Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy Birthday Ben LaGuer

Ben LaGuer turns 44 today, and has spent 23 of those years fighting to get out of the prison he was put into, for a crime he says he did not commit. I believe him, but let me tell you why. The most glaring reason of all of them is the lack of evidence. It is the testimony of the victim herself and nothing more that convicted him. There was no physical or even circumstantial evidence that was combined with the victim's testimony. It was simply her word against his, and she was a schizophrenic who before the attack had regular visits from our former President John F. Kennedy. She also used to say about every single black or Hispanic man she saw, "That's the man that raped me." I guess this is all it takes to get the rest of your life in prison here in Massachusetts, and it seems I am nearly alone in my concern about this "justice".

I don't think this would bother me so much if there were no other facts to consider, but there is so much more. Some of the evidence from the crime scene never got collected, and some of it was either thrown away or lost. The fingerprints of the person who ripped the phone from the wall to tie the victim were first withheld from the original trial, then "lost". The SJC ruled recently that those fingerprints wouldn't have mattered to the jury anyway, but that makes little sense to me. If the fingerprints were tested, and found to belong to a convicted rapist, that wouldn't have mattered? If, in the line of investigation, the person who those fingerprints belong to made a confession, that wouldn't have mattered? Even if the jury were to simply hear about them, we are to believe that the existence of these fingerprints could not possibly make a juror doubt LaGuer's innocence. There is so much more...

The real crime here is against the people of this state, for what is done against LaGuer can be visited against all of us if we are not vigilant. Our standards for criminal investigation and justice are glaringly antiquated. Whether or not you believe in Ben LaGuer's innocence, you should be able to identify that the standards of fairness in his case have not been met. What do we do? Evidently, nothing. When faced with the overwhelming mountain of evidence that begs for a closer look, our justices and system simply turn a blind eye, like they know how horrible it would be to recognize imprisoning an innocent man all this time, and would rather not know. Ben LaGuer is a stronger man than I. I would not have been able to resist admitting to the crime, even as an innocent man, in order to gain my freedom. I know of no man that has voluntarily kept himself in prison for 23 years in order to protest his innocence. Not one. That's why I wish him a happy birthday, and I hope he continues to fight for his day, where he can have all the facts examined in a fair trial.

1 comment:

Truth said...

Happy belated birthday, Ben, although how happy can you be? I read the latest article from Eric Goldscheider on your website and it is absolutely astonishing how corrupt our system continues to be. I have a lump in my throat as I type this. I am so, so, so sorry about the terrible injustice that has occurred to you, of course, no words could ever truly tell you how badly I feel about all that has happened to you and every other wrongfully or overly convicted person, especially people of color. I want so badly for Patrick to change our system but I saw he has nominated yet another law enforcement type to the parole board, he doesn't seem to be any different than the rest of these politicians.

If I knew the answer, I'd be doing it.

The violent deeds like poison weeds
Bloom well in prison air
It is only what is good in man
That wastes and withers there

Oscar Wilde

They need to shut the damn barbaric system down!