Wrongful convictions are more common than many realize — evidenced by the increased number of exonerations each year since the advent of DNA testing. What many don’t realize is that they don’t typically occur because of mistakes. Rather, they are a result of shoddy and dishonest police investigations, unethical prosecutors willing to charge and convict people without evidence, and biased judges — many of whom are former police officers and prosecutors.
While researching questionable cases, I have yet to encounter a case that was handled honestly and professionally. Instead, I see coerced witnesses, destroyed evidence, “lost” evidence, mishandled evidence, tunnel vision and the outright framing of innocent people. There is no recourse for those caught up in this. The best lawyers can do little against the U.S. justice system and innocent people continue to be convicted every day. So while it is wonderful that innocent people are exonerated (thanks to innocence groups), nothing in the justice system is really changing to prevent wrongful convictions. As a result, it keeps happening. I can’t think of many things worse than an innocent person suffering in prison.
I began researching questionable convictions after following a murder trial in Raleigh, NC in the spring of 2011 — the Brad Cooper case. Cooper was accused of murdering his wife, Nancy Cooper in July. 2008. The trial was shocking. I witnessed blatant police, prosecutorial and judicial misconduct. Evidence that police altered their notes many months after interviews, coerced witnesses for statements consistent with their theory, mishandled crime scene evidence, destroyed the victim’s cell phone and generally botched the entire investigation to the point where it would be unlikely to ever know what happened to the victim.
The prosecutors promoted the fabricated evidence and the judge made biased rulings throughout the 10 week trial. There was strong evidence that Brad was framed with computer files planted on his machine, but the judge wouldn’t allow the defense experts to testify before the jury and as a result Brad Cooper was convicted of first degree murder. It was shocking and I had to do something so I created a blog site to highlight the injustices about the case.
After the Cooper case opened my eyes to wrongful convictions, I began researching other cases and created this blog site to highlight the facts that the media doesn’t adequately cover. It is very disturbing that juries are convicting people when much reasonable doubt remains and in some cases, clear evidence proving innocence is ignored. It is wonderful to see some of the recent convictions overturned based on DNA evidence, but it’s terrible that in many cases it’s taken decades to occur. This blog highlights cases that are currently stuck in the system. It has become quite clear to me that anyone can be falsely accused and then convicted of a crime. Evidence is not required to convict a person. This must stop.
I published my second true crime / wrongful conviction book in September, 2016 titled Absence of Evidence — An Examination of the Michelle Young Murder Case. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, with my husband and two sons. I graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and worked in that field for several years, but left the workforce to stay home with my kids.
I currently homeschool my kids and in my free time continue to research questionable and unconstitutional cases. I also volunteer with the Deskovic Foundation for Justice, an organization that seeks to exonerate innocent defendants. My goal is to assist the innocent by identifying the signs pointing to innocence and to expose the misconduct that led to their wrongful convictions.