A Victim of the Tennessee Injustice System

On Monday May 5, 1997 at approximately 10:30 a.m., William John Adams, a resident of Salem Road in Lebanon, Tennessee was killed at his home. At 10:47 a.m. that same morning Mike's co-defendant Jon Thomas Beard, a.k.a. Tommy, called him at his residence in Hermitage, Tennessee, from a friend’s house off of New Shackle Island Road in Gallatin, Tennessee. Tommy also happens to be the state's chief witness. Also, a police report filed by Sgt. Gary Keith, W.C.S.D., was obtained through Discovery that contains a statement taken from a Mr. John Richardson, the victims neighbor, that states he witnessed the victim Mr. Adams driving towards his home between 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. that same morning. This only further corroborates the time of death that was established by the County Coroner Dr. Scott, Giles of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, as 10:30 a.m. on Monday May 5, 1997. This would tend to indicate that Mike would have had to commit the crime in Lebanon, Tennessee, and then drive 50+ miles back to his residence in Hermitage, Tennessee in 17 minutes. This time line is impossible at best, but when coupled with the fact that there was an ongoing road construction project that was being conducted on interstate 1-40 the same day of the crime by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, this only further complicates the state's already impossible time line theory.

Mr. Richardson also told Detective Anthony Murray, W.C.S.D., that at approximately 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. that same morning he observed a small black truck with dark tinted windows possibly a Nissan or Toyota driving very slow toward the victim's residence. This could not have been Mike because at that time he was at home receiving the phone call from Tommy who was at a friend’s house in Gallatin, Tennessee. In addition, Mike's 1996 GMC Sonoma was tested for the presence of blood by Shelly M. Betts, a forensic scientist for the TBI criminal laboratory. No blood was present. It is highly unlikely that someone could stab a victim in access of 10 times and not transfer any blood particles from his or her clothing into their vehicle.

On April 4, 1998 Mike was forced to enter a best interest plea of guilty to the crime because his attorneys Gregory Williams, of Maryville, Tennessee and Howard Chambers of Lebanon, Tennessee mislead him into thinking that he would be proceeding to trial without any viable defense. Both attorneys freely admitted to this gross incompetence during his post-conviction hearing.

Mike appealed 'his conviction and when he filed for discovery he was provided with a copy of his phone records for the first time. The records contained the phone call that proved that Tommy had called Mike at his residence at 10:47 a.m. on Monday May 5, 1997. Tommy had called Mike to ask him to come and pick him up at a friend’s house in Gallatin, Tennessee. Obtaining these phone records would tend to indicate that the Assistant District Attorney David Earl Durham of Lebanon, Tennessee had previously withheld this exonerating and very exculpatory evidence.

This story gets much more complicated. Mike went to pick up his, co-defendant Tommy from the friend’s house and later that night they were out riding around and Tommy purchased gas for his truck with the victim's stolen credit card unbeknownst to him. In addition, later that night Tommy again attempted to use the victim's stolen credit card at a BP gas station and as he was exiting the store Mike was entering and he made a cash purchase. Remember this because it will be of great significance later on.

On May 29, 1997 a search warrant was executed on Mike’s apartment in Hermitage, Tennessee at approximately 2:10 a.m. Before the house was searched, he was arrested and placed in the back of a police cruiser and transported to the Wilson County Sheriff's Department. He was subjected to a demoralizing strip search and his shoes were taken from him, as he was placed in a drunk-tank cell where the lights were on 24 hours a day. No incriminating evidence was found at his residence. He was immediately placed in handcuffs and leg shackles and taken to Detective David Kennedy's office and interrogated. At approximately 5:30 a.m. that same morning Mike signed a false statement that was prepared and written by Detective Mike Owen, W.C.S.D.

That day five investigators including Roy Copeland, T.B.I., Jason Locke, T.B.I., David. Kennedy, W.C.S.D., Mike Owen, W.C.S.D., and Sheriff Terry Ashe, W.C.S.D., interrogated him incommunicado around the clock. That afternoon at approximately 1:30 p.m. the Judicial Commissioner signed and submitted a Mittimus committing him to jail. This Mittimus was never served on him. Yet this Mittimus committed him to and illegal incarceration even before probable cause had been established to arrest him.

That evening at approximately 6:05 p.m. Mike signed another false statement that was prepared and written by Special Agent Jason Locke, T.B.I. However, this statement was also an incriminating lie. Sometime on May 30, 1997 Detective David Kennedy used the coerced statement that was prepared and written by Special Agent Jason Locke, T.B.I., during his unlawful detention to obtain probable cause to issue his arrest warrant. In addition, the only other information present on the arrest warrant that was not elicited in violation of Mike's 4th amendment rights was a false statement that concluded that he had attempted to use the victim's stolen credit card to by some things. This is untrue and it was actually Tommy who had attempted to use the victim's stolen credit card without his knowledge. This is a false statement and Mike has provided the information to prove it, as well as the truth from the video at the BP service station that the Assistant District Attorney David Earl Durham refuses to turn over to Mike's attorney.

The arrest warrant was never served on Mike on May 30, 1997 after it was issued as is evidenced on the Right to Attorney Form. The very intense around-the-clock incommunicado interrogation continued on May 30, 1997, and at approximately 9:25 p.m. another round of unlawful interrogations continued. This interrogation continued until approximately 12:54 a.m. on May 31, 1997, where he signed another false statement that was written and prepared by the Investigators. This round of interrogations was conducted by Roy Copeland, T.B.I., Jason Locke, T.B.I., and David Kennedy, W.C.S.D., in a small broom closet in the back of the Wilson County Jail. Only after this interrogation was the arrest warrant served on Mike by Detective David Kennedy, W.C.S.D. He was coerced into signing a waiver of form for all of these statements were prepared and hand written by the various investigators in their words and Mike was coerced into signing them. However, all of the statements were coerced and taken in violation of his 4th amendment rights and any alleged evidence that was derivative from these illegal statements are inadmissible as a fruit of the poisonous tree.

The investigators use the interrogation procedure called the Reid Technique to illegally elicit the false statements. In short, they used the good cop, bad cop routine and psychological techniques such as food and sleep deprivation as well as leading questions that were really designed to make him aware of evidence that only the perpetrator would know. Eventually, his mind and body became physically and emotionally spent and he began to repeat what the investigators had secretly been telling him through their leading questions in an attempt to just get the investigators to leave him alone so he could get some much needed rest. At the time he had came point were his body had became numb allover and he was having sharp pains shooting down his body. At the time he had confidence in the justice system would exonerate him, but at the time all he wanted was peace and sleep. Mike has uncovered evidence that the TBI agents had been trained in the Reid technique; however, the Assistant District Attorney David Earl Durham has blocked all attempts to question the agents on this issue.

During Mike's best interest plea hearing the Assistant District Attorney David Earl Durham testimony before the court state had recovered the murder weapon, a knife. Two separate TBI criminal laboratory reports prove that it could not be the murder weapon. First, the knife was tested for the presence of blood by Shelly M. Betts a forensic scientist for the TBI criminal laboratory. No blood was present, however, instead of leaving it at that, she chose to report her findings as inconclusive and rationalized that blood may have been present at one time, but harsh environmental factors could have removed any traces of blood. This hypothesis is at best. However, when a physical comparison of the fabric the cuts made from the knife were compared, the test revealed them to be inconsistent.  Therefore, Linda L. Little John a forensic scientist for the TBI criminal laboratory concluded that the cuts from the victim's sweatshirt could not have been made by that knife. This forensic report removes all doubt that this knife is not the weapon. Yet the Assistant District Attorney David Earl Durham found it absolutely acceptable to mislead the court with this deceitful lie, not to mention the victim's family.

In addition, the state claims they have some gloves that were recovered from some land the joins his father's land that has the victim's blood on it, yet the Assistant District Attorney David Earl Durham has thus far blocked all attempts to allow him to get the gloves tested, nor has he complied with discovery in regards to turning over of  all crime scene photographs or photographs of the victim. These photographs are very critical because they will prove that a right-handed person stabbed the victim. Mike is left-handed.

This scientific conclusion taken together with his obvious alibi would conclusively exclude him from having absolutely anything to do with this horrid crime. We are positive it can be proved if only the Assist District Attorney David Earl Durham would discontinue his unlawful attempts to thwart and hinder the truth for his own personal ill will and selfish purposes.

As for the status of Mike's appeal, the state claims that the transcript of his pre-trial suppression hearing was consumed by a house fire at the court clerk's house. The million dollar questions are why were the transcripts removed from the Wilson County Courthouse to start with, and isn't this a purely coincidental convenience for the prosecution that is at the very least unprofessional, not to mention illegal. Mike's attorney filed several subpoenas in preparation for his evidentiary hearing and the Assistant District Attorney David Earl Durham claimed that he did not have several days in which to conduct the necessary evidentiary hearing. So Judge J.O. Bond of Lebanon, Tennessee pressured the assistant district attorney and Mike's attorney into entering an agreed order to quash the subpoenas, and in return the Assistant District Attorney agreed to stipulate that all facts as his attorney presented them were true and correct and the state had in fact violated his constitutional rights. This means that the state conceded that the facts of Mike's alibi are true and that there were several incidents of perjury. Mike's former attorney's Gregory Williams and Howard Chambers testified that they seen no alibi defense or any 4th amendment violations, even after the state stipulated to such.

At the end of the evidentiary hearing Judge J.O. Bond denied his post-conviction appeal and concluded that there were no 4th amendment violations, even after the state stipulated to the gross constitutional violations. Judge J.O. Bond neglected to even address Mike's alibi defense or actual innocence. His appeal was denied on the grounds that his post-conviction attorney did not call the witnesses that he was forced to quash the subpoenas on, nor did Mike take the stand to prove the evidence. Even though his attorney was pressured by Judge J.O. Bond and Assistant District Attorney David Earl Durham to quash the subpoenas, and the fact that the assistant district attorney stipulated that all of the facts and evidence as they are presented are true and correct, this obviously proved all of Mike's allegations and assertions and there was no need to cross-examine these investigators.

We feel that it was both unprofessional, not to mention unethical for the judge and the assistant district attorney to pressure his attorney into quashing the subpoenas and then using this rational to deny his post- conviction appeal as well as make it look as if his attorney was responsible and thus making him the scapegoat instead of ruling on the specific issues that were presented before the court. We also feel that his attorney was unlawfully pressured into quashing the subpoenas in violation of his 6th amendment right to cross-examination of the witnesses.  This mistake will not be made again if or when any evidentiary hearing is scheduled in federal court for review of his § 2254 habeas corpus petition.

Recently, we have uncovered new information about the Medical examiner Charles W. Harlan, who was the Medical examiner who performed the autopsy on the victim. The medical examiner had agreed with the assistant district attorney to falsely testify that the state had recovered the murder weapon, despite the fact that the TBI criminal laboratory had conducted the serology and microanalysis reports on the alleged murder weapon and concluded that it could not have been the weapon used to commit the crime.

The medical examiner Charles Harlan is currently involved in a hearing by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners to decide whether to revoke his medical license. Harlan was dismissed as chief medical examiner in 1996. He continued to represent himself as the state's chief medical examiner in criminal cases and advertisements well after his dismissal including in Mike's case. Mike has a copy of the civil complaint that was filed against Harlan in regards to his illegal misrepresentation. Harlan also had 38 disciplinary charges filed against him last year by the State Health Department. Some of the charges allege that Harlan performed incomplete autopsies, overused the sudden infant death syndrome explanation for the deaths of young children and allowed animals to freely roam the areas where autopsies were performed, sometimes allowing them to consume organs of the deceased. In July of last year Harlan received a 30-day suspended sentence and was fined $50.00 for having a global positioning trucking device placed on the vehicle of a former medical examiner's employee, allegedly for her own protection.

In direct regards to the hearing, the state health department had brought 27 allegations against Harlan generally falling into four categories; unprofessional conduct, criminal conduct such as tampering with evidence and filing false documents, negligence or incompetence and unethical conduct.

Mike has recently found the funds to hire the law offices of Robinson and Brandt out of Cincinnati, Ohio to represent him in his § 2254 habeas corpus petition. His attorneys are also being assisted by National Legal Professional Associates also out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Their genuine concern and hard work make Mike confident that he will prevail in his habeas corpus petition.

© Copyright 2003 Michael Dotson

Michael Dotson #281357
NWCS Site 2, L-3-20
Rt. 1 Box 660
Tiptonville, TN 38079

Please note that all of the reports regarding this case are available for those who can help in this case.  Another website will soon be on the Internet with those reports.  As soon as it is on line I will add a link to it here.

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