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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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Update: St. Paul Officer Who Broke Ribs of Innocent Man During K-9 Attack On Video Fired

Earlier this week, reported on the story of Frank Baker, an innocent man who was simply walking home when he was attacked by officers from the St. Paul Police Department in June. One of those officers, K-9 handler, Brian Ficcadenti, allowed his dog to bite Baker for over a full minute. Another officer, Brett Palkowitsch, then kicked him three times in the ribs, breaking several of them and causing him to suffer a collapsed lung. As a result of his injuries, Baker was confined to the hospital for two weeks during his recovery and now has permanent scars and injuries, as a result.

Via Asa’s original post:

According to reports, 52-year-old Frank Baker was mauled by the police dog for more than a minute and was kicked three times by one officer. He suffered severe bites to his leg, multiple broken ribs and collapsed lungs.

Officers had responded to calls about a fight on June 24 and were told that one of the individuals involved had a gun. As Baker matched the description of the suspect, the cops told him to put his hands up after he was spotted in the area.

Police said Baker raised one hand in the air before one of the officers repeated the command and the K-9 was released to apprehend him. Baker then fell to the ground when the dog initiated contact with him.

Officers reportedly told Baker to keep his hands visible but when he was slow to respond, one of the cops began kicking him in the ribs. Baker is heard screaming in pain on video recorded from the scene before being handcuffed.

Of course, it was later determined that Frank Baker had not been involved in the fight or any other illegal activity and was completely unarmed. The assault upon Baker was captured on a dash camera in one of the police cars (see below) and later released to the public.

Initially, the K-9 officer who allowed his dog to maul Baker was suspended for (just) 30 days as “punishment” for his actions. Now, it has also been announced (via a Facebook post) that Officer Palkowitsch has been fired from the St. Paul Police Department.

Via WDAZ.com:

In a Facebook message Friday morning, Police Chief Todd Axtell said he is “disappointed and upset” by what the video shows. The incident happened a day after he took office.

“When I became chief, I promised to do everything possible to ensure that the people we serve have faith in their police department,” Axtell said in his statement. “I want you all to know that the video does not reflect the way we strive to do our jobs — day in, day out. This is not the Saint Paul way.”

During the news conference, Axtell said releasing the video was “the right thing to do.”

“After this incident, I met with the man injured in the video while he was still in the hospital,” Axtell said. “At that time, I assured and promised him a full review was being conducted. I met with him again today in my office and offered my deepest apologies on behalf of the police department.”

Axtell said the K-9 officer, identified as Brian Ficcadenti, was suspended for 30 days even though a civilian review commission recommended 10 days. His suspension went into effect Thursday, Nov. 3.

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