Friday, September 09, 2016

A hasty conviction

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Douglas DiLosa was beaten unconscious by two men and bound with a rope after he woke up to a sound in his home late one night in 1986 and went to see what it was.

He later woke up on his kitchen floor and called for his wife and son. Only his 7-year-old responded to his shouts for help and called police at DiLosa's instructions. Unbeknownst to him at the time, his wife Glinda DiLosa had been strangled.

Officials, citing the family's financial struggles and the amount of Glinda DiLosa's life insurance, charged Douglas DiLosa with murder.  He was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to life in prison.

But DiLosa was exonerated in 2003 after DNA and other evidence came to light, clearing him of suspicion.

His story is being featured in a new podcast, "Wrongful Conviction," which Ithacan Ben Greenberg is helping to kick off Oct.4.

"All of these stories are mind blowing, they really are," Greenberg said. "They're all incredible one after another."

Greenberg said he began working on the project with music mogul Jason Flom, who has worked with artists such as Katy Perry, Lorde and Kid Rock.

Flom, who has been called, “one of the most successful record men of the past 20 years…," will not only be hosting the podcast, but is also donating $1 per podcast listen, up to $1 million, to the Innocence Project, which he is a founding board member of.

The Innocence Project is an organization that works to exonerate wrongfully convicted people, and advocates for criminal justice reform to prevent wrongful convictions.

"Jason’s passion project is the Innocent Project. That’s really what he's most passionate about," Greenberg said.

One of the primary issues the organization takes on is also one being addressed be exonerees in the podcast: Why exactly were these people wrongfully convicted?

In DiLosa's case, a 150-page police report was withheld from the defense during the trial.

According to the Innocence Project:

The report included several pieces of physical evidence that gave veracity to Mr. DiLosa's claims. For example, police had found pry-marks on the windows of the DiLosa’s condo, fingerprints not belonging to any family members were found all over the crime scene, and several hairs from an African-American were found, including one that was on the rope used to strangle Mrs. DiLosa. The report also included the fact that police had investigated another attempted break-in at a nearby condominium, and received an account from a cab driver who saw two black males leaving the DiLosa’s condo complex in the early hours of the morning in which the murder was committed.

Greenberg added that there are lots of reasons why people are wrongfully convicted, and one of them is improperly trained jurors who aren't familiar with the goings on of a courtroom.

For instance, he said, "When we sit on a jury and there is a confession in the case, that tends to be such a hard thing for a jury to throw out.."

He said that more often than not, a jury will believe a confession, even if it has been coerced, despite DNA evidence that casts reasonable doubt on a case.

"Most people can't imagine why anybody would ever confess to something they didn’t do," he said.

But a rush of public interest in true crime stories, such as "Serial" and "Making a Murderer," could help change things.The ultimate goal of the podcast is to stand with those popular series pieces and inform the public of the intricacies of wrongful convictions.

"Hopefully, that leads to less innocent people being convicted," Greenberg said.

Original report here

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