07.31.2017 by @Reform_Justice
Much has been written about the sensational story surrounding former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel K. Holtzclaw in the years following his arrest and conviction of serial rape and other sexually related charges. BTR read the case history and researched thoroughly almost a year ago in Summer of 2016. We have advocated for Daniel Holtzclaw in the past and continue to do so moving forward. We feel this is an innocent man that was targeted by an overzealous female lead detective and prosecutor who both disregarded facts repeatedly and instead pushed their own agenda.
What we find extremely compelling are the facts in this case and the way justice was somehow flipped on it’s head once again in a bizarre turn of events. The Summer of 2016 saw law enforcement in the United States under constant attack and public outcry for shootings across the country involving Black victims at the hands of mostly White law enforcement officers. Daniel Holtzclaw is of mixed decent being Eurasian or of Asian and White decent. Why does this matter you may ask. Racism is alive and well in the United States and it is quite possible it has reared it’s ugly head here in the Great Plains.
While the country was rioting, and looting in multiple cities, police under attack in the media and the streets, the appeals process of Daniel Holtzclaw was underway. As police departments across the country were being held accountable by dash and body cams for poor decisions, Holtzclaw sat in jail. It’s long been established that law enforcement and states/ prosecutors protect their own. We saw this play out last Summer and are continuing to see it now, as cases alleging police wrongdoing are dismissed, former officers acquitted, or nothing is done at all.
The system does what it does. Police officers are generally protected far more than we as the public would like. It takes a great deal of public outcry or overwhelming evidence for any cop to ever be placed under scrutiny, let alone arrested or tried. So why did an Oklahoma City prosecutor go after one of their own? Without examining the facts of the case, one might tend to think, “wow, they finally prosecuted a bad cop and it stuck.” Going into reading the facts surrounding this case this was exactly the mindset.
I have purposely withheld linking to any descriptions or files in the case to this point for those not familiar. In my opinion one needs a bit of the background and some insight into what happened in this case. People will make up their own minds as to motivations and ultimate outcomes here. Suffice to say developments of late July, 2017 have brought the Daniel Holtzclaw case back to the forefront of justice reform news.
Background and full story here:
Information is just now coming to light in the Oklahoma City case that shows state malfeasance and crime lab mistakes/ manipulation. Portions of the state’s case have now been sealed and secret meetings between Oklahoma State Crime Lab personnel and state officials have been documented but not explained. Why does the state of Oklahoma seal DNA and other evidentiary proceedings if not to avert public scrutiny/ an avalanche of cases that may be thrown into question?
In May, the Oklahoma state Attorney General’s office filed sealed evidence and a sealed motion with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, (OCCA) which is considering Holtzclaw’s direct appeal filed by public defenders on February 1.
The OCCA then filed sealed orders remanding the secret cause back to the trial judge, Timothy Henderson. He convened secret hearings in a locked courtroom on June 26 and 27. Holtzclaw’s attorneys were excluded.
Attendees were uncovered thanks to public information requests by two local OKC TV reporters for surveillance video at the courthouse. The attendees included the judge, a court reporter, representatives from the state AG’s office and the DA’s office, Oklahoma City’s civil attorney’s representative, and the Oklahoma City Police Department crime lab supervisor. (Read DNA Deception: What the Daniel Holtzclaw Jury Never Heard.)
Transcripts of the hearing were filed under seal. The trial judge filed additional secret orders with the OCCA. One day after those sealed filings, the state AG filed an emergency motion, also under seal. The OCCA then immediately filed a “clarification order” under seal. (The full appellate docket for Holtzclaw’s case is here.)
Today new information has surfaced due to a Fox News FOIA request in the Holtzclaw proceeding. Due to the seal applied previously by the state, only approximately 4,000 of 15,000 available documents were released. Information about state crime lab policy and personnel appear to be at the heart of the coverup.
The request covered emails related to DNA testing and those exchanged between the DNA lab supervisor Campbell Ruddock, who was involved in the secret hearings, and Elaine Taylor the lab expert who testified in Holtzclaw’s trial.
An email chain has surfaced between the prosecution and crime lab. In this chain available here:
On May 9, 2017, District Attorney David Prater sent an email to all of his prosecutors. “Please notify me immediately if you have a pending case wherein Elaine Taylor, OCPD DNA Lab employee, is endorsed as a witness” Prater wrote.
An email chain would lead to exchanges that included Deputy Police Chief Johnny Kuhlman, who also testified before a judge and prosecutors on the first day of the secret hearing.
The email over testing concerns included a warning that some prosecutors were unaware of the retesting DNA concerns and warned of the potential impacts it might have on their cases.
The emails reveal several criminal cases have been marked for retesting since the identification of concerns with Taylor in the Holtzclaw case.
FOX 25 has learned Ruddock may have been the first to identify the concerns after exchanging emails with an Iowa scientist name Erica Fuchs. Fuchs told FOX 25 she had taken an interest in the Hotlzclaw case after reading about it online.
Fuchs first identified an unknown male DNA profile in the samples tested by the OCPD crime lab. That is a fact that was never mentioned at trial and was not overtly disclosed to Holtzclaw’s defense team.
In an email exchange with Fuchs, Ruddock explains that Touch DNA, or DNA involving very small samples is not as useful in solving crimes as was portrayed in the Hotlzclaw case. His exchange casts doubt on many assertions made during the expert testimony during the trial.
Taylor retired from the OCPD in February. FOX 25 contacted her at her home after the secret hearings were held and she told us she had no information about the hearing and did not know why there would be any concern about the forensic work in the Holtzclaw case.
Going to leave this here because there is so much to cover. There is one factor that I believe needs to be rectified. Daniel Holtzclaw is being represented by public defenders that are overwhelmed by the enormity of this case. This case is rife with prosecution malfeasance and state cover-up. The state of Oklahoma is attempting an “end-around” to quote football terminology. This case is a BIG winner for an exoneration team.
Cops are not always bad. Sometimes they turn on their own…
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