Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tookies Legacy Could Save Cory Maye

Tookie's Legacy Could Save Cory Maye
One potentially positive thing that may come out of Tookie Williams losing his life at the hands of the state, if you can say there's anything positive about it, is that the residual media focus could bring attention to the case of a man who does not deserve to be on death row. The mans name is Cory Maye and he is on death row in Mississippi. Here are the basic facts from the blog, Battlepanda,

Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn't named in the warrant, and wasn't a suspect. The man, frigthened [sic] for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door's been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town's police chief. He's later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.

There's much more detail at the Hammer of Truth, a libertarian weblog, He's writing a wiki completely detailing the case. Some details excerpted from his blog are:

Maye's original attorney, Rhonda Cooper, had never tried a capital murder case before she represented Maye. According to Balko, Maye's family terminated their relationship with Cooper after he was convicted. In her place, they hired a guy from California with no legal experience.

Officer Ron Jones the sole officer who conducted the investigation apparently kept no records. According to DA Buddy McDonald, all record of the investigation "died with Officer Jones."

Based on the information included in the warrant affidavits, it appears 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 legitimacy of the warrant for Maye's residence is questioned by some. It appears to have been issued solely on the word of a confidential informant, who says he spotted marijuana in the apartment.

Maye is black. Jones was white. There were only two black members of the jury which convicted Maye in a state historically criticized for racist judicial activities.

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.

The thing that concerns most bloggers who have been reporting on this case is the lack of ability to get the mainstream media to report on it. They gave massive coverage to a black man on death row, who despite how he had redeemed himself, did at one point do some pretty heinous things. It was endlessly repeated in the media, all the horrible things Tookie had done. And I'm not saying that was wrong. But why can't a man who may be innocent, if not he certainly does not deserve to be on death row, get any media mention at all? It's been all over the blogsphere and there's simply now way that now one in the mainstream media knows about it and knows that the case is newsworthy.

The blogger who first wrote about it is Radley Balko at The Agitator, There's a letter writing campaign to Governor Barbour of Mississippi on Maye's behalf. Please forward this information to your friends so that as many people know about the case and the lack of attention the mainstream media is giving it. Perhaps you could join in the letter writing campaign. I plan to write to some media outlets and post what I write to them here. As well as any response, or lack of response.

Ciao and peace.

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