Nobody’s that Stupid

For the second time, the Mississippi Supreme Court has asked for an update on the progress of Willie Manning’s remaining case. So far there has been no response from Willie’s lawyer or the Attorney General’s office.

We should, anyway, be cautious about the results of the DNA testing related to Willie’s case:
‘“DNA” does not transcend mundane, organizational practices or the possibilities that reside in stories of a crime.’ *

An ex-policeman, Vincent Hill, has talked on Blog Talk Radio**, using his professional experience to offer insights about the ‘stories’ of Willie’s case. Some of these we have already described: see here and here and here

Another of Hill’s observations relates to a jacket which the prosecution attempted to link to Willie. The prosecutors theorized that Willie murdered two students after being interrupted during a car burglary; they said that a jacket stolen from the car was in Willie’s possession. The evidence for this was very weak. It was Willie’s former girlfriend, Paula Hathorn, rewarded very handsomely by the State for her assistance, who provided the connection to Willie:

“Sheriff Dolph Bryan testified at trial that on or about April 27, 1993, he saw Paula Hathorn around the courthouse and asked to see her. When they eventually met, the sheriff asked her whether Willie Manning had a leather jacket. Paula responded that Manning had given her a jacket. T. 687. She provided the sheriff with the jacket…”***

A recording made secretly by the sheriff indicated that law enforcement actually believed that Willie had bought this jacket:
Willie Manning (speaking during a telephone conversation with Paula Hathorn: “See Bone [Deputy Sheriff Jesse Oden] came back, I mean Bone came in our house ’bout two months ago saying that somebody told him I bought the jacket off the street. He never came back after that so I didn’t think nothing of it which I was thinking about that long brown jacket.”****

Moreover, the owner of the burglarized car, John Wise, appeared far from certain when claiming that the jacket was the one that had been taken from his car: initially he was unable to identify it.

Ex-policeman Vincent Hill, mistakenly assumed that the allegedly stolen jacket belonged to one of the victims; nonetheless, his point that a perpetrator would not have been wearing an incriminating jacket openly is valid:
VH: If I’ve just shot two people and I know I’m wearing the victim’s jacket, I’m not even going to be wearing that jacket. Period. I’ll burn the jacket, I’ll give it to someone else, but I’m not going to walk around like, “This is my trophy. Yes, I’ve just shot this guy in the back of the head, and shot his girlfriend twice in the face. And, by the way, I’m so bold I’m going to walk around in his jacket.” No way. No way. Nobody’s that stupid. I don’t care what walk of life you’re from, nobody’s that stupid, to do something that ridiculous.

Once again, Hill’s insight is helpful. Yet again, a ‘story’ from the crime suggests Willie’s innocence. We trust the judges will take note. 

*Michael Lynch, Simon A. Cole, Ruth McNally and Kathleen Jordan:  The Truth Machine: the Contentious History of DNA Fingerprinting (The University of Chicago Press, 2008), P. 346 
**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.
 *** See Willie Jerome Manning’s Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, filed in Mississippi Supreme Court on December 16, 2004, page 4 (P. 69 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 8 (P. 73 of documents archived at this link).
†See Willie Jerome Manning’s Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, filed in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court on October 8, 2001, page 13, ¶34 (P. 32 of documents archived at this link).  
‡See Dead Man Walking. The Willie Manning Case, 1:10:30.
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