All of the case documents that Guest Blogger Al and I have used while writing about Preston Hughes III have come from the Mystery Crime Scene web site. That site is the work product of Barbara Lunsford, accountant, blogger, and wrongful conviction advocate. She has been at this far longer than have I.
I've been blogging for two years and a month. I've been working to free Byron Case for a few months more than that. I'm not sure how long Barbara has been blogging, but she has been working to free Betty Wilson for eight years. Eight long years. I repeat the introduction to her blog.
Nine years ago, if someone had told me I would be spending the next eight years of my life involved in injustice, I would have said "You are stark raving mad!". Well, I am here to eat those words.
Eight years ago a friend was telling me about twin sisters, Betty Wilson and Peggy Lowe, from Alabama who were arrested and tried for supposedly hiring an alcoholic, drug addict con-man, James Dennison White, to kill Betty's wealthy husband, Dr. Jack Wilson, who was a very well-liked and well-known eye doctor in Huntsville. Both sisters were tried on the same evidence and lying testimony. Betty was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole because she was a rich bitch and slept with a black man in Alabama. Peggy, the saintly one, was acquitted. The convicted con-man, who never really admitted to killing the doctor, has come up for parole several times but is still incarcerated.
After spending six years studying this case including both trial transcripts, putting up an extensive website (http://hankford.com/bettywilson) and spending the remaining two years putting together a book about this case Killer For Hire - The Final Chapter of the Alabama Twins Murder Case, I, as many others, believe that the real killer of the doctor is walking around free. Neither of the twin sisters had a motive to have the good doctor put away but the doctor's ex-wife and son did.
As time permits, I hope to present other similar cases of injustice along with information on books, movies, TV shows, video games, etc., related to mystery crime. In the meantime please visit http://mysterycrimescene.com/.
One of the cases that she has presented is that of Preston Hughes III. I'm not sure what prompted her to pursue the Hughes case, but I understand she obtained the case documents on her own dime. Actually, she obtained them on 4,000 of her own dimes. That was what she was charged for copies of the documents she obtained from the Houston PD, or the Houston DA, or whomever. She does not have copies of the trial transcripts because they would have cost her 32,000 of her own dimes.
I am impressed with what she has done with the data they sent her. I like that she made much of the data public. I like that she constructed a timeline. I like that she did a careful accounting of the photos. (She discovered that some had been and are still being withheld.) I like that she tracked the physical evidence as it allegedly moved through the system. (She discovered several substantial and interesting irregularities.) I like that she took the trouble to carefully examine the documents. (She discovered what may be evidence of a falsified voluntary consent to search form.) I like how she focuses on data-supported reasoned argument as a means of correcting what she perceives to be an injustice. I like working with her as I work on the case of Preston Hughes III.
I learned of the Preston Hughes case while working on the case of Frances Elaine Newton, probably innocent and certainly executed. (See The Three-Gun-Monte, Sack O' Fertilizer Conviction and Execution of Frances Elaine Newton.) It is the pathetic work of the Houston PD crime lab that joins them. In Newton's case, the Houston PD crime lab failed to track the alleged murder weapon (a handgun) by its serial number. It's likely they associated the wrong handgun with Newton, and thereby killed her. In Hughes' case, the Houston PD crime lab did not even test the alleged murder weapon for blood before the trial. In fact they first tested the alleged murder weapon from the witness stand, right there in front of the judge. The knife tested negative for human blood and positive for animal blood, just as Hughes claimed all along. The knife was nonetheless presented to the jury as the murder weapon, and thereby helped place him on death row for the last couple decades.
Without the initiative, hours, and dimes of Barbara Lunsford, I would have learned nothing substantive about Preston's case. Based mostly on what she presented on her blog, I am reasonably confident that Preston Hughes is wrongfully convicted.
I have since been communicating with Barbara via email. She has been incredibly generous and gracious with her time, her insight and her data. She has provided me with copies of Preston's two confessions, the police statement provided by Drew Hartley, the police statement provided by Barbara Ann Szekely, all other photographs she had of Marcell and Shandra, all other photographs she had of the crime scene, and ten overhead photographs of the area that the Houston PD sent her. Everything she sends me stimulates my thinking. I have much to study and write of.
In return, I have shared with her several significant discoveries of my own, still unreported in this blog or anywhere. As I said, I have much to study and write of. However, before I begin presenting posts based on the information she has so kindly provided me via email, I wanted to take a moment to thank her publicly for her efforts in general and for the assistance she has provided to me in particular. It is a pleasure to be working with her on this case.
I'll end with the tag line for her blog, one that is eerily similar to that of The Shadow: