NCIP has a number of cases progressing as we move into summer. Below are some highlighted cases on NCIP’s docket:
The Case of Jeremy Puckett
On May 5, NCIP along with pro bono law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in California’s Third District Court of Appeal, challenging the conviction of Jeremy Puckett. Puckett was convicted of murder and robbery in Sacramento County in 2002. NCIP uncovered evidence of Puckett’s innocence, including an admission by the actual perpetrator, hundreds of pages of withheld evidence that would have supported Puckett’s defense, and a witness recantation establishing someone else committed the murder. This latest petition follows the dismissal of his petition by the Sacramento County Superior Court.
The Case of Zavion Johnson
On April 11, NCIP, with pro bono law firm Keker, Van Nest and Peters filed a petition in the Sacramento Superior Court with newly discovered evidence of Zavion Johnson’s innocence. In 2002, Johnson was wrongfully convicted of the homicide of his 4-month-old daughter when he was 19 years old. His conviction was based on medical evidence now clearly established as false. The prosecution’s two primary experts have repudiated their trial testimony that her death could not have been the result of an accidental fall. Multiple other experts confirm her injuries are consistent with the fall Zavion described 17 years ago. The court has extended its time until July 10 to rule on the petition.
The Case of Ricky Davis
On January 10, the El Dorado Superior Court issued an order to show cause in response to NCIP’s petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging the conviction of Ricky Davis. Davis was convicted in 2005 of second-degree murder for the stabbing death of a woman in 1985. NCIP sought post-conviction DNA testing in his case and test results exclude Davis as the source of DNA found on the victim. The district attorney was granted a second extension of time to file their Return which is due on June 12.
The Case of Domingo Bustos Anaya
In April, the Stanislaus County Superior Court issued an order to show cause in response to NCIP’s petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging the conviction of Domingo Bustos Anaya. Anaya was convicted of a 1996 shooting in Modesto. NCIP had a breakthrough in the case when the true perpetrator, originally named in 1996, confessed in a sworn declaration and videotaped statement that he was the actual shooter. At a hearing in May, the Superior Court set September 12 and 13 as the dates for the Anaya’s evidentiary hearing.
The Case of Ed Easley
In June there will be a hearing for NCIP client Ed Easley on a motion to vacate his conviction under California’s new statute that permits someone with evidence of innocence to challenge their conviction even after they have served their sentence and are no longer in custody. In 1993, in Shasta County, Easley was convicted of child molestation and sentenced to ten years in prison. In 1997, after Easley was convicted, the child recanted her allegations and has adamantly maintained that Easley is innocent ever since. The California Supreme Court dismissed NCIP’s prior petition based on lack of standing because Mr. Easley was no longer in custody.
The Case of Kevin Galik
On August 21 an evidentiary hearing will be held for NCIP client Kevin Galik in the Kings County Superior Court. In 1997 Galik was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the murder and sexual assault of an eleven-year-old girl. Post-conviction DNA testing revealed the presence of an unknown male DNA profile in the body of the victim, and excluded Galik as a contributor. NCIP filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in 2014, asserting that the newly discovered DNA evidence establishes that Galik is actually innocent of the crime.
The Case of George Souliotes
On May 18, despite a recommendation of payment from the hearing office after a full blown evidentiary hearing, the California Victim Compensation Board denied compensation to NCIP exoneree George Souliotes. The law firm of Kaye, McLane, Bednarski & Litt, who represented George in the matter, intends to file a writ challenging the arbitrary denial.
The Case of Maurice Caldwell
On May 9 and 31, NCIP exoneree Maurice Caldwell, represented by Gross Belsky Alonso LLP, had a 2-day evidentiary hearing before an officer of the California Victim Compensation Board to establish his entitlement to compensation. He now awaits a recommendation from the hearing officer.