Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Today, it was reported that DNA testing was done on hairs recovered from glasses that were almost certainly worn by the man who killed Harold and Thelma Swain at the Rising Daughter Baptist Church. That testing revealed a match, and it was not a match for Dennis Perry, the man convicted of their murders. Instead, it was a match for Erick Sparre. We observed the following about Sparre in Episode 7 of our Undisclosed series on the Dennis Perry case: "If there had been a checklist of the known attributes of the killer at Rising Daughter, the description of Erik Sparre would seem to tick off just about every box."
Given this terrific turn of events, I wanted to do another update on the status of all of the cases we've covered on Undisclosed.
Total cases covered: 20 cases.
Relief granted: 10 cases: 6 exonerations: (1) Shaurn Thomas; (2) Terrance Lewis; (3) Willie Veasy; (4) Chester Hollman III; (5) Charles Ray Finch; and (6) Theophalis Wilson. 2 stays of execution: (1) Marcellus Williams; and (2) William Montgomery. 1 commutation: Cyntoia Brown. 1 grant of parole: Cyrus Wilson.
DNA/Alternate Suspect: 1 case: Dennis Perry
Currently pending: 4 cases. (1) Ronnie Long's en banc hearing in the Fourth Circuit; (2) Joey Watkins's successor habeas petition recently authorized to move forward by the Supreme Court of Georgia; (3) Joseph Webster's CRU petition; and (4) Pedro Reynoso's CIU petition.
New appeals expected soon: 4 cases: (1) Adnan Syed; (2) Jamar Huggins; (3) Pam Lanier; and (4) Greg Lance.
Options being explored: 1 case: Rocky Myers
Saturday, April 18, 2020
Utah Federal District Court Finds Trial Judge Didn't Need to Question Jurors About COVID-19 During Deliberations in Mid-March
A Utah jury hadn't completed deliberations as the weekend approached on Friday, March 13, 2020. The jury then completed deliberations on Monday, March 16, 2020, finding the defendant guilty. After the defendant was convicted, he appealed, claiming that the judge should have asked the following questions to the jury before the weekend:
These were the facts in United States v. Derman, 2020 WL 1676770 (D. Utah 2020).
Sunday, April 12, 2020
Court of Appeals of Arkansas Finds Circuit Court Properly Failed to Take Judicial Notice of Google Maps Data
It's something many of us do all the time: Plug two locations into Google Maps to get a sense of how long it might take to get from Location A to Location B. But is it something that should lead to judicial notice? That was the question of first impression addressed by the Court of Appeals of Arkansas in its recent opinion in Reed v, State, 2020 WL 466668 (Ark.App. 2020).