In Trayvon Martin Case, State Attorney Wolfinger's Role Looms Large

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The Justice Department must get to the bottom of Mr. Wolfinger’s involvement in the decision to overrule the lead investigator’s recommendation to charge George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case.

[Speaking Truth To Power]

In my April 7 column: Trayvon Martin Case: Prosecutorial
Misconduct and Police Cover-up, I questioned whether Brevard and Seminole
County State Attorney Norm Wolfinger may have been unduly influenced by George
Zimmerman’s father—a retired magistrate.

Ironically, because of a tip by one of our readers, we must
now repeat a question that's been raised by others before: is State Attorney Norm Wolfinger incompetent—and, or, too
corrupt—to impartially perform duties where the lives of so many people rest in
his hands? Our, initial, investigation leads us to a chilling
conclusion about State Attorney Norm Wolfinger. Walk with us:

Our reader gave us the names of several people—and insisted
these are only the tip of the iceberg—where the alleged incompetence, and, or, alleged corruption of Mr. Wolfinger was a contributing factor in, either, leading to
their wrongful incarceration, or continuing said incarceration. The names are:
Juan Ramos, Wilton Dedge, William Dillon, Gary Bennett, Jeff Abromowski and Crosley
Green.

In these cases, there does appear to be some level of corruption,
incompetence and, or, negligence in the actions of Mr. Wolfinger—who was a public
defender during the time of many of these cases, before he was allowed to become
a state attorney. Moreover, as a state attorney he has been criticized for his
lack of diligence in reviewing outstanding cases where the evidence strongly suggests
the defendants’ guilt are in serious question.

Let’s examine the case of Juan Ramos. On March 10, 1983, Mr.
Ramos was sentenced to death—Judge William Woodson’s decision to change the
jury’s life sentence is troubling in of itself—after being found guilty of
First-Degree Murder for killing Mary Sue Cobb on April 23 1982. In the case, apparently,
all of the “evidence” pointing to Mr. Ramos’s guilt was obtained by a tainted “dog-scent”
lineup and identification that was procured by a now discredited—and deceased—dog-handler
named: John Preston.

At issue, was the fact that Mr. Preston used dubious methods
with his “dog-scent” technique which, supposedly, connected Mr. Ramos to the
murder. Reportedly, Mr. Preston would let his dog sniff a cigarette pack
belonging to Mr. Ramos—before—he then preceded to let the dog sniff vital
pieces of evidence, like the knife used to kill Ms. Cobb. The dog would then
signal Mr. Ramos as being linked to the evidence, which, eventually led to Mr.
Ramos’ conviction.

After filing an appeal with the Florida Supreme Court, Mr.
Ramos’ conviction was vacated in 1986—and the dog-scent evidence was found to
have been conducted unfairly and the accuracy of the evidence was deemed
unreliable. Mr. Ramos, with the help of groups like the Florida Innocence
Project, obtained a new trial. In April, 1987, he was acquitted at his retrial.
Mr. Wolfinger has been accused of incompetence for not properly challenging the
evidence in the Ramos case.

Wolfinger became a state attorney in January 1985. Two
relevant questions now arise here: First, did the ambitions of Norm Wolfinger
corrupt his ethical obligations to defend Mr. Ramos who was convicted of a capital
crime a mere two years before Mr. Wolfinger became a state attorney—and two
years before Ramos would be finally vindicated? And secondly, did his new
position as state attorney pervert his handling of the cases of the other
defendants like: Wilton Dedge, William Dillon, Gary Bennett, Jeff Abromowski
and Crosley Green?

Mr. Preston’ practices for corrupting evidence are now
widely discredited. Besides Juan Ramos, two other defendants—pointed out to us
by our reader—were convicted by the dubious tactics of Mr. Preston: Wilton
Dedge and William Dillion. Both, with the help of the Florida Innocence
Project, have had their convictions rescinded. Ironically, Mr. Dillion, who
spent 27 years in prison, is now a musician, who uses music to tell the story
of his wrongful conviction.


However, how many other victims of Mr. Preston remain behind
bars?

Former Florida prosecutor Sam Bardwell had this to say about
State Attorney Norm Wolfinger “
"If Norm Wolfinger had one iota of
integrity, he would say it's outrageous and investigate the cases. John Preston
was a total fraud, and everyone knew it." Mr. Bardwell also made this
shocking statement “I left the State Attorney’s Office because I could not
abide by the fabrication of evidence.”



When he was asked for a list of the cases Mr. Preston was involved
in that led to convictions, State Attorney Wolfinger said this: “We accurately
reported that we did not have a list. As was reported in 1984, Preston was used
in criminal investigations by a number of law enforcement agencies. Many of
those investigations never resulted in an arrest and the records of those
investigations have long since been destroyed by the agencies which hired
Preston. Even cases that were submitted to the State Attorney’s Office have in
many instances been destroyed pursuant to state public
records retention law as the cases were fully concluded in the
early 1980s.”


Also, Mr. Wolfinger has incredibly placed the onus, on these
defendants for proving their innocence, when he said “
"Defendants have had rights in Florida to challenge their convictions
through a well established post-conviction process…These provisions have
procedures which defendants must follow, as well as potential rights to
appointment of an attorney and having the public pay for costs if a hearing or
testing is allowed by the court.”

With all due respect, Mr. Wolfinger your answers to these
questions are totally unacceptable and outrageous.  Shouldn’t the state—in the interest of justice—expedite
certain “procedures when someone like Mr. Preston involvement is a primary
reason for the conviction?

At this point, our evaluation is that the probe into the
conduct of State Attorney Norm Wolfinger should be widened. The Justice
Department must get to the bottom of Mr. Wolfinger’s involvement in the
decision to overrule the lead investigator’s recommendation to charge George Zimmerman in the Trayvon
Martin case. Then, they must thoroughly investigate these other cases where
alleged misconduct occurred under Mr. Wolfinger’s watch.

We at Black Star News will continue to watch and investigate
these new angles deeper. We thank our reader for this important tip.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."



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