Posts Tagged ‘testilying’

READ:  Death of a President:  DCI John McCone and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by David Robarge

Engineer John McCone replaced veteran spymaster Allen Dulles as director of the CIA in November of 1961, after President John F. Kennedy forced Dulles to resign following the CIA’s botched Bay of Pigs operation.  McCone had one mission to restore order to the tarnished CIA.  President JFK hoped that his outsider outlook and his management skills would set things in order and prevent another scandal.  After JFK’s assassination in November of 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson kept McCone as director and the CIA director became a key witness during the Warren Commission, a panel Johnson created to investigate the President’s assassination and chaired by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Earl Warren.  McCone publicly pledged full cooperation.  McCone testified that the CIA had no evidence to suggest that Lee Harvey Oswald was part of any conspiracy and that he acted alone as assassin.  In its final report, the commission concluded that McCone was correct, Oswald, a former disillusioned Marine, was a delusional lone wolf.

But, did McCone in fact lie at the commission hearings?  The CIA is currently raising this question over half a century after JFK was assassinated.

In a once classified report written in 2013 by the CIA’s top historian and quietly declassified late last year, the CIA fully acknowledged that McCone and other senior CIA officials were “complicit” in hiding “incendiary” information from the Warren Commission.  CIA historian David Robarge stated that McCone, who died in 1991, was at the heart of a “benign cover-up” intended to keep the commission focused on what the Agency called the “best truth”, which was that “Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone in killing John Kennedy”.  The most important information that McCone withheld was the existence for years of CIA plots to assassinate Fidel Castro, some of which put CIA agents in bed with the Mafia.  After Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested, Jack Ruby, a nightclub operator from Dallas, TX with ties to the mafia, assassinated Oswald before he could be put on trial.   Without this information, the commission never even thought to ask questions about Cuban accomplices or if JFK’s death was in retaliation for the Castro plots.   The report didn’t raise any questions about the findings of the Warren Commission, including that Oswald was the gunman, but it represents the closest official CIA acknowledgement that there were improprieties in the agency’s dealings with the commission and its cooperation in the investigation.

As Politico put it “The coverup by McCone and others may have been “benign,” in the report’s words, but it was a cover-up nonetheless, denying information to the commission that might have prompted a more aggressive investigation of Oswald’s potential Cuba ties.”

The report was initially stamped “SECRET/NOFORN” meaning it couldn’t be shared with anyone outside of the CIA, Robarge’s report was published in the classified magazine Studies in Intelligence in September of 2013 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.  The report draws on the still classified 2005 biography of McCone written by Robarge.  The report was declassified last fall and can be found on The George Washington University’s National Security Archive website. (more…)

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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…)

Montez Spradley, a young African American man was sentenced to death by an Alabama judge in 2008 over the jury’s 10-2 recommendation of a sentence of life without parole.  He has been released from jail.  He spent 9 and ½ years in prison, 3 ½ of those years on death row.  He was granted a new trial in 2001 due to evidentiary errors at his trial.  The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals called his case a “miscarriage of justice.”  The Court found that the “bulk of the State’s evidence against Spradley was improperly admitted.”   The state’s key witness, his ex-girlfriend Alisha Booker, testified that she lied at trial because Spradley had cheated on her.  According to the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project, there was no physical evidence and no eyewitness testimony.

“I just felt he was doing me wrong,” she said.

She said that she previously admitted to lying, but police told her to keep quiet and stick to the original story or they would send her to jail and take her children away.  Booker received $10,000 for her testimony.

Spradley agreed to take an Alford plea or a plea of no contest, sometimes known as a best interest plea, in which the defendant maintains innocence, but recognizes that the prosecution can convince a jury to convict them.

Alabama is one of only three states that allow judges to override a jury’s sentencing recommendation in death penalty cases.  It is also the only state to use judicial overrides in the last 16 years.

In more than 90% of judicial overrides, judges overrule life in prison without parole verdicts in favor of imposing a death sentence.  These overrides occur disproportionately against minorities and in election years.  

Spradley said when he was released, “It was horrible, horrible to be on death row for a crime I didn’t do. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I can’t make up for the years I’ve missed, but I’m so glad to be alive so I can be there for my children.”

Spradley has been added to DPIC’s Partial Innocence list due to his no contest plea.

Sources:  DPIC  |  AL  |  ACLU Spradley v. State of Alabama