The flipside injustice of wrongful convictions: when the guilty go free.

Author:Acker, James R.
Position:II. Compounding the Tragedies of Wrongful Convictions: New Crimes Committed and New Victims Claimed by the True Perpetrators; Dennis McGruder through IV. Conclusion, with footnotes, p. 1673-1712

Dennis McGruder

Beginning in 1989, a man who came to be known as the "Beauty Shop Rapist" committed a series of armed robberies and sexual assaults in Chicago's south side. (456) The modus operandi in the crimes was similar. (457) In most cases, the man would enter a beauty parlor with a pistol, rob the patrons of their valuables, order the women to disrobe, and then sodomize or rape one of them. (458) The police prepared and distributed a composite sketch of the suspect based on witnesses' descriptions. (459) They arrested John Willis, Jr. on September 14, 1990, after receiving a tip from an anonymous caller. (460) Willis, a man with a fourth grade education who described himself as a "career tire thief and gambler," insisted that he was innocent. (461) Several of the crime victims and witnesses nevertheless identified him as the perpetrator in both photo arrays and line-ups and he was charged in five of the cases. (462)

While Willis remained in custody, similar crimes occurred in the same vicinity, including one robbery-rape committed in a beauty parlor and four others in taverns. (463) Dennis McGruder was arrested for those offenses in April (1992), subsequently pleaded guilty to them, and was sentenced to forty years imprisonment. (464) Meanwhile, Willis was brought to trial in February 1992 on a first set of charges (465) in which the victim, who had been orally sodomized, spat her assailant's ejaculate into a toilet tissue wrapper. (466) Dr. Pamela Fish of the Illinois State Police Crime Laboratory testified at Willis's trial and wrote in a typewritten report that a serology exam comparing Willis's blood type to the semen and sperm sample preserved in the wrapper was "inconclusive," meaning that Willis could not be excluded as a potential source. (467) With multiple witnesses identifying him as the perpetrator, Willis was convicted of armed robbery and the sexual assault and he was sentenced to forty-five years in prison. (468) He was tried on a second set of charges in November 1993, again was convicted, and he received a prison sentence totaling one hundred years. (469)

Not until 1997, in response to Willis's request for post-conviction DNA testing of the evidence preserved from his initial trial, did Fish's handwritten report of the serology exam conducted in that case surface. (470) This handwritten report had not been made available to the defense prior to Willis's trial, yet it noted that Willis was a secretor with type B blood, while the crime scene sample belonged to someone with type A blood. (471) Fish's explanation for her assessment in her typed report and in her trial testimony that the comparison was "inconclusive" apparently concerned irregularities with control procedures. (472) In that event, according to her supervisor, the test at a minimum should have been conducted anew rather than resulting in a report that the comparison was inconclusive. (473) In September (1998), a microscopic slide containing a minute sample of the perpetrator's ejaculate in the case was located and subjected to DNA testing. (474) The analysis produced a match with Dennis McGruder. (475)

Willis was released from prison in February 1999. (476) He was officially exonerated the following month when the charges resulting in his wrongful convictions and more than eight years of incarceration were dismissed. (477) He was awarded $2.5 million in settlement of a claims filed against city and county officials. (478) McGruder, already in prison for committing five new crimes after Willis's arrest, later admitted his guilt in two of the offenses for which Willis had been wrongly convicted. (479) Ironically, Willis had attempted during his 1993 trial, involving the second set of charges against him, to show that McGruder had been arrested for committing similar crimes and that McGruder physically resembled him. (480) The trial judge had refused to allow that evidence to be admitted. (481)

Eddie Lee Mosley

Eddie Lee Mosley has been variously described as "the worst serial killer and rapist in Broward County, [Florida] history," (482) and as "the most prolific serial killer in Florida history" (483) and "in U.S. history." (484) He has been called "a one-man crime wave" (485) whose reign of terror was "bigger than [John Wayne] Gacy. Bigger than [Ted] Bundy." (486) A court-appointed psychiatrist once characterized Mosley as "a shark who simply feeds on possible victims to satisfy his basic sexual needs." (487) Mosley is believed to have committed as many as sixty rapes (488) and nineteen killings (489) in Fort Lauderdale (Broward County) and Miami, Florida during the 1970s and 1980s. (490)

At least ten of his victims were killed after Jerry Frank Townsend, a twenty-two-year-old man suffering from mental retardation, was arrested in September 1979. (491) Townsend falsely confessed to several of the rapes and murders that Mosley had committed, and was convicted and sentenced to prison for life. (492) He spent twenty-two years in prison before he was exonerated by DNA analysis that linked Mosley to the crimes. (493) Townsend eventually received more than $4 million in settlement of lawsuits filed on his behalf against Broward County and the City of Miami. (494)

Mosley claimed responsibility for at least one of his victims after Frank Lee Smith was convicted of raping and murdering eight-year-old Shandra Whitehead in (1985) in Fort Lauderdale; crimes for which Smith was sentenced to death. (495) Although Smith did not match the description given of the man who was spotted at or near the child's home on the night she was killed, two witnesses later identified Smith as being near the crime scene after viewing a photo array and at his trial. (496) Smith had twice before been convicted of criminal homicide. (497) He also allegedly made a damaging admission to the police. (498) One of the trial witnesses would later recant her identification testimony and swear that the man she had seen was Eddie Lee Mosley, who was the murdered child's cousin. (499) The court, hearing Smith's post-conviction petition for a new trial based on the recantation, denied relief. (500) Smith died of cancer in January (2000), while still under sentence of death for the crime. (501) He earlier had come within eight days of his scheduled execution before the Florida Supreme Court granted a stay. (502) A posthumous DNA analysis exonerated Smith, who had maintained his innocence from the time of his arrest until his death. (503) The same analysis identified Mosley as the child's assailant. (504)

Mosley lived in the same impoverished Fort Lauderdale neighborhood where almost all of the women and girls had been raped and murdered under similar circumstances. (505) He was well known to law enforcement authorities. (506) Detective Doug Evans of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department so strongly believed that Mosley was responsible for the murders blamed on Townsend that he appeared as a defense witness at Townsend's trial. (507) The trial judge, however, precluded him from identifying Mosley as an alternative suspect. (508) Mosley, who was mentally retarded and had dropped out of third grade at age thirteen, (509) had been charged with committing numerous rapes in (1973), but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. (510) He remained involuntarily civilly committed until 1979. (511) Following release from the hospital, he was convicted of a sexual battery committed in April (1980) and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. (512) The conviction was reversed on appeal based on ineffective assistance of counsel because his lawyer had not presented an insanity defense. (513) Pursuant to a plea agreement following the remand, Mosley was released from prison in 1983. (514)

Detective Evans persisted in arguing that Mosley was responsible for the rapes and murders committed in the area. (515) The crimes, most of which targeted women and children, all but ceased while Mosley was in custody, but resumed during his periods of freedom. (516) Mosley was again arrested for sexual battery in May 1984, but a jury found him not guilty later that year. (517) Finally, in 1987, too late for Jerry Frank Townsend, Frank Lee Smith, and the scores of women he had victimized, Mosley was arrested and confessed to murdering two women. (518) He was found incompetent to stand trial and committed to a state hospital. (519) He remained involuntarily civilly committed as of 2009. (520) He may never be released from custody. (521)

Kenneth Phillips

Kim Ancona worked as a cocktail lounge waitress in Phoenix, Arizona, where she was responsible for closing the establishment at the end of business hours. (522) Her body was found in the men's restroom of the lounge on the morning of December 29, 1991, where she had been stabbed to death and sexually assaulted. (523) Human bite marks were left on her breast and stab wounds on her neck. (524) The police learned that Ancona had mentioned that "Ray" had offered to help her close the bar on the night of her death. (525) The address book found in her purse included Ray Krone's name. (526) Krone, a U.S. Air Force veteran and a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service who had no prior criminal record, was a regular patron at the lounge. (527) He had recently given Ancona a ride to a Christmas party. (528) The police asked Krone to accompany them to the police station, where he provided hair and blood samples and responded to questioning. (529) Krone, who had distinctively irregular teeth, also bit into Styrofoam so that the police could secure a dental impression. (530) A dental examiner concluded that the marks on Ancona's body were consistent with the impressions of Krone's teeth. (531) Krone was arrested and charged with rape and capital murder. (532)

Scant other evidence connected Krone to the crime. (533) He had consistently maintained his innocence and his roommate corroborated that he had been at home and gone to bed early on December 28...

To continue reading