May 18, 2013 | Lisa Dawson
Jeffrey Havard currently sits in solitary confinement on death row in Mississippi, wrongfully convicted in 2002 of murdering and sexually abusing his then-girlfriend’s 6-month old daughter, Chloe Britt, who died from head injuries. While the state of Mississippi argues that Havard, 34, sexually abused and killed the child, Havard maintains that he accidentally dropped her while removing her from the bathtub. If you’re not familiar with Havard’s case, get a brief background here or check out this GroundReport article by Bruce Fischer. (Be sure to read last month’s post on Harvard, too.)
In his latest petition to the court, Havard asks for relief of the original conviction and sentence, also requesting “at the very least” permission to produce evidence raised in the petition during a proposed evidentiary hearing in federal court.
Read on for details on the latest efforts by advocates fighting to Free Jeffrey Havard.
An Open Letter Calling for Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to Review Jeffrey Havard Case
- State and Federal laws regarding cases that involve the type of accusations leveled at Mr. Havard, mandate that all evidence is to be reviewed by experts qualified in child sexual abuse. This was not done.
- The State tried Mr. Havard without ever attempting to establish sexual assault with expert testimony on forensics.
- The standard of proof for sexual assault, according to the law, was never met.
- The prosecution tried this case, never establishing “to a degree of medical certainty” that a sexual assault had occurred.
- Dr. Steven Hayne had informed the District Attorney’s Office, prior to trial, that there was not enough evidence to conclude a diagnosis of sexual battery.
- The autopsy, which was never introduced into evidence, states that the child’s body “was unremarkable” and makes no reference to sexual assault whatsoever.
- Despite the law requiring the standard of proof, prosecutors put Mr. Havard’s life in jeopardy based only on unqualified and faulty observations, since the charge was predicated on injuries that did not exist.
- Based on the above, this shows that no scientific methodology (differential diagnosis) was ever performed, since the so-called injuries did not exist.
- Hayne’s testimony only rose to the level of possibility which did not meet the standard of proof in court, which is a “degree of medical certainty.”
- Emergency room staff (State’s witnesses) claim to have seen rips, tears and bleeding in the anal area. Steven Hayne observed nothing of the sort in his autopsy report, and photographic evidence indicates no such thing.
- Still, the ER staff gave this testimony in court and it was never challenged or objected to by the defense. Their “invalid testimony” was/is the State’s “case in chief.”
- This further underscores that none of the witnesses were qualified. “Observations” are not tests or forensic reviews.
- Mr. Havard’s trial attorneys did no independent investigation of any kind, which the law requires in a capital murder case. Attorney Gus G. Sermos admitted in open court that he did not understand the autopsy and had no medical knowledge.
- The Court wrongfully denied Mr. Havard’s request for his own medical expert. Instead, the Court recommended that his attorneys contact the State’s expert (Hayne).
- Mr. Havard’s attorneys did not contact Hayne or anyone else with the medical expertise they admittedly lacked.
- The State and the Court improperly placed the burden of proof on Mr. Havard to explain the anal dilation (the ONLY binding factor in the case).
- A study at Duke University estimated that death penalty cases take three to five times longer than a typical murder trial (http://fds.duke.edu/db/attachment/301).
- Jury selection for this capital murder case took one day (12/17/02), and the prosecution presented their case in one day (12/18/02), leading the trial judge to remark: “the case has been moving along quite satisfactorily.”
- Mr. Havard’s trial took just 48 hours from jury selection to sentencing.
A Concerned United States Citizen
ATTN: Hon. Jim Hood
P.O. Box 220
Jackson, MS 39205
- On death row now for over a decade, Jeffrey Havard fights wrongful conviction and death sentence by Mississippi state (lockupreform.com)
- Jeffrey Havard case summary (lockupreform.com)