Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Claiming wrongful conviction, Oregon man sues state, county

A Salem man released after spending a decade in prison for the killings of three people has filed lawsuits seeking $21.5 million from Oregon and Polk County officials for wrongful conviction and imprisonment. The suits filed Friday by Philip Scott Cannon, 43, came almost 10 years after he was convicted of killing three people at a mobile home west of Salem. A lawsuit filed in federal court in Portland seeks $20 million from Polk County and several people. A state court suit seeks $1.5 million from the state of Oregon.

Cannon was convicted in February 2000 by a Polk County jury of the shooting deaths of Jason Kinser and his girlfriend, Suzan Osborne, both 26, and their friend, Celesta Graves, 24. All were found shot in the back of the head Nov. 23, 1998. No murder weapon was found.

Cannon has maintained that he is innocent. Ballistics tests used to convict him later were discredited, and prosecutors dropped plans for a new trial after finding that evidence had been destroyed.

Cannon was freed Dec. 18 after spending 10 years in prison.

Original report here

Background. Report from last year. A key "witness" looks like the actual guilty party

The Oregon attorney general's office said Friday the state has approved his release from prison pending a new trial after Cannon claimed that forensic evidence was flawed and witness testimony was questionable.

The technique used to analyze bullets at the murder scene has been discredited by the National Academy of Sciences and the FBI no longer uses it.

Cannon's attorney, Mark Geiger, also says the credibility of a key prosecution witness remains in doubt. The witness, Bimla Boyd, was convicted of manslaughter in 2003 after she pleaded no contest to killing a 54-year-old man she claimed was sexually abusing her 14-year-old daughter.

"But the turning point, I believe, was the forensic evidence," Geiger said Friday. In a report released in February, the National Academy of Sciences said many forensic science techniques used by police and federal investigators, with the exception of DNA analysis, are inconsistent and do not meet standards necessary for conviction - including the bullet analysis used in the Cannon case.

The murders of Jason Roger Kinser and his girlfriend Suzan Renee Osborne, both 26, and Celesta Joy Graves, 24, in November 1998 were among several death investigations during a four-year period at the rural property where Boyd lived, including the overdose death of her ex-husband. Each of the three victims had been shot once in the head with a .22-caliber handgun.

During his trial in 2000, Boyd testified that she saw Cannon on the property before the slayings to bid for a plumbing job. Geiger said the agreement limits what he can say about the case, but he said Boyd's testimony was a key element in creating the timeline of events the jury considered to convict Cannon. Cannon's ex-girlfriend and a neighbor who saw Boyd that day have disputed the timeline.

At her manslaughter trial in 2003, Boyd was accused of shooting Robert Daniel Spencer, 54, in the throat with a rifle after trying to persuade a man hunting on her rural property to shoot Spencer for her. Geiger said Boyd was released earlier this year after serving a six-year sentence.

Original report here

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8 March, 2010

Dialing “911″ — are you sure you want to take that risk?

Too many tragic events begin with a person in trouble, or someone acting on their behalf, picking up the phone and dialing "911". Then, into this already tense situation come armed agents of the state whose very job it is to find things to "arrest" people for. This is not a recipe for solving problems, but for manufacturing them. It complicates a situation. Too often the person in trouble, or a family member, ends up being attacked or killed by the responding cops

There is a huge difference between calling 911 when you are being held hostage by a crazed lunatic and calling 911 because of a medical emergency or a fire. In the first instance it is probably not always the optimum solution to have cops show up; in the last two it can be positively disastrous.

There needs to be an alternative to 911 where cops are not sent by default. Calling 911 has become too dangerous, since there is no situation so bad it can't be made worse by adding a cop, and since LEOs now have the "us vs. them" attitude drilled into them during their training.

Calling 911 could be made safe again, if cops were only sent if the person didn't request they not be sent. Of course, this entirely reasonable request would be seen as an admission of guilt rather than a recognition of the dangers inherent in mixing guns and badges. Obviously this means that what is needed is a free market solution, not administered by the government in any way.

In other news, just in case you think LEOs and their leash-holders are the "good guys"- Here is another location following the example of Albuquerque's scam to "legally" steal cars and extort money.

Original report here. See the original for links

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE

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