Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania’

Steven Mark Chaney who was imprisoned for 28 years for the 1987 murders of two people in Dallas, TX was released this week after his conviction based upon discredited bite-mark evidence was thrown out.  Chaney was sentenced to life in prison after a forensic dentist told a Dallas jury in 1989 that there was a 1 in 1,000,000 chance that the murderer was someone other than Chaney.  The bite-marks were allegedly found on John Sweek.  The dentist has since recanted his testimony.  State District Judge Dominique Collins overturned Chaney’s conviction after receiving a joint request from the District Attorney Susan Hawk, the Innocence Project, and the Public Defender’s Office.

Chaney, 59, will remain free while the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reviews the case.

“I could sit and recount all the wrongs,” Chaney told reporters, “The loss of my oldest stepson, my oldest grandchild two years ago, but this is a time for rejoicing…”

At least one juror after his initial trial said that the bite-mark evidence convinced them of Chaney’s guilt, despite testimony from 9 witnesses that he was somewhere else during the murders of John and Sally Sweek.  In recent years, forensic scientists have raised doubts about the reliability of bite mark evidence among others.  In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences published a report concluding that there was insufficient scientific basis to conclusively match bite marks to individuals.  The Texas Forensic Science Commission is reviewing cases in which bite analysis contributed to a conviction to determine whether they warrant further investigation.  In addition, defense lawyers also allege that prosecutors knowingly presented false evidence that blood had been found on Chaney’s shoes.  Prosecutors withheld notes from another expert who said that there was no blood.  They also say that prosecutors elicited false testimony from the co-worker of Chaney who initially told police that Chaney had asked him to tell authorities that he had last been at the victims’ home a week before their murder.  At trial, the co-worker told the jury that Chaney had asked him to be his alibi.  Chaney’s attorneys have filed court papers saying new evidence establishes he is innocent.

“We’re confident that when the reinvestigation is complete, the district attorney’s office will be in a position to formally agree that he is innocent of this crime,” said Julie Less, exoneration attorney for the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office, in a statement.

Sources:  Independent  |  Wrongful Convictions Blog

PENNSYLVANIA WOMAN GETS NEW TRIAL AFTER BITE-MARK ANALYSIS CALLED JUNK SCIENCE BY STATE’S OWN EXPERT (more…)

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Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey, who represents Alex Hribal who is accused of a stabbing rampage at Franklin Regional High School in Pennsylvania, said, “I think they should be ashamed of themselves,” Thomassey said. “I mean, this young man needs some help, some psychiatric therapy and I can’t find a place to take him and I think that’s pathetic.

He told the local media that the refusal by a psych hospital to treat someone with mental illness illustrates the deterioration of the mental health system. Initially the hospital had abided by a judge’s ruling to treat him, but then went back on that agreement and refused for “safety reasons.” Southwood Psychiatric Hospital in the South Hills agreed to treat Hribal, but days later changed their minds.

Hribal is accused of stabbing 20 classmates and a security guard in April.

Westmoreland County Judge Christopher Feliciani ruled Friday after a transfer hearing that Hribal should receive mental health treatment at a secure facility that can provide jail-like security.

District Attorney John Peck released a statement that said, “[State expert] Dr. Wright testified…that it was his opinion that Alex Hribal needs treatment, not hospitalization…”

Due to this about-face, the judge has now ordered that Alex Hribal will receive his treatment in Westmoreland County’s juvenile detention center while awaiting trial. Westmoreland County Judge Chris Feliciani amended his order stating that he could find no facilities in the state of Pennsylvania that would accept Hribal for treatment. Doctors have testified in hearings that Hribal was alienated by other students, became obsessed with the 1999 Columbine school massacre, and thought he would die when he took two kitchen knives to his high school.

Hribal is charged as an adult with 21 counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault as well as weapons offenses. The judge appointed psychiatrist Manuel Reich and psychologist William Bush to provide Hribal treatment. The director of the Regional Youth Services Center where Hribal is being held said that the facility can provide whatever the judge orders.

Thomassey said that Hribal cannot receive the level of treatment he needs in jail, but “there is no other solution right now.”

RELATED:  National Alliance on Mental Illness

“We’ve basically gone back to where we were 170 years ago,” Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center, told Kaiser Health News, “We are doing an abysmal job of treating people with serious mental illnesses in this country. It is both inhumane and shocking the way we have dumped them into the state prisons and the local jails.

READ:  Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriffs’ Association Report on the Mental Health Crisis in PrisonsUS prisons hold 10 times more mentally ill people than state hospitals. — READ FULL 2014 REPORT HERE.  You can also read their 2010 Report Here.

In 2006, Jamie Fellner, Director, U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch said, “Prisons are woefully ill-equipped for their current role as the nation’s primary mental health facilities.

frein1Eric Matthew Frein is accused of the ambush killing of a Pennsylvania state trooper.  Police say he is a member of a military simulation unit based in the eastern part of the state.  Lt. Col. George Bivens said that Frein belongs to a unit that assumes the role of Eastern European soldiers.  He declined to name the group.  Police believe he took his military simulation role into real life.  Frein is believed to have changed his hairstyle in preparation for the attack.  He now has a shaved head on the sides with long hair on top, “wider than a Mohawk.”   Police believe that Frein has had a grudge against police since at least 2006, though it is not known why.  He is believed to be armed with two high-powered rifles.

Frein is accused of ambushing two troopers late in the night outside the state police barracks at Blooming Grove Barracks in Pike County, Pennsylvania as they changed shifts on September 12, 2014.  Cpl. Bryon Dickson, 38, was killed and Trooper Alex Douglass was injured critically.

“While we can never completely rule out an act of violence, I am convinced Frein is engaged in a personal battle with law enforcement, particularly Pennsylvania State Police,” Bivens said.

Frein, 31, is considered armed and dangerous.

His father is a retired major in the U.S. Army and has 28 years of military experience.  He told police that his son is an excellent marksman.  Following the shooting, a local resident was walking his dog in a wooded area 2 miles from the barracks when he spotted a 2001 Jeep submerged in a pond.  When police responded, they recovered shell casings inside that appeared to match those found at the scene.  Investigators also recovered Frein’s Social Security card, a Pennsylvania Game Commission range permit, camouflage face paint, a black-hooded sweatshirt, two empty rifle cases, and assorted other military gear.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to the arrest of Eric Matthew Frein.

DESCRIPTION
Date(s) of Birth Used: May 3, 1983
Place of Birth:New Jersey
Height:6’1″
Weight: 165 pounds
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Blue

Frein is known to be a heavy smoker, a weapons enthusiast, and a survivalist. He claims to have fought with Serbians in Africa, and he has studied Russian and Serbian languages. He may have shaved his head on both sides and have long hair on top. He was last seen with no facial hair and was wearing a brown and gold windbreaker, khaki shorts, and sneakers. He was carrying a dark green backpack with black trim. Frein has ties to the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, including the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

CAUTION

SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS

If you have any information concerning this person, please contact your local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.