A radio blog recorded on the eve of Willie Jerome Manning’s scheduled execution in May, 2013, is illuminating: a private investigator and former policeman re-examines the evidence in Willie’s 1992 case, finding many omissions and inconsistencies.*
The investigator on the blog, Vincent Hill, believes the murders were committed in a moment of passion, rather than as an afterthought during a burglary for which police decided Willie was responsible. Hill also highlights the unlikelihood that Willie could have made the long journey from the crime scene to his home without a car.
Perhaps even more telling is Hill’s insight about the lack of blood on Willie’s clothing:
“You’ve got the ex-girlfriend who I assume was either living with Willie at the time or he was living with her, or whatever – you’ve got her saying that Willie was shooting a gun right after this and right before, but not only did she not testify to say, “Yeah, I picked him up 40 miles away”** – also not saying he brought his clothes home and there was blood spattered all over… there was blood all over his clothes.***
Because you cannot stand behind someone and shoot them in the head, and then stand in front of someone and shoot them in the face and not get any blood on your clothes. Even in 1992 it was impossible. We have no witness to say he had blood on his clothes.”
Hill’s observations are astute. Willie’s ex-girlfriend, Paula Hathorn, was secretly recorded by law enforcement when she was talking to Willie; during this conversation she accepts without question Willie’s assertion that he came back to the home where they both lived from the 2500 Club on the night of the murders. (Willie’s account is further supported by the testimony of another witness, Lindell Grayer, who told the court that he picked Willie up from his home on the morning of December 11 and gave him a ride into town.)***
In accepting Willie’s narrative as correct, Hathorn says nothing about there having been blood on his clothing.**** The omission is shocking and should be noted. It is time for Willie to be heard.
*On the day before Willie’s scheduled execution in May 2013, Blog Talk Radio’s “The Other Side of Justice” featured a program about Willie, Dead Man Walking. The Willie Manning Case. In it Vincent Hill, a private investigator and ex-policeman, interviewed Willie’s childhood friend, David Skato, about the prosecution’s version of what happened when the two students were murdered. The interview does not start properly until 4 minutes into the recording. The passage quoted here starts at 30.10.
**30 – 40 miles was the estimate of Hill’s interviewee, David Skato, of the distance from the crime scene to Willie’s home. In fact, court documents give the distance as ten miles.
See Willie Jerome Manning’s Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, filed in the Circuit Court for Oktibbeha County Circuit Court, on October 8 2001, page 14, ¶38 (page 33 of documents archived at this link)
***See Willie Jerome Manning’s Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, filed in Mississippi Supreme Court on December 16 2004, page 10 (page 75 of documents archived at this link)
****Hathorn, testified at trial that Willie was away from home from December 9 until December 14. However, when she was secretly recorded talking to Willie she
“did not dispute in any way Manning’s contention that he was at the 2500 Club the night of the students’ death and that he came home after being at the club.” See Willie Jerome Manning’s Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, filed in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court on October 8 2001, page 47, ¶130 (page 66 of documents archived at this link)
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