WHEN THE TRUTH IS ALL YOU HAVE A MEMOIR of FAITH JUSTICE and FREEDOM for THE WRONGLY CONVICTED Available July 14 2020 purchase your copy from your favorite bookseller Jim M c Closkey Centurion founder Jim McCloskey is one of the foremost voices in the struggle to exonerate the wrongly convicted and When Truth is All You Have is a poignant piercing and ultimately inspiring account of a life of sacrifice Whether it s to the people he serves or to a more just criminal justice system Jim McCloskey s devotion is a beacon of hope Sister Helen Prejean CSJ author of Dead Man Walking Shawn Henning and Ricky Birch Exonerated by Jim Cousins Centurion supports Black Lives Matter By Paul Casteleiro READ MORE left to right Jim Cousins Centurion attorney for Henning Ricky Birch Andy O Shea Birch s attorney Shawn Henning and Craig Raabe co counsel for Henning Centurion client Shawn Henning and his co defendant Ralph Ricky Birch were exonerated of the murder of Everett Carr when a judge of the Connecticut Superior Court on July 10 2020 dismissed all charges against the two They had served 30 years in prison but they had nothing to do with the senseless death of Everett Carr Shawn was represented by Centurion lawyer Jim Cousins and Connecticut counsel Craig Raabe Ricky was represented by Andy O Shea Mr Carr was the victim of a brutal and bloody attack and there is absolutely no forensic evidence tying either Shawn or Ricky to the crime because they were not there Whoever did kill Mr Carr left behind a bloody footprint and DNA that does not match Mr Henning or Mr Birch That is why this case finally has been dismissed Shawn and Ricky are innocent continue reading on page 8 July 2020 A Life Stolen By Kate Germond READ MORE The Time I lost my Shadow By Richard Miles READ MORE c e n t u r i o n seeking freedom for the innocent in prison issue sixteen
c e n t u r i o n s u p p o rts black lives matter by Paul Casteleiro Legal Director Since Centurion s beginning we have been keenly aware of the enormous racial disparities existing in our justice system We owe Black Lives Matter a debt of gratitude for shining a light on these atrocities against an entire people Hopefully the new awareness will reduce the hugely disproportionate number of Black people who get convicted of crimes they did not commit The videotaped murders of Ahmaud Arbery George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks along with the unrecorded murder of Breonna Taylor in her home have unified the majority of the nation against the horrors of police brutality so much so that tens of thousands have been willing to risk exposure to COVID 19 in order to protest with Black Lives Matter to demand an end to systemic racism The protests are succeeding Most Americans agree that systemic racism pervades our criminal justice system and it must end now Police violence against the Black community has been able to exist because we have allowed it to exist The courts which are a reflection of the society as a whole were designed to punish criminal behavior but in reality the justice system is largely responsible for permitting the violence to continue because it excuses and justifies it based on inherent bias One of the most common examples of bias is how the police after assaulting a Black person will then charge that very person with a host of offenses Their goal in piling on bogus charges is to delegitimize the wrongfully accused person s claim of false charges The police counter that he or she is alleging police misconduct not because it s real but instead is using it to reverse the charges he or she faces Never mind that the charges are baseless Sounds like a set up A frame job It is So how do all involved in the courts allow the police to get away with this blatantly dishonest and often racist behavior Judges prosecutors attorneys and juries blindly accept baseless police claims over the word of an accused person not because the police are credible but because of inherent racial bias against the accused and bias in favor of the police The result is that innocent overwhelmingly Black persons get convicted and sent off to jail by a court system that is unwilling to hold the police accountable for their dishonesty and misconduct And should the victim be fortunate enough to beat the false charges and sue the police he or she is met with the police claim of qualified immunity under which an admitted lawless act is excused because the courts permit the police officers to argue that it wasn t clear to them that their unlawful conduct was unlawful This concept that excuses unlawful behavior by a police officer is an outrage Let s hope that capturing the unlawful behavior on video recordings will serve to expose a truth that can no longer be ignored by the public and by extension the courts Real accountability must finally happen and end the systematic violence being perpetrated against Black people by the police Youre Partnership makes our work possible Join us as we continue our fight to free the innocent DONATE
a letter from Executive Director Corey Waldron Dear Friends How are you and your family I have to admit lately I struggle to answer this question I m certainly not ne but I am hopeful that as a society we re all adapting and that we re learning how to do better and be better for each other In the face of all of the loss and upheaval we ve experienced these past months we are not powerless Whether it be self isolating and wearing our masks to protect our neighbors from COVID 19 or ghting for an anti racist more equitable world our ability to create a safer more just future is dependant on our ability to work together The same goes for our work at Centurion Your support bolsters us and keeps us charging forward I am so grateful that you are taking the time to catch up on Centurion s work As you read this newsletter I hope you ll feel as proud as I do of what we ve accomplished over these past few months Like everyone we ve had to change the way we operate to overcome the obstacles created by COVID 19 We have not however allowed the virus to quash our efforts to help the innocent men and women who reach out to us every day We continue to receive a ood of letters from individuals who were victimized by our broken criminal justice system Our team responds to every one to let them know their voices are heard and the injustice they are suffering has not gone unrecognized The international demonstrations and protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have shown a light on the brutality and injustice of our criminal justice system in ways that we could never have anticipated be sure you read the piece our Legal Director Paul Casteleiro wrote on this topic on page X Society can no longer turn a blind eye to the blatant cruelty and complete lack of accountability that our current system perpetuates We join the countless voices clamoring for change that is long overdue The movement has also driven us to look internally at ourselves and our organization to explore how we can make diversity and equity a more integral part of how we operate We are committed to these goals and we hope you ll walk that path with us as we nd ways to achieve them As you saw on the cover Jim McCloskey s book When Truth is All You Have will be released on July 14 It s an incredible account of our founder Jim s life the start of the innocence movement and a snapshot of how easy it is for the criminal justice system to get it wrong We ll be sure to update you on upcoming events featuring Jim as his virtual book tour takes off With your support we will continue to bring hope and help to those ghting for their rightful freedom Undoing the wrongs in icted by the justice system is long expensive work and we couldn t do it without you Stay well Centurion org 1000 Herrontown Road Princeton NJ 08540 609 921 0334
A Life Stolen by Kate Germond I want to tell you about Richard Lapointe because on July 4 2020 exactly 31 years ago he was arrested for a crime he did not commit Richard Lapointe has a condition that led to a cognitive deficit a deficit that did not stop him from living a full life he was married had a son worked every single day and volunteered for the local Knights of Columbus He was engaged in his community He and his family lived in a small condominium complex and if you met him you remembered him Back then he was a small industrious man with a gregarious personality who told really silly jokes In 1987 his wife s grandmother was brutally murdered and her apartment set on fire to cover the crime which went unsolved for a couple of years I am not going to go into details of the case the purpose of this writing is to express my rage at what the Manchester Connecticut Police Department working in concert with the prosecutor s office did to this man because they could Two years after the crime took place a newly minted detective was handed the case He looked over the witness list and settled on Richard as his primary suspect Richard had actually discovered the fire called the Fire Department and waited outside so he could direct them This detective waited until July 4th to have Richard come to the police station to be questioned so that his family would be unavailable A whopping 25 of proven innocent people falsely confess for a variety of reasons In Richard s case it was so he could use the bathroom after nine brutal hours of interrogation His first confession was along the lines of well if you say I did it my mind went blank Despite his alibi and absolutely no physical evidence tying Richard to the crime he was arrested and tried Richard did not have people or resources When the State of Connecticut wanted to kill him he had two seasoned Public Defenders to fight for him but that was it Despite their efforts Richard was convicted The jury gave him Life rather than Death In reality it was a Death Sentence During the three years Richard was in the County Jail awaiting trial he was repeatedly and brutally physically harmed We fought for years going up and down Connecticut s court systems until finally the Connecticut Supreme Court ordered a new trial and the prosecutor eventually just let him go After 26 years of wrongful incarceration Richard was free When he was released he believed he would go back home to his wife and son and resume the life he knew before he was wrongfully convicted He never comprehended that his wife had moved on his son was now in his 30 s and living out of state and the home they shared was long gone With the help of dedicated supporters he found a home in an assisted living facility which turned out to be a good fortune The staff and his supporters helped him as he struggled with the loss of his beloved family his hearing diminished and he developed dementia Now as if this man has not suffered enough he has Covid 19 This never should have happened A simple happy man s life was destroyed because they could It transpired because it s easy to frame a person with no ability to defend themselves It will happen to many others until our society finally decides to hold members of the criminal justice system accountable for willful misconduct Change is long overdue
The Time I Lost my Shadow by Richard Miles A few days ago I was playing with my oldest daughter Raelyn in the backyard It was a warm midafternoon with the sun shinning as bright as Raelyn s smile As we played Tag Raelyn immediately looked down and ask Dad can you lose you shadow or run from it The obvious answer was No but internally I wrestled with my answer That night as I laid in bed pondering more about my shadow I came to the conclusion that You can lose your shadow At the age of 30 11 years after my wrongful incarceration I realized that I had lost my shadow For 15 years I was hidden from the Light of my own creativity individuality family and so much more It was in these dark moments of my confines that I often noticed my hope dimming my shadow slowly sunsetting as the reality of 60 years set in The light of direct appeals habeas reliefs and family support began to fade away and I found myself enveloped in the darkness of my cell and personal despair My parents would oftentimes encourage me through visits and mail however things began to take a turn after my Dad William L Lloyd was diagnosed with cancer My shadow dimmed more In the midst of it all I never forgot that just as God allows the sun to set he also instructs the sun to rise It was with this assurance that I pressed about my days and following the wisdom of my Mom Thelma Lloyd Richard look at the sky not the bars Most of the time this advice was hard to comprehend because in order for me to see the sun I felt I had to look over reality Oh but I was wrong Seeing the sun was not about overlooking my reality but rather changing my perception or position of thought I began to understand that it was my responsibility to position myself around things that brought light into my life even in dark places Rightfully so things began to change I would walk out of prison 2 years later with the light of Centurion the hand of my Mother and the spirit of my Dad I realize today that Truth without Justice is the Shadowed Object with no Sun It is imperative that we fight every day to be the Light of Justice for those who hold fast to their Truths Meet Millie Centurion s new off ce volunteer Follow us Be the Sun Fight for Justice Centurion Freedom for the Innocent centurion freedom CenturionFree Centurion centurion org
Centurion Case Development by Gene Truncellito and Kimberly Weston Choosing cases of innocence to accept at Centurion involves a number of steps and dedicated staff and volunteers Case development managers Kim Weston and Gene Truncellito work at the crossroads of the process to shepherd a request for help from initial review to consideration as a prospective case Each letter Centurion receives goes through an intake procedure to understand the core facts and issues The objective at this stage is to determine if there s a plausible case of innocence within Centurion criteria that should be examined in more depth Once a case reaches this point Kim oversees further development This includes keeping tabs on cases as they wait to be assigned and staying in touch with the inmates so that cases are queued up and ready to go into the next step of a detailed case developer review Kim explained Once cases are assigned Kim and Gene work with the case developers throughout the life of each review During this time case developers examine existing case materials and correspond with the inmate to obtain information and additional documents to fully understand the case Every case is different but this can involve researching the police records forensic reports documents from legal proceedings witness statements news accounts online research and court transcripts Kim and I try to adapt to the needs of each case and each case developer Gene notes This can range from acting as a sounding board to discuss case issues to assisting with research to suggestions for communicating with inmates to drafting recommendations for case reports The development process leads to a comprehensive report that s reviewed and discussed by Kim and Gene with the case developer to determine whether to continue development or to move the case to further staff review When a case continues under staff review Kim and Gene stay involved in monitoring the case Also in addition to working with the case developers Kim and Gene handle development of selected cases directly More recently this has involved Kim assisting on some investigation activities Both Kim and Gene followed similar paths to Centurion Each worked as lawyers and came to Centurion as volunteers Kim in 2011 and Gene in 2012 and each joined the staff after about two years In Memorium Lee Gidding volunteered faithfully with us for 27 years We lost her this Spring She was the one we gave the impossibly large complicated cases to which she would resolutely sift through no matter how long it took She was fierce and elegant She is missed
CASES CURRENTLY IN COURT Rodney Hubbard is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole on a 2005 conviction for murder in Berrien County Michigan The State s case rested entirely on the testimony of a jailhouse snitch Centurion s investigation has shown that the snitch repeatedly testified falsely at the trial and in testimony in other cases The investigation has also shown that the prosecution knew he was falsely testifying and that he falsely testified in other cases but suppressed the evidence Centurion filed a motion to vacate Mr Hubbard s conviction documenting the jailhouse snitch s lies and the prosecution s complicity in falsely propping him up Despite overwhelming evidence Mr Hubbard s motion to vacate his conviction was denied by the trial judge and the case is now under appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals Larry Walker has been in prison since 1983 He was convicted of murder in Philadelphia At his trial the prosecution knowingly presented the false testimony of the case detective that portrayed key eyewitness as uncooperative The eyewitness saw the murderer gun in hand wearing a blood soaked shirt fleeing the crime scene and within minutes of seeing the man told the police she could identify him because she knew him not by name but by sight from a bar she frequented The police never again spoke to the woman and did not investigate to determine the identity of the man Similarly defense counsel did no investigation never speaking to the witness before calling her to testify and as a result failed to elicit for the jury all of the information she possessed Nonetheless her testimony was that Mr Walker was not the man she saw fleeing the scene so the prosecution needed to convince the jury she was unreliable to justify the failure of the police to investigate the information she provided The case detective testified she was unfindable uncooperative and unreliable All these years later Centurion found indisputable evidence that she was cooperating with the police in another murder investigation during the pendency of Mr Walker s case and the detective who testified she was unfindable uncooperative and unreliable used the information she provided in that other case to secure an arrest warrant for one of the perpetrators Centurion filed a post conviction relief motion and the case is scheduled for a status conference in Philadelphia on July 23 2020 John Dailey was convicted in 2011 in St Louis Missouri of a road rage murder based on the testimony of a lone eyewitness who described the gunman to the police as having facial tattoos which Mr Dailey clearly does not have but that the information was never disclosed to the defense A second witness in a videotaped police statement the night of the shooting described a completely different type of pickup truck than the one Mr Dailey owned Defense counsel however never obtained the witness videotaped statement and as a result at trial when the witness completely changed his description of the shooter s pickup truck to match Mr Dailey s truck defense counsel was unable to show that the identification of Mr Dailey s truck was false The case is currently scheduled for a hearing in St Louis on July 31 2020 Oscar Porter is serving a 40 year term of imprisonment in New Jersey based on the testimony of the victim of an execution style shooting during which another victim was killed in a back alley at 5 00 A M in Newark who identified his photo 10 months after the shooting At the time of the shooting Mr Porter was home in bed with his childhood sweetheart of 10 years Before trial his now disbarred attorney conducted no investigation and failed to call Mr Porter s girlfriend to testify that he was home in bed with her at the time of the shootings and the deceased victim s best friend to testify that Mr Porter and the deceased were friends since childhood In 2017 Centurion filed a petition for a federal writ of habeas corpus After sitting on the petition for 2 years the federal district court judge denied it on April 29 2020 Centurion is now seeking to appeal that decision to the United States Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit Samuel Grasty was convicted of the murder of an infirm 70 year old woman in Chester Pennsylvania in 2000 and is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole Two other individuals Derrick Chappell and Morton Johnson were also convicted of the murder The convictions of all three men were based on the testimony of a troubled juvenile drug addict and dealer who maintained he was the lookout for the three as they burglarized the woman s apartment Remarkably the three were convicted despite the existence of semen found in the victim that didn t belong to any of three men Centurion along with the New York and Pennsylvania Innocence Projects and the Center for Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University are representing the Chester Three in a joint effort to the correct the horrendous injustice that has occurred in these cases which has in reality elevated the testimony of an impaired juvenile over indisputable scientific evidence proving that all three men are innocent Kevin DeSalle was convicted in 1993 of a murder in New Orleans Louisiana in a one day trial based on the word of two drug addicts who were testifying in the hope of receiving reward money At his trial the prosecution suppressed evidence that a witness to the murder called the police and provided them with the name of the actual shooter but the police never investigated the lead Centurion located the witness who called the police and obtained his sworn testimony that the shooter was an individual he knew who is serving time for another murder he committed Mr DeSalle s case is currently awaiting a hearing in New Orleans View ALL CASES
public library presents Jim McCloskey Centurion Founder with John Grisham discussing WHEN TRUTH IS ALL YOU HAVE Thursday July 16 7 30 P M EST on Zoom Register via Eventbrite Signed copies available from Labyrinth Books Henning Birch continued from front page This was a long and arduous struggle with the state fighting vigorously at every stage Shawn and Ricky s journey to freedom took them through habeas trials appeals to the Appellate Court an appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court and eventually back to the Superior Court for Friday s dismissal The Connecticut Supreme Court had vacated the convictions of Shawn and Ricky concluding that the state obtained those convictions based on the false testimony of noted forensic criminalist Dr Henry Lee After the Connecticut Supreme Court vacated the convictions last year the state had to decide whether to retry the two men The state relentlessly tried to conjure some evidence even unsuccessfully trying to coax former cellmates to say Ricky and Shawn had confessed to them The state then had its forensic lab conduct additional DNA testing on more than one hundred different items this time using even more advanced technology than previously available Those recent results further confirm that neither Mr Henning nor Mr Birch had anything to do with Mr Carr s death They also confirm that the DNA of the true assailant is detected on four items intimately associated with the homicidal attack This expansive DNA testing exonerates Mr Henning and Mr Birch Finally the state grudgingly recognized the futility in continuing to pursue these two innocent men As a result Shawn and Ricky s lawyers moved for a final dismissal of all charges which the Superior Court granted on July 10th Friday s long overdue dismissals end the wrongful convictions but they cannot change the tragic fact that Shawn and Ricky spent 30 years in prison for a crime they did not commit Ricky Birch and Shawn Henning walking out of court Shawn Henning hugging Attorney Jim Cousins S av e t h e D at e tuesday december 1 2020 The Westin at Forestal Village Princeton NJ Centurion Tyler Spikes Exoneree Support Ricky Birch Shawn Henning Lori Freedman Volunteer Exoneree Support Please mark your calendars for December 1 when we hope to enjoy a wonderful evening of storytelling dinner and cocktails with Jim McCloskey John Grisham and Centurion exonerees For more information or to register Watch the video here!