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Innocent Man Framed For Murder by LVMPD Detectives and Las Vegas Prosecutors Freed After 22 Years in Prison

Demarlo Berry Released From Prison Innocence ProjectLast week, Demarlo Berry was released from a Nevada prison after serving 22 years for a murder he didn’t commit. He had been sentenced to life without parole in prison for a 1994 robbery at a Las Vegas Carl’s Jr. and the murder of Charles Burkes, the manager.

Based on media reports of his release, you would think that the Clark County District Attorney’s Office had supported and even played a significant role in his exoneration. That’s far from the truth, though.

Via the Las Vegas Review Journal:

For years, Berry’s legal team has asserted that incredible trial testimony, as well as a written confession from another man in 2013, proves their client was wrongly convicted.

A Clark County judge on Wednesday signed the order of dismissal that secures the release. The Clark County district attorney’s office had agreed to dismiss the case Tuesday, following a monthslong (sic) investigation by members of the office’s newly formed conviction review unit.

Prosecutors for years had fought Berry’s claims of innocence with assertions of his guilt, but on Thursday they hailed the case as the first release resulting from the review unit established in October.

“They’ve finally done what we think they should have done all along,” (lawyer Craig) Coburn said.

For years, Coburn along with the Rocky Mountain Innocence Project had been fighting to prove he had been falsely convicted. However, Las Vegas prosecutors had fought just as hard against his release. That includes even after the real killer confessed all the way back in 2013.

Steven Jackson, who has been in prison in California for a separate murder since 1996, had voluntarily confessed and in the process provided details only the person who had committed the crime could possibly know. In addition, a woman provided an independent statement that Jackson had confessed to her shortly after the murder occurred.

In fact, the reality is that district attorneys, along with police officers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, manufactured witness testimony against Berry to ensure his conviction. As can be heard in the audio file embedded below (at approx. 6:30), that witness later recanted his claim that Berry had made a jailhouse confession.

In the process, Richard Iden also stated that detectives from the LVMPD coached him on what to say and provided him with details of the crime to bolster his testimony. As reward for that false testimony, Iden was given a favorable plea deal. He was also paid off with free plane tickets home to Ohio to visit his family, a free hotel room during the trial, and cash “per diem” payments.

Of course, while District Attorney Steve Wolfson is busy patting himself on the back for “causing the release of Demarlo Berry from prison after 22 years,” there’s been no mention whatsoever of any sort of accountability for the prosecutors and detectives who illegally manufactured evidence in order to put him there. Nor is there any mention of why it took four years after the real killer had admitted his own guilt before they finally decided to stop fighting that release.

And BTW, Nevada is one of eighteen states in the country that don’t provide any sort of compensation to people who have been exonerated after false convictions. So, unlike the guy the prosecutors paid off to provide false testimony at his trial, Berry will get nothing from the State of Nevada for the decades he was wrongfully imprisoned.

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LVMPD Police Illegally Detain Then Falsely Arrest Las Vegas Man For Not Telling Them His Birthdate

LVMPD Illegal Detention False Arrest Las Vegas Federal Courthouse

Note: This post was shared with Nevada Cop Block via reader submission. If you have videos, stories, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world.

Update: I’ve been told that the name of the officer who is wearing the body camera is Officer J. Deel. Also, the officer who orders that Mr. Martinez be (falsely) arrested is named Officer Jenkins. A third officer, who appears on camera at the end while he is being placed in the car, is named Officer Hernandez. (Other officers, who currently have not been identified, were also present.)

In the body camera footage (which was recorded by Officer J. Deel) embedded below, police officers from the LVMPD​ illegally detain then falsely arrest Joshua Martinez outside of the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas​. Initially they approach and ask him for his birthdate, claiming that he is required to identify himself because they “are assisting the federal marshals within the courthouse.” Their only explanation for why he is supposedly required to identify himself to them is because when he tried to enter the courthouse the marshals asked him for ID, which he did not give them.

However, in order for someone to have to identify themselves to the police, they need to be legally detained first. In order to be legally detained, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that that person has committed a crime, is currently committing a crime, or is about to commit a crime. Even if there is a requirement to show ID in order to enter a building (I’ve personally been to the courthouse many times and can’t recall having ever been required to do so), not having that ID or opting against showing it to them is not a crime. It simply means they won’t allow you inside. So that does not satisfy the requirement for reasonable suspicion of a crime.

In the meantime, during the video, they readily admit several times that they are not accusing him of having committed a crime. In addition, they admit that he is on public property and confirm that he has not been trespassed from the property by the federal marshals. Contrary to what they claim while demanding the information that Martinez is under no legal obligation to provide, they are by their own admission not investigating him for having committed a crime.

Since they in fact never legally detained him, he is not under any obligation to identify himself to them. They also never ordered him to leave the courthouse property. So, he’s not disobeying any lawful orders. Therefore their charge of obstruction and the resulting arrest is false and illegal. Cops lie a lot and try to trick you into giving up your rights, but they also often don’t know the laws they are enforcing. This actually looks like the latter case.

See the original (raw) body cam video here at Joshua Martinez’ YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/riA0TcO7QnE

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Missouri Trooper Charged With Manslaughter in Drowning Of Handcuffed Man Pleas to “Boating Violation” (Update)

Brandon Ellingson Drowning Lake of the Ozarks Missouri Trooper Anthony Piercy

Shortly before his trial was set to begin, Missouri State Trooper Anthony Piercy was given a plea deal that reduces the charge he was facing for the May 2014 drowning of Brandon Ellingson from a felony charge to a low level misdemeanor. As a result, he will face a maximum sentence of just six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Also, as part of that deal, he can withdraw the plea if the prosecution recommends jail time. So, essentially it guarantees that the worst punishment he will possibly get is a short probation sentence and a small fine.

Piercy had originally been charged with involuntary manslaughter for his actions that led to the death of Ellingson. Witnesses also testified that he failed to make any attempt to rescue Brandon while he was drowning. Instead, the Trooper was allowed to plea down to a charge of “negligent operation of a vessel,” a minor boating violation that is essentially equivalent to a traffic ticket.

As has been reported previously here on Nevada Cop Block, Ellingson was arrested by Trooper Piercy for boating while intoxicated at the Lake of Ozarks. Prior to transporting him back to shore, Piercy handcuffed Ellingson’s hands behind his back and subsequently incorrectly placed a life vest over his arms. He also reportedly was traveling too fast in a State Water Patrol boat.

Due to that excessive speed, Ellingson was thrown out of the boat when it hit a large wake. The improperly secured life vest came off soon after Ellingson was knocked into the water. He was then unable to remain afloat and also unable to swim with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Later, Trooper Piercy told several lies in an effort to avoid responsibility for Brandon Ellingson’s preventable death. One of those lies was that Ellingson had intentionally jumped out of the boat. Also, during a phone call with his supervisor (embedded below), Piercy claimed that he attempted to save Ellingson once he went overboard. Among other things in that call, he claimed that he was sore from having “tread water” while trying to pull Ellingson out of the lake, implying that he had jumped in after him.

However, independent witnesses aboard a private boat that came upon the location where Ellingson drowned contradicted those claims. According to the occupants of that boat, Piercy only held a pole out toward him and never made any effort to jump in the water even when they screamed at him to do so. In addition, the captain of that boat, Jim Bascue, stated that none of them knew at the time that Ellingson was restrained by handcuffs. Bascue stated that had he known that he would have jumped in and saved Elllingson himself.

Ellingson’s father begrudgingly accepted the plea deal (see first video embedded below):

“This is the best we were going to get here,” said Craig Ellingson. “It would have been a hung jury, or he would have gotten off. I didn’t want to risk the chance we wouldn’t get the opportunity to see him face to face and say what we want to say. Now we get that. We know what he’s guilty of.”

The trial would have been held in Piercy’s hometown of Versailles, which has just over 2,000 residents, most of whom have some connection to him or his family.

Other family members, including Brandon’s mother, Sherry Ellingson, were more outspoken about the complete lack of justice this deal represents. (Via KansasCity.com):

For Sherry Ellingson, the plea Tuesday did nothing to ease her pain. A trial, she said, would have further exposed how Piercy did little to help her son before he sank in handcuffs to the bottom of the lake and how the patrol then tried to conceal the truth of what happened.

“I don’t really give a care what his punishment is, but I wanted his record to say ‘manslaughter,’ ” Sherry Ellingson told The Star. “If anyone says that justice has now been served, you have got to be kidding me. In what way?”

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