While a partial unknown DNA profile has been found on two evidence items which excludes Hank Skinner, the state of Texas is refusing to pay for the rest of the DNA testing, which on one hand could prove his innocence, and furthermore could identifier the killer. Time is of the essence and Hank needs your help now! Thank you in advance.
January 10, 2013
As a new year begins, I wanted to share an update on my case and the current state of affairs regarding the DNA testing.
As you probably know, after winning an important victory with the US Supreme Court last year, we filed a new motion for DNA testing in September 2011. The motion was denied by the sentencing judge and the Court of Criminal Appeals held oral arguments on this issue in May 2012. From the reactions and questions from the judges, the argument was on our side and before the court ruled on my case, the state of TX withdrew its opposition to the DNA testing. Subsequently, a joint agreement was signed both by the Attorney General’s office and my attorneys to test 40 pieces of evidence.
From what has been tested so far, we have developed the partial DNA profile of a third party from the handle of a knife the state alleges is a murder weapon and from a bloodstain off the back bedroom floor carpet, which is Scooter and Randy’s blood mixed with an unknown third party’s DNA. Because it’s a partial profile, we are currently getting additional testing to amplify this profile to run it through the national DNA database.
So far the state has spent in excess of $100,000, hoping to prove me guilty but this has not worked out for them at all because I’m innocent!
The good news is my blood is not on any of the victims, someone else’s is. The furniture and interior doorframes and other items I bled on and/or left my bloody handprint or fingerprints on, contain only my blood. Most importantly, the back doors, two sets of doorknobs contain only my bloody handprints. It is known these were the last things I touched, staggering out of that house. The victims’ blood is not on my hands.
Unbelievably, the state is trying to say that the fact I was there and bled in the bedroom means I am guilty. Unfortunately for the state, that is an untenable and losing position. In Texas, mere presence does not prove guilt under the controlling case law precedents applicable to such situations.
The trace evidence report on analysis of the hairs “clutched” in Twila’s hands shows several hairs that are dissimilar to the standard taken from the victims or from me. So in addition to the tests now being conducted, we need to have mitochondrial testing done on those hairs and possibly on the samples that, in the initial round of DNA testing, produced the partial DNA profile of third parties at the scene. Such mitochondrial testing could help us prove the identity of the source of that DNA. The state has lost interest in further DNA testing and has vowed not to pay for any additional DNA tests.
Within a short time span, we need to raise $17,000 to complete this mitochondrial testing and cover expenses. We have six to eight weeks ahead of us to do so and I really need your help and assistance to raise these funds. This is my last chance to prove my innocence and be released from this nightmare.
For this New Year, I wish you and your loved ones the very best. I thank you for all you have done for me and most importantly for your continued support to establish the truth and prove my innocence.
To make a donation, please go to the “how to help” section of the website:
You can make a donation online or find the postal address for the defense fund to mail a check in the currency of your choice.
On Death Row – By Werner Herzog
It was approaching midday when six year old Taylor Fargason returned from spending the weekend with her father, Charles. Her mother, Teresa, had divorced Charles in 1990 after seven years of marriage.
That afternoon Teresa took Taylor to the beach for a swim. On the way home they dropped by to visit Tanya Garrett and her kids for an hour or so. Later that afternoon Teresa drove to the Fountain Car Wash on Hardeman Avenue to vacuum sand from her vehicle, a requisite chore, owing to the earlier beach trip.
While there, Taylor came up to her mother with a small teddy bear which she said was given to her by a policeman. Teresa would later recall not having seen the officer, James Glover, at the time. Thinking nothing of it, Teresa finished cleaning her car then drove by the Farmer’s Market to purchase some peanuts.
On their way home they stopped at the residence of Jordan Michael, a man whom Teresa was seeing at the time. After a short visit, they left him some peanuts and headed to the Kroger supermarket on Forsyth Road in Macon. Teresa had planned on making some Mexican food for work the following day and purchased the ingredients she needed before returning home.
Taylor then went over to a friend’s home to play and have supper and Teresa picked her up at around 8.15pm. Once home, Teresa ran a bath for Taylor, after which she dressed her and put her into bed.
Teresa went to the kitchen and began to unpack the groceries and to prepare the meal for the next day. It was getting late, so she decided to forgo the cooking and return to the Kroger store for something ready-made. She gathered up Taylor, her shoes and her blanket prior to setting off for the store at around 9.30pm.
They arrived sometime just before 10pm, parked the car and went into the store, heading for the deli counter. When Teresa got to the counter she turned to speak to Taylor, only to find that she was no longer behind her.
Panicked, she began to search the aisles alone before enlisting the aid of customers and employees of the store. She ran out into the car park to see if Taylor had made her way back to the car. She hadn’t. It was then, at around 10pm, that a store employee phoned the police.
Several squad cars were immediately dispatched to the Forsyth Road address. The second officer to arrive on the scene was James Glover, the man who had contact with Taylor earlier that day at the car wash.
Upon the arrival at the scene of the K-9 unit, Teresa was asked to supply the officers with an item which had been handled by Taylor to give the dogs a scent to track. She gave them Taylor’s blanket from her vehicle.
As the search for Taylor got underway, a visibly upset Teresa was taken to the police station to provide a statement of the evening’s events. It was there when she learned Taylor’s body had been found just off the paved surface of Interstate Parkway by a passing motorist.
A distraught Teresa broke down and wept as she was taken to the hospital by her friend, Tanya Garrett.
At the hospital, Teresa was administered a sedative. On the doctor’s advice she took another when she arrived home. Soon after she received a call, asking that she return to the police station for further questioning. She complied, arriving at about 3.00am on the morning of June 10.
Teresa was then interrogated for in excess of five hours, during which time it became apparent that the police suspected her of having caused Taylor’s death. She was then asked for permission to have her home searched. She allowed the officers to search her home as well as her vehicle.
The search by Detective Jimmy Rogers and Officer James Glover produced no incriminating evidence linking Teresa to the crime and she was released that morning.
The investigation then turned toward another potential suspect, Officer James Glover, whom I will discuss later in this article.
When spring of 1992 arrived, no arrest had been made and the Macon PD was making little or no headway with their investigation into Taylor’s death. It was decided that they would place a wiretap on Teresa’s phone and interview her family and friends once more.
It was around this time that the Macon PD had also begun showing up at Teresa’s workplace and following her around town. If this was designed to push Teresa to the limit, it only worked insofar as to make her unable to eat or sleep due to the unwarranted stress it placed upon her.
By late December, all the investigation had gathered in the way of evidence was Taylor’s blanket which had a small blood stain on it, a hair believed to be one of Teresa’s, the tyre mark on Taylor’s arm and an essentially inaudible recording of a conversation between Teresa and Jordan Michael.
The police alleged that during the conversation with Michael, Teresa had said “I suffocated her” and that the bloodstain left on the blanket was a result of it. Both allegations were untrue. What Teresa had actually said was “I’m so scared”. The bloodstain had in fact been left on the blanket when Taylor’s aunt pulled a milk tooth sometime earlier.
Regardless, the police felt they had sufficient evidence to arrest Teresa, which they did on December 29, 1992. Teresa was indicted by a Grand Jury on January 23, 1993 for the offense of murder and her trial was set for September 13 of that year.
On the Tuesday following Taylor’s death, Glover visited Teresa’s home with a ‘deli tray’. One of Teresa’s sisters recalled the incident as being bizarre when Glover almost forcibly gave her the tray before leaving, hurriedly.
It was later revealed that Glover had also run checks on Teresa’s license plate on numerous occasions after the murder. The allegations of him having stalked Teresa for some time are not without merit.
On June 18, 1991, two detectives from the Macon PD paid a visit to Glover at his home at the request of Captain Gibson. Glover allowed the detectives to view his activity log for June 9 which included his account of meeting Taylor at the car wash.
He also claimed to have gone to City Hall at around 8pm, where he stayed until 10.30pm. Upon leaving there he went to “the gas pumps on Second Street” from where he was dispatched to the Kroger store on Forsyth Road, arriving at approximately 10.58pm.
On August 8 of the same year, Sgt. Dale Mason was sent to Glover’s residence. With the aid of a ruler, he took several photographs of each tyre on Glover’s vehicle, a red Monte Carlo.
Glover was also subjected to a polygraph examination in early 1993, the results of which have never been released. Curiously, no report on whether the tyre marks from his car matched the mark on Taylor’s arm, has been disclosed either.
An event involving Glover which took place almost a year after Taylor’s murder was perhaps the most bizarre of all his strange behaviour.
While on patrol, he radioed in that he had stopped a suspicious looking man. A few minutes later he called for help, saying he had been shot twice in the chest. In fact, he had removed his safety vest, shot it twice with his service revolver, then put it back on and called in for assistance.
Some say it was a tawdry attempt to impress his estranged wife, while others suggest it was to attract Teresa’s attention and for her to see him as a man of valour. Either way, it was ineffective and served only to damage his already tarnished character and force him to leave the police department in shame.
A plea bargain had been negotiated for Glover in that case by local Macon attorney, Lynn Finney. The two of them were to again cross paths later in 1992.
Just prior to Teresa’s arrest, Glover was concerned that he was being investigated in connection to Taylor’s death. He took the unusual step of visiting Finney with his mother to ascertain whether he should retain her to represent him in the matter.
During this meeting, Glover made a number of self incriminating statements to his mother which implicated him in the murder. Finney was to later state that “the information would have definitely been exculpatory as to Miss Fargason”.
Glover had told Finney that on the evening of June 9, 1991, he had picked up Taylor in the Kroger car park just before 10.00pm. After an ensuing struggle, he placed Taylor into his vehicle. He also claimed that when he left her by the side of Interstate Parkway, Taylor was still alive.
He further stated that “he meant no harm Taylor” and that “he did not mean for Taylor to die”. He explained his reason for abducting her was because he “wanted to be a hero and for Teresa to notice him”.
He had intended to be the one to find Taylor once a search for her had gotten underway. This all seems rather implausible, given that Taylor would have been able to identify Glover as the person who had abducted her.
Lynn Finney attended the trial of Teresa Fargason and, on its second day, became concerned that the jury weren’t being advised of Glover having been an alternative suspect early on in the case. Finney took it upon herself to approach Teresa’s attorney, Frank Childs, to discuss what was told to her by Glover the previous December.
On day three of the trial, September 15, an in chambers hearing was conducted with Judge Culpepper to determine whether Glover’s statements were protected by attorney-client privilege, stemming from Finney’s representing Glover previously.
Finney was under the impression that since the case where she had represented Glover was finalised there was no conflict, much less an abuse, of attorney-client privilege. While Finney did not divulge the details of what was said to her by Glover during this hearing, Judge Culpepper would not permit her to testify for the defense.
Curiously, trial documents do not reveal the Court’s exact ruling on the in chambers hearing.
Glover had dodged a bullet, for now.
At trial, the State’s theory as to motive was scurrilous. Assistant District Attorney, Howard Simms, argued that Teresa had wanted to marry her boyfriend at the time, Jordan Michael. He alleged that Michael did not want any more children and for that reason alone, Teresa suffocated Taylor and left her lifeless body by the roadside.
The prosecution relied heavily on the testimony of witnesses claiming not have seen Taylor in the Kroger store on the evening of June 9. The testimony of those witnesses was proven to be less than reliable.
Simms was to further argue that blood found on Taylor’s blanket was left as a result of the suffocation. He also told the jury that Teresa had said she “suffocated” Taylor during an inaudible part of the recorded phone call between her and Jordan. This was nothing short of scandalous.
The State contended that the mark on Taylor’s arm was made by the tread of a tyre on Teresa’s vehicle. Defense expert William O. Jungbluth, from the US Army crime laboratory in Atlanta, testified that there was “a 90% chance” the tyre on Teresa’s car did not make the impression.
Simms’ assertion that the hair found on Taylor’s hand had been “forcibly removed” from Teresa’s head as she suffocated her was unfounded, given that the medical examiner could not determine with complete certainty that it had.
The defense’s inability to point to another viable suspect in this case did little to help Teresa’s cause. Since Lynn Finney was not able to testify to what she had been told during her meeting with James Glover and his mother in December of 1992, the jury was left to believe that no other person could have perpetrated this crime other than Teresa.
After a short deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of guilty for the offense of murder and Teresa Fargason was sentenced to life imprisonment on September 17, 1993.
A Motion for New Trial was immediately filed by counsel for Teresa, Frank Childs. An Amended Motion for New Trial was filed by her appellate counsel on July 15, 1994. On September 27 and 28 of that year, Judge Bryant Culpepper heard the Motion for New Trial and in his May 10, 1995 ruling denied the motion.
Teresa’s conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Georgia on March 11, 1996. On April 23, 1997 a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed by Teresa with the US Court for the Middle District of Georgia which was denied on June 18, 2001.
Teresa is currently housed at the Arrendale State prison in Alto, Georgia.
Doug Mulder graduated from Southern Methodist University with a Bachelor of Law degree in June of 1964. By October he was gainfully employed in the misdemeanour court for the Dallas County District Attorney Office under Henry Wade.
Wade had participated in the prosecution of Lee Harvey Oswald’s killer, Jack Ruby, and was to also take part in the landmark case of Roe v Wade. He was someone whom Mulder viewed as a mentor while working his way up to becoming Wade’s first assistant within a few short years. Wade’s bullish approach to prosecution was something not lost on a young, ambitious Mulder.
Described variously as flamboyant, irascible and even a con artist, Mulder’s overzealous “win at all costs” style would earn him the moniker “Mad Dog”. Melvyn Bruder , a high profile Dallas appellate attorney, remarked “He is one of the finest pure prosecutors I ever saw. He is thorough, he is heartless, and once the objective is made known to him, he pursues it at all costs”.
This was more than evident in two particular cases which were to live in infamy. The first, as a prosecutor.
Randall Dale Adams
On November 28, 1976, Wood was shot to death by David Ray Harris during what began as an innocuous night time traffic stop on a Dallas street. Adams had only met the sixteen year old Harris the previous afternoon when he was offered a ride after running out of gas.
The car Harris was driving was in fact stolen, as were many items in the vehicle which were pawned that afternoon. One of those items, a .22 calibre handgun, was to be used in the commission of the crime.
The two spent the evening at a drive-in theatre before Adams returned to the motel where he was staying at around midnight.
At approximately 12.30am Patrolman Wood and his partner, Officer Teresa Turko, noticed Harris driving a blue car with its headlights turned off and proceeded to make a traffic stop. As Wood walked up to the driver’s side of the vehicle, he was hit by a volley of shots and died at the scene.
As Harris fled, Turko fired off several rounds at his vehicle to no avail. She was unable to get the tag number but was to later state that the car had only one occupant. Turko’s account of that morning was to be brought into question and cause much conjecture.
Returning to Vidor, from where he had attempted to escape his shady past, Harris soon proceeded to brag to friends about how he had “offed a pig” in Dallas. When police heard of his boasts, they took him to the station for questioning.
Harris claimed he had only made the comment “to impress his friends” and became nervous when told that the ballistic experts had identified a handgun he had stolen from his father as the murder weapon.
It was at that juncture that Harris’ story began to change. While maintaining he had not shot Wood, he had placed himself not only at the scene but in the vehicle. The gunman, Harris said, was Randall Dale Adams.
Adams gave the police a statement in which he detailed the events of that evening, maintaining his innocence throughout. Unsurprisingly, the police advised him that he had had failed a polygraph test which he had agreed to take. This is a ploy often used by police when short on leads and facts of a crime, ultimately resulting in wrongful convictions.
At a pre-trial hearing for Adams, assistant district attorney Mulder struck a decisive blow. He was able to convince Judge Don Metcalfe that Harris’ criminal record ought to be kept from the jury. This ruling was to derail Adams’ defense attorneys, Dennis White and Edith James’, strategy.
Mulder had already earned the ire of White after a visit to Harris’ hometown of Vidor to investigate the case; “Mulder had been there the week before I had and had told the people in Vidor that I was a …eastern educated civil liberties attorney, and that I was down there to discredit David Harris”.
Mulder’s next coup was when he cunningly interpreted the statement Adams gave to police as a confession. In fact, all that Adams had stated was that he had been in the general area of where the crime took place when he and Harris were driving around Dallas the previous evening but not at the time of the murder.
Another act of Mulder’s underhandedness which stymied the defense was the testimony of three alleged witnesses to the crime. These witnesses’ accounts varied and were far from factual. Judge Metcalfe had ordered Mulder to avail the defense of a list of witnesses he had planned to call during the trial but noticeably omitted the names of rebuttal witnesses Emily and Michael Miller, along with that of Michael Randell.
Mulder claimed that under Texas law, he was not required to inform the defense of these witness statements because they were called only to rebut the testimony of Adams. Judge Metcalfe would not permit the defense to admit the testimony of one of those witnesses, Emily Miller, adding that it would be unfair to impeach her testimony because she had moved away from Dallas.
Unsurprisingly, this was far from the truth. Miller had merely relocated to another part of Dallas and not gone to Illinois as Mulder erroneously claimed. Therefore, she was indeed available to be examined by the defense after all.
In fact, the day Mulder managed to convince Judge Metcalfe of her unavailability, she was filmed by a local news crew standing outside her room at the Alamo Plaza Hotel. Regardless, Mulder had claimed yet another decisive victory.
Defense attorney Dennis White was unaware of Emily Miller’s prior statement wherein she had identified the gunman as either “Mexican or light skinned African-American”. Even more startling was Miller testifying to having picked Adams out in a police line-up. She had done no such thing but White missed this opportunity to pounce.
Filmmaker Errol Morris was later to discover that as part of the prosecution’s investigation, Officer Turko had been hypnotised and denied having seen the shooter. This was conveniently suppressed by Mulder since it would have only served to harm his prosecution of Adams.
An internal affairs investigation of Turko was also kept from the defense but Mulder had never lost a capital murder case up until this point and he was determined that this would not be his first. Full disclosure of his office’s investigation was not high on his list of priorities.
He even enlisted the dubious expertise of Dr. James Grigson, a forensic psychiatrist, to seal the conviction of Adams. Known as “Dr. Death”, Grigson had testified in more than a hundred capital cases where he claimed the defendant would not only pose a threat to society, but kill again.
Grigson described Adams as “an incurable and extreme sociopath with no regard for the life or property of others and who would continue to present a danger to society”. Given that Adams had no history of violence whatsoever, it was an extraordinary opinion to proffer.
It wasn’t the first time Grigson was able to persuade a jury to accept his flawed diagnosis. One judge who sat on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals wrote:
“When Dr. Grigson speaks to a lay jury . . . about a person who he characterizes as a “severe” sociopath . . . the defendant should stop what he is doing and commence writing out his last will and testament—because he will in all probability soon be ordered by the trial judge to suffer a premature death.”
Grigson’s questionable ethics mattered not to Mulder and both sides rested on Friday, April 19. The following Monday, Judge Metcalfe sent the case to the jury for consideration, during which time several jurors sought clarification of the rebuttal witnesses’ testimony. Remarkably, Metcalfe denied them on each occasion.
The jury, after having deliberated for less than three hours, returned with their verdict. Guilty of capital murder.
Adams was subsequently sentenced to death. Not only had a satisfied Mulder condemned an innocent man, he had allowed Harris to walk free.
Six years hence, Harris would kill again.
Randall Dale Adams’ case was far from finished. His subsequent appeal of the verdict would give Doug Mulder many a sleepless night and will be examined in the next installment.
Douglas D. Mulder’s introduction to the case of Darlie Routier was perhaps as clumsy as his eventual representation of his future client. Darlie had been charged with the murders of her two eldest sons, Devon and Damon, on June 6 of 1996. While she would only be tried for the alleged murder of Damon, she was facing a probable death sentence if convicted.
On June 28, the court appointed Douglas Parks as lead attorney to represent Darlie, with Wayne Huff to assist. Blake Withrow also appeared “for the purpose the appeal”. This team handled several pre-trial hearings until Mulder’s first foray into the case at a hearing on September 20 to determine whether a gag order had been violated. Interestingly, he was to represent both Darin Routier and Darlie Kee. The court ruled that they (along with Chief Bob Knowles) had not transgressed the conditions of the order.
At the same hearing, Judge Mark Tolle inquired of Darin Routier whether he had retained Mulder to represent Darlie going forward, to which he replied “no”. When asked “To your knowledge, has your wife made any arrangements to have Mr. Mulder represent her?” again he replied “no”.
Mulder then stated that he had been retained by Darlie Kee to act as a consultant and assist Parks, Huff and Withrow. Whilst unable to find “any provision for a consultant” in the Code of Criminal Procedure, Judge Tolle instructed Mulder thusly;
“Now the attorneys of record in this case are Mr. Douglas Parks, the lead attorney, and Mr. Wayne Huff and Mr. Blake Withrow. You may also be present in the courtroom during the proceedings. However, you may not make or file any motions in this case, nor shall you be permitted to make any objections, question witnesses, or make any arguments. These will be the duties of the attorneys of record alone. Mr. Douglas Parks is the lead attorney and he, along with Mr. Wayne Huff and Mr. Blake Withrow are the attorneys of record, and they will make all of the decisions concerning the trial of this case, from the defense standpoint. Is that clear?”
Further, Judge Tolle advised Mulder that if he was to enter the case full time, a formal motion would need to be filed upon which the court would make its ruling.
The court did not have to wait long. On October 21, during what was to have been a jury voire dire hearing, a Motion for Substitution of Counsel, filed by Mulder, was before the court to be ruled upon.
MR. DOUGLAS MULDER: Judge, I have filed the motion and I would ask the Court to rule on it. The motion speaks for itself.
THE COURT: The motion states that Mrs. Routier – you have been retained by the defendant in connection with this cause; is that correct?
MR. DOUGLAS MULDER: By the defendant’s family.
THE COURT: Well, I understand that you have been retained to represent Mrs. Routier in this case?
MR. DOUGLAS MULDER: Yes, sir, with your permission.
THE COURT: And you will represent her for all purposes?
MR. DOUGLAS MULDER: For all trial purposes.
THE COURT: I understand, for all trial purposes. You are prepared to come into the trial right now, with no delays or anything like that; is that correct?
MR. DOUGLAS MULDER: Judge, no foreseeable delays.
THE COURT: We understand what you are saying. In other words, we’re picking a jury, we’re starting our jury selection today, so you are prepared to go forward with that; is that correct?
MR. DOUGLAS MULDER: Yes, sir, at this time we are.
THE COURT: All right.
Douglas Parks was to later state in an affidavit attached to Darlie’s Writ of Habeas Corpus that he saw Mulder’s representing both Darin and Darlie Kee as a conflict of interest. In his affidavit, Parks stated that when he had learned several weeks prior of Mulder “considering whether to accept employment as counsel for Darlie Routier”, he “became concerned that Mr. Mulder would be unable to represent both Darlie and Darin Routier without breaching his duty of loyalty to one or both clients”.
Parks went further, observing Mulder’s scant knowledge of his client’s case and that he felt “a zealous defense of Ms. Routier necessarily involves implicating her husband, Darin Eugene Routier, in the death of Damon”, something which Mulder had reservations about and went so far as to agree not to pursue Darin as a potential suspect.
It was Parks’ intention to introduce evidence which would have cast suspicion upon Darin Routier as a possible suspect in the murders, while, at the same time, creating reasonable doubt as to Darlie’s guilt. The least of that evidence would have been blood found on the waistband of a pair of Darin’s underwear. Parks was perplexed when Mulder summarily dismissed the notion of Darin’s possible involvement, given that Mulder was yet to have even studied the results of the defense’s investigation.
It is open to debate whether he did in fact study them, given his lacklustre performance at trial. That and other Mulder moments, which include his dubious past as a state prosecutor, will be addressed in future installments.
A Facebook event has been created to seek the removal of Angela Corey from office.
This is a “virtual event” which requires nothing more than for you to sign the petition and phone, email or write to any or all of the officials listed below. The purpose of this event is to have the State Attorney of Florida’s 4th Judicial District, Angela Corey, removed…
Corey’s “tough on crime” stance has met with much opposition since she took office in 2009, most notably, her penchant for having juvenile defendants as young as twelve tried as adults. Her actions have become a burden for the taxpayer while eschewing studies which have clearly demonstrated that the chance of recidivism among juveniles incarcerated in an adult facility is much greater than those housed in juvenile facilities where the opportunities for rehabilitation and furthering of their education is available. This is not possible in an adult facility.
A case in point is Cristian Fernandez, who, if convicted, will serve a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Who will be the next child to fall foul of Corey’s ways?
A recent study by Drs. Michael Hallett and Dan Pontzer shows Corey’s “tough on crime” stance to be counter-productive and that her “hard-nosed approach [is] causing the costly and unnecessary surge in jail population” at Duval County Jail, the cost for which is met, once again, by the taxpayer. Folio Weekly published an article titled ‘The Punisher’ last week about the study.
Corey’s scant regard for those whom she was elected to serve, is abundantly clear and it is time for her to be removed from office.
Governor Rick Scott
Office of Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
The Governor may be contacted by email here.
For those outside Florida, enter the Jacksonville zip code 32202 and the county as Duval.
Attorney General Pam Bondi
Office of Attorney General Pam Bondi
State of Florida
The Capitol PL-01
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050
The Attorney General may be contacted by email here:
US Attorney General Eric Holder
Office of US Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Good news is something that 13 year old Cristian Fernandez has rarely received since his arrest in April of 2011. Today, that all changed.
Judge Mallory Cooper granted a motion filed on Cristian’s behalf by his defense team, led by Hank Coxe which took over the case from Matt Shirk on February 1.
During his tenure as counsel, Shirk had seemingly not even considered the shackling to be a violation of Cristian’s rights, much less bother to file a motion with the court, as Coxe and his team did within the first week of having taking over the case.
Although the motion filed read, in part “the trial court has full discretion over security procedures” Judge Cooper’s decision stated that “It is abundantly clear that the presence of multiple law enforcement officers in the courtroom is more than sufficient to ensure the safety and security of Cristian and others” adding that Cristian posed no risk to the court unrestrained.
Further, the motion states “This court finds the defendant does not have a history of escape and has not created any disturbances or posed a potential threat to anyone in the courtroom during the pendency of his cases. As a result, it is unnecessary to physically restrain the defendant while he is present in the courtroom.”
The State’s response was somewhat guarded, with Assistant State Attorney Mark Caliel saying “I think Judge Cooper has always handled Mr. Fernandez’s case with the utmost discretion” adding that there was no objection to the decision from the State Attorney’s Office.
Whilst there was no mention made of the public pressure applied to the court by supporters of Cristian, they will doubtless be overjoyed by the news. A Facebook event had been created by advocate Melissa Higgins, whereby she asked supporters to email “State Attorney Angela Corey, Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford, Judge Mallory Cooper, and Governor Rick Scott to demand that they stop the indiscriminate shackling of 13 year old Cristian Fernandez”. All four were inundated with correspondence from supporters around the world.
Speaking today, Ms. Higgins told this author “I think that it is a really positive sign that Judge Mallory Cooper recognized the profoundly prejudicial impact that shackling Cristian would have at his upcoming criminal trial. Today’s news suggests that some things are finally beginning to look up in a case that has been both tragic and bleak from a number of perspectives from the very beginning. This was a step forward for Jacksonville today, and for the civil and human rights of juveniles across America.”
The decision by Judge Cooper should now be seen as a precedent for all other cases of juveniles being shackled for court appearances, effectively closing the loophole in the Florida Supreme Court’s amendment to Rule 8.100 of the Florida Statute.
California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, North Dakota, North Carolina, Oregon, and Vermont no longer shackle juvenile defendants as a result of State Supreme Court rulings or legislative action, yet many states still employ the practice.
A petition has been created to address this issue, so that others may be afforded the same humane treatment as Cristian was today.
Cristian’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 7.