by John Ingold
blogs.denverpost.com/crime. October 2012
[Clarifications and Rebuttal Comments by Anny Narat]
He was a man soon to confess to killing five women.
In September 2003 — less than three months after Hebert was sentenced to life in prison during a hearing in which he called Carol’s family “liars” and repeated his claims of innocence — White was arrested in the shooting death of his best friend. As he tried to explain that death to police, he began a long string of confessions to murders of five prostitutes. Two bodies were exhumed from the backyard of a home in northeast Denver. Bodies of the three other women White claimed to have killed were never found.
[Additionally, in a macabre hunt for corpses, Mr. White led a troop of police and investigators to several rural Colorado locations, with some success. A victim’s body was recovered in the countryside southwest of Pueblo. (A.N.)]
Prosecutors never told Hebert’s defense attorneys about Hebert’s bizarre connection to an apparent serial killer. Indeed, they contended they didn’t know about it, themselves, until after Hebert’s conviction. But, in a federal lawsuit, Hebert said his rights to due process had been violated.
[Mr. Hebert petitioned the Federal District Court in Denver for relief under provision of Brady V. Maryland, 373 US 83 (1963), which holds that prosecutors are required to divulge known exculpatory evidence before and/or during a trial; and even information discovered after a trial (under Smith V. Roberts, 115 F.3d 818 (10th Cir. 1997)). Chief Judge Marcia Krueger denied the petition without reviewing the facts, in an obviously erroneous determination, on purely procedural grounds.
Mr. Hebert’s attorneys appealed Judge Krueger’s inappropriate ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court “accepted the (premise) that the prosecutor’s duty to disclose continues…,” but then denied on yet another procedural ground — despite the fact that other Federal Circuit Courts have granted new trials on the same circumstances.
Mr. Hebert petitioned for review to the United States Supreme Court, asking for resolution of the conflict among the Federal Circuits. The Supreme Court declined to consider the request. The question remains unresolved. (A.N.)]
In his lawsuit and subsequent appeal to the 10th Circuit, Hebert maintained his innocence — “The police could not determine any motive for Mr. Hebert to commit such a crime and the prosecution admitted such at trial. No witnesses testified that Mr. Hebert was ever known to harm his wife, or to threaten her, or even raise his voice to her,” his attorneys wrote in their brief to the 10th Circuit. (They omitted in their brief details of Hebert’s apparent confessions.)
[Hebert’s alleged “confessions” were actually hearsay testimony of two prosecution witnesses. Hebert himself never confessed any crime. These witnesses who (after interviews with lead detective Vigil) recalled incriminating statements by Mr. Hebert would, in a new trial, face evidence now available that they lied in at the behest of prosecutors. It should surprise no one that Hebert’s attorneys would exclude incriminating prosecution-induced perjury when pleading for relief from Prosecutorial Misconduct. Mr. Ingold’s mocking reference to omission of the “confessions” reveals more about his personal attitude toward this case than about the defense attorneys’ effort to gain a favorable court ruling. (A.N.)]
Instead, he and his attorneys pointed the finger at White. White was mentally ill, they said. He lied in testimony. He later said he didn’t remember selling a gun to Hebert’s friend. He had the bodies of two women buried in his backyard even as he sat on the witness stand at Hebert’s murder trial. And this:
[O]n at least three occasions Mr. White either admitted involvement in Mrs. Hebert’s murder or stated that he knew who was involved.
Hebert deserved a new trial, his attorneys argued.
Prosecutors countered that Hebert was convicted fairly. Even if White’s murderous history had been known, they said, it could have only been used to discredit White’s testimony, which was of small significance in the trial. The wife of the man who bought the gun had on the witness stand corroborated the gun sale. There was insufficient evidence to consider White an alternate suspect in Carol Hebert’s killing. Hal Hebert’s conviction would have stood, even if the jury had known White’s full story, prosecutors argued.
[Prosecutors may indeed want to pretend that Richard White’s testimony was of “small significance,” but they know that it was the key to their case theory and their contention to the jury that Hebert had possessed a gun of the lethal caliber at the proximate time of the crime, and it was indispensable as proof of premeditation — without which a conviction of first degree murder cannot be supported.
In a new trial, White’s testimony would not merely be “discredited;” he obviously would never even be called as a witness by the prosecution because his true testimony would be invaluable to the defense. (A.N.)]
Late last month, a three-judge panel at the 10th Circuit agreed. Prosecutors do not have the duty to disclose potentially exculpatory information after a trial has ended, they wrote.
[Reporter John Ingold either has difficulty understanding legal documents, or he is being purposefully disingenuous. The 10th Circuit did not “agree” with the prosecutors, nor did they write that prosecutors have no duty to disclose after a trial. Instead, without reaching a determination on the facts and merits of the argument, they denied Mr. Hebert’s appeal on a procedural basis. (A.N.)]
“In this case it appears undisputed that the prosecution learned of Mr. White’s criminality only after Mr. Hebert’s trial concluded,” the judges concluded.
The lower court’s ruling denying the appeal was upheld. His conviction stood. And Hal Hebert remained in his cell in Sterling, where there is plenty of time to contemplate how the people you thought the least of turned out to be far more honorable than yourself.
[Throughout this case, John Ingold showed a recurrent tendency to rely on his imagination instead of mere facts. Now he demonstrates as well his ability to read minds, at a distance and through concrete walls.
In fact, Hal Hebert’s contemplation has logically centered on how this case would have turned out had he received a fair trial, free of the false evidence which had been fabricated and knowingly presented by the police and the prosecutors, Kerri Lombardi and Stephanie Villafuerte.]