Archive for the ‘Injustice’ Category

Florida’s death row would be about three-quarters smaller if the state followed the practice of the majority of death penalty states and required the jury to unanimously decide a death sentence instead of by simple majority.  Alabama and Delaware also permit judges to impose death sentences following a non-unanimous jury decision.

After an 18-month investigation into Florida’s 390 death row inmates, the Villages Daily Sun found that judges had imposed death sentences 287 times or 74% of the cases after jurors could not agree on the sentencing.  If Florida had just changed their sentencing to supermajority instead of unanimous, 43% of the state’s death row prisoners would have received life sentences, as in Alabama which requires 10 or more jurors agree.

Although Delaware, like Florida, allows a recommendation for death by a simple majority of the jury (7 out of 12), it first requires the jury to unanimously find the aggravating factors that justify a death sentence.

Florida’s high-rate of death sentences now costs the state an estimated $9 million a year. (more…)


Innocence Project Northwest client Donovan Allen was released this week after DNA testing revealed another man was responsible for the murder for which he served 15 years.

Allen was convicted in 2002 in the death of his mother, Sharon Cox.  She was found strangled and bludgeoned to death in her home in 2000.  Allen falsely confessed after 14 hours of overnight interrogation.  He recanted, but in the end it did no good.

His first trial ended in a hung jury.  At his second trial, Allen was convicted of aggravated first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charges against Allen and have arrested Brian Del Kitts, the victim’s nephew.  His DNA was found on Cox’s clothing after new testing.  Despite this, police are sticking to their original findings.  They told the press that Kitts is now considered to be an “additional” perpetrator and that Allen is not exonerated.

Innocence Project Northwest Policy Director Lara Zarowsky said last week that prosecutors never suggested the crime was committed by more than one person and the evidence against Kitts matches this theory and fully exonerates Allen.

“Any additional time he has to spend in prison for the murder of his mother is a tragedy.  To us, this is a clear case,” she said.

Attorneys for the Innocence Project Northwest requested the testing this past May on Cox’s clothing, nail scrapings, and other evidence in the case.  DNA found on the collar of Cox’s sweater and on her shirt matched Kitts, who was a person of interest during the investigation.  Allen was not officially exonerated so, charges could still be brought against him in the future if prosecutors so choose.

“It feels surreal.  I can finally begin the life I was robbed of.  I’m so glad to have a second chance to be a father, a son, an uncle,” Allen said.

Sources:  Innocence Project 1  |  2

“I do not think that you can get a fair child abuse trial before a jury anywhere in the country…I do not care how sophisticated or law smart jurors are, when they hear that a child has been abused, a piece of their mind closes up, and this goes for the judge, the jurors, and all of us,” said Judge Abner Mivka of the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit.

“When child protective services separated Melissa and Anthony Geers from their five sons last spring, Melissa says, the pain was staggering. The worst part was watching the effects on their children: the 9-year-old’s full-blown panic attack, the 8-year-old’s holding his mom “so tight I couldn’t breathe,” the sudden interruption of breast-feeding for the 4-month-old twins (Melissa pumped throughout their foster placement).”

“The state filed to terminate the Geers’ parental rights just weeks after x-rays revealed rib fractures in both twins—but withdrew the suit 10 weeks later, after the Geers submitted opinions from eight outside experts who attributed the fractures to fragile bones, citing two underlying causes: First, the boys had a metabolic disorder that impedes bone formation. Second, like most twins, the youngest Geers had arrived early, 7 weeks early in their case. Because the rate of bone mineralization ramps up during the final trimester of gestation, premature infants in general are prone to weak bones.”

“But those explanations entered the record only because the Geers did their own research and called in their own experts. The state tore her sons’ lives apart, Melissa says, based on the opinion of one child abuse doctor “who never met me, my husband, or our kids.””

“How are the child abuse doctors not aware of all these other things?” Melissa asks. “That’s the part that bothers me the most. Why are they not doing their due diligence?”




Read more stories of falsely accused/wrongfully convicted parents here:

Sources:  Click on Detroit