I am writing this blog in hopes that somewhere, someone can give some direction and support for this purpose. I have experienced so much frustration in trying to help someone who is serving time in one of our State Prisons. After much research on my own (and not just taking a person for what they say), I truly believe that we have people incarcerated who are innocent of the crime for which they were convicted or have been sentenced to time that does NOT equal the crime.
Let me tell you a little bit about what I have experienced and am working on and I hope to hear back from some of you who have either experienced the same or someone who can help.
Several years ago, my step sister was incarcerated on a drug charge. Through her I met another inmate who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to life. After hearing her story and really thinking, it didn't make sense why she was serving life for what in essence was self defense. So I got a copy of the transcript from her trial which led me to more questions of her "defense" which is certainly questionable at the very least! Upon further looking into the situation, I have found so many things that were done ineffectively on her behalf that I can't help but feel a sense of responsibility to try to help her.
Now the interesting part of all of this is that none of the abusive history between her and the deceased was ever entered into evidence during the trial. I have no idea why her attorney failed to bring this out other than based on the things I have heard about him. Despite her own injuries from the "assault" and the many, many discrepancies of testimony in the trial, she was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life. Remember, the jury never heard the previous history so self defense was not in their minds when they convicted. The people who testified against her basically lied. They told the same "very re-hearsed" (obviously by reading the transcript) story which by the way was different from the statements given the date of the incident. Once again, another avenue her attorney did not choose to pursue during trial. Within the last few weeks I have, in fact, spoken with one of the people who testified who still basically tells the same story, but not quite. There is a big part of the story that she now recounts differently than she did when she testified which was even different than the statement she gave on the date of the incident. This is just one of the MANY things wrong with this entire case.
So what have I done? Well, I have tried to get copies of the police reports that she had filed on him in the year prior to the incident. These reports do in fact exist. I have seen them myself on the computer AND have spoken with an officer who used to work the area and remembers the many calls they used to get. However, no one can seem to "find" them. Once her attorney filed her first appeal (which in and of itself leaves a lot to be desired), he then filed the Motion for Appointment of Attorney to Perfect an Appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court Due to Indigency and that she be appointed Counsel to help her perfect her appeal. The Judge granted the Motion for her to proceed as Indigent but denied her appointment of assistance to perfect the appeal. Yet another point of interest in my opinion! I am not a lawyer but how can someone who can't afford a lawyer and who has exhausted all of her funds paying for her defense (such as it was) not be given proper Counsel to assist her? So she has done all of her own appeals, PCR and Writ of Habeaus Corpus, all of which have been denied for various reasons including untimely filing (in spite of her not having the knowledge or availability to get the information to file it timely).
My personal experience in dealing with the people involved in this has not been very good. Of course, everyone is friendly and helpful UNTIL they find out what I want and then doors slam shut and nothing is available, etc. The few that I have talked to who have provided information have really done so, I believe, not really realizing they were giving me information (if that makes sense). For example, corroborating an event she had previously told me about (this is the Officer I am referring to) who indicates there was a police report filed. But, it doesn't seem to be there now. Or, maybe it is, it just depends on what day you call and who you ask. Literally, I have been given three different numbers with regard to the reports on file yet I know what I saw on the computer when I went to retrieve them myself and was told they would have to be pulled and sent to me. Of course, I never received anything and upon calling to check on the status was told there was only 1. NOT TRUE! I know what I saw on the computer. I have contacted several attorneys, different organizations and am in hopes of getting some help for her from the Mississippi Innocence Project (recently opened). There are a couple of attorneys I am hoping will take an interest in this as well because I have so much more information with regard to this case there is no possible way I can put it all out here in one sitting.
Now that I have given you a general idea of what I am doing and trying to help with, please feel free to ask me questions if you have any, share your story (if you have one) and please offer advice as to what I can do next. I am currently waiting to talk with several attorneys and she is waiting to hear back from the MS Innocence Project to see if they can help. But I am not going to quit pushing just because we have some "irons in the fire" because I can't. Those irons might not turn out "hot" and I need to have a backup plan or something else already in the works. This woman has been separated from her children for to long as it is. Did I mention she was pregnant when this incident occurred? Yes, she was and hasn't seen her children in almost 10 years.
I have never blogged before (as far as writing my own) so bear with me as I learn how to do this. But, I understand it is a place where you can write and people will express their opinions and offer advice back to you. I can assure you that this is not a waste of anyone's time and I do believe that when it all finally comes out, it is going to be a big mess.
Oh, and by the way, for those of you who are keeping up with the "expert" forensic issue currently going on in our State. Well, yep, you guessed it. Steven Hayne testified in her case as well. How's that for a kicker??
I look forward to your suggestions and comments and will try to post daily on what is happening because I do work on this daily even if I only make a little bit of progress -- it is more than I had the day before! If I have kept your attention this long, thanks for your time and please stay tuned because I am sure this is going to get very interesting before it is over with. Honestly this would make a great book (and I am considering writing one)!