Friday, December 16, 2005

Cory Maye Case Update.

I wrote earlier this week about the case of Cory Maye, a man convicted of murder the murder of a police officer and sentenced to death in Mississippi. The case has garnered a good deal of attention across the blogsphere and is on the brink of getting some deserved mainstream media attention. The blogger who originally broke this story, Radley Balko of the Agitator, will be interviewed on Air America Radio this morning at 11am eastern time. I'd like to do something in the beginning of this post that I did not do in the last one and that I have not seen in any of the blogs that are speaking out in Cory Maye's defense. That is acknowledge a victim of this tragedy whose wrong cannot be righted, Police Officer Ron Jones. He was killed in the incident that lead to Mr. Maye's conviction and that is a tragedy that saddens all of us, no matter which side of the debate we fall on. Our sympathies go out to his family, friends and to the community he served.

The facts of the case are laid out in that previous post and much more succinctly by the Agitator and The Hammer of Truth, but I will briefly cover them here:

The police, as part of a drug raid broke down the door of Cory Maye's apartment, late at night, while Maye was sleeping. Maye was not named in the warrant and was not a suspect. Frightened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, Maye fires at what he says he believed at the time to be an intruder.

Maye is black, the police officer is white and son of the town's police chief. Maye is convicted and sentenced to death by a jury with two black members, the rest were white. Maye had no previous criminal record. The police first reported that no drugs were found in Maye's apartment, later they said they found "traces" of marijuana.

Maye's original attorney, Rhonda Cooper, had never tried a capital murder case before she represented Maye.

Officer Ron Jones the sole officer who conducted the investigation kept no records. Jones made no effort to identify Maye, to make a controlled drug buy from Maye to corroborate the informant's story, or to do a criminal background check on Maye. There is no evidence indicating that Jones knew the identify of the person occupying Maye's apartment.

The warrant for Maye's residence appears to have been issued solely on the word of a confidential informant.

The times listed on the evidence sheets for both Maye and Smith's apartments were repeatedly scribbled out. Maye's sheet lists no exact time the evidence was collected. The evidence in Smith's apartment was collected on the 26th, immediately after the raid, while the evidence in Maye's was apparently collected at 5:20am the next day (this being the last of three times entered, the first two having been scribbled out to the point of being illegible).

Cory Maye's family and his attorney also accused officers of beating him while he was in custody after his arrest. Officers and prosecutors said those claims were completely false.

This observation may sound snide, and isn't something we like to acknowledge, but it is the truth. It is also something I have not yet seen in the other blogs on this topic. The sad truth is that there was a time in Mississippi when a man in Cory Maye's position would have never seen the inside of a police station or a court room. He would not have made it that far. It's sad to say that this is at least an improvement in the state of affairs in racial relations in the south.

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