March 26, 2010
Editor’s Note: I received this letter from Da’rryl Miguel Durr who is awaiting execution on Ohio’s death row. The state of Ohio plans to murder him on April 20, 2010. There are questions as to Mr. Durr’s actual guilt. This is nothing new in Ohio.
I received an award for Best Criminal Justice Reporting in Ohio for my investigation into the state’s wrongful execution of John Byrd (See the story in The Fitrakis Files: Free Byrd and Other Cries for Justice in our Online Store). The state of Ohio made similar mistakes in the conviction of John Spirko. Governor Ted Strickland commuted Spirko’s sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole because of “the lack of physical evidence linking him to the murder.” Then-Governor Bob Taft had no problems allowing Byrd to be murdered, despite the lack of physical evidence and he endorsed the political maneuverings of then-Attorney General Betty Montgomery who fought blood and DNA testing requested by Byrd that would have exonerated him. Durr’s case, like Spirko’s and Byrd’s before it, is another clear cut example of inconsistencies in the state’s case. Once again the prosecution is fighting a DNA test as in the Byrd case. When there’s any doubt about the guilt of a condemned prisoner, the state should err on the side of caution. – Bob Fitrakis
Dear Mr. Fitrakis, how is your spirit?
I am an innocent prisoner here on Ohio’s death row. I am writing to you in the hopes that you may be able to help me in much the same way you were able to help John Spirko many years ago by publishing “Justice for John Spirko. Lies…deceit…deception. Ohio Justice System Dirty Little Secrets.”
Let me explain. I have evidence (and believe that the state is withholding other evidence) that if investigated would exonerate me. Here is a brief summary of evidence that exists:
1) Police reports that classmates and school officials reported that the alleged victim Angel Vincent, alive after the date of death. The jury never heard this and no appeals court has seriously considered it.
2) The states own scientific investigator tested blood, saliva, hair and soil samples, as well as fibers, collected from me and found nothing to tie me to the case. Trial lawyers never had this evidence tested to see if it linked anyone else to the crime. Recent DNA tests on slides collected from the body found by police were negative for any biological material from me and the state is fighting further DNA testing on other evidence they have. Their claim is that due to their mishandling of evidence collected, testing revealed no biological evidence that was useful, and what evidence that remains could be contaminated. They also claim that they lost, destroyed or misplaced any other evidence collected in my case. They refuse to look.
3) The defense never checked weather reports, (See State v. Keenan (1993) 66 Ohio St. 3d 402) following statements, made by the states only witness, that it was raining outside on the night of the crime, the alleged crime took place in January the middle of winter and it was snowing then. This would prove, as in Keenan, that events described by the witness could not have happened.
4) The defense never preserved an exculpatory tape with the voice of the states witness confessing to, and apparently planning the crime.
5) During my trial, judge Ralph J. McAllister told my trial lawyers that “I want to see his nigger ass in the chair for messing with white women”. An affidavit by trial lawyer Jerry Milano was ignored by all appeals courts. Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Moyer, in review of this claim, said there was not enough evidence to recuse the judge from my case. Circumstantial evidence is enough to execute a man in Ohio but it is not enough to get a judge recused from a case in which race was an omnipresent factor. I’ve included a copy of one of the articles that appeared in various newspapers around the state about this.
6) The defense never challenged the identity of the body even though the initial coroners report claimed the body was that of an adult between the ages of 25-35. Whereas Angel Vincent was 16 at the time of her disappearance.
7) The state witness had numerous contacts with the police and never claimed to know anything about the crime. She had been the victim of a robbery in Independence, Ohio and spoke to the police yet never claimed a crime had been committed. She gave numerous false addresses during this time.
8) The defense never questioned the states witness concerning statements she made on the stand that indicated she suffered from a mental disorder. during trial she was questioned concerning her threats to kill herself, and her child, if I didn’t come stay with her. She was afraid of being replaced in my life by someone else. She claimed it was because I made her feel like nothing. Shortly after I came to prison, she began to abuse, neglect, and molest her daughter. Later she abandoned her. ~~She has been diagnosed as schizophrenic. Had my lawyers known this at trial, or questioned the mental state of someone threatening to kill herself, I believe it would’ve changed the outcome of the trial.
These are but a few examples. I’ve written various Innocence Project organisations for a while now trying to get someone to investigate my case but it has been to no avail. I hope that you will reply to me in some fashion,
May YAHWEH bless and keep you in His perfect care.
Da’rryl Miguel Durr 207889
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road
Youngstown, Ohio 44505