Thursday, November 14, 2019

Meeting Mark Lundy

It’s hard to describe working at home to help a person you have never have met fight something you may come to believe is a wrongful conviction. There’s a risk in that, being wrong, exposed by lack of detachment and so on. But there is also another side, the genuine feeling of helping someone in a terrible situation. That work may begin with little more than a concern about a conviction – one that raises questions or doesn’t make to sense for a reason you may not at first be able to put your finger on.
What I’ve noticed from that in my experiences is that those men or women wrongfully convicted, despite what they’ve been through, or are going through, are often the kind of people that would give others a hand even if they weren’t like that before they were wrongfully convicted. There must be something about getting knocked down by a wrongful conviction that delivers a finer appreciation of looking out for others – well so it seems.
Friday I took an overnight trip to the centre of the North Island. I spent the night in the family home of 1 of Mark Lundy’s childhood friends in a part of New Zealand where some folks don’t lock the doors and strangers say hello in the streets. I got a glimpse at the reason why some of Mark’s friendships have held together, not just by one of his friends but by 2 of them and their families. Smart industrious people whose children are doing extraordinarily well as I feel certain would have been the case for Mark if 2 unknown men had not broken into his home and left their DNA and hair there along with a deep mystery which police have only scrapped the surface of.
A reader does not have to agree with me on that last sentence, but it is the reason rightly or wrongly I spent 100s of hours on the Lundy case followed by 1000s more once I believed he is innocent.
On Saturday morning like clockwork the 2nd friend arrived and I was a little late and delayed them on their 6.25am leaving time. I had gone deep into the night in the engine room of the Lundy supporters group – all paperwork was at hand with explanations and details. So was a strong debate on what the job was. One I’ve had before where I reject nailing the prime suspect using the DNA found at the scene. Finally a truce was made – Get Mark out of prison first. The debate would come up a few more times in the next 8 to 10 hours but more as something familiar, a little humorous but settled for now as to what I was doing.
At one point my host having said the previous evening they do not talk much about the case to Mark in order not to upset him said that I could ask him any questions I wanted at the visit. Not that I did really have any questions, I already knew a lot about the case particularly the improbability of forensic science said to hold the case together. I was curious about meeting Mark however, find out something about him other than what I read or seen in the news.
Marks 2nd friend drove. For at least the 1st hour nothing was mentioned about the case, for various reasons not excluding the desire not to excite another round on completing the investigation. I’ll give the 2 men factiousness names, the 1st Robert the 2nd Bill. They will probably read this so I must be accurate – Robert was determined, absolutely. Bill was a person for whom logic reined. They were old mates that poked fun at each other, not deterred by a relative stranger sitting in the car, trying to get a handle on them, how they thought and so on – no doubt just as they were doing with me. It was all safe talk in the beginning, about business, insurance and other such things until I brought up something about the case as I was switching my mind to realising if I did have any questions for Mark I had less than a hour to think about them.
It was then that I appreciated that Bill would not go down a rabbit hole as Robert might easily do on issues with the case – before climbing and shaking the dirt off. So they were a strong mix – ideas and logic at work, the good opposites that make progress. We arrived on time to the controlled entrance and carpark area before going through a higher security screen than I expected at minimum security before going through to meet Mark.
In person he is a big man who moves well. He doesn’t in anyway match the impressions given through the media. He is direct and engaging, a good speaker which made sense the strong support he had from his customers about his cheerfulness. At 60 he looked more than capable of doing a day’s work. He’s intelligent and insightful. Not that there was any reason to do so, but he clearly was not trying to make some impression on me – what you saw was what you got and he along with his 2 friends of over 50 years were soon jostling over the jokes they made about one another. That followed an exchange of hugs and in my case a warm shake of the hand.
I got to hear a lot about Mark’s short term plans toward parole, very well- reasoned. He would later say when discussing some men that we both knew that it was his impression that a lot of men that go to prison get in someway time locked as who they are by the age of when they were imprisoned. Although it wasn’t perhaps intended to be, I found it very insightful. I could see that Mark holds his own place in the prison, isn’t a pushover, but has his own mind – one that is focused on freedom. He did not once complain about his situation, not even a hint about what I imagine he must feel being in prison for nearly 20 years on junk science, so poor that it doesn’t even deserve the maligned label of junk science but something even worse.
After my debate with Robert over the possible outcome of Mark’s Supreme Court appeal I asked Mark what he thought. To my surprise he wasn’t either optimistic or bitter about it. He like Robert considered the Courts as mindful not to over rule lower Courts. This set off a big debate with Robert clearly enjoying the moment with an ally this time - Mark.
When that finished I asked what the plan was should the appeal fail. Mark quoted Jonathan Eaton, not regarding anything cynical about a prediction of the SC decision, but as to next steps if there was to be no retrial. I was happy with that. It showed a couple of things, most importantly that JE was in for the long-haul despite that I personally believe he is confident of a win at the SC, as I am. Secondly, because Christopher John Halkides and I are down the track on material to be used at a retrial or in the event of not winning at the SC. Mark has read a lot of that, and took some delight in speaking about the number of American exonerations that matched similar circumstances to his own case. In other words, I felt, he knew he was going to win if not in the short term – then later.
He went onto speak about how he is usually positive about any of the proceedings and how one of his family members is not, but at this point the family member is positive while he is not. I didn’t say so but I liked that.
At some point the conversation turned to prisoners with low iqs and how they fare in the criminal Justice system. Eventually in general conversation Mark revealed some of his experiences with men who had the iqs of 9 or 11 year olds and how he would write letters for them or guide them into work, understanding that the mentally challenged are more at ease with some sort of job to do. It will be a surprise that even in prisons, and even prisoners with a somewhat challenging public image can be functioning with kindness toward others left behind in the intellectual development.
I was surprised by this, but perhaps shouldn’t have been because some years ago I saw a video of Mark’s late father who made toys for children and stuck with his son. I’m always on about being objective and not subjective – but that video gave me a nudge about who Mark was, just as did a letter sometime back from Scott Watson who mentioned amongst other things making toys for kids and Christmas.
Scott and Mark know one another, I doubted that would ever be firm friends because their lives had been so different. At around 40 Mark was a businessman, already a carpenter, a father and husband who owned his own home. Scott on the other hand had just build a boat, was something of a rolling stone, had women in his life and was seriously considering sailing around the world. Neither man was to know that beast called injustice was about to lock onto them, neither could have been ready – but if Mark’s theory he volunteered by accident they were 15 years apart in life experience, one a few years into adulthood the other beginning middle-age when a man trap was set upon them. They may be more alike that they realise, in time if good overcomes bad, just the same - exonerated wrongly convicted men.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Gail Maney Imprisoned for not Lying

Gail Maney Imprisoned for not Lying?
Found the time to listen to the Pod Cast ‘Gone Fishing,’ all 8 parts – available from Radio New Zealand and put together by Amy Mass and Adam Dudding. Certainly, is a comprehensive Pod Cast if not completely searching.
Much to my surprise it wasn’t Gail’s situation and the role she was meant to have played in the death of Deane Fuller-Sandys that was the surprise, but the role of Stephen Stone. This was mainly the result of the complete doubt that Maney is guilty. Because the Crown case relies on the death of Deane in the garage of the home where Maney was living using very questionable witnesses (who told multiple stories), and the lack of hard evidence as to whether Gail had even met Stone before the death of Deane. Then there is evidence which always sounded like complete nonsense for a so called ‘hit.’ Stone showing off the body in a boot, also ‘forcing’ others at the scene to shoot Deane. Those aspects of the case are the fantasies of a mad man, we meet him a little later and his name is Franklin – the OIC of the inquiry.
Add to that, considering that Gail is meant to have ordered the ‘hit’, there is nary a word about how he was paid. No disrespect to Gail but people such as Stone described to be - very macho and dangerous tend to do their own thing and are not likely to be robotic, let alone ‘advertise’ their work. As with a lot of these sensational stories relying on shock and horror the little details do not line up or have the ring of reality to them. There are now also retractions from 3 of 4 of the main witnesses.
When the Court of Appeal (COA) dealt with the first of those from a woman name Tania Wilson, it said that she was an “unreliable witness”, which even in itself is something for a Jury – not the COA. The COA seem unable to consider at its worst Wilson admitted lying and at its best – exonerated Gail – in fact either version could result in a fresh jury finding Gail innocent. Our COA have a terrible record in terms of Miscarriages of Justice – off hand I can’t think of any of the major ones which the COA has overturned.
I think it is reasonable to doubt whether Deane was killed at all because of the lack of solid evidence and the unrealistic narrative of the key witnesses, none of whom gave a single narrative but rather keep changing what they had to say until Franklin felt he had put together a ‘complex’ case.
So, if I understand it correctly – if Stone did not kill Dean, then not only is Gail innocent but so must Stone be on the same evidence. There is an absolute dearth of evidence on 1 aspect of the case which was not dealt with in the Pod Casts or in the media that I have been able to find – which could be critical to Stone’s claim of innocence also for the death of Leah Stephens the 2nd person he was convicted of murdering.
This started off as a blog on the ridiculousness I saw in the police first going to Gail for help, and when she chose not to speak ended up being charged with murder. The ex-cop in charge of the case Franklin is forthright as to his opinion that if Gail had told police what they wanted to hear she would not have been charged, just like the 2 men who gave evidence (under immunity) and admitted raping and killing Leah as well as taking part in the shooting of Deane. I was unable to find it, but I seem to remember an Auckland police man named Franklin who was responsible for 3 Tongan girls going to prison for a robbery for which they were later cleared. Someone might know if it one and the same man?
Anyway, after that start on a narrow point of how police first tried to lure Gail as a witness only to later charge her with murder - the full ‘blast’ of the dangerousness and ridiculousness of the case against Gail became front and centre way beyond the simple but telling point – that Gail could have sung for her supper. Franklin putting together that scenario, that if she ‘gave the order’ (seems so stupid to repeat that nonsense) but didn’t believe Stone would do it, in other words prove the case against Stone – she would not have been in the dock.
How Franklin dealt with Maney was the same way he dealt with 2 men who admitted murder and didn’t spend a day in prison – but he seems not to comprehend the gravity of that talking on and on about the care he took and so on. Justice? No way.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Something laid bare about the Lundy murders.

In the States the FBI knew about the unreliability of 'hair comparison' tests long before they announced recognition of the problem along with how many wrongful convictions resulted - around a 93% failure. The world (but apparently not the NZ authorities) may have found out about that in the 2015 Obama P Cast, but the information was by then over 15 years old (but not for NZ testers), a time during which both Mark and Scott Watson were convicted.

That failure rate, its delayed announcement as a junk science is a very telling about the way police and prosecuting authorities have continued to use poor methods leading to false convictions long after the problem was identified. The Lundy case was within 2 years of that of Scott Watson where hair comparison evidence was the primary evidence - yet 22 years later no admission from ESR or the Crown as to its unreliability. In other words, Scott Watson remains in prison (where Lundy followed him 2 years later) on evidence that had a 93% failure rate.

In the Lundy murders the same type of hair evidence (but genuine crime scene evidence) was 'lost' because, on the face of it, the evidence would have shown the obvious. Not only did the hairs found in Christine Lundy's hands not belong to Mark Lundy but their DNA may well matched other DNA found at the scene - primarily under the fingernails of Christine and Amber. That DNA was discovered to be from 2 unknown males, yet there was other potential DNA available at the scene in the unknown fingerprints, also in other places around the home - particularly where the breakin occured,

That means that the person(s) responsible for the Lundy murders left their DNA and hairs in the house, evidence not investigated past the point that it meant that Mark Lundy was highly likely to be innocent if the mitochondrial DNA in the hairs in Christine's hands matched the DNA found under her and Amber Lundy's fingernails. Or even if it didn't match, because overseas cases now show that fingernail DNA not matching the convicted person, on its own, can result in exoneration.

Stripping all other detail from the Watson case - the 2 hairs said to be Olivia Hope's - did not come from her and the science proving that is known by both police and ESR. They have known that, just like in Lundy - for 2 decades. We can understand now why police went back to the Hope household for more sample hairs, we can also understand why the hairs found in Christine's hands were not tested - they were visibly able to be seen not to be Mark's - the man police had already decided was guilty.

At the recent Supreme Court hearing into the Lundy convictions Jonathan Eaton, QC for the defence, told the Court that when the Crown 'changed' the alleged time of death police never went back to suspects who had alibis for the earlier time of death - pointing out the extent of the unfairness in the way Mark Lundy has been treated, as we see similarly to Scott Watson whose Jury also heard a fantastic and unbelievable story but not the truth about the 2 hairs. Both stories supported by junk science and prison informants but not by properly gathered and tested DNA.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Tide running out on the Lundy Convictions

Mark Lundy's recent appeal to the Supreme Court remains under deliberation. For anyone objective who attended the hearing there must be more doubt about Lundy's guilt than ever before. The 2 main points of the Appeal were whether the retrial had been unfair and secondly if the Proviso should have been exercised after certain scientific evidence was thrown out by the Court of Appeal (COA). The Proviso permits that notwithstanding that a trial may have been a Miscarriage of Justice, the court may decide to exercise the proviso of letting the verdict stand on the basis of 'inevitable guilt.'

The COA were satisfied that no miscarriage had taken place because of the association of Christine Lundy's DNA on Lundy's shirt near the contested spot of alleged human central nervous tissue (CNS.) In fact witnesses for both the Crown and defence had told the retrial Jury that the quantity or quality of DNA didn't not tell a specific story such as the COA held true. In fact a minor amount of DNA might indicate guilt whilst a large amount may not, the same issue goes to 'quality.' Unusual to say the least that the COA had not noted that witness evidence or indeed researched the matter themselves. Had they done so it seems they would have ordered a new trial for Mark Lundy.

The other point about a 'fair trial' putting endless legal argument aside is whether or not having heard evidence that the alleged CNS was more likely than not human had influenced the Jury. It would be naive to think it had not, it crossed the last bridge linking  Christine's DNA, CNS, human = murder.

The Supreme Court (SC) heard that the 'spot' did not contain Christine's DNA - a big problem for the Crown producing major doubt. For animal DNA to be found instead in the wash from the fabric surrounding the spot complicated 'guilt' even more. The SC heard of purchases of meat by Mark in the days before the killings. It also heard that there was no way of telling how long the spots had been on the shirt. Jonathan Eaton said that the weak signals of animal food chain DNA may have resulted from fatty tissue contact. In my opinion the weak signal is consistent with being the minority of DNA whilst Christine consistent with that of being the spouse. There were no animals in the Lundy household let alone animals considered part of the food chain.

That aside a lot of misinformation was remedied. Not in order here a few of things. Mark Lundy's tools were not used in the murders and the paint on the tools did not match the paint found on Christine. Furthermore Jonathan Eaton pointed out that there is not necessarily a connection between the attacker and the paint flakes because none were found on Amber. Furthermore he said that no one paints the blade on their tools an obvious point possibly not considered before. Phillip Morgan for the Crown had told the Court on day 2 that a witness Tupai was all over the place in his evidence and not sure the date when he saw the lights on a ranch slider open at the Lundy home at 11pm. The next morning he corrected that for the Court saying that the light on claim was confirmed by Tupai's phone bill but that he'd seen the lights on consecutive nights. Later Jonathan Eaton told the Court that it was recognized from the evidence that Christine was security conscious and it was unlikely she would have a door left open at 11pm. He followed that up by pointing out that at 11pm there was no doubt that Lundy was in Wellington.

Jonathan Eaton politely pushed over Morgan's 'theory' that because there was no sign of offenders moving about in the house that it must have therefore been Lundy - hardly logical at all. He also asked about the fingernail DNA of 2 male strangers found on the mother and daughter's hands, the untested 21 hairs found in Christine's hands along with the 40 fibres none of which matched Lundy's shirt or clothing, the lack of blood in his car and so on and the stupidity about the jewellery box being taken into ML's car covered in blood.

So the law was interesting regarding what a fair trial is, and when the proviso might fairly be used. Overall, it's hard to argue that ML has ever had a fair trial - there has always controversial or hidden evidence. However the best thing to emerge was the real narrative as to why Mark Lundy looks completely innocent - including that when the Crown tried to prove their 2 trip theory and fuel consumption they relied on manufacturer's fuel consumption specs. Which reminds me that the COA would not consider fuel consumption figures arising from tests on a race track, saying that a race track and street roads don't compare - clearly the COA had not read the details in the file that Mark was clocked at speeds of 140 to 180 ks per hour on his madcap home to his family managing to average 100ks per hour.

The truth is seeping out.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Lundy at Supreme Court.

The basics of what I know of Lundy at The Supreme Court appeal next week.

The test for the Lundy case at the Supreme Court (SC) is whether guilt is inevitable after some junk science was thrown out by the Court of Appeal (COA) which the Crown relied upon to gain a conviction at retrial - but since claim it wasn't necessary after fighting all the way to the SC for its admission and used for the damning closing lines 'no man has the right to have his wife's brain on his shirt.' The Crown's prolonged arguments for the admission of the discarded evidence was noted by the SC at the leave to appeal hearing compared to the Crown's position that the evidence was of no significance.
For the Crown other non forensic science, never used in any Court worldwide before the Lundy trial or since, is said to prove the 'inevitable' guilt. It becomes an important hearing after defence counsel say that the COA got DNA evidence wrong - if interested google DNA on a spouse's clothing. A critical feature is now that the alleged Central Nervous Tissue (CNS) is known to contain animal DNA from the food chain and none of Christine's DNA.
What may emerge more clearly for the 1st time is not only a breakin (police say was staged), a neighbour seeing a ranch slider open at around 11am on a cold winter's night (police say doesn't matter - despite being near the time when Christine turned her computer off, previously said to have been 'manipulated' by Lundy in evidence since discarded), untested (lost) hairs found in Christine's hands along with fibres unmatched to any clothing owned by Lundy, there were also fingerprints found in the area of the breakin unable to be matched to any person who had visited the home in the previous 3 months, unknown DNA of 2 males found under the nails of both Christine and Amber but none of ML's. There was no attempt as far as I know to link DNA from the prints, to that of mystery hairs (Lundy provided his own hair as a sample and did not match), or to that of the fingernail DNA.
The 2 men have never been found to be discounted from blame despite that mother and daughter's movements were well known to police with last contact outside the home a around 6pm at a McDonald drive through where no physical contact was likely to have been made. As far as I know the McDonald staffer was never tested as the potential point of transfer, it would be unlikely that mother or daughter would have touched him let alone scratch him in some way.
Multiple peer reviewed papers show that fingernail DNA lasts approx 6 hours under the fingernails as the hands are used, washed etc. The Crown now say (conveniently one could say) that time of death was around 3am where as previously they said it was 7pm the previous evening.
By sheer 'coincidence' both those times (the earlier with a big unrealistic push, the reason for the Crown to abandon it along with a woman who claimed to have seen Lundy running away from the house in the evening dressed as woman) happen to be times when possibly Lundy could have been in Palmerston North.
The original slide taken from the shirt stain was unable to be tested because of degradation, but apparently some of the 'same' matter on the shirt was, found to contain animal DNA but none of CL's. The discarded science was said to by a narrow margin prove that the DNA was human - the crown had 'wanted' it be proved as being not only human (certainly not animal) but also female. A reasonable person might be concerned that 2 biological samples said to be from the same source would not match, 1 being said to be rotten and the other somewhat magically preserved, and that a biological sample would not contain the DNA of it's owner.
With that evidence (and enormous amount more) Jonathan Eaton QC will argue that Lundy's guilt is not inevitable and the COA should have ordered a retrial after discarding the junk science mRNA. There is also some significant concern about the Texas quasi Scientist which the COA would not hear, but which perhaps the SC will. That material, provided by an Attorney of the American Supreme Court, is more significant than what the Jury heard from one forensic scientist that the Texas lab was dirty and not operating to the standards required for forensic testing accreditation.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Time for a change to false imprisonment by design in New Zealand

Follows details of efforts made in the States to even out a false imprisonment rate of around 4%. Like NZ, people of colour, no doubt along with those from the lower socioeconomic stream, the less educated and the mentally unwell, all get the rough end of the stick in cases of false imprisonment. Fortunately in NZ the 'plea bargaining' is benign compared to the States where 18% of the innocent plead guilty. Something which can only happen because of pressure from police and prosecutors. These figures transposed onto the incarcerated in NZ would mean around 400 persons falsely imprisoned for all crimes. Not just the controversial murder cases that become well known here

We still have nothing of this type of initiative happening in NZ and the Criminal Conviction Review process, once implemented, won't be as active as police and prosecutors are in certain American states at sorting out false imprisonment. It needs to be remembered that false imprisonment is not accidental. It wasn't in the Thomas case or any of the others. It was deliberate and no one in authority paid a price for that. They got away with it without even a slap on the hand.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

A Joe Parker v Ruiz fight number 2?

Andy Ruiz roughed up Anthony Joshua big time, the shorter man was right in Joshua's face with no stepping back. Joshua beat Joe Parker on points. Joe didn't let go in the way Ruiz did against Joshua, Parker talked about that after the fight the fight he had with Joshua, now we see what may have been.

Immediately on Ruiz beating Joshua,  Parker's stocks grew bigtime. The guy with no quit doesn't like to lose, that's what he took to Joshua - the written off underdog was going to bite. I think any such match between Andy and Joe is likely, Ruiz will want to show Parker the canvas to avenge his loss and Parker will want to do the same because of the feeling the fight was close, but maybe a hometown decision.  Parker is unfinished business for Ruiz. They need to fight.