In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

California Prosecutor Refuses To Allow DNA Test That Could Exonerate Inmate

A California man imprisoned for a two-month crime spree he says he didn’t commit has served 40 years behind bars, even though the prosecution has evidence that he says supports his innocence.

Kenneth Moore was 20 years old in 1980, when he was convicted of more than 50 felonies, including the slayings of a mother and daughter, eight rapes and scores of other crimes in a case the prosecutor called “downright gruesome.” An all-white jury sentenced the young black man to life without the possibility of parole.

His appeals long since exhausted, Moore, now 60, has been trying to have DNA evidence in his case tested. 

Even though DNA testing has helped to exonerate more than 350 people since 1989, the Alameda County district attorney’s office has aggressively opposed all of Moore’s requests.

“It’s frustrating,” Moore told HuffPost. “We’ve put all of our hopes on this. I know for a fact it will exonerate me. Only a damn fool would want DNA testing of something he knew that he did, because that would remove all doubt forever.”

The district attorney’s office would not comment on the case aside from pointing to court documents, which Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick said “spell out the reasons” for their opposition.

According to the documents, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley has fought Moore “at the highest levels” to prevent testing of a torn dress and underwear in a key case that was used to connect Moore to other crimes. The documents indicate that O’Malley does not consider the clothing to be “newly discovered evidence,” and that she believes DNA testing, if it had been available at the time, would not have swayed the jury.

Moore has a prior criminal record for auto thefts, and admits that he did steal a truck connected to the case. He says he wasn’t involved in any of the other crimes of which he’s been convicted.

“Stealing cars, trucks, boats ― anything with an engine ― that was my hustle,” Moore said. “It was quick and easy, and I had a list of people lined up who wanted to buy them. Sadly, that’s what started all this.”

Moore’s case concerns a violent crime spree in Northern California that captured national headlines in the late ’70s and early ’80s. (The graphic details of that spree are described below, and may be disturbing to some readers.) He and his brother David, then 25, were both accused of involvement, along with 28-year-old Charles Reese.

Moore was convicted of taking part in several rapes, including one in which an elderly woman was violently sodomized with a double-barreled shotgun. According to the Oakland Tribune, Deputy District Attorney James Anderson once described the case as “the most vicious I’ve ever handled.”

On Aug. 30, 1978, Kenneth Moore, then 19, turned himself in to police after learning there was a warrant for his arrest accusing him of being involved in an auto theft and a home invasion robbery.

“I knew the worst thing that could happen is I’d spend a few more months in county jail for the auto theft, so it was no big deal,” Moore said. 

Moore said he had been living with his parents and would sometimes spend nights at an Oakland apartment his brother shared with Reese. When police searched the apartment where the men were staying, they found credit cards and other items belonging to various victims, including the ones in a June 25, 1978, rape and robbery case. In the bushes outside the men’s apartment, police found a Smith & Wesson handgun. Authorities said ballistics tests matched the weapon to a bullet recovered from Laura Muhlenbruch’s body. Muhlenbruch, 21, and her mother, Eileen Rogers, had been robbed and killed in an Oakland parking garage on Aug. 18.

The Moore brothers were arrested. Kenneth Moore says they weren’t behind bars long before prosecutors approached him and offered a plea deal in exchange for cooperating and giving up the whereabouts of Reese, whom authorities had been unable to locate.

“They told me I could be out in less than 25 years,” Moore said. “I’m from the street ― the hood. What do I do, turn on my brother? I can’t do that.”

One of the most damning pieces of evidence against Moore was his fingerprint, which was found in a stolen truck parked outside the scene of an Aug. 21, 1978, robbery. His brother’s fingerprints were also found inside the vehicle. Moore says he stole the truck earlier that month from a Los Altos Chevrolet dealership. 

“I’d got arrested in November 1976 for auto theft in Hayward,” Moore said. “I needed help, and my brother got me an attorney. I served something like six months. When I was released, I went back to stealing, and when I got that Chevy truck, I gave it to [my brother] to clear our debt.”

The brothers’ trial began on Feb. 4, 1980. According to The Associated Press, it took Alameda County Superior Court Judge Stanley Gold two hours to read all 132 counts they faced, including two murders, eight rapes, 25 armed robberies, multiple burglaries, false imprisonment, sodomy and oral copulation. More than $50,000 in valuables was stolen during the crime spree, police said.

➤ Click here to read the full article
Source: Huffington Post, David Lohr, July 25, 2018

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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