Murder of a Small Child
On October 5, 1981 at 2:45 p.m. Melisa Anderson stepped off the school bus on the corner of Mayflower Ave. and Garden Drive. She was 10 years old, had pale skin, long red hair and freckles. She smiled and laughed often and never knew a stranger.
There was a drizzling rain in this quiet suburban neighborhood, so the street was rather deserted as Melisa walked toward her small but neat white frame house three houses away. She never made it home.
Ten days later her body was found in a tract of wooded land a mile from her house. She was nude. She had been brutally raped, severely beaten and her throat was cut from ear to ear. Where were you on October 5, 1981 at 2:45 p.m.?
Six months after the murder you are at home watching the 6:00 news when six police officers break down your door. Their guns are aimed directly at your head. They force you to lie down on the floor and place a knee in the small of your back while you are handcuffed.
Though you are sobbing and breathing irregularly you hear the familiar words you have heard so many times before on the television. "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you can't afford one, one will be appointed for you."
The officers are not very friendly. It is a lot worse than that last speeding ticket. They seem almost as afraid as you are and you can smell the adrenaline. You are drug out the door and into a waiting squad car. You are in your underwear and a tee shirt. They shove you into the car and press your head down to avoid the appearance of brutality by letting you bump your head on the door frame.
They leave you handcuffed alone in a small dirty interrogation room for three hours. You need desperately to use the restroom. Three officers appear and they start asking you questions. They don't seem to be hearing what you are saying. "Where were you on the afternoon of October the 5th." "Did anyone see you there?" "Did you rape and murder that little girl." They slap you around on the side of the face. Your nose is bleeding.
They do not seem to hear you ask for an attorney or for a restroom. They do not hear you ask for water. After 6 hours if questioning, your court appointed lawyer shows up. He is 24 years old. This is his first case. You think you are in trouble now but it is just the beginning.
During your trial your lawyer seems to be asleep a lot. He is snoring and you notice rapid eye movement. A single witness with very thick glasses says he was looking out his window on Garden Drive through the rain about a half a block from the site where Melissa was kidnapped. He said he saw you talking to Melissa through the window of a white Toyota. He said he saw her get into your car.
A plaster cast of a footprint was entered into evidence. The footprint was found in the woods next to the body. An expert witness testified that the footprint matched your shoe.
This is the only evidence in the trial. The footprint and the eyewitness. You are convicted of murder one. Murder in the first degree and sentenced to die in the electric chair.
You spend 10 years on death row. Appeals have found no ground. Then you get a break. DNA tests from the crime scene were done and proved conclusively that you were not linked to the rape of the child. Yet your newest appeal is turned down. You spend five more years in jail for a crime you did not and could not commit.
Then a hundred miles away, a man is arrested for the murder of a young girl. He was caught with the body in his Toyota. During the questioning he admitted killing the young girl in the car and he also admitted killing Melisa Anderson. Eventually you are freed from prison and allowed to get on with your life.
I was inspired to write this story from a news report on "All Things Considered" I heard today, November 15, 1998 on National Public Radio. The report was about a Chicago conference of one thousand people who were wrongly accused, convicted, and sentenced to death row for murders they did not commit. It is estimated that nearly half the people on death row did not commit the crimes and that they are totally innocent, just like you are.
The story of the murder of Melisa Anderson was made up although there are similar murders every Day in America. The evidence, the sleeping lawyer,the trial, the DNA, and the appeals were taken from the actual news report about the convicted murderers who were innocent. Oh, the foot print was actually proven to be from a woman's shoe, size 6. The convicted killer was actually a man with a size 12 foot. The evidence was withheld from the jury. Even after the DNA tests the individual remained on death row for five years until after the other man confessed to the crime. The court did not want to admit they made a mistake.
During the appeal the judge was asked about the appointed defender falling asleep during the trial. The judge ruled that the law gives the right to an appointed defender but it does not give the right to one that is awake.
After the confession by the real killer the district attorney wanted to prove the innocent man on death roll was with the man who confessed to the crime. A new young assistant for the district attorney discovered the incident about the shoe print and determined the individual was not given a fair trail at all. She quit the District Attorney Office and went to work on behalf of the inmate on death roll. She paid a great part on the individuals release from prison to return to a "normal life".
It is no joke that the American justice system is in a shambles. The police hate to have unsolved murders. The media and the public demand action. The courts are over crowded. The jails are full. The public defenders are just out of law school. How would you like an intern giving you a heart bypass. The truth does not matter in court. It is just whatever the lawyers can convince the jury to believe.
I even know a teacher who was in the jury pool for a murder trial. The prosecutor said he did not like teachers on the jury because they have a tendency to think too much. She was dismissed. The black male on trial for the night time shooting and murder was convicted solely on the testimony of a single eyewitness that was 200 yards from the shooting.
Well I am not too sure what we can do to resurrect the court system. But I do know that everyday an innocent man or woman is put to death somewhere in America. You could be next in line. It could happen to you.
Wow that was heavy. You look like you can use some relief. What I really want to know is "Who shot Roger Rabbit"
"I'm not dirty. I'm just drawn that way. Oh, did Bill mention cigars?"
Bureau of Justice Statistics Prisoners Under Sentence of Death Trends Chart
Fight the Death Penalty in USA - Bekæmp dødsstraffen i USA
Friends Committee to Abolish the Death Penalty
Death Penalty Abolition Page
USA National Petition to end death penalty
Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty
Netmonkey Magazine - Netmonkey's Death Penalty Page
Ohioans To Stop Executions
Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
People of Faith Against the Death Penalty (PFADP), a special project of the NC Council of Churches.
Yahoo! Society and Culture:Crime:Correction and Rehabilitation:Death Penalty:Opposing Views
Well the rest of my pages will make you laugh and cry, because I am the storyteller.
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