Thursday, April 21, 2022
On February 15, 2022, I filed a Request for Review with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Conviction Review Unit on behalf of Michelle Heale. Here was the Introduction to that Request:
On April 17, 2015, Michelle Heale was convicted of aggravated manslaughter and child endangerment based on the death of fourteen-month old Mason Hess, whom she had been babysitting. Michelle Heale is actually innocent of these crimes and would have been acquitted at trial if not for an error by her trial counsel in failing to present testimony and a report by the leading expert who could have proven her defense. Moreover, new evidence calling into question the use of the traditional triad of symptoms to diagnose Shaken Baby Syndrome – a diagnosis of exclusion, not inclusion – supports a finding of actual innocence. Indeed, this new evidence has led a New Jersey court to conclude that the evidence used to convict Ms. Heale is insufficiently reliable to even be admissible at trial.
Now, a New Jersey court has declared Shaken Baby Syndrome "akin to 'junk science'" based in large part upon testimony by the expert who was contacted by Heale's defense counsel but who never testified because they never followed up with him. As a result, I am filing a Supplement to Heale's Request for Review. Download Michelle Heale Supplement.
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Yesterday, Judge Don W. Thompson of the Superior Court of Walker County granted Joey Watkins's petition for writ of habeas corpus, meaning that Joey's conviction for murdering Isaac Dawkins has been tossed.
Given this terrific turn of events, I wanted to do an update on the status of all of the cases we covered on Undisclosed.
Total cases covered: 27 cases.
Relief granted: 16 cases: 12 exonerations: (1) Shaurn Thomas; (2) Terrance Lewis; (3) Willie Veasy; (4) Chester Hollman III; (5) Charles Ray Finch; (6) Theophalis Wilson; (7) Jonathan Irons; (8) Dennis Perry; (9) Ronnie Long; (10) Joseph Webster; (11) Darrell Ewing; and (12) Joey Watkins. 2 stays of execution: (1) Marcellus Williams; and (2) William Montgomery. 1 commutation: Cyntoia Brown. 1 grant of parole: Cyrus Wilson.
Currently pending: 6 cases. (1) Pedro Reynoso's CIU petition; (2) Fred Freeman/Temujin Kensu's CIU petition; (3) John Brookins's DNA petition; (4) Jeff Titus's CIU petition; (5) Pam Lanier's motion for a new trial; and (6) Wayne Braddy and Karl Willis's motion for a new trial.
New appeals expected soon: 4 cases: (1) Adnan Syed; (2) Jamar Huggins; (3) Greg Lance; and (4) Jason Carroll
Options being explored: 1 case: Rocky Myers
Monday, April 11, 2022
Today, Judge Don W. Thompson of the Superior Court of Walker County granted Joey Watkins's petition for writ of habeas corpus, meaning that Joey's conviction for murdering Isaac Dawkins has been tossed. Here is Judge Thompson's opinion. The State now has four options: (1) appeal by right to the Supreme Court of Georgia; (2) drop the charges against Joey; (3) seek to negotiate a plea deal with Joey to avoid a new trial; or (4) have a retrial. In terms of appealing, though, the State's prospects seem pretty dim because Joey won on both of the issues in his habeas petition, and he only needed to win on one of the issues to get a new trial. Therefore, the State would need to win both issues on appeal. So, what were those issues?