LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH MARCH 13, 1999
EXECUTIONS WHEN IN DOUBT NOT NEW FOR MISSOURI
In 1995 Tony Murray was executed
for shooting a man he did not shoot. Mr. Murray's brother confessed
to the crime long before the execution. A juror from the original
trial said if they had known Murray was not the shooter they would not
have given him the death sentence. Governor Carnahan did not step
in and stay the execution of Mr. Murray.
Also in 1995 a man admitted under oath he was the killer of Quentin Moss not Larry Griffin before Larry Griffin's scheduled execution. Larry Griffin was executed June 21, 1995 for a crime he did not commit.
Again Governor Carnahan did not step in to stop the execution but rather said, " the process of our judicial system has run its course." Tell that to the innocent family and friends of Larry Griffin who mourn his loss like any other family member of a loved one lost to murder be it by an individual or by the state.
Now in the case of Roy Roberts, a probably innocent man put to death by the state of Missouri, we are led to another "cover story" by the chief propaganda agent for Governor Carnahan, Chris Sifford.
About 9:45 on March 9, the Governor's decision not to intervene in the Roberts case was announced. Mr. Sifford said, "The Governor reviewed all the facts of the case and determined there was not significant evidence to cause him to overturn the jury's verdict and intervene."
The next day in still another "cover story" from Mr. Sifford, he talks about the Governor still trying to get to the true facts by seeking an elusive witness with a story. They finally settle for a sister of an inmate who was at Moberly at the time of the riot who tells the Governor's office that her brother told her that Roberts was only holding Officer Jackson and not a stabber.
From this hearsay evidence at the eleventh hour Mr. Sifford says, "this provided the Governor confirmation that no evidence existed to exhonerate Roberts."
Really Mr. Sifford, shame on you telling the reasonably intelligent readers of this newspaper such a story.
We already knew like the Governor should have known that the evidence pointing to Mr. Roberts innocence was at least equal to evidence pointing to his guilt.
It was a no-brainer.
As columnist, Bill McCllelan said on KMOX Monday before the execution. "In a death penalty case it should not be beyond a reasonable doubt but there should be no doubt at all before you execute."
A review of the undisputed facts before the Governor long before the late night search for the elusive witness makes it very plain there was substantial doubt.
The only evidence presented against Roberts at trial were four eyewitness accounts.
In their initial reports these witnesses did not mention Roberts although Roberts was known to all the witnesses and according to one witness, "stood out like a red rose in the Sahara dessert."
Eight witnesses testified at trial that Roberts was elsewhere when the murder took place and that Roberts had no involvement in the killing of Officer Jackson.
There was no physical evidence linking Roberts to the crime scene. No bloody clothes were confiscated from Roberts. No blood was discovered on his body. Bloody clothes were confiscated from Driscoll and Carr (the alleged stabbers).
Roberts was alleged to be holding and struggling with Officer Jackson and having Jackson in a head lock while Jackson was bleeding profusely from stab wounds to the eye, heart and abdomen.
Roberts who claimed his innocence from the very beginning demonstrated that >innocence by passing a lie detector test. (February 19, 1999) given by an ex-policeman and professional polygrapher for 24 years. The polygrapher said Roberts recorded "No Deception" in his repeated denials of any involvement in Officer Jackson's death. According to a host of experts that polygraph had 90% reliability.
If these FACTS before the Governor caused not one scintilla of doubt, it means one of two things. Either the Governor is just plain stupid and should never be elected to a political office again or Governor Carnahan is just a cynical ambitious politician who will do ANYTHING to win a political election against Senator Ashcroft.
Illinois our next door neighbor is putting on trial this week prosecutors and law enforcement officers on 47 counts of perjury and obstruction of justice in the case of sending an innocent man to death row.
WAKE UP MISSOURI! Do you think we have an infallible court system in Missouri superior to Illinois. Judges and jurors are human beings.
Despite the TITLE of Judge or juror they remain human beings not GOD!
WAKE UP MISSOURI! Take away the "cover stories" from the Governor and his
agent, Chris Sifford!
The Governor says he represents the people of Missouri and this is what we want. I don't believe it!
The state kills in our names. Are you a cold-blooded killer like the Governor implies? Do you feel "better" now that Roy Roberts is dead? Is this something you are proud of? Do you feel "safer" now? Have you changed any of your safety precautions this morning because Roy Roberts is dead and our streets are safer?
Even supporters of the death penalty in Missouri should be outraged at the killing of a probable innocent man, Roy Roberts. When you kill an innocent man, you let the guilty go free to create more mayhem in our streets and threaten our loved ones. Missourians that support the death penalty, is that what you want?
St. Louis, MO
LETTER FROM A FRIEND OF ROY'S
Farewell My Friend
It's so hard to say good-bye, but it is only really "until later." I miss you more than you will ever know, just as you didn't know how many friends you had until the end neared. I know my life is so much richer for having known you.
At your funeral 60 to 70 people came together united in their pain, loss and love of you. Fr. Mike Freymuth presided over your graveside memorial just like he would preside over Mass at our Days of Renewal. Msgr. Richard Stika came to offer the prayers and support of Archbishop Rigali who tried to prevent this miscarriage of justice.
Tears flowed down cheeks enough to create a river. Every tear was a tear of love and grief that your life was taken much too young. If only all of society could see how many new victims were created by this senseless and undeserved murder.
Your murder was different but no less painful than the murders we hear of daily in the news. Your murder was committed by the State of Missouri. Every resident of Missouri has your blood forever engrained in their hands.
Not only did you profess your innocence all along, but all of the evidence supported your claim. We did all in our power to halt this evening of horror and lifetime of pain. But your cries and the cries of all those who loved you fell on deaf ears.
Besides my own grief and pain in the loss of my friend, I suffer my own burden. As a mother of three, how do I explain to my children that violence is bad, murder an unthinkable act, and all life is sacred when our state is murdering and creating an even bigger circle of victims? When will this vicious cycle of suffering end?
I along with many others am filled with pain, sadness and anger over the senseless loss of your life. But I know that I must face these feelings and turn them into positive actions that will bring an end to the death penalty.
Your death should not be in vain. The memories of your friendship and the good times we shared shall forever live in my heart. Thank you for being you and for sharing the gift of you with me. Just as you would always say "in the struggle" to me so do I say "in the struggle" shall I be until executions are a thing of the past.
Farewell my friend, farewell.>
Roy Michael Roberts
December 18, 1952 - March 10, 1999
Missouri State Capitol
201 West Capitol Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101
CRANSTON MITCHELL, PARDONS BOARD
117 Commerce St.
Jefferson City, MO65109
Click on links below to read
NEWSWEEK ARTICLE ON ROY ROBERTS
The State of Missouri intends to execute Roy Roberts at 12:01 a.m. on March 10, 1999. Roberts was convicted and sentenced to death for his alleged participation in the stabbing death of a prison guard, Thomas Jackson, during a riot on July 3, 1983 at a state prison, the Moberly Training Center for Men in Moberly, Missouri.
Roy Roberts was never accused of stabbing the guard who was killed. Roberts was accused of restraining Jackson during the riot, while other inmates stabbed and killed Jackson.
of the surviving guards that could identify who stabbed Jackson,
identified Rodney Carr as the stabber. Carr was convicted of capital murder but received a sentence of life imprisonment, rather than death. Another inmate, Robert Driscoll, was also convicted and sentenced to death for stabbing Jackson, but Driscoll's conviction was reversed in 1995 after it was discovered that the prosecution had misled the jury into believing that the dead guard's blood was on Driscoll's knife when in fact no such blood was present. See Driscoll v. Delo, 71 F.3d 7o1 8th Circuit, 1995) Driscoll has not been retried for the crime.
Thus, Roberts is the only person who was sentenced to death for the crime even though he is the least culpable, even under the State's version of the evidence. This disproportionality pales in comparison, however, to that which arises if, as we contend, Roberts is indeed innocent of the crime.
It should be noted that Missouri has a notoriously bad track record when it comes to prison killings. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the conviction and death sentence of Lloyd Schlup based on evidence he was innocent of prison murder.
Roy Roberts has maintained his innocence from the beginning, and was supported by corroborating testimony at trial from many inmates. He was convicted,however, primarily based on the contrary testimony from three guards, one of whom had been hypnotized before he could recall that he saw Roberts holding the guard who was killed.
None of the guards identified Roberts in their initial statements about the the riot.
The prison confiscated bloody clothes from inmates, Driscoll and Carr, who were accused of stabbing the murdered guard. Roberts' clothes were not confiscated, though the State's testimony established that the victim was stabbed three times in the heart and once in the eye and abdomen, all if believed, while Roberts was supposedly holding the victim by the head and arm.
Last week, in an attempt to bolster his claim of innocence, Roy Roberts took a polygraph (lie detector) test, administered by a retired Kansas City police officer on February 19, 1999. Roberts passed the polygraph, which showed "NO deception" in his answers denying involvement in the murder, including specific denials that he was holding the victim during the stabbings.
Roy Roberts was originally sent to prison as punishment for an armed robbery conviction in 1979. A columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Bill McClellan, recently interviewed a man who claimed to have committed that robbery, Carl Harris. After reading the robbery trial transcript, McClellan concluded in an article published on February 21, 1999, that Roberts might well have been wrongly imprisoned in the first instance.
All attempts at relief in the courts have failed. An appeal for clemency to Governor Carnahan is Roberts' only hope.
Write Governor Carnahan
Governer Mel Carnahan
Missouri State Capitol
P.O. Box 720
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Ms. Dora Schriro
Director, Department of Corrections
2729 Plaza Drive
Jefferson City, MO 6510
Tom Block and Bruce Livingston, attorney for Roy Roberts
St. Louis, MO
The CCADP offers free webpages to over 500 Death Row Prisoners
Contact us for more information.
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