Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cop Watch: With Homeowners Like This Guy, Can The Cops Keep Up?

Over in Fort Worth, it's a whole new ballgame. A dangerous one.

Jim Cox, Homeowner, Is Ready for Action

Jim Cox is a FortWorth homeowner who makes a living as a weapons instructor, and he's got his house all ready for crime. He's installed video cameras around the place, and even when he's at home, those cameras are rolling and he's got the lights on.

Well, seems this past Monday morning around 11, a group of guys (the cameras caught 4 of them) pulled up in a minivan to Cox's house and one guy gets out, knocks on the door, rings the bell.

Jim Cox has just taken a shower, now he's finishing up his morning nap. All the lights are on.

The cameras then film a second guy joining the guy at the door, and they're shown kicking in the front door. Jim Cox has just come into his kitchen.

The next thing that the cameras pick up? These guys are running for the hills -- Cox has pulled out his semi-automatic and he's introduced himself.

Of course, Jim Cox reports that he "knew to hold his fire, ..." but " '[i]f they had confronted me, there would have been a noise.'"

Jim Cox's Home Video Available for Review Online

Now, Cox has printed up photos from this video, and he's sharing them with the neighborhood and the media: you can see his excerpts online at the link shown below.

And the Fort Worth police? They're reported to be "investigating the incident. "

The Reality - It's Dangerous for Everyone

This is a dangerous situation for everyone -- luckily, the only violence in this story appears to be the kick leveled against the front door. This homeowner could have been seriously injured, or killed -- or he could be facing criminal charges himself, for harming someone else.

But that's where we are these days, because there are a lot of folk out there that don't believe that they can leave their safety in the hands of their local law enforcement.


Monday, October 06, 2008

DA Watch: Tarrant County DA's Office Held Back Favorable Evidence in Death Row Case for 23 Years

On Thanksgiving Day 1985, a bomb was left in a briefcase on the doorstep of a trailer in a mobile home park.

It exploded and killed three people (a 44-year-old man, his teenaged daughter, a teenaged relative) and severely wounded another (the victim's 13 year-old son).

On October 2, 2008, another bomb of sorts hit this case: the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office officially admitted that evidence favorable to the defense was intentionally held back -- and it was important stuff.

This evidence might have cleared Michael Toney -- who sat through a jury trial, was found guilty, was then sentenced to death, and who has sat on Death Row since 1999. That's 9 years on Death Row for a man who has consistently maintained his innocence of the crime.

The Evidence Against Toney

The bombing was an unsolved crime for 12 years. Then, an inmate came forward to say that Michael Toney was talking to him about this bombing -- when Toney was questioned, he said it was all a plan to help out the inmate get out of jail. He was helping his buddy, but he didn't make that bomb, or kill those people.

It's not disputed that there's no fact to connect Michael Toney to the victims. Didn't know 'em, didn't have a beef with 'em.

The only witness evidence against him was:

(1) an ex-wife (yeah, that's right) who said back then that she had seen Mike Toney with a briefcase near the mobile home park on the night of the bombing. Now, she's saying she can't remember anything because she's got memory loss from injuries sustained during her military service in the Gulf War; and

(2) his ex-best-friend, whose story has jumped more than popcorn on a hot skillet: he saw Toney at the mobile home park, no he didn't, yes, he did.... You get the idea.

I, for one, wonder about the relationship between the ex-wife and the ex-best friend -- but then, maybe I read too many Grisham novels. And that's before I even consider this mystery evidence, you'll see what I mean ....

What Was Held Back?

Back then, the Tarrant County DA saw fit to hide documents that showed inconsistencies in the stories of the ex-wife and the ex-best-friend. They just weren't provided to the defense.

There were 14 separate documents that were either exculpatory or impeaching evidence -- things that the defense attorney could have used to tear apart the stories of the ex-wife and the ex-best-friend.

What Happens Now?

Suppressing evidence violates civil rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Toney has an argument that his federally protected civil rights involving due process have been violated.

Meanwhile, last Thursday, an "Agreed Proposed Findings of Fact," was filed before the same district court judge that presided over Torey's first trial. In this document (filed jointly by the DA's office and Torey's attorney), the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office admits its error, and a motion for a new trial has been set for hearing.

Torey could face a new trial. He could also have his conviction reversed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest court in the State of Texas dealing with criminal matters.

What About that 1985 DA who held back the evidence?

That DA, Mike Parrish, has since retired and he's not talking to the press.

What about that inmate-buddy who started this whole wagon train?

Dunno. I'm wondering how much he knew about this long ago Thanksgiving Day bombing ....


Dallas Morning News