Man who has been in prison 28 years unlikely to be released unless he admits to murder

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Dec 14, 2021.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Here's a simple (yet very complicated) murder case, which raises several troubling (controversial, highly questionable) issues.

    Some of you wonder why people would admit to crimes they do not commit. Well here's one more example of that. This man has to admit to the murder if he wants to be released from prison. Sounds insane and crazy? The justice system can be, in many situations.

    This man has already spent 28 years in prison for a murder, which he claims he did not commit.

    The man who is in prison is Joseph Gordon, a 78-year-old Black man.

    In 1991, Daniel Pack, a 38-year-old neurologist, was killed in Gordon's basement.
    Gordon admitted to hiding the body, but claimed he was not the one who actually killed Pack.

    Gordon's attorneys alleged throughout the initial investigation that his son killed Pack. The defense attorney put his son on the stand, where he insisted that his father committed the murder.

    Citing a likely motive, prosecutors alleged that Pack went to the Gordon residence to work out a dispute over a $70,000 investment they said Pack made in baseball cards.
    Gordon was a Westchester County baseball-card dealer, and the prosecutor James Rooney alleged that the cards were worthless.

    Gordon did not publicly accuse his son, who was 16 at the time, of committing the murder until his second parole hearing, which was more than 25 years after his conviction.

    At his March 2020 parole hearing, Gordon said he chose to hide the body and not call the police because he wanted to protect his son. "I didn't trust the system, society. I didn't trust any of it. All I know is I wanted to take care of my son. ... I was not going to be compelled to testify against my son. I was not going to put my son in prison."

    In response to these claims, his son told a reporter, "My father is a sociopath", and denied any connection to the murder.

    Sperm was found in the victim's mouth, and later in 2015 authorities retested that sperm and found that it did not belong to Gordon or his son.

    Another witness came forward in 1996, after the trial. She was a neighbor who claimed that she saw Gordon leave his house that day, and then later saw a white man pull into the driveway 15 minutes later, and said she saw Gordon's son greeting him.

    Gordon has been denied parole 5 times, beginning with his first hearing in 2017.
    The New York State Board of Parole has refused to release him, citing his refusal to confess.
    Michelle Lewin, the executive director of the Parole Preparation Project, explained a likely reason for this: "The board expects them to accept responsibility and express remorse. People who maintain their innocence remain in an impossible situation."

    So if the prisoner continues to claim his innocence, the parole board is likely to view that as "not accepting responsibility" for the crime. They know the prisoner was found guilty at trial and are reluctant to question the verdict. (It's far easier to deal in simple facts)
    This, of course, can put a prisoner who actually is innocent into a difficult position. To put it simply, they might have to lie and claim they committed a crime which they did not do if they want to have a chance of being released.

    That seems outrageously unfair.

    The New York State Board of Parole provided a news investigator with a statement that said:
    "Prior to making a final decision, the Board members must follow the statutory requirements which take ‎into consideration many factors, including statements made by victims and victims' families, if any, as well as an individual's criminal history, institutional accomplishments, potential to successfully reintegrate into the community, and perceived risk to public safety."

    An official parole appeal document for Joseph Gordon cited the following two points in its decision:
    "The Board may consider the inmate's capacity to tell the truth... Several of appellant’s answers to questions were short or evasive."
    "Once an individual has been convicted of a crime, it is generally not the Board’s role to reevaluate a claim of innocence."

    Robert Tendy, the current district attorney of Putnam County, also added:
    "It is not just the physical threat. It is a threat that this person will be given a soapbox to preach his innocence and become part of the ever-growing movement to undermine the justice system. There is a lot of it going around these days."

    This is a kind of indirect way of implying they usually don't want to release a prisoner who claims they never committed the crime.

    They probably see such a person as a manipulative liar, who is in denial about his mistakes, has not changed, and will be likely to commit the crime again.
    And that might be true, if the person actually is guilty.
    The problem is, they're making the automatic assumption that the person is guilty, because they were found guilty at trial and have spent a long time in prison.
    So obviously this view is very unfair to that small minority of people who are actually innocent.

    This story raises several issues.
    Should someone who hides the body in a murder automatically be assumed guilty of the murder, in all situations?
    Should parole boards be denying parole to prisoners because they refuse to admit to the crime and express remorse at what the parole board believes the prisoner has done?

    Another issue is burden of evidence. After the trial is over and the defendant has been found guilty, how much higher should the new burden of evidence be able to exonerate the defendant of the alleged crime than it was in the original trial?

    So this man hid the murder victim body and was assumed guilty of murder. But there are three complicating additional pieces of evidence, which we will go over one by one.

    1. The semen found in the victim's mouth. What does this even mean? It could mean something very significant or it could mean nothing. This suggests that it was likely not just an ordinary murder. Supposedly the test found that the semen neither belonged to Gordon nor his son. But these tests can sometimes be in error. They are not always right, like authorities would have people think. There are five possibilities here.
    1) It was Gordon's sperm. If this was the case, obviously he would have to be a reprehensible man, probably put it there after the victim had been killed to take out his animosity and revenge on the victim, even after death.
    2) It was the son's sperm. This point has two possibilities.
    Maybe Gordon was telling the truth and the victim, Pack, somehow manipulated Gordon's son into allowing him to suck him? Perhaps with an offer of money or a threat? But then Gordon's son later changed his mind and killed Pack for doing that, which would not be an unusual response in that sort of situation.
    Or Gordon's son killed him and for some reason, being an irresponsible teen, put the semen in his mouth just to disrespect him after death.
    3) Perhaps Gordon's son had a younger friend with him at the time? Perhaps Gordon's son walked in on them, the younger friend out of shame claimed he was being raped, and Gordon's son grabbed a gun and shot Pack? Then Gordon's father would have found out about it later and wanted to protect his son.
    4) It could possibly be that just before he arrived the victim had had a sexual encounter with another man. I am not sure how likely this possibility could be. Would semen be likely to stay in his mouth for that long? Was the male victim homosexual, and circumstantial evidence that might suggest he could have just had sex?
    5) Could Gordon have intentionally put that semen there to try to mislead police? Maybe he even thought of this explanation before he killed the man. But if that is the case, where did this semen come from? Men usually don't just have semen from some other man lying around, and it's usually not that easy to obtain.
    This one little piece of evidence raises so many questions. There are so many different logical possibilities.

    2. The son claimed his father committed the murder. So he is an important witness. But he could have been the actual killer.
    Was he so selfish that he feared for himself and did not care what happened to his father? (I think that is a likely possibility) Or maybe he assumed at that time that his father was sacrificing himself, and since his father had already been separated from him for a time, being in prison, the son (who probably would have been 18 at the time) did not know exactly what he should have said.
    At that point it would have been too late and the father would not have wanted to claim his son was lying, because that would mean his son had done it, and so the father just accepted the sacrifice, still perhaps hoping that there might be a chance the jury would not convict if they had doubt about whether it was the father or the son who committed the murder.

    When the son later responded to a news reporter that his father was "a sociopath", it is important to point out that this statement was not made in a courtroom or in front of a parole board. The son could have just been afraid for himself at that point. His father had already spent 28 years in prison, so it would not make sense (assuming that he cared about both himself and his father equally) to admit guilt and go to prison himself at that point, because then all those years his father had already had to spend in prison would have been for nothing.

    3. And lastly the witness who came forward three years after the trial. Could this witness be lying? Maybe she lied because she thought her neighbor was probably innocent so thought her lie could help him? Maybe Gordon or a family member paid or convinced her to lie? What is the race of this neighbor? Maybe she just did not want to see another black man put away in prison?

    Her testimony clearly implies that Gordon's son was probably the murderer and not Gordon.

    There is more reason for a false witness to come forward after the trial because why should they have to lie and risk punishment if they might not need to.

    But if we view her testimony as equal to Gordon's son, then it is sort of like there is one witness saying Gordon did it and one witness saying he didn't, so I think wouldn't the testimony of those two witnesses cancel out?
    And then we would be back to the only evidence that matters being the fact that Gordon hid the body.
     
  2. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    This comment was posted by someone else in another thread:

    I sat on hundreds of Parole Board hearings in UK.
    Parole board members never discuss innocence or guilt, they operate on the fact a court / trial found you guilty and they have no right to question that and do not question that.
    A parole board considers one factor - RISK to society should you leave a prison - the "paying your debt to society" is an inherent factor.
    I responded:

    The problem with that is when they view it as a "risk" when the prisoner is claiming they didn't do it.

    The person went on to post:

    I sat on the panel for a prisoner who, at the time, was Britain's longest serving prisoner for a crime he did not commit = 27 years. I always thought him completely innocent, based on talking to him and reading what is known as Primary Documents i/e not hearsay or media coverage, reports. The actual court papers.
    The prisoner was bullied, coerced by police, to confess to the murder of a woman. He had the mental age/psyche of a 12 year old at the time. There was no protection from P.A.C.E. (similar to Miranda Rights).
    He was not released by the parole board because the convention/policy of not releasing a life sentence prisoner who did not admit/confess to committing the crime. This is because they cannot partake in rehabilitation programme's with a mindset already out of line with the purpose of the programmes - to reduce risk of re offending. In UK they did another 10 years on top of their expected time for release on parole.
    This guy was deemed to have confessed but later in prison he denied killing the woman and never deviated from that commitment to his innocence.
    I actually wrote in my parole report: "I am not permitted to judge upon guilt, a court has decided. But, accepting he is rightly sentenced and serving his sentence, I believe as a guilty man he has served his time. His behavior in custody has been exemplary since the day he came to prison. I do not see him as a risk".
    He went to Appeal Court a few months later. He was released. Bail pending appeal hearing eventually cleared of the conviction. He got £4 Million.
    I am not 100% sure on today but it was the norm for a Life sentence prisoner to serve, or expect to serve, 10 years longer than the set release time if they did not admit to doing the crime they were incarcerated for.
    This must surely be wrong.​
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2021
  3. Chrizton

    Chrizton Well-Known Member

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    I don't see that he is clearly innocent, so I really don't care how much time he serves.
     
  4. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Are you serious?
    If you don't know for certain that he is innocent, you don't care??

    How about there being a fairly moderate probability he is innocent?
     
  5. Chrizton

    Chrizton Well-Known Member

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    I don't consider it a moderate probability considering he hid the damn body.
     
  6. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    In other words you believe that if a man hides the body to try to protect his teenage son, he has accepted responsibility for the killing.

    If this man's claim is truthful (and that is a big if and we don't know) then here's what might have happened. The white man might have sexually molested either Gordon's son or another young teen who was at the house, and then Gordon's son killed him. Which might have been wrong and illegal, but still somewhat understandable.

    Of course, claims that the victim did something wrong are no defense to murder if those claims can't be proved. And Gordon waited so long to make that type of statement that such a thing could not have even been investigated, to see what the chances were it might have been true.

    Also, if the probable suspects have been narrowed down to only two persons, a lot of people believe that a jury cannot convict because the jury does not know which one of them did it. That is not true. A jury is still likely to put the blame on one of them, or even both of them, thinking they might have done it together. Gordon might have made the mistake of thinking that the jury would not find him guilty because there was a possibility his son might have done it, and he (mistakenly) believed if there was any doubt whatsoever a jury would not convict.
     
  7. Chrizton

    Chrizton Well-Known Member

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    Or DNA evidence was just breaking into the scene 30 years ago and the man premeditated the murder, acquired some semen from a used condom or somewhere else to plant on the corpse, and did what he did and is now trying to come up with a new fall guy now that his first one didn't work out. IDK. The burden is on him and I have seen no evidence that he is actually innocent.
     
  8. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    I highlighted the only thing that matters here.

    This is a parole hearing. And a big part of parole (early release) is that one show remorse for their crime. He is not doing that, therefore he can just sit in jail and serve out his entire sentence.
     
  9. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    If you ever get wrongly convicted of a crime, and I am sitting on the parole board listening to your case, maybe you would like me to treat you the same?
    "But I'm innocent! I didn't do it!" --- "Sorry, it doesn't sound like you are remorseful for your crime. No early release for you!"
     
  10. FatBack

    FatBack Well-Known Member

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    A parole board does not exist to determine guilt or innocence that has already happened before the person appears in front of a parole board
     
    Mushroom likes this.
  11. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    And that is not the job of a parole board. And guess what, almost every criminal claims they never did it.

    There is no evidence he was innocent, just his own say-so. If he is innocent, then he should take that up at a new trial. Just like him, you fail to understand how the justice system works.
     
  12. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    the reality is, they tell you they denied it as you did not show remorse, but if you admit it, they deny you cause you admitted it

    some people will never be released, especially those found guilty of murder
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2021
  13. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    agree, but they may change the excuse for denial based on what one does or says
     
  14. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    "Sperm was found in the victim's mouth, and later in 2015 authorities retested that sperm and found that it did not belong to Gordon or his son."

    i would like that put in a database, see if any hits come up
     
  15. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    And it can have absolutely nothing to do with anything.

    A hooker gets picked up and is murdered, and semen is found in-on her. That does not mean the one that put it there had anything to do with the murder. Semen can actually "survive" for one to two days, it could have been there from 6 hours prior. Hell, for all we know it might be their own.
     
  16. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    agree, but they should find out whom it belonged too
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2021
  17. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    That is correct, and is what I already stated. It might have nothing to do with anything.

    Yes, but this guy wasn't a hooker.

    And he was a man, not a woman, which makes it a bit more unusual.

    I wish you would try to use some common sense here.

    I don't know. I assume if semen had somehow ended up in his mouth he would have already swallowed it?

    It seems improbable that semen would have entered his mouth just before he left wherever he was before, before he got into his car and drove to Gordon's home.

    If (hypothetically) a person puts semen into their mouth and waits, let's say an hour, and continually swallows like people normally do, will it still be "there"?

    I'm assuming it must have been noticeably visible in the victim's mouth, or investigators would not have noticed it. So this does seem improbable.

    I would think they would have tested it to see if it belonged to the victim. But maybe not?
    It does seem odd to me that a person would have their own semen in their mouth. And this would just happen to be discovered after they are murdered.
     
  18. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I don't think it is practical or legitimate to try to retry the case here, based only on what limited (and possible wrong) information that is in the public domain. A judge and/or jury has all of the information presented in court, including access to seek clarification or further details where necessary. They use all of that information to reach their decisions in the case. I think the only legitimate form for that to be second-guessed would be a formal appeal process, expect in rare cases where clear and definitive evidence is found that reverses key facts of the case. Nothing you've raised here seems to come anywhere close to that.

    On the issue of parole requiring an acceptance of responsibility, this does indeed make it even more difficult for someone who has been wrongly convicted but I'm not clear how the system could be significantly improved to account for that. Remember that we can't know who has or hasn't been wrongly convicted, it is unrealistic to expect a parole broad to essentially retry a case to make that determination and it would be certainly wrong for the parole board to essentially reverse a guilty verdict without fully and completely reassessing the entire case (again, that is the role of an appeals process). Whatever system or rules you propose has to apply equally to all cases, not just cherry-picked examples that may well have legitimate questions around them.
     
  19. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    It can remain for hours, even days later.

    Was there any evidence there was a sexual assault? No? Then move along, nothing of interest to the case.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2021
  20. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    And still be noticed by police or a forensic examiner taking a look at the body?
    Even in a living guy who is continually swallowing the saliva in his mouth like any normal person does, and then driving his car, and then has decided to meet some people to discuss business?

    I really do not know about this type of thing for sure, but what you are suggesting just seems very unrealistic to me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2021
  21. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    You really don't know how any of this works, do you?
     
  22. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Are you serious? So if your wife swallows your juice, and then finishes with the sex act, maybe washes dishes, goes and drives to the movies and comes back, you are saying if she opens her mouth I should be able to look in there and see it?
    Do you have any idea how absurd that sounds?
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2021
  23. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    And now show me a reference where this was detected visually.

    This is why I am laughing, because nowhere in your "reference" does it state this, only that it was detected. You are aware that back in the lab at the coroner's office they typically do multiple tests for things like this, right? Discovering amounts not even visible to the human eye.

    But you present no facts, simply jump off on tangents, then apparently complaining that I am actually using what you put down against you.

    Do not like it, then maybe you need to do a better job in your own initial posting. And actually, you know, use references to validate your claims.

    But here, you can start by watching this:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forensic_Files

    I have actually been an avid watcher of this series for over 20 years now. Meanwhile, you just vomit up some non-sourced wall of text, then get upset when you get questioned over it.

    And yes, a forensic examiner would indeed notice the semen. Because the mouth, genitals (male and female), and anus are routinely swabbed then inspected just to look for things like this. As well as fluorescent light examination to look for bodily fluids over the entire body.

    You really do not know how forensics work, do you? What, you think they just look at the body by eye, take some pictures, then call it a day?
     
  24. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    It does seem unusual to me that they would have tested the murder victim's mouth for semen when prior to that there had been no indication that there had been anything sexual involved in the crime.

    Really? Well, I guess I don't know about this. That does strike me as being excessive.
    I could possibly understand if the victim had been a woman, they didn't know why she was murdered so they may have assumed rape as a possibility, but the victim in this case was a 38-year-old male neurologist, not a likely person who would have been the victim of rape.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2021
  25. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    They check all things like that. And how is it excessive?

    Boy, you just don't get it, do you? Like men are never raped? Like murder victims are never sexually assaulted before or after they are killed? To be honest, I am amazed that you are surprised. It is part of the routine workup they do on all murder victims as part of an autopsy. And one of the reasons the mouth is swabbed is in the event the victim might have bitten the suspect. A common defensive wound is bites, and that leaves DNA evidence inside the mouth. So swabbing the mouth is routine, as well as taking samples from under the fingernails.

    They were not looking for semen, they were looking for any DNA that might happen to be inside the mouth. In this case, it just happened to be semen.

    Good thing you are not a forensic investigator.
     

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