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Noel Levy vs. Ray Krone

A Case of Life & Death

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In the spring of 2002, RAY KRONE'S conviction for the murder of KIM ANCONA was thrown out because DNA proved his innocence beyond doubt. Originally sentenced to death, KRONE was the 100th person to be shown innocent after having been sentenced to death since capital punishment was reintroduced in the United States in the mid-1970s. For those who seek to correct the wrongful conviction of Debra Milke, this milestone case is of interest for yet another reason. RAY KRONE, an innocent man, was sent to Arizona death row by prosecutor NOEL LEVY. The story follows...

But the story shows - in fact - much more. It not only corroborates that the death penalty system of Arizona is indeed faulty, but also proves that the uneducated 'tough on crime' attitude of the governing politicians and its supporters to be the true danger to public safety. Internationally strongly criticized, too many cases resulted in the death sentence of a factually innocent individual, whereas the true perpetrator of a crime was free and walked the streets. As in Debra Milke's case, where the authorities ruthlessly and knowingly tried three cases [including Debra's and JIM STYERS'] instead of one [ROGER SCOTT].


Sat., Apr. 13, 1996

Ray Krone's Lawyer Says He Will Appeal;
The Family Says It Will Continue to Fight

Daily Record staff

PHOENIX -- The moment the jurors walked in the courtroom, RAY KRONE and his family knew something was wrong.

Several jurors were already crying. They filed past KRONE and attorney CHRIS PLOURD as the courtroom benches continued to fill up with spectators. All of KRONE'S usual supporters were there.

JIM LEMING sat with his arm around CAROOLYN, KRONE'S mother, who held a red carnation. Next to them in the front row sat his sister, AMY WADE. Just a few minutes before, at 11 a.m. Friday, WADE had walked into the courthouse after flying in from Dover. She couldn't take the waiting at home anymore.

Just seconds before she walked in, the jury had announced that it reached a verdict. "No matter what happens Carolyn, you've got to hang tough," PLOURD told her before heading in to sit at the table with KRONE.

Before she entered the courtroom, CAROLYN gave the deputy who has guarded KRONE for months a slip of paper to give to him. On it was a Bible verse about patience, Romans 5:3-5, that CAROLYN had been carrying during the difficult days of jury deliberation. As reporters from news organizations filled the courtroom, PLOURD put his hand on KRONE'S shoulder.

The victim's mother, PATRICIA LOU GASMAN, sat between her grandson, DANIEL MILLER, and her victim's advocate, ROB ROBERSON.

As the jury forewoman passed the verdict to the court's clerk, more tears could be seen in the jury box. Then the clerk began to read. First, on the charge of kidnapping : Guilty.

GASMAN let out a huge sob and sagged against ROBERSON. JIM LEMING'S arm tightened around his wife. KRONE showed no reaction at all. Then, the second charge, first-degree murder : Guilty.

CAROLYN cried. Half of the jurors were sobbing, while some sat stone-faced. GASMAN sobbed uncontrollably on ROBERSON'S shoulder, then on MILLER'S shoulder. KRONE took a drink of water. He stayed calm and collected.

For a second time, the York County native had been convicted of brutally stabbing KIM ANCONA to death in the men's room of the CBS Lounge on Dec. 29, 1991. For a few minutes, it seemed that all anyone could hear was the crying. Then the judge asked everyone to clear the courtroom. He wanted to talk to the jurors and give them an opportunity to address the lawyers.

GASMAN hugged Detective CHARLES GREGORY, the lead investigator in the case whose moves and motives came under close scrutiny during the trial. He said he felt vindicated by the verdict. "I'm glad it's all over," he said later.

Comment: The lead detective on the case makes a self-serving comment about how he has been vindicated by a guilty verdict. Do we hear anything from him years later when this verdict is shown to be totally wrong, when the man he helped send to prison is proven innocent? As disagreeable as this self-serving comment is, it pales in comparison to the arrogant remarks of NOEL LEVY, who boasts about his conviction of KRONE, a man who was innocent.

For KRONE, it isn't. As he was led out of the courtroom, he turned to his family and said, "Don't worry. It's all right. It's all right."

In the hallway, everything descended into chaos. The LEMINGS and WADEleft quickly, going next door to the office of investigator Mike Pain to recover. GASMAN, who suffers from heart problems, had to be taken downstairs for fresh air. MILLER, ANCONA'S 18-year-old son, could only shake his head, his eyes red with tears. The young man's doubts about KRONE'S guilt seem to have grown throughout the trial.

He has become friendly with some of KRONE'S buddies, and he has talked some with the LEMINGS, telling them only KRONE knows for sure whether he is guilty. The LEMINGS said later that they have his address and intend to keep in touch with him.

After a few minutes to recover, GASMAN agreed to talk to the horde of reporters. She had just spoken inside the jury room to the jurors who wanted to tell her they were sorry for her loss. She told reporters she had worried that KRONE wouldn't be convicted a second time. "I knew Krone was guilty, but I knew that there was a chance that he could get off," she said.

Comment: It is a terrible tragedy when a family member is murdered. But that tragedy is made even worse when a prosecution of an innocent person is pursued, and the prosecutors and investigators convince the family and friends of the victim that the case will be solved by the conviction of that innocent person.

Sitting on the front steps of the courthouse with MILLER, faced by a wall of cameras and microphones, GASMAN brought out ANOCONA'S frayed Bible that her grandfather had given her years ago.

She said the trial had included "a lot of slinging of her reputation." She softened her stance toward the LEMINGS, whom she has criticized in the past for labeling their son as another victim in this case. "I feel very sorry for the family of Ray Milton Krone, but he is accountable for the murder of my daughter," she said.

Upstairs outside the fifth-floor courtroom, several people waited for PLOURD and prosecutor NOEL LEVY to finish talking with the jury. PLOURD'S legal assistant worried about him. "I've never seen him this wrapped up in a case," he said. LEVY came out first and said he, too, felt vindicated by the verdict. "It was a lot of personal attack, real personal," he said of the defense conspiracy theory presented during the trial.

He had believed there was a 50-50 chance of conviction or acquittal, he said. In the end, the jury focused on only one piece of evidence : the bite mark. "Same thing as '92, that was the deciding factor," LEVY said. The jurors looked at the evidence themselves and decided, "My God, those teeth fit those wounds." He will consider asking for the death penalty again, but said he must consult with his superiors first. "I don't know how they'll react."

Comment: LEVY is so sure of himself, he was personally insulted by the idea he was prosecuting the wrong man, he is vindicated by the guilty verdict - and this is all completely wrong ! DNA evidence will later show that RAY KRONE is completely innocent of this crime, and that NOEL LEVY helped send the wrong man to death row. Furthermore, LEVY is sure that the bite marks are trustworthy evidence, despite widespread opinion that they are not reliable. And again, LEVY will later be proven to be entirely in the wrong.

Sentencing was set for July 11. KRONE could go back to death row or receive 25 years to life, plus additional time for kidnapping. One thing may influence LEVY'S decision on what punishment to pursue. A death penalty sentence may be harder to get from Judge JAMES McDOUGALL, because although KRONE was convicted of first-degree murder, the jury said it was not premeditated. Instead, the jurors found KRONE guilty of felony murder because they decided he killed ANCONA during the course of a felony, the kidnapping, which basically meant he restrained her in the bathroom.

LEVY said he believes that only KRONE could be the killer and that GREGORY handled the case correctly. He thinks KRONE and ANCONA were dating. "The ways of the human heart are mysterious," he said when asked why he thinks KRONE killed her. "I can't address that." When the jurors left the building, the guards led them away from the waiting news media.

Comment: This sounds all too familiar to the supporters of Debra Milke : LEVY shielding the doubtful conduct of the lead detective; LEVY saying he just knows that the defendant is guilty; LEVY rationalizing his theory of the crime, which makes no sense, by talking about the mysterious nature of human evil. And again, here as in The Debra Jean Milke Case, LEVY is wholly in the wrong, and the person he has convicted is simply not guilty !

Deputies said they had declined to talk to anyone from the press. The jurors said the same thing themselves while walking to their cars. Only one, DEANE MARTINEZ, said, "It came down to the evidence that was presented in court." When asked if that meant the bite mark, she and several others nodded. As they have throughout the trial, they stuck together, despite the dissension in their ranks.

In the early stages of deliberation, several had wanted to acquit KRONE. "They just wrenched over this," PLOURD said. "They are not convinced." PLOURD left the courtroom after meeting with the jurors for 40 minutes. He told the LEMINGS outside that KRONE told them to stay tough. "He's doing fine. He's hanging in there. He's worried about you," PLOURD said.

The Lemings can talk to KRONE by phone but won't be able to meet with him until Sunday, because no prison visitations are allowed Friday or Saturday. The 12 friends and relatives who had been in court gathered around PLOURD in a semi-circle on the sidewalk. "Don't give up, " he said, vowing to appeal the case and keep fighting.

The LEMINGS themselves took everything hard. By the end of the afternoon, they almost seemed ready to fight again. As Jim Leming began to make calls to York County to inform friends and family of the verdict, Carolyn drew on the strength that KRONE had given her on the phone the night before. "He said, 'It's in God's hands, and God knows the truth,'" CAROLYN said. The LEMINGS are determined to keep fighting until they find a jury that agrees with them.

(End of article)


RAY MILTON KRONE, a former Dover Township man, has been convicted twice in the murder of a bartender, but he has always maintained his innocence. KIM ANCONA, 36, was found stabbed to death Dec. 29, 1991, in the CBS Lounge in Arizona.

KRONE was convicted in 1992 in ANCONA'S murder and was sentenced to death. In a new trial in 1996, a jury found him guilty, but a judge sentenced him to life in prison.

With new DNA evidence coming to light, a judge let KRONE out of prison Monday pending an April 29 hearing.

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  • Dec. 29, 1991 - KIM ANCONA is stabbed eight times at about 2 a.m. Her body is found in the morning. Police begin their investigation, including questioning RAY KRONE.
  • Dec. 31, 1991 - The Phoenix Police Department arrests KRONE and charges him with first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault. He is assigned an attorney.
    Comment: Another quickie solution of a murder by the Phoenix Police Department, a "solution" that is wrong - KRONE is innocent.
  • July 29, 1992 - The trial of RAY KRONE begins. The prosecution calls 19 witnesses, the defense five, including KRONE.
  • Aug. 7, 1992 - After deliberating about two hours, the jury finds KRONE guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping. He is found not guilty of sexual assault.
  • Nov. 20, 1992 - Judge imposes the death penalty.
  • June 13, 1994 - JIM and CAROLYN LEMING hire a private attorney, CHRISTOPHER J. PLOURD of San Diego, to seek a new-evidence hearing.
  • Dec. 12, 1994 - KRONE'S automatic appeal moves to the Arizona Supreme Court. A hearing is held. The LEMINGS are told they should expect to wait about a year for a decision.
  • June 22, 1995 - The Arizona Supreme Court overturns KRONE'S conviction, granting him a new trial.
    Comment: The conviction was overturned because NOEL LEVY used an ambush witness in rebuttal at the trial, a tactic he also used in Debra Milke's trial.
  • Aug. 3, 1995 - KRONE is moved from death row to the Maricopa County Prison in Phoenix.
  • April 14, 1995 - KRONE'S new judge denies him bail.
  • Feb. 12, 1996 - KRONE'S retrial on murder charges begins.
  • Feb. 16, 1996 - In its opening statement, the prosecution says bite marks on the victim's body match KRONE'S "unique dentition." KRONE'S lawyer counters that the bite marks are not KRONE'S, and that saliva found on the victim provides a DNA pattern that excludes KRONE.
  • April 12, 1996 - A jury finds KRONE guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping.
  • Dec. 10, 1996 - Maricopa County Superior Court Judge JAMES McDOUGALL, saying he had a list of troubling questions about the murder of KIM ANCNA and that he had doubts about the "clear identity of the killer," gives KRONE a life sentence for murder, a minimum 25-year term, and 21 years more for kidnapping. KRONE, 39, would have to serve about 36 years before becoming eligible for release.
  • March 21, 2002 - KRONE'S defense team says that a new DNA test done within the past year matches another man, who is a felon listed in an FBI's database. The man lived about 600 yards from the bar where ANCONA was killed.
  • April 4, 2002 - A police lab confirms the match of the DNA test for KRONE'S attorneys. The defense says it interviewed the man it matched, and he made admissions about the murder.
  • April 5, 2002 - ALAN SIMPSON, one of KRONE'S attorneys, petitions the court for his client's immediate release. The judge does not grant it but schedules a hearing for April 29 to hear testimony about the new evidence and determine whether KRONE should receive a new trial.
  • April 8, 2002 - The Office of the Maricopa County Attorney calls a news conference, saying it petitioned the court for KRONE'S release. The judge orders KRONE'S release pending an April 29 hearing.

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Doubts plagued trials in '91 killing

Beth DeFalco
The Arizona Republic

April 08, 2002 12:00:00

A Phoenix man who may be cleared in a 1991 murder was convicted twice in trials that featured battling experts, dubious jurors and a judge who said the case will "haunt me for the rest of my life."

New DNA test results in the stabbing death of Phoenix bartender KIM ANCONA have cast doubt on the guilt of RAY KRONE, who spent four years on death row and more than 10 years total in prison.

An analysis of evidence preserved from the crime scene at the CBS Lounge, 1615 W. Camelback Road, found another man's DNA on ANCONA'Sclothes. That man, identified as KENNETH PHILLIPS, 36, is in prison for an unrelated sex crime.

KRONE'S attorneys have petitioned the court for a new trial, and a hearing has been scheduled for April 29.

Whether KRONE, 45, will be cleared and released from prison remains to be decided. But a review of his second trial - he was convicted again in 1996 after his 1992 guilty verdict was overturned on a technicality - finds proceedings laced with questions.

"Although the court agrees with the jury's (guilty) verdict," Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James McDougall wrote in his 1996 verdict, "the court is left with a residual or lingering doubt about the clear identity of the killer."

KRONE was convicted chiefly on the basis of bite marks on the victim's body that the prosecution's dental experts said matched KRONE'S crooked teeth. In recent years, however, the forensic dentistry used to identify KRONE has come under attack. Even forensic experts admit tooth mark identification is most effective when used in conjunction with other evidence, not as a sole determining factor for identity.

Comment: Of course, NOEl LEVY was not concerned about the fact that the evidence he was using is not considered reliable, even by experts. And so an innocent man spent more than 10 years in prison, including several years waiting to be executed.

In KRONE'S 1992 trial, no DNA evidence was presented. That conviction was overturned because the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that a dental videotape was unfairly used to prosecute him.

In his 1996 retrial, DNA evidence was presented, but it could not directly link KRONE to the murder, KRONE'S attorneys said.

But no evidence excluded him, either. Both KRONE and Ancona, 36, had Type O blood, which was all that could be scientifically determined.

So jurors were left to decide KRONE'S guilt based on teeth marks on Ancona's throat and breast. And jurors twice used those marks to convict KRONE.

Prosecutors in 1996 said Ancona was slain while her attacker was trying to kidnap her. She was stabbed twice in the back and four times in the neck with an 8-inch knife found recovered from a trash container near the bar. She had cuts in her vaginal area and bite marks on her neck and left breast.

Dr. Raymond Rawson, a forensic dentist from Nevada, was the prosecution's primary expert. He convinced jurors at both trials that KRONE'S teeth made the marks.

After learning of the new DNA results, Rawson stands by his testimony. "The bite mark evidence was solid," he said last week. "The bite marks were just one piece of evidence with whatever else the jury considered, that is what convicted him."

But jurors in both trials said that they based their decision to convict KRONE on the bite marks.

"It was the best we had to go with," said Janet Olmstead, 65, of Mesa, who sat on the jury in KRONE'S 1996 trial. "It seemed that with the teeth marks being a match, it had to be him."

Three forensic dentists testified on KRONE'S behalf in his 1996 trial. Dr. Norman Sperber said last week that prosecutor Noel Levy asked him to examine the bite marks by before KRONE'S first trial. He said he told the state that he thought someone other than KRONE made the marks.

Comment: As in The Debra Jean Milke Case we learn here that LEVY, despite better knowledge, elected to pass over and disregard and expert's hint about the factual, obvious innocence of MR. KRONE. This proves LEVY'S ruthless and over-zealous approach to 'solving' a case, no matter whether truth or justice were denied this way.

Sperber, who says only 10 percent to 15 percent of bites are worth testifying about, testified on KRONE'S behalf in 1996.

"Skin is very distortable," Sperber said last week. "People who look at bite marks think the mark looks as the bite was administered, but a bite can change depending on how the skin is held."

At least one juror in 1996 had the same question.

"If a hand was grabbing the breast at the time of the bite, would it distort the alignment of the teeth marks?" the juror asked the judge in a note during deliberations.

Another juror appeared frustrated with Rawson's testimony, according to a note given to McDougall.

"Dr. Rawson was allowed to lecture long - I resent the treatment of Dr. Sperber," the juror wrote. "I feel that I as a juror am not getting fair testimony with such restrictions as are placed upon this witness."

While jurors considered the DNA evidence extremely complicated, they could easily replicate the dental expert testimony.

"We had a mold of the teeth and pictures of the bite marks," Olmstead said. "We just matched them up."

Judge uncertain

Since the new DNA results were returned last week, police have taken teeth impressions from PHILLIPS.

But KRONE attorney Chris PLOURD says that matching PHILLIPS' teeth to the bite marks won't be easy. Police will have to examine all of PHILLIPS'dental records to see how his teeth have changed. PHILLIPS' prison sentence ends July 15.

Although McDOUGALL declined comment on the case last week, he said his view of the case remains the same as expressed in his 1996 verdict. "This is one of those cases that will haunt me for the rest of my life," the judge wrote in 1996, "wondering whether I have done the right thing."

Channel 12 News reporter LEW RUGGIERO contributed to this article.

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DNA frees Arizona inmate after 10 years in prison

Dennis Wagner, Beth DeFalco, and Patricia Biggs
The Arizona Republic

April 09, 2002 12:00:00

RAY KRONE walked out of Arizona State Prison at Yuma on Monday, freed by DNA evidence after serving 10 years and facing the death penalty for a murder he didn't commit.

During a phone call moments before he stepped into the Arizona sunshine, KRONE'S voice quavered with emotion. "There's tears in my eyes," he said.

"Your heart's beating. You can't hardly talk."

Freedom came just hours after Maricopa County Attorney RICK ROMLEY held a news conference to acknowledge that KRONE almost certainly did not sexually assault and kill cocktail waitress KIM ANCONA at a Phoenix lounge in 1991.

Romley said new evidence not only vindicates KRONE, but points directly at KENNETH PHILLIPS, 36, who is serving time in Florence for an unrelated sex crime. Prosecutors are considering investigating whether to charge PHILLIPS, ROMLEY said.

ROMLEY and Phoenix Police Chief HAROLD HURTT announced that they would ask for KRONE'S release pending a hearing next month to vacate the murder conviction. Both officials stressed that detectives and prosecutors who won KRONE'S conviction were operating with strong circumstantial evidence. However, they said, new DNA findings make it clear that they had the wrong man.

"He (KRONE) deserves an apology from us, that's for sure," ROMLEY said. "A mistake was made here ... What do you say to him? An injustice was done and we will try to do better. And we're sorry."

Comment: ROMLEY apologizes, HURTTapologizes - but where is LEVY? He made lots of comments to the press about the great job he had done in convicting a murderer, but when that man is later proven innocent, does LEVY have the honesty, the decency, to admit he was wrong and apologize? Apparently not. And when Debra Milke is vindicated, we will likely see more craven behavior from the man who helped send her to death row.

KRONE refused to place blame for his decade behind bars.

"I'm not pointing fingers ... Maybe it was a mistake, maybe incompetence," he said. But he made it clear that he felt betrayed by the justice system.

Even after his first conviction, KRONE said, he lived by a mantra : "I didn't do it, so how could there be unquestionable evidence that I did?"

KRONE was sentenced to death, spending two years and eight months in Cellblock 6 in Florence, watching other condemned inmates taken away for execution.

KRONE maintained hope when a second trial was granted but says he gave up when, in his mind, jurors ignored overwhelming evidence and testimony in his favor. When the life sentence came down, KRONE said, "that pretty much ruled out all the faith I had in truth and justice."

KRONE said he tried to focus on being strong for friends and family who supported him. He read from his Bible each night, and said a prayer "for the truth to come out and, Lord, change the hearts of my accusers."

Ray Krone
Charles Whitehouse/The Associated Press
Freed inmate RAY KRONE (right), shown with
his attorney, CHRISTOPHER PLOURD, says he is
looking forward to a good meal.

Bite marks convincing

Once labeled the "snaggletooth killer," KRONE was convicted largely on circumstantial evidence, particularly expert testimony that bite marks found on the victim matched his teeth.

No DNA evidence was submitted in the first trial, and genetic tracing results provided for the second trial merely failed to preclude him as the perpetrator.

But all of that changed after defense attorney Alan Simpson obtained a court order, and Phoenix police produced new results.

On Monday, prosecutor WILLIAM CULBERTSON told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge ALFRED FENZEL that DNA found in saliva on the victim's tank top did not come from KRONE. In fact, chances are 1.3 quadrillion to one that it came from PHILLIPS, the Florence prison inmate.

CULBERTSON said that information was bolstered by two discoveries. First, lab results show that PHILLIPS has type O blood, the same as that found at the crime scene. Second, a dental expert said he "cannot eliminate Phillips as the person who left the bite mark" on ANCONA'S breast.

During a recent interview with SIMPSON at the Arizona Department of Corrections facility in Florence, PHILLIPS purportedly admitted seeing ANCONA in the men's room at the CBS Lounge the night she died. He said he needed to use the restroom, but she told him to leave because she was cleaning it. ANCONA'S body was found in the men's room the next morning, stabbed to death.

"Kim died a very violent death," SIMSPON noted after Monday's hearing. "In all the excitement for my client, we have to pause and remember that a young lady didn't deserve to die."

Meanwhile, FENZEL ruled that it would be an injustice to keep KRONE in custody any longer.

After ordering his immediate release, he set a follow-up hearing for 10:30 this morning. KRONE will not be allowed to leave the state and cannot have any contact with the victim's family or any potential witnesses until the evidentiary hearing April 29.

Looking for a good meal

Around 5 p.m. Monday, KRONE traded his orange prison jumpsuit for blue jeans and a T-shirt, then walked away from the Cheyenne Unit, a 30-man dorm in the Yuma prison. He said he was desperate for a good meal after years of prison food, maybe seafood and a milkshake.

JOHN ONTIVEROS, an assistant deputy warden who also knew KRONE on death row, said KRONE signed autographs for other inmates and then made a cellphone call to his mother before walking out the door.

He is the second Arizona convict to be exonerated by DNA evidence, and the first after facing execution. Before the murder, he said, he viewed capital punishment as something for mass murderers and vicious criminals. Now? "They would have executed me," he said. "Could I have any faith in it anymore? Absolutely not. I can't be the only one ... People need to address this issue."

Earlier, ROMLEY and HURTT defended the death penalty. "The system may not be perfect, but it's the best in the world," HURTT argued.

Parents celebrate

KRONE'S parents, CAROLYN and JIM LEMING of Pennsylvania, saved his 1970 Corvette for him. As soon as they got word Monday, the couple started packing for a long drive to Phoenix. "We just have to thank God that this worked out finally, and have to thank all of our friends and family who have stood behind Ray all these years," CAROLYNsaid.

She questioned why her son was not released immediately after the DNA specimens found on ANCOONA were traced to PHILLIPS. But she gave credit to ROMLEY, calling him "an honest and fair person" because he was willing to apologize. LEMING predicted that her son will get on with life immediately, adding, "He won't let bitterness or anger or a woe-is-me attitude keep him from living."

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Release of 100th Innocent From Death Row Underscores Urgent Need for Moratorium, ACLU Says

April 9, 2002

Statement of Diann Rust-Tierney, Director
ACLU Capital Punishment Project


WASHINGTON--The release of RAY KRONE, who spent over two years on Arizona's death row for a crime he did not commit, should be a wake-up call for elected officials and state leaders all across this country.

Krone is the 100th person in the nation to be released from death row with proof of his innocence. He is the second Arizona convict to be exonerated by DNA evidence, and the first after facing execution. Whether you support or oppose the death penalty, this is unacceptable. It is time to recognize the magnitude of the problems plaguing our nation's death penalty system and implement a nationwide moratorium until these problems are adequately addressed.

Our death penalty system is making too many mistakes. We have not adequately addressed the problems created by false or mistaken testimony, prosecutorial misconduct, police misconduct, faulty expert testimony and jailhouse snitches. Further, ineffective and incompetent lawyers jeopardize their clients' chances at a fair trial when they don't do their jobs.

We have a double standard of justice in America: one for the rich and another for the poor. A rich man can hire a lawyer who will investigate the facts and skillfully prepare and present his case. Poor man's justice too often means a lawyer who literally and figuratively sleeps on the job and presents a case without investigation or adequate preparation.

In the past ten years alone, 47 people with proof of innocence were released from death rows all over the country. The systemic problems that send innocent people to death row are not isolated to one, two or even five states. Of the 38 states with the death penalty, 24 have had to release people from death row. Further, in many of the cases where people have been released from death row, multiple error factors - not just one mistake - were to blame. Too many errors in too many states point to too great a chance of executing an innocent person.

Now is the time for the governors, the state legislatures and other elected officials in death penalty states to take a fresh look at the death penalty. A system that narrowly avoided executing 100 innocent people cannot be called successful or equitable.

There is no 'quick fix' solution. But until a solution is reached, our nation's governors and state leaders must call for a moratorium on all executions to allow adequate time to explore ways of ensuring that innocent persons are not being executed and that the system is being implemented equitably for everyone.

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Exonerated man files
suit for $100 mil

Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 22, 2003 12:00 AM

A former death row inmate who was exonerated by DNA evidence has filed a $100 million lawsuit against the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and Phoenix police.

RAY KRONE was found guilty of murdering Phoenix bartender KIMBERLY ANCONA in 1991 based largely on expert testimony that purportedly matched his teeth with bite marks found on the victim's breast. KRONE claims in his U.S. District Court complaint that the verdict was a result of police incompetence, fraud, misconduct by prosecutors and perjury by witnesses.

KRONE had spent nearly a decade behind bars when blood evidence was matched to the DNA of Kenneth Phillips, 36, now charged with the rape and homicide.

But to this day, the lawsuit says, investigators "continue to attempt to fabricate evidence and obtain testimony to the effect that [KRONE] somehow 'conspired' in the death of Kim Ancona." The complaint says authorities have suggested that they won't seek the death penalty against PHILLIPS if he testified that KRONE participated in the murder.

Comment: We know all these activities too well. Fabricating evidence? Obtaining questionable testimony? Conspiracy? All these words fly in the face of every halfway bright citizen, demanding justice and decent judicial conduct in a high-profile case. It is - in fact - the pattern that also put Debra Milke behind bars, a system-victim who has nothing to do with what she was convicted of, just like RAY KRONE.

The 25 allegations in the suit include conspiracy, false imprisonment, tampering with evidence, cruel and unusual punishment, negligence and defamation.

Representatives from the Phoenix Police Department and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office declined comment.

KRONE was a U.S. Postal Service employee and Air Force veteran who had no criminal record before the murder case. He emerged from prison as a poster figure among critics of capital punishment.

Comment: Like Debra, who never had any criminal record before she was accused of having conspired with ROGER SCOTT and JIM STYERS to have her 4-year-old child killed. But in fact, only fabricated and invented details plus an unspeakable media pre-sentencing and character-assassination helped a 'jury of her peers' to reach a guilty verdict against the young woman.

The federal suit rips investigators for concealing key evidence, and claims that prosecutors 'shopped' for experts who would falsely testify that KRONE'S teeth matched a key bite mark. The first conviction, in 1992, resulted in a death sentence that was overturned based on prosecutorial misconduct. KRONE was retried and convicted in 1996 but received life in prison from a judge who expressed reservations about the case.

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Pay Ray Krone his $100 million

O. Ricardo Pimentel
Republic columnist
The Arizona Republic
May. 4, 2003 12:00 AM

RAY KRONE wants $100 million from the folks who wrongfully put him in prison for about 10 years - nearly three of them on death row.

That would be us. Let's pay.

No muss. No fuss. No trial. Let's pay it and feel lucky that all the former postman wants is roughly $10 million for every year of torture he endured before DNA evidence proved that he didn't kill Phoenix bartender KIM ANCONA.

Torture? Too steep a price?

Well, try really hard to imagine what it's like to be imprisoned for a crime you didn't commit. Try really hard to fathom what those years on death row might have been like.

For double the pleasure, imagine sitting through two trials to hear police officers and prosecutors spin a tale based on flimsy evidence that nonetheless causes two jury foremen to utter those words, "Guilty, your honor."

Now take any horror and revulsion you might be imagining and realize it probably doesn't even come close to matching the gut-wrenching pain and despair KRONE felt. It probably doesn't even come close to what his mother, CAROLYN LEMING, who joins him in the suit, felt.

We should pay the $100 million not because his conviction, the lawsuit alleges, was based on prosecutorial and police misconduct, altered evidence, evidence not tested, exculpatory evidence not disclosed to the defense or a prosecution that shopped for and got an expert who said what it wanted.

We should pay because we should collectively be held accountable for the mistakes made in our name, particularly when they cause such great harm.

No mistakes made? Exhibit No. 1: We convicted and sent to death row the wrong guy.

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia provide some form of compensation for those wrongly convicted and imprisoned.

This is as it should be. In Arizona, we shouldn't force KRONE to prove that those who arrested, investigated, prosecuted and convicted him were malicious, negligent or any of the other things that might generally be required of a meritorious civil suit against the government.

It should suffice to say only that he was wrongly convicted.

Just a guess, but I'm betting that the thresholds are higher in cases in which citizens sue their government. But we're not talking here about an unfilled pothole or a civil servant making a mistake that inconveniences. We're talking about 10 years of a person's life, some of it spent expecting the state to strap you to a gurney and kill you.

We should pay because - and there's no good way of saying this - the police, the prosecution and two juries of his peers screwed up big time. And they did it on our behalf.

But look, let's say you don't believe a word the lawsuit says about ineptitude and misconduct. That maybe it's just all legal posturing in pursuit of a payday.

Let's say you don't care a whit that those really weren't KRONE'S teeth marks on the victim's breast, though a prosecution "expert" matched them.

Let's say you are unmoved by the suit's contention that the prosecution hid the fact that another expert said they probably weren't a match.

Let's say you just don't care that, according to the suit, there was evidence available that pointed more conclusively to Kenneth Phillips, already in custody for a sex crime committed three weeks after ANCONA'S sexual assault and murder.

Let's say that this lawsuit doesn't really draw a frightening road map for a legal railroading and that everything can be explained away as honest errors, differences of opinion on what constitutes evidence, exculpatory evidence, expert qualification, proper conduct or the truth.

No one should believe for a moment that anyone in the Police Department would arrest nor anyone in the County Attorney's Office prosecute a guy they knew to be innocent.

But the fact is, they - we - arrested the wrong guy and put him in prison and on death row.

Even if it can all be explained as just one big series of unavoidable mistakes, it still amounts to persecution, not prosecution.

A hundred million is the least we can do. We should pay not because we fear KRONE will win his suit anyway but because there's a credible chance that he won't.

After all, if KRONE'S conviction proved anything it is that the legal system is indeed flawed, including a propensity to stack the cards for the government.

Just as with his dual convictions and placement on death row, we could correctly call a judgment against KRONE in this suit "lawful." And it would still be wrong.

This page was last modified:
Sunday, 20-Jan-2013 03:31:01 CET
The Debra Jean Milke Case

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