[eDebate] Death Penalty Clemency Petition for Edward Bell

Beth Skinner beth.skinner
Tue Feb 17 10:56:14 CST 2009

I know this isn't strictly debate-topical but I hope you'll consider signing
the petition - its a life or death issue truely...Thanks, Beth

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chris Baron <baron at budl.org>
Date: Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 6:33 AM
Subject: [Fwd: Need Help with Clemency Petition]
To: Beth Skinner <beth.skinner at gmail.com>

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Randi Vickers <randi.esq at gmail.com>
To: randi.esq at gmail.com
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 00:08:46 -0500
Subject: Need Help with Clemency Petition
Greetings folks:

I apologize for sending out a mass email like this.  As you know, this is
not something that I usually do.  This is pretty important, so I thought I
would break a few rules.  I hope you do not mind.

I have been working for the last 5 years on the death penalty appeal of
Edward Bell with several other lawyers, and we have reached the end of the
line.  He is scheduled for execution on February 19, 2009 and our only hope
is for Governor Kaine to grant clemency.  Eddie, a Black Jamaican national,
was convicted by an all-white small-town Virginia jury in 2001 in the
shooting death of a popular police officer, Ricky Timbrook.

I've started an online
petition<http://www.thepetitionsite.com/4/Clemency-For-Eddie>and tried
my hand at creating
a web site <http://www.clemency4eddie.net/>.  If that link does not work,
the address is www.clemency4eddie.net.  (My apologies, the web site is very
rough.  It is clear that this is a deficiency in my education that I need to

The purpose of this email is to ask you to please consider signing the
petition <http://www.thepetitionsite.com/4/Clemency-For-Eddie>.  I will be
delivering it to Gov. Kaine on Wednesday.

There are several reasons that Gov. Kaine should grant clemency -- if you
want the long version of the story, please read our Clemency
Those words outlined in blue used to be links to documents and video, but
had to omit them from the online version of the brief.

1.  The short version of the story is that Eddie is likely retarded, and
thus ineligible for execution.  The Commonwealth of Virginia denied Eddie a
hearing on this issue because he had not proven he was retarded.  Eddie's
lawyers at the time funded a psychologist out of their own pockets, and
based on the limited tests that had been done during trial, Dr. Ruth opined
that Eddie was likely retarded and that further testing was warranted.  (The
prison would not allow us to bring a psychologist to test Eddie without a
court order.)  A doctor who had had contact with Eddie and a mitigation
specialist also opined that Eddie was retarded, and that further testing was
warranted.  Virginia refused to allow further testing, refused to allow a
hearing on the matter, and "found" that Eddie was not retarded because he
could operate a cell phone and said he read the bible daily.  A slightly
longer version of the story can be found in my Daily Kos diary on
MR<http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/2/12/234159/508/755/696901>or in
the Clemency
Brief. <http://www.clemency4eddie.net/documents/KainePetition012309.pdf>

2.  Eddie's trial counsel did an abysmal job representing him during the
penalty phase of the trial.  They presented no mitigation evidence, giving
the jury no reason to not execute him.  They did a very cursory
investigation, that fell far short of that required by the American Bar
Association guidelines.  They did not even interview the prosecution's
witnesses, so they were unable to effectively cross examine them because
they did not know what they were going to say.  One of these witnesses,
Dawn, is the mother to one of Eddie's kids.  She was on the stand, and
wanted to tell the jury about the good side of Eddie, of how much her
daughter loved Eddie, and how devastated she would be if Eddie were
executed.  But Dawn was unable to testify for Eddie because Eddie's lawyers
did not ask her any questions that could be answered in this way.  Eddie has
5 children and a step-daughter who love him very much.  There was a lot of
mitigation evidence that could have been presented, but was not.  The
federal district court held that Eddie's counsel we deficient, but concluded
that it would not have made a difference.  We don't believe that's true.  We
think that with competent representation and presentation of Eddie's case to
a jury, Eddie's life would have been spared.  I've written a Daily Kos
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel that gives a bit more detail about
issue, and you can find the longer version in our Clemency

3.  The case against Eddie has many holes, and Eddie could very well be
innocent.  The most serious problem with it is that there is no physical
evidence linking him to the crime, the case is largely circumstantial.  The
last witness called by the prosecutor was Terry Lee Johnson, an inmate.  In
that grand tradition of all jail house snitches, Johnson testified that
Eddie confessed to him in jail.  (We found this pretty funny -- Eddie did
not confess to the police, and he's certainly never even come close to
confessing to us, to the contrary, he steadfastly maintains his innocence.
He's not a confessing kind of guy.)  Johnson has since admitted to our
investigators that he made it up.  Eddie did not confess to him, and he knew
nothing about the case.  Johnson swears in an affidavit that he was
pressured by police to testify to a confession, and that he received many
benefits from doing so.  Virginia refused to give us a hearing on the
matter, and rejected the claim for lack of evidence.  The federal courts,
constrained by the AEDPA, have been forced to let that ruling stand.  For a
longer version of Eddie's innocence claims, you can read my Daily Kos Diary
on Perjured Testimony and the Reid Method of
For the rest of Eddie's story on his innocence, please read our Clemency
Brief. <http://www.clemency4eddie.net/documents/KainePetition012309.pdf>

4.  Eddie's case was used as the basis of an attack ad against Governor
Kaine during the 2005 election by his opponent Gerry Kilgore.  The political
pressure created by that ad is likely making it difficult for us to get
clemency.  As you may expect, as part of publicizing this I wrote a Daily
Kos diary <http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/2/16/163159/500/417/698256> on
the subject, that includes a link to the ad in question.

We need a lot of help convincing the governor to stop the execution.  To
that end, please sign my online
Please also consider getting some friends to sign, we need all the
signatures we can get.  You may also join Amnesty
writing campaign on Eddie's behalf.

I know that not everyone on this list agrees with me on the death penalty.
Regardless of our ultimate decision on whether it should be abolished, I
hope you agree with me that it should be administered justly.  The process
has not been just to Eddie.  That said, if you choose not to sign, I'll

If you have any ideas on how to gain a wider audience, I am all ears.

If you are the praying type, please include Eddie and his family in your
prayers.  Please also pray for the Timbrook family.

Thanks for reading this far,

Randi R. Vickers
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