Still in shock he is questioned by the police who tell him that they have hard evidence of arson and that if he will confess they will help him. Eventually he breaks down and makes a false statement. It is the false statement that ensures his conviction. During this time he is accorded neither the customary phone call nor is he provided with legal assistance. He is put on trial and it takes the jury 42 minutes to convict him. He is sentenced to death by lethal injection and is currently on Death Row in a Georgia State prison. He has had one appeal denied and is allowed a further ten. It can be noted that the Fire Marshal found no evidence of arson and I understand that a report to this effect is in existence. There are a number of public interest issues at stake here:
(1) Why was he not allowed a phone call?
(2) Why was he not provided with legal assistance?
(3) Was the Fire Marshal's report produced in evidence during the court proceedings?
(4) Is there no protection under the Fifth Amendment or any other act from confessions obtained in this manner?
(5) Has Bill had a fair trial?
(6) Has justice been served?
In the meantime Bill's mother and I have initiated a letter-writing campaign to see if we can elicit any assistance. We have written to the defence attorneys, the State Governor, The State Attorney General, President Bush, The American Bar Association and ten university Law Faculties to se whether they will review the case as an exercise for students. We will try anything how ever tenuous the promise of help may be. If anyone can suggest any further avenues that we might explore I would be indebted to hear from them.
Friday, April 08, 2005
Part 3: The story of William David Riler
As told by Brian Bowler of New Zealand: