Mail call

Dear Bloggers,

It is really good hear from some of you. A few people have asked specific questions. One person even said that I could write to them. If someone doesn’t mind me writing and would like to write letters, that is just fine with me. I love writing letters and meeting new people. Just keep in mind that I’m not able to see an address. You have to write to my prison address and they will give it to me.

Now on to a few responses. I will only use initials so as not to put anyone on the spot. I’m not sure of what you all see of each other’s posts.

To JF – You have a son in a Louisiana prison. Well, my heart goes out to you. That really sucks that he is that close to home and the visits the way they are. Here we can have a 3-hour contact visit every weekend.  Inmates with a last name beginning with A-N get their visits on Saturday and the rest on Sunday. There is a concession stand with snacks and a number of vending machines. Plus, there is a spot to take pictures with your loved ones. You asked if I have visits. Yes, I have had visits. My wife has been here and so have a couple of attorneys. I don’t get a visit every week. But some are better than none. Like Louisiana, commissary is very expensive here also. And it doesn’t help that I’m a foodie. Throw in buying batteries, personal hygiene products, and 30-minute phone calls, and it does add up. You asked if visiting with family and friends makes it better or worse for me. For me, the answer is better. As much as it hurts when my wife leaves or one of the lawyers goes, I do enjoy sitting there and eating and talking for that precious time out of the barracks. Plus, getting to watch the little kids run around who are there visiting their family members is just awesome for me. Does visiting make your son feel good or bad?

To DD – Thank you for your email. You said you kept it short because you didn’t know how often I get to use the computer. I don’t use a computer. I write to Ms Leveritt and she puts my blogs up for me. Once a week she sends me the responses (good and bad) and I read them and answer as best I can. I would like to write to you but don’t have your address so feel free to write to me if you feel like it.

Tim Howard # 160909
Varner – Barracks 22
PO Box 600
Grady, AR 71644-0600

I don’t know that there’s anything that can be done to get me out of prison that my attorney and support team is not already doing.

To SB – You said we went to school together. Did I have classes with you or your brother? I’ll agree with you about the legal system. And I understand that it’s what we have to work with. But I’d sure like to see some rule changes. Plus, I’d like to have our elected officials admit when a mistake is made and not have to drag it out.

To SW – I’m not ignoring your post. I just don’t think there’s anything I could say that you would believe, based on what I read. But I will say this: I always loved TD and KD and that will never stop. I’d never hurt them, nor did I harm their parents. And I’ll leave it there. Blessings and happiness to you both.

To Unidentified Guy – Thanks for the support. I’m enjoying the blog. It’s still new to me and I hope to get better at it. The blog has its good and bad points. The bad points are the negative and hateful comments. But that’s just part of it. And btw, do I know who you are?

And Debra, Tonya, Punkin, Kethia, Meeka, Chelle…. Thanks to all of you for dropping in.

Tim

On Cows and Carpentry

To M: Thanks for your response to my posting. It’s like getting a letter in the mail, which I love to do. You said you’ve watched some prison documentaries. Well, I’ll bet you learned more about prison from your nephew than you did from the documentary. Prison is a world in itself. And everyone’s experience is different. I’ll try and explain how it is with me. But I’ll have to come back later and start from the county jail where I started in Dec. 1997.

Right now I’m at the Varner Unit. I don’t count days, I count hours. I’m stipulated to Vo-tech and have to complete 1,440 hours before I can appear before the parole board again. And right now I have 180 hours. I get nine hours a day, Monday through Thursday, if all goes well. Sometimes we don’t get to go to vo-tech for one reason or another. We don’t go on Fridays and I have kitchen duty that day, which is not my favorite thing. I’m trying to get on Outside Lawn. Spring Break is fast approaching and that means we will be off from Vo-tech a whole week, plus the teacher has some flex time coming up. ☹ More delays.

Anyway, when thinking about attending Vo-tech, inmates have a number of different fields and probably four different prisons to choose from. I picked Varner because it’s a place where I’ve spent a lot of time: from August 2003 to December 2013 to be exact. I also spent some time at Tucker Max before that. I picked residential carpentry for several reasons. One, I really like woodworking and want to learn to make hope chests, china cabinets and the like. I have a kind of dream of being able to make a few of them for pregnant women and ladies who like to sew. Crazy or odd, I know. But it’s a hobby I want. It’s not for money. The other reason is to be able to fix the minor things that go wrong around my friends’ and families’ houses—maybe be able to save them a little money. I wasn’t very fond of my class when I first started. But right now, I’m enjoying it. One of the inmates who’s an intern is teaching a few of us step-by-step. He’s very patient and makes sure that you understand what’s going on.

I’m still not settled in here at Varner. The barracks I’m in is as foreign as any that I’ve been in. Plus, I’m still angry that I was stipulated to Vo-tech to begin with. The Parole Board will probably claim something along the lines of “making a productive citizen” out of me. Even though they didn’t bother to ask what skills I had before stipulating me.

There’s something the public should know about prison and its rules. The rules and guidelines look good on paper. But they don’t implement them worth a damn and at times they are at odds with what they are supposed to do. I’ll use myself for an example. Upon my arrival at Cummins Prison, I was put on hoe squad. Hoe squad has been around for years. It is just a mindless way to punish people. Now don’t get me wrong. I know prison is a punishment deal for lawbreakers and I agree about paying the piper, so to speak. When it comes to the actual farm work of the planting, harvesting, caring for equipment, animals, etc., damn right—get the inmates out. But mindless hoeing and useless activities? Come on.

Hoe squad is 60 days unless something happens. I didn’t do the full 60 days because I entered the P.A.L. Program (Personal Application to Life). It’s billed as a faith-based program that’s non-denominational. But they should be honest and say, “It’s a Christian program and if you don’t believe what we tell you, you’re outta here.” This program looks good on paper and the Parole Board even thought it was a good thing that I was in it and it’s supposed to be gaining some recognition on the outside. But in truth, it was a program run mostly by the inmates. I won’t go into detail about all the goings-on in there, but it wasn’t up to code. I was more stressed out in that program than I was during the years before awaiting trial. So I signed myself out.

About a week later I was in front of the classification committee. I asked to be transferred to Beef Herd. Keep in mind that it’s what the prison terms a 1-B job, which means outside the gate, and I was 1-C at the time. Well, luck was smiling on me that day and the assistant warden running classification that day decided to give me a chance since he’d known me for a time during my death-row stint. I ended up being assigned to Dairy. Well, after reading so many cowboy books and seeing Elsie commercials, I thought CRAP! Turns out though, the Dairy was a balm to my soul. It put me outside and working with cows, which I love. The job I was hired to do was take care of newborn calves.

After I was trained, my days started like this. Only seven guys can go out before daylight because there weren’t enough supervisors on Dairy. We would leave the unit at 5:30 a.m. and drive about two and a half miles to the Dairy. I get my buggy and fill it with calf bottles. The most I had on bottles at one time was 42. I make up all the bottles and off I go. It started out with me just putting bottles in holes and picking them up when they’re done. They had to be hand-fed for about three days or so until they were able to drink alone. I also had weaned calves to feed. Don’t misunderstand me. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to do this job. But if you liked it even a little bit, you were golden.

Now here’s another way I really got blessed. I had four free-world supervisors. All good guys. Three of those guys had degrees in fields dealing with animals. Multiple degrees. And all were willing to teach me however much I wanted to learn about the dairy business and livestock care in general. They even gave me books to read and started giving me hands-on training with the dairy cows and step-by-step maintenance of the pit, where the animal waste goes. They were teaching me what shots to give my babies and why. This was turning into something I could never have imagined. One of the supervisors and I even sat down and talked about a business I could start when I got out. All four agreed that if I could do my Vo-tech there, they would have me in tip-top shape before I left.

It seemed perfect. But then the Powers-That-Be said I couldn’t Vo-tech there because it wasn’t accredited, or something to that effect.

I told that whole story to show how some things look better on paper than in practice. Now, here I am at carpentry Vo-tech with a substitute teacher who, by his own admission, isn’t qualified to do this job. I’m taking a course to use as a hobby. Yes, I had other choices after they took me out of Dairy, but this is the one I’m more likely to be able to enjoy or use. Still, it’s only nine hours a day. Take out meals and breaks, and it’s probably shorter. If I wasn’t required to, I wouldn’t go. Compare that to the dairy. There, all my teachers and supervisors except one had more than enough training (and not online). I had a job where I started at 5:30 a.m. and didn’t come back till 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays and Sundays it was 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and then 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. because you milk twice a day. So it was a seven-day-a-week job and I was loving it! The other inmates were actually making fun of me because I was up by 4:45 a.m.—almost to the minute—every morning, waiting to leave.

“A Separate Peace” discussion?

Anyone care to discuss “A Separate Peace” with an inmate reading it for the first time? What about comparing notes on favorite mystery writers? Varner Prison, where Tim now lives, is a rough, often violent place. Tim takes refuge in books. Not many folks around him share that appreciation, so he hungers for any “book talk.”

All responses are printed–without email addresses–and sent to him by snail mail. If there are any fans of the western writer William Johnstone or the masterful Ken Follett out there, Tim would especially like to hear from other fans. If he replies to you in a future blog, don’t worry–he will not use your name.

Super Bowl Sunday

Hello People of the Blogosphere!

It is Super Bowl Sunday. And since my NE Patriots didn’t make the cut, I’m rooting for Carolina. However I won’t watch the game because three hours of football is just a little too much for me. I’d like to view the commercials but extra-curricular activity in the area makes tv viewing undesirable.

Since I last wrote, I’ve read Cut and Thrust, Paris Match, Insatiable Appetites, Naked Greed, and Foreign Affairs.  All of these were written by Stuart Woods and I’d like to thank the person who sent these to me. Also, I read The First Mountain Man by William Johnstone and I’d like to thank another special person for that. I’m currently reading Chiefs by Woods but haven’t made up my mind if I like it yet or not. I normally read two books at a time to give me something like a channel or movie change. So, the other one I am starting is called A Separate Peace by John Knowles. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I have a question for those of you who would like to answer. Why do you read this blog? I’m not under any illusion that everyone who reads this may like me, so I look forward to your replies. I know that there’s at least one of you who feels that I wouldn’t want to hear from you personally. I won’t mention your name without permission. But nothing could be further from the truth. I’d very much like to thank you for your kindness and continued support.

Also my question for the blog is this: how do you feel about our legal system as a whole? Do you think it works? Do any of you out there have personal knowledge of prison life?

I’ll be back soon. Keep in mind that I probably can’t get in but one posting a week because I have to use snail mail to get to a computer.

Send your questions here.

Tim Howard

p.s. All responses are printed and mailed to Tim – your email addresses not is included.

Tim Howard Beginner’s Blog

Tim Howard Beginners's Blog

I’m not totally clear about how to do a blog, so please bear with me.

I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you must have some knowledge of who I am and where I am. So what I’ll do is try to give some kind of overview as to who I am and what I like. I’ll answer any questions asked about prison life if I can. I’ll also share some of my personal life. If there’s anything I can’t or won’t answer, I hope you will respect that. If anyone chooses to write, I’ll write back.

I grew up in the Tri-State area. I consider Texarkana-Ogden-Ashdown my stomping grounds. I love horses and cows and pickups and diesels. I’m married. I have no biological children. I have four stepchildren. I dislike the term stepchildren, so I normally refer to them as just my children. One died in a single-car accident at the age of 21 years old. We miss him every day. The other three are by my second wife, who died while I was on the row. I’m married to my first wife again. I haven’t communicated with my three other children in over a decade. I hope that changes one day. Both my parents and grandparents are deceased. I have two sisters. One is 45, the other 48. I’m in the middle. I have a host of cousins that I don’t hear from. My aunt and oldest sister write occasionally I’m blessed to have met some wonderful people who have turned out to be closer to me than family. You will find out more about them as this story unfolds.

Purchase DARK SPELL – SURVIVING THE SENTENCE by Mara Leveritt

You need to install and activate the WooCommerce Shop Plugin to display WooCommerce Products

I love reading and listening to music. A few of my favorite authors are: Ken Follett, William Johnstone, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Sandra Brown, Karin Slaughter, Patricia Cornwell, Amarantha Knight, James Patterson, Stuart Woods, John Sandford, Margaret Wies/Tracy Hickman, Terry Goodkind. I could go on but I won’t. I love all genres of books and music. I’m not much on biographies but will read one that sticks in my mind when I’m reading my historical fiction. I really like historical fiction and family sagas.

My tastes in music touch on everything almost. But if I could only listen to one station, it would be playing country music. But luckily I have choices. And here’s the artists I have on my MP4 so far (87 songs): 2 Pac, AC/DC, Adele, Al Green, Albert King, B.B. King, Becky G, Boosie Badazz, Britney Spears, Brooks-N-Dunn, Bruno Mars, Cinderella, Destiny’s Child, Ed Sheeran, George Jones, George Strait, Gerald LeVert, Iggy Azalea, Jason Aldean, Jermaine Dupri, Jerry Reed, Jewel, Jon Conor, K.T. Oslin, Kendrick Lemar, KISS, Lil Troy, Little Big Town,  Little Milton, LSG, Luke Bryan, Maroon 5, Muddy Waters, Nikki Minaj, Ohio Players, Rihanna, Ronnie Dunn Selna Gomez, Shakira, Sia, Sugar Land, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Teddy Pendergrass, Tove Lo, Whitney Houston, Young Jeezy. Just to give you some idea.

I like movies and 30-minute sitcoms. I love old westerns. “The Rifleman” is my favorite. I like all kinds of movies. And I’m looking forward to seeing some of the movies that came from books I’ve read, especially “North and South” by Joh Jakes, “A Woman of Substance” by Barbara T. Bradford, “A World without End” by Ken Follett, and “The Thornbirds” by Colleen McCoulough. There’s more, but I’m itching to see those. I’m told that the days of the video store are gone and no one had DVD movie collections anymore. Well, I intend to have two things: a video collection of my favorite tv and movies and a spot for my own small library.

Well, that’s it for now. This is where I start in what we’ll call Tim Howard Beginner’s Blog. I deliberately left the prison out, so your questons are fresh. So ask away. Send your questions here.

Tim Howard

p.s. All responses are printed and mailed to Tim – your email addresses not is included.

Not guilty of capital murder, Tim Howard likely to be freed this week

Tim Howard Free

ASHDOWN—After 17 years in isolation, more than 14 of them on death row, Tim Howard will likely be freed this week.

On Friday, seven minutes before midnight, a Little River County jury sentenced Howard to 38 years in prison, after finding him guilty of second-degree murder in the 1997 deaths of both Brian and Shanon Day and guilty of second-degree attempted murder of their infant son, Trevor.

Howard was sentenced to death for those murders at a trial in 1999. A ruling in 2013 that the prosecutor at that trial withheld critical evidence led to the just-ended retrial.

Claiming innocence, Howard rejected a plea agreement that would have sent him to prison for life. At this trial, Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Chesshir urged jurors to give him that sentence.

Instead, after deliberating for nearly six hours, they found him guilty of the lesser charges. Three hours after that, they returned to court to sentence him to a total of 38 years for the crimes.

Howard’s attorney, Patrick Benca, said that Howard would be required to serve half of that sentence—19 years—and that his good prison record would cut that time in half as well.

As a result, Benca said, Howard’s new sentence requires that he serve nine and a half years in prison; seven years less than the time he has already been incarcerated.

Two jurors were seen crying after the guilt phase of the trial, as Circuit Judge Charles Yeargan read them the instructions to consider for sentencing.

Before those deliberations began, the jurors heard from Brian Day’s brother, Kevin Day, who read statements by his brother, David, and nephew, Trevor Day.

Trevor, who is now 17 years old, wrote about wondering what life would be like if his parents were still alive. “I’m just a teenage boy trying to make something great of myself,” Trevor concluded, “so my mom and dad can look down on me and be proud.”

Karley Day, the couple’s daughter, who is now in her early 20s, read her statement personally. She thanked the relatives who raised her and Trevor, spoke of “the scary dreams and scars,” and told jurors that, though she had recently become engaged, she had not yet “found peace” with the murders.

Jurors returned with their sentencing verdicts in the last minutes of the retrial’s tenth day, which had begun at 8:30 a.m.

Security at the courthouse had been heightened all day because a witness who testified the day before reported finding a note threatening his life when he returned to his car.

Closing arguments in the trial began mid-morning.

Al Smith, the district’s deputy prosecutor, reminded jurors that police found the Days’ infant son, Trevor, “in bag like so much trash,” that his mother had been strangled, and his father found at a farm known as Howard’s field, where he’d been shot and had his skull fractured by “some sort of massive force.”

The murders occurred on a Saturday, Dec. 13, 1997. Smith said that both Brian Day and Tim Howard had arranged deals that were to take place the two previous nights. “Thursday night is Brian’s,” Smith said. “Friday is Tim Howard’s night.”

Smith said Howard had stolen drugs that Brian Day had obtained on Thursday night and that Howard killed Brian because of animosities that had arisen between the two.

After the murders, Smith said, Howard threw a pair of boots, one of which had Day’s blood on it, off a road leading to the farm, where they were soon discovered by a passer-by.

After that, Smith said, Howard drove to the Days’ house, where he strangled Shanon Day. “We don’t know what happened at that house,” the prosecutor said, but he added that Howard drove out of state soon after.

“Tim Howard would have to be the most unlucky human being on the planet to be the last human being to see two people right before they were murdered.”

Little Rock attorney Patrick Benca gave the closing argument for Howard. He agreed with Smith that there were two deals planned , but Benca reversed their order. Howard’s deal to sell stolen tires was Thursday,” Benca said. “Brian’s deal was Friday.”

Reminding jurors about testimony that Brian Day was dealing methamphetamine with several people, including some from Oklahoma, Benca told jurors that the investigation of the murders had been bungled from the start.

He pointed out that police produced no photos of the shed from which they claim Howard stole Day’s drugs; that the crime scenes were not properly handled; and that key items of evidence such as the murder weapon, Shanon’s purse, Brian’s keys and the cash said to have been made from the deals never were located.

“Everything’s gone and hasn’t been found,” he said, “but what is found is a pair of boots. So the state wants you to think he’s smart enough to get rid of just about everything else, but dumb enough to whip out a pair of boots and leave them there for everyone to find.”

Benca pointed out that the only gun sent to the state crime lab from this case was one to which Howard was believed to have had access, while the weapons of several other potential suspects were never tested.

“There were a lot of people out there who had motive in this case that were never looked into,” Benca said. “They were ignored. Totally ignored.”

Benca reminded jurors that Howard was described throughout the trial as a close friend of Brian and Shanon Day and that he was present at the hospital when Trevor was born. He said the idea that, seven months later, he would kill the couple and attempt to kill Trevor, “doesn’t make sense.”

Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Chesshir said in response that Howard had several possible motives for murdering Brian Day. Using a projector he listed for the jury: money, drugs, a dispute over a gun and an alleged affair with Shanon Day.

“We can’t tell you exactly what it was,” Chesshir said. “It could have been a combination of any or all.”

He asked the jurors to give Howard the harshest sentences possible. Instead, they acknowledged the gravity of the crime while, essentially, freeing Howard.

Tim Howard trial delayed; Judge fumes over evidence issues

George 'Birc' Moreledge, Tim Howard and Patrick Benca

Tim Howard with attorneys George ‘Birc’ Moreledge (left) and Patrick Benca (right)

Tuesday, an Arkansas circuit judge ordered the Tim Howard trial delayed on charges of murder because a key witness will be unavailable the week of March 2, when the new trial was to begin. It is now scheduled to start on April 23.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Circuit Judge Charles Yeargan denied a motion by Howard’s attorneys to dismiss the charges against Howard. Defense attorney Patrick Benca had argued that, because the prosecutor failed to provide several “important” pieces of evidence as required, it will be impossible for the new trial to be fair.

When Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Chesshir acknowledged that several items of evidence sought by Benca could not be provided, Yeargan interjected:

“It’s frustrating for me to sit here and listen to all this. As you know, this court took a giant leap to order this new trial.

“We all agreed that there would be full and complete discovery. Now we’ve got all these holes that you’ve come up here with. It’s very frustrating—I swear—it’s frustrating to this court.”

When Yeargan acknowledged that the situation was probably frustrating for the attorneys as well, Howard, who has been jailed for the past 17 years and who has thus far sat quietly throughout every proceeding, spoke up. “It’s frustrating for me!” he said.

Yeargan admonished him to let his attorneys do the talking.

Finally, Yeargan dismissed Howard’s argument that he is being subjected to double jeopardy because he was tried unfairly once and now faces the prospect of an unfair second trial because of “continuing” misconduct by state officials. That issue, the judge said, was for a court higher than his to decide.

Before the hearing began, sheriff’s deputies served me with a subpoena, ordering that I appear at the trial and bring “all notes and recordings, both audio and visual”—presumably of my interviews with Howard. I told Chesshir I would not comply.

He has listed me as a prosecution witness, despite my acknowledged friendship with Howard. When asked whether that would bar me from the courtroom, making it impossible for me to report on the trial, Chesshir said that “at this time” he thought he would allow me to attend.

The conduct of prosecutors in this case has been at issue for years. A finding of prosecutor misconduct led Yeargan to vacate Howard’s original conviction and death sentence, handed down in 1999. And complaints about misconduct by Chesshir since Howard was granted a new trial have dominated recent hearings.

Patrick Benca and Tim Howard

Patrick Benca and Tim Howard

Yeargan has heard it all.

He officiated at Howard’s first trial in 1999. Fourteen years later, in 2013, it was he who vacated Howard’s conviction and death sentence.

Yeargan took that unusual step after finding that Tom Cooper, the prosecutor at the original trial, had not provided Howard’s public defenders with notes about DNA the state presented as evidence.

At Howard’s original trial, Cooper told jurors that DNA found on a pair of boots was of “monumental” importance in linking Howard to the murders. Years later, however, attorneys appealing Howard’s death sentence learned that the technician who tested the DNA had made notes about contamination that had occurred while the tests were being conducted.

Those notes were never provided to Howard’s defense counsel. Even when their existence became known, the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office resisted releasing them for years.

A court finally ordered state officials to surrender the notes. Once they were obtained, Howard’s attorneys took his claim of prosecutor misconduct to the state supreme court. That court eventually sent the case back to Yeargan for review.

Yeargan concluded that Cooper’s failure to provide the lab notes to Howard’s attorneys had been “inadvertent.” Nevertheless, he ruled that, as the violation did constitute misconduct, Howard’s conviction would be vacated and a new trial granted.

At that point, Howard officially became an innocent man, a man never convicted of a crime. Chesshir could have declined to charge Howard again—a decision that might not seem outrageous in light of the fact that when Howard filed the direct appeal of his sentence, three of the state’s seven supreme court justices wrote that they found the evidence presented by Cooper insufficient to sustain a conviction.

But Chesshir chose to charge Howard with the murders again. He now has the burden of proving Howard’s guilt.

Among the items of evidence that Howard’s attorneys said have not been provided and that Chesshir said cannot be found are:

  • A tape recording of a witness made at Millwood Lake by Sheriff Danny Russell and Arkansas State Police Investigator Hays McWhirter
  • Russell’s interview notes of another witness who said the sheriff questioned him
  • A report by a state Game and Fish officer who assisted at the scene where Brian Day’s body was found in a U-Haul truck and later at the Days’ home, where Shannon Day’s body was found in a closet
  • The coroner’s report for Shannon Day
  • X-rays that were taken of Brian Day’s body
  • Photos that were taken of the Brian Day crime scene by Jim Williamson, a reporter for the Texarkana Gazette who at the time was also an auxiliary police officer. See below.

Texarkana reporter assisted police in Tim Howard case

The headline in today’s Texarkana Gazette, above an article by reporter Jim Williamson, reads: “Second trial on hold for convicted killer.

There are at least three problems with that.

The first, as noted in the accompanying article, is that Howard is no longer a “convicted killer.” When Judge CharlesYeargan vacated Howard’s conviction in 2013, he rendered it void. Legally, Howard became an innocent man; he ceased being a “convicted killer.”

The second problem is that this grossly inaccurate headline appeared in the biggest paper in the region where Howard’s retrial is to take place. It may complicate seating a jury.

The third—and perhaps biggest—problem is that Williamson may have an unacknowledged conflict of interest. (I acknowledge mine.)

Howard’s attorneys believe that Williamson may have assisted police at the time of the murders.

In his motion alleging prosecutor misconduct, Patrick Benca described photos of the site where Brian Day’s body was found that Benca says the prosecutor has not provided. The motion notes that Investigator Hays McWhirter testified that he took the photos.

“However,” the motion says, “the defense has learned that to not be accurate.”

Rather, Benca wrote, “Jim Williamson, who at the time owned part of the Ashdown newspaper and was an auxiliary police officer, took photographs of the scene as well. It was common for Williamson to take pictures of crime scenes back then because he had better photography equipment and access to a dark room.”

At Tuesday’s hearing, Benca told the court that Williamson had provided defense attorneys with negatives of photos of the crime scene they had never seen before. Benca also quoted Williamson as saying that, after he shot the photos, “he was asked to ‘develop these asap.’”

 

Testy session points to hard-hitting retrial of Tim Howard

Retrial of Tim Howard, February 13, 2015

Tim Howard retrial

The chance of a new death sentence for Tim Howard was taken “off the table” today as the judge and attorneys on both sides prepared for the retrial of Tim Howard on charges of murdering a man and woman in Little River County in 1997.

Howard spent 14 years on death row before a court granted him a new trial in October 2013 after finding that the prosecutor at his original trial had failed to disclose potentially exculpatory evidence.

At a pretrial hearing in Ashdown this morning, Circuit Judge Charles Yeargan accepted Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Chesshir’s decision to seek a sentence of life without parole for Howard at his new trial, which will start Mar. 2.

Earlier today, Howard’s lead attorney, Patrick Benca of Little Rock, submitted to the court a motion to dismiss the case entirely, due to what Benca called “further violations” of the state’s duty to disclose “exculpatory and/or potentially exculpatory information.”

For example, Benca noted in his motion that, though his team has sought for more than a year to examine the panties and sweat pants worn by the female victim, those items were said to have been lost until, “They were finally located on January 28, 2015, in the evidence storage room of the Ashdown Police Department.”

Retrial of Tim Howard, with Attorney Patrick Benca

Tim Howard with Attorney Patrick Benca

Another “newly discovered” item Benca cited was a document that mentioned a 911 call made to the Sheriff’s Office about the murdered woman before her body was discovered.

The motion claims that, although Chesshir told defense attorneys “that 911 did not exist in December of 1997,” the newly discovered report was dated Dec. 13 of that year. “To date,” the motion said, “no 911 tape has been turned over to the defense.”

In total, Howard’s attorneys listed 13 items of evidence, including the coroner’s report for one victim and X-rays of the other, that they say the state is required to provide but has not.

Benca argued in his motion that, because of the “misconduct done by the prosecution before, during and after the original trial, and since Mr. Howard has been granted a new trial,” Howard cannot receive a fair trial and the charges against him should be dismissed.

Judge Yeargan scheduled another hearing for Feb. 24 to hear arguments on the 21-page motion to dismiss.

Prosecutor Bryan Chesshir

Prosecutor Bryan Chesshir

Earlier this week, Chesshir filed a motion to compel Howard’s attorneys to provide the state with the names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses the defense intend to call “and all written or recorded statements made by these persons and a brief narrative of each witnesses [sic] testimony.”

Benca responded that the names and addresses would be provided today. The rest of what Chesshir wanted, he wrote, was not legally required.

Voices rose and the discussion before the bench became agitated this morning, as attorneys for Howard and the state debated what must and need not be provided and what should and should not be introduced at trial. At one point, Yeargan interrupted them to shout: “Alright! Stop!”

He called a recess and instructed the attorneys to “calm down,” which they did. Howard sat alert and quiet, taking notes throughout.

Tim Howard Motion To Dismiss February 13, 2015 (21 pages)

Tim Howard Motion To Dismiss February 13, 2015 (21 pages)

 

 

 

 

 

Jason Baldwin Speaks Out

Jason Baldwin speaks out about the justice system since his escape from Arkansas. He got pretty personal in these recent posts on his FB page.

Here is the first one:

To the murderer of Steve Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers:

In a sense you murdered me too. You murdered my mother, my father and step-father, all my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. You murdered my brothers.You murdered all my friends. My classmates. My teachers and girlfriend. You murdered my neighbor. You murdered everyone I ever knew and loved. You murdered the dreams we had. Murdered the dreams I had. You murdered me. No, you didn’t use whatever you used against Steve Branch, Christopher Byers or Michael Moore but in a sense you did it to me the same. I’m still coming to terms with all that I have lost and continue to suffer for your actions but I am healing.

Whoever you are I advocate for you to be brought to justice. At the age of sixteen I did not choose this path for myself. It is one you put me on when you murdered those boys. It is a heavy and humbling burden. One in which I haven’t the slightest idea of how to carry but I do with all the grace I can muster. That is why I forgive you. I have to in order to have some measure of peace. I will never cease the pursuit of justice for you. I promise you that and this, whomever you are, that whenever you finally are brought to justice I will personally advocate for mercy and that your life be spared. In spite of everything. Be forgiven and begin your own journey of healing by accepting responsibility for your actions. God knows you need it.

Sincerely,

Charles Jason Baldwin

One of many surviving victims of the murderer of Steve Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers.

And the second:

When prosecutors enable snitches to work the system by fabricating stories about innocents in order to get out of jail free and win a conviction what happens is society is attacked on two fronts. On one, criminals murder and hurt us. On another, those who vowed to protect and serve us do the same, catching us in a gauntlet. Innocence doesn’t stand a chance in such an arena. I know this for a fact. Prosecutor Brent Davis enabled career criminal Michael Carson to prey upon me in exchange for carte blanche to continue his criminal activities. After his debut into this career Prosecutor Davis set him up in various places including California where Michael fabricated many more stories all while given free reign to break any and all laws of the land.

What many do not know is that Michael Carson was following in his father’s footsteps as he too was a professional snitch and career criminal. Innocence doesn’t stand a chance in such an uneven arena. Prosecutors like this don’t protect us. They prey upon us. They only serve and protect their own interests. I say let’s boycott the profession of prosecutors and replace them with Seekers of Truth. Under such a label their purpose becomes clear. Rather than seeking to prosecute at all costs they will instead seek the truth wherever it leads, eliminating the false premise that a conviction won with such tactics as utilizing jailhouse liars against the innocent populace as justice.

People tend to live up to their labels. Let’s give the profession a title that lives up to the vow of protecting and serving rather than preying upon and persecuting us.

Sincerely,

Charles Jason Baldwin

One of many surviving victims of the murderer of Steve Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers.

More suffering in the WM3 ‘family’

A caring friend asked me to post the following information. I completely agree. The repurcussions of the injustice in the WM case have hurt, not only the murder victims’ families, but the families of the wrongfully convicted men as well.

Here’s the note:

Damien’s mother, Pamela, is not doing well at all. Michelle was in the ER with her last night because she was not able to breathe. Michelle has moved in with her, with her own children, to help take care of her mom. Pamela has a host of physical problems and most of her NUMEROUS medicines are not covered by medicaid, and oxygen is not covered at all. She is now requiring a wheel chair also.
I, personally, feel this family has been put through enough. No one should have to endure all of this hardship in one lifetime.
A paypal account has been set up in Pamela’s name. It is: Pamelametcalf47@yahoo.com.
No matter how big or small, every donation would be received with eternal gratitude. This I can assure you.