We learned of this tremendously unfortunate group recently, also known as the CA 12. The initial thought was to do one article profiling the entire group. However, after researching each case, realized that would not only be impossible but wouldn't begin to give the twelve of them their due justice. All the cases are infuriating and all too familiar.
We have followed quite a few cases of wrongful arrest and conviction but recently made the decision to devote more time to the cause. There are so many people being held without valid reason, more than we ever imagined. We've found or been pointed towards case after case, daily at this point. Though each person fighting this battle and each 'crime' couldn't be more different; the charges, convictions, evidence (or lack there of), eager investigations, sixth amendment right denial, hostile interrogation, false confession/identification, bad lawyer-ing, junk forensics, jail house rats and unfair trial are all very common denominators. If interested people like us see this so plainly, we can't figure out why there aren't more people talking about it.
Americans have been in recession for years, tax and prices rise while salaries fall. We hear politicians fight over budgets and discuss the next cut (usually at our expense). All the while, 'We The People' spend millions upon billions in taxes for state and federal prisons. It's frustrating enough to pay for murderers and rapists but this keeps our children and loved ones safe. To know that we also have to pay for countless innocent or over charged, fully capable of being contributing members of society (or at least they were before spending a lifetime behind bars). And all of this, Why? So a politician can be promoted in office or an investigator or prosecutor is too stubborn to see truth or too focused on the next win? This at the expense of human lives rotting in prison or being ended by execution and all funded by our hard earned, grossly inflated dollar.
The invisible victims in this case are as follows, in no particular order: Quintin Morris, Kimberly Long, Joanne Parks, William Richards, Guy Miles, Suzanne Johnson, Alan Gimenez, Michael Hanline, Rodney Patrick McNeal, Dolores Macias, Kiera Newsome and Ed Contreras. We plan to discuss all twelve of these individuals in coming weeks and will update this article as each new story becomes available.
California Innocence Project is working very diligently to overturn all their sentences and have rallied and marched hundreds of miles. This past December, they held a rally, presented a petition and urged Jerry Brown, Governor of California to free them in time for Christmas. The group citing "they are twelve adults that never belonged in jail in the first place". All of their stories are perfect examples of injustice and all entail the same themes we encounter in all wrongful conviction cases.
Quintin 'QT' Morris of Los Angeles, admission- March, 1994 Currently resides at California's own Folsom Prison
Quintin's case is an appalling combination of multiple key factors leading to wrongful conviction and blatant government corruption. It entails corrupt investigation, false identification, manipulation of law and a complete disregard for this mans life. He was charged and convicted of attempted murder in the first degree X's three and received three life sentences plus twelve years.
On The night in question, Quintin and friend Harlan Morgan were on their way to the store, Quintin driving his yellow Cadillac. (they where at a house party that ran out of beer and these two men volunteered to go for more) Unbeknownst to them a drive-by shooting had just taken place one street over. Four teenagers returned home from a night out and were entering their house when suddenly two men pulled up in a white Cadillac. The passenger got out, wearing a stocking mask over his head and opened fire, standing about thirty feet away from the victims. After spraying them with bullets he jumped back in the car, and they 'sped' off (this is an important detail). More than five minutes later the police stumble across Quintin and Harlan sitting calmly at a red light, just a block or two away from the shooting and this is where it all began.
Reading details of this case, my imagination kept going to scenes from movie 'Boyz n the Hood' based in Los Angeles. The controversial movie opened in theaters 1991, the same year Quintin was arrested, it is very well known the LAPD is no stranger to corruption. Worse than the character in the movie, Quintin sits in prison, all these years later praying for justice. Truth is stranger than fiction, indeed.
When approached by officers, Quintin and Harlan gave full cooperation. The two men and his car were searched and no stocking hats, guns, or any other evidence was found. Despite this lack of evidence they were both handcuffed and placed in the officer's car. The police, confident they had the right men, assumed the evidence had been thrown from the car after they sped from the crime scene. The investigators performed a full, detailed search of the entire area surrounding them and still found no evidence to corroborate their theory.
Still not satisfied with this, the officers took the men to the crime scene in handcuffs. One of the victims, a 17 year old girl, had described the perpetrator (shooter) to police officers as a black man wearing a stocking cap over his head and a long (knee length) black coat. The police officer walked this 17 year old girl over to the police car (contemptible!) where the two men were being held in cuffs, and she identified Quintin as the shooter (this is also very important. If this were true, the men sped off, found the best spot in LA to hide the evidence, changed, switched seats and headed back to the crime scene all in five minutes. They never even broke a sweat). Besides being a black man, Quintin in no way fit the description, he was wearing a regular, waist length coat and was the driver of a YELLOW Cadillac.
The witness went one step further at trial to say that in the face of death, she stared the shooter in his eyes, through the distorting, stocking cap and storm of bullets and that is why she knew it was Quintin. Though Quintin was convicted the Trial Judge (a retired police officer) expressed concern and doubt multiple times during and after trial. He advised prosecution to drop charges several times during the proceedings.
Shortly after Quintin's incarceration his defense team solved the crime on their own, they located the shooter and driver Howard Holt and Claude Davis. (If these two men had been arrested after this shooting, they wouldn't have gone on to have a violent three month crime spree). Both men have a slew of crimes like this in their past, including killing an innocent man working in a restaurant three days before this very night. When interviewed, Holt explained that the teenagers he fired at cut them off so Davis followed and he jumped out. This whole event boiled down to road rage. The judge, having already questioned Quintin's guilt had the conviction thrown out, and all was well. Or so they thought...
Prosecution appealed and won stating that the evidence (Howard Holt and Claude Davis' history and confession) was 'knowable' (knowable? what does that even mean?) during the original trial. Basically, the officers focused on Quintin and failed protect and serve by solving the crime thus leaving it up to his defense. Because his attorneys were doing their jobs and defending their client before and during trial, they weren't able to track down the true perpetrator until after. Yet despite all this, The State, turning a blind eye to fact while manipulating the law to fit their needs, ruled that Quintin was to serve out the sentence given at trial.
Quintin Morris is an innocent man. Everyone including the State of California is aware of this and yet he remains in prison based on a technicality. This is not a football game, its an innocent man behind bars for years upon years. False identification is the lead cause of wrongful convictions but despite this, remains the most sought out and powerful evidence for prosecution and jurors. Not that more evidence of Quintin's innocence is necessary but after all of this, the eye witness in his case has expressed serious doubt in her identification in years since his conviction. And the last cookie crumbles.. yet Quintin remains locked away, out of site and out of mind.
For more information on this case and to donate to Quintin's legal defense, click on the link below. Additional information also linked at names and phrases.
California Innocence Project- Quintin Morris
Stay tuned for Kimberly Long
Article written by Lisa Wallace
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