Sum it Up! #49

sum it upSum it Up! #49 is brought to you by a blogger who is tired of high winds, cold, and freezing temps. I am now accepting proposals to move to sunny, warm places.

A mistrial was declared in the case against David McLeod. The  jurors failed to reach a verdict. McLeod was on trial for the Hina Family murders. “Prosecutors said David McLeod planned, then bragged about setting the fire nearly 25 years ago and should finally be held accountable. But a lawyer for McLeod, 57, said his cruel statements don’t prove his guilt and no new evidence had emerged to link him to the fire. Cheshire Superior Court Judge John Kissinger called the mistrial after jurors spent nearly two days deliberating but could not come to a unanimous decision. Kissinger, however, refused to grant McLeod bail but said a retrial would have to be scheduled soon. McLeod has been in jail for 3 ½ years as he awaited trial.” A new trial is set to start April 14, 2014.

Family and friends from George Stinney are looking into possibilities to get a new trial to clear his name. George is the youngest person ever to be executed in the USA. From CNN: “A black teen in the Jim Crow South, Stinney was accused of murdering two white girls, ages 7 and 11, as they hunted for wildflowers in Alcolu, about 50 miles southeast of Columbia. Stinney, according to police, confessed to the crime. No witness or evidence that might vindicate him was presented during a trial that was over in fewer than three hours. An all-white jury convicted him in a flash, 10 minutes, and he was sentenced to “be electrocuted, until your body be dead in accordance with law.”

Now, attorneys for Stinney’s family are demanding a new trial, saying the boy’s confession was coerced and that Stinney had an alibi, his sister, Amie Ruffner, who claims she was with Stinney when the murders occurred. I’ll keep you posted.

Ryan Ferguson is supporting Mark Woodworth in his fight against his wrongful conviction. Ferguson went to jail 10 years ago for the murder of a Columbia, MO, newspaper editor. His father, Bill Ferguson, started studying Woodworth’s case to try and learn about similar trials.

Woodworth will go on trial again (for the third time, actually) on July 21st. Woodworth has been convicted twice of murdering his neighbor in 1990, only to have both convictions overturned. From the Huffington Post: “Woodworth was 16 when Cathy Robertson, 41, was killed. Never much for school, the high school dropout was content to help tend to farmland bought years earlier by his father and Cathy’s husband, Lyndel Robertson, when the men moved together from Illinois. Lyndel Robertson also was shot several times but survived. Woodworth was first convicted in 1995, then briefly released on appeal but convicted by a second jury in 1999 and sentenced to life in prison.”

Woodworth’s next court appearance is on March 18 for a preliminary hearing. He expects his attorney to request a change of venue given the case’s notoriety in Livingston County. Jurors in the previous trials came from neighboring Clinton County.

Last summer, St. Louis police exhumed the body of an 11-year old decapitated girl in a last attempt to identify her.  From the Daily Mail: “After digging for five hours, volunteers, experts from Washington University and the University of Notre Dame, the St. Louis City Medical Examiner’s Office and police found a small, 55-inch wood casket containing what they believed are the girl’s remains, according to KSDK.” Now we have more information.

The St. Louis Dispatch Today reports that “Since then, researchers from the University of North Texas and the Smithsonian Institution have examined the child’s remains at the St. Louis Medical Examiner’s Office, testing for DNA as well as for minerals to narrow down the girl’s origins based on the water she drank. DNA testing confirmed the profile St. Louis experts already had, but the mineral tests, or stable isotope analysis, revealed the child probably spent most of, if not all of, her life in one of 10 southeastern states: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

The medical examiner estimated the girl’s age between 7 and 12 and concluded she was African-American, weighed about 60 pounds and was about 4-foot-10 without her head, which had been removed after death. It was never found. Investigators couldn’t be certain whether the girl had been sexually assaulted.Police accounted for every child in area school districts, leaving Fox and others convinced that the girl must not have come from here.” Please read more here.

Last but not least, Vanessa Wright emailed me and allowed me to be the first to see the cover for her new book “artefacts!” Thank you, Vanessa.

The idea for the novel was born after I watched a few documentaries about hoarding. It is a little known disease and I could picture myself in that situation. The emotions, thought processes and rationalizations were not that far removed from bipolar disease, which I suffer from. Suddenly the picture became clearer to me and I had to investigate the effects it would have on the individual, relationships and children. How would such a person cope in the ‘normal’ world? What psychoses, if any, would the children suffer from? At that precise moment the story in its entirety was born in my head. I wrote in for Nanowrimo and at the end of November 2013, I was 58000 words in. The novel’s title stems from the fact that the hoarder sees every item as an artefact; a product of their own personal history and can not bear to part with it.

 Where then do the deaths fit in; the bodies that pile up as they unearth them from the ‘excavation site’ in the back yard? What processes are involved in South African forensics and how far are we behind? The answer to these questions, as well as the intricate psychology behind every deed, is what I hope the reader will find in the novel. It is guaranteed to be an emotional roller coaster ride as the reader follows the detectives in their search for answers. The planned release date is early in March 2014 as I am in the editing phase- yuck!

We look forward to the release, Vanessa.