ST. LOUIS — Missouri risks executing an innocent man next week, advocates for Kimber Edwards warned Monday, citing a key witness who says his testimony was coerced and the inmate’s contention that his own confession was false.
Edwards, a 51-year-old former St. Louis jailer, was convicted of hiring Orthell Wilson to kill his ex-wife, Kimberly Cantrell, in 2000 in her suburban St. Louis apartment. His execution is scheduled for Oct. 6.
Prosecutors said Edwards wanted Cantrell dead so he didn’t have to pay child support. Wilson was sentenced to life in prison after a plea deal in which he agreed to cooperate against Edwards. Edwards confessed to the crime.
But Edwards’ attorney, Jeremy Weis, and Tricia Bushnell, legal director of the Midwest Innocence Project, said Wilson has since said in an affidavit that he was trying to save himself from the death penalty when he cooperated against Edwards. Meanwhile, Edwards has recanted his confession.
“This could become a case where we could execute an innocent man without even looking at the evidence that he is innocent,” Bushnell said.
Weis said he has asked the Missouri Supreme Court and Gov. Jay Nixon to halt the execution. Messages seeking comment from representatives for Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster were not immediately returned.
Bushnell said false confessions are not uncommon. An Innocence Project examination of murder convictions overturned by DNA evidence found false confessions in nearly two-thirds of those cases, she said.
Edwards was diagnosed as autistic after his conviction, Weis said. Autistic people are more susceptible to confession to crimes they didn’t commit, said Dennis Debbaudt, an expert on the relationship between those with autism and law enforcement.
Edwards and Cantrell had divorced in 1990, with Cantrell taking custody of their daughter, Erica. In early 2000, Edwards was charged for failing to pay child support. He faced a court appearance on Aug. 25, 2000.
Erica stayed with her father for three weeks prior to the hearing, but became concerned when she did not hear from her mother by Aug. 23. She called her aunt, who went to Cantrell’s home in University City and found the body. Cantrell, 35, had been shot twice in the head the day before.
Wilson, a tenant in a rental property owned by Edwards, was arrested and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing Cantrell. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole after implicating Edwards.
Police said Edwards admitted to paying a man $1,600 for the contract killing.
In an affidavit in May, Wilson said he was “coerced by police to implicate Edwards” by threat of the death penalty. Wilson now says he acted alone. Weis said Wilson and Cantrell were in a relationship and he killed her after an argument.
“Kimber Edwards is completely innocent,” Wilson said in his affidavit.
Edwards, meanwhile, has long contended he was framed and had no motive to kill his wife because the couple had worked out a child support agreement.
Edwards’ supporters also claim racial bias in his conviction and sentencing — Edwards is black and was convicted by an all-white jury.
He was first scheduled to be executed in May, but the Missouri Supreme Court stayed the execution without explanation. Weis said the reprieve may have been because the attorneys were too busy with other cases to give attention to Edwards’ case.
Chicago police officer wounds boy, 14, on South Side
The 14-year-old, identified by family members as Deguan Curry, was shot three times in both legs and was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital, where his condition was stabilized.
No officers were wounded, and a weapon was recovered at the scene of the shooting, police said.
In front of Comer Children’s Hospital, Deguan’s family members gathered, trying to find out what happened.
Deguan’s mother, Ikyshia Webber, 35, arrived outside the hospital early Friday along with her boyfriend and about a dozen other family members and friends after initially being told her son was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
For about the first half-hour, Webber paced outside the hospital’s entrance, upset that police officers would not let her see her son or tell her what exactly happened.
“I’m lost right now,” Webber said, raising her voice in anger. “All I wanna do is see my son. This makes no sense to me.”
Webber said Deguan was hanging out with her other two sons, who are 18 and 19, at her best friend’s house on Thursday evening. Her friend was moving to Indiana, so her sons volunteered to help her pack and move, Webber said.
Webber, who works as a nurse, said she and her boyfriend, Timothy Gilmore, 45, were in bed at their home when their phones started ringing.
Webber, a mother of four children, said she has never seen Deguan with a gun before and that she does not own a gun.
“We literally are model citizens,” Webber said, adding that she lives with her boyfriend, Deguan and her 13-year-old daughter. “We go to work, maintain the household.”
She said her older sons have not been living with her for some time. “They’re grown,” Webber said. “So what they do, I don’t know.”
Webber lit a cigarette as tears welled in her eyes.
“They not telling me what my child is being detained for … what the situation is or what occurred,” Webber said as she stood outside the hospital. “I know absolutely nothing.”
Friends and relatives rubbed Webber’s shoulders and hugged her, trying to calm her down.
“And we all know he plays basketball,” Webber said. “He’d never play a game. He’d never play a game.”
“You need to take emotion out of what’s going on right now,” said one relative. “You gotta stay calm.”
“Stop thinking negatively,” said another nearby relative. “Stay positive. Think positive.”
A detective walked out of the hospital and came up to Webber and the relatives.
“I’m sorry we have to meet under these terms,” he told Webber. He explained that police would first only let Deguan’s stepfather Gilmore inside the hospital to see him.
Gilmore nodded and followed the detective inside the hospital after a few moments.
About an hour or so passed and the detective came out of the hospital again, allowing Webber to enter and see her son.
After about 20 minutes later, Webber came back outside. She seemed calmer but just as confused.
“I’ve never had a problem with Deguan up until this point other than him being a typical boy,” she said.
She and Gilmore said Deguan was not rebellious and did not get into trouble. They said the teen was looking forward to starting high school later this month.
“This is like a really, really bad dream,” Webber said. “I haven’t had these problems, that’s why I’m kind of stuck.”
Jury deadlocks 8-4 in favor of acquittal; mistrial declared in Kerrick police shooting case
Two years after a deadly struggle in the dark of night and three weeks into an emotionally charged trial, jurors said Friday they were hopelessly deadlocked, an outcome that satisfied neither side in the polarizing case of a white police officer charged with killing an unarmed black man.
The jury was unable to unanimously decide whether Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick used excessive force in firing 12 shots at Jonathan Ferrell, who charged at him moments after police encountered him walking near a neighborhood pool.
Eight jurors were for acquittal and four for conviction, according to someone close to the proceedings.
Within moments of the mistrial, about a dozen protesters, whites and blacks, lay down with hands behind their backs and blocked traffic outside the courthouse on Fourth Street, chanting “No justice, no peace.”
In the evening, starting at about 9 p.m., protests drew larger and younger crowds and police officers in tactical gear. A scuffle ensued at the Charlotte Transportation Center and at least one protester was taken into custody. A crowd of about 100 protesters gathered outside BB&T Ballpark, where the Knights were playing. The scene became tense, as people inside the ballpark and protesters outside yelled at each other through the fence.
Though some protesters were thumping on cars as they waited at intersections, no property damage was reported, and some of the protesters even found sympathizers among the drivers as they weaved into traffic near the stadium uptown.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said earlier Friday that the police would have a security plan for Saturday’s 7 p.m. preseason Panthers game uptown.
Jurors unanimous about deadlock
Jurors began deliberation Tuesday after 11 days of testimony. On Friday morning, they sent a note to Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin saying they couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.
Ervin asked for a show of hands from the eight women and four men about whether they thought they could not reach a unanimous verdict. All raised their hands.
They revealed that they took their first vote Tuesday afternoon, shortly after jurors receiving instructions from the judge. They were split 7 to 5.
A second vote was taken Thursday afternoon, and it went 8 to 4. Another vote on Friday morning showed no minds had changed.
Defense Attorney George Laughrun asked the judge to declare a mistrial saying “it sounds like there would be no reasonable possibility” of coming to a verdict. Prosecutors asked the judge to let the jury continue its work.
Ervin sent the jury back to deliberate further and they initially indicated they were making progress. But they soon signaled there was no hope for resolving the deadlock.
Ervin declared a mistrial. “The case will remain open per further proceedings,” the Morganton judge told the hushed courtroom.
What occurred in the jury deliberations is largely a mystery.
The spouse of one juror who was reached late Friday did not want to talk. But the spouse said the jurors became very close during the trial and that this juror felt “that they were all very good people.”
Two jurors and three of the four alternates declined to speak to Observer reporters, and the others couldn’t be reached.
It will be up to prosecutors to decide whether to try the case again. They indicated Friday they wanted to study the trial record before making a decision.
Aug 21 (Reuters) – An autopsy on the body of the black teenager shot and killed by white St. Louis police officers this week shows the 18-year-old died from a single gunshot that entered his back and struck his heart, a medical examiner said on Friday.
The finding could escalate tensions that flared immediately after the shooting Wednesday, as protesters and family members of the slain teen questioned police accounts that Mansur Ball-Bey pointed a gun at officers.
The results of the autopsy show Ball-Bey was struck in the upper right part of his back by a bullet that hit his heart and an artery next to the heart, said St. Louis Chief Medical Examiner Michael Graham.
That and other findings from the autopsy appear to contradict the account of the incident given by police, who said that two officers shot at Ball-Bey when he pointed a gun at them as he fled a home where police were serving a search warrant. Police said that Ball-Bey dropped his weapon and continued running after he was shot.
Sandra Bland was an African American woman who was found dead in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, on July 13, 2015. Police said that she had hanged herself and her death was followed by protests against her arrest, disputing the cause of death and alleging racial violence against her. Bland was 28 years old when she died.
Bland had been pulled over for a minor traffic violation on July 10, by state trooper Brian Encinia. Encinia arrested her following an escalating conflict, which was recorded by his dashcam and a bystander’s cell phone, alleging that she had assaulted him. After the announcement of her death and the release of the dashcam video, the officer was placed on administrative duties for failing to follow proper traffic stop procedures.
On July 16, Texas authorities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced they had begun a joint investigation into Bland’s death. The Waller County district attorney’s office said that her death would be investigated as a possible murder. A motion-activated camera outside her cell recorded no movement in the hallway for 90 minutes before jailers found her dead.
An autopsy conducted by the Harris County medical examiner ruled Bland’s death a suicide and said it found no evidence of a violent struggle. The results from a second independent autopsy requested by her family have not been released.
#SANDRABLAND #WHATHAPPENED #WHATHAPPENEDTOSANDRABLAND
HAVENT WE HAD ENOUGH????
Stand Up. Speak Out. for Justice. and Freedom
I want you to first understand how frustrating it is as a black person to constantly defend my race. Why are black men and women the most educated Americans but make up the largest growing prison population? Why are there barely 100 black students at UNCA when black people have a history of intelligence, innovation, and will power to succeed? Why do I even have to defend the rightful sadness, anger and frustration of black people to a white person just to make our emotions relevant? So many emotions are gathered into those streets. We as people of color are humans with emotions before being identified as “BLACK” in case you did not know. So why is it that when humans see an injustice of another human they identify with it and can’t do anything to help them, it is logical that the helpless human will harbor frustration, sadness, or anger. I don’t know what more to say to express to you that this world is not equal due to the prejudices of those before us and currently with us in power. I just request that you broaden your perspective to further understand the backgrounds of cultures, not just black cultures, but those that are not your own.
This is merely a gesture to stand up and speak out for one another. Its not often that WE as people of color support ourselves. So lets try to support one another. When you get out of bed say a prayer for those who don’t know how to pray for themselves. WE are all in this together. AS long as we keep pulling each other down, we will never make it as a whole. There are already enough people against our race .
Stand Up. Speak Out. for Justice. and Freedom.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ AGING PRISONERS SET TO BE RELEASED 2016??
Starting in the mid-1970s, the United States government enacted laws that allowed for longer sentences and restricted early releases. Among the most notorious policies were the mandatory minimum sentences, the “three strikes” laws, and the elimination of federal parole. The majority of now-elderly inmates entered the system at a much younger age and stayed there for decades, primarily due to the laws that mandated minimum sentences even for non-violent crimes. For example, 65 percent of aging prisoners in Texas are there for non-violent offenses, including drug-related and property crimes. In North Carolina, 26 percent of elderly inmates are habitual offenders, sentenced mostly for drug crimes, while 14 percent are sentenced for fraud, larceny, burglary, breaking and entering, and even traffic and public order violations. “Three strikes” laws for repeat offenders, truth-in-sentencing conditions, and technical parole revocations are all cited as contributing factors to the increase in the aging prison population in America. As a result, from 1986 to 1995, the number of prisoners serving 20 years or more tripled.
In addition, the number of prisoners who are serving life sentences has increased dramatically, including those with no possibility of release. It’s estimated that between 1984 and 2008, the number of life sentences increased about four times, from 34,000 to 140,610. Some of the prisoners can be eligible for parole in around 25 years depending on the jurisdiction, but only a small fraction of those will actually be released.
The increasing age of the prison population in America can be also attributed to the increased age at which offenders are entering prison. In recent years, people in their thirties and forties are getting arrested and sentenced to prison at higher rates. One study suggests that the driving force behind it is the growth in re-arrests of those who use drugs and have already spent some time behind bars.
How is the country affected by aging prisoners?
The most profound effect of the aging prison population is probably seen in the increased costs of housing and care for elderly inmates. Older prisoners are two to three times more expensive than younger offenders. It costs around $24,000 a year to house a young prisoner, but the expenses for an aging prisoner can be up to $72,000 per year. The reason for the jump, not surprisingly, is medical costs. As people grow older, they naturally have more health issues than their younger counterparts. Older prisoners with significant medical needs have to be housed in specific facilities that most prisons don’t have, or, if they do, cost them a fortune to maintain. Thus, prisons for aging populations increasingly resemble nursing homes more than correctional facilities.
Inmates are not eligible for federal health insurance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, but by law are required to receive medical treatment. State and federal prisons cover all the costs. No matter whose responsibility it is to maintain prisons, taxpayers are the ones who pay for it. And as an aging prison population increases, healthcare costs will require more of the taxpayers’ money.
Watch the video below to understand the magnitude of the aging prison population problem.-(LawStreet)