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Friday, May 25, 2012

11-year-old serving a 25 year prison term for a crime she did not commit.

Lacresha Murray is an 11-year-old serving a 25 year prison term for a crime she did not commit.

She was charged in the death of Jayla Belton with capital murder, found guilty of negligent homicide and injury to a child, and sentenced to 25 years--with no evidence, witnesses, opportunity, motive, nor history of aggression.

Months before her trial, against juvenile law and State Bar rules, D.A. Ronnie Earle announced her identity and pronounced her guilty in a televised news conference.The media, without any investigation, headlined her as guilty as charged for two months, obliterating any possibility of a fair trial.

Hidden from her family for four days, without a break, Lacresha was lied to, threatened, tricked and brainwashed during a three-hour interrogation by the Austin Police Department (APD). Not only did they deny her an attorney or parent present during this deceptively and illegally arranged interrogation, they threateningly coerced a false statement out of her, and failed to

read her all of her rights
ensure she understood them,
ascertain whether Lacresha could read the statement they typed up, which she could not.
By all accounts, this interrogation was immoral, illegal and inadmissible as evidence, and yet it was used as the only evidence against her. With no evidence, witnesses, motive, opportunity or history of aggressive behavior, Lacresha was found guilty -- twice.

In the first trial, she was denied a defense.

In the second trial, she was provided a rigged defense. During the second trial, the prosecution based it's case on the assertion there was a match between the shoes they alleged Lacresha was wearing and the injuries on Jayla Belton's body; however, these shoes were not Lacresha's. They were boy's tennis shoes, 3 sizes too large. Her family did not recognize them, and everyone who saw her that day, including hospital personnel and police, saw her barefoot.

The State's two "experts" who testified there was indeed a match, admitted on the stand they had not actually measured or tested the shoes in comparison to Jayla Belton's injuries. In fact, one of the "experts" did not see the shoes until minutes before he testified there was a match. The only scientific, forensic testing of the shoes was done by the police department's crime lab, which sent a report to prosecutors stating there was not a match. The only qualified expert evidence the prosecution had completely undermined their case. The jury had the right to see this report, but the prosecutors and judge suppressed it.

The judge, D.A., APD, Travis County Medical Examiner and the prosecutors in this matter failed to obey Texas law, designed to protect innocent children, and colluded with each other to imprison this innocent child for purely political reasons. By framing and imprisoning this innocent child, D.A. Ronnie Earle got national attention and right-before-election proof he was indeed tough on crime. Judge Dietz, Earle's former campaign manager and friend, got to provide a self-serving favor for Earle. The police got to close another case without much effort or cost. The prosecutors got both an easy win for their resumes and a chance to exercise the eagerly-awaited Determinate Sentencing Act, enabling them to imprison juveniles convicted of violent crimes for lengthy sentences.

Lacresha Murray got 25 years.

*Obviously, the goals of our justice system are not always met, but did you know that the legal safeguards we so highly value and trust are increasingly being violated in juvenile cases? For those with children, the travesty of the case against Lacresha Murray literally means that the police can arrest and accuse your children of a horrendous crime, secret them away from you, deliberately and illegally deny them an attorney and/or parent during interrogation, subject them to lies, trickery, threats and bullying during an interrogation, deny them full notification of the charge against them and its consequences, completely slander their reputation, as well as that of the entire family, and put them away for 25 to 40 years, or more -- without evidence.

By any other name, this is child abuse by our justice system. Although this is not supposed to happen in America, it did and it could happen to your child.

This was in 1999
After 3 long years of confinement for a crime she did not commit.
On August 13, 2001 all charges were dismissed.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

The charges against La Cresha Murray, now 17, have been dismissed with prejudice, which means for all time. They cannot reprosecute. They will also not prosecute the real perpetrators despite the fact that there is and was evidence available in 1996 establishing the time of Jayla Belton's injuries and clearing the Murrays; but lawyers never admit wrong, especially district attorneys and prosecutors and corrupt judges.

Joe H. Sullivan:LWOP For A Nonhomicide 1989 (He Is Still Serving Time)

All Locked Up

Did Joe Sullivan, sentenced to life at 13, have a fair trial?

Joe Harris Sullivan is one of two teenagers that young currently doing life without parole for a nonhomicide offense in the United States. His lawyers are hoping that the court will extend its 2005 bar on executing criminals who committed crimes as juveniles to Sullivan's sentence.

The adequacy of that proceeding isn't before the justices now. But a brief review of the trial record reveals a process so pathetic that it raises questions about whether Sullivan committed the crime in the first place. It also seems that the trial judge may not have intended to sentence Sullivan to life without parole. In the end, that judge, along with the prosecutor and defense lawyer, failed Sullivan so deeply that we have to wonder whether his sentence reflects a deep and basic failure of ordinary criminal justice

Here's what we do know happened. One May morning in 1989, Sullivan, then 13, and two older teens, Nathan McCants, 17, and Michael Gulley, 15, burglarized a home in Pensacola, Fla. They left with jewelry and coins. Later that day, someone returned to the house and found a 72-year-old woman, threw a black slip over her head, made her lie on her bed, and raped her orally and vaginally—so brutally that she had to have corrective surgery.

The remaining facts are trickier. The woman testified at trial that her assailant was a "dark colored boy" who "had kinky hair and he was quite black and he was small." She never looked directly at him. However, she remembered her attacker saying something like, "If you can't identify me, I may not have to kill you." At trial, she was permitted to testify that she recognized Sullivan's voice, saying, it "could very well be" his.

The two older boys, who both received brief sentences for their roles in the crimes, also testified. Gulley claimed that Sullivan said he'd raped the woman; McCants claimed not to have gone back to the house the second time.

Sullivan denied raping the elderly woman, admitting only to the initial burglary. But he was tried as an adult on two counts of sexual battery and other related charges. The only physical evidence was a fingerprint lifted from a plaque in the bedroom, which could have been made during the burglary. The clothing and other evidence have been destroyed and couldn't be tested for DNA.

Sullivan's lawyer, Mack Plant, had a straightforward job: to investigate whether Sullivan was guilty of just the burglary or the rape as well. Plant also should have found out if Sullivan's friends got reduced sentences because they flipped on him, as well as what their criminal histories were.

Plant punted at every step, beginning with his failure to address whether Sullivan was even competent to stand trial. Social science research shows that most teens don't have the ability to determine whether to take a plea deal, much less make decisions about strategy for trial. But from the record, it appears Plant never had his client's reasoning and comprehension skills evaluated.

The lawyer declined to give an opening statement, which is like a batter not taking a swing. Plant also failed to cross-examine witnesses vigorously.He did not explore Gulley's and McCants' backgrounds to show they had a motive to lie. He never asked: "Did you get a deal here?" Michael Gulley had an extensive criminal history that included one sexual offense, according to court papers. A lawyer might have used this information to cast Gulley as a possible suspect instead of Sullivan. Plant did not. Instead, he focused on the fact that Gulley had to have his memory refreshed about the entire crime before testifying. This was a good point, but Plant blew through it. (Entire cross: a little more than a page.) And he never challenged the victim's identification of her assailant's voice as Sullivan's or asked her to listen to the other two boys' speech.
Joe Sullivan

In his closing, Plant again said nothing about the self-serving nature of McCant's and Gulley's testimony. Here's his best line to the jury: "You know, I just don't know about this case." How true.

The trial whizzed by in eight hours. The jury took 35 minutes to convict. You could hardly blame them, based on the little they'd heard. Plant has since been suspended from the practice of law in Florida. The adequacy of his representation of Sullivan, however, was never properly raised on appeal.
The judge and prosecutor were also complicit in Sullivan's inadequate trial. At the sentencing hearing, after Sullivan's conviction, the question before Judge Nickolas P. Geeker should have been whether a 13-year-old who committed this horrible crime could be rehabilitated. Unlike an adult who commits the same offense, a young teen can change, according to the research of mental health researchers Laurence Steinberg and Thomas Grisso, who were the main experts in the juvenile death-penalty case and whose work Sullivan's attorneys are relying on now.A daylong hearing exploring the research on brain development and responsibility for young teens, along with Sullivan's juvenile history, family, education, and mental ability, would have given the judge the information he needed to determine whether Sullivan really merited the punishment of prison for life.
While the prosecutor may be less to blame than the defense attorney or the judge, he also has a responsibility to make sure that the punishment he's asking for is appropriate. Prosecutor Lawrence Kaden described Sullivan's criminal history in terms of the number of points he had accrued under the state's adult sentencing guidelines. He apparently didn't take into account that two-thirds of those points were due to a crime Sullivan committed at age 12, when he and his older brother broke into a house and were attacked by a dog, which Sullivan hit in the head, accidentally killing it.
At the sentencing, Judge Geeker should have appointed another lawyer to replace Plant. Instead, he said, somewhat inexplicably, that he wanted it to be "perfectly clear to everyone that when he (Sullivan) gets out again and he commits any more offenses, he'll not be a juvenile offender. Hopefully, he will be an old man."
If the judge meant to sentence Sullivan to life in prison without parole, why did he mention his release? (If he made a mistake, he wouldn't be the first. Another Florida judge has admitted to being confused about the law and incorrectly sentencing a 14-year-old to life without parole.)

There's no way to know, because as at so many other troubling moments in this trial, no legal professional stepped up to ask a question or to protest. Sullivan's trial showcases a common failure of the adversarial system—one that's especially troubling when the stakes involve locking up a child forever.
Joe has been in prison since 1989 >>> Shows Current Statas

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oscar Wilde on the Cruelty of Children in Prison

Voices from Solitary: Oscar Wilde on the Cruelty of Children in Prison
by Voices from Solitary

During and after his own two-year incarceration for "gross indecency," Oscar Wilde wrote several works on the cruelty and degradation of prison life. Among them is a lengthy letter to the editor of the London Daily Chronicle, written in 1897 shortly after his release from Reading Gaol and self-exile to France. It concerns the treatment of children in Britain's prisons, including their solitary confinement. Wilde does not specify the ages of the children in question, but at one point he argues that children under the age of fourteen should not be put in prison at all--so it is safe to assume that the children he refers to were younger still.

What follows is an excerpt from Wilde's letter, highlighting those practices that have changed relatively little since his day. Today, children as young as ten can be locked up in the UK, though they are placed in juvenile facilities rather than adult prisons, and solitary confinement is rare. In the United States, on the other hand, an estimated 10,000 juveniles are in adult prisons and jails. There, they are far more likely than adults to be beaten by guards, sexually assaulted, or end up in solitary confinement. They are also 36 times more likely to commit suicide than children in juvenile facilities. --Jean Casella

= = = = =
The cruelty that is practised by day and night on children in English prisons is incredible, except to those that have witnessed it and are aware of the brutality of the system. People nowadays do not understand what cruelty is. They regard it as a sort of terrible mediƦval passion...[But]ordinary cruelty is simply stupidity. It is the entire want of imagination. It is the result in our days of stereotyped systems, of hard-and-fast rules, and of stupidity...Authority is as destructive to those who exercise it as it is to those on whom it is exercised. It is the Prison Board, and the system that it carries out, that is the primary source of the cruelty that is exercised on a child in prison...

The present treatment of children is terrible, primarily from people not under standing the peculiar psychology of a child's nature. A child can understand a punishment inflicted by an individual, such as a parent or guardian, and bear it with a certain amount of acquiescence. What it cannot understand is a punishment inflicted by society. It cannot realise what society is...

The child consequently, being taken away from its parents by people whom it has never seen, and of whom it knows nothing, and finding itself in a lonely and unfamiliar cell, waited on by strange faces, and ordered about and punished by the representatives of a system that it cannot understand, becomes an immediate prey to the first and most prominent emotion produced by modern prison life -- the emotion of terror. The terror of a child in prison is quite limitless.

I remember once in Reading, as I was going out to exercise, seeing in the dimly lit cell right opposite my own a small boy. Two warders -- not unkindly men -- were talking to him, with some sternness apparently, or perhaps giving him some useful advice about his conduct. One was in the cell with him, the other was standing outside. The child's face was like a white wedge of sheer terror. There was in his eyes the terror of a hunted animal. The next morning I heard him at breakfast-time crying, and calling to be let out. His cry was for his parents. From time to time I could hear the deep voice of the warder on duty telling him to keep quiet.

Yet he was not even convicted of whatever little offence he had been charged with. He was simply on remand. That I knew by his wearing his own clothes, which seemed neat enough. He was, however, wearing prison socks and shoes. This showed that he was a very poor boy, whose own shoes, if he had any, were in a bad state. Justices and magistrates, an entirely ignorant class as a rule, often remand children for a week, and then perhaps remit whatever sentence they are entitled to pass. They call this "not sending a child to prison." It is, of course, a stupid view on their part. To a little child, whether he is in prison on remand or after conviction is not a subtlety of social position he can comprehend. To him the horrible thing is to be there at all. In the eyes of humanity it should be a horrible thing for him to be there at all.

This terror that seizes and dominates the child, as it seizes the grown man also, is of course intensified beyond power of expression by the solitary cellular system of our prisons. Every child is confined to its cell for twenty-three hours out of the twenty-four. This is the appalling thing. To shut up a child in a dimly lit cell, for twenty-three hours out of the twenty-four, is an example of the cruelty of stupidity.

If an individual, parent or guardian, did this to a child, he would be severely punished. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children would take the matter up at once. There would be on all hands the utmost detestation of whomsoever had been guilty of such cruelty. A heavy sentence would, undoubtedly, follow conviction. But our own actual society does worse itself, and to the child to be so treated by a strange abstract force, of whose claims it has no cognisance, is much worse than it would be to receive the same treatment from its father or mother, or some one it knew...

As regards the children, a great deal has been talked and written lately about the contaminating influence of prison on young children. What is said is quite true. A child is utterly contaminated by prison life. But the contaminating influence is not that of the prisoners. It is that of the whole prison system -- of the governor, the chaplain, the warders, the lonely cell, the isolation, the revolting food, the rules of the Prison Commissioners, the mode of discipline as it is termed, of the life...In this, as in all other things, philanthropists and people of that kind are astray. It is not the prisoners who need reformation. It is the prisons...

Friday, May 11, 2012


My husbands name is Curtis Shuler Jr and he is currently serving a term of natural life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was a sixteen year old juvenile when he was arrested in 1998. He was charged with Premeditated First Degree Murder on a victim that a 'sworn' jury 'ACQUITTED Him'. The jury never found him guilty of killing the victim. In fact the jury acquitted himof every 'essential element' to constitute the crime. Yet instead of following state and federal laws when it comes to legally inconsistent verdicts the prosecutor persuaded the judge to find jim guilty as charged and the court adjudicated him guilty as charge despite the judges confusion as to the verdict. Federal and state law requires that verdicts rendered like his 'REQUIRE ACQUITTAL”. He has a life sentence without benefit of parole for a murder he was never convicted of doing. He was wrongfully convicted and railroaded by the state.

Iin 1998, there were a totat of 7 teens who were convicted of murder and prosecuted by the same states attorney, John Aguero. He gave the white teenagers, less then life in which two are already free and the other two will be coming home soon. The three black teens were given life without parole. Why did he feel compassion for the white teen's and not the black teen's?

What I am asking is for immediate release of my husband.

Why People Are Signing

Donna Cohen

about 1 year ago

I have had the pleasure of meeting this man and his wonderful wife.
This man is no criminal and has served almost 14 years behind bars for
something he was ACQUITTED of, he was never found guilty. Where is the
JUSTICE here??? This man should be released IMMEDIATELY after all 14 years
behind bars for something he was never found guilty of?? When is enough
ENOUGH? One angry mother and friend.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Amber Receives Her Diploma


Today,in cap and gown as you stand tall
And bravely parade down the graduation hall
Our hearts will glow with pride and joy
In spirit,we are there right by your side
We praise you for the years of dedication
Your courage to keep walking on the path,
And now you will gain triumph
Of all within your heart.
We're always here watching out for you
And hold you close in Prayer
This special day we lift you up once more
To go forward in God's care
He has a plan prepared for you
A chosen place for you to go
Where all the wisdom He has given you
Will be shared for more to know.
May his blessings go before you
And keep you ever strong,
Oh how very glad we are
That to our family, you belong.
Congratulations Graduate
Wherever you go
go with all your heart
We are there with you
We just wanted you to know*
We Love & Miss You So.
& Are So very proud of you
All the strength you have always shown
And the endless supply of courage.
XOXOXO~Mom & Dad

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Shaina Sepulvado was convicted of capital murder

The Story of Shaina Sepulvado
Shaina Sepulvado was convicted of capital murder in 2007 in the death of her stepfather, James Kelly.
The crime took place about a year and a half earlier in 2005, a couple of months after Shaina had her 16th Birthday

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Discriminatory Juvenile Justice Practices in Tennessee and Nebraska

New Reports Reveal Discriminatory Juvenile Justice Practices in Tennessee and Nebraska

In a recently released report, the U.S. Department of Justice documented that young black children in the juvenile justice system in Memphis, Tennessee, were more likely than white children to be detained and even tried as adults -- for the same crimes.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Juvenile Justice Institute recently released results of a study concluding that minority children in Nebraska receive disproportionately harsh treatment in the juvenile justice system.

According to National juvenile Justice Network