Petition Closed

Wrong person convicted

This petition had 521 supporters

Dear Sir/Madam:
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> > >> I would like to bring to your attention a situation that I find unique in its circumstances and quite frankly reprehensible. At the conclusion of this brief letter I hope you will agree that the situation needs to be revisited, reinvestigated, and re-litigated.
> > >> At the present time, Thomas R James, best known as “Jay”, sits in the Florida Department of Corrections serving a life sentence for murder, armed robbery, armed burglary, and aggravated assault. At first glance it would seem that he is in the right place. Anyone committing such heinous crimes should be locked away and quite possible forever, but the problem is that Jay did not commit any of the crimes.
> > >> This situation began on January 17, 1990 at approximately 7:00pm. Two black men entered the home of Francis and Ethra McKinnon, located at 135 South Dixie Highway, Apt. 110, to commit armed robbery. Also present in the apartment at the time was the McKinnon’s adult daughter and the daughter’s husband (Dorothy and John Walton) and two small neighborhood children (Lance and Josie which for some strange reason none of the adults would admit were present). During the robbery, Mr. McKinnon was fatally shot and the perpetrators fled the scene.
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> > >> The ensuing investigation brought the following facts to light:
> > >> • One of the robbers was said to have worn a mask but did not brandish a weapon. He was described as being 6 ft tall, 170 lbs, and seventeen or eighteen years old. I’m not sure how the approximate age was determined since his face was covered by a mask, but that was the description given to the investigators.
> > >> The unmasked robber was described as being 5 ft 6 inches tall, 200 plus pounds, with short fat stubby fingers, wearing a hat, shorts and having a gun.
> > >> In the course of their get-a-way, after shooting Mr.McKinnon, the perpetrators were seen by numerous people from the neighborhood who recognized and identified the gunman as Vincent “Dog” Cephus (Williams). That information was provided to the police along with the name “Thomas James, an individual from the area who was a known accomplice of “Dog” in several crimes.
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> > >> Cheryl Holcomb (a neighbor) told investors that she had seen the robbers enter the McKinnon’s apartment, heard a shot, and then saw two kids (Lance and Josie) run out prior to the perpetrators exiting.
> > >> Regina Ortiz (another neighbor) told investigators that upon hearing the shot she ran out to her balcony and saw “Dog” running away with a gun in his hand and a hat on his head. Ms.Ortiz also told investigators that her nephew Lance was in the McKinnon’s apartment.
> > >> Joy Thompson (another neighbor) told investigators that she was hanging out clothes when she saw Dog and another person running through a nearby alley. She said that Dog had a gun in his hand, a hat on his head , and was wearing shorts.
> > >> The only thing tying Thomas R James, “Jay”, the man who was incarcerated for 28 years for the terrible crime, is apparently his race and the name “Thomas James”. Several details should have even exonerated Jay. For instance:
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> > >> No physical evidence connects Jay to the crimes.
> > >> Fingerprints recovered at the scene do not match Jay’s.
> > >> Jay’s physical description does not match either of the robbers.
> > >> Both of the children (Lance and Josie) described another person as the gunman.
> > >> Certainly one would think that such inconsistencies would come to light and that Jay would have been found not guilty, but this story becomes even stronger when you look at the trial. The State called three witnesses, Dorothy Walton, Ethra McKinnon, and Larry Miller( a neighbor) to testify. The following discrepancies came to light at the trial:
> > >> For some strange reason, none of the adult victims would admit the presence of the children (Lance and Josie) at the scene of the crime despite the fact that two witnesses (Cheryl Holcomb and Regina Ortiz) had placed the kids there. That may not seem like a big deal at first blush but it will when combined with other facts. Like the address in the subpoenas for both children are intentionally wrong.
> > >> Ethra McKinnon testified but did not identify Jay as one of the perpetrators. More importantly as the unmasked gunman.
> > >> Larry Miller testified that he had picked Jay as the person with the gun out of a police photo pack after initially picking someone else, but he did not identify Jay at the trial.
> > >> Dorothy Walton for some strange reason testified that “Jay” was the gunman. Though he did not fit the her description of the unmasked gunman.
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> > >> The State refused to call Lance and Josie and therefore their testimony was not heard that would have disputed the testimony of Dorothy Walton and brought her reliability as a witness into question.
> > >> If John Walton had testified about the person who placed the gun to his hesd, Jay would have been exonerated and the testimony of Mr.Walton’s wife would have been contradicted as to what she had seen.
> > >> Joy Thompson’s testimony would have exonerated Jay and brought Dorothy Walton’s testimony into question also.
> > >> The biggest question that comes to my mind when I look at this particular situation is “Why?”. When so many people have identified someone else as the perpetrator, why did the State pursue Jay and why did Ms.Walton identify the wrong man? As crazy as it sounds, the only answer seems to be a case of fraud. Do we want to believe that bad elements exist within the state’s criminal justice system that would convict the wrong person and lock them away for the rest of their lives? As scary as that seems, the fact of this case point to that conclusion. Jay’s attorney was aware of all the witnesses available that would have bolstered and established Jay’s mistaken identity defense and the very fact of his innocence, but even legal counsel chose to ignore the facts
> > >> I know that I have not adequately explained the situation to you the reader, but I do know that an innocent man sits in prison convicted of crimes that Dog obviously committed. I know there has been a mistake, and the wrong man has had his freedom snatched from him. If this story stirs you as it does me, then please contact Jay and let him give you the full story.
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> > >> You can contact Jay at: Thomas R James DC# 420931

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