Prosecutors love to win at all costs, even if that means putting innocent men on death row. ‘Jailhouse snitch’ helped send four men to prison, but her false testimony might help get two of them out.
Holland was known for her ability to overhear incriminating statements, and, Payne wrote, had “strategically” been placed by the Pontotoc County Sheriff’s Office in a cell across from Fontenot for nine days.
According to testimony given by Holland, she said she struck up a conversation with Fontentot, who told her that he, Ward, and a man named Odell Titsworth, took part in Haraway’s killing. She said Fontenot confessed to raping Haraway after Titsworth had stabbed her to death. The trio then poured gasoline on the body and burned it, Holland testified Fontenot told her.
But that never happened. When Haraway’s body was found in 1986, evidence showed she had been shot in the head, not stabbed.
Not that the prosecutor cared. He was rewarding that testimony by getting a reduced charge and sentence for her husband. (That was 7 years vs 40 years.) That was not disclosed to defense, and when asked on the stand about any benefits, she said there were none.
In another case there was DNA evidence that eventually cleared 2 people.
You think The Criminal Justice System cares about Justice? Think again. It cares about winning, and is willing to embrace the “criminal” part of that description if that means more winning.