Innocence Project of Texas: Time for a Shakeup?

We had believed,   that the case of Anthony Melendez waiting for sixteen years for DNA to be run by Innocence Project of Texas Vice President Walter Reaves was a fluke,  the one that fell through the bureaucratic cracks.  Never did we believe that other people in the Innocence Project of Texas would actually chose to sit on DNA for a man alive and suffering in prison.  We thought Reaves was just slow to respond at best, incompetent at worst after having a Fully Probated Suspension in 2009-2010 for neglecting the cases of TWO Appellate clients.  We thought Reaves was the only one who was doing this injustice.

Naturally,  many people had contacted,  then, Innocence Project of Texas Walter Reaves Probated Suspension 2009 President Jeff Blackburn,  who admitted that Mary Ann Wiley of then Governor Perry’s office had even talked to him about the case and her visit from Walter Reaves and Fredric Dannen.  Blackburn was chatty in the beginning but soon stopped answering any emails or inquiries into the situation with the DNA.

Senator Ellis,  Gary Udashen,  Mike Ware, on and on up the chain of the Innocence Project of Texas and back down again were contacted and asked why on earth would it take so long to run DNA on this case?

No answers.  Seems no one wants to answer this question so it just fell flat until Lynn Garcia with the Texas Forensics Commission got the results from Walter Reaves this year.

Reaves and IPOT along with help from the original Prosecutor in the Muneer Deeb retrial,  David Chapman,  managed to let it all sit so long there was nothing left.

Too bad seasoned veteran Police Officer and Sheriff’s Deputy Simons didn’t load up those evidence boxes on his trip back from Ft. Worth.  Amazingly,  everyone just forgot about the bloody clothes,  towels used for gags, and clothing covered in blood.

Recently,  another case has come to light,  another man left languishing waiting for a coincidental 16 years.

Kerry Max Cook.

They let the DNA for Kerry Max Cook sit around for sixteen years,  this time it was Gary Udashen himself AND in an unprescedented move,  Kerry Max fired Gary Udashen in Open Court stating that Udashen had “sold him out” after Udashen tried to get him to sign off on an agreement letting the prosecutor off on prosecutorial misconduct in Kerry Max’s case.

The Texas Forensics Commission in their recent meeting this month in Austin discussed putting members of the Innocence Project of Texas on their bite mark panel.

Can’t wait.

It seems to me that if the bite mark panel is open to the public it will be a wonderful time to take a look at Udashen,  possibly,  or Ware and ask them face to face how on earth they could work on Willingham for two years and Willingham,  yes, he was deserving, but he is DEAD.

Yes,  we believe in the case of Timothy Cole.  Happy he has a bronze statue but what about running the DNA of the living?

A few years ago,  before the DNA was run for Melendez,  Walter Reaves appeared in a segment of FRONTLINE.  Reaves was Willingham’s attorney.  Reaves worked hard for Willingham’s exoneration,  although,  Willingham was dead,  executed by the State of Texas.

The problem with the Cameron Todd Willingham case was and always has been that Willingham’s wife has sworn that Willingham confessed to her.

Confessed to her.

Not much you can do with that is there?

So while they turned their attention to Willingham,  Kerry Max Cook and Anthony Melendez sat in prison waiting for DNA to be run.

It is Harry Storm’s hope that the Texas Forensics Commission indeed have members of the Innocence Project of Texas on its bite mark panel.  It is everyone’s hope that the public get to ask them hard questions that need asking from a body that seems to answer to no one.

We salute the work done on Willingham and Cole,  don’t get me wrong.

We just can’t help but think about the days the innocent sit in prison waiting and wonder why they can’t get moved to the top of the list in front of other cases, yes, worthy, however not living innocent in prison with hope just a test away.



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