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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

DID TENNESSEE EXECUTE AN INNOCENT MAN - PHILIP WORKMAN?

(16 links in this article)   Was Philip Workman, who was executed by the State of Tennessee in 2007, an innocent man?  Workman's case has striking similarities to the Troy Davis case.  Both men were convicted of  murdering a police officer and condemned to death, and both their convictions were based on witness testimony that eventually fell apart.  Despite three stays of execution and no reliable evidence against Workman, he was executed 25 years after his 1982 conviction.  Workman claimed innocence during his trial and throughout his imprisonment, saying it was actually another Memphis police officer who shot Officer Oliver as three policemen pursued Workman to arrest him for robbery. Davis also maintains that he is innocent of killing Officer MacPhail.  Millions of people believe strongly that Troy Davis is innocent, and Workman also had many supporters who wanted him to have a new trial after witnesses recanted their testimony against him.

Three years after Workman's execution, speculation continues.  Excerpts from Salon.com news article "DOUBT ON DEATH ROW"* are followed by new information in Workman's case in MARY'S COMMENTARY and an update on the Troy Davis matter.  Four of my radio interviews are accessible at the links below. 

SALON.COM report excerpts:     Seven of the original eight jurors who condemned Philip Workman now say they doubt he shot Oliver. Five of them have signed sworn statements that they would have decided the case differently had they known then what has come to light today. But it is Paula Dodillet, Oliver's daughter, who has attracted national attention for joining those jurors in their pleas for granting Workman clemency.


-    In 1999 the defense finally tracked Davis down in a Phoenix motel room ( a "vagabond alcoholic" who testified as an eye-witness for the prosecution at Workman's trial). He tearfully confessed on videotape that he saw nothing, but was bullied by members of the Memphis Police Department to testify otherwise.


-    An X-ray (which was not used in Workman's trial, but surfaced 17 years later) shows that the bullet that killed Officer Oliver did not fragment inside his body. This is significant because it likely was not a .45 bullet - the kind of ammunition Workman's gun used.


[There was a hearing to determine if Workman deserved a new trial.]


-    It looked as if the majority of judges would vote in favor of granting Workman a new trial [based on new evidence]. But at the last minute, two senior, or retired, judges - both appointed by Republicans - decided that they wanted to be part of the panel. Senior judges have the right to join deliberations when they choose. Those same judges also happened to be on the three-judge panel that had already denied Workman's request for a new trial. The senior Republican judges swung the en banc vote to a tie.

******************

MARY'S COMMENTARY

NEW INFORMATION:  Ronald Oliver, the murder victim, was one of three Memphis police officers who responded to the 911 call when Philip Workman robbed Wendy’s Restaurant on August 5, 1981. According to a recent report, months prior to being killed while attempting to apprehend Workman, Officer Oliver had crossed a police picket line. After the strike, Oliver was placed on guard duty at Memphis Shelby County Jail for a period of time, possibly because of animosity against him by his fellow officers. Oliver was killed almost immediately after resuming street duty. Did Workman's attorney bring up Oliver's enmity with his fellow officers at Workman's murder trial?   More about Workman’s case is available at this Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Workman#1981_Armed_robbery_and_death_of_Lt._Oliver
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Dr. O.C.Smith

Dr. O.C. Smith was Shelby County, Tennessee's Chief Medical Examiner when Officer Oliver was killed. His testimony at Workman's trial was key evidence for the prosecution. In June 2002, when Workman's execution was imminently pending, Dr. Smith is alleged to have staged a kidnapping - of himself. Dr. Smith was found in a stairwell to the Shelby County Medical Examiner's office with his head wrapped in barbed wire; explosives and notes secured to his body. The notes accused Dr. Smith of lying about bullet trajectory during Workman's murder trial. Dr. Smith's alleged antics are covered in a 40 Hours special called, Terror at the Morgue.  The link is provided at the end of this article.

Despite Dr. Smith's apparent attempts to cast doubt on his damning testimony about bullet trajectory during Workman's murder trial without making an outright admission of perjury, and despite other new evidence presented above, Workman was denied a new trial and executed by the State of Tennessee after having spent a quarter of a century on death row and saying final goodbyes to his daughter four times.

Dr. Smith was under federal indictment for staging his own kidnapping and for having explosives, but he never stood trial. When the case against Dr. Smith was dismissed, some of the federal prosecutors were reportedly dissatisfied and quit their jobs over it. There was renewed discussion around bringing Dr. Smith to trial on those charges in 2008, but it did not happen. One cannot examine Smith's "kidnapping" without possibly exposing other criminals among police officers and Shelby County officials.  It might also be necessary to examine the possibility that Tennessee denied an innocent man a well-deserved new trial, kept him on death row for 25 years, and killed him in disregard of the fact that the main witnesses used against him had both recanted: (a) Davis, the alcoholic vagabond who police put forth as an eye-witness to Oliver's shooting, and (b) Dr. Smith, who seemed to try desperately to cast doubt on his own expert testimony that was used to condemn Workman.  Dr. Smith is no longer chief medical examiner for Shelby County, Tennessee, but he is frequently used as an expert witness to testify in trials against other defendants across America.  What do you think about that?

I suppose Workman's execution was important to the two Republican judges who stepped out of retirement to swing the vote against a new trial for Philip Workman. I wonder why people do things like that.

DEATH TO THE DEATH PENALTY!

QUESTION:  What part of "Thou shalt not kill" do capital punishment supporters not understand?  There are many things that can go wrong in murder investigations and before or during trials, such as tampered or lost evidence, coerced witnesses, false confessions, and ineffective counsel.  Hundreds of people have been exonerated and released after new trials and hearings or DNA tests.  Although the number of wrongful convictions could be reduced by allocating more funds for public defenders and more careful police investigations, innocent people will undoubtedly continue to be convicted from time to time.  Ending the death penalty is the only way to eliminate any possibility of innocent people being executed.  Not only would repealing capital punishment save lives, but billions of dollars could be saved.  It costs significantly more to condemn a man to execution than to sentence him to life without parole.

Philip Workman's case came to my attention while researching the Memphis Coroner's office after the secret arrest and wrongful death of Larry Neal, my mentally ill brother who MPD arrested and held in Shelby County Jail for nearly three weeks, but denied having him under arrest until he died on August 1, 2003. This was presumably done to kill Larry by deprivation of his heart medication because police were tired of "fooling with Larry Neal," as a county employee warned one of his relatives two weeks prior to Larry going "missing." But despite Larry's numerous arrests caused by his acute mental illness, the State of Tennessee refused to re-hospitalize him as an inpatient, as he had been for about 20 years before many mental institutions were closed in the 1970's.

Although it appears that Workman did not kill Officer Oliver, at least he did rob Wendy's Restaurant and create the chaos that resulted in the officer's death. My poor brother, on the other hand, was guilty only of being sick and DENIED inpatient care. The only thing Larry Neal created was a headache for Memphis Police officers who tired of "fooling with" the acutely mentally ill black man who they knew had a heart condition requiring prescription meds.

As punishment for being sick, Larry got a back-door death penalty.  He often sang too loud outdoors or quoted historical speeches.  We do not know which one of these "crimes" made police secretly arrest and murder him since Shelby County Jail and the United States Department of Justice refuse to release records.

The fuzzy autopsy report we received via facsimile from the Memphis Shelby County Medical Examiner's office appeared incomplete, and we were informed there was no coroner's inquest or other investigation being done regarding Larry's arrest and death. Despite asking for almost seven years, that faxed autopsy report and Larry's death certificate are the only documentation Larry's family has been able to ascertain on his final arrest and wrongful death. Gathering records in a case like this is something that is usually done by one's wrongful death attorneys; however, the law firm the Neals contracted with had a long-standing Shelby County Commissioner as managing partner in the firm's Memphis office.  That conflict of interest was deliberately kept from Larry's family although the Shelby County Commission owns and operates the jail where Larry died.  What ethical law firm would take a case to essentially sue its own managing partner in his other official position?  The (Johnnie) Cochran Firm Fraud was used to prevent our lawsuit against Shelby County Jail and the State of Tennessee by allowing the statute of limitations pass without doing any legal work on the case.  Larry's file was still empty when Tennessee's one-year statute of limitations for personal injury ended, although The Cochran Firm signed contract with the Neals immediately after Larry's demise  and sent its clients lying letters about a non-existent discovery process via U.S.Mail fraud.  When Larry's mom and sister, yours truly, sued The Cochran Firm for fraud, Georgia Superior Court dismissed the case without trial, saying there is no Cochran Firm in Georgia - with the law firm advertising prolifically and open for business every day on Peachtree Street in Atlanta.  NOTHING I ever saw on television, in movies, read about, or dreamed tops that or the things that have happened since, some of which is published in FreeSpeakBlog.

In 2003 when Larry died, the USDOJ was in oversight of Shelby County Jail following a lawsuit by the USA for violating inmates' civil rights.  Larry had numerous prior arrests in the same jail due to mental illness, but jail officials repeatedly lied to Larry's family and social worker for nearly three weeks, denying Larry was incarcerated. Yet the federal agency that is charged with protecting institutionalized persons and Americans with disabilities refuses to investigate Larry's death. Dr. O.C. Smith, who as much as confessed to lying on Philip Workman during his capital murder trial to protect Memphis police, was still Chief Medical Examiner when Larry Neal was autopsied.  There is an elaborate cover-up conspiracy against the Neals learning how Larry died and our fair treatment in court.  Justice was denied for Larry and his family, as it was for Philip Workman, who deserved a new trial.

Forbes rated Memphis third on its 2009 list of the ten most miserable cities.  Forbes cited the high number of corrupt government officials in Memphis who were convicted and sentenced to prison as one reason why the city is undesirable.  It was interesting to learn that Dr. Smith seems to have a history of using his position to cover for Memphis police, and the government apparently has a history of allowing such cover-ups.  I can understand why federal prosecutors quit their jobs after the judge dismissed Dr. Smith's case without trial. The prosecutors are probably honest people who were disappointed like I was to learn that the USDOJ is a corrupt agency that sometimes stands AGAINST justice to protect corrupt Memphis officials. See the link below for more information about denial of justice for Larry.

ERIC HOLDER, THE USDOJ HAS BLOOD ON ITS HANDS
http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/1038156

See our Freedom of Information Act Request to the USDOJ regarding Larry's death at this link:

FOI Request to USDOJ re: Larry Neal and The Cochran Firm Fraud
http://my.nowpublic.com/health/foi-request-usdoj-re-larry-neal-and-cochran-firm-fraud

Read more about justice issues facing acute mental patients and other people in my NowPublic.com articles:
http://NowPublic.com/duo  and my Care2 Sharebook as well as my blog, http://freespeakblog.blogspot.com/

A youth in Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp

WATCH how the USDOJ under our new administration handles the Secret Arrest and Wrongful Death of Larry Neal and the conspiracy of cover-up that followed and includes lawyer fraud and endangerment of Larry's survivors to force us into silence.  Do you believe the DOJ has actually CHANGED from the agency that shocked the world by ordering secret arrest and torture, including waterboarding, for hundreds of foreign detainees in Guantanamo Bay and Gitmo?  Dozens of camp detainees are still unaccounted for, according to the Red Cross.  What was done to those people was also done to Larry Neal, a middle-aged African American, a harmless mentally ill heart patient who spent 20 years in a mental institution before being released when he and hundreds of thousands of other patients were "de-institutionalized" in the 1970s.  Getting records and accountability for Larry's death is even more difficult than it was to get straight answers and some of the records regarding the camp detainees.  Torturing prisoners was supposedly done to fight terrorism, but there is no excuse whatsoever for Larry's secret arrest and murder.  Thus, the DOJ does not even try to answer the FOIA request about his death. The silence seems to say, "We in the justice system kill who we want and answer to no one."  That is why I advocate for prisoners.  Their fair and humane treatment is in the hands of people who seem to lack respect for human life but spare no effort investigating and prosecuting people for animal abuse.

Mary Neal's Radio Interviews:


Wake-up Call BlogTalk Radio
Jan. 2008: "The Wrongful Death of Larry Neal Show"
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wakeupcallshow/2008/01/22/TBA

Mary Neal's Radio Interview w/ Rev. Pinkney
Oct 11, 2009: "Mary Neal, a Warrior"
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Rev-Pinkney/2009/10/11/MARY-NEAL-A-WARRIOR

Real Talk with Brothas Keepa
May 2008: "Mental Illness in the Black Community"
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/nbbta/2008/05/28/Real-Talk-With-Brothas-Keepa

The NVO Radio Hour - Second Guest: Mary Neal
March 2009: "CHANGE the Justice System"
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/NVO/2009/03/26/The-NVO-Hour

Let us continue to support innocent people on death row like Troy Davis in Georgia, Thomas Arthur in Alabama, and Darrell Lomax in California.  A Savannah USDC judge heard new testimony in the Troy Davis case on June 23, 2010, and the world awaits the court's ruling.  I agree with Paula Dodillet, Officer Oliver's daughter, that Philip Workman deserved a new trial because the case against him fell apart over time like Troy Davis' case has.  As also happened in the Troy Davis matter, Workman received three stays of execution because there was reasonable doubt of his guilt and he had substantial public support.  However, retired judges came forward to block Workman's opportunity to prove his innocence and live.  Thomas Arthur has been on Alabama's death row for nearly three decades, begging for a DNA test to prove his innocence for much of that time.  Arthur was finally granted a DNA test in 2009, and his DNA matched none of the crime scene evidence tested.  Surprisingly, a judge sealed Arthur's test results immediately after they were released, and an Alabama D.A. announced plans to ask for Arthur's death warrant and kill him in Birmingham News a month after the state knew Arthur's DNA indicated innocence.  Arthur remains on death row.  Most Americans are under the mistaken impression that innocence matters in the justice system, but innocence matters too little in the minds of many people who work in criminal justice.

Unfortunately, some judges and prosecutors do not care if innocent people serve long prison terms or suffer execution.  Many sincere men and women work in the justice system as police officers, prosecutors and defense attorneys, judges, prison guards, and as high-ranking officials, but plenty of them are sociopaths.  I hope this article about Philip Workman and the wrongful death of Larry Neal helps to reveal the fallibility and gross inequities that exist within America's justice system - in both criminal and civil courts.  I could have used a case where the inmate was proved innocent beyond a doubt after his death, but I chose to write about Philip Workman's case because of its similarity to the Troy Davis matter.  Both convictions rest on faulty witness testimony that was eventually retracted or proved to be badly tainted.  Nevertheless, Workman was executed, perhaps because the justice system hates admitting an error and cares too little about human life. Execution is irrevocable. Even capital punishment supporters should agree that nothing less than irrefutable proof should be used to issue a death sentence.  Forensic evidence can be tainted by accident or fraudulent by design; witnesses often make mistakes or tell outright lies, and 25% of wrongful convictions result from people lying on themselves (false confessions). 

Please pray for Troy Davis and all death row inmates, and pray for decision makers in the justice system.  We need all of them to be people of their word who and honor their oaths of office.  As Amnesty International states, innocence matters.  Please share this article and others in FreeSpeakBlog with your friends and online groups.  It is too late to help Philip Workman but not too late to remind the justice system that we care about Troy Davis and other people who are condemned to death, especially with insubstantial evidence.  Remind them also that Americans care about chronic mental patients who should be hospitalized or treated in their communities, not imprisoned and/or murdered without accountability like Larry Neal was.  More information about people in this article is available at the links below. 

Exposed: Cameron Todd Willingham's Wrongful Execution - and Others
http://freespeakblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/cameron-todd-willinghams-wrongful.html 

TERROR at the Morgue - 48 Hours Special re: Dr. O.C.Smith
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/04/18/48hours/main688910.shtml

Mary Neal
Website:  Wrongful Death of Larry Neal -  http://wrongfuldeathoflarryneal.com/

ASSISTANCE TO THE INCARCERATED MENTALLY ILL
http://www.Care2.com/c2c/group/AIMI

Follow me at Twitter, where I am KoffieTime!  http://twitter.com/koffietime
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*The referenced Salon.com's article on Philip Workman is available at:
http://archive.salon.com/news/feature/2000/09/14/tennessee/index1.html




JAIL IS THE LAST THING MENTAL PATIENTS NEED ... AND TOO OFTEN, JAIL IS THE VERY LAST THING THEY EXPERIENCE. Several states have mentally ill inmates on death row.  Please join our quest to help decriminalize mental illness in America. No one should be punished for having a disability.

Please support federal bill H.R.619 to resume Medicaid for mental hospital inpatients, and support Kendra's Law to provide subsistence assistance and psychiatric treatment for outpatients who are released from prisons and hospitals.  When it comes to repealing capital punishment and decriminalizing mental illness, it is financially prudent to be humane.  Life without parole is substantially cheaper than death sentences, and timely treatment for mental illness is much less expensive than imprisoning sick people long-term or repeatedly after avoidable crimes.  PLEASE VOTE at OpenCongress.org in favor of H.R.619 to resume Medicaid for mental hospital insurance . http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h619/show  (H.R.619 regards hospital insurance coverage only).

Thank you for your interest in love, justice, and human rights.  Your questions and comments regarding information in FreeSpeakBlog are invited in the comments field after each blog entry.  Access more justice articles from a laywoman's perspective using the handy index in the right margin.  Please add me to your mailing list for human rights news - MaryLovesJustice@gmail.com
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5 comments:

PoolBum said...

I am very sorry for your loss. In most cases I don't support the death penalty. Mr. Workman should not have been executed, particularly if the eye witness as well as the ME's testimony was in question. That being said, Workman committed a crime that had a high likelihood of someone being hurt or killed. He was willing to risk the lives of innocent people, as his 45 semi-automatic was loaded with hollow points, which inflict maximum damage. He was willing for someone to be killed and it happened. It's hard to feel empathy for him.

Comparing your mentally ill brother's case with Workman's does your brother a disservice. From what I read, your brother did nothing to put anyone at risk. He was probably guilty of not much more than being annoying. They held him for weeks without informing his family and knew about his heart condition which led to his death. The only thing they left out to align themselves completely with "disappearing" people in some repressive regime was the physical torture.

In general, people don't realize how difficult it is to get adequate mental health care unless it touches them directly. Even with health insurance most people are limited to 30 days or less per year of in-patient care. Even the conditions that we understand best, like eating disorders and addiction are hard to deal with effectively with such constraints.

As for the man on death row who has DNA evidence establishing his innocence... all I can say is anyone in a position of power who is willing to continue his incarceration is morally bankrupt and should answer for their crime. Do you know what the status of that case is?

Mary said...

Thanks for responding. You can access background and court documents regarding Thomas Arthur at this link:

http://www.thomasarthurfightforlife.com/linkstomotionsfiled.html

Arthur's daughter had his DNA test results on a website despite the court order ordering them sealed, but her website is down now. I do not know if that is because the court retaliated or not, but I will ask when I call her this week to tell her about the BOYCOTT 4 JUSTICE shopping moratorium on March 9 and every month throughout 2011 on the 9th to protest injustice in America.

I read last year that Arthur's case would get a new hearing. I browsed for the results of the hearing and found none. Justice officials apparently made the government-controlled media suddenly stop posting any news about Arthur like it used to before his DNA test results indicated innocence.

Sometimes, I try to imagine possible motives for the State of Alabama's determination to kill Arthur despite his DNA tests proving innocence. I read that Arthur was handsome as a young man and ladies were quite taken with him. In a short story loosely based on Arthur, the main character is a guy who had offended a judge badly 35 years before appearing in her court on a murder charge, but he did not remember her. However, the judge remembered him as the man who seduced her college friend and impregnated her. The friend died getting an illegal abortion. (Storyline is protected. If anyone reads this and uses it, I will not only sue you, but spend the next 10 years telling people how horrible you are like I do The Cochran Firm. LOL!)

Wait until you read my fiction some day! For the articles I write in FreeSpeakBlog, I am careful to get the facts straight and make sure I have evidence and records for anything I publish that was not already published in mainstream news. But in my short stories, I can let my imagination fly.

Poor Thomas Arthur. For some reason, people want him dead, and innocence does not matter. I had more trouble than you can imagine publishing anything about Arthur's DNA test results indicating innocence in 2009. I sent Care2 eCards to thousands of individuals and members of Yahoo groups, but they arrived to the addressees stripped of the data about Arthur's DNA test results proving innocence. Care2 said its eCard department was attacked that day - Sept 1, 2009. Then, gMail went down the same day, and that's the email box I use to publish news. It's like someone ordered a hit on Arthur. If they kill him or Troy Davis, who I believe is also innocent, it is almost a shame they did not do it sooner. These days America is using faulty anesthesia from a one-man wholesaler in the UK for executions. The worthless anesthesia causes the victims to die in excruciating pain, but they lie there on the executioner's table paralized with their eyes open and reflecting the horrible agony they are being subjected to. So far, three men have been savagely killed like that in the last five months. You can access my article about their deaths and maybe help stop executions with faulty anesthesia if you are interested. See the index on the left side of this blog or Google "STOP TORTUROUS EXECUTIONS IN THE USA" by Mary Neal.

Here's the first article I wrote about Thomas Arthur:

Thomas Arthur Doesn't Get It - Executions Are Fun for Folks:

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/thomas-arthur-doesnt-get-it-executions-are-fun-folks-no-offense-intended-mary-neal

Please join the BOYCOTT 4 JUSTICE March 9 - No shopping! Remember that the 24-hr shopping moratorium repeats on the 9th of every month throughout 2011. It is our 9/11 response to corporate greed and government corruption.

Blessings, and thanks for responding to the Philip Workman article.

Anonymous said...

I am actually just watching Terror at the Morgue right now. It is on on the Investigation Discover channel. I didn't realize that it's original date was in 2006 and that Workman got executed. It's sad to say that some police officers are corrupt and even other people in higher power. I cannot say all because I do know some respectable people in high power and that are police officers. What I really don't understand is why is it relevant to say that the two judges were Republican? Everyone makes mistakes and even as bad as these ones. I just hope that after all this they realize what they have done. Don't want to burst anyones bubble but yes even Democrats make mistakes too. I mean seriously. This breaks my heart that after everything people now come out and they now have all this evidence. I cannot believe it.

Anonymous said...

Also as I saw Workman found peace with God and for that reason He is with Him with no pain and he is full of peace and happiness. May he rest in peace with His Creator and Father, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Mary Neal said...

Republicans are at least as good as Democrats in my book, Anonymous. But it appears they are more prone to favor executions than Dems. Am I wrong?