CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Man's Confession Is Impossible

061308greene1_t220 An inmate who confessed a 14-year-old Knoxville slaying was in a mental health facility at the time of the killing, according to records unearthed by a defense attorney.Ronald E. Greene faces a second-degree murder charge for a 1994 slaying committed while Greene was in the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute undergoing a court-ordered evaluation, records obtained by defense attorney Steve Sams show.

Sams is asking Knox County Criminal Court Judge Kenneth Irvine Jr. to dismiss the murder charge, filed by Knoxville Police Department Sgt. Tim Snoderly in 2007 after Greene claimed he killed Richard Allen Sweat 13 years earlier.

"It matched up perfectly," Snoderly told the News Sentinel earlier this year in an unrelated interview. "(Greene) even told us about the kind of graffiti on the wall and what he killed him with."

Records filed in court by Sams make it a virtual impossibility for Greene to have been the killer, however.

Sweat, a homeless man, was released from the Knox County Jail on a public intoxication charge on Feb. 15, 1994. He was found beaten to death under a viaduct on Woodland Avenue in Northwest Knoxville on Feb. 24, 1994.

A discharge report from the state Department of Mental Health shows that Greene was transferred from the Knox County Jail to the mental health facility in Middle Tennessee on Feb. 8, 1994. He was discharged March 3, 1994.

"I realize a motion to dismiss is an unusual move at this juncture, but given the obvious strength of the alibi Mr. Greene has, I found it important to get this information in front of the court as quickly as possible," Sams said. "I am very grateful we have had to use state resources to prove to (prosecutors) what they probably already knew." [Mark Godsey]

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Quite a bizarre case. Some of the major challenges in a case like this are the emotional element and the public perception. People want someone to be guilty for the crime, to be caught and to be punished. Evidence and alibi's can be ignored by an angry community, even if they are vital factors in pursuing justice.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 19, 2008 8:10:20 AM

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