Welcome to Mystery Crime Blog

In 1998, if someone had told me I would be spending the next eight years of my life involved in injustice, I would have said "You are stark raving mad!". Well, I am here to eat those words.

In 1997, a friend was telling me about twin sisters, Betty Wilson and Peggy Lowe, from Alabama who were arrested and tried for supposedly hiring an alcoholic, drug addict con-man, James Dennison White, to kill Betty's wealthy husband, Dr. Jack Wilson, who was a very well-liked and well-known eye doctor in Huntsville. Both sisters were tried on the same evidence and lying testimony. Betty was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole because she was a rich bitch and slept with a black man in Alabama. Peggy, the saintly one, was acquitted. The convicted con-man, who never really admitted to killing the doctor, has come up for parole several times but is still incarcerated.

After spending six years studying this case including both trial transcripts, putting up an extensive website (http://hankford.com/bettywilson) and spending the remaining two years putting together a book about this case Killer For Hire - The Final Chapter of the Alabama Twins Murder Case, I, as many others, believe that the real killer of the doctor is walking around free. Neither of the twin sisters had a motive to have the good doctor put away but the doctor's ex-wife and son did.

As time permits, I hope to present other similar cases of injustice along with information on books, movies, TV shows, video games, etc., related to mystery crime. In the meantime please visit http://mysterycrimescene.com/.

The Black and White of Death Row

Saturday, December 26, 2009

In 1972, the US Supreme Court ruled that state executions were unconstitutional but legislators lifted the moratorium on capital punishment in 1976. Since that time the number of death row inmates has increase from 420 to 3,279 as of July 2009. The top three states are California with 690 death row inmates (36% black, 37% white); Florida with 403 (35% black, 55% white); and Texas with 342 (39% black, 31% white). Since 1976 California has executed 13 inmates (2 black, 8 white), Florida 68 (21 black, 42 white), and Texas 447 (166 black, 204 white) thereby earning its nickname, “The Texas Death Machine.”

According to the last US census in 2000, the population of the US was approximately 70% white and 12% black. So why are these percentages so lopsided when it comes to the death sentence?

In 1994, a US Supreme Court Justice wrote: "Even under the most sophisticated death penalty statutes, race continues to play a major role in determining who shall live and who shall die." Four years later, the United Nations Special Rapporteur expressed his concern that "the imposition of death sentences in the United States seems to continue to be marked by arbitrariness. Race, ethnic origin and economic status appear to be key determinants of who will, and who will not, receive a sentence of death."

Since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, more than eighty death-row inmates have had their convictions overturned by evidence of innocence (usually DNA) and freed from prison. Although there is no way of knowing how many innocent people remain on death row for crimes they didn't commit, the number of innocent people discovered and freed from prison is only a small fraction of those still incarcerated.  Wonder how many innocent people have actually been put to death? Voltaire said, “It is better to risk saving a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one.”  It's a crime that this is not the current philosophy in this country.
 How do these miscarriages of justice occur? The reasons range from police and prosecutorial error to the most outrageous misconduct, such as the framing of innocent people, tampering with or withholding evidence, perjured testimony, erroneous eyewitness testimony, false confessions coerced by police who lie to innocent defendants, racial bias, incompetent defense counsel (court appointed or otherwise), and overzealous police officers and prosecutors who may or may not genuinely believe they have the perpetrator of a heinous crime because they just want to WIN no matter the cost.

What happened to Supeman, the guy who fights for "truth, justice and the American way?" Oh, I forgot. He is just a comic book character. Too bad.

If you are ever arrested don't say anything until you have a lawyer present especially if you know you are innocent. If you don't you just might be coerced into confessing to a crime you did not commit as Preston Hughes, III, did. Preston is a young black man awaiting his execution on the Texas Death Row and will be featured in my next post. It appears that he has been a victim of many of the above miscarriages of justice but I will let you be the judge.
For More Information about Innocent in Prison Click Here
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Innocent in Prison - Darlie Routier

Sunday, December 20, 2009

In Rowlett, Texas, during the early morning hours of June 6, 1996, Darlie and Darin Routier's two oldest sons, Devon, 6, and Damon, 5, were fatally stabbed in the downstairs living room of their home. Darlie, 26, was wounded in the neck and upper torso. She told police that a man wearing dark clothes and a baseball cap committed the crime. Darin told police that he and the couple's 8-month-old son, Drake, were asleep in an upstairs bedroom and he was awaken by Darlie's hysterical screams. 

After a sobbing and grieving memorial service, the Routiers and other family members held a graveside birthday celebration for Devon, who would have turned 7. They sprayed Silly String on the grave and sang "Happy Birthday." A local TV channel videoed the birthday celebration.

The police arrested Darlie and charged her with capital murder in Devon and Damon's deaths. Investigators said her account of the attack did not match evidence from the scene. Her bond was set at $1 million.

A Dallas County grand jury indicted Darlie on two counts of capital murder and the prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty against her. Because of the pretrial publicity, the trial was moved from Dallas to Kerrville.

The news media depicted the crime as another heartless mother whose children were getting in the way of her lifestyle, so she killed them. The prosecutors depicted her as a materialistic, self-centered woman, whose life was unraveling in the wake of the birth of her third son and supposed financial difficulties that were facing the family and that the crime scene had been staged.

Darlie was tried and convicted of murdering one of her two sons, and is currently on death row at the Mountain View Prison in Gatesville, Texas, awaiting execution by lethal injection. Prosecutors did not try her for the death of the second son, holding his murder in reserve in case of she was acquittal on the first murder trial.

The prosecutors' case against Darlie was circumstantial and based on experts who theorized about evidence collected. The most damaging evidence was the Silly String video. (See American Justice Part 3 at http://mysterycrimescene.com/darlie-routier.html)

Many issues and facts have come to light after her trial that, if true, would appear to provide enough evidence that a new trial would be appropriate. Some of those issues include:
  • The court reporter at her trial made tens of thousands of errors (other than typos) in the transcript. She admitted filling a falsified record for the purpose of hiding her mistakes. This alone should have been enough for a new trial.
  • The lawyer who represented Darlie at trial had an apparent conflict of interest.
  • The jurors were never shown the photos of Darlie’s cuts and bruises which were taken when she was hospitalized the night of the murders. One juror told reporters he would never have voted to convict if he had seen the photographs.
  • Several bloody fingerprints not belonging to anyone at the crime scene were never identified. A pubic hair found in the living room and a limb hair on a bloody tube sock found in the alley behind the Routiers’ home were never identified.
  • And there is more at http://mysterycrimescene.com/darlie-routier.html.
In June 2008, because there is more sophisticated genetic testing now than at the time of the trial, the court granted additional DNA testing of the pubic and facial hairs found at the crime scene and the blood on some clothing. In November 2008, the court granted more DNA testing of the bloody tube sock, a butcher knife (the suspected murder weapon), fibers on another knife and run four fingerprints through the national database.

I have spent hours trying to find out if there has been any results from the DNA testing but could find nothing other than it takes anywhere from five to seven days up to over a year to get the results.

I believe this woman is innocent. This is just another unfortunate case of judicial malpractice. What do you think?

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