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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: Update:The Plight of Cory Maye

Monday, May 15, 2006

Update:The Plight of Cory Maye

It has been several months since I wrote my initial post about the injustice that Cory Maye was dealt in a small Mississippi town but I assure you, there will be many more posts to follow. Radley Balko a.k.a. The Agitator has been relentless in his research of this case; I think the least I can do is pass along what he has uncovered. Rather than simply search the internet or conduct a cursory search of public records, Balko went the extra mile and actually went to Prentiss, Mississippi to interview townspeople, local law enforcement officers, public officials, and one of the jurors who made the fateful decision to find Cory Maye guilty with the recommended sentence of death. Balko even took photographs of what remains of the crime scene. The most intriguing photos show where bullet holes remain in the door jam where Officer Ron Jones’ life came to an abrupt and tragic end; photos which seem to support Cory Maye’s testimony (pdf).

This story does not end with the conviction of Cory Maye, however. Balko has also done some investigative reporting regarding the apparent rail-roading of Maye’s court-appointed lawyer by the Town of Prentiss. Something really smells here.

Juror Interview
When Balko interviewed one of the jurors and asked whether or not Cory Maye knew at the time he was shooting a police officer she replied: "I couldn't say. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. I couldn't say."

When Balko pressed the juror further and asked whether or not Maye was guilty in her opinion she replied: “I couldn’t say.”

When asked if Cory Maye deserved a new trial, the juror responded: "Oh, yes. He ought to get a new trial. Everybody deserves a chance."

In the course of the rest of the interview, the juror also revealed that she had very little memory of the trial because she was taking medication at the time and that she “didn’t hear everything,” that she did not like Maye’s attorney, and “couldn’t say” if she based her decision in part because of her dislike for Maye’s attorney.

If she really “couldn’t say” much, could one interpret a little reasonable doubt on the part of this juror at least?

Rumors Surrounding the Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force
Balko visited several people close to Cory Maye who passed along comments they had heard from local law enforcement regarding the conduct of the task force which conducted the raid on Maye’s home. One of the phrases he heard frequently was that the Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force had a ‘cowboy mentality.’ According to Balko, the general consensus was that many in law enforcement “wouldn’t be at all surprised if they [the task force involved in the raid of Maye’s home] didn’t knock before kicking down that [Maye’s] door.”

An unnamed officer is quoted as saying:

Nobody around here wears a halo. People think the gun and the badge mean credibility. That if an officer says drugs were there, they were really there. It don't. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they didn't knock before kicking down that door. I wouldn't be surprised if those drugs they found really weren't there, either.
Balko also interviewed others who had been subject of raids by the Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force who made similar statements. Of course most of these comments are hearsay, off the record, or made by individuals with questionable integrity and should be taken with a grain of salt. Having said that, it sure would have served in the interest of justice had some of these people testified in the trial. Hopefully more of these people will identify themselves and be heard.

The Bullet Holes
According to Maye’s testimony, he was laying on his stomach on the floor as he shot at the intruders who turned out to be police officers. Why is this important? The examiner who completed the autopsy for Officer Ron Jones believed that the bullets entered Jones’ abdomen from a downward trajectory. If what the examiner said was true, this would mean that Cory Maye either lied or was mistaken about the position he took when he fired the shots. The prosecution was trying to prove that Cory Maye was lying in open court to damage his credibility.

The photographs posted on Balko’s blog seem to support Maye’s testimony. Notice the shape of the bullet holes in the door frame and where they are positioned. I am not an expert in the field of ballistics (neither was the coroner in this case for that matter, nor was a ballistics expert used in the court proceedings) but the location of one of the holes is near the top third of the door; a person would have to be very tall to hit this part of the door at a downward trajectory I would think. Even if Cory Maye was tall enough to shoot at a downward angle, this still would not explain why the bullet hole is elongated in a manner which suggests an upward trajectory.

As this story progresses, more and more questions emerge. But why hasn’t the MSM picked up on it yet? In the mean time, individuals such as Radley Balko continue to ask the questions which will hopefully someday give Cory Maye a second chance for justice. The least we can do is share his story.

Radley Balko has the very latest on the Cory Maye case as of 5-16-06. Maye’s defense team has submitted a brief to the Circuit Court of Davis County in The State of Mississippi Fifteenth Judicial District with the goal of receiving a new trial. The grounds for a new trial are as follows: insufficient evidence, erroneous forensic evidence submitted by the state, Maye was denied his right to be tried in Jefferson Davis County, ineffective counsel, ineffective assistance of counsel, and the availability of new exculpatory evidence.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we sink deeper into the mir ethat is the war on drugs the gestapo tactics will only increase as the police are given even more power in a desperate bid to win the unwinnable.

12:39 AM  

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