Thursday, November 04, 2004

Two more innocence cases

And both involve people on death row in Texas.

First we have the case of Max Soffar. The following story, reported by a Houston TV station, doesn't really do Soffar's case justice, but it does take you to the tip of the iceberg:

Max Soffar has spent the last 23 years on death row. His lawyers have spent a lot of that time in court - twice winning rulings for a new trial.

Those were both appealed - and one is still pending. Now Soffar's lawyers are telling prosecutors and the Houston Police Department there is evidence missing in his case.

Soffar told Eyewitness News, "I walked in and just confessed to a crime they no more had a suspect in than the man on the moon."

Max Soffar is a convicted killer who confessed to his crime decades ago and then days after recanted, saying the confessions were complete fabrications - that he wasn't there and neither was anyone he knew.

"C'mon, this whole thing is a lie," he said.

On July 13, 1980 4 young people were shot execution style in a robbery at the Windfern Lanes bowling alley off the Northwest Freeway. Three of them died.

Harris County Assistant District Attorney Lynn Hardaway said, "It was a horrific crime."

It captured headlines, but no suspects until League City police officers stopped Max Soffar - at that time a drug user and petty criminal - riding a stolen motorcycle. At first, Soffar tells us he thought he could trade information about the shooting - even if it was false - for leniency on the stolen motorcycle. He tells us he wanted to implicate a friend he was angry at and get reward money.

In an audio tape of the confession an officer asks, "Y'all parked at the doors?"

Soffar can be heard answering, "Yeah, and I heard them shots and I moved down. Then he came running. He came running out."

In that first confession, he told cops he was outside the bowling alley and that friend did the shooting. But after three days of interrogations without a lawyer, Max said he was coerced into saying he was inside, too, and that the friend shot 2 people, threw the gun across the room to him and Soffar shot 2 others.

Soffar's lawyer James Schropp explained, "They were all complete fiction."

For the last 12 years, Schropp has been Soffar's lawyer. Not only does he say the confessions are made up, but says Soffar didn't look like the shooter. As it was reported in 1980, the survivor couldn't positively identify Soffar in a lineup. Now Schropp says there is more - crucial evidence missing in the case.

"I think it's extremely important to the case," Schropp said.

In a letter this week to Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt, Schropp demands a close look in the 280 boxes of recently discovered evidence for polygraph results and audiotapes of Soffar's statements. That's evidence the defense never had, that could help paint the picture of how the confession was made.

"There is no way you can tell me that a triple homicide, quadruple shooting has no evidence in those boxes," Soffar said.

For more information about Max Soffar, go here.


Anonymous said...

Better update the site. Looks like Maxie is back on the "row" where he belongs. So much for "innocence"!

Anonymous said...

"Max Soffar confessed to his crime decades ago." That was the last time he told the truth! He has lied so much he believes his own lies! He has a way of brainwashing those he comes into contact with. He is where he belongs and where he belongs is where he is going to stay!!! May he rot in prison and then may he burn in hell!

Anonymous said...


it seems that the writers claim to know the truth. Strange. It was said that the witness discribed the person entirely different and did not identify Max. There is absolutely no proof excpet the confessions that he made under pressure and without legal aid. What kind of a fair deal is all of that. He is as innocent as can be and the best is that it is known who committed the crime but nobody wants to go and do something about that. It is convenient to have found someone admitting something - even if under pressure and so why look further. There is a good speaking which says, if in doubt you rule in favour of the accused. So when will the real killer finally be held responsible and Max released? I wish him all the best and pray for him that the truth will finally be told. He is in my prayers always.

Anonymous said...

Max is a member of my family, and it is clear that at the time of this case he wasn't at a good place in life. But who wouldn't buckle under pressure after being hounded and harassed for so long?? I strongly believe that his innocence will be proven.