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Petition for a Writ of Actual Innocence

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PETITION FOR A WRIT OF ACTUAL INNOCENCE

Josephine Onishi

Fundamentals of Law

31 July 2012

Professor Medway

STATEMENT OF FACTS

On 1 February 1984, Francis Verner was departing her house, located on 1168 F Street, NE. Metro City, but before she could shut the car door of her 1973 Volkswagen a man approached Mrs. Verner and directed a firearm toward her face and said, "I am here to rob you". (Francis Verner Witness Statement and The Trial Transcripts). He subsequently instructed Mrs. Verner to give him her pocketbook for the purposes of possessing her money and she replied saying that she did not have any money on her but he could return the next day after she got paid. (Id). The man unconvinced by her arrangement, promptly asked her if there was anyone inside the house and she untruthfully retorted that she was unaccompanied. (Id). After repeatedly questioning Mrs. Verner, the man suggested that the two of them should enter the house together. (Id). Mrs. Verner commented that she does in fact own a dog and if the man were to enter the house he would bark, but the man replied, "Well if he barks, I'll take care of him with this" whilst pointing the described black and brown gun to her head. (Id). Frightened by the threat of the gun, she agreed to go in with the man and then she admitted that her husband, Michael Verner, was inside the house. (Id). The man answered, "If he get's up, I'll take care of him too". (Id). When they entered the house, the light was on at the end of the living room and the man commanded Mrs. Verner to turn it off even after she told him her husband would notice. (Id). As she was heading towards the light, she heard her husband and dog get up. (Id). She then went in the direction of her husband down the hallway and alerted him about the current situation. (Id). She instructed him to do nothing. (Id). The man then came down the hallway and shoved Mrs. Verner to the ground. (Id). As for Mr. Verner, he was pushed into the bedroom and shot. (Id). On that day a man had attempted to rob Francis Verner and in addition murdered her husband Michael Verner. (Innocence project screening questions pg.2)

According to Francis Verner's initial report to the police, the perpetrator was described as being a black male, medium height, about 5 foot 10, and wearing a heavy green-brown winter coat. (Francis Verner Witness Statement and Innocence Project Screening Questions). The 5 foot 6 and a half suspect, who had no prior convictions, was Ricky Smith because he met the description in the eyes of the police and was around the general vicinity at the time. (Francis Verner Witness Statement, pg. 2 of Graham Corter testimony, and Innocence Project Screening Questions). According to Smith, he had never seen Mrs. Verner. (Innocence Project Screening Questions) Police followed Smith en route to meet with his friends up F Street in Northeast New Columbia and then abruptly apprehended him. (Innocence Project Screening Questions). At the time of his arrest, Smith said he was startled, nervous, and confused for the reason being that he "had nothing to do with anything..." (Id.)

There were three investigating detectives on Ricky Smith's case: Brian Carson, Otto Chancey, and Graham Corter. (Innocence Project Screening Questions). It has been reported that the investigating detectives interviewed Smith only twice on the day he was arrested and then never again. (Id). During the interrogation, a psychophysiological detection of deception (PDD) test was taken. (Id). Det. Chancey had informed Smith during the interrogation that he had failed the Polygraph and according to Ricky Smith the statement said by Det. Chancey was fictitious. (Id). Smith later reported to his attorney, Tracey Atkinson, but she did not take any immediate action. (Id). 17-year old Ricky Smith was considered to be a legal minor at the time of his interrogation and he described the process as terrifying. (Id). Which later gave reason to his surrender during his statement. (Id).

As stated by Ricky Smith, Det. Brian Carson gave a false dichotomy and he told Smith that he had two options either "own up" or receives the death penalty for not owning up because they had all the evidence against him. (Id). The evidences he made references to was a fingerprint on the gun, a Gunshot residue (GSR) test that was positive, and Francis Verner identifying the suspect in a comparative photo spread. (Innocence Trial Screening Questions and Trial Transcripts of Graham Corter). Smith stated that, "I didn't understand what was going on and I just wanted to go home, and I was so scared I just told them what they wanted to hear." (Id). In Smith's statement to the police, he confessed to the attempted burglary and murder charges. (Defendant/Suspect Statement).

In his confession, he gave vague but somewhat convincing details of this crime. (Id). He said that he intentionally left his house unusually earlier to reach the victim's house on F Street. (Id). After waiting for the victim to reach her car, he took out his gun and forced her inside the house. (Id). Then he states, "I found out her husband was home which I was not happy about I did not want to have another person to see me, but when we got in the house, he did see me." (Id). Then he claims that he "ran over the lady and shot the husband in the head." (Id). Subsequently following the event, he ran up F Street and towards 15th street where he was later apprehended. (Id).

In the Jury trial of Ricky Smith, the make-up of the jury consisted of an all white jurors with one exception of one Asian female. (Innocence Project Screening Questions). There were six individuals testified against him in addition to two of the detectives and only three testified for the defense: his friend, grandmother, and mother. (Id). The three who testified for him supported his alibi stating that he was with them at the time of the crime. (Id). One of the six who testified against the defense was Francis Verner, the only actual witness in the crime. (Id). Ricky Smith did not testify on his own behalf due to his attorney's advice saying that it would only damage his case, even though Smith himself plead not guilty to the alleged crimes he had been convicted of. (Id).

The first on the stand was Detective Brian Carson. (Trial Transcripts with

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