07.26.2017 by @Reform_Justice
In a Pennsylvania Superior Court decision dated September 5th, 2013, the court denied John David Brookins an appeal for his pro se Motion for Post-Conviction Relief (PCR). The court upheld the trial court’s denial based upon jurisdiction, timeliness of claim, and ineffective trial counsel. In that decision, the court described the murder of Sheila Ginsberg as follows:
On July 7, 1992, a jury convicted Appellant of first-degree murder. Appellant’s conviction stemmed from the December 20, 1990 killing of Sheila Ginsberg, the mother of Appellant’s girlfriend, Sharon Ginsberg. The victim’s body was discovered “lying partially on the couch [in her apartment] with a pair of large scissors embedded in her chest.” PCRA Court Opinion, 12/31/12, at 2.1 An autopsy revealed that the victim was not only stabbed in the chest, but also had “eight significant internal injuries, including skull penetration consistent with an object such as scissors, protruding wounds, and bone fractures.” Id. at 6. The forensic pathologist further stated that the victim’s hyoid bone had been broken, opining that she had likely been strangled.
Scant details exist online of this now 25-year-old crime. What we do have is a much different version of events in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1991-2, and a man claiming from day one that he was wrongfully convicted.
Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is north of Philadelphia and bounded by the Delaware River to the southeast. The area occupies roughly 600 sq. miles within a triangle between Philadelphia, New York, and Allenton. At first glance, this area of the Country appears to be a sleepy rural landscape nestled within the rolling countryside once home to some of the framers of the U.S. Constitution. Serene appearances can be deceiving. Drugs, prostitution, and murder can and do happen in unexpected places.
John David Brookins has from the beginning named Sharon Ginsberg, (an acquaintance at the time, not girlfriend as alleged by police and prosecution) as the real murderer. Sharon Ginsberg is the daughter of the deceased and though evidence pointed to her, was never investigated. Mr. Brookins points to evidence that includes law enforcement cover-up, fabrication and suppression of evidence, police misconduct and beatings during interrogations, three corrupt detectives, at least one of which was involved dealing drugs/ running a prostitution ring (one of the alleged prostitutes was Sharon Ginsberg), and prosecutorial malfeasance.
I have read Mr. Brookins explanation of the events surrounding the murder and while I do not in any way claim to have all the facts, I believe there is a story here that needs further investigation. Mr. Brookins accounts of the time leading up to his arrest and after are to be found in his Habeas pleading here:
Brookins claims money and drugs are the motive for Sharon Ginsberg to have killed her mother. Whomever killed Ms. Ginsberg, it appears this is at least true.
At first reading, I was left with several questions. Brookins describes law enforcement having criminal involvement in this case.
It appears at least one of the named detectives, Alfred Eastlack was later raided for drugs on the strength of an FBI investigation that cost him his job.
- It appears there are Brady violations over the gloves provided investigators, that were never DNA tested.
- According to Brookins, stories have changed and multiple people have come forward stating Sharon admitted killing her mother, not Brookins.
- Fired detective Eastlack and daughter of the victim now reside in Florida (according to Brookins).
- Red flags over time considerations that have dogged this case from the beginning. The Trial Court delayed depositions and procedures to the point that it was called out by the Superior State Court.
At this point, I think it’s important to look at who stood to benefit most from the death of Sheila Ginsberg. If you read Mr. Brookin’s position, you will see a myriad of players and motivations. Let’s be honest here; there was apparently a lot of illegal stuff going down at the time. On both sides of the badge.
We are not here to address blame or guilt/ innocence. In fact, I chose this case as the test because I am unsure myself. I am not advocating for Mr. Brookins at this point. I do, however, think he has a very good case for due process. The problem in this case is the scattershot method jailhouse lawyers are forced to utilize in an attempt at justice,
Brookins is a prime example of someone that educated themselves (legally speaking) behind the Gray Wall. Reminiscent of Ryan Ferguson, I see a person in John Brookins that has used his time inside the system to improve himself and others. Both physically (he has developed an exercise regimen inside) and intellectually/ spiritually. I see a person that has maintained their innocence.
This writing is the first in a series. We hope to bring new cases to the public and to shine the light on wrongful convictions. Is Brookins guilty? I don’t know. What I do know is this: If you read through the case history as it exists: you are left with HUGE questions. It is apparent to me that the State once again covered up law enforcement misdeeds. This is a go-to play considering the avalanche of wrongful convictions disgracing our land. It is also apparent the state stalled/ refused to test evidence that would prove exculpatory.
We, as a society, can no longer accept substandard police work or a justice system hell-bent on convictions over TRUTH. The fight is bigger than Mr. Brookins- We all need to look at this man and his situation as motivation.
No one left behind.
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