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In early 2007 I served on a jury for a cold-case murder trial involving two black men who killed a white student named Marty Brown on Michigan State University’s campus in 1973. I intend to write more fully on this for Ricochet in the future, but I wanted to share a relevant portion related to the Kavanaugh hearings.
Yesterday I kept hearing from friends that Dr. Ford’s testimony was “credible,” and it reminded me of a particularly emotional witness at this trial who recanted on the stand. She was the ex-wife of one of the murderers, Kumbi Salim (who did not stand trial until later the same year). She had confessed earlier to the prosecution that she had known all along of the guilt of both her ex-husband and the defendant, Gary Mason. Once on the stand, she detailed a life of physical and emotional abuse, and how frightened she was when confronted with questions about the murder in 1973, when she originally talked to police. While the crestfallen prosecutors looked on, she tearfully recanted her testimony, and explained why she had lied to police about the name, “Mason.”
She said that her father had always warned her about stopping in Mason, Michigan while driving from Detroit to Michigan State University, which she attended. According to her testimony (which was punctuated by crying jags), her father feared for her life because Mason was filled with racists with ties to the Ku Klux Klan. When police questioned her about Kumbi Salim’s friends, asking for a name, “Mason” just popped out of her mouth. Wiping away tears, she was now very very sorry for all the trouble she had caused an innocent man.
During deliberations, the other jurors bought it. “She’s credible,” they said, “Did you see how she cried?” It always makes me cringe to know that if a woman speaks emotionally, and especially if she cries, and more especially if she claims she is damaged, tender-hearted people tend to believe her.
One of the most challenging aspects of my persuasive argument for the defendant’s guilt involved this testimony. I asked everyone to review the tape of how the defendant smiled and visibly relaxed when he saw this witness enter the courtroom. Apparently, no one else had noticed this. Secondly, I pointed out that Mason Mi. was not a hotbed of racists in 1973, or even earlier, in 1940, when a popular kid named Malcolm Little excelled at Mason Junior High, even getting elected Class President, as detailed in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and celebrated in murals on the walls of the current high school there.
The introduction of facts turned what was “emotionally credible” testimony into a series of lies that we decided she told out of fear of retribution. I found out after the trial that her ex-husband was suspected of committing other murders, and likely had threatened her.
This is not meant to accuse Dr. Ford of lying, but her testimony, with its weird lack of corroborating evidence, especially in the face of the Kavanaugh calendar/diaries, is indistinguishable from an emotionally delivered, persuasive lie, making it not very valuable as evidence.