental problem with the system as it currently works is that it relies on each of the players faithfully performing the duties of their office.  Until that happens, and happens in every case, the system fails. No standard, no matter how clear or vague, high or low, is going to make a system work when those charged with protecting people from baseless prosecution close their eyes and pass their responsibility down the line.

I think he’s probably right. But if I may be so naive as to posit at least a flickering bright spot in all of this gloom, I do think public opinion on these issues is changing. The great work the Innocence Project is doing to shed light on the problems in the criminal justice system is having an impact. We’ve seen a few cases now where bad prosecutors have been voted out, or at least faced tough reelection challenges. In Colorado, two prosecutors who hid exculpatory evidence in an innocence case had actually gone on to become judges when voters recalled them in the 2010 election. So I think there’s merit in continuing to draw attention to these issues, and to highlight cases that illustrate where the system goes wrong.

But that’s kinda’ what I get paid to do. So grain of salt, and all of that.

Morning Links

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
  • California liberals worry that federal pot raids will make people distrustful of government. Let’s hope so!
  • National Guard Units aiding state drug war efforts. And possibly in defiance of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kyllo.
  • This article on the Otto Zehm killing aptly demonstrates the many problems with police unions.
  • Both Reuters and Walter Olson throw water on the notion that Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws are filling the streets with blood.
  • The sponsors the 1978 California law that substantially expanded the state’s use of the death penalty are now arguing for its repeal.
  • Clark County, Nevada DA won’t charge a cop who was caught on film repeatedly kicking a man in the head. The man was in diabetic shock at the time. The officer has a history of misconduct, which the DA apparently didn’t know about until it was uncovered by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
  • Union claims it should be able to force anyone who wants to work in a particular field to join the union and pay dues, and that it should then be able to use a portion of those dues for political activities. And it claims that preventing it from doing so is a violation of the union’s free speech.
  • How the pun changed world history.

Morning Links

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
  • Here’s a writeup of the talks I and other panelists gave at Ohio University last week.
  • All four telecom firms also offer so-called “tower dumps” that allow police to see the numbers of every user accessing a certain cell tower over a certain time at an hourly rate.”
  • Cop shoots other cop while trying to kill dogs.
  • Chicago police managed to “persuade” a man to confess to two murders that were committed while he was in the custody of Chicago police.
  • Tape captures Alabama public school teachers verbally abusing a student with cerebral palsy.
  • For those of you who, like me, have a thing for photos of abandoned places.
  • (Attempted) puppycide: Woman calls police to report a burglary. Police respond, shoot and kill her dog, don’t catch the burglars.

Morning Links

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

This Week in Innocence

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

After imprisoning a man 17 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Washington state finally sets him free . . . with $2,500 and a bus ticket.

Northrop was arrested for the rape and kidnapping of a housekeeper. “I instantly said, ‘No, you’ve got the wrong guy,'” Northrop recalls telling detectives. But detectives believed the victim’s testimony, although she was blindfolded for most of the attack. A jury agreed, sentencing Northrop, a father of three children under age 6, to 23 years in prison.

From behind bars, Northrop tried to prove police had the wrong guy. In 2000, he contacted the Innocence Project Northwest at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle.

For years, prosecutors denied the project’s requests to use more advanced DNA testing on the evidence in Northrop’s case. In 2005, a new state law gave judges the power to order additional testing. But it took five more years for Northrop’s testing to be completed and for a court to consider the results that conclusively showed another man’s DNA was on the victim.

In 2010, Northrop, still sitting in prison, got a letter with news he thought he might never get.

“I was jumping around the day room saying, ‘I’m out of here! I’m out of here!'” Northrop said.

But Washington state, like 23 other states, doesn’t compensate the wrongly imprisoned.

According to an Innocence Project study, Northrop is among the 40% of exonerated prisoners nationwide who received nothing from authorities for their time behind bars. The report calls for all states to pass laws providing the same compensation that the federal government offers for federal crimes: $50,000 per year of wrongful incarceration with an additional $50,000 for each year spent on death row. Today, five states have the same standard.

Money would give Northrop a chance to “just get started over again and have a normal life again,” he said. He works full-time but lives in a small room in a friend’s house because he can’t afford his own apartment.

Even in the states that do offer compensation to the innocent, standards vary wildly. Some pay $50,000 per year. Two pay more (Texas and Vermont), but others less. Wisconsin pays $5,000 per year while Missouri pays $50 per day. New Hampshire sets an award cap of $20,000 while other states set a maximum of $500,000, $1 million or no limit.

But even in states on the high end of the compensation scale, the money is usually payed out in annual installments over 20 years, not a lump sum, and the payments stop coming once you die. Which perversely means that the innocent people who have been incarcerated the longest see less money once they’re exonerated.

This Week in “Sorry We Mistakenly Beat the Hell Out of You and/or Wrongly Convicted and Imprisoned You” News

Monday, March 19th, 2012
  • The city of Pittsburgh has settled with Jordan Miles for a whopping . . . $75,000. The photo at right is what Miles looked like after three Pittsburgh cops beat the hell out of him. They mistook for a weapon the Mountain Dew bottle the 18-year-old music student was carrying. And it just gets uglier from there. I wrote about the case in January of last year, and here’s a follow-up from December. The settlement only covers the city. The cops are still on the hook for possible civil damages, though they’ve been cleared by the state and federal government of any criminal wrongdoing. Of course, if the cops are found liable, the city—by which I mean taxpayers—will cover those damages, too.
  • Next up, a judge in Louisiana has approved compensation for four DNA exonerees. One spent 30 years in prison. The other three spent 16 years each in a cell. They’ll all get $250,000, plus $80,000 in medical and education expenses, the maximum allowed understate law.
  • Finally, the U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to pay a man $140,000 for the three years he was wrongly imprisoned due to some blatant misconduct by a federal prosecutor. A federal judge took the unusual step of declaring the man innocent and excoriating former Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Hinshelwood for concealing exculpatory evidence. The DOJ initially offered just $5,000 per year for the wrongful conviction and incarceration. A Florida regulatory agency ordered Hinshelwood to attend a one-day ethics workshop. The DOJ took no disciplinary action. Hinshelwood is now in private practice in Florida.


Sunday Links

Sunday, March 18th, 2012
  • A point that can’t be made often enough when discussing labor in the developing wrold.
  • Jeffrey Havard again denied by the Mississippi Supreme Court. I’ve written about Havard’s case several times, but here’s a good summary. The only real evidence against him was now-disputed testimony from Steven Hayne. Yet he’s now perilously close to an execution date.  I’ll have more on this later.
  • Jacob Sullum on the injustice in the Dharun Ravi verdict. It’s disappointing to see people normally skeptical of the criminal justice system celebrating Ravi’s possible imprisonment.
  • NPR asks three people who want to go to war with Syria what we should do about Syria.
  • Senators say if they could tell you how the PATRIOT Act is being used, you’d be appalled.
  • Police officer accused of sexual battery, rape while in uniform offered deal to plead guilty to extortion. He’ll get probation and the chance to clear his record entirely.
  • State politicians aren’t using money from the mortgage settlement to help out homeowners. So basically, politicians used desperate homeowners as a prop to punish banks in order to get funding to help pay down budget deficits created by politicians. If you’re surprised by this, you haven’t been paying attention.

Scary Numbers

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

There are some astonishing figures coming out of Virginia:

In September 2004, Mark Warner, then Virginia’s governor, ordered a random audit of 31 old criminal cases after a vast trove of biological evidence was discovered lying around in old case files saved by state forensic serologists. The testing of those 31 samples led to the exonerations of two convicted rapists. Warner, embarrassed by the revelations, then ordered in late 2005 that every sample obtained between 1973 and 1988 be rechecked. It amounted to thousands of files . . .

At the time Virginia’s audit began, Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project, which has used DNA testing to exonerate hundreds of prisoners across the country, noted in astonishment that “a random sample of convicted felons and we’re getting a 7 percent exoneration rate” in Virginia. But it appears that a 7 percent exoneration rate may be grossly understating the problem. UVA’s Garrett suspects that the error rate may actually be as high as 17 percent. As he discovered in his own research, Barbour’s conviction, based on the testimony of a single eyewitness, reflects the reality that of the first 250 people exonerated by DNA testing, a whopping 76 percent were misidentified by eyewitnesses.
Whatever the percentage of error on the part of Virginia’s criminal justice system, one thing is certain: Only a handful of the falsely convicted have received the exonerations they deserve.

Due to a widespread sense of shame and an eagerness to take responsibility for its mistakes, the state of Virginia is now opening up its DNA testing process, inviting outside labs to help with the testing project, as well as to independently verify the results from the state lab. The state is also inviting journalists and academics to scrutinize the project to look for errors and oversights.

Just kidding.

It was a project intended to take 18 months at a cost of $1.4 million dollars. Now in its seventh year, the cost of the project hovers at $5 million. Nobody has any idea exactly how the Virginia Department of Forensics has conducted its work. Indeed, no one knows much about the specifics of the crime lab’s work at all . . .

University of Virginia law school professor Brandon Garrett (who has contributed to Slate) is an expert on wrongful convictions and DNA exoneration. His landmark study, Convicting the Innocent, scrutinized the cases of the first 250 people to be exonerated nation-wide by DNA testing. To hear him tell it, Virginia’s statewide audit is a mystery wrapped in obfuscation. “This DNA testing program began two Governors ago,” he says, “but its operation has remained shrouded in secrecy. We do not know how the authorities chose to test the cases that they have tested. We do not know how long the authorities have known about the many dozens of cases where DNA has excluded the individuals. We do not know what local prosecutors plan to do about the cases where DNA may prove innocence.”

The state’s actions only get more sordid from there. State officials initially refused to make any attempt at all to let convicts know that their DNA was being tested. When compelled to do so by the state legislature, they’ve complied only in the most bare-bones sense of the word. They’re still refusing to release the information to the public. Instead, they’ve sent letters loaded with legalese to the last known addresses of the convicted. Some of these cases are decades old. They finally relented and have allowed pro bono attorneys to track down the convicts, but only under the stipulation that the attorney who does the tracking agree to not represent the convict in any subsequent legal action.

If you want to squeeze some dark humor out of this tragedy, look to the absurd justifications state officials are giving for their obstinacy. For example, here’s one official’s explanation why they initially balked at letting pro bono attorneys track down the exonerated:

 “If you send a young, new attorney to a bad neighborhood, bad things could happen.”

And here’s why the state made no effort to send DNA results from the exonerated who have since died to their next of kin:

“That information is private and personal, and maybe that individual doesn’t want his family members to have a copy of the report. We have to protect the sensitivity and privacy of those individuals.”

So yes, state of Virginia may wrongly convict you, then send you to prison for decades for a crime you didn’t commit. But rest assured. Should DNA testing exonerate you after your death, the state will honor your privacy and “sensitivity” by refusing to notify your family that you were innocent all along.

Morning Links

Thursday, March 8th, 2012
  • The latest edition of Cato Unbound looks to be pretty interesting. It’s on DNA testing and the death penalty.
  • Interesting look at the lobbyists who are paid to keep marijuana illegal.
  • Bunk opens a grocery.
  • So this is absurd. Let’s hope Texas doesn’t hear about it.
  • Doctor faces murder charges for prescriptions she wrote for painkillers. Note that the investigation began in 2008, the deaths she’s charged with causing occurred until December 2009, and she had her license and was still prescribing until at least the end of 2010. This is consistent with the criticism that law enforcement agents are more interested in bagging scalps and seizing assets than protecting patients.
  • Remember when media consolidation was the big fear? Now, it’s too much media. Where are you when we need you, Rupert Murdoch!?!
  • Recently laid-off manual laborer leaves a generous tip.

More Junk Science in the Courtroom

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

A Texas man is currently 13 1/2 years into a 20-year sentence for molesting his two young cousins. The allegations from the children were corroborated by a bit of pseudo-science quackery worthy of a spot in the forensics hall of shame.

Michael Arena was summoned to a psychologist’s office to measure his sexual attraction to children.

The test given required the 16-year-old to click through images of swimsuit-clad people of various ages while the computer secretly measured how long he viewed each photo. The results, according to the prosecution-hired psychologist who administered the test, showed Arena to be a pedophile who was a “high risk” to strike again.

Bell County prosecutors hammered the finding during Arena’s 1999 trial, urging jurors to choose prison over probation to protect children from a teen “diagnosed as a pedophile by an expert.” The jury responded with a 20-year sentence.

The cousins have since recanted their testimony, and have said they were pressured by their mother to say they’d been molested. She was fighting a custody battle at the time. As you might imagine, the swimsuit photo test has since been shown to be nonsense.

The test, defense lawyers say, had an unacceptably high 35 percent error rate that was not disclosed to Arena’s judge and jury. It was never intended to be used to identify pedophiles, they claim, and a university study found that its results were little better “than chance” when trying to distinguish pedophiles from non-pedophiles.

In addition, the psychologist who examined Arena inflated the test’s effectiveness and scientific support when he testified at Arena’s trial, leading to a reprimand from a state regulatory agency four years later, court records show.

That was the evidence against Arena. The allegations from his two cousins and the test. The test has been shown to be a fraud. The cousins have retracted their allegations. Yet Arena is still in prison. Two judges have upheld his conviction since all of this has come out, and of course the prosecutors aren’t relenting.

The good news is that by the Statesman account, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals at least appeared skeptical of Arena’s questioning during oral arguments.

One other item worth noting. The test, called the Abel Test, is run by a for-profit company. The owner of the rights to the test (eventually) said it was never intended to diagnose pedophiles, but to aid in the treatment of people already diagnosed. But he also refuses to release the test’s methodology, even for criminal cases, claiming that the information is proprietary.

We’ve seen this with breath test machines in DWI cases as well. I just don’t see how this can be acceptable. If you’re going to allow your technology to be used to put people in prison, it seems to me that anything and everything about how the technology works and how the results are interpreted has to be subject to cross-examination.

Any criminal law Agitatortots out there know if the Supreme Court has heard a Confrontation Clause case on the use of proprietary technology in criminal cases? I don’t recall coming across one in my reporting.

(Thanks to Ted Frank for the tip.)


Durham Loses Another Prosecutor

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline, who replaced infamous Duke lacrosse prosecutor Mike Nifong; put at least one innocent man (and likely more) in prison; alleged a vast conspiracy against her between a state judge, defense attorneys, and the News & Observer newspaper; and (most importantly!) took runner-up in the 2011 Worst Prosecutor of the Year Award . . . has been removed from office.

She was a prosecutor who would not back down from anyone. She acted with fierce conviction when she believed she was right. She was aggressive, too, and often framed her pursuit of justice as advocacy for crime victims.

It also shows the reasons she was permanently removed from her job Friday – a stunning inability to get facts straight and an unwillingness to change course when confronted with reasons to do so.

Cline, 48, did not speak in court that January day in Durham, watching as a judge dismissed her claim in a matter of minutes.

She is out of office now because of her words and actions against Durham’s senior judge – lengthy filings filled with vitriolic language, unsubstantiated allegations of corruption, tales of a conspiracy with The News & Observer and other accusations of misconduct that have been obliterated by three judges.

Cline stands by it all, telling Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood last week that “what I recorded in those motions was absolutely true.”

The flawed behavior that cost Cline her job wasn’t new. It has been displayed in a range of criminal cases she handled over the years, according to an examination of court documents, transcripts, interviews and news reports.

But the action she took against Hudson was in full public view, and it was aimed at a judge, not a criminal defendant.

Which is probably why she was removed. Likewise, Cline’s predecessor made the mistake of wrongly targeted a group of innocent defendants who had the money and clout to fight back. Most don’t.
This part is interesting:

Carol Tavris, a Los Angeles social psychologist who has researched and written about the behavior and decision-making of prosecutors, said studies show the human brain, when sorting out conflicting beliefs and actions, will engage in a powerful act known as “self-justification.”

It can keep people from admitting they are wrong and can be more powerful and more dangerous than an explicit lie, she said in an interview and in a 2007 book she co-authored, “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me).”

People will convince themselves they are correct even when they are not, she said. It happens in everything from bad marriages to buying a car that costs too much.

Self-justification is especially concerning in the justice system, Tavris said, because authorities often view themselves as “good guys” doing the “right thing.”

Tavris said Cline was likely faced with “dissonance” in the face of unfavorable rulings and questions about her work, which leads the brain to “self-justify” decisions and actions.

“It’s really, really, really hard to face the reality that you screwed up,” she said. “When we have a view of ourselves as good, competent, ethical, honest people and we are now confronted with evidence that we did something that was incompetent, unethical, immoral or harmful, we have two choices. We can fess up – say, ‘Oh, my God, look at this evidence, what did I do? How can I make amends?’ Or, we deny.”

In the removal inquiry, Cline did get to speak about her allegation, based on the time stamp, that Hudson decided a case early. She was faced with affidavits from court clerks, testimony and a courtroom transcript that contradicted what she said.

Cline did not yield, saying broadly that she knew the judge decided the case early.

“Are you willing to admit that it’s possible that you’re wrong about what Judge Hudson did?” a lawyer asked her.

Cline said no.

Public choice theory tells us that public officials don’t magically start behaving selflessly and altruistically simply because they’ve chosen a career in public service. They’ll still act in their own interest most of the time, as we all do. That’s not an indictment of public service. It’s a recognition of human nature, and how we’re hard-wired. In terms of policy, it’s prescribes that we design our institutions in a way that accounts for how people actually behave, not for an idealized version of how we hope they’ll behave. The left tends to dismiss public choice theory outright. The right tends to believe it’s applicable to all areas of public service except law enforcement and criminal justice.

These are generalizations, of course. There are exceptions on both sides. But good people don’t thrive in systems with bad incentives. You either attract bad actors, turn good actors into bad ones, or the good actors drop out, leaving you only with the bad ones.

Morning Links

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Justin Albert Johnson Sentenced

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

There’s a poignant scene in the documentary Mississippi Innocence in which District Attorney Forrest Allgood, reflecting on the fact that he wrongly convicted two separate men for the rape and murder of two little girls in the early 1990s, tries to mitigate his mistakes. He looks into the camera and says, “At least nobody died.” It’s a striking thing to say. In part because of the way it casually dismisses the fact that Allgood put two men in prison for nearly two decades each, one of whom was nearly executed.

But it’s also inaccurate. As Allgood finishes his sentence, the film cuts to the gravestone of Christine Jackson, the second of the three-year-olds to be sexually assaulted and murdered. If Allgood hadn’t fixated on Levon Brooks after the first murder, and hadn’t enlisted the help of fraudulent forensic specialists Steven Hayne and Michael West to help him get his conviction, he might have been able to identify and convict the real killer, who, for reasons the film explains that are too involved to get into here, should have stuck out as a suspect from the start.

But he didn’t. And so the real killer went on to rape and murder again. And Allgood went on to convict Kennedy Brewer, again the wrong man again, again using Hayne and West, even though the crimes were remarkably similar and occurred just a few miles apart. Allgood then fought like hell to keep both Brooks and Brewer in prison, even as it become obvious to everyone but Allgood that he’d convicted the wrong men.

In 2008, the man who actually killed both little girls, Justin Albert Johnson, was finally identified with DNA testing. This week, he was sentenced to life in prison.

The experience doesn’t appear to have curbed Allgood’s taste for blood.

District Attorney Forrest Allgood said Friday night that he wanted to seek the death penalty for Johnson, but the families of both victims sent letters and asked him not to do so.

“My personal opinion is that anybody that rapes and kills a small child deserves the death penalty,” Allgood said. “… Quite frankly, I would have preferred to have tried him and sought the death penalty.”

Sunday Links

Sunday, February 12th, 2012