⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Jailhouse Informant Case

Friday, November 05, 2021 2:44:54 PM

Jailhouse Informant Case

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Getting it Right: Informants

While prosecutors agree there needs to be skepticism about jailhouse informants, they say such witnesses offer crucial, truthful information that helps bring perpetrators to justice in many cases. Some worry new informant laws take witness credibility determinations out of the hands of juries and leave it to judges to decide before cases even go to trial. Fellow inmates were key in bringing down Connecticut serial killer William Howell, who is serving a life sentence for killing seven people in One of Howell's cellmates, convicted killer of four Jonathan Mills, told authorities that Howell talked about the killings and where he buried the victims.

It's not clear if Mills, also serving life in prison, received any benefits for providing the information. Advocates for Connecticut's new law cited the DNA-based exonerations of two men — Alfred Swinton and Miguel Roman — who were freed after they both spent about two decades in state prison for killings they did not commit. Bogus testimony by prisoners about confessions played roles in both cases. The informants in the Swinton and Roman cases both denied on the witness stand that they were getting any benefits for their testimony.

But the Swinton informant was ultimately released from prison early, and the Roman informant had several of his pending charges dismissed, defense lawyers said. Connecticut's new law also requires judges to hold a pre-trial hearing, if requested by the defense, on whether an informant's testimony is reliable and admissible. In November, Illinois lawmakers overrode a veto by then-Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, and approved one of the nation's toughest tests for allowing testimony by jailhouse informants. It requires judges to make pretrial inquiries into the veracity of prisoners' testimony before allowing or barring it. One of the advocates for the Illinois law was James Kluppelberg, who was exonerated after spending 25 years in prison for setting a fire in Chicago that killed a woman and her five children in A jailhouse informant who implicated Kluppelberg four years after the fire later recanted his story and admitted he testified to reduce his potential prison time to criminal charges he was facing.

It was a shock to the system. I did not get to go to my mother's funeral. I did not get to see my sisters grow up. All these things were stolen from me. Kluppelberg, who was freed in , said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from being in prison. Nebraska lawmakers and Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts approved a new jailhouse informant law in April. It requires prosecutors to tell defense lawyers any benefits they offer to prisoners, other cases in which they testified and any cases where they recanted testimony, among other information. Wrongful convictions also led Texas lawmakers to toughen the rules on jailhouse informants in The state's law requires prosecutors to keep records on the use of jailhouse informants and any deals they get because of their testimony.

It also mandates prosecutors release certain information about informants to defense lawyers. Although Texas and other states are now tracking the use of informants, county prosecutors are keeping the records and only Connecticut will be keeping a statewide system, Innocence Project lawyers said. Rackauckas, on the verge of tears at a news conference, named each victim and vowed that Dekraai would get the death penalty. It seemed like a safe bet. In an earlier interview, Wagner explained they feared Dekraai would try to escape the death penalty with an insanity plea.

He was found insane by a judge and sent to a state hospital, where he remains. They told the informant to listen and not ask Dekraai any questions, an attempt to stay within the bounds of the Massiah rule. But it appears the informant went past the parameters. Sanders discovered the problem and began pulling on the loose thread.

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