Update: Monday, August 9, 1999
Sharline Wilson's chances for clemency likely destroyed
By Jean Duffey
The jury is out. We rested Friday about 2:00 p.m.. The jury was given instructions and left to deliberate at 4:10. A little after 7:00, the judge asked if they wanted to continue or come back Monday. The majority wanted to stay, but two jurors voted to go home for the weekend.
This was, hands down, the most physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting week I have ever experienced. It will take many updates to explain what all has happened so far, but the bottom line is that we put on a defense for Pat that will assuredly be overturned on appeal if the jury does not rule in our favor.
Pats attorney, John Wesley Hall, was brilliant, and I defy anyone who watched the trial to disagree. Few outsiders could have had a command of the extremely complicated and convoluted facts of this case, but John maneuvered through them as if the story was his own. His incredibly eloquent closing argument sent chills down my spine and brought tears to Lindas eyes. It is a sheer work of art that will be posted on our website. We will obtain a copy of the transcript disc as soon as it is available.
I might also mention that Joseph Farah testified as Pats expert witness, and the team of Farrah and Hall was a thrill to behold. That exchange will also be posted. Pat is blessed to have had these two masterful advocates in his corner. Also, it was an honor and a privilege for me to meet Joseph.
The subject of this update, however, is one of some urgency. Before trial, John Brown called John Hall and said he would fix his affidavit. He said the statements in the affidavit were half-truths, and that when he got on the stand, he would explain the rest of each one. In the first place, the statements were out-and-out lies. There was no half-truth to any of them. In the second place, I reminded Pat and John Hall that wed be better off trusting the devil himself. And just as I predicted, John Brown got on the stand, took an oath to tell the truth, and squirmed through a bunch of pathetic, nonsensical crap.
He sounded like a slobbering drunk trying to convince a police officer that hes sober. I think its safe to say that both sides feel the same way about John Brown, but he damaged Pats defense much more than he hurt the plaintiffs.
John Brown also hurt Sharline Wilson. He, in fact, likely destroyed her chances of getting her clemency granted by the governor. In his false affidavit, John Brown said he warned Pat that there was no supporting evidence that Campbell and Lane were suspects in the murders, and that someone else had signed a confession (meaning Sharline). When John Brown took the witness stand, he attempted to explain what he meant in the affidavit enough to ward off a perjury charge, but nine-tenths of the words out his mouth were still lies. His affidavit and his testimony were attempts to detach himself from the statements in the video about Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane being suspects, when in fact, the statements are in the video because of him.
John Browns testimony was prominent news. Sharline was emotionally devastated when she heard on the news that night what happened and read it in the paper the next morning. John Brown has made her look like a killer. How can the governor grant her clemency now? The only thing I could tell her was that I would try to negate the damage through my testimony on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.
I had to tell a long and winding story when I took the stand, and I didnt get to her signed confession until Friday morning. I testified that I first heard of the confession in early 1994, when FBI Agent Phyllis Cournan told me about it. My response was, I dont know why Sharline signed a confession, but I do know that she didnt kill either of those boys. Knowing Sharline, my thought is she was yanking somebodys chain. To that, Cournan told me Sharline failed a polygraph test immediately after signing the confession. By this time I was involved in the case again, and visited Sharline in prison later that summer. Sharline said that she had been coerced and badgered by Brown and finally wrote what he wanted her to say, knowing that she was going to take a polygraph test and would fail. I also testified that I believe Sharline knows more than she has ever told. She was at the tracks that night, but the boys ran from the tracks, were killed at a grocery store, and taken back to the tracks.
On closing that afternoon, John Hall pointed out that John Brown was perfectly satisfied, even proud of, the video, until the law suit was filed. Brown had gone on radio all across the country promoting the video, obtained 350 copies of his own, and displayed them proudly during his campaign for sheriff. It wasnt until the lawsuit was filed that he claimed to disapprove of the statements about Campbell and Lane, because there was a signed confession from Sharline. If Brown thought the confession had any merit at all, why would he champion Sharlines release, which he did on several talk-radio programs? Why would he want a killer let lose?
I was hopeful that John Hall and I negated the damage to Sharline, although I knew the Democrat-Gazette would report it with diminished impact. I was wrong; the Dem-Gaz didnt report it at all - not one word. I cant believe I was even surprised, but I was, in fact, stunned. How could they report testimony that literally destroys a person, find out the testimony is false, and then not print the other side?
KARK Television station is interviewing Sharline on Monday. That is Little Rock's NBC Affiliate, which is the station that tried very hard to negate some of the media smear against me in 1990. However, just like in 1990, the effectiveness of a three-minute report on one television station isnt going to off-set the damage. I believe Sharlines chances at clemency have been destroyed by the John Brown. To top off the injustice, John Brown will likely get by with his perjurious testimony that has hurt Pats defense, and in turn, has hurt Lindas twelve-year-long struggle to expose the truth.
Sharlines only chance is massive support. She needs letters, faxes, e-mails, and phone calls directly to Governor Huckabee. Explain to him what happened and ask him to please, please verify that John Brown perjured himself. Ask him to not punish Sharline because John Brown lied to distance himself from liability in the suit. This needs to be done immediately. It may also help to write letters to the editor of the Dem-Gaz, if you are a subscriber. If you do not get the paper, your requests or criticisms will not have weight.
I drove home Saturday morning and will be heading back this evening to await the verdict. There is no way to predict what a jury is going to collectively decide, but either way, I would stake the house and farm that we will win in the end (If they win, we will appeal. If we win, they will appeal). This is a first amendment case, and the plaintiffs did not meet their burden of showing Pat had reckless disregard for the truth by using Linda Ives and me as sources for the statements in video. We both made it very clear to the jury that we believe Campbell and Lane are the killers and our beliefs are based on years of studying the case, interviewing witnesses, and watching the government ignore the evidence. If the jury comes back with a verdict for the plaintiffs, it is far from over.
By the way, Pat still owes John Hall $25,000. I dont know that another high-caliber attorney on the face of this earth who would have put his heart, mind, and soul into a trial like Hall before he had been paid his fee. Also, there will be an appeal filed from which ever side loses the verdict, taking another week out of John Halls practice. Pat continues to need financial help, which can be sent to The Kevin Ives Civil Justice Foundation at the below address.
So many of you have been so very generous for which Linda, Pat, and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. If any of you has not gotten a thank-you reply, please know that every minute of the last few weeks have been filled with trial preparation. Also, your thoughts and prayers are clearly felt. I could not have gotten through the grill from their most-capable attorneys cross examination without them.
Mail contributions to:
The Kevin Ives Civil Justice Foundation