Breaking the “No-Snitching” code: It Should Apply to the Street and to the Power Structure


The “No-Snitching” code. 

 If You Don’t Snitch, You May Hurt the Community, If  Do You Snitch, You May Hurt Yourself: The Perils of Being Honest, the Case of Rodney K. Stanberry.

May 29th, 2011

 Last evening, I saw the tail end of a Tyler Perry television show.  The show was apparently about a shooting that had occurred. The police had no leads because no one would come forth with information about the shooting, even though it was in a public place.  At the end of the show, one of Perry’s characters stepped out of character and provided statistics about Black on Black crime and stated that more of these crimes would be solved if witnesses would come forth with what they knew and saw.  He said that the “no-snitch” code of the street is detrimental to the African American community.

 Rodney K. Stanberry could have practiced the “no-snitch” code.  In all likelihood, he would not be in his 15th year of a prison term (including another hot summer in an Alabama prison) for crimes he did not commit had he remained silent. Instead, when Rodney learned about the crime, he went to law enforcement within 24 hours.  Rodney learned about these crimes after he’d completed his work shift for the day. He was told that his friends robbed the house of another friend, but would later find out that they robbed and shot the victim. (He would later secretly record the person who told him about the crimes in order to get to the truth of what happened, and he provided this recording to the police! The Mobile District Attorney’s Office made sure that the jury did not hear it- http://freerodneystanberry.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/20100914154932.256160049.pdf ).  Rodney, within 24 hours, went to the Prichard, Alabama police department with all the information he had on his two friends from New York who were in Mobile to visit him during Mardi Gras. Rodney even called a detective in New York to explain what he knew and to see if she could apprehend his friends as they got off the Greyhound bus. Detective Fletcher, the original investigating officer acknowledged that Rodney had come to him (at the Prichard Police Dept), had asked them to contact the detective in New York to stop the guys for questioning, had provided them with photos with the individuals from New York and so on.  The Prichard detective’s response was that Rodney was being “too helpful” so he must have been involved with the crimes!  This puts a chilling effect on those who want to be law abiding citizens and come forward with information, even information about their friends, as Rodney did.  (http://freerodneystanberry.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/R20Russell2C20PI1.242153709.pdf)

 Detective Fletcher, nevertheless, used the photos Rodney provided and as the victim was still in the hospital, he asked which of these individuals could have been at your house.  Rodney was in the photos he provided because the two people in New York were in those photos and he was helping law enforcement to identify them. The victim couldn’t talk as she was recovering from a gun shot wound to the head, had indicated that she did not know who was at her house, and was asked to point at the person in the photos who could have been at her house. This “photo-line-up”, using photos provided by Rodney and asking the victim who could have been at her house, led to Rodney being implicated in these crimes. Rodney was often at the victim’s house, so she pointed to him. (http://freerodneystanberry.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/20100914154802.256153049.pdf) From there, the detective called Rodney’s job, inquired if he was at work on March 3rd,   1992 instead of March 2, 1992, the day the crimes took place. Rodney worked at BFI since 1989 and did not miss a day of work until he took off on March 3rd to go to the Prichard Police Department. So this detective, instead of asking about March 2nd, asked about March 3rd and told the victim’s family that Rodney was not at work on the day of the shooting! Rodney’s work records and co-workers place him at work on March 2nd and if the detective had been more careful, he would have reviewed when Rodney was in his office and he would have went to his workplace to see his records before telling the victim and her family that Rodney was not at work. At this point, the case was over before it started and the Mobile DA’s office would “fix” the original mistake by disregarding the work records and testimony of Rodney’s co-workers and supervisor.  This is all done to a person who did not adhere to the “no-snitch” code of the streets.

 The Mobile District Attorney’s Office compounded the problem when they refused to investigate all leads.  They opted to focus on Rodney and a theory, as opposed to letting the facts guide them.  In about 6 months after the crimes took place, one of the two people at the victim’s home confessed and exonerated Rodney. This is the person from Mobile who came into contact with Rodney’s friends from New York, not through Rodney. Terrell Moore said it was he and Wish Melendez at the home and that Rodney was/is innocent. This person (Terrell Moore) did not know Rodney and had no incentive to confess to a crime unless he was involved. Moore, too, broke the “no-snitching” code. Of course he did so because he actually thought he would be arrested and convicted for being at the victim’s home when she was robbed and shot.  Silly him, he didn’t know that the Mobile District Attorney’s Office would give him a “Get Out of Jail Free” pass because they already had their theory and the victim’s statement that Rodney was at her house (http://www.freerodneystanberry.com/eyewitness_misidentification).

The person who confessed was never charged for anything relating to this case (see transcript of his confession- both Mobile Assistant District Attorney Buzz Jordan (the prosecutor in Rodney’s case) and Prichard Police Detective Lebarron Smith was present-  (http://freerodneystanberry.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/20100914155256.256155350.pdf).  

As stated in Rodney’s brief in support of Petition for Writ of Certiorari: 

“Mr. Moore was called by the District Attorney’s Office to testify before the Grand Jury and was granted immunity….wherein the State granted immunity to Moore for his testimony at the Grand Jury proceedings, but in the event he were to testify at trial, he would not be granted said immunity.  Mr. Moore then proceeded to obtain private counsel, namely, the Honorable Bob Clark of Mobile, Alabama, and when called to testify at trial, Mr. Moore took the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.  The trial court, the Honorable Ferill D. McRae, ruled in the Motion in Limine, prior to jury selection, that in the event Mr. Moore took the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify at trial, then the Defendant would not be able to use his video taped statement, nor his audio taped statement which clearly and unequivocally exculpates the Defendant from these crimes.”

Terrell Moore was an inconvenient truth and the District Attorney’s Office, during Rodney’s Rule 32 Post Conviction hearing in 2001, made sure that Moore did not say anything on the witness stand (http://www.freerodneystanberry.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/marthtierney1standalone.115144422.pdf)!  Rodney was arrested in 1992, tried and convicted in 1995, and began serving three 20 year sentences (to run concurrently) for attempted murder,  robbery, burglary in 1997.  His Rule 32 Post Conviction hearing was in 2001. The Mobile DA’s office, currently under the leadership of Ashley Rich, continues to see this as an inconvenient truth that should be ignored  (http://www.freerodneystanberry.com/the_shooter-_what_they_want_to_wish_away).

In sum, Rodney K. Stanberry remains in prison for crimes he did not commit.  The Mobile District Attorney’s Office and the Prichard Police Department had evidence proving that Rodney was innocent. The Mobile District Attorney’s Office opted to go with a theory.  If they had taken the information that Rodney had given to them when he broke the “no-snitch” code of silence and apprehended all involved, they would have gotten to the truth and pursued justice. The District Attorney’s office never arrested or tried anyone else for the horrible crime that was committed against the victim, even as they told the jury and the media they would. The Mobile Press Register even ran a story about then Mobile DA John Tyson, Jr’s  successful “Murder Team,” which included Buzz Jordan and included Rodney’s case.  Specifically the articles states that ” (Rene) Whitecloud was convicted of murder in New York and has been brought back to Mobile for trial, which is pending (Mobile Press Register, April 22, 1995). I don’t know if the DA’s office gave the Mobile Register that information, but it wasn’t true. The DA’s office never tried or attempted to try anyone else for these crimes.( http://freerodneystanberry.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/mobileregister.256104348.pdf).   The Mobile District Attorney’s Office had Rodney, they got a conviction, they were going to wrap this in a little bow and move on. They didn’t count on our family being vigilant in fighting for Rodney’s exoneration and freedom. There are many people in Mobile, I believe, in positions of power and influence that know about Rodney’s case and know that he is innocent.  Instead of these people coming forth with what they know about how the District Attorney prosecuted this case, they are opting to maintain silence. The “no-snitching” code of the street is being practiced by people in power.  They are hurting the system of justice when they do not bear witness to what they know.  To them I say, break the “no-snitching” code.  It is the right thing to do.  

Peace,

Artemesia Stanberry

Artemesia@freerodneystanberry.com

Please go to www.freerodneystanberry.com for more information.

To reach Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich, please call (251) 574-5000 or (251) 574-8400.

To reach her investigator Mike Morgan, please call (251) 574-8412 to reach his secretary.

To reach Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, please call (334) 242-7300.

To reach the Mobile Press Register, please call (251) 219-5343.

Please send information about Rodney’s case to your contact lists, innocence projects, attorneys, and anyone else you believe would be interested in his case. 

 Thank you and we need you.  Also, please see this link from Dr. Boyce Watkins. Let’s keep up the momentum.  http://yourblackworld.com/2011/05/28/update-on-the-case-of-rodney-k-stanberry/

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