Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Strange Justice


Image stolen from the Wizbang blog Posted by Hello


PENNSYLVANIA JUSTICE

An Adams County man imprisoned for 16 years for a murder he did not commit filed a federal lawsuit yesterday against the county, the state police and investigators, accusing them of lying and doctoring evidence to obtain the conviction. Attorneys for Barry Laughman, 42, of Hanover, charge in the suit that Laughman's wrongful conviction "is part of a persistent and troubling pattern of manipulating and falsifying evidence and testimony that exists and is condoned within certain law enforcement units of the commonwealth and the county."

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, names troopers John J. Holtz and Donald Blevins, state police chemist Janice Roadcap and four former state police commissioners as defendants, as well as Adams County and its district attorney's office. It charges that the commissioners and other high-ranking members of the state police knew the investigators would fabricate evidence and did nothing to stop it. "The aforementioned misconduct of defendants troopers Holtz and Blevins and Chemist Roadcap is consistent with a pattern of misconduct which has existed, been condoned and even encouraged within the PSP for at least the last 34 years," the suit says.

Laughman was convicted of raping and murdering Edna Laughman, 85, a distant relative, in 1987. His conviction was based largely on a confession obtained by Holtz, who claimed the mildly retarded man knew details of the crime known only to the killer. While Laughman's blood type is different from that of semen left on the victim, Roadcap offered explanations for the discrepancies. In later testimony, experts called her explanations "junk science." Both Holtz and Roadcap have been involved in other cases that were overturned.

More from the Strange Justice blog

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