Friday, June 26, 2015

Nebraska County Sheriff whose underling fabricated evidence to frame retarded man for murder wants death penalty restored

David Kofoed, Douglas County, Nebraska Sheriff Tim Dunning's CSI commander, went to prison for falsifying blood evidence in the murder of Wayne and Sharmon Stock of rural Murdock, in order to frame Matthew Livers, who implicated another innocent man, Nicholas Sampson, when the Nebraska State Patrol elicited a coerced, false confession from Livers, who has an I.Q. of 63.
     Later, lawyers for Livers sued Nebraska officials, including Douglas County and received a judgement of $2.6 million.
     According to Nebraska Watchdog, the Omaha World-Herald reported that Kofoed wasn’t the only investigator in Sheriff Dunning's staff "who crossed the line, noting the $2.6 million settlement required Douglas County to undergo special interrogation training."
     In six elections since first winning office in 1994, Dunning, a former Omaha policeman, has run unopposed except in 2002.
     In 2010, KETV reported on how, in the above-mentioned case, Nebraska State Patrol investigator Bill Lambert and Cass County investigator Earl Schenk badgered Livers through 11 hours and 109 denials before successfully conning and threatening him into making a phony confession. Creighton University law professor Raneta Mack said people do confess to crimes they didn't commit in order to end a harsh interrogation. Livers' lawyer, Locke Bowman added,
"When you tell a suspect if he doesn't confess, you're going to hang him from the highest tree -- that crosses the line into malice, as far as I'm concerned."
     Although Sheriff Dunning's in-house investigation originally cleared Kofoed, he is suspected of falsifying evidence in at least two other cases. Sheriff Dunning has said he has no plans to reexamine the county's role in those prosecutions.
     In April, Ada JoAnn Taylor, one of six people falsely accused and prosecuted for murder in Beatrice, Nebraska in 1985, joined members of the Innocence Project to tell lawmakers that prosecutors and law officers constantly told her she would be the first woman executed if she didn't confess, which is why she urged the Unicameral to repeal Nebraska's death penalty. It did so last month over Gov. Pete Ricketts's veto. The Beatrice Six, including Taylor, served more than 70 years in prison before being exonerated. Taylor spoke up,
" that no other innocent Nebraskan would be threatened with the death penalty, causing them to confess to a crime that (they) didn't commit and allow the actual murderer to murder again," Taylor said.
Forensic testing in the Beatrice Six case was done by discredited Joyce Gilchrist,
     ...a former forensic chemist who had participated in over 3,000 criminal cases in 21 years while working for the Oklahoma City police department, and who was accused of falsifying evidence.
     Her evidence led in part to 23 people being sentenced to death, 11 of whom have been executed. After her dismissal, Gilchrist alleged that she was fired in retaliation for reporting sexual misconduct.
Nebraska Public Television produced a sobering documentary about the Murdock case, for which neither Sheriff Bruning nor the Nebraska State Patrol would agree to be interviewed on camera.

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