Alphonso James
30 Years Behind
Bars as an Innocent Man 

Page 2

Alphonso James Case Overview
Continued from Home Page

The key component of evidence was a confession signed by Alphonso.  “The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution protects against self-incrimination, and since the easiest way to solve a crime is to get a confession, there is a thick and rich body of law that governs police conduct during interrogation.”  Much of this law was well established before 1986.

The first area of injustice concerns the written confession: What did it say and why did Alphonso sign it?  Please consider the following points:
• Alphonso’s age (17) at the time of the 
• No parent was present.
• No lawyer was present.
• Alphonso’s educational level. (He had an approximate 6th grade reading ability at this point in his life.)
• The length of his custody. (12 hours: statement made after 8 hours)
• He had no food or drink during that time and he never went to the bathroom.
• He was questioned by multiple teams of Detectives.
• Alphonso said he was given promises. (A year in Wales and sent home if he signed)
• The confession is short.
• The confession lacks detail and the language indicates they are not Alphonso’s own words.
• The confession contains NO information not already known to the police.
• The confession does not reflect the crimes Alphonso was convicted of.

The injustice is
1. That Alphonso signed a psychologically coerced confession written by the police.
2. He didn’t know or understand what he was signing.
3. He believed the result of signing the confession would mean he could go home.

The second area of injustice deals with Failure to Investigate:
• No attempts were made to locate or investigate the alternate suspects in the police report.
• Alphonso stated he had ordered a pizza at Denise L's house that evening; it appears no attempt was made to secure a pizza delivery receipt.
• No questioning addresses if Alphonso was able to drive a stick shift car.
• No one ever investigated what size ring Del P wore.
• No one testified as to whether or not the watch was working.
• No attempts were made to locate or question the person identified as Del P's last lover, who had a fight with the victim a month or so before the murder.
• No one questioned the fact that witnesses who identified Alphonso during a line-up had previously been shown a group of photographs that also included Alphonso’s picture.
• No information was provided concerning Alphonso’s story about being stopped by police on his way home the evening of the murder.
• No one ever questioned or explained how Billy M knew about the murder within less than 2 hours after the body was discovered.
• Alphonso, who was picked up on an outstanding warrant, was suddenly the only suspect in a murder.
• Although it would have been impossible to have a valid jury of his peers, all of the jury members were white and half of them did not even live in the City of Milwaukee. The Judge during instructions to the Jury referred to them as “40 years of age and very experienced.” 

Injustice may deal more with the System than with the actual facts of the case. 
Milwaukee 1985:
A young African American juvenile, who had been in trouble before, is picked up on an outstanding warrant. Suddenly he is being questioned on the murder of a 54-year-old white male homosexual.  Is it possible that not only does the system get an African American juvenile off the street it also solves a murder?

The third area of injustice points to the counsel for the defense who didn’t put up much of a fight in defense of his client:
• Many times throughout the trial hearsay evidence was presented without any objection by the defense.
• Defense counsel failed to point out that Alphonso was virtually illiterate at the time of his arrest.
• One of the witnesses testified about Alphonso and the victim getting into a car together, but she never actually saw them get in the car.  Again, no objection.
• Many witnesses who were questioned by police were never called to testify at the trial including a male who made the initial call concerning the attempted auto theft.
• One witness testified he saw Del P at the restaurant with an African American but he’s not asked if Alphonso was that man.  One of the two men Del P met at the restaurant was African American and that was never pointed out either.
• The last people known to have been seen with Del P at a local restaurant were never called as witnesses.

The fourth area of injustice is the Court appeared to be a bit one sided in its handling of the case:
• Defense objected to Officer McHenry stating which photo the witnesses identified as hearsay. Court overruled.
• Defense objected to Detective Wank reading Alphonso’s statement again.  Court overruled.
• State objects to Defense’s question about whether it looked like Alphonso was attacked. Court sustained
• Court sustains State’s relevancy objection to defense questions to police about alternate suspects.
• Judge stops Defense’s questions about Billy M.  Billy M was the one who called the police within two hours of the body being discovered to tell them Alphonso “killed the old man.”
• Judge singled out audience (to the left) for outbursts, they are Alphonso’s friends and family.
• On the second day of the trial the judge states, “It’s not self defense if somebody makes a pass at you and wants to have sexual activity with you that you take a sheet and strangle them under any interpretation of self defense.”

The fifth area is the State seemed to discredit the defense on numerous occasions and in different ways:
• During closing arguments the State says, “In all my years as an attorney I have never seen a witness on the stand have as guilty a look as Anita L.”
• Is it proper for the State to characterize the defense as a “parade of witnesses”: “the unbelievable, the incredible, and the ridiculous?”  He also called the defense witnesses as ‘these people’ throughout.  Remember, he was speaking to an all white jury.
• During closing arguments the State asked the jury to consider who had the most credible witnesses, not the most credible testimony. 

Does all the evidence point clearly to a thorough investigation and without a reasonable doubt conviction, or was the case slanted against the defendant because of who he was and not because of what he was accused of doing?

The final area of injustice takes a completely different look at this case and assumes that Alphonso was involved in the crime outlined in his confession. 
Even if actually guilty of the crime, was injustice still dealt to Alphonso?  Please note:
• Alphonso was only 17 at the time of the crime, and in 1985 was considered legally still a juvenile.
• The prosecution had him waived into adult court for trial not taking the recommendation of the clinical psychological who had conducted an examination of Alphonso. 
• Del P was a 54-year-old male.
• Del P was a member of a Social Club (One of its members when interviewed years later stated Del P talked about picking up the younger trade on the street. Another said he would not put it past Del P to have invited someone in to help move furniture with the intentions of seducing that person.)
• Since Alphonso’s claim of never being in the neighborhood or knowing Del P was his defense, the question of possible sexual assault of a minor was never raised.
• Was it a crime of passion?  That was not discussed because of Alphonso’s “not guilty” plea, again because of Alphonso’s claim that he was never in the neighborhood.
• Sentencing was done right after the trial.  What happened to a pre-sentence report?
• There was no mention of parole at the sentencing, but credit was given for time served.  When given a life sentence with no chance for parole why was he given credit for time served?
• Alphonso’s confession stated he was first in the neighborhood after 10:45 pm but State witnesses placed him with Del P all day.  His alibi witnesses were not believed.
• Why wasn’t an appeal done automatically and directly after conviction?
• Why have many others who have committed murder been given shorter sentences or have had the opportunity for parole, having served far less time than Alphonso’s 23 years?
• Why does one have to admit to the crime and show remorse before he can be considered for incarceration adjustments, sentence restructuring or parole?

All of the above information should raise the question, Was there

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