by Ed Lyon
Lynch mobs, vigilance committees, and necktie parties. These terms evoke what many stories refer to as frontier justice, where groups of people operated outside the established frameworks of law and order, sheriffs and courts, to wreak revenge on other people, making such groups outlaws.
In Oklahoma today, an inverse group of people are obtaining similar results within the established framework of that state’s law-and-order infrastructure through official misconduct that allows for the use of false accusations, fantasy-level junk science, torpedoing public disclosure requirements, and completely ignoring a tiny little detail called due process, making these such groups in-laws.
From 1993 to the present, 35 wrongful convictions in Oklahoma have been uncovered and exonerated. Fifteen of those occurred in the past 10 years.
Henry Wade, Dallas County, Texas’s former district attorney for 28 years, achieved notoriety for publically stating that “Guilty ones [defendants] are easy to convict [of crimes]. It takes real effort to convict the innocent.” The late Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy, apparently an adherent of Wade’s disturbing witticism, was responsible for 11 of Oklahoma’s 35 wrongful convictions. He was not alone in his efforts.
Forensic psychiatrist James Grigson, known as “Doctor Death,” was responsible for wrongful convictions across the United States based upon his blatantly fallacious testimony and outright false and fabricated lab results. Macy’s version of Grigson was Oklahoma City Police Department (“OCPD”) crime lab analyst Joyce Gilchrist. Noted exoneration attorney Kathleen Zellner’s opinion of Gilchrist’s “crime lab” was surprise that “they have not put crime scene tape around [the] OKC crime lab.”
Gilchrist destroyed hair and falsified blood evidence in the capital case of exoneree Curtis McCarty. She destroyed evidence that enabled a false rape conviction for exoneree David Bryson. In exoneree Robert Lee Miller Jr.’s capital case, she botched the analysis of semen, blood, and spit along with hair from humans and dogs, coupled with Macy’s nefarious prosecution practices, which produced a coerced confession to secure yet another death penalty conviction Henry Wade would have been proud of.
So pervasive and pernicious was Gilchrist’s influence that one of her co-workers who admitted to destroying rape kit evidence at Gilchrist’s request remained employed at the OCPD crime lab for almost 15 more years. Another example is OCPD crime lab analyst Elaine Taylor. In a single year, her work was openly challenged by eight renowned scientists from all over the globe. Her work was instrumental in convicting former OCPD officer Daniel Holtzclaw. Taylor also is OCPD detective Rocky Gregory’s mother-in-law. Gregory was one of the lead detectives in the Holtzclaw investigation, a small detail that was never disclosed by the prosecution.
Holtzclaw is currently serving a 263-year sentence for sexual assault based solely on conflicting allegations made by drug addicts and career criminals. Oklahoma. It’s not just a state where the “wind comes sweepin’ down its plains,” it is also, apparently, a modern-day version of justice àla high plains drifter style.
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