Sunday, February 17, 2008

Will another death row exoneration be happening in Mississippi

From Radley Balko over at Hit & Run, Reason magazine's blog, a post boldly entitled Eddie Lee Howard: Mississippi's Next Exoneration?

Now that Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks have been freed, the Innocence Project is calling for a criminal investigation into Dr. Michael West. Peter Neufeld is asking that every case in which West has ever testified be reviewed. The linked article notes that there are 20 or more Mississippians in prison right now due at least in part to West's testimony.

West still stands by his testimony. He's now saying that even if Brooks and Brewer did not commit the two murders a third man has since confessed to committing, his testimony wasn't incorrect: Brewer and Brooks still bit those little girls. To believe West, you'd have to believe that in two cases that occurred at about the same time, two men living just miles apart coincidentally each repeatedly bit a little girl in their care just hours before a third man unknown to either of them abducted, raped, and killed said little girls.

Alternately, you could believe that Dr. West is a quack who makes shit up. I know which theory my money's on.

The next case involving the unholy triumvirate of West, Hayne, and District Attorney Forrest Allgood that may embarrass Mississippi is that of Eddie Lee Howard, currently on death row in Parchman for the gruesome murder of an elderly woman. The assailant stabbed the woman to death, then set her house on fire and left her to burn. Dr. Hayne testified at trial that the woman was also raped, though no semen or second-party blood or pubic hair showed up in the rape kit. Hayne did not find any bite marks. The victim was buried.

In a now-familiar pattern, Hayne then brought his buddy Dr. West onto the case. Three days later, the police detained Howard without a warrant, then immediately took him to Dr. West's dental practice, where West took an impression of Howard's teeth. Police then exhumed the victim, at which point West once again claimed to find bite marks no one else could see. He then noted there were similarities between Mr. Howard's dental impression and the bite marks he said he'd found on the burned body.

There was no biological evidence linking Howard to the crime scene. The sole evidence against him was West's testimony and the testimony of a police investigator who says Howard basically confessed to him, though the investigator never asked Howard to sign a statement of confession, nor is there any recording of it.

Eddie Lee Howard clearly has some psychological problems.

[Read the rest of Radley's piece here]

Go Radley Go!!!

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