In April and May 2014 there have been developments in both of Willie Jerome Manning’s cases.
In Willie’s 1992 case involving the murders of two students, evidence was found in April during searches at seven locations: the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court, the Starkville Police Department, the Office of the District Attorney, the Mississippi State University Police Department, the FBI, the Mississippi Crime Lab and the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department. The searches were ordered by the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court on March 6 2014, following Willie’s request for DNA and fingerprint testing.
For his 1993 case involving the murders of two elderly ladies, Willie submitted a brief to the Mississippi Supreme Court on May 21 2014. In this brief he requests oral argument in court, pointing out that this case involves substantial allegations of State misconduct resulting in wrongful conviction.
Willie makes the following points in this brief and an earlier brief, submitted on December 12 2013:
- The crucial State witness, Kevin Lucious, committed perjury at the trial when he testified he watched from his apartment in Brookville Garden as Willie entered the elderly ladies’ apartment opposite. (Lucious’s trial testimony was unequivocal that he watched from his apartment; yet police canvass notes show that this apartment was vacant at the time, and that Lucious was not then living in a Brookville Garden apartment).
- The State erred in failing to disclose these police canvass notes to Willie’s trial counsel.
- The State is mistaken in asserting that other witnesses corroborated Lucious’s trial testimony about seeing Willie enter the apartment: no other witness confirmed this.
- Lucious testified at a post-conviction hearing that none of his trial testimony was true, and that he had lied because of pressure brought by the State.
- Another witness, Herbert Ashford, undermined his own credibility by making statements that were contradictory.
- The State erred in failing to disclose a crime lab report showing that a bloody shoe print next to one of the bodies could not have been left by Willie (the shoe print was size 8, whereas Willie’s shoe size is 10½).
- Willie’s trial counsel was deficient in: failing to impeach Kevin Lucious; failing to interview Willie’s brother, Marshon Manning, and call him as a witness; failing to investigate Ashford or interview Teresa Bush, who was then living with Ashford; and failing to investigate the shoeprint.
- At the evidentiary hearing the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court erred in refusing to authorize for presentation all the documents that Willie had requested.
- Amicus briefs submitted on Willie’s behalf point out that perjured testimony is the most common cause of wrongful conviction, especially in capital cases; and that incentivized witnesses contribute to these false convictions.