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Crime 33 Years After Dubious Evidence Helped Convict Him, Joe Bryan Has Been Released on Parole

12:51  01 april  2020
12:51  01 april  2020 Source:   propublica.org

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His release comes after 33 years behind bars. His murder conviction rested largely on bloodstain-pattern analysis, a technique still in use throughout the criminal justice system, despite concerns about its reliability. Read more about Joe Bryan : propub.li/2w3ozGt.

He’s spent the last 33 years behind bars, but he has maintained since his arrest he is innocent of Reeves said Bryan is a man of principle and even if it meant he’d be released on parole , he’s not “A conviction based upon circumstantial evidence cannot be affirmed unless the proof excludes

Bryan’s attorneys and a large group of family members had waited outside the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville for hours in cold, gloomy weather, craning for a view of the 79-year-old. Shortly before 11 a.m., as the sun burst through the clouds, parolees began to emerge from the prison, filing past the monolithic, red-brick structure that is home to the state’s execution chamber. Bryan looked uncertainly ahead of him until he spotted familiar faces, then broke into a wide grin. A small bag, which a younger parolee carried for him, held all of his possessions.

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Even after he was released from state prison on parole , Mr. Bush continued to fight to clear his He was innocent, he said, and he hoped she would help him prove it. He had written similar letters to He served another year in 2013 on a parole violation, for using a computer with internet access.

Joe Bryan has maintained his innocence since his sentencing for the 1985 murder. Despite two appeals, one retrial and several attempts to make parole , Mr. Bryan ’s 99- year sentence stands. “You have to show they wouldn’t have been convicted if jurors knew this information,” Ms. Garcia said.

Bryan, the subject of a ProPublica-New York Times Magazine investigation that questioned the integrity of the expert forensic testimony used to convict him, has always maintained that he had no part in the 1985 shooting death of his wife, Mickey. Bryan was twice convicted of her murder, which took place in their Clifton, Texas, home.

Bryan, then a high school principal, had been attending an education conference in Austin, 120 miles away, in the days surrounding the murder. By his account, he was asleep in his hotel at the time of the crime. His conviction rested largely on bloodstain-pattern analysis, a technique still in use throughout the criminal justice system, despite serious concerns about its reliability.

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One month after its publication, all charges against Graves were dropped and he was released from jail, where he had been awaiting retrial. These 10 men went to prison after prosecutors relied on the dubious accounts of jailhouse informants. Years later, each of them was exonerated.

Bryan had been attending a principals’ convention in Austin, 120 miles from where the murder occurred During both trials, Thorman also helped explain away one of the biggest holes in the state’s case The flashlight that had been allowed into evidence even though no chain of custody had ever

[Video: Watch Joe Bryan reunite with his family.]

Bryan first became eligible for parole in 2007, after serving 20 years in prison. In the intervening years, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied him parole on seven occasions, despite his sterling disciplinary record. Bryan suffers from congestive heart failure, and the board’s prior refusal to release him was seen as all but guaranteeing that he would die in prison.

This spring, after Bryan came up for review an eighth time, the board reversed course, and on March 19, it agreed to parole him. The reason for the board’s change of heart is unknown; its deliberations are confidential and exempt from state open-record laws. But its actions followed a concerted effort by his parole attorneys, Allen and Shea Place, and his family to win his release.

Bryan’s supporters, who wrote to the parole board on his behalf, included bestselling author John Grisham, who learned about Bryan’s case from the ProPublica-Times investigation. The plot of Grisham’s 2019 thriller, “The Guardians,” was based in part on Bryan’s story. “I strongly believe Joe is innocent,” Grisham wrote to the board. “Please do not allow Joe to die in prison.”

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Is Joe Bryan an innocent man, wrongfully imprisoned for the past 30 years on the basis of faulty forensic science? Blood Will Tell. Part 1. He knew Mickey’s husband, Joe , the longtime principal of Clifton High School, was out of town at a conference, so he directed his secretary to phone Mickey’s

A variety of individuals are claimed to have been innocent victims of the death penalty.[3][4] Newly available DNA evidence has allowed the exoneration and Others have been released on the basis of weak cases against them, sometimes involving prosecutorial misconduct; resulting in acquittal at

Bryan’s case has served as a warning about the unreliability of bloodstain-pattern analysis and the scant training that some of its practitioners receive.

At an evidentiary hearing in 2018 in Comanche, Texas, his attorneys presented evidence that the forensic testimony used to convict him was erroneous. In a sworn affidavit submitted to the court, retired police Det. Robert Thorman, who performed the bloodstain-pattern analysis in the case, wrote: “My conclusions were wrong. ... Some of the techniques and methodology were incorrect. Therefore, some of my testimony was not correct.”

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom based in New York. Sign up for ProPublica’s Big Story newsletter to receive articles and investigations like this one as soon as they’re published.

That same year, the Texas Forensic Science Commission — which investigates complaints about the misuse of forensic testimony and evidence in criminal cases — announced that the bloodstain-pattern analysis used to convict Bryan was “not accurate or scientifically supported.”

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Evidence -based practices. Correctional programs and techniques shown through systematically evaluated research studies to be most effective o Indeterminate Release date not specified 1930s-70s Probation or prison were main options Judge put you in prison; parole board decided when you

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Concerns about the forensic testimony in Bryan’s case inspired the commission to develop a new licensing program for analysts who perform crime scene reconstruction. “Mr. Bryan’s case shows that we need to be ever-vigilant to ensure the forensic science put in front of judges and juries is based on science and not conjecture,” Lynn Garcia, the commission’s general counsel, said on Tuesday.

Bryan, meanwhile, is returning to a world transformed. He last walked free in the 1980s, when George H.W. Bush was president, before cellphones and the internet revolutionized everyday life. His release comes at an especially precarious time, when a stay-at-home order is in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Houston, where he will be living with his eldest brother, James, and James’ wife, Joretta. Bryan was not aware of those restrictions — or basic facts about the spread of the virus — when he spoke with his brother on Monday night.

Returning home at a time of social distancing will be difficult, as was evident on Tuesday, when Bryan’s family members and attorneys, moved to tears at the sight of him, leaned in to embrace him. His family had hoped to celebrate Bryan’s release with a large gathering that would include all four generations of their family, but instead opted to bring him home with little fanfare.

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James explained that his brother will make peace with the current restrictions, given that Bryan’s greatest desire did not involve venturing out. “Joe told me he would really like to just play our piano — but only if the sound didn’t bother me and Joretta,” James said, chuckling.

“We’re very grateful,” he added. “Bringing Joe home is the first step. The second step is making sure he is exonerated.”

The next phase of litigation in Bryan’s case will be in the federal courts. The Innocence Clinic at Texas Tech University School of Law, in partnership with the Innocence Project of Texas and Bryan’s longtime attorney Jessica Freud, plans to file a federal appeal in Bryan’s case. Last month, the clinic’s four law students met with Bryan in prison, in Beaumont, Texas. “These are four very critical thinkers,” said Allison Clayton, the clinic’s director. “And they walked away not only convinced of his innocence but energized to put in the work to prove it.”

Bosque County District Attorney Adam Sibley declined to comment on the parole board’s decision or how his office will respond to Bryan’s future appeals.

Freud expressed her relief that her client was being released just as the first cases of COVID-19 in Texas prisons are being confirmed. “I’m very thankful that Joe has been paroled, as he is a higher risk for severe illness from the virus because of his age and heart condition,” she said. But her tone was sober as she assessed what he was leaving behind. “There are many people like Joe, who are trapped in prison and will get sick if not paroled,” she said. “Hopefully there will be legislative and executive action to reduce our incarcerated populations before it’s too late.”

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