July 28, 2011 9:27:00 AM
Forrest Allgood respondsEditor''s note: On Tuesday, July 19 in Readers Comment we published the following comment about incumbent District Attorney Forrest Allgood. We''ve reprinted the comment and Allgood''s response. The Reason Magazine article critical of Allgood he refers to can be found at http://reason.org/news/show/bad-boys
Election Profiles: District 16 District Attorney - 7/16/2011
kj: "We are specialists. We''re professional prosecutors and we have experience nobody else can match." That''s one way of looking at it, I suppose. Another way would be to look at what that experience entails ... from presenting lies in court to the using the testimony of disgraced forensic specialists to secure multiple false convictions (later overturned by DNA evidence), to prosecuting children as adults, to inventing obviously ridiculous theories of murder (they both pulled the trigger). The higher profile the case, the more likely DA Allgood seems to botch it up in his desperation to put a win in his column. What he should be concerned with is actual justice. Of course, crime victims love him. Sadly, they can''t be certain that their "justice" isn''t hollow and that his prosecutions won''t be overturned at some future date. The fact that nobody else can match Allgood''s experience is a good thing. Less than a year ago, Federal District Court Judge Michael Mills ordered a new sentencing trial for convicted murderer Quintez Hodges because of the actions of Kitchens and Allgood: "The testimony of Mr. Kitchens at petitioner''s trial and in this court is factually at odds with what is contained in the record, and DA Allgood should have known that the testimony given by assistant DA Kitchens was false..." Tyler Edmonds is a free man. Steven Hayne''s ridiculous testimony that you could tell from a bullet would that two people had pulled the trigger simultaneously was thrown out and Edmonds was retried and acquitted. Excellent use of resources there. How much money did we the taxpayers waste in those two cases? Or in the case of Kennedy Brewer, who spent six extra years in jail after being cleared by DNA evidence; this despite Allgood''s efforts to have the biological evidence from the case destroyed.
Levon Brooks? Another Allgood victim who was eventually exonerated and freed. He was falsely convicted of killing a little girl murdered by the same guy that really killed the little girl in the Brewer debacle. That little girl died two years later and just a few miles from the original crime. Perhaps if the D.A. had gotten the right man that little girl might still be alive. And then there''s Sabrina Butler. She''s not in jail anymore after an Allgood mistake and yet another forensics fail; not that prosecuting an 18-year old mentally retarded girl for SIDS was probably a good idea, anyway. ...Being a prosecutor is about the pursuit of justice, not about the pursuit of convictions with little to no regard for their validity.
Forrest Allgood responds:
On Tuesday of last week an anonymous blog was published in the Dispatch which accused me of everything from plain unethical behavior to subornation of perjury. Most of it is a lie. Accustomed to proving what I say, I have provided the documentation to prove it so. You may make this documentation accessible to the public or print it if you so desire.
In an apparent reference to Tyler Edmonds I am accused of prosecuting children as adults. That much, at least, is true. And so has every other D.A. in the state. Enclosed is a copy of Section 43-21-151 of the Mississippi Code. That Statute mandates that every child over the age of 13 be sent to Circuit Court if he commits a crime for which the punishment is life. Murder is one of those crimes. Consequently, every child over 13 who is charged with murder goes to Circuit Court and gets treated as an adult, no matter who the D.A. may be. It''s the law of the state.
In that same case, I''m supposed to have manufactured "ridiculous theories" of murder by claiming that two people held a gun and shot the victim. That''s a lie. That "theory" actually came out of the mouth of Tyler Edmonds in his video taped confession that was played in front of the July in open court. This paper covered that trial and was in the courtroom to hear and see it.
Two of my assistants tried that case. I have, however, read the transcripts. Enclosed you will find a copy of the transcript of the testimony of the pathologist. The pertinent part is highlighted. On page 1667 and following, you will find that the only question asked of the pathologist by the assistant district attorney was whether or not Tyler Edmonds'' version of the facts ''as given in his confession'' was consistent with the doctor''s findings, That''s all and no more, Thereafter, on cross-examination, the defense lawyer elicited opinions from the doctor about a two-handed shooting. Nobody from this office introduced any evidence of "ridiculous theories" from the pathologist.
I am also accused of keeping Kennedy Brewer in jail for an extra six years "after he was cleared" by DNA evidence and of tying to destroy that evidence. That can only be described as an infamous lie. An affidavit (enclosed) from Brewer''s appellate lawyer plainly states that I never resisted any efforts to obtain DNA testing and, in fact, agreed to it. Additionally, there is enclosed a copy of the agreed order for DNA testing with my signature on it. I didn''t try to destroy anything. I agreed to it.
That DNA testing did not "clear" Brewer was recognized by the Mississippi Supreme Court. Enclosed is paragraph 17 from their opinion of June 6, 2002. There they stated that while the DNA results, " ... might make it appear less likely that Brewer raped the victim ... The DNA evidence does not prove conclusively that Brewer did not murder the victim ...".
There was a subsequent six-year delay. It was not, however, occasioned by me. Most of it can be attributed to the fact that Court only meets every six months in Noxubee County, New lawyers were getting into the case and a pile of Motions were filed. The defense once moved for a continuance because of Hurricane Katrina. The file is a matter of public record, so I won''t include a copy of all that; but I have enclosed the "Katrina Motion" because it seems so improbable.
His last accusation charges that I prosecuted an 18-year-old retarded mother for a SIDS death of her infant child. That''s a lie, too. The defendant in that case was 19, and there was no evidence she was retarded. Her 9-month-old son was killed by blunt force trauma so violent that it tore his intestines in two places. As a result, fecal material spilled into his body cavity. This in turn, caused poisoning and the infant died of septic shock. The autopsy also revealed an old healing fracture of his humerus. There were other injuries, too; but I will not detail them. The child did not die of SIDS. I enclose a copy of that autopsy report. By the way, the pathologist in the case was not Dr. Steven Hayne, as has been widely, and erroneously, reported in Reason Magazine and elsewhere. Of course, no one from that magazine took the trouble to interview me.
I don''t know who "kj" is. He or she is an anonymous blogger, Consequently, I can''t tell you what agenda may be at work here, Their motives are unknown, because they themselves are unknown. I might have prosecuted a family member, or even "kj" himself. He might be the campaign manager for one of my opponents for all any of us know.
Because he hides behind his anonymity and makes incendiary charges.
But I do know this: It''s political season in Mississippi, and the election draws nigh. The closer to election day, the wilder the charges will become.
Consider the source.
virginia fee, ph.d. commented at 8/16/2011 2:09:00 AM:
The number of overturned convictions says it all. I was there for Tyler's case and hung on with him throughout his ordeal. I am *incredibly* proud of him. The DA is RESPONSIBLE for these things. When it's high profile, and a 13 year old involved, you don't pass this off to an assistant and "read the transcripts." When prosecutors, judges, and nationally ridiculed "forensic pathologists" work together creating *multiple* wrongful convictions, it's not only a waste of human life, it's not becoming of a state to allow this to continue. Sabrina was mentally retarded. Kennedy Brewer, as well. Easy targets, easy convictions. Go visit one of the prisons if you don't believe....saddest place on earth. Millions and millions of dollars spent on these cases alone. If you don't believe me, go spend a day in court and see what you're paying for. Your eyes will be forever opened and you will be appalled.
1. Lynn Spruill: Streets with personality LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Ask Rufus: In 1819 this was Columbus, Alabama LOCAL COLUMNS
3. Our View: 'Tell me a story' DISPATCH EDITORIALS
4. Voice of the people: Sarah Studdard LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)
5. Patrick Buchanan: How Trump wins the debate NATIONAL COLUMNS