The text below is an excerpt taken from a letter Jeffrey wrote to his supporters on The Mississippi Justice Project website dedicated to his case.
In the proceeding text I will prove exactly what I’ve said by presenting, here, the actual opinions by the State and State Supreme Court, taken verbatim from their documents, The documents are as follows: State’s Reply (Brief of Appellee), filed on April 26, 2005; Mississippi Supreme Court opinion, filed on February 9, 2006; my Direct Appeal (Brief of Appellant) was filed on October 1, 2004. Before I present the excerpts from the Briefs, let me explain how my case is being interpreted under the capital murder statute:
In this State, and many others, capital murder is defined as the killing of a human being (accidental or intentional) by another human being, during the commission of an underlying felony. The underlying felony can be; arson, kidnapping, burglary, robbery, sexual battery, etc. So, to be found guilty of capital murder (punishable by death) a person can accidentally take the life of someone, but if the State can convince a jury that the defendant committed an underlying felony, then that is enough to satisfy the statute. Thus my conviction is based solely on the sexual battery charge.
In my Direct Appeal, under issue #4 (pgs. 11-19) this was the three—pronged argument of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel; 1) failure to obtain DNA evidence, 2) failure to secure a pathologist. 3) failure to include lesser offense instruction, i.e., reducing the charge to simple murder or manslaughter. In the following paragraphs the text I will be quoting will deal almost exclusively with the third-prong of issue #4. Now, to the Briefs I mentioned.
State’s Reply (Brief of Appellee) (pgs. 57&58):
(pg.57) “. . ,All counsel had to do to exonerate Appellant was disprove the underlying felony. Had he done that and yet submitted lesser offense instructions, there was a chance the jury could have sentenced Appellant to prison, when without a lesser instruction, they could only set him free. As such, counsel’s decision was not in violation of Woodward (cited case law) was not in violation of any controlling law, was not improper and, therefore, was not deficient.
The State also questions as to how or why counsel should have requested lesser instructions on simple murder or manslaughter. Appellant asserted throughout trial, and he asserts now, that he accidentally dropped Chloe Britt as she got out of the bathtub, This contention does not rise to the level of simple murder or manslaughter. For simple murder to be shown, there must have been evidence that Appellant had a felonious and premeditated intent to kill Chloe Britt,, .(case citings),,,For manslaughter to be shown, there must have been evidence that Appellant killed Chloe Britt in a provoked heat of passion,. .(statute citing).. .No evidence was presented to support either of these charges, and Appellant presents none here. Counsel cannot be deficient for failing to request an instruction unsupported by the evidence and contrary to the valid theory of Appellant’s defense (accidental injury and no evidence of battery)..."
...pg. 580...“...Neither murder nor Manslaughter was supported by the evidence; therefore, there is no likelihood that the Jury would have found Appellant guilty of either of these two lesser crimes.”
The Mississippi Supreme Court opinion (pg.26) says this:
“The record before us raises serious doubts as to whether the evidence supported the giving of a non—capital murder instruction...”
Also, let me include an excerpt from an affidavit given by my Trial attorney. This affidavit was originally submitted in conjunction with my Direct Appeal:
“.. .We believed that our best defense to the capital murder charge was to challenge the evidence of sexual battery, the underlying felony and to argue that the death of the child was an accident. I believe that a pathologist could have assisted in that aspect of the case, but had no funding to hire a pathologist and I did not consult a pathologist. I did consult a registered nurse. Mr Clark filed a motion for funding, but the motion was denied...”
Now, it should be painfully obvious what this case is about, especially considering the fact that it is the State and Court(s) (State Supreme Court and Circuit Court) conceding this. Speaking of the Circuit Court (Trial Court); go back to my last posting, on this site, on 12/21/06 at 6:09 pm and 7:10 pm, lines 14—17, and you will read a summation of the Judge’s opinion, during Directed Verdict.
Throughout the entire record of this case it is obvious that the only thing I did wrong-under the law-was not have an explanation for the 1 cm. bruise, which the State claims is evidence of the underlying felony. But, wait a minute. . . under the law, throughout this Nation, no defendant is required to prove his/her innocence, but it is the State’s burden of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt. As-a-matter-of-fact, a defendant is not required to speak a word throughout the criminal proceedings. Starting at the time of arrest.
In my situation, how could the State even begin to prove anything, beyond reasonable doubt, with nothing more than pure speculation, at best. At Trial, during Directed Verdict, how can the Judge agree there are no witnesses, there’s no confession, and that the death of the child could very well be an accident, but hold me accountable for a 1 cm. bruise I know nothing about? Does that even sound ethical, considering the rights of a defendant? Read the record. The only factual opinion the prosecution could have is; well, Mr. Havard was there, so he had to cause this injury (bruise) some kind of way.
And just like that, the State gained an unjust conviction. They did this mainly by rousing the passions of the jurors and by presenting extreme and overly absurd exaggerations to those jurors, which could have easily been discredited by the evidence, primarily the autopsy report, Which, I might add, the jurors never saw.
But, you know what? forget about my situation for a moment. What about the DA’s duty to the victim’s family? Sure enough, he or she has an obligation to uphold the law and prosecute crimes. But, it’s also the DA’s duty to make damn sure there is a crime, Now, consider two possibilities: that this case is a tragic accident blown way out—of-proportion or, the accusations-rape and murder-are true. Assuming that one of these scenarios is the truth, which do you suppose the victim’s family would prefer? But, if the family doesn’t care about the truth and/or want’s revenge, and advocates an absurd lie, to exact that vengeance, then that last question is futile, You see, this case is not about whodunit, Or to put another way; well, if Jeff didn’t do this, then who else is to blame? Either way you look at it, the DA had an obligation to pursue Justice, I thought Justice was about truth and fairness for all. The People elect our officials to ensure that creed. They take an Oath to do so. Well, that’s the general idea anyway.
This site was started to debate this case and to expose the real truth. And to spread this truth far and wide. But, in retrospect, just maybe, my unconscious goal was to reveal how the judicial system really operates. It is not far-fetched to think that anyone could possibly find themselves in a predicament similar to mine, I would hope that I am the last person to go though such a dreadful hardship, such as this.
I often wonder; could we all be so lucky not to have our birthright liberties stripped from us so callously, under the veil of law, the same law meant to be defended by those officials we elect to represent and protect us, Then I tune back to my condition of disparity and I realize that indeed, not every is so blessed. But, in accordance with long—standing law, every person shall have the good fortune of a fair legal system at their disposal.
And I thought, analogously, that lady (Justice) was wearing a blindfold. Instead, my half decade of experience tells me that I was blind sided, and as the lady should’ve been, I was the one blindfolded.
Nevertheless, this is my earnest and interminable existence until my definitive vindication occurs. And who knows whether or not my life will return to normal, even then.
PS. Almost forgot; During Voir Dire (jury selection) a potential juror—that was eventually selected by my attorney to sit on the jury that decided my fate-said the following: (Trial transcript, pg.136)
“I don’t know him, but I had a niece to be raped—you know—I don’t think I could be fair about it, too.”
Signed, Jeffrey K. Havard