Urgent Actions

Stop Warren Hill’s Execution in Georgia – Amnesty International Usa


Despite unanimous agreement from 7 doctors that Warren Hill is intellectually disabled and opposition from the victims family and original trial jurors, Georgia is still planning to kill Warren Hill this Monday.

944739_10151489304866363_102595359_n

To learn more about this case, read or print AIUSA’s full Urgent Action sheet: PDF format

Advertisements

PENNSYLVANIA – Jimmy Dennis another innocent man on death row – Read and share when u can !


Hi everyone, 

First at all, i wanna say THANKS Ana for your post about Jimmy. We need more people like U ! 

Claim your innocence is ready from Switzerland for support Jimmy and follow him !

No more innocent on death Row 

THE CASE:

In Philadelphia on October 22, 1991, a young woman named Chedell Williams went to the Fern Rock subway station to buy a transit pass. At approximately 1:50 p.m. she was approached by two men, one of whom demanded her gold earrings and shot her. These two men then ran to a getaway car, where a third accomplice drove them away. By all accounts, the crime took place in mere seconds, and in those few seconds, Miss Williams tragically lost her life. She was only 17.

Jimmy Dennis was convicted of this crime and given a death sentence, yet he has steadfastly maintained his innocence. After several months of thoroughly studying his case, collecting and reading the documents (including police statements, the trial transcript, and appeal brief), we- an international volunteer group of supporters- have concluded that the facts in this case fully support his innocence. There is simply no reason to believe that Jimmy Dennis had anything whatsoever to do with this murder. In the meantime, we have exchanged many letters with Jimmy, and even traveled to Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, to meet him personally.

He has languished on death row since 1992 (not including a year he spent in jail awaiting trial), confined to his cell for 22 to 23 hours a day. We are horrified by the idea that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania intends to kill an innocent man. Indeed, we don’t even want to think about that. Instead, we are persuaded that if enough people knew the facts of this case, there would be an enormous outcry for justice that would not only assist in preventing Jimmy’s execution, but would also help in securing his release.

At the time of his arrest, Jimmy was 21 years old. As a member of a music group called Sensation, Jimmy had a promising future. He was looking forward to the birth of his daughter, who was born about a week after Jimmy was imprisoned; sadly, he has never spent a full day with her.

 

The Facts:

1.  Jimmy was a complete stranger to the victim and witnesses. No evidence was presented at the trial to connect Jimmy with the victim and/or with the witnesses.

2.  There is no physical evidence linking Jimmy Dennis to this crime.

No car – The getaway car was described by witnesses as a gold or tan 4-door Chevy Malibu or Caprice with a Pennsylvania license plate ending in 988. Jimmy neither owned a car nor had a license. The vehicle used in the crime was never connected in any way to Jimmy, nor was it ever located.

No weapon – The gun used at the crime was never recovered, nor was any gun found among Jimmy’s possessions.

No fingerprints – A button was torn from Miss Williams’ clothes. Either the state never tested the button for fingerprints or the results were never made known to the defense.

No earrings – The earrings that were allegedly stolen from Miss Williams were never found, and there is no evidence that Jimmy ever had them in his possession.

3.  There is no evidence to connect Jimmy with a previous incident in which the earrings were stolen.

Chedell Williams’ former boyfriend, Walter Gilliard, testified at the trial that Miss Williams’ earrings had been stolen previously, in June of 1991, just four months prior to her murder. Mr. Gilliard testified that Miss Williams had once pointed out to him who stole the earrings. Gilliard testified that Jimmy wasn’t this person. (Gilliard also stated that he learned on the street who purchased the earrings from the thief, and he had repurchased them for Miss Williams for approximately $125.)

4.  Jimmy, who is 5’4″, doesn’t match the eyewitnesses’ descriptions.

The evidence against Jimmy was largely dependent on the eyewitness testimony of three people who were strangers to Jimmy: Zahra Howard, Thomas Bertha and James Cameron. All three identified Jimmy as the shooter at the trial, despite the fact that Jimmy’s physical characteristics don’t match their original descriptions. Witnesses who identified other suspects were not called to testify.

Zahra Howard, who had accompanied Miss Williams to the Fern Rock Station, told police that the shooter was as tall as or taller than the detective who interviewed her. According to police notes, this meant that the murderer was 5’9″ or 5’10”. Miss Howard testified at a preliminary hearing that she saw the shooter’s face for 5 seconds.

Thomas Bertha testified at the trial that he told the police the shooter was 5’9″ and weighed approximately 180 pounds. Mr. Bertha testified at a preliminary hearing that he saw the shooter’s face for just 1 second.

James Cameron didn’t give a description of the murderer’s height and weight in the original police statement, but his description of the shooter’s jacket doesn’t match that of Zahra Howard. Mr. Cameron testified at a preliminary hearing that he saw the shooter’s face for 20 seconds.

Jimmy Dennis’ height was established at the trial as 5’5″ with dress shoes. Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections website states that Jimmy is 5’4.” Jimmy weighed approximately 130 pounds at the time of the murder. Witnesses described the shooter as having very dark skin, unlike Jimmy’s lighter complexion. Yet, the prosecutor, Roger King, told jurors to dismiss such details. He told them it wasn’t a case about weight, race and height, but rather about the right to take public transportation.

5.  As DNA evidence has repeatedly helped prove, eyewitness stranger identification is notoriously unreliable. 

When shown a photo spread and asked to identify the murderer, Zahra Howard selected Jimmy’s picture and stated, “This one looks like the guy, but I can’t be sure.”When the police detective asked, “Can you be sure that this is in fact the guy that shot Chedell?”, Miss Howard replied, “No.”

When shown a photo spread, James Cameron stated, “Number one looks familiar, but I can’t be sure.”

6.  Shanaqua Ramsey, a high school friend of Zahra Howard, has given a statement that Miss Howard told her that she was not sure she picked out the right person from the photo spread. According to Miss Ramsey, Miss Howard said that she really did not get a good look at the person because all she saw was “pulling and tugging.”

7.  The defense did not call any of several witnesses of the murder to testify at the trial, including David LeRoy, Dr. Clarence Verdell, and George Ritchie. These witnesses either failed to identify Jimmy as the assailant or identified someone else.

David LeRoy, a hot dog stand owner who witnessed the crime, described the assailant as 5’10” and wearing a red and white jacket or red jacket with a white shirt. However, he insisted that the crime happened so fast that he “only caught a glimpse of these males.” He refused to select anyone from the police officers’ photo spreads, saying, “I will not make an identification that could wrongly affect someone’s life.”

Dr. Clarence Verdell selected another suspect from the photo spread. Furthermore, Dr. Verdell states that there were as many as ten other witnesses giving descriptions to the police on the day of the murder.

George Ritchie described the assailants as being 5’9″ or 5″10″ in height and weighing approximately 170 to 190 pounds.

Yet Mr. LeRoy, Dr. Verdell, and Mr. Ritchie were NOT called to testify.

James Cameron said that there were as many as 50 witnesses to the crime. Sergeant John Fetscher testified that he could conservatively estimate that hundreds of people would have been present at the station at the time of the crime, yet only three (Zahra Howard, James Cameron, and Thomas Bertha) testified at the trial.

8.  Jimmy lacked a motive to rob or murder anyone.

George Pratt was a promoter, producer and manager in the production and entertainment division of  G. W. Management Incorporated. He had his own record label. Mr. Pratt testified that at the time of Jimmy’s arrest, he had a verbal contract with Jimmy and was in the process of completing a written contract with him to produce gospel music.

The Sensation group members gave statements and trial testimony that the group practiced singing and dance steps for 4 ½ to 9 hours every day.

9.  Charles Thompson and police coercion

Charles Thompson was a member of Jimmy’s singing group, Sensation. On November 8, 1991, Charles Thompson gave a statement to the police that he had seen Jimmy with a gun on the night of the murder during the singing group’s rehearsal. Mr. Thompson also testified to this at Jimmy’s trial in 1992. On January 24, 1996, Mr. Thompson retracted his statement and his 1992 trial testimony, explaining that his original statement was a result of intimidation. In his recantation, he states that he was handcuffed to a chair and badgered for hours by five police officers, who were insisting that he implicate Jimmy or face murder charges himself. He ultimately decided to tell the police officers “what they wanted to hear and just get out and not be charged with anything.” He insists that he has never seen Jimmy with a gun, and that he attempted to retract his statement prior to the trial. Mr. Thompson explains: “It was in my conscience, I couldn’t sleep and get it out of my mind.  It was like a monkey on my back.” However, Mr. Thompson states that the prosecutor, Roger King, told him that nothing could be changed in his statement.

Charles Thompson had a motive to lie about Jimmy. At the time of his statement to the police in 1991, there were charges against Mr. Thompson for assault of a pregnant woman. These charges were dropped prior to Jimmy’s trial. At the time of the trial in 1992, Mr. Thompson had been charged with a felony involving drugs. Mr. Thompson confessed in his recantation that he was expecting help with his drug case because he was helping them (the prosecution).

10.  Police did not immediately arrest Jimmy after getting Mr. Thompson’s statement, nor is there any mention of Charles Thompson in the arrest warrant.

Charles Thompson gave his statement to the police on November 8, 1991. Though his statement later became a focal point in the trial, there is no mention of Mr. Thompson’s statement in the arrest warrant dated November 22, 1991. This corroborates Mr. Thompson’s recantation; that is, the fact that the police didn’t include Thompson’s statement in the arrest warrant supports Thompson’s insistence that his original statement was coerced. There also is no reasonable explanation as to why the police didn’t immediately arrest Jimmy after obtaining Thompson’s November 8 statement. In fact, Jimmy wasn’t arrested until November 23. Furthermore, any evidence mentioned in the arrest warrant was available to the police as early as October 28.

11.  All of the other members of Jimmy’s singing group testified at the trial that Charles Thompson was lying and that they never saw Jimmy with a gun.

12.  Where are the accomplices? Though there were a number of other potential suspects, and witnesses agreed that three people were involved, no one else was ever charged with this crime.

13.  Jimmy’s case was not properly investigated by the defense. The lack of preparation is evident in the fact that numerous witnesses who should have been called to testify on Jimmy’s behalf were not contacted. In 1991, Jimmy’s attorney, Mr. Lee Mandell, had 46 active court-appointed cases, not including his private practice.

14.  Jimmy Dennis has always maintained his innocence. He was unwilling to accept any plea bargains or deals.

15. Jimmy’s alibi is supported by at least three other individuals. However, LaTanya Cason, who was merely an acquaintance of Jimmy’s, unintentionally gave false information at Jimmy’s trial due to her misinterpreting a time stamp on a bank check, which was stamped in military time. Jimmy knew that he saw Ms. Cason at approximately 2:00 pm on the day of the murder. Ms. Cason testified that after leaving work that day, she cashed a check and did some shopping. She estimated that she saw Jimmy about an hour after cashing her check, which was stamped 13:03. Falsely believing that 13:03 meant 3:03 pm, Ms. Cason testified that she saw Jimmy between 4:00 and 4:30 pm. She has since given a statement rectifying her mistake, stating that she would have seen Jimmy between 2:00 and 2:30 pm, which supports Jimmy’s alibi.

16.  Police were pressured to find a murderer. This was a high profile case in Philadelphia. The city was outraged over yet another senseless murder. The local media focused on this crime, with numerous stories in the major newspapers. The media had portrayed Jimmy as the killer even before the trial, which was held in Philadelphia. One juror mentioned in a statement that other jurors slept during various parts of the trial. No reprimand regarding this was given by the judge to the jurors, as such instruction is absent from the transcripts.

17.  The conduct and words of Roger King, the prosecutor, were so inflammatory that Pennsylvania’s State Supreme Court nearly overturned Jimmy’s case on the basis of Mr. King’s startling behavior. Here are some quotes: “And as I said in my opening, stick a fork in him and turn him over. He will be done when you say he is done.”And, “We’re talking about the right to take public transportation. . .’cause this is what this case is about, ladies and gentlemen. It’s not about race, it’s not about size and height.”

18.  The angle of the bullet wound suggests a murderer who was as tall as or taller than the victim. According to the postmortem report, the direction of the gunshot wound was “slightly downwards.” David LeRoy, who witnessed the murder, gave a statement that the murderer was “a little taller” than the victim. Though it was never mentioned at the trial, Chedell Williams was 5’10”.

19.  There is evidence of documents that were never turned over to the defense.

In some cases, it is known that specific individuals gave statements to the police, but these statements were never produced for the defense to review.

20.  Numerous individuals appeared at Jimmy’s trial and testified to his good conduct and character in the community. Unfortunately, Mr. Mandell did not give all of the people an opportunity to testify individually. In the interest of time (which should not have been a factor, considering Jimmy’s life was at stake), Mr. Mandell had several of Jimmy’s friends and family members agree in unison that they could attest to Jimmy’s good character in his community without actually having them take the stand. In any case, 26 people either testified on Jimmy’s behalf or publicly vouched for Jimmy’s good character at his trial.

Jimmy’s pastor, Rubin Jones, stated that he knew Jimmy all his life and that Jimmy was a member of his church, the Christian Tabernacle Church of God in Christ. He testified that Jimmy had been an active member of the choir and in the last couple of years had attended the church’s services “about every time the door opened.”

21.  Though this final point is not objective evidence, we the members of “Justice for Jimmy International”– a global volunteer-based support organization– have had the opportunity to read hundreds of letters from Jimmy and to meet him in person. We are privileged to know Jimmy and consider him a good friend. Our intense study of his case in the last few years and our own personal knowledge of his character have caused us to conclude that not only is Jimmy Dennis innocent, but also that the world has been far worse off in his absence. Jimmy is a beautiful person of incredible substance, a true gem who has a lot to offer to all of us, and yet he has been assigned to die. In fact, a death warrant was signed by a former governor of Pennsylvania, and an execution date was once set for him. 

 

SAVE JIMMY DENNIS, AN INNOCENT MAN ON DEATH ROW

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Become an educated spokesperson for Jimmy by learning the facts of his case. Spread the word. Tell your family members, friends, and acquaintances that you know about an innocent man on death row named Jimmy Dennis. Find opportunities to speak about Jimmy. If you would be willing to distribute literature, wear a “Free Jimmy Dennis” bracelet or t-shirt, sign a petition, receive monthly email updates on Jimmy’s case, or put a bumper sticker on your car, let us know. Also, if you would be interested in helping us advertise about Jimmy’s case in major newspapers in Philadelphia, please contact us.

If you have any information whatsoever about this case, please call Jimmy Dennis’ Tip Line at 1-800-728-1854 (toll free and confidential) or contact his support team, “Justice for Jimmy, International” at jimmydennis.org.

Please consider giving to Jimmy’s defense fund. Checks or money orders can be made out to The James A. Dennis Legal Expense Trust. The address is The James A. Dennis Legal Expense Trust, Sun Trust Bank Dept. 28, Washington, D.C., 20042-0028.

Lastly, if you have any questions or comments, or if you would like to receive monthly email updates on Jimmy’s case, please contact us at jimmydennis.org. or visit our Facebook page, “Justice for Jimmy International, Inc.”

More info here:

http://www.jimmydennis.org,

http://www.jimmydennis.com

Interview:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/the-other-side-of-justice/2012/08/01/the-city-of-not-so-brotherly-love-the-jimmy-dennis-case

Petition:

https://www.change.org/petitions/free-jimmy-dennis-innocent-on-death-row-2

TEXAS – Yokamon Hearn – EXECUTION JULY 18, 2012 – URGENT ACTION FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL


Picture of Offender

Name
TDCJ Number
Date of Birth
Hearn, Yokamon L. 999292 11/06/78
Date Received
Age (when Received)
Education Level
12/31/98 20 10 years
Date of Offense
Age (at the Offense)
County
03/26/98 19 Dallas

FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

URGENT ACTION
TEXAS SET TO KILL ANOTHER YOUNG OFFENDER

pdf file 
Yokamon Hearn is scheduled to be executed in Texas on the evening of 18 July for a murder committed in 1998, when he was 19 years old. His lawyers maintain that he has a mental disability that would render his execution unconstitutional.
Yokamon Laneal Hearn was sentenced to death for the murder of 23-year-old stockbroker Joseph Franklin (Frank) Meziere, committed in Dallas in March 1998. Frank Meziere was shot in the head 10 times after being abducted by four youths who wanted to steal his car. All four were charged with capital murder. According to the prosecution, Yokamon Hearn had fired six of the 10 shots while another of the suspects, Delvin Diles, had fired four. After the Hearn trial, the prosecution offered Delvin Diles a plea deal under which he would waive trial by jury and avoid the possibility of the death penalty. Delvin Diles, aged 18 at the time of the shooting, pleaded guilty to capital murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1999. The other two co-defendants, aged 19 and 20 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and were sentenced to 10 years in prison.
In addition to Yokamon Hearn’s youth at the time of the crime – he was 19 years old – there is evidence that he has a
developmental mental disability. His lawyers assert that this impairment amounts to “mental retardation” and that his
execution would therefore be unconstitutional under the June 2002 US Supreme Court decision Atkins v. Virginia which prohibited the execution of offenders with such a disability. Yokamon Hearn’s “Atkins claim”, however, has run into the problem that he has achieved IQ scores higher than what is normally considered to be an indicator of “mental retardation”. His lawyers have obtained expert opinion that, despite his IQ scores, his disability nonetheless amounts to retardation and that he should still qualify for Atkins relief. The courts have disagreed.
In sworn statements given in 2006, Yokoman Hearn’s three co-defendants described him as a teenager in 1998 who was a follower not a leader. Their statements and other evidence of his conduct during and after the murder are
supportive of claims that his actions were those of an immature and impaired individual rather than the result of a planning and calculating intellect. Delvin Diles recalled that it had been his idea, not Hearn’s, to kill Frank Meziere. The other two recalled that before they went to commit robbery there had been no plan to kill anyone.
Since resuming executions in 1982, Texas has killed at least 70 people in its execution chamber who were aged 17, 18 or 19 at the time of the crimes in question. More than half of these teenagers were African American, of whom 70 per cent were convicted of crimes involving white victims. Yokamon Hearn is one of at least 40 prisoners now on death row in Texas for crimes committed when they were 18 or 19. More than half of them, like Yokamon Hearn, are black. Frank Meziere was white.


Please write immediately, in English or your own language, citing Yokamon Hearn’s Inmate No. #999292:
Explaining that you are not seeking to excuse the murder of Frank Meziere or to downplay the suffering caused;
 Noting evidence of Yokamon Hearn’s mental disability and that he was only 19 at the time of the crime;
 Opposing the execution of Yokamon Hearn and calling for his death sentence to be commuted.


PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 18 JULY 2012 TO:
Clemency Section, Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Blvd. Austin, TX 78757-6814, USA
Fax: 011 512 467 0945
Email: bpp-pio@tdcj.state.tx.us
Salutation: Dear Board members
Governor Rick Perry, Office of the Governor,
PO Box 12428, Austin, Texas 78711-2428, USA
Fax: 011 512 463 1849
Salutation: Dear Governor

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Yokamon Hearn was about 20 minutes from execution on 4 March 2004 when he was granted a stay by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to give the courts more time to consider his “Atkins claim”. In the Atkins ruling, the US Supreme Court had not defined mental retardation, although it pointed to definitions used by professional bodies. Under such definitions, mental retardation is a disability, manifested before the age of 18, characterized by significantly sub-average intellectual functioning (generally indicated by an IQ of less than 70) accompanied by limitations in two or more adaptive skill areas such as communication, self-care, work, and functioning in the community. The Court left it to the states as to how to comply with the ruling. Today, a decade after the Atkins ruling, the Texas legislature has still not enacted a law to comply with it. In the absence of such legislation, in 2004 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) issued temporary guidelines. Success on Yokamon Hearn’s Atkins claim became less likely in 2006 when his IQ was assessed as high as 93.
However, his lawyers obtained expert opinion concluding that he had structural brain dysfunction, possibly as a result of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome caused by his teenage mother’s alcohol abuse during pregnancy with him, and that his impairment still amounts to mental retardation. In 2008, a US District Court concluded that Yokamon Hearn had made a prima facie showing of mental retardation. This federal judge eventually sent the case back to the Texas courts where in 2010 the TCCA ruled against Yokamon Hearn, while noting that the Texas legislature had, eight years on, failed to enact legislation to enforce the Atkins ruling. The TCCA said that, “without significantly greater assistance from the legislature” it would adhere to its 2004 guidelines, including the “about 70” language in relation to IQ, which it took to represent a “rough ceiling, above which a finding of mental retardation in the capital context is precluded”. The Fifth Circuit ruled against Hearn in January 2012, noting that the US Supreme Court had explicitly left it up to states as to how to comply with the Atkins ruling, and that “it would be wholly inappropriate for this court, by judicial fiat, to tell the States how to conduct an inquiry into a defendant’s mental retardation”.
In its 2005 ruling prohibiting the death penalty against anyone who was under 18 at the time of the crime (Roper v. Simmons) the US Supreme Court recognized the immaturity, impulsiveness, poor judgment and underdeveloped sense of responsibility associated with youth, as well as the susceptibility of young people to “outside pressures, including peer pressure.” The Court also acknowledged that “the qualities that distinguish juveniles from adults do not disappear when an individual turns 18.” Indeed, scientific research shows that brain development continues into a person’s 20s. In 1993, in the case of a Texas death row prisoner who was 19 at the time of the crime, the Supreme Court had emphasised that: “youth is more than a chronological fact. It is a time and condition of life when a person
may be most susceptible to influence and to psychological damage. A lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense
of responsibility are found in youth more often than in adults… These qualities often result in impetuous and illconsidered actions and decisions.”
Before the Atkins ruling in 2002, Texas accounted for more executions of people with “mental retardation” than any other state in the USA. Before the Roper ruling in 2005, Texas accounted for more executions of people under 18 at the time of the crime than any other state. Texas accounts for some 37 per cent of the national judicial death toll, which currently stands at 1,296 since 1976 when the US Supreme Court allowed executions to resume under revised state laws. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases. Yokamon Hearn is scheduled to become
the 483rd person to be put to death in Texas since it resumed executions in 1982. There have been 19 executions in the USA so far in 2012, five of them in Texas.
For further information on Yokamon Hearn’s case, see ‘USA: Senseless killing after senseless killing: Texas inmate
with mental disability claim facing execution for murder committed as teenager’, June 2012,
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/042/2012/en
Name: Yokamon Laneal Hearn (m)
Issues: Death penalty, Legal concern
UA: 166/12
Issue Date: 7 June 2012
Country: USA