Supporters Asking For Funds To Support Melissa Calusinski’s Family As She Continues To Fight For Her Freedom

Paul and Cheryl Calusinski

A gofundme account has been set up to help Paul and Cheryl Calusinski, the parents of Melissa Calusinski. Paul and Cheryl have suffered financial hardship as they have fought to free their daughter from prison.

Melissa Calusinski was convicted of murder in 2011 and was sentenced to 31 years in prison in Illinois. Calusinski was accused of throwing a child to the floor, causing fatal injuries, while working as a teacher’s aide at a day care center.

Calusinski has long maintained her innocence, and evidence now shows that she was wrongfully convicted based on false medical testimony and a coerced confession. In 2013, Eupil Choi, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on the child, stated in a sworn affidavit that he had missed an old injury. Choi’s statement was a major breakthrough in the case, because it supported Calusinski’s defense team’s longstanding argument that the child’s death was the result of a pre-existing injury. But the real bombshell came last year, which blew the case wide open. Lake County’s coroner, Dr. Thomas Rudd, reclassified the child’s death from a homicide to undetermined, after a new set of X-rays was discovered by his office. These X-rays show no sign of fresh injuries on the child at the time of death.

Melissa Calusinski

Calusinski is currently being represented by Kathleen Zellner, a high profile defense attorney who is credited with overturning eighteen wrongful convictions to date. Calusinski’s supporters are hopeful that Zellner will soon be adding one more case to her long list of successful exonerations.

Zellner’s involvement has been a blessing for the Calusinski family. Unfortunately, even with the best representation, the wheels of justice turn very slowly. The vast majority of wrongful convictions which are overturned go through multiple appeals over the course of many years before being corrected.

Paul and Cheryl Calusinski will continue to fight for their daughter for as long as it takes. And they have a strong group of supporters who are determined to make sure that they never have to fight the battle alone.

Please visit the Official Justice for Melissa Calusinski Family Page on Facebook to learn more about the Melissa Calusinski case.

If you would like to make a donation to help the Calusinski family, you can do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/paulandcherylcalusinski

Jason Flom Interviews Amanda Knox

Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a podcast about tragedy, triumph, unequal justice and actual innocence.  Based on the files of the lawyers who freed them, Wrongful Conviction features interviews with men and women who have spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit – some of them had even been sentenced to death.  These are their stories.

GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/darryl-pinkins-roosevelt-glenn-convicted-in-1989-rape-guilty-until-proven-innocent/

HAMMOND, Ind. — For nearly two decades, Sally Glenn went to prison every other weekend to visit her son, Roosevelt.

“It would hurt me. And when we’d leave there I would cry,” she told “48 Hours” correspondent Maureen Maher.

Roosevelt Glenn’s daughter, Darniese, who was just 7 when her father went to prison, was often by her grandmother’s side on those visits.

“I was nervous for him due to the fact I knew he was a very innocent man behind bars with very bad criminals,” she said.”I had suicide all over me … for a while,” Roosevelt Glenn said in tears.

“And what stopped you?” Maher asked.

“I believe it was the power of God,” Glenn said. “I was a good man before I went to prison, but I wasn’t a man of faith.  Prison changed my way of thinking and it made me a man of faith.”

Darryl Pinkins was also in prison.

“How do you survive in that environment?” Maher asked Pinkins.

“You have to become … colder, as far as emotions,” he said, “because I don’t trust people like I used to.”

“I don’t know if they realize you’ve pretty much taken the most valuable thing people have… time,” Pinkins’ son, Dameon, said. “I feel like I’ve lost the most important time of my life, where — a son bonds with his father and becomes a man.” Read more >>

Incredibly, prosecutors are still defending bite mark evidence

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2017/01/30/incredibly-prosecutors-are-still-defending-bite-mark-evidence/?utm_term=.bb52cd7018fa

As of today, bite mark evidence has led to more than two dozen wrongful arrests or convictions. Two men sentenced to death on bite mark evidence were later exonerated by DNA testing. Multiple proficiency tests have shown that bite mark analysts can’t even agree on whether marks on human skin were made by human teeth or teeth at all, much less agreement on which set of teeth made them. There are two underlying assumptions that need to be true in order for bite mark evidence to be valid — that the marks we make when we bite are unique to us and that human skin is capable of recording those marks in a way that allows analysts to distinguish them. So far, there is no scientific research to support either assumption, and the research that has been done suggests both claims are false. Bite mark evidence has been strongly criticized by several scientific bodies, including the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and, most recently, by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The Texas Forensic Science Commission, a body convened specifically to review the validity of questionable fields of forensics, recommended a moratorium on the use of bite mark analysis in court. Read more >>

Judge rules against police immunity in Ryan Ferguson’s civil rights case

Ryan Ferguson

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/local/judge-rules-against-police-immunity-in-ryan-ferguson-s-civil/article_72de379e-fc23-5d88-ada7-3639253e49f6.html

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that six Columbia police officers who worked on the case against Ryan Ferguson are not entitled to immunity from the remaining counts of Ferguson’s civil rights lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey issued the order about three months after the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had sent the case back, instructing her to clarify whether the officers should be entitled to qualified immunity. The order clears up the issue and allows the case to go to trial on several claims of constitutional violations, pending any further appeals at the Eighth Circuit level.

Qualified immunity protects government officials from legal liability unless their conduct clearly violates a person’s rights and an official acting reasonably would have known the conduct was unlawful. The doctrine is meant to shield officials from frivolous lawsuits.

Kathleen Zellner, Ferguson’s lawyer, did not respond to a message seeking comment. Brad Letterman, attorney for the officers, declined to comment. Read more >>

The unimaginable, infamous case of Pam Hupp

ILLUSTRATION BY RAÚL ALLÉN

https://www.stlmag.com/longform/pam-hupp/#.WIKFTGk3wdo.facebook

The 911 operator heard a woman refusing to get into a vehicle and begging for help. Gunshots—loud and staccato—cut through the confusion of noises. A smoke alarm shrilled.

When police arrived, a 33-year-old man lay dead inside an O’Fallon, Missouri, house. The caller said the man had climbed into her SUV, held a knife against her throat, and demanded that she take him to a bank to get “Russ’s money.” Terrified for her life, she said, she’d knocked the knife away, run inside through the garage door, dashed into the master bedroom, and grabbed a .38 Ruger revolver from her nightstand. He came after her like “a madman.”

The 911 caller—a 58-year-old woman named Pamela Hupp—was questioned and released.

Seven days later, she was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

Before being booked, she asked to use the restroom and stabbed herself in the neck and wrists with a ballpoint pen.

St. Louisans squinted at their TV screens, trying to fathom this blond woman, her square jaw set hard, her face impassive. This was the same woman who’d testified three years earlier in a murder trial after her friend was stabbed 55 times. The friend’s husband was convicted and later acquitted. In the meantime, Hupp’s mother had died in a suspicious fall from a third-floor balcony.

The only possible motive connecting all three cases was money. Hupp, who’d held several jobs in the insurance industry, was the beneficiary of both her friend’s and mother’s policies. But would somebody really stab a sick friend and shove her own mother off a balcony to get cash she’d receive in a few years anyway, then shoot a perfect stranger just to twist the plot?

“Even Hollywood,” one St. Louisan tweeted, “doesn’t write scripts this convoluted.”


Pamela Neumann Hupp grew up in an orderly Catholic household in Dellwood, the third of four kids, their mother a schoolteacher, their father a union man who worked for decades at Union Electric. Pam rode bikes with her friends, went Christmas caroling, occasionally skipped Sunday school. At Riverview Gardens High School, she was a blond pompommer with a laugh that burst forth like a geyser, no stopping it.

Pam was always ready for fun, friends recall—no moodiness or drama, no talking behind people’s backs. Her grades could’ve been higher, one friend guesses, “but she was boy-crazy.” By senior year, she’d made a real catch: a boy who was soft-spoken and well-liked, a member of the soccer team, golf team, and National Honor Society. They went to their senior prom together. Three months later they “had to get married.”

Pam’s devout mother couldn’t have been pleased about the pregnancy. Pam did the responsible thing, but her friends sensed a wistful resentment: Everybody else was caught up in the whirl of college, while here she was, sitting in a cheap apartment spooning strained beets.

The marriage lasted six years. Soon after her divorce, Pam married Mark Hupp, a quiet, easygoing guy who played minor-league baseball for the Texas Rangers and, when he didn’t get drafted, fell back on carpentry. They gave Pam’s daughter a little brother, and in 1989 moved to Naples, Florida. When they returned in 2001, they settled in O’Fallon, Missouri, and started flipping houses on the side.

Pam also took a clerical job in a State Farm office, and Betsy Faria was the first person she met there. Eleven years younger than Pam, Betsy was warm-hearted and bubbly and scatterbrained, always short of cash but shored up emotionally by dozens of friends who adored her. Even at 32, she looked like a greeting card illustration—round face, curly hair, pink cheeks, bright-blue eyes—and in her part-time gig as a DJ, she could coax anybody onto the dance floor. Read more >>

‘Justice Nightmare’: 32 Years in Texas Prisons After Conviction Voided

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/us/jerry-hartfield-texas-prison.html?_r=0

The legal record shows that Jerry Hartfield’s first murder conviction was thrown out on appeal, and for the next 32 years, he was not officially guilty of anything, not sentenced to anything. Yet he spent that time in Texas prisons, in what an appellate court now calls “a criminal justice nightmare.”

He was finally tried and convicted again in 2015, but on Thursday, Mr. Hartfield moved closer to freedom than he has been in decades. A state Court of Appeals ruled that he was not only denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial, but to a degree the court had neither seen nor imagined before; it noted that the important precedents dealt with delays of three years, six years, eight years — not 32.

The three-judge panel dismissed the indictment against Mr. Hartfield, who is developmentally disabled, in effect erasing the recent conviction. But it is still not clear whether, or when, he will get out of prison. Read more >>

After Seventeen Years David Thorne Continues To Wait For Justice

David Thorne

David Thorne was convicted on January 25, 2000, and sentenced to life without parole in Ohio, for allegedly hiring an acquaintance to kill his son’s mother Yvonne Layne in 1999. The problem is that evidence clearly shows that David Thorne is an innocent man.

The appeals system in the United States operates at an incredibly slow pace, making it difficult to correct a wrongful conviction no matter how strong the case for innocence may be. And, as seen in Thorne’s case, the system often fails to recognize wrongful convictions even when presented with overwhelming evidence of innocence. As a result, an estimated 100,000 innocent people remain in our prisons today, all but forgotten by society.

Thorne has proclaimed his innocence from the beginning, and evidence has come forward since his trial showing that egregious misconduct took place during the investigation and prosecution of his case. Investigators displayed a bad case of tunnel vision by failing to pursue other possible suspects. They also obtained a coerced false confession from a young man with a cognitive deficiency, who not only implicated himself but also implicated Thorne. The prosecution furthered the misconduct by withholding exculpatory witness evidence from the defense which could have greatly benefited their case. Sadly, two innocent people are now in prison, while the perpetrator remains free.

Thorne, who has an iron-clad alibi, was implicated by a mentally and emotionally impaired man named Joseph Wilkes. After being interrogated and threatened with the death penalty, Wilkes told his interrogators that he was hired by Thorne to commit the murder. The problem was that Wilkes was unable to provide accurate details of the crime scene. Forensic Scientist Brent Turvey analyzed the case for Thorne’s defense during his appeals. According to Turvey, Wilkes got every detail of the crime wrong, except the type of weapon used. Shockingly, the jury bought the flawed confession, despite its glaring inconsistencies, putting Wilkes and Thorne in prison for the rest of their lives. Wilkes has since recanted his confession and implication of Thorne, stating that he recited everything the police told him because he was fearful of being put to death. Continue reading>>

Midwest Innocence Project Website www.GuiltyPleaProblem.org Launching January 23

FACT: Innocent people plead guilty to crimes they did NOT commit.

Join the movement to fix this: guiltypleaproblem.org/?source=mip

#GuiltyPleaProblem

Rodney Lincoln Is An Innocent Man Who Needs Your Help Right Now

Rodney Lincoln

Rodney Lincoln is currently serving two life sentences for the murder of JoAnn Tate and the assault of Tate’s two young daughters in April of 1982 in St. Louis, Missouri. Evidence shows that Rodney was wrongfully convicted based on a hair found at the crime scene that was wrongly attributed to him and a questionable line-up conducted by police. The victim who was shown the faulty line-up has now recanted her ID that ultimately put Rodney in prison. There isn’t one shred of evidence linking Rodney to the crime. He is clearly an innocent man.

There is currently a clemency request pending in Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s office for Rodney Lincoln. The request was filed by Melissa Neal DeBoer. DeBoer, now forty-two, was the seven-year-old victim who testified against Rodney at trial. DeBoer has now fully recanted her testimony which worked to convict Rodney, and she is now lobbying for his release. You can read her very moving letter in support of Rodney here.

Governor Nixon is expected to make a decision regarding the clemency request by January 8, 2017. Rodney’s supporters are asking for a strong showing of support in the final week leading up to Nixon’s decision. Rodney needs as many people as possible to call, fax, email, tweet, and write to Governor Nixon’s office to express their support for the clemency request. Support for Rodney Lincoln can be seen worldwide. He has this widespread support because he is an innocent man. If all of Rodney’s supporters speak out this week, we can all make an impact.

Freeing the wrongfully convicted is no easy task. The Midwest Innocence Project has been fighting to free Rodney Lincoln for over eleven years. In a recent press release, Rodney’s attorney said, “Mr. Lincoln’s case highlights the mountains we have to move to correct an injustice. As members of a society that allow this to happen, it’s our obligation to do everything we can to correct it.”

Ryan Ferguson, who spent nearly a decade in prison in Missouri as an innocent man, said after his release in 2013 that, “It takes an army” to free the wrongfully convicted. Ryan was right. It does take an army. And Rodney has just that. An army of supporters have been calling for Rodney’s release for a long time, and his supporters will remain vigilant for as long as it takes. If you support Rodney Lincoln, who is undeniably an innocent man, please spend the next seven days bombarding Governor Nixon’s office through social media, telephone, fax, and postal mail. When reaching out to Governor Nixon, please remember to be respectful. Strong factual statements will have a far greater influence than inappropriate language.

According to Rodney’s daughter, Kay Lincoln, all forms of contact are welcome and helpful, but hard copy letters are the best and most persuasive. If you prefer email, feel free to email your letter to freerodneylincoln@gmail.com. Kay will format, print, and mail the letters for you. If you are writing a hard copy letter, you need to act fast. Please get your letters in the mail in the next day or two if possible.

Let’s do this! Get those letters in the mail! Make Rodney Lincoln a trending topic on Twitter! Keep Governor Nixon’s fax machine running nonstop! Call Governor Nixon’s office! All calls are documented and are included in the clemency request file . Rodney has been in prison for far too long. It’s time for him to come home!

Governor Nixon’s contact information:
Mail: MO Governor Jay Nixon
PO Box 720
Jefferson City, MO 65102

Telephone: 573-751-3222

Fax: 573-751-1495

Twitter: @GovJayNixon

Email: Website (with info submission form): https://governor.mo.gov/get-involved/contact-the-governors-office

Please visit these resources to learn more about Rodney Lincoln’s case:

Rodney Lincoln official website: http://www.freerodneylincoln.com/

Rodney Lincoln official Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FreeRodneyLincoln/

Melissa Neal DeBoer’s request for clemency for Rodney Lincoln: http://themip.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/M.D.-Letter-Requesting-Clemency-for-Rodney-Lincoln-redacted.pdf

Rodney Lincoln is incredibly grateful for the support he receives. Thank you to all who are actively advocating for this release. Please share the information in this article with your friends and family. Sharing on Facebook only takes a minute. Just visit Rodney Lincoln’s group page and share the group’s posts with your Facebook friends.