Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Did Tonya Craft's Trial Produce an "O.J. Verdict"?

[Update: Thursday, August 19, 2010, 12:35 PM]: Just a reminder for all the readers to vote for Leah and Russell! (Yes, it is called "stuffing the ballot box," but since everyone else is stuffing the box, we might as well do it better!) [End Update]

In an email the other day from someone who seems to believe Tonya Craft was guilty, he laid out the issue of what we call the "O.J. Verdict." According to people like Sandra Lamb, Sherry and Dewayne Wilson, Buzz Franklin and others in the LMJC, jurors rejected a "mountain of evidence" that "proved" Tonya's guilty and acquitted her on (at best) flawed beliefs that she did not "look like a child molester."

Before dealing with this question, however, I need first to deal with, well, the O.J. verdict. As readers know, O.J. Simpson was acquitted in October 1995 of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole, and Ronald Goldman in a gruesome stabbing at Nicole's Los Angeles home. As the story goes, the mostly-black jury, after being presented with almost incontrovertible evidence of Simpson's guilt after six months of trial, engaged in what some have called "jury nullification" to acquit him of all charges.

Unfortunately, the whole thing was pictured in a black-white perspective (a mainstream media favorite topic) in which blacks were seen as celebrating the verdict and whites were dismayed. Certainly we saw these pictures on the news, so there was some truth to the reports of the divide. However, we have to understand that no matter what some people might think -- that American blacks were celebrating a black celebrity getting away with murdering white people -- the truth was that the black press and blacks in general looked carefully at how the "evidence" was collected and presented.

The standard for a guilty verdict is "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," not, "We think he might have done it." Shortly after the verdict, I was speaking to an older African-American man in a grocery line in Auburn, Alabama (where I was going to graduate school), about the case and he asked me if I thought Simpson was guilty. I told him I did not know, but that I believed the defense had established reasonable doubt.

No, I do not believe it was a "jury nullification" situation. As one white juror told researchers later, he went into the jury room not convinced Simpson was guilty, but wondered if he was the only one thinking that. I do believe that the prosecution did a miserable job, and there were enough questions about the prosecutors' tactics to give jurors the reasons for the decision they reached.

Let us turn to the jury's decision in Tonya Craft's case. Franklin's post-verdict statement (which violated the Georgia State Bar's Rules of Conduct) claimed that Ms. Craft actually was guilty, but that jurors were guilty if not of misconduct, then of terrible judgment.

(Franklin claimed that the reason jurors voted to acquit was because some of them did not think Ms. Craft "looked like a child molester," and that the jury was not convinced because there were no "videotapes, confession or physical evidence." Jurors who spoke to the media after the trial did not mention any of these things, and especially the latter. Instead, they noted that there were huge gaps in the prosecution's "evidence," and that prosecutors were acting like bullies and the judge was openly biased in favor of conviction. Jurors also noticed that the CAC "expert" witnesses for the prosecution acted like disrespectful, spoiled teenagers whenever defense counsel cross-examined them, while the defense "experts" acted like adults and clearly were more credible than the eye-rolling, shoulder-shrugging, openly-sighing CAC gang.)

There is another huge difference between Tonya Craft's trial and the O.J. Simpson affair: with the Simpson case, there were two dead people. In Tonya's case, however, there are real questions about whether or not there was any molestation at all. Having examined the timelines, the police notes, and the interviews the three children had with the police and the CAC "interviewers," I and others are convinced that there was no molestation at all.

As I see it, not only was there "reasonable doubt" for Tonya's supposed guilt, but there also was "reasonable doubt" as to whether or not molestation even happened, which was a double-whammy for the prosecution. In that sense, Buzz Franklin was right; child molesting is not likely to be on videotape.

Keep in mind that the charges against Tonya Craft did not arise from the children, and the interview transcripts with Stacy Long and Suzi Thorne demonstrate this very well. Instead, they arose from an atmosphere of score-settling, as the Wilsons already had said they would get revenge on her for Tonya's recommendation that their child not be promoted to first grade. (Ms. Craft already had experienced a falling out with Sandra Lamb over a dispute at the birthday party of Ms. Craft's daughter.)

When one add Joal Henke's decision to try to get revenge for Tonya's objections to Henke's wife, Sarah, showering with Ms. Craft's daughter, it is clear that the atmosphere absolutely was poisonous. Furthermore, these are the very kind of people who gladly would bring false charges against someone else.

The second point about this group of people is that they are well-connected to police and prosecutors. For example, in her complaint against Eric Echols, Lamb lists Chris Arnt as her "attorney friend" who was advising her in what actually was a civil case. (Arnt allegedly told Lamb that she did not have to accept a subpoena in a civil case, which is bad legal advice, and especially bad for Arnt, since he stepped outside of his role as a prosecutor, which would raise questions about his immunity protections.) Thus, it was not hard to get these people to act against Tonya Craft, and since the LMJC personnel really are a law unto themselves, there was no risk or downside, in their view.

There is one other important point, and that was the sheer volume of perjury that prosecution witnesses committed, as well as the deliberate attempt by Arnt and Gregor to misrepresent the defense's expert witnesses during the closing statements. I am speaking of Lamb's denial on the stand that her daughter had taken acting lessons, Kelly McDonald's "power bill" perjury, the "hand rape" lies told by Lamb, her daughter, Tim Deal and Suzi Thorne, not to mention the lies that Joal and Sarah Henke told under oath.

Had the prosecutors really believed they had the "slam dunk" case they claimed before trial, then why all the subornation of perjury? Why the fabrication of documents, why the "Animal House" behavior, and why the lies at closing?

I find it interesting that "judge" Brian Outhouse kept out reams of exculpatory evidence, and he also kept out material that would have demonstrated Lamb was lying about her daughter's acting lessons, the Wilson power bill lies, the questionable (at best) Deal documents, not to mention the material from Dr. Ann Hazzard regarding her interviews with Tonya's daughter. Nor were jurors able to see any of the information that came from Eric Echols' investigation because of the trumped-up charges that "Alberto-Facebook" Arnt and his pals from the LMJC cooked up.

In other words, the jury was not permitted to see material that would have case even more doubt on the state's case, yet Franklin, Deal, most LMJC judges and employees, Arnt, Gregor, Lamb and her little friends all are crying that this was an "O.J. Verdict." Outhouse gave the prosecutors pretty much everything they wanted and still it was obvious that the case was a lie.

Following his acquittal, O.J. Simpson's life went downhill and he finally self-destructed and now is in prison, where he likely will remain for the rest of his life. In Tonya Craft's case, Ms. Craft is doing pretty well, but I would not be surprised to see the main players on the prosecution's side have some sorry turns in their lives down the road. After all, F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "Character is fate," and I think that in this situation, Fitzgerald's words are going to be proven true.


Anonymous said...

*****In Tonya Craft's case, Ms. Craft is doing pretty well, but I would not be surprised to see the main players on the prosecution's side have some sorry turns in their lives down the road. After all, F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "Character is fate," and I think that in this situation, Fitzgerald's words are going to be proven true.*****

Can't wait, I need a good long laugh! These people have ruined there lives and their kids too.

Cyril Lucar said...

Here's something I don't get. The ADAs were willing to try this case in public and smear Tonya even to the level of personal Facebook wall postings and we're supposed to believe that they have some magic bullet that they never were allowed to use and that they never mentioned to anyone publicly. Right. Sure. Really?

Lessee. OJ: Man with motive and opportunity. Abysmal prosecution which bordered on criminal. Reasonable suspicion of guilt but all kinds of reasonable doubt.

Tonya: Woman with no motive, probably no opportunity and completely outside of the profile of a perpetrator. Criminal prosecution tactics all the way through the investigation and trial. Reasonable doubt that the crime even occurred. Not even a reasonable suspicion raised that Tonya committed these crimes.

As you pointed out, even the OJ trial wasn't really the OJ trial. But even given that, this isn't even the real OJ trial.

Anonymous said...

Comparing this to O.J. is just another desperate attempt to smear TC while trying to saving face. The jurors said it best, and it captures the essence of this entire ordeal, the prosecutor lied and we caught him.

Anonymous said...

I believe it was the McDonald's utility bill not Wilson's.

eagle1 said...

With no disrespect to you Bill, I don't see why you wrote so much responding to the O.J. comparison.
It's just ludicrous to me hearing that anyone would relate Tonya's trail to his.
The 12 people that found her not guilty was apparently the only 12 in the Ringgold courtroom using that right side door with any integrity at all.

KC Sprayberry said...

Excellent comparisons. In fact, the comparison to the O.J. trial was brought up by the prosecution, as was Buzz's mistaken statement that the defense denied the state the right to a fair trial. One does not have to be a lawyer to know it's the defense entitled to a fair trial but perhaps Buzz needs to go back to law school and learn that.

One thing to note as an outcome of this trial and the observations made on this blog. There were two arrests for child molestation in LMJC over the last week - two arrests highlighted in the news. In one, in Dade County, the arresting officer collected all electronic media as evidence - not done in Tonya's case, and as our anonymous poster keeps stating, must be done with a search warrant and with all kinds of information to do so. But this was done as part of the arrest with no mention of a warrant to collect the evidence. The second case involves a woman in Chickamauga arrested for sex with a 14 YO boy. One of the first public statements from the District Attorney's office includes the statement that she's good looking, not at all what people might expect a child molester to look like. Hmmm? Sounds like LMJC is learning, how to cover their backsides before a trial. I have no idea if these people actually committed these acts of not, but LMJC is scrambling to defuse any and all opposition to their charges prior to trial.

Anonymous said...

Did channel 9 ask if the good looking woman in Chickamauga wore thongs? After all, that is what determines a woman to be a child molester in LMJC.

Anonymous said...

I just find it hard to believe that anyone with an ounce of intelligence even remotely still believes the lies of the LMJC in Tonya's case. Come on,whoever you are, did you read the transcripts of the interviews, etc. This prosecution was a sham from the beginning and everyone who has a brain, knows it!!!

Get over yourself or selves, Tonya Craft DID NOT MOLEST ANYONE!!!! However, she was molested by the unscrupulous actions of those in the LMJC!!!

Kellie G said...

I'm confused. Whose forged power bill allowed whom to do what?

KC Sprayberry said...

The claim of forgery came, I believe, after the defense brought up the power bill Tonya co-signed for, again I believe, the Wilson's. It was offered as evidence she had helped them and therefore much better friends than they claimed. Don't remember all the specifics at the moment but it was just another way of proving the ongoing perjury by the prosecution.

Anonymous said...

It is truly disgusting how the campaign against child abuse has degenerated into a never ending witch hunt. I sincerely hope that Tonya Craft will be a catalyst that will finally stop these Stalinist type show trials.

Here is yet another sad case of false allegations that have ruined a family before the trial has even started.

About a year and half ago Crystal Mitchell was falsely accused of child Molestation. She had babysat these kids for 3 almost 4 years. The oldest Said that she "touched him on his private parts on top of his clothes and that she would threaten him and beat him and it happened once on Christmas eve 12/24/08" On that night She was at her brothers for dinner. She did not babysit from 12/9/08 till 1/27/09. The boys gave her a very hard time the last night she had babysat. The next day the boy told the police. She was questioned on Jan 29 2009. Her rights were never read to her, she was there for 1 1/2 hours trying to tell them she did not do this. They had questioned her for 1 hour before they taped anything. The officer was yelling and screaming at her for an hour. When he taped the questioning he was asking her leading questions. They were telling her that since she was molested that makes her a molester, which is very false in her case. She was working to be come a social worker since the 8th grade, studying her heart out so that when she became a social worker she could help people in these types of situations. She has a big heart and all she has ever wanted to do is help people. She was arrested 2/27/09. Shortly after that we lost our home, a car and our dogs because of these false accusations that were made about her. We are still trying to get the money up so we can pay for her lawyer Michael Duff. We still owe about 4 grand to him. We are selling our stuff on ebay to try to raise money, I just really hope my little girl will not go down for this, If any of you could please help us in anyway let me know. She don't deserve any of this.She has always been a very good girl and none of us can believe this is happening to her.!/pages/Truth-For-Crystal/121894197834182?v=info&ref=ts

Anonymous said...

KC is correct. The bill was for the Wilson's who have a Rossville address. The McDonalds live in Chickamauga, so they wouldn't need the false address for school purposes.

Bill, my family & I had the unfortunate displeasure of dining beside Outhouse & his family Monday night. I cringed every time he spoke to his family. It was odd because Ringgold is such a small town & everyone knows everyone. I ran into several people I knew within the first 5 minutes. No one spoke to him (except his family & it was mostly him talking. His wife looked like she was in hell). When he was leaving, some woman at the table next to me called him over & they had a less than intelligent short conversation. The rest of the time, she and her daughter (i'm assuming) gave us dirty looks because I had no problem voicing my distaste. The best part (although painful) was listening to the way he speaks. My 15 year old was correcting everything which came from his mouth. It was like watching & listening to "Deliverance". It was proof there is a difference in having an education and being educated. One is being able to memorize & take tests, the other is what you have absorbed. Obviously, he must have had some very disappointed English teachers.

volfan69 said...

What am I missing here? I thought that both the prosecution and the defense teams interviewed the potential jurors. Team HAG makes it seem that the jury was by and for the defense only. Weren't those folks questioned by all?

An O.J. verdict? Really? There was reasonable doubt...much reasonable doubt if anyone capable of reading and comprehending reads the transcripts from the trial against Mrs. Craft. I just don't get what they don't understand. Praise GOD that Tonya had those intelligent people on her jury!

I am probably in the minority, but from what I could see and garner from the Simpson trial, I, too, thought there was reasonable doubt.

I am sure that no one will ever want me on a jury because I believe in showing me proof beyond any doubt.

I would love to be able to talk to the jurors for Tonya and hear their thoughts and feelings. However, I would imagine that they fear for their lives and security of their families in that town and probably will never talk about what actually went on during deliberations.

Just sharing my thoughts with all of you. Bobb

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Anonymous said...


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Anonymous said...

If there is "reasonable doubt" about O.J. Simpson's guilt, how did Ron Goldman's blood get in Simpson's Bronco? Also, why was Simpson's blood at the murder scene? When did The Dream Team explain either of these facts?

JD said...

I really enjoyed the comparison between the OJ trial and Tonya Craft's trial. I also think a big difference was that in OJ's trial that more evidence of his guilt wasn't allowed in vs Tonya's trial where more exculpatory evidence wasn't allowed in.

As far as the blood in the Bronco, I think one of the detectives took a blood sample home and there might have been other times of questionable handling of the blood. They also had one of leading forensic experts, I think his last name was Lin, that might have called into question the handling of the evidence and the blood patterns in places, i.e. inferring that it could have been planted.

Anonymous said...

KC "as our anonymous poster keeps stating, must be done with a search warrant and with all kinds of information to do so. But this was done as part of the arrest with no mention of a warrant to collect the evidence." I never said that all evidence had to be taken with a search warrant. There are different factors that law enforcement must consider to determine if they can seize property with or without a search warrant. In this case just because there is no mention of a search warrant being obtained doesn't mean that there wasn't one. Also, the circumstances of the seizure may have been that law enforcement didn't need to get one.

Kellie G said...


Anonymous said...

"The black press and blacks in general looked carefully at how the 'evidence' was collected and presented."

Oh really? Did they look carefully at the fact that Simpson's blood was at the crime scene and the blood of both victims was in Simpson's Ford Bronco?

Have you ever read or seen the justifications the Simpson jurors had for the verdict? Several of them were interviewed by Geraldo Rivera, who asked them, "How can you explain away O.J.'s blood at the murder scene, found hours before his blood sample was taken?"

Madame Foreman, Armanda Cooley, replied, "We can't explain it away. I don't think anybody has really tried to explain it away. Me, personally, I have not tried to explain it away at all. That was not one of the issues and that was definitely not the reasonable doubt we based our decision on."

Can anyone take seriously a juror who says that the Bundy blood drops WERE NOT AN ISSUE in rendering a verdict in this case? Were the Bundy blood drops really irrelevant? Did she think the judge was excluding the Bundy blood drops when he told the jury before deliberations, "Both the prosecution and defendant have a right to expect that you will conscientiously consider and weigh all the evidence...?"

Furthermore, even The Dream Team never tried to argue that Simpson bled at Bundy prior to the murders.

Anyone who clings to a not guilty verdict in the Simpson criminal trial should read "O.J. Unmasked," by M.L. Rantala. It is available at used book sources, including Amazon. It is the source for the information above.