It’s happened again – Willie Manning has been the victim of extremely negative media propaganda within Mississippi.
Ignoring the Mississippi Supreme Court’s ruling that the state suppressed significant, potentially exculpatory evidence at Willie’s trial for his 1993 case, a Mississippi journalist has instead used several local news outlets to publicize an earlier tirade against Willie by a policeman whose opinion should now of rights be treated with great caution.
Writing on behalf of the court, Justice Randolph wrote that the “prosecution team … includes both investigative and prosecutorial personnel”. The italics suggest that the police are at least included in the court’s judgment that “the State violated Manning’s due-process rights by failing to provide favorable, material evidence” that could have confirmed that the key witness in the case was lying. The witness has recanted his trial testimony in full.
What the court judgment does not say is that the state’s suppression of evidence has had a hugely adverse impact on Willie himself: he knew that this second double murder conviction would have confirmed in many people’s minds that he was guilty in both his cases. It may well have contributed to painful media hype about him, for instance, when his prosecutor vilified him as Beelzebub, the Devil’s lieutenant.
The journalist disseminating the current propaganda, Sid Salter, also refers to the Mississippi Supreme Court’s changed decision regarding Willie’s 1992 case as if it was somehow wrong for the judges to reconsider a ruling that was very close in the first place (5:4).
Mr Salter further proposes that selling stolen items related to the crime was ‘damning’ for Willie (but surely if selling stolen items was conclusive evidence of homicide, death rows throughout the USA would be overflowing).
The journalist’s final ploy is to describe the gruesome details of both murders, leaving it to the reader to associate these with the subject of the article, Willie Manning.
Instead of harking back to past assertions about Willie, Mr Salter would be well advised to listen to what the Attorney General is now saying about Willie i.e. nothing. There is a lesson to be learnt from that.