Injustice in Focus

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Urgent appeal to help Hank Skinner finance the rest of the DNA testing

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While a partial unknown DNA profile has been found on two evidence items which excludes Hank Skinner, the state of Texas is refusing to pay for the rest of the DNA testing, which on one hand could prove his innocence, and furthermore could identifier the killer. Time is of the essence and Hank needs your help now! Thank you in advance.

January 10, 2013

Dear all,

As a new year begins, I wanted to share an update on my case and the current state of affairs regarding the DNA testing.

As you probably know, after winning an important victory with the US Supreme Court last year, we filed a new motion for DNA testing in September 2011. The motion was denied by the sentencing judge and the Court of Criminal Appeals held oral arguments on this issue in May 2012. From the reactions and questions from the judges, the argument was on our side and before the court ruled on my case, the state of TX withdrew its opposition to the DNA testing. Subsequently, a joint agreement was signed both by the Attorney General’s office and my attorneys to test 40 pieces of evidence.

From what has been tested so far, we have developed the partial DNA profile of a third party from the handle of a knife the state alleges is a murder weapon and from a bloodstain off the back bedroom floor carpet, which is Scooter and Randy’s blood mixed with an unknown third party’s DNA. Because it’s a partial profile, we are currently getting additional testing to amplify this profile to run it through the national DNA database.

So far the state has spent in excess of $100,000, hoping to prove me guilty but this has not worked out for them at all because I’m innocent!

The good news is my blood is not on any of the victims, someone else’s is. The furniture and interior doorframes and other items I bled on and/or left my bloody handprint or fingerprints on, contain only my blood. Most importantly, the back doors, two sets of doorknobs contain only my bloody handprints. It is known these were the last things I touched, staggering out of that house. The victims’ blood is not on my hands.

Unbelievably, the state is trying to say that the fact I was there and bled in the bedroom means I am guilty. Unfortunately for the state, that is an untenable and losing position. In Texas, mere presence does not prove guilt under the controlling case law precedents applicable to such situations.

The trace evidence report on analysis of the hairs “clutched” in Twila’s hands shows several hairs that are dissimilar to the standard taken from the victims or from me. So in addition to the tests now being conducted, we need to have mitochondrial testing done on those hairs and possibly on the samples that, in the initial round of DNA testing, produced the partial DNA profile of third parties at the scene.  Such mitochondrial testing could help us prove the identity of the source of that DNA.  The state has lost interest in further DNA testing and has vowed not to pay for any additional DNA tests.

Within a short time span, we need to raise $17,000 to complete this mitochondrial testing and cover expenses. We have six to eight weeks ahead of us to do so and I really need your help and assistance to raise these funds. This is my last chance to prove my innocence and be released from this nightmare.

For this New Year, I wish you and your loved ones the very best. I thank you for all you have done for me and most importantly for your continued support to establish the truth and prove my innocence.

Kind regards,

Hank Skinner

To make a donation, please go to the “how to help” section of the website:
http://www.hankskinner.org

You can make a donation online or find the postal address for the defense fund to mail a check in the currency of your choice.

Facebook http://on.fb.me/Justice4Hank

Twitter http://twitter.com/Justice4Hank

Newsletter http://eepurl.com/cYCIE

On Death Row – By Werner Herzog

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Written by Injustice in Focus

January 15, 2013 at 10:24 am

The Punisher

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“The jail is overflowing, taxpayers are footing the bill, and a new report says State Attorney Angela Corey is to blame.”

via Folio Weekly’s Cover Story.

Sign the petition to remove her here

Written by Injustice in Focus

March 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Posted in News

Unshackle Juveniles in the Courtroom

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Historically, the shackling of prisoners has been a form of punishment or discipline but in more modern times has been used as an instrument of restraint, particularly when moving inmates from one area of a facility to another, or transporting them to and from a facility for court appearances. It has applied to both juveniles and adults but in the last decade, the practice with regard to the shackling of juveniles has received widespread condemnation and deemed a violation of their constitutional (if not human) rights.

As of 2007, 28 states regularly practiced the shackling of juveniles during court appearances. In the last several years alone, there have been numerous instances where the use of shackles has been seen as not only dehumanizing and degrading, but completely unnecessary.

Patricia Puritz, executive director of the National Juvenile Defender Center commented that shackling “is so egregious, so offensive, so unnecessary” and “There is harm to the child and there is also harm to the integrity of the process. These children haven’t even been found guilty of anything.”

A case in point is that of Jordan Brown, who at the age of eleven was arrested and charged with the murder of his father’s fiance and her unborn child in 2009, in Wampum, Pennsylvania.

His appearance in court for his arraignment (and subsequent pre trial hearings) with his small frame shackled both wrist and ankle, alarmed not only his family and advocates against this archaic practice but most rational thinking people as well. His family was told that the he will continue to be shackled in the courtroom until such time as he is brought before a jury at trial, the reason for which is specious at best, as the prosecution would feel a shackled child may influence a jury to be more compassionate than they would like.

In 2011, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted Rule 139, specifically “to eliminate shackling during a court proceeding in almost every case. Only in the few extreme cases should such restraints be utilized”.

Another juvenile who has been paraded, shackled, before the media and the court is Cristian Fernandez who at age twelve was arrested and charged with the murder of his two-year-old stepbrother in Jacksonville, Florida. Like Jordan, the evidence against him is weak and his behavior whilst detained, exemplary. Yet, he continues to be brought before the court shackled when it is obvious the child poses no threat to anybody whatsoever. Curiously no motion has been filed on his behalf to allow him to appear unrestrained.

The argument for those in support of shackling was essentially rendered moot, when in 2009, the Florida Supreme Court limited the use of shackling juveniles with the amendment (effective January 1, 2010) to Rule 8.100 (General Provisions for Hearings) which reads in part;

Rule 8.100(b)

Instruments of restraint may not be used on a child during court and must be re-moved unless the court makes a finding that both

1. the use of the shackles are necessary due to one of these factors

A. to prevent harm to the child or another

B. the child has a history of disruptive behavior that has placed others in harmful situations or present a substantial risk of risk inflicting harm on themselves or others as evidenced by recent behavior or

C. the child is a flight risk

AND

2. there is no less restrictive alternative that will prevent flight or harm

As stated by the Florida Supreme Court, “We find the indiscriminate shackling of children in Florida courtrooms as described in the NJDC’s Assessment repugnant, degrading, humiliating and contrary to the stated primary purposes of the juvenile justice system and to the principles of therapeutic justice, a concept which this Court has previously been acknowledged.”

The states of California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, North Dakota, North Carolina, Oregon, and Vermont no longer shackle juvenile defendants as a result of State Supreme Court rulings or legislative action.

In 2010, Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr. of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan found “that the agency’s policy violated the state’s own law on shackling youths in custody”.

There is an obvious and growing trend toward amending juvenile procedures in the courtroom and it is my hope that you will give this petition the consideration it deserves and sign it so as this violation of not only law, but the rights of all juvenile defendants will be recognized in future.

Written by Injustice in Focus

February 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Thank you from Cristian Fernandez

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Cristian Fernandez thanks supporters

On January 14, Cristian spent his thirteenth birthday in the confines of Duval Regional Detention Center, where he is being held awaiting trial. A Facebook page was started by Cristian’s staunchest supporter and advocate, Melissa Higgins, in the weeks leading up to his birthday. Cristian received many cards and his thank you reply was heartfelt and touching, especially considering the living hell he is enduring.

Cristian’s next hearing is scheduled for February 8 and I am sure he would appreciate letters of support leading up to that day and his trial on February 27. This child is being railroaded by the heartless State Attorney Angela Corey, so please take a moment to familiarize yourself with his plight.

Thank you.

Cristian Fernandez
Duval Regional Detention Center
1241 East 8th Street
Jacksonville, FL 32206-4099

Written by Injustice in Focus

January 25, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Rally for Cristian Fernandez | Amnesty International USA

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Cristian Fernandez

Please join us on February 8th, 2012 at 7am, in front of the Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville, Florida (330 East Bay Street), in a peaceful protest against the handling of Cristian Fernandez in the adult justice system. Cristian was barely 12 years old when he was charged as an adult in the death of his brother. If he is convicted on February 27th he faces life without parole.

The case of Cristian Fernandez has attracted local, state, national and even international attention through a petition drive sponsored by Change.org. Almost 180,000 people and organizations signed a petition asking State Attorney Angela Corey to reverse the decision to try Cristian as an adult. Angela Corey has since proclaimed she does not “prosecute by petition”.

You may also contact us at savecristian@yahoo.com if you are interested in attending the rally on February 8th. There is also additional information at savecristian.org.

The rally coincides with a 9am hearing at the courthouse where the judge will rule on motions filed by the defense.

Event starts at 7am.

Duval County Courthouse

330 East Bay Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202
United States

Link to article

Written by Injustice in Focus

January 24, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Rally for Cristian Fernandez – February 8, 2012

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Flyer designed for the event

Save Cristian Fernandez is looking for people who are able to attend and take part in a peaceful demonstration in support of Cristian, which is scheduled to commence at 7.00am on February 8th. The event will be taking place at the Duval County Courthouse, 330 East Bay Street, Jacksonville, Florida. More information can be found here or by contacting the organizer at savecristian@yahoo.com
Thank you.

Written by Injustice in Focus

January 12, 2012 at 9:27 am

Posted in News