Trying To Find The Truth

justice weepsStephanie Clifford wrote about Derrick Hamilton who had his 1991 murder conviction overturned by a Brooklyn Court last week. Hamilton had been released from prison on parole after serving 20 years. In prison he said he kept his sanity by delving into the law and becoming a jail house lawyer.

Here’s what Ms Clifford wrote about why he went to prison: “Hamilton was just out of prison for manslaughter in 1991 when he was charged with shooting a man, Nathaniel Cash, in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Jewel Smith, Mr. Cash’s girlfriend, claimed she was the lone eyewitness to the shooting, but her version of what happened was inconsistent. She told the first detective who interviewed her that she had not seen the shooting. But according to Mr.[New York Police Detective] Scarcella, who interviewed her later, Ms. Smith said she had seen the murder and implicated Mr. Hamilton. In a post-trial hearing, Ms. Smith said she had been pressured by Mr. Scarcella to name Mr. Hamilton as the killer, according to a defense filing. The Conviction Review Unit [of the Brooklyn DA’s office] revisited the crime scene and interviewed Ms. Smith in North Carolina, and found she was “unreliable, incredible and for the most part untruthful,” a prosecutor, Mark Hale, said in court. “They had to depend upon her credibility to convict Mr. Hamilton,” and as a result, “his due process rights were violated.”

It is difficult to get a real understanding of the case without more facts. Certainly at trial there was more evidence than Ms. Smith testifying that Hamilton did it. We have no idea what the relationship with Hamilton and the decedent Cash was prior to the killing; nor do we know anything about the circumstances immediately prior to it. I assume  the jury that convicted Hamilton knew that Ms. Smith had made a prior inconsistent statement and that Ms. Smith had been properly cross-examined. More than twenty years after the event the DA finds she is “unreliable, incredible and for the most part untruthful” which the jury didn’t at the time. One has to wonder why the same DA’s office also didn’t at the time she testified.

If you don’t know Detective Scarcella has been taking quite a beating in the NY press because he is said to have used the same eyewitnesses for more than one conviction and some have said they lied. I don’t know if Ms Smith was used on other occasions or not by Scarcella or whether Scarcella is a good or bad cop. It  does seem that like with Annie Dookhan anything he touched has a bit of taint on it. Nor do I know on the little information provided whether Hamilton was wrongfully convicted as the judge found.

I’m interested in this case because it shows the problem with having the testimony of one person to a crime. Here Ms Smith told one story and then another. That’s not unusual. People don’t like to get caught up in police matters and will usually say they didn’t see the crime when they did. Only after pressure is put on them will they admit the truth. If we are to say the first thing a person said must be believed and all subsequent statements must be disbelieved we’d have few convictions. How then do we decide what statement the witness made is true. We trust the advocacy system and subject the witness to cross-examination. But as we see with Mr. Hamilton, if he didn’t do it as the judge found, that didn’t work too well.

I found Ms Clifford statement that Ms Smith “claimed she was the lone eyewitness to the shooting” curious. It seems to imply there may have been others. Are we to think they were not produced for some sinister reason?

All of this relates to the matters I am dealing with. How do you know when a person is lying? There really isn’t any way unless there is other evidence to show the statement is a lie. In the Whitey saga most of the evidence people relied on is from criminals who are notorious liars; not only that they were murderers who would gain great benefits by lying.

The DA in Brooklyn said because the credibility of Ms Smith was in question and she was the only witness to his crime his conviction was wrong because “his due process rights were violated.” Couldn’t the same thing be said about the witnesses against Whitey Bulger each of whose credibility has to be in question. Or, more significantly about John Connolly who had Salemme testify against him and who later admitted he lied.

The great problem in looking for the truth in the Whitey saga is that what we know for the most part comes from the mouths of people whose stock in trade is to lie. Yet judges have picked and chosen among the lies to come up with what they day is the truth. The real question is whether you can ever get the truth out of a barrel of lies.

18 thoughts on “Trying To Find The Truth

  1. FYI, there’s been a deal made on who’s gonna do the dying to take Old Mosul. Glorious Leader has offered to equip two brigades of blooded Peshmerga infantry with the latest body armor and lethal gadgets, if the Kurds will do the high casualty street-fighting necessary to put down the Dawaish. They’ll, also, get twenty-four 105 tubes ( 2 battalions) for organic support. The Turks are not happy. Modern Kurdistan is exiting the birth canal. America is the mid-wife.

  2. * Ok … The BPD Detective is in Az. … In any event the sentiment is the same.

  3. Ernest, It’s an enigma for certain. I have a great respect for the BPD Homicide detectives retired or otherwise . The item that grates though is that Patricia Donohue was stymied by the Government in her efforts to seek redress for her husband’s murder. So we leave the matter lying there at present. I always enjoy mixing it up with another thickskinned New Englander Wit !!! Enjoy that salubrious Arizona air 🙂 Salutè

  4. Thanks for the compliment. Just repeating, what was told to me by a retired BPD Detective, who worked on the case. No reason to doubt him. Happily, enjoying life in Arizona. I don’t think he is spending much time thinking about Whitey.
    A FOIA request for the reports, might be worth a try.

    1. Ernest:

      I hope to file such a request in the near future. Thanks for bringing up the issue.

  5. You really are the Gong Show comic 🙂 Theorize away, you are entitled to your opinions.

  6. All witness reports were sealed. The idea that you can scamper down to Suffolk DAO and procure twenty of them replete with biographical info is risible . Not a single one of this imaginary number was ever produced in the civil litigation Patricia Donohue and the Hallorans brought against the Government. Do you think a stone dead Brian Halloran was reciting Hamlet’s Soliloquy before offering up Jimmy Flynn’s name as the person who shot him? That absurd claim … which was certainly never made by Edward Brian Halloran , but ” found lying ” indeed like two different calibers of ammo on the ground, was flatly and irrefutably disproven. So, with or without magico-mysterioso-muppet head ski masks appearing on your noggin under any circumstances, the circumstances are these : That area on that day is a Bermuda’s Triangle, and Skipper Matt and Gilligan are splashing around in it now. You are the victims of confusional hypnotic technique which is a CoIntel Mind Control go to trick. You kept your eyes on the ski mask and lost the prize. Matt opened this as a topic, but lacks the gumption to do more than encourage Gilligan in his foolery .

    1. C’mon man…….ask Fred if he will let you out of his basement for a few hours so you can get some fresh air.

  7. It’s really like contemplating whether silence has an echo. There is no second shooter, no ski mask, no waitresses seeing whites of non-existent eyes, or non-existent back seat shooters that … ” now you know why his nickname is ‘Cementhead’ ” … There is just unremitting uncorroborated nonsense being flung about concerning an event that wss clearly a highly leveraged deal in Wyshak’s camp when it came to having to fit ten pounds of … apocryphal … in a nine pound bag. It is no stroke of genius to realize this. There’s a pair of comedians involved,l though. 🙂

    1. I agree with you…no ski mask. I don’t agree with anything else.
      Go to the Suffolk County DAO and request the witness reports of the Halloran & Donahue murders.
      There were at least 20 witnesses, at least 6 gave descriptions of the 2nd shooter. Not all descriptions were the same. The one thing in common was no mention of a ski mask.
      The reports have names, addresses, DOB’s tele numbers of the witnesses.
      At one point Bulger was out of the hit car, shooting Halloran. The 2nd shooter hopped in the driver seat. Shell casings from 2 guns were found at the scene
      .380 cal. and .30 cal. Do you think Whitey was Wyatt Earp firing 2 guns in the middle of Northern ave?

  8. Shooters ??? 🙂 … Let’s not make a Federal Case out of this. The concrete facts are that at the end of that day two men lay slain, by hand or hands unknown and as yet fully revealed . Perhaps never to be fully revealed for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with Kevin Weeks being ” smarter than Wyshak ” et al, and everything to do with exigencies at that time that are difficult for anyone not privy to them … I would wager … to understand. There is a Wisdom to Wyshak.

  9. The witness statements contain various descriptions of the shooters. The only thing that all witnesses had in common, was the fact that there was no mention of one of the shooters wearing a ski mask. Weeks might as well have said it was the Unknown Comic from the Gong Show with a paper bag on his head. The Wyshak Gang would have believed him. Weeks is smarter than all of them. Tell them what they want to hear and you can’t go wrong. If the 2nd shooter had half a brain, he would have been wearing a ski mask. Now you know why his nickname was “Cement Head”.

    1. Ernest:

      I think Weeks did say it was the Unknown Comic from the Gong Show with a paper bag on his head but since part of Martorano’s deal with Wyshak was that that the Unknown Comic had to be protected Weeks was told to put something else on someone so he put a ski mask on Mr.Nobody. By the way the worst thing to be wearing while waiting in a public area is a ski mask.

      1. Absolutely right Matt. A nice spring day in May and some Nitwit is wearing a ski mask. It must have been one of those Hi Tech invisible ski masks that only appear, once the shooting starts.

  10. There were no stairs, sidewalk or curb to the Pier Restaurant which is now represented as their death day eatery: other accounts have them dining at Anthony’s . Research archival photographs if you want and you see that The Pier Restaurant was a blocky three story building re- purposed into a succession of nightclubs in following years, and again had no sidewalk, hence no curb, and no exterior steps. Its facade was flush with the road and you could park in front. The Port Cafe directly across from the Pier had a short flight of wooden steps leading up to it to an entrance door in its center. It had no curb or sidewalk therefore either. The area was rough hewn in those days. Witnesses who can see ” the whites ” of assassins’ eyes from significant distances are colorful contributors to the spectacular Apocrypha surrounding that event, but no more than that. Stick to photos and archival TV news reports that night for a better picture. Otherwise, like Matt, who decries the Weeks’ account of events as nonsense as his premise, and then banters back and forth using the details of an account he disbelieves as his … fact set … you just sail along in the fog bank. Perhaps they are called ” The Mists Of History ” for excellent reasons however .

  11. Matt,
    You wrote before about Weeks being the backseat shooter, in the Halloran, Donahue murders. There were multiple eye witnesses to the homicides. Two people described a WM parked in the Pier 4 lot, looking across the street at the Pier Rest were the victims were. They stated that the man was using binoculars. That person was Weeks.
    A waitress was looking out the window just as Halloran was getting into Donahue’s car.
    The distance is basically stairs, sidewalk, curb. Not very far. She saw the hit car pull alongside the Donahue car. She described the guy in the backseat, as a WM,dark hair, very prominent were the whites of his eyes. No mention of a ski mask. She was able to get the plate of the hit car. Can the witnesses identify the shooters? Highly unlikely. However, not one witness stated that they guy was wearing a ski mask. Suffolk DAO still has reports from the witnesses.
    I think that you have figured it out, that Weeks is protecting his pal, the backseat shooter. Weeks has lied under oath numerous times. Weeks has violated the terms of his proffer. Has anything been done ? Wyshak et al are guilty of obstruction of justice.
    I feel bad for the victim’s families. I hate to agree with Whitey, but his trial was a sham. Wyshak et al have bought off the Boston press by giving them reports to assist in writing their books. Most of this info was given to me by a retired BPD Det, who was involved in the Northern ave homicide investigation. These witness reports would destroy the credibility of Weeks and the Wyshak Gang.

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