DNA and Dirty Prosecutors

May 16, 2007

News Update 5.16.07

North Carolina

Timothy Hennis is back in court this morning, 22 years after he was first arrested for a triple murder near Fort Bragg. The case appears to turn on DNA evidence, but the exact nature of that evidence is as yet unknown. The Fayetteville Observer has a special report.

A judge has upheld the dismissal of ethics charges against former Union county prosecutors Kenneth Honeycutt and Scott Brewer stemming from the trial of Jonathan Hoffman. Hoffman was sentenced to death for the robbery-murder of a jewelry store owner. According to the article, the State Bar believes that,

Honeycutt agreed to reward (Johnell) Porter for his testimony at trial with immunity from state and federal prosecutions, money, and a reduction in his federal sentence. Porter said in a 2006 interview that he made up the testimony about Hoffman to get the deal.

Porter’s prison sentences were reduced by at least 15 years. He was not prosecuted for at least a dozen serious crimes in Charlotte. And he pocketed several thousand dollars in reward money.

The bar charged that Honeycutt and Brewer hid the deal from the jury, the trial judge and Hoffman’s lawyers, lied to Judge William Helms and concealed the deal by altering documents they gave to the judge.

The charges were dismissed, as death penalty supporters like to say, on a technicality.

Elsewhere

In New Jersey, Byron Halsey has been released from prison after nearly two decades behind bars. Halsey was wrongfully convicted – based on the testimony of the actual perpetrator – of the rape and murder of two children in 1988. As with North Carolina’s Darryl Hunt, the state sought death, and Mr. Halsey might well have been executed by now had the jury not decided to spare him. See what innocence looks like here.

Author John Grisham believes that the death penalty should be abolished. “I think the system is so badly flawed that all executions should be stopped. . . . Let’s start with the basic concept of a fair trial. We are so far away from that in every state in this country.” Grisham’s latest book tells the true story of Ron Williamson, who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to die in Oklahoma.

California has released its proposed new lethal injection protocol.


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