Death Penalty or Life Without Parole: Long And Slender Fingers at Easter

Some of you have asked questions about what it is like to do death penalty work. Here is an example.

James Mayfield was in a hell of a jam when I was appointed to represent him by Magistrate Judge John Weinberg of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. He was accused along with two others with the murders of a father and his three children on the Army base at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, WA. The father was a civilian married to a woman in the Army. They had been living on the base with their three children when she was ordered to Korea for a six-month tour. He remained behind in their house on the base with the children. The murders happened while she was in Korea.

James was a private in the Army stationed at Fort Lewis. He was a polite and beautiful young African American man from a deeply religious Southern Baptist family in Beaumont, TX. He had never been in trouble with the law before. I remember his dark eyes pooled with tears and his soft and long slender fingers when I shook his hand for the last time.

His two codefendants were civilian blood brothers from Los Angeles. They were gang members and they had moved to Tacoma to sell crack cocaine. This was during the early nineties when the LA gangs started expanding their drug distribution operations into other cities to open up new markets.

Several months after they arrived in Tacoma, officers from the Tacoma Police Department and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department served a search warrant at their apartment seizing crack cocaine, drug paraphernalia, guns, and a substantial amount of cash. They arrested the brothers and booked them into the Pierce County Jail. Under Washington law at the time, the brothers were released 72 hours after they were booked into jail because no formal charges had yet been filed.

The brothers correctly surmised that one of their customers must have turned informant, probably after purchasing crack at their apartment. Unfortunately for the man, who was one of their customers, and his three children, the brothers concluded that he was the snitch.

I never found out how James, who was a regular church-goer at the time, hooked up with the two gangsters, but he did, and when they decided to pay the snitch a visit, they contacted James and asked him to help them get onto the base and locate the snitch’s house.

The crime scene was horrific and the bloodiest by far that I had ever seen. I will spare you the details other than to say that the brothers confessed to tying up the father in the living room and murdering each child one at a time in front of him with machetes. Then they finished him off. The feds had jurisdiction since the murders happened on the military base.

The brothers were mistaken about the father. He was not the snitch.

The case had death penalty written all over it, except no one in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and none of the federal judges in the district was pro death penalty. The Assistant U.S. Attorney assigned to the case was willing to drop the death penalty, but only if all three defendants were willing to plead guilty to all four murders.

The two brothers did not need to be persuaded to take the deal, but James balked and dug in his heels. He had no defense, but he could not bring himself to admit that he had committed such an awful crime and no amount of pleading on my part changed his mind. He had decided to go to his death proclaiming his innocence, rather than admit what he did and spend the rest of his life in prison. He did not care about the consequences of his decision on the brothers.

That left it to me to figure out a solution to save three lives, my conscience, and the consciences of the federal prosecutor and the United States District Court Judge to whom the case had been assigned.

With an extremely heavy heart, I boarded a flight to Houston by way of Minneapolis and when I arrived in Houston on Easter Sunday, I rented a car and drove to Beaumont to meet with James’s extended family.

I arrived about mid-afternoon after the family returned from church and finished their traditional Easter dinner. There were expecting me when I rang the doorbell. I was greeted by more than a dozen somber people still dressed in their Easter finery. I remember a sea of black faces young and old filled with tears, an occasional sob, and grace, incredible grace such as I had never seen before as I pulled out the investigation reports, crime scene and autopsy photographs, and the autopsy reports. The photographs of the toddler were the worst and as I finished my presentation of the evidence against James, I felt worse than I have ever felt before or since.

I convinced a loving family that their golden child had willingly participated in butchering four innocent people and he would be murdered for what he had done, unless they persuaded him to choose life over death. When I asked them, if they would be willing to help, their answers were unanimous.


Two weeks later James Mayfield and the two brothers pled guilty to four homicides and were sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

For the last time, I shook hands with the beautiful young man with soft long slender fingers whose life incomprehensibly went off the rails one night during a murderous rampage with those hands that neither he nor anyone else will likely ever understand.

My heart was empty and cold as he turned and walked away.

My God! What have I become? I wondered.

98 Responses to Death Penalty or Life Without Parole: Long And Slender Fingers at Easter

  1. Bernadette demouchett says:

    Hello iam James Mayfield lil sister and i would like to know how i go about getting information on his case if i can

  2. Bonnie Carroll says:

    I taught James Gillard (King). I was his first grade teacher. He was a precious, beautiful, young boy. He ended up being the best reader in the class by June! I knew his mother and father. I still, to this day keep a picture of James on my dresser, as a reminder of “why” I still teach. I teach for James! Because he never got the chance to become an amazing man. I wish those “Demons” would have been put to death! They don’t deserve a single breath, and I could give a shit about long slender fingers. He didn’t care when he cut off James’s. I hope they all rot in hell.

  3. Malisha says:

    HEY over at the outhouse they think I’m really Natalie!
    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! I got a promotion I didn’t apply for! ❗

  4. Malisha says:

    There are “talk-backs” in New York for the next few Wednesday evenings, about the death penalty. Contact the Exoneration Project I think, for the details. Whoever is in NY, I hear that this is a very important and high-quality presentation; wish I could get there, but…

  5. Malisha says:

    Lonnie Star: You mentioned that ” our system isn’t perfect.”

    It is my great pleasure to announce, Sir, that you have been awarded the award for the “Understatement of the Year.” 😛

    • Lonnie Starr says:

      Like I said: The stronger your case, the more understated your offers can and should be. With a strong case you can afford invite challenges “with willful abandon”, that you dare not do when your case is weak. Understatement invites challenges, I’d be willing to bet you’d like to see someone try to challenge that understated claim, eh? But then, it’s already been done and failed miserably.

  6. Malisha says:

    The complaints of the defense are just more silliness trying to throw off the attention of the court and the public. BTW, when an attorney puts something in BOLDFACE or caps in court papers, it’s NOT GOOD. Sign of bad writing and sign of weakness. Make your words mean something and don’t tell the judge what to emphasize. If you can’t let the importance of the matters come to light, your typographical enhancements won’t help.

    About the phone issue: = 0

    The really significant question is this: Did Trayvon phone 911? That would be something both prosecution and defense would want to hide from the public. The future of the SPD is at stake.

    • jm says:

      Malisha says: “Did Trayvon phone 911? That would be something both prosecution and defense would want to hide from the public.”

      Why would the prosecution want to keep a 911 call from Trayvon hidden? Wouldn’t that help win their 2nd degree murder case?

      • Malisha says:

        I think the prosecution has two (2) goals in this case, rather than one (1) goal, which is the only one goal it really SHOULD have. My belief is that the prosecution yes, does want to win and get a conviction, but the other goal is one I find dismaying: it wants to prevent the Feds from really coming down all over the SPD and drawing federal criminal charges against state officials like Wolfinger or police like Lee and Smith. Here’s why:

        When this thing blew up, one of the first problems to be revealed was that the NW was not a properly organized watch group that had registered, etc. It was an ad hoc group run by the police and George. SOMEONE in the NW or the HOA, some resident or residents, were already (early in the year) upset that George was “patrolling while armed.” There were also some claims that he was targeting young African American males. These things were being hinted at and even reported in the news in March, and then they disappeared. By the time Corey drew charges against George (withOUT convening a grand jury) the police department was under severe scrutiny. By the time the Feds climbed into the case, it was obvious that there had been an organized cover-up.

        That would mean that STATE ACTORS were doing illegal things, not just that George had.

        Corey works for the State of Florida. I think she wanted to draw a charge that was strong enough to stick but that would leave enough leeway for George to plead out without a trial. Why? So that there would not have to be a real examination of everything that had happened in that corrupt county to protect a killer.

        And why indeed?

        Remember when the first batch of evidence was about to be revealed BOTH SIDES, prosecution AND defense, wanted them to be hidden from the public.


        Because once it was obvious how much evidence — what an overwhelmingly huge mountain of evidence — pointed to Murder-2, there might be no way to save the SPD from being blamed for faking it and claiming they did not have enough evidence to charge George with a crime.

        I still believe that the whole “public theater aspect” of this case is being jointly orchestrated by prosecution and defense, in order to make it go away without a real revelation of what those corrupt racist lying cheating thieving malignant OFFICIALS did before, during and after the killing of Trayvon Martin.

  7. Tee says:

    I think that this is all smoke in mirrors the defense is trying this case in the media something they said they would not do but indeed are doing just that. They’re crying like a baby who can’t have it’s way, everyday it’s something new. I swear we don’t need to know there every move although it’s quit interesting to watch them and learn what not to do when defending someone of a murder charge smh! Someone please give them a bottle to put in there mouth I’m tired of the whining.

  8. I do not know what is going on with this latest complaint about discovery because Mr. West has not enlightened us with what, specifically, is amiss. I imagine the matter will be addressed and straightened out in due time.

    In the meantime, I am not going to get all worked up over whatever it is.

    • bettykath says:

      “I imagine the matter will be addressed and straightened out in due time.

      In the meantime, I am not going to get all worked up over whatever it is.”

      The point I have been trying to make but seem to be misunderstood. I give up. I’m sometimes misunderstood b/c I use too few words, so now I try using a few more and they get picked apart.

      I’m going to find something else to do. There’s too much obsessiveness here.

  9. LLMPapa says:

    There’s gonna come a time when this defense will have to face the facts of this case and not smoke and mirrors.

    • Xena says:

      LLMPapa!!! You come up with the most logical conclusions.

      In his NEN call when asked for his address, GZ said he didn’t want to give it all out because “I don’t know where this kid is.” This can be understood that GZ didn’t want to waste time giving information to dispatch because he was pre-occupied with finding Trayvon. However, IIRC, GZ said on Hannity that he didn’t want Trayvon hearing his address. Let’s go with that.

      In his re-enactment, as you have provided in the vid, GZ says that he saw Trayvon run in back of the houses.

      The question is, if GZ walked straight to RVC after seeing Trayvon run in back of the houses, why would he be concerned that Trayvon was physically close enough to hear him give out his address UNLESS GZ was ALSO in back in the houses at that time?

    • rachael says:

      Excellent question. I hope someone picks up on it and asks it in front of the jury.

    • Nice catch, Papa!

      You never miss a thing.

    • Am I understanding this correctly?

      GZ covered 508 ft in 41 seconds and Trayvon supposedly covered 675 ft. in 41 seconds.

      GZ would have been driving at 12.39 mph
      Trayvon would have been *walking* 16.47 mph

      Yeah, sure, right…. Trayvon was *walking* NOT
      running/skipping 4.08 mph faster than GZ was driving.

      • Lonnie Starr says:

        But you are wrong of course, Trayvon often travels the neighborhood at near supersonic speeds. That, plus his 400lbs muscle mass, quite obviously makes him a danger. Oh, wait, how could GZ have survived? I forget! lol

    • LLMPapa says:

      Personally? I tend to doubt that Zimmerman would have taken NEARLY as long as the detective did for the drive….IF that’s even what happened (which I highly doubt). The point of this vid is not so much what time or speed Zimmerman would have driven, but where his sworn statements say Trayvon was at when he parked.

      He told Singleton he was at the CH at [1:15] as Tray was approaching his truck, or “coming to check him out”. Fifty five seconds later, at [2:10] you can hear his door chimes as he exits the truck, and at [2:14] you can hear the door close.

      Any way you slice it, dice it, or chop it up, this killer’s statements say, after COMING to check him out at the clubhouse at [1:15], Trayvon was 508 feet away, at the “T”, and “cutting back between the houses” BEFORE he got out of the truck at [2:10]!

      BTW, don’t even get me started on the additional timeline impact of Zimmerman’s claims of Trayvon COMING BACK and circling his truck…..all BEFORE he ever got out to dutifully search for an address!

      GMAB! Instead of worrying about smoke and mirrors issues like race, other attorneys, and the media, O’Mara needs to worry about trying to come up with some way to keep a jury from being ready to lynch his lying client.

      • Xena says:


        Instead of worrying about smoke and mirrors issues like race, other attorneys, and the media, O’Mara needs to worry about trying to come up with some way to keep a jury from being ready to lynch his lying client.

        Absolutely! I get the impression that part of the hoopla over Trayvon’s phone records is because he might have recorded GZ in his truck, with the time and date stamp, as he “checked” him out.

      • Jun says:

        The other dumb part is that Zimmerman says that Trayvon deserves suspicion because he was allegedly walking around looking at houses, yet in Zimmerman’s story, he was walking around looking at houses for an address but gives no reason for doing so. If that is the case, Zimmerman should be suspicious of himself.

      • Lonnie Starr says:

        Like I said, if they keep this up, the judge herself may lunge for GZ’s throat!

    • Jun says:

      Zimmerman is double stupid. It is so obvious that Zimmerman does not need to get an address and he knew the area. At the end of the call, Zimmerman says “Could you have them call me, and I will tell them where I am at”. That signifies that wherever he is going, he knows where he is. He also said his car was parked in front of a cut through, so he does not know the address it is parked in front of which signifies he knows the area. Zimmerman also gives a detailed description of how to get where he is.

      Also Zimmerman uttered

      “Shit, he’s running”

      “he ran”

      “towards the back entrance”

      “he’s running down the street”

      This signifies that he was watching Trayvon and knew where he was running towards…

      • Rachael says:

        Hahaha @jun. That’s right. GZ was looking at houses too.

      • Rachael says:

        Although the first time GZ told the story, Trayvon was just looking around. The next time he was looking at houses. The next time he was looking in houses. His lies just got bigger as time went on.

    • Lonnie Starr says:

      Many, many inconsistencies in GZ’s numerous stories. Tchoupi’s analysis, apparently shows a car coming down RVC west in the proper time frame, to intercept TM sheltering at the mailboxes. The car never parks in front of the clubhouse, but instead “patrols” between TTL and RVC north and back. Apparently after spotting TM at the mailboxes, GZ makes a u turn to watch TM. TM then leaves the mailboxes, where he is sheltering from the rain, even though the rain starts to increase —

      (which could even be the reason he started running? Now wouldn’t that be a “kick in the head?” that GZ makes no note of the rain getting heavier? But, instead gets out of his truck, stepping into a down pour to get an address?”) —

      All of which goes to demonstrate that, we have no clue from GZ’s narrative of “things as they are unfolding”, that we aren’t merely hearing some prepared story, and not what is actually happening, or even where GZ actually is. This is why when, in the enhanced version of the NEN call, I hear “tell him”, so clearly, it makes perfect sense! GZ has tinted windows, TM would not see anyone laying low in the truck.

      Looking at the google map, I see that “run from the back” could also mean that TM ran north on the walkway from the mailboxes, or up TTL and used one of the cut throughs which would be a more direct route to his house. We just can’t know. GZ is obviously lying to conceal whomever was with him on this mission. The story he’s been telling is one that was probably prepared long before, to be already available with some modifications, for just a night like this one. In that light “tell him”, fits like white on rice!

      Without anyone else being involved, the SP will get M2, but with another person, M1 is a distinct possibility, or even conspiracy to commit M, which would be even more serious?

  10. Okay. Now I am really confused.

  11. Colin Black says:

    And they want this referee Judge to be J Eaton all though they dont name him…So at a later date when they attempt to comprimise Judge Nelson gz favoured one will be poised to step in an take over the case.

  12. This is a bit off topic, but does anyone know what DiwataMan is talking about in this blog. It’s all a buz with GZ supporters:

    • Xena says:

      This is a bit off topic, but does anyone know what DiwataMan is talking about in this blog. It’s all a buz with GZ supporters:

      West filed a motion asking that a supervising judge be appointed for discovery with regularly scheduled hearings. Honestly, I didn’t read all of the blog you referenced because embellishment twisted in with facts is intended to make it complicated and time consuming to break down, and that is what Diwataman does. It’s an embellishment. Nothing in West’s motion says anything about the possibility of Trayvon’s cell phone not being his phone.

      Click to access mot_to_schedule_standing_hearings.pdf

    • bettykath says:

      MOM, in his request for more hearings to resolve issues regarding discovery, pointed out that he has repeatedly requested information about TM’s cell phone. He found out by accident that analysis had been made and requested a copy of the report from the state. When he deposed the person who did the analysis, this person provided MOM a copy of his report. The prosecution also provided a copy of the report but it did not match the report provided by the person who did it.

      DiwataMan suggests that the state committed forgery.

      • Xena says:

        DiwataMan suggests that the state committed forgery.

        It goes deeper than that. You see, Trayvon’s phone logs provide the times that DeeDee called. DeeDee’s statement provides that she was on the phone with Trayvon at 6:54 when he reported being in the mail shed and a creepy White man following him. GZ did not make his NEN call until 7:09, which reasonably concludes that he followed Trayvon for significant time before calling NEN.

        Trayvon’s phone log also provides that DeeDee called at 7:12. If you follow GZ’s NEN call and how his voice changed at 7:12 in addition to asking that the cops call for his location, the most reasonable conclusion is that GZ heard Trayvon’s phone ring, or heard Trayvon talking on his phone and used that to hunt-down Trayvon’s location.

        Combine that with DeeDee’s statement for the exchange she heard, and it ends up with numerous nails in GZ’s coffin.

        What Diwataman is doing is indirect witness intimidation. He suggests that he knows DeeDee’s real name. He also suggests that Attorney Crump and Tracy Martin prepared a fraudulent phone log for Trayvon’s phone and coerced DeeDee into lying. Something completely illogical is that he also suggests that the phone Trayvon had was stolen and not his phone. This is suggested by using a Tweet or FB entry purportedly from Trayvon’s account where he said he hadn’t contacted the person because he did not have a phone.

        Note. No consideration is given to:
        1. It may not be Trayvon Martin’s social media but that of someone else with the same name, and;
        2. Tracy may have taken Trayvon’s phone from him and only allowed him to use it when he left the house or when Tracy was not home.

        Anyway, the outhouse folks are of the impression that if they can prove Trayvon’s phone was stolen, that DeeDee is lying, the phone logs are fraudulent, Attorney Crump will be disbarred, and GZ will be set free.

        But note what West alleges in the motion;
        “Quite by accident on August 8, 2012 during an inspection of the evidence at FDLE, Steve Brenton came in the room and said that he had analyzed the phone and while he was able to access the contents of the SIM card, he was unable to access the internal memory because he was unable to bypass the passcode.”

        West goes on to say that he deposed Brenton on 9/26. He alleges that what Brenton gave to him is not what the State provided on August 24th. He does not make any allegations on what he found to differ. That is left to the Zidiots’ speculation and assumptions.

        If anything, Brenton alleged that he gave his report to FDLE investigator David Lee on 3/36/12. If there is any discrepancy, the fault falls on David Lee; not the State.

      • bettykath says:

        Isn’t FDLE Florida Department of Law Enforcement? which includes David Lee?

        • Xena says:

          Isn’t FDLE Florida Department of Law Enforcement? which includes David Lee?

          That is exactly who the analyst said he gave his report to.

      • bettykath says:

        Diary asked a specific question that I thought I answered.

        Dewataman assumes it was the state that committed forgery. The state had the report for quite some time before they released it for discovery. I believe that David Lee is part of the “state”.

        Certainly what was on TM’s cell phone is important to the case (both prosecution and defense) and the defense needs to know what the state found. It’s troubling that there are apparently discrepancies between what’s in the report provided by the analyst to the defense and what’s in the report provided by the state to the defense.

        I don’t think we, nor dewatamen, know enough to draw any conclusions. There are just some questions:
        1. are there discrepancies?
        2. if so, are they serious?
        3. if so, why do they exist?
        4. if so, who is responsible for the changes?

        GZ’s supporters have a right to want answers. Jumping to conclusions doesn’t help anyone.

      • bettykath says:


        I’m confused. You say the responsibility is with David Lee, not the state, but David Lee is the state’s rep who received the report. I think you’re also jumping to conclusions. Is it the case that the person who rec’d the report is the one responsible for turning it over to the defense? I’m not sure of the procedures nor of David Lee’s role in those procedures. It may be that David Lee is the one who made changes (if changes were made) but I’d like more information. Who else had the opportunity to change the report? How was it changed, both content and the mechanics of making the change? Is it evidence tampering or is there another explanation? I don’t believe we have enough information yet.

        • Xena says:


          Xena, I’m confused. You say the responsibility is with David Lee, not the state, but David Lee is the state’s rep who received the report.

          David Lee is FDLE. Since the report was given to him, and if it is different from the report he gave to the State, then Lee should explain it.

          I think you’re also jumping to conclusions. Is it the case that the person who rec’d the report is the one responsible for turning it over to the defense?

          The person receiving the report is responsible for turning it over to the State prosecutors. There should also be an affidavit of the person who prepared the report, and some sort of sign-off from Lee that satisfies the chain of command.

          Who else had the opportunity to change the report? How was it changed, both content and the mechanics of making the change? Is it evidence tampering or is there another explanation? I don’t believe we have enough information yet.

          Bettykath, the defense does not allege that the report was changed. Rather, they are saying that it’s a different report than the one they received from the State. Ultimately, the defense cannot use that report if the State doesn’t have it neither can the State use the report they have unless the defense has it. They need to reconcile which report is the one to be entered into evidence. That MIGHT mean going back to David Lee to see why he has 2 different reports.

      • Jun says:

        It sounds like much ado about nothing. They just said it was differed from the files they received from the state on August 24, 2012, which can mean a lot of things. It is very aloof, so it is hard to decipher a meaning and could mean a lot of things.

        1) It could just be that the State has not handed over the files yet that the defense got str8 from FDLE

        They have the cellphone and serial number and it will have a sim that matches the cellphone or the sim itself will have the cellphone logs or they can track it via the cell phone serial number. They will also have information on the airwaves and the purchase date of the phone.

        I do not know all the details so I have no idea and I will have to wait and see

      • Jun says:

        I also noticed in the defense’s motion that they are using hearsay because witness 6 never stated that Trayvon was bashing Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk, nor does the forensic evidence show this, nor does Zimmerman have any injuries associated with a sidewalk headbashing. I noticed they put that in bold.

      • Jun says:

        The defense also claimed it was the location where Zimmerman claimed the sidewalk headbashing when his reenactment was off by about 50 feet.

    • Lonnie Starr says:

      Oh they’re just ranting about some possible error in the phone logs of Trayvon’s phone. It’s just silly. It’s not material error, if it does exist at all.

      • bettykath says:

        I disagree. If only one analyst did the work and submitted only one report, then there should be no discrepancies. If the reports are different, it can make a big difference depending on how they are different.

        • Lonnie Starr says:

          This is discovery, not trial. If there are imperfections in the documents, the remedy is to turn over the correct documents.
          It could be a bigger issue if they were in front of a jury already, but the remedy would probably be the same, plus an admonishment to the jury. A charge of willful misconduct is unlikely in the extreme.

          It is insane to claim that by turning over an incorrect document the case could be dismissed therefore. It won’t happen!

        • jm says:

          Do you think the prosecution would get involved in something shady becomes the question? I mean they have to know they would be caught eventually. I think this is more much ado about nothing from the defense team to keep supporters fired up and sending more money.

      • bettykath says:

        Lonnie, Of course this is discovery, not trial, do you think I’ve been in a cave? The discovery documents are being relied on by the defense. It’s important that they be accurate. Without the chance encounter with the analyst, he wouldn’t know that there were two versions of the report. Even in an adversarial procedure, it’s important that there be trust. There are way too many instances of proprietorial misconduct to just assume that there is no problem here.

        What we don’t know is the extent or importance of the differences. The defense has had a hard time getting the report to begin with and now he has it from two sources that should be providing the same thing and aren’t.

        It’s probably a good idea to have a fast path thru the discovery questions and this is one example of the problems. Will the problem get fixed? yes. When? Well, from the defense point of view, sooner is better than later (depending on the differences). It is possible that the differences are trivial, but maybe not.

        • Lonnie Starr says:

          Most likely, at this stage and before, most errors would very likely be unintended, because, I’d think that neither side has a completed theory of where they want to go in the end.

          If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can’t possibly know how to do it. Thus it’s most probably an error, something like, perhaps, turning over a copy made for some internal purpose by mistake.

      • Xena says:

        Without the chance encounter with the analyst, he wouldn’t know that there were two versions of the report.

        This might be a matter of semantics, but the situation is not that a chance encounter turned up two versions of the report. Rather, the chance encounter resulted in the analyst saying he prepared a report. The State evidently doesn’t have the report that the analyst said he gave to David Lee EITHER.

      • bettykath says:

        “This might be a matter of semantics, but the situation is not that a chance encounter turned up two versions of the report. Rather, the chance encounter resulted in the analyst saying he prepared a report. The State evidently doesn’t have the report that the analyst said he gave to David Lee EITHER.”

        The chance encounter resulted in the knowledge that there was a report and a copy was obtained from the analyst. About the same time the state turned over a copy of the report.

        If what you say is true, that the state doesn’t have the report, then how can the defense claim that the report it got from the state doesn’t match the one it got from the analyst? Clearly the state got a report but it took it’s time turning it over as part of the discovery.

        • Xena says:


          If what you say is true, that the state doesn’t have the report, then how can the defense claim that the report it got from the state doesn’t match the one it got from the analyst? Clearly the state got a report but it took it’s time turning it over as part of the discovery.

          The defense received discovery from the State. If the State doesn’t have the analyst’s report, then how would they know it is different than what the defense received from the analyst?

      • Jun says:

        How about all the errors in Omara’s motions? I dont know what report they are asking for and what is different. As long as the phone has a serial number, it matches Tracy’s purchase, is the phone given to Trayvon, the number matches Deedee’s call records, and the SIM matches, there is nothing but semantics at this point.

    • thejbmission says:

      Hi diaryofasuccessfulloser,
      From what I can gather, Diwataman has doubts if the phone entered is the phone found at the crime scene. I went back to look in discovery, on page 6 of 183 for list of items.

      Item #11
      Cell Phone
      Serial# AAA7NE1162010250
      Model# U8150-A
      Brand: TMobile
      Evidence Tag: DMS-7

      If this is the cell phone entered into evidence from the scene then I strongly suspect it was the cell phone Trayvon was using. I don’t understand why the GZ supporters think there’s a problem as long as this information matches the phone.

      I think it’s just wishful thinking on their part.

  13. Colin Black says:

    Fred you had become a defence Lawer an as such you realised that the worst of the worst will at times cross your path an shake your hand.First of thanks for the insight and I apreaciate the effort you have put into this blog an giveing Trayvon yet another platform for justice.Im a resident of the UK an am venhamently opposed to the death penalty.Not because i know some people dont deserve it some do.But once you give that option its a slippery slope down wich eventually perhaps an innocent gets put to death.Or someone not competent gets put to death an both thease instances happened in the UK an were responsable for us susspending the death penalty in the early sixtys.Its never been abolished just not implimented anymore..

    • gblock says:

      Yes, there have been clear cases in the US also of both innocent people being put to death and people who are not mentally competent being put to death. But a lot of people in this country still favor the death penalty and are in denial about these kinds of cases – for instance, “if he had the mental capacity to lie or run away afterwards, then he knew that what he did was wrong and should be considered mentally competent for death penalty purposes.”

  14. rachael says:

    This is a very important topic. I know I am usually very “vocal” but I want to choose my words carefully (for a change hahahaha) once I do speak.

  15. DSal says:

    Mr. Leatherman,

    I read previously that you worked on the “Green River Killer” case, along with dozens of others. I recently took some time going through the court hearings and sentencing of Gary Ridgway.

    In 2001, he signed a confession of guilt in return for the death penalty being considered for punishment. I am not a supporter of the death penalty usually, but there are exceptions. I understand and respect your belief that there are no exceptions.

    This would be one such exception. Mr. Ridgway had been previously convicted of 48 counts of 1st degree murder. I believe that was where you had a specific part to play. The death penalty was removed from consideration and he was given life in in prison without the possibility for parole on each of the 48 counts. In addition to that, he was given 10 years for each of the 48 murders for tampering with evidence, totaling 480 years. It is clear that Mr. Ridgway would never be released from prison.

    Fast forward to 2011, Mr. Ridgway confessed to the murder of Rebecca Marrero in exchange for the condition that the death penalty be removed from consideration. Upon signing the confession of guilt, he was given his 49th life sentence. I’m wondering what justice was served here. The family had all but confirmed that Mr. Ridgway had killed Becky. They wanted the death penalty for him, as one might expect. The State was able to close this case with a conviction, but Mr. Ridgway was effectively given no punishment for this murder. There is no balance in this decision.

    What are your thought?

    • I was one of 8 lawyers who represented Ridgway. My responsibilities included DNA evidence, all forensics and development of a coding system to classify and search over one million pages of discovery.

      The plea agreement applied not only to the 48 murders to which he pled guilty, but to all other murders in King County that he admitted to police. There were “only” 48 counts because only 48 bodies were found, but he admitted to more than those 48 murders. Becky Marrero was one of them and her case was handled pursuant to the terms of that original plea agreement just as other cases will be handled, if and when other bodies are discovered.

      I believe the plea agreement made sense to both sides because it created an opportunity to interview a cooperative Ridgway and officially close many open cases that would not have been possible to prosecute without a body or with only skeletal remains.

      The plea agreement also served a practical function because the case would have cost too much money to prosecute and defend at public expense.

      • DSal says:

        Mr. Leatherman,

        Thanks for the insight. I missed the part of it being part of the original plea agreement. Thanks for the clarification.

      • ed nelson says:

        Hi Fred, with all due defference and all that, I dissagree!

        Those type of myscreants, would be better… served, if we gave them what they deserve, when and where there is that point that must be made… that they are guilty.

        When it is found out, (imperfect as it may be, however by all the methods that are available to socioty, to find out who, what, when, and who is guilty… then it would be far better to make a quick answer to the problem, and put the bastards away.

        It would be more humane to put those monsters away, than to put them on… display… haha…

        Put them away.

        • Lonnie Starr says:

          The problem with the death penalty is, because our system isn’t perfect, putting people to death means a certain percentage of those condemned to die will be innocent people! If the innocent people are to be afforded the best chance of acquitting themselves, the guilty must suffer life imprisonment. Not the other way around.

          Carl Chessman was acquitted by the U.S.S.C. long after he was executed. It is not the guilty suffering life imprisonment to be worried about, it is innocent people facing execution that is.

          You might also want to know that, countries that have no death penalty, have lower murder rates than those that do.

          • It’s not only countries. States without death penalties have lower murder rates.

          • Lonnie Starr says:

            That indicates that in states and nations with death penalties, a percentage of murders are committed in the attempt to evade the death penalty. So then, if you add the number of innocent people who will be killed by the death penalty, to the number of innocent people who will be killed by murderers trying to avoid being executed, you have increased the number of innocent people who will die, simply by having a death penalty.

  16. ed nelson says:

    A life in prison, is a worse sentence than… getin’ your cummupince by other means, say’s I!

    Hey Fredsworth… did you ditch my comment on that?

    Like I say, give me “Liberty or give me… ” Patrick Henry!

    and I mean that! Like no way… Jose would I want to go into any of these… up coming profit making centers, like what is to come.

    No way Jose!

    I can’t find the video I watched earlier today from Mumia Jamal, but it might be this one:

    You wouldn’t want to be locked up and to rot, like what they said about what is… what they done to that long forgotten guy… the little guy that they put away… like so many as living examples of what is… what was, what will be…!

    I think we can aduce, that it is not better to live a longer life to be drained like a living … like the living thing that a wasp makes of the spider.

    • rachael says:

      Ed, I agree and I want to respond to this when I can address this with the consideration it deserves.

    • bettykath says:

      I’m opposed to the death penalty in all cases. It is premeditated murder by the state.

      If you would rather die than spend years in prison, do it by your own hand. Don’t use mine via the state.

      Mumia was convicted by coerced witnesses, who have since recanted, in a court run by an overtly racist judge. He is guilty of eloquent speech and should never have been convicted.

      The for-profit prisons are a disaster. They need to go.

      • ed nelson says:

        You miss my point I think, of course the death penalty is bad.

        But think about those who are locked up in cells, all I meant is, it would be more kind to kill em, own up to what it is… see it for what it is: torture by isolation, even a dumb shit should be against that, and be ready to face the thing.

  17. Tee says:

    I have a motto I try to live my life by its really simple yet very effective. “who am I to judge” this is my motto and believe it or not it makes my everyday life simple. I may have my opinion on a matter but I try not to ever place judgement. I always say let A person deal with there God he will place a judgement and sentence on them that I could never even think up. To sentence someone to death would mess my head completely up for God knows how long but when you kill a child my empathy goes out the window and I think of the bibles’ verse it’s a time for everything. What time will it be for Zimmerman if I was him I would be repenting to my God because a lot of American do believe in the death penalty.

  18. Xena says:

    My God! What have I become? I wondered.

    I once interviewed with a law firm where one of the attorneys was appointed defender in federal criminal cases. Since my experience in the federal system was mostly in civil cases, I asked what responsibilities were delegated to the paralegal.

    The reply:
    “By the time that defendants have been charged, the evidence is so overwhelming that the best I can do is tell them what the prosecution offers, tell them their options, and recommend what is best.”

    Well DUH! That would mean that my job (if hired) carried no challenge. I didn’t want to cut and paste from and to documents — I wanted to research and prepare memos on case decisions; prepare exhibits for trial — do Powerpoint presentations for opening statements — wear the letters off my keyboard; jam my stapler; chew up those plastic holders on binders for appeal briefs — stuff like that. 🙂

  19. Digger says:

    I’m opposed to the death penalty but if I come upon someone doing a horrible thing to a child as we witness almost every day in the news, I think I just might be thrown into a state of mind that I could
    attack in such a way that it might end up that I killed someone, for which I would probably get the death penalty. What a cycle we live.

  20. Xena says:

    There’s a special place in my heart for Justice Stevens. In 1969 (when I was barely 18 yrs old), Sherman Skolnick was an independent investigative journalist who ferreted out evidence of court corruption. Then a relatively unknown Chicago lawyer, John Paul Stevens served as chief counsel in the investigation and his work launched him into the public spotlight and onto the bench. I was blessed to meet Sherman Skolnick many years thereafter, and wished for the opportunity to also meet Justice Stevens.

    Here is now retired Justice Stevens speaking on the death penalty.

  21. Jun says:

    JFK did not agree with the death penalty either.

  22. grahase says:

    You gave them the options. Whether you are pro death penalty or not, you gave them what they needed to know to make a life and death decision. That was the honourable thing to do knowing what you knew at the time. You did your job. Ours is not to reason why people do the things they do. Some good people do bad things sometimes for whatever reason. If this person knew the difference between right and wrong, then he knew the consequences of his actions. Or, did he do what he did in order to protect his family.

    Question: If you and your family were held hostage in your own home by thugs and they ordered you to kill your neighbour, would you.

    If you were told that your family would be brutally murdered if you did not comply, would you kill that neighbour.

    If you decided to kill your neighbour and followed through with the demand, are you a bad person.

    • I am opposed to the death penalty in all cases and I will not kill anyone.

      • Xena says:

        I am opposed to the death penalty in all cases and I will not kill anyone.

        Same here.

      • grahase says:

        But you did not tell them what to do — you gave them the choice and their decision was not based on your anti-death penalty believe. I could be pro-life when it came to someone seeking an abortion. I can just give options. The final decision is the clients. For me to espouse adoption and liken abortion to murder, I am not serving my client well. My Mom always said — keep your opinions to yourself. Just the facts, ma am. Wouldn’t life be so much easier without choices. In the words of Frank Taaffe – if you plant corn, you get corn. It is what it is.

      • Malisha says:

        I’m opposed to the death penalty in all cases but I’m not sure I would never kill. If I did kill, I wouldn’t think I was doing it because of some official “right” to kill. That’s for sure. Nobody has the “right” to kill.

        In addition to all the other arguments there are against the death penalty, I have an additional one: Death should not be a punishment. Many people die young who have never done anything to “deserve” it and making death a punishment makes it harder for them to accept that they may die without deserving punishment. My mother died young and it added trauma to her to think that she must have done something to “deserve” it — it’s just not a proper human concept. I’m signing off now.

  23. Two sides to a story says:

    I am speechless. Such a horrific story. But you did the right thing. The death penalty is little more than state-sanctioned murder-revenge. May all the souls involved in this sad tale find peace . . .

  24. Malisha says:

    It takes a lot of thinking about. That story. It’s hard to reconcile the part he played in the crime with the punishment he received, but in the end, you saved his life by making the choices you made.

  25. Lonnie Starr says:

    What an incredible story, my reading is further upstream of this, having to do with “freeway Rick”, the CIA operative who was selling crack cocaine to raise money for the Contras. They literally flooded the nation with crack to raise the millions and millions needed to fund the war RR was fighting. There are many of these stories and they tied closely to other tragic local events all around the nation. Not the least of which was the OJ Simpson story.

    Oh well, this country is in the arms of one hellovamess! Hardly a wonder then that Daddie Bush didn’t want, and could not be persuaded to go into Baghdad! As a former head of the CIA he knew the truth and so did Vladimir Putin. Good to see the Russians had the good sense to keep Putin. He may wind up saving the entire world some day soon. But that’s another story, not to be told here. If at all.

  26. cielo62 says:

    Professor, I deeply respect you and your work here to educate us but I cannot agree with you in this. I saw the victims the entire time you wrote about “saving three lives”. People who can murder children by MACHETE have no place in Human society. They were lucky no one sought the death penalty. They unreservedly deserved it. I see no virtue in keeping someone in a cage for an entire lifetime which is why I find life without parole to be extremely cruel. Society has a responsibility to protect innocent people from violent criminals. I feel that the death penalty is appropriate and proper especially in crimes like the one you related. If he felt he was innocent, he should have gone to trial. To hell’s nether region with the other two.

    • Lonnie Starr says:

      I do not know this case, I don’t want to open anyone’s “old wounds”. But I do know that life is very, very complex.

      A child or even a young adult will be unable to see all the reasons why one must avoid bad company at all times.

      It has to do with the fact that bad people do bad things. Most people who hang out with them, think that they can reaps any real or imagined social/economic benefits, and leave at anytime. What they do not realize is that, bad people can and will do bad things, without telling those they don’t fully trust. Those who are just “hanging out” with them are not fully trusted, but there is a path for them to gain that full faith and trust, and that is for them to commit a serious crime themselves.

      Now, in the course of hanging with bad people, you will learn, hear and see things. Things that, in and of themselves, do not constitute knowledge of any crime, nor are knowledge of any crime, but that can, never-the-less be incriminating. They know what they have done, they have an idea of what you know, or suspect that you have certain knowledge that, if discovered would convict them.
      They are not above killing witnesses as a way to avoid jail. So, without your knowledge you become pressured to either commit a crime or join them in the commission of a crime, as a way to prove you can be trusted, if not, then you too must be sacrificed.

      It’s a trap that people who hang with bad people find themselves in time after time. Without knowing why, they are suddenly made to understand that they have either to join in the commission of a serious crime or “steps will have to be taken”. You have nothing to go to the police with and no where to go for help. You don’t know what it is or why, but you know that it’s either go with them or you’ll probably be their next target.

      In this kind of situation, some people will run away, some will simply accept their own demise, but many will go along, hoping against hope that something can or will thwart the criminal effort. So, it’s a multiple murder? You will be handed a knife and expected to do your part. You are trapped and unprepared, most people do what they think must be done to save their own life.

      This is what happens time and again when one chooses to run with bad people. It happens in many different ways, but the equation is pretty nearly the same. Without even know about it, you come by information that places them at some terrible risk, they know it you don’t. Perhaps you heard them discussing something you did not understand, saw some piece of property you could not identify and thought nothing of, or you simply can refute an alibi that you haven’t been made aware of. Either way, without your knowledge, you’ve become a target. A target who must either “take the oath” by committing some crime, or be eliminated.

      But that’s what “hangers on” never see coming of their relationship with bad people. It’s also what “hangers on” never hear enumerated about why they should avoid bad people at all costs. It is what “hangers on” can’t figure out until it’s too late to do anything about it.

      Be sure to spread the word.

  27. grahase says:

    Professor – I know, to a lesser degree though, how hard it is sometimes to go into work with your lawyer mask on and using that mask as a shield to pretend you are immune to your own human emotions and opinions and to those of your client and others negatively affected by inhumane circumstances. A defense attorney is an honourable profession that goes unrecognized as such sometimes. Some liken defense attorneys to used car or snake oil salesman. Some people take the tough jobs because they believe it the right thing to do. Not everyone can. Policeman, fireman, nurses, doctors, and countless others, including defense attorneys, do not go into those professions for the glamour of the work. There is something inside that tells you that you have the ability to handle it and it is the right thing to do. But, people should not be defined by the work that they do. Your profession is a component of what you are. It does not define you. There are times, though, when you forget your mask of separation at home and the tough decisions go against everything else that you are. Were it not for people like you, with a good heart and soul, where would we be. I do not want to think about that — ever.

  28. Xena says:

    Professor, thanks for sharing from your personal experience. That had to be stressful. Too often defense attorneys have no evidence to clear their clients, and words alone cannot do it.

    One thing you did not mention but I am personally curious about, is whether the feds believed that your client was an accomplice by arranging for the drug dealers to come on base, or actually murdered.

  29. Brown says:

    Interesting post.

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