TV Report about Rodney\’s Case and the latest investigative report:http://www.bostonreview.net/BR38.2/beth_schwartzapfel_valerie_finley_innocent_convictions.php
Rodney K. Stanberry- Innocent and Incarcerated: Year 17 Begins
March 24th, 2013
Today marks the completion of Rodney K. Stanberry’s 16th year in prison for crimes he did not commit. The Mobile DA’s office had evidence of Rodney’s innocence, it didn’t fit the prosecutor’s theory, so Rodney remains in prison and an injustice continues. Please keep Rodney, his family, and the victim’s family in your thoughts/prayers, as the Mobile County District Attorney’s office has done both families wrong. No one wins when the wrong person is convicted.
Rodney was arrested in 1992, convicted in 1995, and began serving his prison sentence in 1997. He was approximately just shy of 23 when arrested, 26 when sentenced, and one month shy of his 28th birthday when he spent his first day under the Alabama Department of Corrections. Imagine what his 28th birthday was like, innocent, incarcerated, and away from his parents, his new baby, his wife, his sister and his loved ones. He is currently 43, he will be 44 on April 27th, 2013. Rodney’s father was 58 when Rodney was arrested, 61 when Rodney was convicted, 63 when his son spent his first day in prison, and he is 79 on his son’s 16th complete year in prison. Rodney has a son who is now a teenager, and his mother died on September 8, 2012, cared for and surrounded by his father and his sister. His parents’ retirement years were taken away over this ordeal. Rodney came from a solidly two-parent, middle class household. His parents were married for as long as he has been alive. He did not have a criminal record, he had a steady job that he worked at until began serving his prison term, he had a bank account, an excellent reputation as a law abiding citizen, his entire future ahead of him, close friends and family and so on. If the Mobile DA’s office had followed the evidence instead of a theory, this ordeal would have been over long ago. Instead, on March 25th, 2013, he will begin his 17th year in prison for crimes he did not commit. While a book can and will be written to fill in what occurred during each of the years below, only some highlights are provided for your review.
Although calls to the Mobile District Attorney’s Office seem to be futile, your calls are needed to let District Attorney Ashley Rich know that you are concerned about the continued incarceration of Rodney K. Stanberry. She can be reached at (251) 574-6685 or firstname.lastname@example.org or her Chief Investigator Mike Morgan at (251) 574-8400 or email@example.com.
March 24th 1997- March 24th 1998- Year 1 Adjusting to Prison Life- A Foreign Concept to an innocent man who had never been in prison.
March 24th 1998-March 24th 1999- Year 2 (1st letter from NAACP stating that they could not assist in this case)
March 24th 1999- March 24th 2000- Year 3 (1st letter from the Mobile District Attorney’s Office: http://freerodneystanberry.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/20100914154832.256154014.pdf)
Rodney “celebrates” his 30th birthday in prison
March 24th-2000-March 24th 2001- Year 4
March 24th 2001-March 24th 2002– Year 5- Rule 32- Post Conviction Hearing for New trial Denied
March 24th 2002-March 24th 2003– Year 6
March 24th 2003-March 24th 2004- Year 7 “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” WKRG TV- 5 (Mobile, AL Report (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEVURKsGoMI)
March 24th 2004-March 24th 2005- Year 8 (October 18, 2004-Parole Hearing- Parole Denied)
March 24th 2005-March 24th 2006– Year 9
March 24th 2006- March 24th 2007– Year 10 Important Interview on Dr. Wilmer Leon’s show, featuring Rodney’s supervisor who testified and provided work documents during trial that Rodney was at work (he also spoke at Rodney’s second parole hearing): http://freerodneystanberry.com/blog/?attachment_id=119
March 24th 2007- March 24th 2008- Year 11
March 24th 2008- March 24th 2009– Year 12 Election & Inauguration of First African American President- a lot of change since Rodney’s arrest in 1992.
March 24th 2009-March 24th 2010– Year 13 (July 8, 2009- Parole Hearing- Parole Denied)
Rodney “celebrates” his 40th birthday in prison.
“Time Served, Or Justice Denied in Alabama,” An article in Lagniappe Mobile written by Bill Riales about Rodney’s case. (June 2009, http://classic.lagniappemobile.com/article.asp?articleID=2332 )
March 24th 2010- March 24th 2011 Year 14 Ashley Rich is elected to replace Mobile District Attorney John Tyson, Jr.
During the campaign she was asked about what she would do if a prosecutor withheld evidence- You can listen to her response here: http://freerodneystanberry.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/u7am0916AshleyRich1.mp3.
She seemed very adamant about the issue and said that the integrity of every conviction is important to her.
March 24th 2011-March 24th-2012 Year 15
Shortly after her swearing in, Rodney K. Stanberry supporters from around the country called her office and signed a petition in support of his release. This put Rodney’s case on her radar screen as District Attorney, not simply as candidate for the office. As stated: [District Attorney Ashley Rich] has received so many calls that she asked her new investigator to call around to see why people were calling. In honor of her first year as DA, I am asking that people call to follow up to see what she is doing with regard to [Rodney’s] case. More importantly, I’m asking people to ask her to take steps to either get the Attorney General to investigate Rodney’s case, retry or release him immediately. http://newsone.com/1809115/rodney-k-stanberry-is-alabama-still-the-land-of-jim-crow/
Journalist Kirsten West Savali was able to get District Attorney Ashley Rich’s Office on record to discuss Rodney’s case. You can read that interview here: http://newsone.com/1809115/rodney-k-stanberry-is-alabama-still-the-land-of-jim-crow/
March 24th 2012- March 24th 2013 Year 16
LagniappeMobile calls for an innocent project, the editorial includes the following: “Another case I believe needs an independent look is that of Rodney Stanberry, who has been in jail for murder for roughly 20 years now. A Lagniappe story in 2009 detailed the very shaky circumstances surrounding his conviction.” (Nov 2012: http://classic.lagniappemobile.com/article.asp?articleID=5978)
March 2013: Investigative Journalist Beth Schwartzapfel completed and published her investigation in the Boston Review. You can read it here: “Who Shot Valerie Finley: Why Is One Man’s Innocence So Hard to Prove” http://www.bostonreview.net/BR38.2/beth_schwartzapfel_valerie_finley_innocent_convictions.php
In this article, she includes the confession by Terrell Moore, a confession that the District Attorney’s Office worked to suppress BEFORE Rodney’s trial, even as he confessed in front of the prosecutor and was given immunity from prosecution if he did so, AGAIN, before Rodney’s trial. You can read the confession here: http://freerodneystanberry.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/20100914155256.256155350.pdf.
But here is a portion of investigative journalist Beth Schwartzapfel’s article as it relates Moore appearing before Rodney Rule 32 Post Conviction Hearing:
Aside from Mike Finley, Taco Jones, Tyrone Dortch, and five of Rodney’s coworkers who testified at Rodney’s trial, there was one additional person who would not have corroborated everything that Valerie said: Terrell Moore. Hoping that Terrell would finally “come clean,” as he had promised Ryan Russell he would, Knizely called him to the stand at the hearing. Terrell seemed prepared to testify.
But Knizely had no sooner asked Terrell his name than Martha Tierney, the assistant district attorney, jumped in. “Judge, I hate to interrupt Mr. Knizely, because I have the world of respect for him,” she began, “but if Mr. Moore is going to testify about the things we anticipate he will testify about, and I’m concerned this is a state forum, and that he would take this stand unrepresented and with no grant of immunity to make statements that could have life consequences for him. I just wish that the Court be apprised of that and our concern about that, sir.”
Knizely was incredulous. “Judge, from our understanding, the State’s [position is that] the man—he has no credibility. And are they are telling us now they are going to prosecute him if he confesses to it?”
It was a good question. If the district attorney’s office truly believed, as it had maintained all along, that Rodney was guilty and Terrell was (for some inscrutable reason) lying about his involvement, then why threaten to prosecute him? To prosecute him, the state would have to believe he was guilty. It would have been almost impossible for both Terrell and Rodney to be guilty, since one story contradicted the other. And yet Tierney was simultaneously defending the verdict against Rodney and threatening to prosecute Terrell. It seemed she was trying to scare Terrell off the stand in order to preserve Rodney’s conviction. The Mobile District Attorney’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment, submitted via email, by phone, and in person.
Tierney pressed on. “If he comes in here and says ‘it’s me pals,’ then it’s goodbye sunlight for the rest of his living life, and he’s young,” she said.
Finally, after some additional back-and-forth, Knizely was allowed to proceed. “Mr. Moore,” he began, “you recall whenever a lady named Mrs. Finley was shot? Do you remember back in those days when you were called as a witness in this case?”
Tierney interrupted again. “Judge, may I object sir, for one minute? Could you just, Your Honor, if I may respectfully ask that at least you instruct him that he does have the right under the Fifth Amendment not to make any statements.”
“I thought I just did that,” McRae said, “but I’ll do it again. Under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution,” he told Terrell again, “you do not have to answer any question which could even possibly incriminate you. Do you understand that?”
“Yes, sir, I understand it.”
“Okay, proceed,” McRae said. But Tierney interrupted again.
“And that the State would use anything he says today, Your Honor, against him.”
“The State can and may,” the Judge said.
“Yes, Your Honor, I understand,” Terrell said, “and I plead the Fifth Amendment.” http://www.bostonreview.net/BR38.2/beth_schwartzapfel_valerie_finley_innocent_convictions.php
As Rodney begins his 17th year of incarceration on March 25th, 2017, will Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich work to release Rodney K. Stanberry? Rodney has his third parole hearing on July 2013. District Attorney Ashley Rich has worked to block paroles during her time as District Attorney. While one can understand blocking the parole of those who are truly guilty, but to keep an innocent man in prison is far from understandable. When inmates come before the parole board, the parole board wants to hear that they are guilty and express remorse. Rodney refuses to say he is guilty for crimes he did not commit. It doesn’t matter that he has jobs lined up, family support, sponsors, supporting letters from co-workers, friends and even, as occurred during his previous parole, a letter from the arresting officer, the parole board wants to hear that a person is guilty. This is a true travesty of justice, and, as the New York Times carried about the innocent prisoner’s dilemma: http://www.nytimes.com/video/2010/06/04/nyregion/1247467961918/the-innocent-prisoner-s-dilemma.html.
Peace and Sincerely,
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