“The Anatomy of a Political Hit” going on the air Wednesday

Over the weekend I posted Speaking out on the Radio about my invitation to go on WILD AM. Now western mass BMGers can tune in if they like.

I just got a call from Tom Vannah, a regular pinch hitting host on WHMP Progressive Talk Radio out of Northampton. He’ll be filling in for Bill Dwight. Vannah wants to talk about Benjamin LaGuer on Wednesday morning at 9:30. So any BMGers in range who want to listen can go to AM 1240/1400/1600. They usually post an mp3 of the program later in the day.

Vannah’s day job is editor of the Valley Advocate. He published my article last summer titled LaGuer Reconsidered (posted to BMG with embedded links here). He also published my recent article “Who Won? C’est LaGuer: The Anatomy of a Political Hit” (posted to BMG with embedded links as Election Postmortem on LaGuergo there to weigh in on the discussion). Vannah told me he wants to talk about the political hit aspect of the case and about where things are going from here. The commonwealth is due to file its brief in the SJC on Wednesday. It’ll be interesting to see what they have to say. A rebuttal from LaGuer’s attorney is due to follow two weeks later. Oral arguments in January.

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  1. freedom?

    Another story is told.  There was a program on MSNBC this weekend about a case in Boston that involved DNA of twin brothers.  The story transcript can be read on MSNBC under "Blood Brothers".  The man convicted of rape last May, Darrin Fernandez, swears he is innocent.  His twin brother has the same DNA that he has, an anomaly that occurs only in twins.  There had been two hung juries prior to this trial.  It was a very difficult case to prove. The twins even had the same tattoos.  Darrin was sentenced to 15 - 20 years for this rape and 10 to 15 in another.  He insists that he didn't do it, that he is innocent.  Below is some of the transcript from the show: Darrin Fernandez (pre-sentencing statement): First I would like to say to the court, and the media, and the public, that I’m innocent. I did not rape you. It is obvious why you would believe the government; most simple people do. Time will tell and the truth will come out. For centuries, your people have been raping and pillaging countries and still are today, with no known consequences.

    'Kate': That erased any, any shred of doubt I ever may have had in my mind that he didn’t do it.

    James: Why?

    'Kate': (Sighs) The tone of his voice.  Just the way—how he said everything. Just the lack of remorse, the lack of horror in his voice. It kind of sent chills down my spine.

    Fernandez: Now I stand before you convicted of rape. Your honor, you allowed this erroneous trial to happen. You’re supposed to stand for justice. To me, you stand for conviction.

    'Kate':  I mean I just think he’s a psychopath. What kind of person tries to pin a crime on their own brother?

    Hogrell: He’s a coward.

    Jennifer Hogrell told us that testifying in Kate’s trial has helped in her continuing recovery.

    Hogrell: I got to look at him head-on. He didn’t kill me, he made me so much stronger. And to see his face, it makes me so much stronger.

    James: In fact, when you came down from taking the stand, you stared right at him.

    Hogrell: I did. I want him to remember me. Because of what he did, I will live with Darrin’s face in my head every single day for the rest of my life. And I will be damned if he forgets me. Any court date he has, I will be there. Any parole hearing he has, I will be there.

    As for Kate, she too is recovering, but can’t escape the stark memories of her attack.

    James: Do you still think about it every night?

    'Kate': Yeah. I mean, each night I still go to sleep usually with the lights on and the radio playing. I mean I still get really afraid that someone’s gonna think that my guard is down.

    James: Do you think there will come a day when you can go to sleep with the lights off and the radio off?

    'Kate': I hope so, but I don’t know that for sure.

    Wow, pretty powerful stuff.  Worth watching or reading if you get a chance.

    • I've heard of that case

      but it not really analogous two what's going on in LaGuer's case.

      There has been a growing realization in the DNA expert community in recent years that while forensic DNA is a powerful and very useful tool, it is not immune from the same kinds of errors any human activity is prone to. That is one of the reasons Romney's effort to get a purportedly fool proof death penalty through in Massachusetts represented a misplaced faith in scientific certainty. The point is that powerful as DNA evidence is, lab error, contamination and on occasion fraud can never be ruled out. The leading researcher in this field is William Thompson, a professor at UC Irvine who published a must-read article on the subject called Tarnish on the "Gold Standard": Understanding Recent Problems in Forensic DNA Testing. It appeared in The Champion, the magazine of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

      In LaGuer's case, it is very clear to the four reputable DNA experts who have studied the document trail that contamination almost certainly played a role in the DNA results in his case. Their letters are available in full at BenLaGuer.com and have gotten a good deal of play on BMG. Anyone who is interested in this case should definitely check them out.

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Wed 26 Apr 7:18 PM