Topic

wrongful conviction

32 petitions

Update posted 3 weeks ago

Petition to Governor Terry McAuliffe, Governor Ralph Northam

Decriminalize Autism and Save Drew

Our son, Drew Harrison, has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is currently serving three active years of a 50-year prison sentence. Drew’s Autism was not taken into consideration at trial or sentencing. We are petitioning Governor McAuliffe to grant Drew a pardon. Drew reconnected with a woman he had dated in high school. The evening before inviting him to her apartment she shared her interest in BDSM, submissive sex. She told Drew that her boyfriend was too tired after work to please her sexually. Upon arrival she laid a blanket on the floor, she allowed him to massage her shoulders and feet, she showed him her semi-nude, erotic photos of herself and engaged in sexualized talk. In the bedroom he easily removed her shirt and pants. Drew gave the woman oral sex and put a finger in her vagina. When she told him to stop he stopped. The two of them texted and emailed back and forth hundreds of times post event. They even got together a few times. On one occasion they went to a bookstore where she pointed out an erotic BDSM book for Drew to buy. Six months after the evening in her apartment she reported to the police that the contact in her bedroom was nonconsensual. Those with ASD typically have a strike or two against them when entering a courtroom. The pace of questioning often exceeds their ability to process everything that is heard. Their high anxiety and repetitive statements can be mistaken as indicators of deception or guilt. Without an understanding of their unique way of processing information and their difficulty expressing anger appropriately a court can easily question credibility and reach a faulty conclusion.  Drew’s therapist testified that Drew has a strong desire to please, that he has learned to fake well in order to fit in. The judge interpreted this as our son’s ability to be deceitful and he used it as part of the reason for convicting Drew. He never asked the autism experts in the courtroom for clarification regarding Drew’s social and communication deficits.  In a letter presented to the judge Drew’s probation officer noted that Drew complied with all probation conditions for over two years. She stated that if this were a regular case without the appeal process she would request early release from probation. She added that Drew passed the state-issued polygraph without deception. Results were consistent with the not guilty plea Drew has maintained from the beginning.      The judge stated that he didn’t view Drew as a threat to the community or the woman. He emphasized that he was sending Drew to prison as a general deterrence to others because that is what the community would want him to do. Drew’s therapists are convinced that Drew is innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. They warned the court that incarceration would be torture for our son. In prison Drew suffered a break down after abrupt medication changes and being moved from isolation into general population. To deaden his senses from loud clanging doors, the bright buzzing lights and the chatter of inmates Drew often wears ear plugs and wraps a shirt around his head. He struggles to navigate the unwritten rules of inmates. Drew lives in fear and overwhelm. He begs us, “Please get me out of here”. Prison visits are bittersweet. We are grateful to spend time with our son, but heartbroken as we see him deteriorate. We are asking Governor McAuliffe to grant Drew a pardon. We ask for your support by signing this petition. My blog savedrew.com gives additional details and excerpts from transcripts. It shows the considerable reasonable doubt and injustice.  Thank you, Judy and John Harrison       

Judy (Jude) Harrison
6,073 supporters
Update posted 2 months ago

Petition to Edmund G. Brown Jr., California Governor

FREE BARRY DENTON. 1st termer on his 18th year of a 30 year sentence for robbery (unarmed)

Barry Denton (P96760), has been incarcerated within the California Department Of Corrections and Rehabilitation for 18 years and counting. Barry, is a first termer who was struck out under the California Three Strikes Law, in where his juvenile case was used to complete the three strike process. His crime was committed in Long Beach, California, where he grew up under the optismistic eyes of two loving parents who support his cause for freedom. Barry's days as a minor speaks to the radical shift into crime due to the fact that he graduated from Wilson High School in Long Beach, California (1997), was employed and attending college at the time of his arrest, while playing a pivotal role within his family structure.  Barry, committed a robbery P.C. 212.5 when he was 20 years old, and no, this is not a plot to garner leniency due to his age, but we all feel that society recognizes that the time should fit the crime and Barry  has exceeded the ascribed time allocated for his crime 5 times over when you consider Barry's sentence: 25+5-to-life under the Three Strikes Law. He is now 39 years old and, as he expresses, a stark contrast of who he once was in his younger days when he was trying to discover his place in society.  A gun was not used in the commission of the crime and  no one was hurt or touched. Ordinarily,  a crime of this nature would warrant less than 5 years, and oftentimes probation but this is not the case. We want to bring Barry home and we all agree that he deserves a second chance at a life he never had, especially considering his  accomplishments inside of prison.  Barry, is apart of https://www.change.org/p/jerry-brown-free-the-3-000-nonviolent-inmates-still-imprisoned-under-three-strikes-in-california that is gaining momentum to free three strikers through a petition to the Governor of California. And,  https://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_57,_Parole_for_Non-Violent_Criminals_and_Juvenile_Court_Trial_Requirements_(2016) helped Barry by reducing his sentence (Prop. 57 deducted 3 years). But, it still leaves him with more time to do for an unarmed robbery after 18 years. It is time for Barry Denton to have that second chance at life. Let's band together and promote this petition and inspire the Governor of California to free Barry from this egregious sentence with a Sentence Commutation or Executive Clemency in the interest of justice.  He has become an advocate for peace inside of prison, becoming the Chairman of the Alternative to Violence Project (AVP) https://avpcalifornia.org facilitator, while acquiring the necessary skills in his college studies, various self-help groups like GOGI (Getting Out By Going In) Leadership Program https://gettingoutbygoingin.org and Vocational Welding that equips him with the tools to be productive in society. The beginning years of his incarceration was rocky and confusing to say the least. But as he declares, Barry has figured out how to be the facilitator of his own destiny, avoiding the pitfalls of prison violence for over 10 years now.  Words from Barry: Since my incarceration I have experienced numerous struggles and triumphs. I have undergone an evolution that equates to a transformation of a notable kind where I recognize the power in redemption, and along with God's grace, I have survived the many pitfalls that have defeated so many. Prison is a place of defeat and shattered dreams that leaves the soul yearning for the unreachable. Many trapped behind the walls fail to see the motivating force that causes the spirit, the mind, and heart to seek something contrary to the historical plight that lands us in the cages of consequence. But, there are some who get into the operation of change and become apart of the solution. When I began to operate on myself, healing and patching up old wounds and emotional lacerations that ran deep, I begin to realize where I went wrong. There was nothing and no one to blame but myself. I had to stand tall in accountability and this moment gave me the power and awareness to understand that i am more than my environment. I am more than the street culture that has ruined so many lives. I am more than just a number to be counted and analyzed for statistical fodder inside of prisons. I am an element of change where I can be a gift to set the course of dysfunction along a path of correction. This is my purpose. One of service to society and also to myself. We have a social and moral obligation to make the world livable, loveable, and consciously unique. It is the price we pay for existing where others have perished. It is the road we pave for forthcoming generations who deserve something better than the hardships that have hardened the hearts of so many. This is what I am striving to do. On the inside I am in the trenches striving to change the culture of prison one handshake at a time. I want to see a world where lockup fails to be the first option and those who are confused, I want to be the light that shows them the option. I feel i am ready to be apart of the greater society and I want to add value to the process of world building and I am only asking for my moment. I am a husband, a father, a son to unwavering parents, and a child of God. I am a champion of changing this notion that prison is the dumpsite of America and I work to ensure that a better world can exist within the electric fence so that the beauty in redemption spills out into society so that you and I can live in eternal peace. I want to  step into the next phase of righting my wrongs. This is the accumulation of justice and us uniting as a people to recognize that Change is possible if we are to believe in the civic and social obligations of our democracy. Please sign the petition and give life a chance. Let's forge an undying pulse beating within the hearts of humanity and allow freedom to persist in the face of harsh sentencing laws. Be proactive. Let Governor Brown know that there lies a people on the inside of prison walls who have the power and potential to be elements of the answer .

The Denton Family
215 supporters
Started 3 months ago

Petition to Abbas Elam

Help free 35 years falsely imprisoned, and misrepresented Darius Elam

This petition is about the wrongful conviction of Darius D. Elam in 1983. We now have proof of his innocence due to DNA tests that proved he was not at the scene of the crime. The results of this DNA test have been in since February of 2014, and yet he remains behind bars. If you have a heart at all please help in getting my dads story out to as many people as possible so that this might land in the right hands of someone who can help on a higher level. Thank you for taking the time to read this:  An inmate in the Texas state prison (my dad), Darius D. Elam, has been wrongly convicted of aggravated robbery, and has been imprisoned for over 3 decades. The particular evidence used to place him at the scene of the crime consists of a yellow sheet of paper from his writing notepad. This sheet of paper, styled as “States Exhibit No. 30”, consists of my dad’s college notes from a psychology class he was taking at Texas Southern University. At the time of his arrest the legal yellow notepad was in his possession. This sheet of paper torn from the notepad was alleged to have been found at the scene of the crime 90 days after the crime occurred. Below are the details of how everything happened wrapped in a story of corruption, injustice, and racism. I must first point out that the crime he has been charged with doesn’t even come close to justifying the extensive length of time he has spent in incarceration. In August of 1978 my dad accepted a full scholarship to Texas Southern University, although he had received other offers to other universities, he felt that TSU would provide him the most promise for his education. Five years later is when this story takes place. On May 6th 1983 my dad left work with a work associate (Clarence Richardson) who offered him a drive home. On the drive home, Richardson said he’d like to stop and make a purchase to break in a new credit card that he had. While Richardson was shopping he asked my dad if he wanted anything; my dad responded by saying sure, and he would reimburse him on his next pay day. When Richardson paid for everything the credit card used came up as fraudulent, stolen, and had ties to a robbery. The cops were called to the store by the store clerk, and both men were arrested on the spot. After that day it has been nothing short of a nightmare for him & our family. Clarence Richardson served 5 years for credit card fraud, and got out. I do not know if Richardson gave false information to the police for a lesser sentence, but my dad has been in prison since that day. Here are the facts that led to his conviction. On May 7th, 1983 a deceased victim was discovered in the back seat of his own vehicle in the parking lot of Rice University. The victim had died of a gunshot wound to the head in a struggle. On this day May 7th, the investigators and forensic officers examined the crime scene, inventoried and photographed all that was present at the scene of the crime. There is no recording or photographs of a yellow sheet of notepad paper in the forensic experts’ documents. On the same day, May 7th, the forensic officers also examined the vehicle for finger prints. The officers were able to pull several finger prints from the vehicle, none of which were my dad’s finger prints. After that the vehicle was removed from the scene of the crime and taken to the Houston Police Department’s vehicle examination stall. It was there that another crime scene investigator searched the car extensively for further evidence that might not have been found by the forensic officers. The crime scene investigator made her own independent inventory list of what she found. At this point there still was no yellow sheet of notepad paper. However, it was noted and inventoried that the victims class & wedding ring was on the front passenger side floor of the car (we will get to why this is important soon). The vehicle was returned back to the victim’s family in late May of 1983, and no longer in possession of the HPD. Furthermore, this same C.S.I. officer did a supplemental police report dated June 17th 1983, and noted forensic evidence of hair was found on the victim’s items. The conclusion of the hair that was tested from the vehicle & victims clothing revealed that there was no negroid hair to be present. On August 9th, 1983, a full 90 days after the vehicle had been examined and returned, an officer of the Houston Police Department (Leonard Lee Cooper Jr.) made an allegation that he found a yellow sheet of notepad paper on the front passenger side floor of the car (here’s why the rings stated above were so important). Clearly the C.S.I. agent could not discover something as small as two rings, but miss something as noticeable as an 8 ½” x 11” sheet of yellow paper with blood on it in the very same location as the rings were discovered. Even if the C.S.I. agent failed to record this information in writing, the pictures don’t lie. The bigger question here, is how evidence could have been discovered in the car after it was already returned to the victim’s family, and no longer in the possession of the HPD. It was alleged that this sheet of paper consisted of my dad’s right index finger and blood spatter. Now, at this point it’s pretty spelled out that this is fabricated evidence used against my father, which is a heinous criminal act committed by the HDP. However, if you look at this through the lens of 1983 Houston Texas you will find that there was a lot of corruption and racism within the HPD; almost as bad as the LAPD if not worst. The view through that lens will help to make out how something like this could lead to the wrongful imprisonment of an innocent black man for over 30 years. It’s easy to be skeptical of these types of things. My father told me that before he got incarcerated he truly believed that if someone got convicted that meant they were guilty, end of story. He believed in our justice system, he believed in America, he believed in right & wrong. Sadly, we see on the news more & more occurrences of wrongly convicted citizens, some of whom have already been sentenced to death. On March 26th, 1984 my dad was convicted for the offense of aggravated robbery in the 232nd Judicial District Court, Harris country Texas, Cause No. 380350. Because my father was young at the time, he could not afford a high-level attorney, and was ill-advised by his public defender (Isaac Henderson) into electing sentencing from the trial court to better his chances of probation. Henderson never fought for my dad, and played a leading role in getting my dad convicted. During the trials, Henderson told my dad “I couldn’t help you even if I wanted to because I have to work with these people (meaning the prosecutors), and these people are my meal ticket!” Henderson never submitted any evidence that would have been in my dad’s favor, such as the photographs that proved there was no yellow sheet of paper or the fact that they found the gun 6 days after the crime, and it did not have my dad’s finger prints on it. Henderson also never called any witnesses to the stand to testify to my dad’s whereabouts on the day of the murder. The trial court assessed the punishment at “no less than five years, no more than life; which is actually treated as a life sentence in the Texas justice department. An insane amount of time for the conviction! There are convicted murders whom have served less time than 34 years freely walking the streets. On December 9th 2013 my dad finally won the chance to get his DNA tested by the Houston Conviction Integrity unit. Our family was so excited that finally we would have the chance to see justice prevail! Nearly a year later on February 19th 2014 the DNA evidence came back excluding all of my dad’s DNA from the crime scene. This is a really important piece of the story because the coroner’s report concluded the victim was in a struggle with the assailant, and would have had the DNA of that assailant under their finger nails. Unfortunately for the HPD, my dad just wasn’t there! They want so bad for him to have committed this crime that they will go to any length of corruption to keep him in, but he wasn’t there! What is the HPD trying to cover up? In Texas, it is established that DNA exclusion is exculpatory evidence, and a hearing must be granted to the defendant in order to determine if the jury would make the same conclusion if they had that DNA evidence. My dad has not had his hearing to date, and is still confined in prison. Given everything I’ve said above I ask of you, the reader; take a moment and think about the last 34 years of your life. What have you done? What major things have you accomplished? What trips have you been on? What was the best meal you’ve ever had? How have you matured as person? Lastly, how many changes in society and technology have occurred since 1983? As you reflect on those things, you may find yourself seeing that 34-year timeframe through a different lens. It reads as just a number on paper, but it’s an entire lifetime! During this time my father has been denied parole on five occasions, in spite of his evidence of innocence. I ask again, what is the HPD covering up? Why hasn’t he been given his trail, which is his legal right to prove his innocence? Now, I do have empathy for the family that lost their loved one. I understand what it feels like to lose a beloved family member, and I hope that one day that family will get justice from the real person that committed that atrocious crime. Unfortunately for the HPD, and all the other people involved in convicting him, my father just wasn’t there! My father has always maintained his innocence these past 34 years, and refuses to admit to the crime because he did not do it. My father is an innocent man, and has lost everything taking the fall for this crime. Please re-post and pass this story on to everyone you know as I’m trying to get my dad’s story to go public. (#justicefordarius) I do not know to what extent the HPD & Texas Prison System will go to in order to keep my dad’s case from surfacing and embarrassing them. But I can honestly say I am concerned for my dad’s safety at this point. Thank you!

Abbas Elam
849 supporters
Update posted 4 months ago

Petition to Sean K. Hammers

Why is my son still in prison when DNA exonerates him?

I have two children - sons Philip and Nathan Barnett.  Both of my sons were wrongfully accused and convicted of a cold case crime they did not commit based upon a false confession of Brian Dement who was already in trouble with the law who took a plea deal in order to point the finger to three other men - my two sons and another man.  Dement not only gave a false confession, but also gave various conflicting stories of what happened.  Since then, he has admitted on two different occasions that he lied on my sons and fully admits he lied on the stand. About two years ago, the Innocence Project became involved in each of my sons' cases in order to prove their innocence through DNA testing.  DNA testing was completed from a cigarette butt and semen found from the victim's pants that were gathered at the crime scene.  All DNA samples matches a convicted pedophile named Timothy Smith who has a history of abuse and other crimes against women and children and who was never ever questioned in the crime. Although it has taken some time, my youngest son Nathan has served his sentence, but is still awaiting exoneration.  However, my oldest son Philip, the father of four young children, is still in prison and awaiting exoneration to correct this injustice and free him from his wrongful conviction and incarceration.  DNA proves both of my sons' innocence, yet Cabell County (West Virginia) Prosecuting Attorney Sean ("Corky") Hammers refuses to vacate these unjust and wrongful convictions and is continuing to allow Timothy Smith whose DNA was found at the crime scene to remain unconvicted of this crime.  This is not what our appointed or elected officials are supposed to do, but instead a prosecuting attorney fights for justice like a prosecutor is supposed to do.  It is a travesty that Prosecuting Attorney Hammers will not even grant my son's bail motion while we fight to overturn his conviction.  Instead, there are further delays in the exoneration of our case.  DNA is scientific and doesn't lie!!! We would appreciate your signing this petition to help our family have a united voice so Prosecuting Attorney Hammers knows the public expects and demands justice in this case by releasing Philip and exonerating both my sons and going after the real perpetrator - Timothy Smith.  Our family has lost 12 years in our lives because of my sons' wrongful convictions and this miscarriage of justice. Our family and friends thank you for your support in helping to influence the Cabell County Prosecutor to do the right thing by exonerating both sons based upon various and powerful DNA evidence that supports their innocence and points to another man.   We would appreciate your signing our petition before their August 30, 2018 hearing as time is of the essence and sharing it on your FaceBook, Messenger, Twitter, etc. and urging your family and friends to share it on their media accounts to get this time sensitive petition signed to help increase the strength of a united voice to Prosecuting Attorney Hammers who has the power to do the right thing by exonerating them based on powerful DNA evidence.  Each voice counts and can help in our fight in correcting the wrong that has been done.  WE DESPERATELY NEED YOUR HELP AND SUPPORT TO OVERTURN THIS CLEARLY WRONGFUL CONVICTION!!!! For more information on this case, here are some media links: DNA Points to New Suspect in 16 year old murder case Murder Case Reopened - Men to Expel Convictions DNA Test Results Exclude Barnett Brothers and Identify Alternate Suspect Innocence Project Mother's Day Blog  

Tammy Nichols Barnett
11,810 supporters