Monday, April 23, 2012

The Case of Preston Hughes III: Brain Teaser #1

We need to talk.

This case is going to take a long time to work through. It's going to take a lot of posts. I'm going to plod through lots of details. I might lose many or most of you along the way. So be it.

It's beginning to feel as if I'm in this one for the long haul.

I have a couple thoughts on how I might continue to plumb the depths of this case while not allowing this blog to become focused on only one case. I simply need to find the time to blog about other cases and other topics. I've had two emails from readers about relevant topics. One mentioned the imperfect nature of fingerprints. The other mentioned the alleged CSI effect on juror expectations. Good topics, both. I'll be writing on them.

I'm also preparing a supplement (not an errata, a supplement) to my letter to Governor Jay Nixon in support of Byron Case's application for absolute pardon. This supplement is in response to the criticisms of reader Ivan. I'll soon be posting that as well.

Finally, I want to engage you more directly. I want you, those of you who are willing, to feel a bit of what I feel when I examine evidence closely and find what everyone before has missed. I want to give you a taste of what it feels like to chip away at a seemingly rock-solid case of guilt and uncover a wrongful conviction house-of-cards.

I'm going to start engagement here, in this post. I'm going to present you with three police documents from the Preston Hughes case. One is pretty clearly falsified. The others have been fudged only a little. I suggest there is sufficient information in the documents themselves for you to figure out which is which. You actually need to know nothing about this case, though you can catch up if you wish by reviewing the ever-current, always-evolving Table of Contents.

To keep from providing any hints via the order in which I present the documents, I'll use a random number generator to decide their order. Then you can use the comments to reveal which document is probably false and which are merely fudged. Please explain your reasoning in lucid, brilliant prose. Sign your comment with a pseudonym so that others can heap praise upon your perspicuity.

The person with the best answer will receive 10 attaperson points.

Get ready. Here come the documents. Click on each to enlarge. You can ignore the non-standard aspect ratios.

#1: We'll call this document the Consent for Samples.

#2. We'll call this document the Consent for Search.

#3. We'll call this document the Evidence Invoice. The red markings are from the folks at the Preston Hughes blog. You can ignore them.

There you go. Everything you need. Tell me, which of the three is probably falsified? How can we prove that? For the other two documents, how have they been tampered?

We have a winner. Read the comments. For my more thorough explanation of how one of the documents was forged, see Documents Gone Wild.

 <-- Previous                            Table of Contents                             Next --> 

The Impending Execution of Thomas Kemp

Thomas Kemp sits on death row awaiting execution by the people of Arizona. He is scheduled for execution on 26 April. He has declined to seek clemency from the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency since he considers the clemency process to be a sham. (On this point, I may agree with him.) It is unlikely that Thomas Arnold Kemp will survive the day.

I provide a summary of his case from the recent adverse decision in Kemp v. Ryan (2011).
Thomas Arnold Kemp raises three issues in his appeal from the district court's denial of his habeas petition seeking relief from his state conviction for felony first-degree murder, armed robbery and kidnapping and from his capital sentence. ... The underlying criminal acts were described as follows by the district court: 
On July 11, 1992, at approximately 11:15 p.m., Hector Juarez awoke when his fiancĂ©e, Jamie, returned from work to their residence at the Promontory Apartments in Tucson. A short time later, Juarez left to get something to eat. Jamie assumed he went to a nearby fast food restaurant. 
At around midnight, Jamie became concerned that Juarez had not come home and began to look for him. She found both her car and his car in the parking lot. Her car, which Juarez had been driving, was unlocked and smelled of fast food; the insurance papers had been placed on the vehicle's roof. After checking with Juarez's brother and a friend, Jamie called the police. 
Two or three days before Juarez was abducted, Jeffery Logan, an escapee from a California honor farm, arrived in Tucson and met with Petitioner. On Friday, July 10, Logan went with Petitioner to a pawn shop and helped him buy a .380 semi-automatic handgun. Petitioner and Logan spent the next night driving around Tucson. At some time between 11:15 p.m. and midnight, Petitioner and Logan abducted Juarez from the parking area of his apartment complex. 
At midnight, Petitioner used Juarez's ATM card and withdrew approximately $200. He then drove Juarez out to the Silverbell Mine area near Marana. Petitioner walked Juarez fifty to seventy feet from the truck, forced him to disrobe, and shot him in the head twice. Petitioner then made two unsuccessful attempts to use Juarez's ATM card in Tucson. The machine kept the card after the second attempt. Petitioner and Logan repainted Petitioner's truck, drove to Flagstaff, and sold it. They bought another .380 semi-automatic handgun with the proceeds. 
While in Flagstaff, Petitioner and Logan met a man and woman who were traveling from California to Kansas. They abducted the couple and made them drive to Durango, Colorado; in a motel room there, Petitioner forced the man to disrobe and sexually assaulted him. 
Later, Petitioner, Logan, and the couple drove to Denver, where the couple escaped. Logan and Petitioner separated. Logan subsequently contacted the Tucson police about the murder of Juarez. He was arrested in Denver. 
With Logan's help, the police located Juarez's body. Later that day, the police arrested Petitioner at a homeless shelter in Tucson. He was carrying the handgun purchased in Flagstaff and a pair of handcuffs. After having been read his Miranda rights, Petitioner answered some questions before asking for a lawyer. He admitted that he purchased a handgun with Logan on July 10. He said that on the day of the abduction and homicide he was "cruising" through apartment complexes, possibly including the Promontory Apartments. When confronted with the ATM photographs, he initially denied being the individual in the picture. After having been told that Logan was in custody and again having been shown the photographs, Petitioner said, "I guess my life is over now."
When, during sentencing, Kemp was asked if he had anything to say in mitigation of his crime, Kemp first expressed satisfaction with his defense counsel. Kemp then offered the following:
The prosecutor, in his alleged wisdom, has portrayed me as being a killer without remorse or regret. This is a wholly inaccurate assessment. I feel a deep and abiding sense of remorse at having permitted friendship to stay my hand in the face of wiser counsel; thus electing not to kill Jeff Logan at a time when both instinct and circumstances demanded his death. 
You can rest assured that is a lapse of judgment I will never repeat and one which I will bend all my energies towards correcting in the not too distant future. Beyond that, I regret nothing. 
The media has engaged in an orgy of speculation and innuendo concerning the events of mid-July '92. They printed and reported every word spewed from Logan's mouth as though they were engraved in stone and handed down from God. They printed every accusation Logan made, whether or not it had the slightest bearing on this case, and at no time made any effort at verification. I was convicted in the press and on the televised news long before my case ever came to trial. Make no mistake, the day will come when I return to Tucson. And on that day I will remember all the kind things certain reporters had to say about me. 
The so-called victim was not an American citizen and, therefore, was beneath my contempt. Wetbacks are hardly an endangered species in this state. If more of them wound up dead, the rest of them would soon learn to stay in Mexico, where they belong. 
I don't show any mercy and I am certainly not here to plead for mercy. I spit on the law and all those who serve it; most especially you, Peasley. I have more respect for Salgado than I have for you.
I oppose the execution of people who might be factually innocent of the crime for which they are to die. In all other instances, I stand mute. In the case of Thomas Arnold Kemp, I stand mute.