Uncategorized

Juanita White, Lake Murder Similarities

 

Waco Tribune-Herald
December 18, 2001
Probes into murders of White, Lake Waco threesome amazingly similar
By CINDY VAN AUKEN Tribune-Herald staff writer
The search for Juanita White’s killer in many significant ways paralleled the
investigation of the Lake Waco triple murders for which White’s son, David Wayne
Spence, was executed.
From the main investigator, prosecutor and expert witness involved to the
bitemark evidence and jailhouse testimony that was used to convict the suspects,
the separate murder cases were almost mirror images of each other.
Because of the similarities, some involved in the cases have said that new DNA
evidence pointing to wrongful convictions in White’s murder also gives new
validity to Spence’s claims of innocence.
“The DNA tests show that not only was the evidence (in the White case)
unreliable and should not be trusted, it shows that they got the wrong person,”
said Raoul D. Schonemann, a defense attorney now practicing in San Francisco who
was one of Spence’s appeals lawyers. “Obviously, that does not exonerate David
but it does show that with the same kind of evidence, they got it wrong. I think
it adds to the reasonable doubts about David’s guilt that are independent of the
(White) case and certainly it should give a lot of hesitancy about David’s
conviction.

“What the tests really do is call into question the integrity of the evidence

that was used and the prosecutors that took part in both prosecutions.”
Both cases involved brutal rape and murder. In the Lake Waco case, three teens
were killed in July 1982. Each of the victims was found with multiple knife
wounds, including many shallow “torture wounds.” The two female victims were
sexually assaulted and bore marks that prosecutors alleged were human bites.
Prosecutors tried the case as a botched murder-for-hire scheme. They said that a
local convenience store owner named Muneer Deeb hired Spence to kill Gayle
Kelley, who was almost 17 years old at the time. They said Deeb’s motive was
that he had taken out an insurance policy on Kelley, who worked in his store.
However, prosecutors said, Spence misidentified another girl, 17-year-old Jill
Montgomery, and mistakenly killed her instead of Kelley. Two of Montgomery’s
friends who were with her that night Raylene Rice, 17, and Kenneth Franks, 18
were killed simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time,
they said.
Spence and Deeb were eventually convicted of the crime, with Spence receiving
two death sentences and Deeb being sentenced to death once. In addition,
brothers Anthony and Gilbert Melendez pleaded guilty as accomplices and were
each given two life sentences. Spence was executed in April 1997.
The murder of Spence’s mother was also savage. White, 54, was raped and
smothered or strangled during a break-in at her home in March 1986. She had been
horribly beaten left dead with a broken nose, cuts on her chest, arms, back
and legs, and wounds resembling human bitemarks on her buttocks, left hip and
left breast.
Calvin Washington, 46, and Joe Sidney Williams Jr., 34, were convicted of her
murder and both received life sentences in 1987.
But there is more than kinship and murder that connects the death of Juanita
White to the  killings for which her son was executed.
  • “The DNA tests show that not only was the evidence (in the White case)
    unreliable and should not be trusted, it shows that they got the wrong person,”
    said Raoul D. Schonemann, a defense attorney now practicing in San Francisco who
    was one of Spence’s appeals lawyers. “Obviously, that does not exonerate David
    but it does show that with the same kind of evidence, they got it wrong. I think
    it adds to the reasonable doubts about David’s guilt that are independent of the
    (White) case and certainly it should give a lot of hesitancy about David’s
    conviction.
    “What the tests really do is call into question the integrity of the evidence
    that was used and the prosecutors that took part in both prosecutions.”
    Both cases involved brutal rape and murder. In the Lake Waco case, three teens
    were killed in July 1982. Each of the victims was found with multiple knife
    wounds, including many shallow “torture wounds.” The two female victims were
    sexually assaulted and bore marks that prosecutors alleged were human bites.
    Prosecutors tried the case as a botched murder-for-hire scheme. They said that a
    local convenience store owner named Muneer Deeb hired Spence to kill Gayle
    Kelley, who was almost 17 years old at the time. They said Deeb’s motive was
    that he had taken out an insurance policy on Kelley, who worked in his store.
    However, prosecutors said, Spence misidentified another girl, 17-year-old Jill
    Montgomery, and mistakenly killed her instead of Kelley. Two of Montgomery’s
    friends who were with her that night Raylene Rice, 17, and Kenneth Franks, 18
    were killed simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time,
    they said.
    Spence and Deeb were eventually convicted of the crime, with Spence receiving
    two death sentences and Deeb being sentenced to death once. In addition,
    brothers Anthony and Gilbert Melendez pleaded guilty as accomplices and were
    each given two life sentences. Spence was executed in April 1997.
    The murder of Spence’s mother was also savage. White, 54, was raped and
    smothered or strangled during a break-in at her home in March 1986. She had been
    horribly beaten left dead with a broken nose, cuts on her chest, arms, back
    and legs, and wounds resembling human bitemarks on her buttocks, left hip and
    left breast.
    Calvin Washington, 46, and Joe Sidney Williams Jr., 34, were convicted of her
    murder and both received life sentences in 1987.
    But there is more than kinship and murder that connects the death of Juanita
    White to the killings for which her son was executed. Convictions in both
  • instances were built on the investigative work of then-McLennan County Sheriff’s
    Deputy Truman Simons. A controversial figure in local law enforcement circles
    during most of his career, he almost single-handedly came up with the evidence
    that won convictions in both cases. Now an investigator for Austin attorney Vic
    Feazell, who was McLennan County district attorney when the cases were
    prosecuted, Simons has denied any wrongdoing in the cases. Simons was not
    originally assigned as the investigator in either case. In fact, Simons was not
    even working for the law enforcement agency that had jurisdiction over the two
    cases, the Waco Police Department, at the time he claims to have solved them.
    When the Lake Waco murders happened, Simons was a 17-year veteran at the Waco
    Police Department. But he was not originally assigned to the case. He started
    working on it more than two months later after asking permission from Chief
    Larry Scott.
    Shortly after Simons picked up the case, he quit the police department to work
    at the sheriff’s department as a jailer. He has said he quit in part because he
    lost confidence in Chief Scott.
    But Simons has also said he left because he knew that by working at the
    sheriff’s department he could keep investigating the lake killings but would be
    in a better position to develop a close relationship with Spence. Spence was in
    jail at the time for an unrelated sexual abuse case.
    After Simons left Waco PD, some of his former colleagues questioned his
    investigative tactics and some, including Scott and the lead detective assigned
    to the case, have expressed doubts about Spence’s guilt.
    When White was killed, Simons was an investigator for the sheriff’s department.
    He has said that he became involved in the case after receiving calls from
    informants he had developed as a Waco police officer.
    Simons has claimed in depositions and court testimony that he cooperated with
    Waco Police Sgt. Jan Price, who was the main investigator put on the case by her
    department. But at the trials of the men accused of killing White, Price said
    that Simons had been uncooperative and basically muscled her out of the
    investigation.
    Both the Lake Waco and White cases were prosecuted under the leadership of
    Feazell, then McLennan County district attorney. Feazell personally prosecuted
    Spence at both of his capital murder trials, as well as Muneer Deeb at his first
    trial.
    In the White case, Feazell delegated the prosecution duties to two assistant
    district attorneys in his office, but he made the decision to accept the case
    developed by Simons against Washington and Williams. He was in the courtroom for
    parts of the trials and made a few arguments for the prosecution during sessions
    in the judge’s chambers.
    The other major similarities between the two cases revolve around the type of
    evidence that was used to convict the defendants.
  •     In both  instances,  the only biological evidence that tied any of the men to the
    scene were marks on the victims’ bodies that prosecutors said were human bites.
    In fact, many involved in the cases said there would have been no successful
    prosecutions without the bitemark evidence.
    That’s because in the Lake Waco case, the other biological evidence
    investigators recovered did not point to Spence. A laboratory test of hair
    samples found in terry cloth towels used to bind the victims showed no match to
    Spence, two other men accused in the homicide or any of the victims. Hair
    samples found in the car Spence owned at the time of the murders did not match
    any of the victims or defendants. Likewise, there was physical evidence found at
    the home of Juanita White that could not be linked to Washington or Williams. In
  • fact, a bloody footprint on White’s front door did not match the shoes taken
    from the houses of either defendant.
    Connecting the cases even more closely is that the same expert witness, a
    forensic odontologist named Homer Campbell, testified about the bitemarks for
    the prosecution in both cases.
    Karen Amos, a San Antonio defense attorney who was in 1987 the lead prosecutor
    in the White case, said the presentation of Campbell as a well-respected
    scientist had to have swayed jurors. His credibility was probably also bolstered
    by the fact that he worked in conjunction with a photogrammetrist, a scientist
    who makes measurements using photographs, she said.
    “(Campbell)’s testimony was crucial,” Amos said. The problem with the bitemark
    evidence is that many experts say it is not scientific. Even some professional
    odontologists, who study forensic bitemarks, say that bitemark evidence alone
    should not be used to positively identify suspects.
    The data support that argument. The first published report about how well
    professional odontologists can accurately interpret bitemark data was released
    in 1975 by British dentist David Whittaker. He found that odontologists erred 76
    percent of the time when trying to identify the source of a bitemark.
    In the most recent study, conducted in 1999 by the American Board of Forensic
    Odontology, the overall error rate was 46 percent when the odontologists
    attempted to either include or exclude a set of teeth as being the source of a
    bitemark.
    Even worse, in instances where the experts made positive identifications, the
    error rate was 63.5 percent. The study also found that there was no correlation
    between an odontologist’s years in forensic casework and correct results.
    In addition to the overall doubt about the validity of bitemark evidence,
    Campbell’s competency has also been questioned.
    In August 1984, he positively identified some human remains as belonging to a
    Florida runaway named Melody Cutlip. Since Cutlip’s dental chart was not
    available, Campbell made the identification by enlarging a picture of her and
    comparing it against the corpse’s teeth. He told newspaper reporters, “They
    matched exactly.”
    Two years later, Cutlip turned up alive.
    That misidentification by Campbell came just one month after defense lawyers in
    the Lake Waco case attacked Campbell’s “science” during David Spence’s first
    trial. As would later be done during Williams’ trial, the defense team disputed
    Campbell’s credibility by presenting countering testimony from another forensic
    odontology expert.
    Spence’s defense team attacked Campbell’s findings again during his appeals
    process. It employed five of the top forensic odontologists in the country to do
    a “blind panel” test of the bitemark evidence in the Lake Waco case.
    Each of the five odontologists, who worked independently of one another, were
    given five dental molds one from Spence and four from other people not
    involved in the case. They were asked to look at the bitemark evidence in the
    Lake Waco murders and determine if any of the sets of teeth for which they had
    molds could have made the marks.
    Two of the experts on the panel picked molds that were not Spence’s. A third
    odontologist tried to match up the molds with what he thought were probable
    bitemarks but said none of them fit.
    Of the other two experts, one said the areas were not human bitemarks. The other
    said the bitemarks and the photographs of them were of too poor quality to even
    analyze. Thus, they both concluded that they could not match any of the molds to
    the marks.
    Other than the flawed bitemark science, the only type of evidence that tied the
    defendants to the crime in both cases was jailhouse testimony. That legal lingo
    refers to testimony by people who were incarcerated at the time of the trials or
    people with extensive criminal records. Convicted felon after convicted felon
    took the stand, gave incriminating testimony against one or more of the
    defendants and swore that they had not received any deals for their cooperation.
    However, after Spence’s trials and the trials in the White case were over, many
    of the witnesses admitted under oath that they had lied on the stand.
    Interviewed independently by investigators and defense attorneys, these
    witnesses told strikingly similar stories about how they were bribed or coerced
    by law enforcement officials or members of the district’s attorney office.
    In the White case, three witnesses Don Davis Jr., Angela Miles and Fate
    Dotson completely recanted their testimony and said it was false. A fourth
    witness, Waymon Dotson, partially recanted.
    Among the accusations made by those four witnesses were that Simons had fed them
    evidence about the crime, including showing them photos and telling them
    details, and had changed their written statements to read more like he wanted.
    Miles said in a sworn statement that Simons threatened to charge her in White’s
    death after she told him she had no knowledge about what he was asking her.
    The four witnesses detailed in sworn statements or statements to police favors
    they said they received in exchange for cooperating with Simons. Among other
    things, they said he helped get charges against them dropped or reduced, gave
    them special food and cigarettes, allowed them to have conjugal visits
    in his
    office and promised them federal protection after they testified.
    After Spence’s trials, many of the witnesses who testified against him also
    recanted in sworn statements and other statements included in Spence appeals
    documents. They included Jesse H. Ivy, Frank Amorella, Robert David Snelson,
    Randy Joe White and Kevin Ray Mikel. The testimony of a sixth witness, David E.
    Puryear, was also called into question by his former-brother-in-law, who said
    Puryear told him his testimony was fabricated.
    As in the White case, those witnesses said that Simons showed them pictures of
    the crime scene and fed them information that only someone involved in the
    crimes would know.
    They also described receiving favors from Simons and the district attorney’s
    office: help with pending cases, conjugal visits, food from the outside and
    cigarettes.
    Some of them
    claimed that they got more elaborate favors. Steve Moore, a former
    brother-in-law of Puryear, said in a November 1991 statement that Puryear had a
    stapled booklet from Feazell containing what he was supposed to testify to and
    that Feazell had promised to pay Puryear for his testimony.
    Ivy said in a sworn statement in October 1992 that Feazell paid him $700 for a
    ring he had made in a prison workshop and that Simons allowed him to have
    alcohol and marijuana in jail. He also said that officials in the district
    attorney’s office treated him “like one of the boys,” and even jokingly offered
    him a “big Styrofoam ‘key to the jail’ or ‘key to the city’ as a present.”
    Randy Joe White said in a statement that he was given a private cell with a
    shower and was given a radio. Several times a week, he said, Simons would take
    him out of the jail and drive him to visit his father, first at the nursing home
    where he stayed and then later at his private apartment. After many of those
    visits, he said he would smuggle drugs back into the jail because he was never searched.
    The inmate said the favors were so easy to get while they were in the county
    jail that he and some of Simons’ other “snitches” would request things “just to
    see if we could get away with it.”
    “Once we all asked to be sent back to (prison) because of the bad food,” Randy
    Joe White said. “I was elected spokesman for this request and was called out by
    Jack Harwell, then sheriff. He said they couldn’t make us special meals because
    no one could know about us getting special favors.”
    In both the prosecutions of Williams and Washington and the prosecution of
    Spence, defense attorneys claim, prosecutors withheld evidence from them about
    other likely suspects.
    In the White case, defense attorneys didn’t find out until years later that a
    Waco police officer who investigated the case came up with a suspect named
    Bennie Carroll, said Washington’s lawyer, Walter M. Reaves Jr. of West. Carroll,
    who killed himself in 1990, has been identified through recent DNA tests as the
    person who raped White.
    Schonemann, Spence’s appeals attorney, said information about another suspect
    was similarly withheld from Spence’s lawyers. Some of the most important
    information involved a man named Terry (Tab) Harper.
    Police reports were concealed from defense attorneys that indicated that at
    least two unrelated people independently claimed to have seen Harper that night
    at the park where authorities said the teens were killed, Schonemann said. There
    were also police reports that said several people heard Harper talk about the
    killings before the crime was made public, he said.
    Spence’s lawyers soon learned that Harper had an extensive criminal history. At
    the time of the lake murders, he had already been arrested on 22 assault charges
    of varying severity, an armed robbery charge, three aggravated robbery charges
    and a terroristic threat charge, according to a court document.
    When defense attorneys inquired about Harper during Spence’s appeals process,
    they were told he had an alibi that made it impossible for him to have committed
    the crimes. But the nature of that alibi was not specified, Schonemann said.
    When Spence’s attorneys inquired further, they learned that Harper’s alibi was
    that he claimed to have been at home watching the television show “Dynasty” with
    his sister and her boyfriend the night the three teen-agers were killed.
    Not only was that a far cry from an airtight alibi, but television records
    showed that “Dynasty” did not even air that night, Schonemann said. Also, police
    reports that relate to the questioning of Harper never mention an alibi or that
    the alibi witnesses were ever interviewed.
    Harper killed himself in 1994 when police came to arrest him for the stabbing
    death of an elderly man.
    Simons deferred interview requests by the Tribune-Herald on at least five
    occasions and finally refused to grant an interview for this series. However, he
    has repeatedly denied all allegations of wrongdoing in both the White and Lake
    Waco cases over the years. Feazell, who now employs Simons as an investigator
    for his law firm, has also denied many times that witnesses in either case were
    coerced or given special favors.
    “If there had been (favors), everyone in town would have known about it,”
    Feazell said in a recent interview. “There were people in and out of the
    (district attorney’s office and the jail) all the time. It’s just hard to
    respond to these continued rumors. When you respond to one, there are three more.
    As for some of the other similarities between the two cases, Feazell said they
    are to be expected whenever brutal murders are involved. For example, the
    prevalence of inmate testimony in both trials is due to the fact that the
    defendants associated with those sorts of people, he said.
    In Feazell’s mind, there is only one connection that matters when talking about
    Washington and Williams in the White case and David Spence in the Lake Waco
    murders case.
    “Those boys were guilty, and David Spence was guilty,” Feazell said.
    But many of the people who were intimately involved in the two cases said the
    way they were investigated and tried was out of the ordinary. Don Youngblood, a
    Waco private investigator who worked for the defense in both cases, said he has
    always seen parallels between them.
    “The jailhouse testimony hollers out at you,” Youngblood said.
    “I have never seen as much inmate testimony (presented at trial) as during the
    Feazell era.”
    Russ Hunt, the attorney who represented Spence during his first trial, also said
    the inmate testimony in the Spence case was unusual. He said public officials
    used their authority to scare people into testifying falsely.
    “There is always inmate testimony,” Hunt said. “The difference in the Spence
    case was that according to the inmates we talked to, representatives of the DA’s
    office were going to people in the jail, accusing them of the Lake Waco murders
    and showing them pictures. When they were sufficiently frightened, they would
    tell them, ‘We’ll work with you.’ I have never known of that kind of thing
    happening before.”
    Observers also said it was unusual for Simons to get involved in cases outside
    his jurisdiction. Amos, the prosecutor in the White case, said she cannot recall
    any other times when the sheriff’s department took over the investigation of another agency.
    As for some of the similaritees between the two cases, Feazell said they
    are to be expected whenever brutal murders are involved. For example, the
    prevalence of inmate testimony in both trials is due to the fact that the
    defendants associated with those sorts of people, he said.
    In Feazell’s mind, there is only one connection that matters when talking about
    Washington and Williams in the White case and David Spence in the Lake Waco
    murders case.
    “Those boys were guilty, and David Spence was guilty,” Feazell said.
    But many of the people who were intimately involved in the two cases said the
    way they were investigated and tried was out of the ordinary. Don Youngblood, a
    Waco private investigator who worked for the defense in both cases, said he has
    always seen parallels between them.
    “The jailhouse testimony hollers out at you,” Youngblood said.
    “I have never seen as much inmate testimony (presented at trial) as during the
    Feazell era.”
    Russ Hunt, the attorney who represented Spence during his first trial, also said
    the inmate testimony in the Spence case was unusual. He said public officials
    used their authority to scare people into testifying falsely.
    “There is always inmate testimony,” Hunt said. “The difference in the Spence
    case was that according to the inmates we talked to, representatives of the DA’s
    office were going to people in the jail, accusing them of the Lake Waco murders
    and showing them pictures. When they were sufficiently frightened, they would
    tell them, ‘We’ll work with you.’ I have never known of that kind of thing
    happening before.”
    Observers also said it was unusual for Simons to get involved in cases outside
    his jurisdiction. Amos, the prosecutor in the White case, said she cannot recall
    any other times when the sheriff’s department took over the investigation of
    another agency.
    Rick Bostwick, a Waco civil trial lawyer who represented Williams, said he has
    always thought the district attorney’s office allowed the shift of the case away
    from the police department so it could be developed around the bitemark allegations and inmate witnesses.

    “For (the sheriff’s department) to take over a murder case on 15th Street, in

    the middle of Waco, you’ve got to scratch your head and ask why,” Bostwick said.
    Steve Spence, who is White’s son and David Spence’s brother, has an even
    stronger opinion about why Simons was made the main investigator in the cases.
    He said it is an opinion his mother shared.
    “If you want to know what the result is before you start, you have to have
    someone like Truman Simons, I think,” Steve Spence said. “Because he knows the
    ending before he starts it. That’s the way he makes his cases, I think.”
    Jan Price, who was the police department’s main investigator on the White case,
    has also expressed the view that Simons may have had something at stake in the
    White case. Although Price declined to be interviewed for this story, she stated
    her opinion about Simons’ involvement in the White case in a deposition she gave
    in 1993 as part of David Spence’s appeals process.
    When asked why Simons became involved, Price said she assumed the following:
    “Since this was the mother of David Spence, it was my understanding that Truman

    Simons found out that night of her murder that she had been bitten. And because

    of the nature of this case compared to the Lake Waco murders that David Spence
    was convicted of, they were so close in nature there is a possibility that the
    person who might have killed the three teens was still at large and might have
    retaliated against Ms. White.”
    Later in that same deposition, Price said that Feazell also seemed concerned
    about showing that the two cases were not linked for similar reasons.
    “The Lake Waco murders was his claim to fame,” Price said in the deposition.
    “And if somebody was still out there running free that might have done the Lake
    Waco murders, then that would blow his movie deal and his book deal and, you
    know, just his popularity among everybody.”
    From Steve Spence’s perspective, Simons’ and Feazell’s concerns might have been
    right on target. He said he has always thought that his mother’s death was
    somehow connected to the Lake Waco murders case.
    That’s because before she died, White had started conducting her own
    investigation into the Lake case, hoping to exonerate her son, Steve Spence
    said. He said that in the course of asking questions of people at local bars,
    she was threatened several times.
    Also, shortly before her death, White “was really paranoid” that her telephone
    had been tapped because of an odd noise on the line that she had never heard
    before, Steve Spence said. He said his mother had thought a girlfriend of his
    brother’s, who had a key to White’s house, might have let someone in the house.
    Then, just a few days before she was murdered, White received a letter from
    David Spence that had been written by David Snelson, one of the inmates who had
    testified against him. In the letter, Snelson said he had lied during his
    testimony and was asking for forgiveness. Later, Snelson recanted under oath his
    trial testimony.
    Hunt, who was David Spence’s attorney at the time, said White brought the letter
    to him so he could make copies. After that, Hunt said he believes she probably
    showed it to people all over town.
    “She was convinced it was going to clear her son,” Hunt said. Steve Spence said
    those occurrences have always made him highly suspicious.
    “To me, that was too much of a coincidence for it to happen that way and not
    have anything to do with David,” he said. Even if he could be 100 percent sure
    that his mother’s death was a random act of violence, Steve Spence said he would
    still be suspicious of the break-in that occurred at her house the night after
    she died. Several others including Price, Hunt, Reaves, Bostwick and
    Youngblood have also said they think the incident was suspicious.
    That’s because the person who broke in did not take any valuables from the
    house. Instead, the burglar seemed to be searching for something.
    According to police reports, the only things that were disturbed in the house
    were White’s jewelry box and the front bedroom, where David Spence had stayed
    when he lived with his mother. Boxes of his personal papers and the dresser in
    the room had been ransacked.

    Even stranger, police have said, is that the burglar seemed to want to confuse

    investigators. A screen in the rear of the house had been torn off an open
    window and a chair had been placed below the window, making it appear at first
    as that’s how the burglar entered the house. However, Price doesn’t think that’s
    how the intruder actually entered.
    “It appeared that it was a staged burglary attempt,” Price said in the 1993
    deposition. “Because there was dust and there was an object right inside the
    window that would have either been knocked over or should have been moved away
    if someone had tried to go through the window. The porch door in the rear of her
    house was actually unlocked, so somebody could just walk through the door to get
    in the house.”
    Steve Spence said he suspects the break-in was for the purpose of finding the
    Snelson letter.
    Rounding out the connections between the murder of Juanita White and the Lake
    Waco killings is that some of the main suspects convicted of the crimes have
    been legally exonerated.
    In the Lake Waco murders case, Muneer Deeb was sentenced to death by a Cleburne,
    Texas, jury in 1985 for Montgomery’s death in the supposedly botched murder-for-
    hire scheme. But he was later acquitted of the charges by a Tarrant County jury
    in a January 1993 retrial.
    That came after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted him the right to a
    new trial in June 1991. In that ruling, the court said some testimony in Deeb’s
    trial had been improperly admitted.
    When the jury acquitted Deeb, his lawyers and the lead Waco police detective in
    the case said the action was long overdue because they did not think he had
    committed the crime. Deeb himself always maintained his innocence, pointing to
    the fact that he passed a three-hour polygraph test with no deception when he
    was first arrested for the crime by Waco police. Deeb died while he was living
    in Dallas County in November of 1999.
    Gilbert Melendez died in prison in October 1996. His brother, Anthony Melendez,
    remains in prison.
    An exoneration has also come out of the White case. Washington was granted a
    full pardon based on actual innocence on Oct. 9 after Gov. Rick Perry examined
    the new DNA evidence and received a unanimous recommendation from the Texas
    Board of Pardons and Parole.
    Steve Spence, who has always maintained his brother’s innocence and who also
    fought against Washington’s imprisonment, said he is glad that some of the men
    he thinks were wrongfully convicted in the two cases have been released from
    prison. But that doesn’t change the fact that his brother and his mother are
    both dead.
    Even if all his suspicions born of parallels between the two cases are wrong,
    Steve Spence said the cases will still always haunt him. Rarely does a day go by
    when he isn’t somehow reminded of what he regards as the murders of two of his
    family members.
    “I’ve had to deal with people my whole life over this stuff,” Steve Spence said
Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Juanita White, Lake Murder Similarities

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s