Our Dear Friend Mike Lambrix left us on October 5, 2017
He went from the Darkness to the Light..

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Perfect Murder

Countless books have been written and movies made about “the perfect murder” with fictional plots that ingeniously weave a web of diabolical motive and opportunity so creatively twisted that the reader must wonder what the truth really is, but in the end there’s always that one small detail that trips up the cold blooded killer and the heinous crime is exposed and the murderer quickly brought to justice. In this fictional world, truth and justice always prevail, as that’s how we always want a story to end. In a fundamental and inherent way, we delight in the gratification of knowing that justice was done.

If only this were true in the real world. All too often the truly diabolical cold-blooded killer can so easily twist our own perception of the truth so that all we really see is nothing more then what they want us to see, and then they commit an act of cold-blooded murder right before our own eyes, as in our ignorance of the truth, we even cheer them on and applaud them for taking another life in our own name. I’m talking about the state sanctioned serial killers who spent their careers methodically preying upon the innocents and without conscience, exploiting the overwhelming power of the almighty state to deliberately perpetuate the most inconceivable of injustices – the intentional execution of an innocent man.

What is truly remarkable is just how deliberately ignorant we choose to be, refusing to see the inconvenient truth that innocent people are being executed - and these executions are being carried out in our name. We – you and me, and all of us who silently stand by and say nothing as these executions are being carried out – are the cold blooded killers committing the quintessential “perfect murder” (please read “Where do we draw the line of moral responsibility”)

Incredibly, most of us will find that statement offensive, as our own conscience will conveniently create excuses as to why we are not responsible. After all, none of us actually pulled the switch, or put the needle in the arm to bring about the execution of an innocent man. “We” had nothing to do with it and probably didn’t even know about it. But make no mistake, if you really want to see the face of a cold blooded killer committing the perfect murder, then all you have to do is just look in the mirror. In our constitutional democracy our government only has the power “we” the people give them. And when the state carries out an execution, they do it in our name. By choosing to remain silent and refusing to speak out against the continued practice of pursuing executions in cases of questionable innocence, we become the cold blooded killers.

The truly tragic commentary on the state of our contemporary society is that there are those intimately familiar with the dynamics of the administration of our judicial system who have now for years spoken out and admitted that we are executing innocent people, but nobody wants to listen, their words go unheard and they are even labeled “bleeding heart liberals” and openly ridiculed by pro-death penalty politicians and rabid judicial activists only too eager to invoke and inflame the lynch mob frenzy that all too often makes inconvenient truths and reason irrelevant as this intoxication of blood-lust and vengeance take control – and they know it.

Numerous Supreme Court Justices have now openly admitted that innocent people have been and will be put to death. Recently US Supreme Court Justice Sandra day O’ Connor public ally admitted that we are executing innocent people (see. “Justice has doubts about death penalty: Justice O’ Connor says “The system may well be allowing some innocent defendants to be executed’ St Petersburg Times, July 4 2001), only to subsequently be ridiculed by pro death penalty politicians and coerced into silence.

Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Gerald Kogan, who spent his career as both a prosecutor and judge, also made it clear that there is no doubt that we are executing the innocent. In a speech given in Orlando, Florida on October 23, 1999 (see also “Justice questions guild of executed” Gainesville Sun, December 24, 1998) former Chief justice Kogan proclaimed;

“I estimate that, in the last 40 years, I have participated either as a prosecutor, as a defense attorney, as a trial judge, or as an appellate judge to the Supreme Court in the deposition of more than 1200 capital cases….There is no question in my mind, and I can tell you this having seen the dynamics of our criminal justice system over the many years that I have been associated with it; prosecutor, defense attorney, trial judge and supreme court Justice, that convinces me that we certainly have, in the past, executed those people who either didn’t fir the criteria for execution in the state of Florida or who in fact were factually not guilty of the crime for which they have been executed”

With such an unequivocal declaration by someone so intimately familiar with the judicial process, can any of us actually say with absolute certainly that innocent people are not being executed?

It is human nature to become conveniently blind to what we don’t want to see, especially it the inconvenient truth makes us morally uncomfortable. It is only too easy to say that there is no way innocent people are being executed as every capital case goes through countless state and federal appeals challenging the validity of the conviction before the person can be put to death. But we know now with absolute certainty that this appellate review process does not weed out the innocent and protect them from execution.

A few years ago United States District Court Judge Rakoff dared to confront this inconvenient truth in united States v. Quinones, 205 F.Supp.2d 256 (S.O.N.Y 2002) when the Federal government attempted to seek the death penalty against an accused murderer. After an exhaustive analysis of the issue, Judge Rakoff concluded that the government must be prohibited from even attempting to seek the death penalty as the evidence conclusively shows that the system itself has become so corrupted by errors that even allowing the government to seek the death penalty would itself create a “constitutionally intolerable” risk of executing innocent people.

In reaching this conclusion Judge Rakoff looked at irrefutable evidence that shows that despite the protracted appeal process in capital cases, it is clear that a substantial number of innocent people do still face execution in spite of having their capital cases reviewed by numerous state and federal.

Judge Rakoff stated in United States v. Quinones;
“What DNA testing has proved, beyond cavil, is the remarkable degree of fallibility in the basic fact-finding processes on which we rely in criminal cases. In each of the 12 cases of DNA exoneration of death row inmates referenced in (the earlier) Quinones, 196 FSupp 2d 416, the defendants had been found guilty by an unanimous jury that concluded there was proof of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; and in each of the 12 cases the conviction had been confirmed on appeal, and collateral challenges rejected, by numerous courts that had carefully scrutinized the evidence and the manner of conviction. Yet, for all this alleged “due process”, the result, in each and every one of these cases was the conviction of an innocent person who, because of the death penalty, would shortly have been executed - some came within days of being so – were it not for the fortuitous development of a new scientific technique that happened to be applicable to their particular cases.”

Since Judge Rakoff wrote that opinion in 2002 numerous others have been proven to be innocent by conclusive DNA testing.

The problem is that in most capital cases there is no forensic evidence that would allow a person’s guilt or innocence to be proven conclusively by DNA evidence. In recent years at least 135 men and women have been wrongfully convicted and condemned to death only to be subsequently exonerated and ordered released by the courts. See www.deathpenaltyinfo.org ) and only a handful of these cases involved the use of exoneration by DNA evidence.

Another troubling factor that substantially increases the likelihood that innocent people will be executed is that even in cases in which DNA evidence proved the innocence of the person on death row, and revealed the identity of the true killer, not even once has the state even so much as conceded to the possibility of error. In virtually every one of these cases, no matter how strong the evidence was of innocence, the state continued to uphold the conviction and pursue the execution of an innocent man.

Think about this for a minute. If those representing the state are unwilling to admit to even the possibility of error in cases in which the evidence of innocence becomes overwhelming – such as DNA evidence – how can we trust the state to protect the innocent from being put to death by execution in cases where new evidence undermines the moral certainty of guilt?

A good example of this is the last two executions carried out in Florida. Wayne Tompkins was executed in early 2009. Please read: (When does execution become murder) and John Marek was executed on August 19, 2009. Both cases were remarkably similar in that they were both “wholly circumstantial” cases – meaning that there wee no eyewitnesses, no physical or forensic evidence, and no confessions to support the state’s specious case. Both cases relied upon testimony given by witnesses who had a personal interest in helping the state convict and condemn them. And in both cases a substantial wealth of evidence was presented to show that a legitimate claim of innocence existed.

In Wayne Tompkins case the only person actually testifying that Tompkins admitted to committing the crime was Kenneth Turco, a “jailhouse snitch” who only agreed to testify against Tompkins because the state attorney agreed to help Turco with his own criminal charges. Prior to Tompkins execution irrefutable evidence was presented to the court to show that the prosecutor Michael Benito had actually told the jailhouse snitch to lie and fabricate evidence, a fact that the prosecutor (Benito) admitted. Even though the Florida Supreme Court admitted that Kenneth Turco’s testimony was “the most crucial evidence of Tompkins guilt” and there was no question that the prosecutor deliberately instructed Turco to provide false testimony, the court denied relief and Tompkins was executed.

In the more recent case of John Marek, not a single person could say that Marek killed the victim. Marek had consistently claimed for over 25 years that John Wigley, his acquaintance at the time who was also in the company of the woman shortly before the body was found, had committed the crime. Wigley was convicted of the crime, but sentenced to ‘life”, Marek was sentenced to death presumably because he refused to admit guilt.

Prior to Marek’s execution at least six witnesses came forth providing sworn testimony that John Wigley had told them - in graphic details – how he had killed the woman, not John Marek. But since all of these witnesses were “convicted felons” the court decided that they were not credible.

You see, in Florida – and many other states – it only takes one jailhouse snitch to provide the necessary testimony to convict and condemn a person, and even if that testimony is later proven to have been deliberately fabricated the conviction will stand. But if the defendant attempts to prove his innocence by presenting the testimony of at least six prisoners, then that testimony is rejected as not credible. This blatant hypocrisy openly invites error.

Another tragic similarity between Tompkins and Marek’s cases was that even though both cases involved legitimate claims of innocence, there was virtually no organized opposition to their execution prior to their execution. Presumably there are millions of people who oppose the death penalty on philosophical and moral grounds, especially when a legitimate claim of innocence is raised. And there were those who opposed both executions on these broader grounds. But there was virtually no organized opposition to these executions based specifically on their innocence.

Thus, my dear friends, I give you the quintessential “perfect murder” - a cold blooded killing committed right before our very eyes, and even in our own name. I cannot say with absolute certainty that either Tompkins or Marek were innocent. But I can say with absolute certainty that our judicial system is not perfect – and is not willing to admit to its own imperfection – and that makes the execution of the innocent absolutely inevitable, as we cannot count on the state, or the courts, to protect the innocent. Therefore, it is our moral duty to speak up and express our opposition in questionable cases before the state carries out that execution.

Please check www.southerninjustice.com


Saturday, September 5, 2009

“When history looks back”

In my death row cell I have a small T.V. and I watch way too much of it. Most of what I watch is for entertainment and serves no real purpose but to distract me from the reality of being condemned to death and the uncertainty of my fate. All too often many of those around me drown in the reality of their circumstance, slowly sinking beneath that surface of insanity until they’ve lost touch with reality.
Sometimes I wonder if perhaps my worst fate is that I cannot so conveniently detach from what we call “reality” and at least mentally escape my cruel fate. (Please read text of www.doinglifeondeathrow.blogspot.com)

But I also watch a lot of programs on history. Among my favorites a documentary style program by Ken Burns, such as the “Civil War” series. This looks back on how that war was brought about and the effects it had on our country, both past and present. Similar, programs take an in-depth look at more contemporary historical events, such as World War II, the Vietnam War and even the cultural shifts in our society in the past generation.

That got me to wondering what our own future society will see when history looks back upon us. We live in an incredible time, at the very forefront of the “digital” age when even the most insignificant event in our lives is reduced to “instant texting” and “twitter” – and there in the infinite realm of “cyber-space” preserved forever, just waiting for future generations to look back and peek into our own lives - and judge us upon what they see.

When our grandchildren – and their own grandchildren, too – look back at the records of our lives, what will they see? Just as today we look back and judge past generations, how will our future generations judge us? Already in recent years complex internet ‘search engines” have been built that enable us to simply type in a name and come up with a wealth of information and it’s a safe bet that these computer programs will only get better. Our grandchildren will easily be able to take a close look at out entire lives by “mining” the internet for anything with our name.

This will undoubtedly prove embarrassing for the millions of kids today who put social networking sites such as “MySpace” or “Facebook” without realizing that what we throw out into cyberspace today can last forever and our grandkids can dig up our past and wonder what possessed us to put up some thing of that nature, as it’s almost certain that future generations will come to respect the need for discretion and restraint.

Out more importantly, we live in an age in which even the lowest of the low, the very least amongst us, have a voice. Can you imagine what the millions of Jewish Holocaust victims might have said if only they could have written about their experience on the internet? O the generations of slaves brought to America as nothing more that property to be bought and sold?

When we look back into the shadows of history what we consistently see is that those actually making that history truly believed in what they were doing and even Hitler convinced many millions that mass genocide was for the good of all, that the senseless slaughter of millions, not only by Hitler, but by Josef Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, and even more contemporary mass murders of ethnic populations such as Slobodan Milosevic in the Baltic Nations, and continuing today in many African countries, such as Sudan, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe – just to name a few.

They all have one thing in common – the perception that their purpose is justified and serves the interest of their society. It’s funny in a tragic sort of way just how incredibly easy it is for our leaders to convince the populations that the wholesale murder of so many were and is justified and in their own interest.

When I think about these things, I think about America’s we of the death penalty – the only western democracy still allowing it’s citizens to be put to death by the state, in company with countries like Iran, China and numerous other countries that have long been condemned for their own disregard for basic human rights.

How will history look back upon today’s America, and judge us? Our country today openly admits to using torture to extract confessions from suspected terrorists and unquestionably imprisons a higher percentage of its population than any other country in the word. Our own supreme court has been declared that the states may execute the innocent and that the agents of the state who are empowered to convict and condemn those accused of a capital crime are absolutely immune from accountability if they engage in deliberate acts of prosecutional misconduct to convict and condemn the innocent.

We can only hope that future generations will evolve and look back upon our own generation, and just as today we must ask how those of past generations could have justified their own acts of murder in the interest of a better good, that our grandchildren will look back and wonder how, as a matter of moral conscience, we might have justified the use of capital punishment to execute the innocent, even if although not directly advocating the executions of the innocent to take place, we still are responsible for not speaking out against it (please read “where do we draw the line of moral responsibility” at www.southerninjustice.com/blog )

I have often quoted Abraham Lincoln’s words “evil can only hope to triumph when good people choose to do nothing”, as these words are as true today as when they were first spoken over a century ago. Too often history has proven that our sense of moral conscience is only too easy influenced by the contemporary passions that drive us. And there are few contemporary social issues more compelling than capital punishment. Too many today blindly embrace the death penalty out of ignorance or instinct without realizing that it’s not just about holding the guilty accountable - it’s only too easy for morally corrupt politicians and judges to exploit high profile capital cases and use images such as “Ted Bundy” to convince the public why we must have the death penalty.

But the most vast majority of those condemned to death are unknown, their cases relatively unremarkable. All too often the worst of the worst actually are not sentenced to death. Rather, the majority of those we only too quickly condemn to death are simply pawns sacrificed to the perpetuation of that insidious blood thirsty beast called “politics of death”.

When history looks back from us what they will see is that the American judicial system had become completely corrupt by these beasts, the “politics of death”. What they will see is that although a few judges and politicians do speak out against the moral corruption of capital punishment, even admitting that the innocent are convicted, condemned and even put to death, and that there truly is a virtual epidemic of injustice as ethically corrupt prosecutors knowingly convict and condemn the innocent (please read “Anatomy of a corrupt prosecutor”) and equally corrupt judges knowingly uphold these wrongful convictions for fear that they will be subjected to political retaliation if they throw out a wrongful conviction. Only too often these locally elected judges are far more interested in winning the next election than protecting the innocent from wrongful execution.

But when history does look back, they must have a record to look to, and that is why it is so important that we document these capital cases that involve legitimate claim of innocent that the morally and politically corrupt courts refuse to correct. These judicial cowards and morally corrupt political parasites must be exposed for what they are. Maybe we cannot stop them from committing deliberate acts of murder under the pretense of administering justice, no more than a single German soldier could had spoken out against and stopped Hitler from slaughtering millions of innocent Jews.

But we can document these authorities and leave a record for future generations to look back upon – and that is precisely what I have been doing, through the gene row help of several people. (See www.southerinjustice.com ). Personally, I would love to see every capital case fully posted online – but that would be impossible for me to do.

What I would like to ask is that you help build a record for future generations to look back upon by leaving your own comments on my blog and sharing your own thoughts. Maybe one voice can be too easily drowned out by the roar of the lynch mob – but I know I am not the only voice and you too can be heard. So, I ask you to leave your comments and opinions on this bog, as well as on www.southernjustice.com . Together we can build a record that future generations can look back upon and let our grandchildren see that not everyone supported this inhumane injustice called capital punishment, used to put the innocent to death.
Our voice should be heard.

Until next time, Mike