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.
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
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
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
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/
Mary Neal's Radio Interviews:
Wake-up Call BlogTalk Radio
Jan. 2008: "The Wrongful Death of Larry Neal Show"
Mary Neal's Radio Interview w/ Rev. Pinkney
Oct 11, 2009: "Mary Neal, a Warrior"
Real Talk with Brothas Keepa
May 2008: "Mental Illness in the Black Community"
The NVO Radio Hour - Second Guest: Mary Neal
March 2009: "CHANGE the Justice System"
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
TERROR at the Morgue - 48 Hours Special re: Dr. O.C.Smith
Website: Wrongful Death of Larry Neal - http://wrongfuldeathoflarryneal.com/
ASSISTANCE TO THE INCARCERATED MENTALLY ILL
Follow me at Twitter, where I am KoffieTime! http://twitter.com/koffietime
*The referenced Salon.com's article on Philip Workman is available at:
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