9 New Witnesses, Evidence of Innocence, TN Courts: It
October 14, 2020
The actual paper the Braswell jury used to submit their questions during their deliberations.
We compared a number of White cases with the case of Vern Braswell, a Black defendant. We noticed that whenever the courts were about to grant relief, their “go to” move in White cases was: How would the errors have impacted the jury's verdict. Braswell was charged with the death of his wife after they engaged in erotic asphyxia during consensual sex. She was alive, although not feeling well, when it was over and eventually died later that night while in their Jacuzzi tub after additional complaints about still feeling ill.
In the Braswell case the Courts never mentioned how tons of new evidence of innocence or how a plethora of errors during his trial would impact the jury's verdict. This suggests the Courts, which are unanimously White, likely never had any objective intentions of granting Braswell, a Black defendant, relief or a new trial. It also appears that in the Braswell case the Courts never paid attention to how the jury deliberated in his case the way they did in White cases such as the Jennifer Collins trial. When you look at the two cases (see Vern Braswell versus White Cases III) the jury's deliberation is (as the prosecutor in My Cousin Vinny said,) “iiiii – dentical”. It leads one to believe that the Courts seem to fashion the evidence to match their desire to grant relief or no relief, rather than allowing an objective assessment of the evidence to lead to a conclusion.
In the Braswell case there were about 10 new evidence witnesses whose testimony was never put before the jury. The question should be, “If the jury would have heard from the witnesses, would they have likely come to a different verdict?” The photo above is a copy of the actual paper the Braswell jury used to submit their questions in the course of their deliberations. The implication is the jury wanted to know if they had to believe the prosecution's expert, Dr. Joye Carter (BTW, no they did not). It also seems like they wanted to know if Dr. Joye Carter did an orifice swab to confirm penetration. (BTW the answer is NO, Dr. Carter did not do this). And most importantly the jury asked when the Braswell's engaged in erotic asphyxiation, was Shelia being penetrated (BTW the answer is yes, she was). With that in mind, (unlike the Courts) let's look at the new evidence from the appeal witnesses to see if their testimony would have likely changed the jury's verdict. Please keep in mind that the prosecutor’s theory was that Braswell fabricated this defense during the week of trial because he had no other defense.
1. There was a lady whom participated in intimate acts with the Braswells. Her new evidence testimony to the judge was that she had been an intimate partner with the Braswells. While being intimate, she witnessed them engage in asphyxiation during sex and Mrs. Braswell enjoyed it. She said it would also leave marks on Shelia’s neck. During trial the prosecutor repeatedly claimed Braswell was a liar, saying he fabricated his defense during the week of trial. The lady would have shown the jury that the prosecutor was making false claims to the jury and the lady would have answered the most important question of the entire trial – when they engaged in erotic asphyxiation was there penetration? Unequivocally yes.
Is it likely that the lady’s testimony about participating in intimate acts with the Braswells as they engaged in erotic asphyxiation would have resulted in an outcome other than the jury's verdict of murder.
2. Dennis Small was a security guard at one of the adult establishments the Braswells frequented. His new evidence testimony to the judge was that he often saw the Braswells at the establishment. On one night in particular he called Mr. Braswell to inform him that Mrs. Braswell was at the club with another woman. Mr. Braswell responded to Mr. Small by telling him the other woman was a gift for them from his wife and he was on his way to meet them. Mr. Small went on to testify about the three of them leaving together and that the Braswells’ proclivities were known to many. This would have increased Braswell's credibility in the eyes of the jury and would have decreased the credibility of the prosecutor.
Is it likely that Dennis Small’s testimony about the Braswells frequenting the adult establishment would have resulted in an outcome other than the jury's verdict of murder?
3. Dr. George Nichols is a forensic pathologist. His new evidence testimony to the judge was that Mrs. Braswell could have survived the event that caused her injuries which meant there was a possibility something else could have played a part in her death. He also testified that Braswell's trial lawyer (a) never paid him and (b) did not provide him with an accurate and complete scenario concerning Mrs. Braswell's death. Dr. Nichols stated under oath if he had been paid (BTW Braswell gave the lawyer Dr. Nichols’ fees, the lawyer never forwarded the money to Dr. Nichols) and if he had been given all of the information concerning the circumstances surrounding the death, then he would have showed up at the trial and rendered his expert opinion that Mrs. Braswell's death could have been a result of erotic asphyxiation.
Is it likely that Dr. Nichols’ expert opinion (that the death could have been a result of erotic asphyxiation) would have resulted in an outcome other than the jury's verdict of murder?
4. Cheryl Wallace is Braswell's sister. Her new evidence testimony consisted of her telling the judge that on numerous shopping trips and outings, Mrs. Braswell would often purchase adult martial accessories including clothing, toys, etc. Ms. Wallace told the trial lawyers the location of these items after Ms. Braswell died – information Ms. Wallace knew based on their conversations and their sisterly relationship. Ms. Wallace was able to direct the trial lawyer to the location of the items so he could produce them at trial. Her testimony to the judge also included Ms. Braswell sharing details about their intimate habits with her.
Is it likely that Ms. Wallace’s testimony about Ms. Braswell's proclivity for a vast array of adult marital items and their conversations about the couple's practices would have resulted in an outcome other than the jury's verdict of murder?
5. Mikki Jackson assisted the family in cleaning and clearing out the family home following Mrs. Braswell's death. Her new evidence testimony consisted of what she found in the Jacuzzi. During the trial the prosecutor claimed Braswell was a liar because there was no reason why Braswell had to struggle to get his wife out of the Jacuzzi when he discovered her unresponsive. Ms. Jackson discovered that Mrs. Braswell's hair was severely entangled in the Jacuzzi intake suction. This may have also provided insight into a scenario whereas Mrs. Braswell may not have been able to free herself due to her hair being caught in the suction. This testimony would have increased Braswell's credibility in the eyes of the jury.
Is it likely that Ms. Jackson’s testimony about Ms. Braswell's hair being severely entangled in the Jacuzzi intake suction would have resulted in an outcome other than the jury's verdict of murder?
6. Patrick Taliferro was a HVAC expert with decades of experience. His new evidence testimony to the judge dealt with the water temperature in the Braswell's Jacuzzi. Prosecutors made insinuations to the jury that Braswell was a liar because there was no way the water in Jacuzzi should have been as warm as it was when Braswell discovered her unresponsive. Mr. Taliferro gave testimony to the judge that he had to change the Braswell's water temperature to a higher setting to accommodate hot water for two bathrooms and the Jacuzzi. The Braswell's were also adding a 3rd bathroom. This explained why the water temperature was so high plus the fact that Mrs. Braswell would leave a stream of hot water running to keep the water heat elevated. This testimony would have increased Braswell's credibility in the eyes of the jury.
Is it likely that Mr. Taliferro’s testimony about why the water temperature was so hot would have resulted in an outcome other than the jury's verdict of murder?
7. Attorney Leslie Ballin is a nationally prominent attorney. His new evidence testimony consisted of when did Braswell tell him about him and Mrs. Braswell engaging in erotic asphyxiation on the night she died. During trial the prosecutor repeatedly claimed Braswell was a liar because he did not immediately tell police about he & his wife's sexual proclivities, hence his defense was fabricated during the week of trial. Attorney Ballin represented Braswell during the early stages of his case. Ballin's new evidence testimony to the judge was that Braswell did tell him early in his case that on the night his wife died they practiced erotic asphyxia. This would have belied the prosecutor’s claims to the jury that Braswell was a liar and increased Braswell's credibility in the eyes of the jury.
Is it likely that Attorney Ballin's testimony would have resulted in an outcome other than the jury's verdict of murder?
8. Judge Glen Wright is a judge in the criminal courtrooms of Shelby County. Mr. Wright was Braswell's attorney at the time he was arrested. His new evidence testimony, like Attorney Ballin's, was that Braswell did tell him early in his case that on the night his wife died they practiced erotic asphyxia. The prosecutor repeatedly claimed to the jury that Braswell was a liar because he did not immediately tell police about he & his wife's sexual proclivities, hence his defense was fabricated during the week of trial. This would have belied the prosecutor’s claims to the jury that Braswell was a liar and increased Braswell's credibility in the eyes of the jury.
Is it likely that Judge Wright's testimony would have resulted in an outcome other than the jury's verdict of murder?
9. Ms. Karen Taylor was a friend of Mrs. Braswell who did not testify at the trial. Ms. Taylor told the authorities about another instance wherein the Braswells had another intimate partner. Instead of giving this information to the defense in accordance with the Brady law, the prosecution withheld this evidence for about 10 years from Braswell's lawyers. The prosecutor also told the jury if Mrs. Braswell walked through the door, she would deny Mr. Braswell's claims about their aex lives. Prosecutor Amy Weirich told the jury this knowing she had evidence to the contrary.
Is it likely that knowledge of another intimate partner of the Braswells who would have been able to testify like the other lady would have resulted in an outcome other than the jury's verdict of murder?
In the White cases, if there are a lot of trial errors, the courts will declare a new trial due to the cumulative effect of all of the errors. The all White courts refused to give Braswell cumulative error relief also the way they did in White cases.
If this hadn't ruined a Black man’s life, it would be laughable that four White judges said no relief. In addition to those White judges, the Tennessee Supreme Court refused to intervene.
The jury simply wanted to know when the Braswells engaged in erotic asphyxiation was there penetration. Even though the answer was yes, there wasn't a single White Judge who cared about this in the context of this Black defendant’s trial.
God bless you.
Justice For Vern Braswell
Please show your support for Vern being granted a Clemency release:
1) because of the injustices in his case
2) so he can continue working on his prison reform proposals and prison reform research and
3) because of his mother's rapidly failing health
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