Thursday, August 24, 2006

Another Gripping Lie

A death-row inmate at Ohio State Penitentiary will be executed unless a federal court intervenes; once again the condemning evidence is mere testimony from witnesses who were either given immunity or had charges reduced.

In the case of Tyrone Noling of Ohio, three gang-bangers testified against him during trial. Of course, an overly ambitious prosecutor had earlier threatened them with the needle or life in prison unless they told the truth. That is, corroborate evidence which he carefully spelled out by giving them exact details of the crime scene and killings or else...

The only eyewitnesses to the murders were Butch Wolcott, the star witness who received immunity, and Gary St. Clair and Joey Dalesandro. There were no matching fingerprints, and DNA evidence at the scene did not square with any of the three men.

In other words, without testimony from the former gang members, the prosecution had nada, zip, zero to tie Mr. Noling to the murdered elderly couple in their 80s, Bearnhardt Hartig and his wife Cora.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently outlined in a 2755-word article how the prosecution won the capital murder case using unscrupulous antics. "The case against Noling." they write, "is shot through with inconsistencies."

[T]he slain couple wasn't robbed. Noling's guns weren't used to kill the Hartigs. A cigarette butt found in the driveway yielded DNA that didn't belong to Noling or members of his gang. Except for the flawed and conflicting statements of Wolcott and others, no evidence points to Noling as the killer.


Cora's wedding band was on her finger, Bearnhardt's wallet in his pocket, filled with cash. Watches and other jewelry sat untouched. Deputies found $160 in a vanity beneath the bathroom sink. The killer had opened the doors, but left the money behind. Mr. Noling was a petty thief; as were his three cohorts; and all three eyewitnesses have recanted; one even as he testified during trial.

Mr. Noling was a petty thief; as were his three cohorts; and all three eyewitnesses have recanted; one even as he testified in court during trial.

No matter. The only concern for the court according to U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent is whether or not Mr. Noling's constitutional rights were "preserved." Guilt, as former Virginia Attorney General Mary Sue Terry once claimed appears to be "irrelevant."

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., recently observed in an op-ed column how "another man [was] about to be lied to death" in America.

The death penalty is a crude, vestigial remnant of frontier justice and an embarassment to any sense or pretense of moral authority this nation might claim.


Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci feels differently. He told the [Plain Dealer] none of this causes him to lose sleep, which is pretty much what you'd expect him to say. Belief in the death penalty requires a facade of certitude. Conscience is an inconvenience. Facts even more so. Don't know what you know. Don't ask; don't tell.

Indeed, the "idea that a man can be sent to death-row based on little more than some guy's word," or for that matter, three punk thieves is not only reprehensible, but lawless and barbarian in a nation of laws.

Great work on this HL. The most chilling aspect of the criminal justice system is how often they have to rely on testimony from jailhouse informants or fellow perpetrators who turn state's evidence.

All of those witnesses do so because they are offered better deals.

If somebody testified in a civil case and the jury learned that they benefitted in a tangible way by their testimony, they would be discredited. At very least, their testimony would be considered "poisoned fruit." That's a legal term for tainted testimony.

And at very worst, such a witness might be facing criminal charges themself for accepting a bribe.

How is it less of a bribe when a prosecutor offers a witness a reduced sentence for his testimony?

You'd think jurors would be more skeptical of those witnesses too. Are jurors allowed to even know the deals those people strike in return for their testimony?
That is such a grrreat question, especially since I don't know the answer.

But...I'm gonna do a little research and maybe just write a post on the subject.

Love the article your have written on Tyrone Noling.
We have recently created a website for Tyrone and his case.
The Url is:

You can email Tyrone from the site. His email is printed up and taken to him.
Thanks again for a great article!


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