In the vortex of sudden tornados, in the land of perpetual prison pain, confined in a Wabash Valley Correctional Facility Security Housing Unit, within a cell 23 hours a day; An INNOCENT MAN of dignity and apex integrity dwells!!!!! It was in July of 1999, a then 23 years old Leon Benson was nefariously falsely convicted of a crime he absolutely did not commit nor had any involvement in what so ever! Now Leon Benson is propelled to battle the perpetual woes of a nefarious injustice system with all the odds against him! This is Leon Benson’s Battle Cry of Innocence…. (July 12, 2003)
The weighing of evidence is the means by which a conclusion can be made, a wise man/woman therefore, directs their belief to the evidence….(David Hume)
Cause No # 49G02-9808-CF-134837
This hurricane of inequality and nightmares began in the wee morning hours of Aug.8, 1998. When I was socializing with the residents of the Pricilla Apartments located at 1309 N. Pennsylvania-St., downtown Indianapolis, Indiana! Due to buildings high crime history and poor living conditions people from the area referred to the same building by the name Lil Veit Nam! Blurred by intoxication from my consumption of alcohol, I personally never could recall the exact time, or my exact position in the buildings hallways, when lit firecracker sounds occurred that night. These sounds seemed to come from outside the building I was in; everyone paused in the hallway for a second or two then went back to socializing after the sounds ceased! The sounds weren’t too alarming because of the time of the year; fireworks were still going off spontaneously after the 4th of July. I do recall seeing several individuals at the time of the firecracker sounds. A woman by the name of Shirley Gaskin, a young man by the name of Timothy Gaither and several other individuals! Gaskin and Gaither were the only two witnesses willing to come testify on my behalf at trial. Many people were afraid to get involved out of fear of the police or I just couldn’t locate them!
I truly didn’t have any reason in particular to remember anyone that night of the firecracker sounds until a week later Aug. 14, 1998 while I inhaled marijuana and consuming alcohol! I was talking to Shirley Gaskin in front of an apartment building on New Jersey St. and 13th just around the corner from where the fatal crime took place just a week before! When after two male acquaintance of Shirley’s left our presence, then soon after the I.P.D arrested us both! I had a warrant for violation of probation, so I assumed Gaskin had a warrant as well; as we were placed in separate police cars. And then we were taken to I.P.D headquarter, which was basically right down the street! Once at the police station I was taken to a small room with a table and chairs; then police handcuffed my left arm to a metal ring on the wall. Due to my intoxication I rested my head on my right arm on the table. As I soon fell fast asleep! Hours or minutes later (I truly don’t know) I was boldly awakened by homicide detectives Alan Jones and L.A. Van Buskirk and audaciously accused of a murder that occurred Aug. 8, 1998 on 14th and Pennsylvania St! I immediately “snapped out of my sleeping daze” and adamantly denied any personal knowledge or involvement in the hideous crime!
I was irrational due to my Absolute Innocence with no lawyer present, no experience of any type of police interrogation in my life and while being functionally illiterate of law procedure; I immaturely waived my rights and naively gave these detectives a statement from my blared recollections, placing myself in the area of the crime because of the building I was in the night of the “pop” sounds! Since I confidently had Absolute Innocence on my side, why not explain to detectives, what I heard while in the building? Major misconception on my part….! This is when my entire mental capacity was shattered to near oblivion upon Det. Jones telling me “We have 2 eye witnesses, who identify you as the shooter in the murder! Seconds later I was charged with the offense! The “uniformed police” immediately forced me to relinquish my sky blue Nike running shoes off my feet, as well as my white/blue Pelle Pel sweat pants, claiming they needed them for gun powder testing (which were negative)! And placed me in the county jail “bare footed” with an “orange jail jump suite” convicting me onset! ”This is a big mistake, y’all have the wrong man!” I declared repeatedly at the top of my lungs!!! Still not conceiving the real inhuman tragedy that would “burn my soul like a scorching hot spoon perpetually”, in the months to follow!?!
Donald Brooks is one of the 2 witnesses the detectives stated identified me! Brooks gave Detective Jones a statement Aug. 15, 1998 just one day after my arrest, (also after Shirley Guskin informed Brooks, he himself was a suspect in the crime!) In Brooks’s statement he says he was lying down in his cousin’s apartment, when he heard spontaneous gun fire! And when he got up and looked out the two story apartment window, he said he saw Detroit AKA Leon Benson running (south east) down the Pennsylvania St towards the Pricilla Apartments, while several individuals run (north) down the Pennsylvania St! Brooks said it was a good possibility “Detroit” committed the crime…! This entire statement this “impostor witness” gave was coerced and vigorously conflicted with all other evidence, artificial and blemished fallaciously! When Donald Brooks, a middle age convicted robber, parole-violator, impostor of truth, testified not only at one but two trials, he was unable to describe any clothing worn by any of the many individuals, he claimed to have seen on the scene; and then repulsively Brooks lost all memory about any events he conveyed to Detective Alan Jones! At the trial Prosecutor Randy Head was so infuriated by the “State’s own witness” avert the transparent coercion while on the witness stand; that he dismissed Brooks in utter disgust!
Christy Schmitt, the second witness a “star newspaper” delivery woman and the States material/ eye-witness, gave Detective L.A. Van Buskirk a statement Aug.8, 1998 just 30/40 minutes after the crime! In Christy Schmitt’s statement she said, she had just begun her route as she was approaching the newspaper vending box located North-West of the corner of 14th and Pennsylvania St….When she noticed a black pickup truck pulled over just south of the intersection on the Westside of the street facing south! Her attention was compelled to the illuminated tail lights of the truck. As Schmitt began filling the vending box, she heard 3 or 4 “pops” like firecrackers. When she looked up to her left, which was south, in the direction of the sounds, she then observed a black male (B/m) standing on the passenger side of the truck on the sidewalk. The shooter turned in Schmitt’s direction walked north to the end of the trucks bed, turned back around, walked to the cab of the truck, pointed a gun into the passenger side window and fired 2 more shots into the trucks cab. Schmitt said she had seen the flash from the muzzle of the gun the last 2 shots! Then the shooter began walking quickly south down the sidewalk and when he reached the lot to the Damien Center, he cut west running through the parking lot from the scene! Schmitt then left from the vending box, where she was loading the papers to go to her vehicle, which was 10 ft apart! Now in her vehicle she proceeded to call 911 on her cell phone, but she got no response. Then she drove south down Pennsylvania St. Passing the back truck, then Damien Center lot, Schmitt said, they were to far away to identify! After two blocks away from the scene, she finally made contact with 911! Schmitt returned to the black truck about 10 minutes later, where she met a black woman name Cheryl King, who also called 911. They then awaited the police to arrive together!!! Schmitt said that although the shooter did not stand in the street light on the corner, she felt that her headlights were illuminating the scene enough; she could possibly identify the shooter. Christy Schmitt described the shooter as follows:
African-American male, early to mid 20’s, dark complected 5’8’’, skinny build, black t-shirt, black baggy sweat pants with three stripes down the legs, short hair, possibly no facial hair and dark tennis shoes.
*****A witness by the name of Carol Knight stated to police, Leon Benson was wearing stonewashed blue jeans, a blue shirt with an emblem on it and a jacket! This testimony never was contradicted in trial.
****Look at the actual police scene diagrams that correlates each witness statement of action by the suspect!****
***Also please keep in mind, that I’m a light complected African-American male, 5’10’’! Look at my photo in the introduction (Ditto)!***
Conveyed by the actual police scene diagram made by officer R.Layton. The distance between the tailgate of the truck and the vending box, Christy Schmitt was loading, was approximately 146 ft and 7 inches, which is roughly 49 yards, a half of a football field!!!
This distance alone is immensely unreliable identification evoked by Christy Schmitt’s decision to choose an INNOCENT MAN out of a photo-array line-up one week after the crime occurred, on the day of my arrest Aug.14, 1998!
I was in police custody, why wasn’t I placed in a live line-up?
*Statistically reported by Amnesty International, African-American defendants, when identified by Caucasian victims/ witnesses from photo-array line-ups, are the highest defendants, who are misidentified and falsely convicted! Also I truly believe that the detectives and prosecution coerced Schmitt to deceive justice, and the bold contradictions of Schmitt testimony aptly supports my dialectical conclusion!!!
At the second trial, which the first resulted in a hung jury (6 – not guilty, 1 – undecided, 5 – guilty! Never once was a motive established to this crime, nor was there any physical/DNA evidence connecting me to the insane act either trial!) Schmitt unreliable identification and uncorroborated, conflicting testimony was only evidence against me! Schmitt gave Det.L.A.Van Buskirk a statement the night of the crime, then Det. Jones a tape recorded statement a week later, and also an oral deposition under oath 3-26-1999! Sporadically while testifying in the second trial Schmitt emerged with the most conflicting, apex dubious testimony laced with nefarious fallacy, that was completely unheard of in any of the prior 3 statements given by Schmitt. This testimony I’m providing you with today is the actual trial transcripts records verbatim!
Prosecutor Randy Head’s Direct Examination of Schmitt
Q: And what did you do with the cell? (R.146)
A: As soon as I got in the vehicle I called 911….
Q: Were you able to get through at the time?
Q: Why did you want to drive your vehicle at that point? ***
A: Afraid that, if the shooter came back around the building for some reason, I didn’t want to be standing right there for my own personal safety! *** (R.146)
Q: On what side of the street were you on at the time that you drove past the truck? (R.147)
A: At that time I drove past the truck. I was right next to it. I proceeded to go across the lanes of traffic on to the opposite side of the road…
Q: What did you see further south of the truck? ***
A: The gentleman that fired the shots was walking on the sidewalk. He proceeded to look towards me, we made eye contact and then he proceeded to run through the Damien Center lot…! (R.147) *** (In 3 prior statements and 1 trial Schmitt was standing at the vending box until the shooter ran away from the scene through the lot!!)
Q: Ms. Schmitt is the person, who fired those shots, in the courtroom today?
A: Yes….Sir…! (R.152)
Q: Can you point him out for the jury and describe what he’s wearing?
A: The gentleman in the blue shirt and tie!
Prosecutor: Your honor, may the record reflect the witness has identified the defendant, Leon Benson.
Judge: Yes….(Direct by prosecutor resumes)
Q: Now at some later time you gave a statement to Det. Jones concerning the incident, is that correct? (R.152)
Q: And do you remember how you described the shooters complexion?
A: I said he was fairly dark! ***
Q: Do you see the person you’ve just identified as the shooter here in the courtroom?
A: Yes, …um hum…(R.152)
Q: Can you take a look at him/Benson for me? How do you describe his complexion as he sits there?***
A: Fairly light- light complected…! (R.152)***
Q: I guess the person you identified as shooter is not fairly dark, correct?
A: Correct…(R152) *** (This is the 21st century, not a courtroom in the old confederate American South in the 1800’s! Such an unjust dynamic should not exist in our present civilized society! Was that testimony civilized? – Now I would like to present the many times Schmitt impeached, though my trial lawyer did so very meek and passively! Still Schmitt far-fetched account of events was divulged!)
Trial attorney Timothy J. Miller cross examination of Schmitt
Q: Now when you were on the Westside of the street, there’s a newspaper vending-box you were filling that box when you heard shots. Is that right?
A: Yes… (R.171)
Q: OK, your testimony is that it was misty?
Q: Now in the same statement to Det. L.A.Van Buskirk do you recall him asking you what first drew your attention to the shooter - what you most noticed about shooter? ***
A: Yes Sir… (R.172)
Q: What was your answer? (R.172)
A: The clothing… (R.172/73) ***
Q: And these memories were fresh in your memory at the time – Is that right? ***
A: Yes…um hum…. (R.173)
Q: And also you described the shooter as being dark complected?
A: Yes Sir…*** (R. 173)
Q: Do you recall saying that you couldn’t identify the shooter, but you could recognize his clothing?
A: No Sir…. (R. 174) (See this bold contradiction!)
Q: So, if someone else were to testify that you did, it’s your belief that they would be mistaken? ***
A: Yes….Sir…(R.174) *** (This is an excerpt from Cheryl King’s trial testimony much later in the proceeding! Ms. King is the compassionate woman, who called 911 also and waited with Schmitt until police arrived on the scene!)
Q: Now my question to you is – did you hear the woman/ Schmitt, who had gotten out of the van say something in regards to the shooter? (R.396)
A: She said: “NO, I couldn’t see the shooter’s face - all I know is that they had on sweets and a hood shirt.” (R.396)
Q: Do you remember the statement after the shooting took place, you saw the shooter come toward you and turn around walking, breaking into a run and going west behind the Damien Center? (R.174)
A: Yes. ***
Q: Do you also remember making the statement that as you were driving you saw the shooter running behind the Damien Center? ***
A: Yes, as I was passing the parking lot to the Damien Center…
Q: So, it’s your testimony that the shooter was running behind the Damien Center both the times- when you were still at the vending box and then after? It took time to get to your van and proceed south on Pennsylvania?
A: No Sir… (R.174) (This dubious testimony is what convicted an Innocent Man!)
Q: So it’s your testimony that what you meant by that statement was that the shooter did not get into the street light? (R.177)
A: Yes…Sir (R.177)
Q: You didn’t tell Det. Van Buskirk that that night, did you?
A: No Sir. (R.174)
Before Christy Schmitt stepped off the stand, jurors submitted a question to the judge to ask Schmitt! And from their question you’ll realize, there is a very colossal problem after hearing all the contradictions by Schmitt, they should have had an illogical conclusion!
Judge questions Schmitt on jurors tendered question
Q: Ok, did you make eye contact with the shooter as you drove south on Pennsylvania St?
A: Yes. (R.181,82)
Q: Did the defendant then start to run?
A: Yes. (R.182)
Schmitt was impeached again after that testimony! Why would jurors ask such a question after hearing such obvious contradictions? How could a jury convict anyone on this evidence? The vertex of the juror’s confusion was my trial lawyer not presenting the police diagram of the scene! Mr. Miller decided to bring vital piece of evidence in much too late in the trial! And Mr. Miller’s total cross exam of Schmitt was only 7 pages compared to 23 pages of direct exam by prosecutor Head! So, basically truth was smothered because of my trial lawyer meekness! The police diagram is the same one, I’ve provided with you today. This would have given jurors actual distance and exposed the scientific fact, that it was impossible for Schmitt to move 50 yds that fast. After myriad opportunity to present this evidence while Schmitt was on the stand, this sham artist didn’t provide this evidence on purpose!
30 days before the first trial my trial lawyer brought me a statement of an eyewitness, who identified someone else as the shooter in the crime! After being condemned to the Marion County Jail to await trial for months now; this news made me sigh in jubilation! This statement was dated Aug.17,1998, 3 days after my arrest! Why was I still in jail awaiting trial for a crime, I absolutely did not commit? And why was I just now receiving such vindicating evidence? I would know the answer some years later to these personal questions…..
The unlocated witness Dakarai C. Fulton gave the lead Detective Jones a voluntary tape recorded statement Aug.17, 1998! Mr.Fulton stated:
As he was on his way to the Shell Gas Station, so he was walking on the side of a building on Pennsylvania St along a trial path way. Upon reaching the sidewalk of the eastside of Pennsylvania St Fulton said, he remembered seeing a black Dodge Ram truck, sitting on the Westside of Pennsylvania St. in front of the Damien Center! Next thing you know gun fire rang out! Fulton then said, he had seen the shooter walk to the bed-end of the truck, then turn around walked back to the truck’s cab and fired 2 more shots on the passenger side in the truck’s cab! And then the shooter walked at a fast pace north down the sidewalk until reaching the Damien Center lot, where he cut west through the lot running from the scene! Fulton told Detective Jones, he recognized the person, who did the shooting because of the clothes they had on:
Black shirt, black jogging pants with 3 stripes down the leg! * Also Dakarai Fulton said, he had seen the same person hours or so earlier waving a handgun around!!! Fulton said, he had to tell the person to stop waving the gun around that way, “because it ain’t no telling, when it could go off!”, “I had a friend, who got shot that way!” Fulton described the handgun as a 380 automatic!
When asked by lead Detective Alan Jones:
Q: How do you know it was a 380, or what makes you believe it was a 380?
A: Well, cause I seen the same gun, I had the same gun before. I done seen a few of them in my life time, enough to know them on sight….
Q: So you use to own a gun – similar kind of gun is that correct?
A: Oh yeah, I guess what would be a carbon copy!
Dakarai Fulton went on to make a positive identification of the shooter, who also was the same person waving the 380 automatic handgun!
Also there were 2 crime stopper reports that aired: one report said Joseph Webster is connected to the murder that occurred on 14th and Pennsylvania St and Webster had recently been released from Juvenile Hall. The second report said, Joseph Webster used a 380 handgun in the murder and the gun belonged to his girlfriend Latasha Sheppard. Also the second report said, Latasha Sheppard had reported to police, a missing 380 automatic handgun three days prior to the shooting, in addition, lead Detective Alan Jones confirmed Latasha Sheppard gun report to police….!
***Please, let the following facts engross your attention:
Joseph Webster is the same person Dakarai Fulton identified as the shooter. And I.P.D recovered 380 auto shell casings at the scene of the crime! Tragically the innocent victim Kasey Sheon was killed by bullets from a 380 auto handgun, that fatal night! Why with all this evidence pointing toward Webster, would detectives turn their heads and pursue Leon Benson? There’s a multitude of consolidated covert nefariousness, that help conceive this injustice, not only against me and my family or the victim and his family, but against us all, who believe in justice!***
***After receiving my trial transcripts Nov.15, 2002, 3 ½ years after my incarceration in 1999, I had an epiphany, that infuriated me immensely upon discovering my own trial lawyer Timothy J. Miller held vital evidence from me fro 3 ½ months! Mr. Miller received Dakarai Fulton’s statement and crime stopper reports Jan.19,1999 and this information wasn’t divulged to me until April of 1999 just 30 days before the first trial! Then everything started to put itself in perspective of why this crime in itself was afflicted on me. Timothy J. Miller crucially undermined to trial outcome! Miller didn’t call the officer, who constructed the crime scene diagram R: Layton to testify at trial, or Detective L.A.Van Buskirk, who interviewed Christy Schmitt 30/40 min after crime took place; and Timothy Gaither was excluded from testifying in the second trial by Miller without my knowledge until the middle of trial. Miller never held one evidentiary hearing in concerns of Christy Schmitt identification, which is by law unreliable just by distance alone! Miller did not investigate or prepare for trial and his trial performance was very meek towards the prosecution! Miller made too many simple mistakes, which leads me to believe, he was working with the prosecution! This case is not a complicated one at all; Timothy J. Miller was the vital chess piece that compelled a false conviction on me, an Innocent Man! The thought that echoes in my mind often times is that I paid this “sham artist” of a lawyer nearly US$ 15,000.00 to help railroad me to prison!
Due to overtly incompetent legal representation, corruption, racism, my social economical status, functional illiteracy to the judicial system, being from Michigan, with almost no family support; plus the city of Indianapolis having still an all time record high homicide of 168 homicides in 1998, with not only the Schoen family, but countless other family members of lost victims, with local media frenzy, evoked profound pressure on the entire Indianapolis police department and prosecutors office to bring closure to the many unsolved homicide cases by producing more arrests and convictions, was all weighed against me in a trial, that was not mine! So, the State of Indiana only concern was bring closure to a murder case, if that meant manufacturing the conviction of an Innocent Man instead of the true perpetrator of this inhumane act! All the facts, I’ve conveyed to you today, is what propelled an illogical, irrational, unscientific, absurd, fallacious, guilty verdict; “that tragically sent me to prison for 60 years”.
It’s very sad, that a father of two beautiful children has to spend his life battling relentlessly for liberation that was embezzled from him in the first place! I don’t only want justice for me, but also for the victim Kasey Schoen, who has suffered death! It’s understandable for Kasy’s family to harbor animosity, but it’s a sin, when it’s aimed at the wrong person. I still remember the Scheon family’s death wishes towards me; this used to anger me, but I recognize, that they themselves were deceived by individuals, who were sworn to uphold justice!
I’ve still found ways to keep growing and understanding, what life has to offer! I’ve come to believe that all our struggle, disappointment, pain, betrayal, injustice, admiration, love, joy, aspiration, befriendment, anger, justice and war, we experience in our life is what makes us who we are! Though it’s immensely hard not to be bitter in my current circumstance. I’m not, because the world doesn’t owe me nothing, because I’m innocent in prison, but I do owe myself the education, determination, discipline and perseverance, that I have within my heart and soul to transcend over this injustice! Unfortunately this in not enough, I need your help!!!
My direct appeal was denied (2-15-2002) and since then I have filed a PCR appeal (1-28-03) with the Indiana Public “Pretenders” Office! At this point of my legal endeavors I truly have no trust in the Indiana Injustice System! I’m sure you can understand why. My writing finger literally has a callus from all the places I’ve written in all 50 U.S states declaring my innocence, while asking for assistance, but nothing has happened! I’ve gotten a lot of responses telling me, why they can’t help; there’s been several Innocent Project directors respond sarcastically by saying “We only take cases, where individuals are actually innocent!” What?! How could they think, I was playing some diabolical game? Could a guilty person have the strength to convey such unadulterated truth step by step as I have today? All I need is your helping hand to help myself!
The truth has been my strength, protection and guiding star, that illuminates the darkest moments of this eclipse of justice! A fallacy will diminish in the presence of truth; truth is a perpetual fact of the universe! Truth is the knowledge, wisdom and understanding of the Egyptian mysteries discovered after millenniums buried under the desert sands! In my case I don’t have the duration on my side, everyday I awake in prison is a lost piece of my existence! I immensely need the assistance of “archaeologists of justice” to dust away the sands of injustice, that has imprisoned my existence and unearth me to the hands of exoneration!
My name is Leon Benson and this is my Battle Cry of Innocence seeking justice!
For more personal insights on Benson go to http://www.prisonpenpals.net/995256.html !
I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation and gratitude to Katja Pumm, Leda Grace and the many other individuals, who have never stopped believing in my absolute innocence! I especially must thank Lee Gaylord, the founder of The Castle of Hope for Lost Souls Project without his undaunted assistance none of this today would be possible!
“How you can assist Leon’s exoneration”
Share your skills: in public speaking, net working vital information, writing, designing, art, making copies, exposing the story of Leon to all media and communications outlets worldwide, organizing fundraising, share your ideas.
Download The Battle Cry of Innocence and send them to different foundations and organizations that claim to assist the falsely incarcerated.
Show the Battle Cry of Innocence to your local youth in your community to bring apex awareness about the US Injustice System.
Speak about Leon’s story at community events. Direct friends and family to our website. Challenge people, who salute “tough on crime” rhetoric and don’t have the true information or knowledge of the exploitation of poor individuals in the US.
Participate in events and rallies that expose the greed and exploitation of the prison industry.
Write to Leon directly and ask questions.
All legal experience is needed, if you have this skill, please, share your ideas of exonerating Leon Benson.
Finding, giving and sharing support and help that will accelerate Leon to exoneration.
Learn more about the wrongful incarcerated.
I’m only one story of so many people before me and possibly after me, if you don’t take adamant action against this nationwide epidemic of bogus, false and wrongful incarcerations in this country. There are 2.6 million men and women currently incarcerated in the U.S. and how many are innocent victims of inequality, nepotism, racism, discrimination from a corrupt Injustice System? Maybe former Illinois Governor George Ryan can answer that question for you, because he realized, there was a high probability innocent people were in the 167 Illinois death row inmates, he granted clemency, too, permanently stopping their executions! Organize people in your community to demand justice for the wrongfully convicted! You are the hope, so never give up the struggle! Aluta Continua.
If I know anything at all, it’s that a wall is just a wall, and nothing more at all. “It can be broken down!” (Assata Shakur)
© Copyright 2003 Leon Benson
Leon Benson #995256
P.O. Box 1111
Carlisle, IN 47838
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