I don’t know how I was found guilty; how any reasonable-minded person could have sat through my trial and concluded that I should spend the rest of my life in prison? But now I know that being poor, black, and already incarcerated played a major part in allowing my all-white jury to overlook and disregard the ridiculous of the state’s case against me. They had no case and if justice was real, I would not be in this position I’m in; I would be at home with my family.
According to the state, I participated in the death of inmate Darrell Depina, one of the people allegedly murdered by the so-called death squad. When I refused to cooperate by providing the state with information that I did not have, I was somehow incorporated into this group of individuals who in reality, may or may not, have been the Black Gangster Disciples (BGD); the gang said to have been responsible murdering several inmates and one guard. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
I have already stated how, when I was initially approached by the state, they wanted me to implicate Keith LaMar. However, what led them to question me in the first place is the fact that I was a known associate of Lamar’s. Admittedly, my association with LaMar put me on the “potential suspect” sheet; the state’s investigators thought I was privy to much more information that I really was.
Since the state was unwilling (and possibly unable) to conduct a thorough investigation, they employed the practice of picking up and questioning anyone who was associated with certain people and since they had no real way of knowing who did what, they tried to use whatever information they had to turn you into their own personal informant or get you to cop out and thereby, assist them in clearing their books. From beginning to end, the whole process was bogus.
When I was served my indictment, I was subsequently appointed an attorney named Mr. Damon, who has it turned out, was working in conjunction with the state to persuade prisoners to accept plea bargains. I wasn’t 15 minutes into our first meeting that he tried to get me to cop out and join the state’s team of informants…I fired Mr.Damon.
(this page was taken from the original website which can be found here: http://web.archive.org/web/20081120122228/http://www.ourfight4justice.com/cannon/cannontrial.htm)
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To say that the system is corrupt and built on double-standards would be stating the obvious but it’s one thing to on the outside looking in and quite another, to be the victim of the injustice that you see and hear so much about. They know that I didn’t kill Darrell Depina and they knew it all along. Yet, they still pursued me to the bitter end. And that, to me, is the truly troubling thing. Not that the system is racist and used as a weapon to keep certain parts of society imprisoned (as if that isn’t troubling enough) but that it is done with such impunity! No one ever questions the state or the people designated to carry out the law, especially when it is the poor in question. So, how much more can you expect when you enter the equation with the added of onus of being a “criminal,” someone who has already been convicted of a previous crime?!
I was guilty before I even went to trial. Nonetheless, in order to assure a conviction, my case was moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, one of the most racist cities in the state. In fact, every conceivable stunt to tip the scales in their favor was used to guarantee a guilty verdict.
Robert Bass: The state’s first inmate witness testified that he saw me in L-side corridor with a black nylon wave cap covering my face and therefore, was only able to recognize me by the sound of my voice. He said I approached him looking for Keith Lamar (the state’s way of establishing the Death Squad connection) and subsequently saw me enter L6, the block where all the murders allegedly took place. But during cross-examination when Bass was questioned why his statement said that he didn’t see me go in L6, he did not have an answer. [See document 12] Bass was given an early parole.
Donald Cassell: This inmate testified that I had a white t-shirt covering my face but recognized me by the way I walked. He testified that I was among the group of individuals who entered L6 and killed all the suspected snitches. During cross-examination, Cassell admitted to writing notes to another witness with the idea of using the state to get out of lock-down. These notes were admitted into evidence. Since my trial, Cassell has another letter where he is explaining how he lied, manipulated and used the state to cover their butt because it had a lot of evidence on him. [See document 6] Additionally, on the stand, he admitted that the state promised special favors (something that the state denied to the jury) in the form of parole recommendations and living conditions. [See document 5] Donald was also given an early parole.
Thomas Taylor: This inmate gave many detailed statements, even one to the Grand Jury five months before my trial (March 1994). Together, all these statements accumulated over 200 pages and never once did he mention my name. In fact, it wasn’t until he was called by the state that to testify at my trial that he all of a sudden knew whom I was. Thomas was among the inmates who were shipped to Oakwood to be groomed by the state [See document 9], so it wasn’t a great shock that he took the stand against me. By then, he had testified in five trials. What was shocking was the fact that he wasn’t better rehearsed. As he stumbled over his testimony, trying his best to recover from the admission that he didn’t know who I was, the state became noticeably concerned, sensing, as it were, their already weak case growing weaker. Thomas even identified me as having nothing covering my face.
Note: The first three witnesses had three (3) different descriptions/identifications of me. One-a black nylon wave cap covering my face. Two- a white t-shirt covering my face. Three-nothing covering my face. [See document 13]
(Original of this page is at: http://web.archive.org/web/20081120114857/http://www.ourfight4justice.com/cannon/cannontrial2.htm )
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Louis Jones: This inmate, who by all actions, was the state’s star witness and who the state held up as the key to the bulk of their convictions, testified that I had nothing to do with the deaths in L6. This is the same witness that the prosecutors told the jurors was going to tell the truth because he was testifying under an oath of immunity of four (4) of those deaths in L6. But now, all of a sudden, when he says that I wasn’t involved, Louis Jones, who had been praised in several major newspapers by the head prosecutor, was a liar and should not be believed. [See document 8]
The same person whose testimony had been used to assist the state in putting a man (Keith LaMar) on death row was now a scumbag out to sabotage the prosecution, “Don’t believe him,” they said.
Hiawatha Frezzell: This inmate testified that I was a part of the so-called Death Squad. However, since my trial, Hiawatha has recanted his testimony and presented the truth in the form of a signed and notarized affidavit [See document 7], admitting that the state forced him to commit perjury when he was told to take the stand and say that I was a member of the Death Squad.
By this point, it was obvious that the state was grasping at straws (so to speak), trying to piece together a case that in truth was non-existent. I found out after my trial, that the judge had made several comments to my lawyer and the prosecutor that he had doubts about my guilt [See document 14] . However, in a last-ditch effort to secure a guilty verdict, the state resorted to one of the oldest and ugliest tactics in the book, the jailhouse snitch.
Dwayne Buckley: This inmate, a prisoner at the Hamilton County Jail (Cincinnati, Ohio) serving time on drug (crack) related charges, testified that I, in a fit of overwhelming grief and guilt, confessed to torturing and then murdering the guard, who was killed during the disturbance. According to Dwayne, I was so over-burdened by what I did that I just had to tell somebody, anybody and that he just happened to be in the right place at the right time. He said, that over a period of 7-8 days, he had gotten to know me to the point that I felt comfortable enough to tell my darkest secrets. It was unbelievable!
In the first place, I arrived at the Hamilton County Jail the evening of August 25, 1995, two and a half days before Dwayne Buckley was released on the morning of August 28, 1995, not the 7-8 days that he testified to. Secondly, as I was a high-profile prisoner and therefore, separated from the general population, as policy dictates, Dwayne and I would never have been allowed around each other without the presence of a County Jail Deputy Sheriff. In point of actual fact, I’ve never spoken to him, let alone confessed to murdering someone. Lastly, I was never charged with the guard’s death. Furthermore, just this year (2004), I received a certified document from the Department of Corrections, showing that there is no possible way I could have been in L-block when the guard was killed. [See document 15] So, to say I confessed in an attempt to relieve my conscience was nonsense. The general consensus was that Dwayne Buckley’s testimony was the pivot that turned the verdict towards guilt. Even that judge had to laugh at that. [See document 14]
“If you truly believe in justice, then there’s no way you can deny that I deserve your support and, your voice…Please help.” – Derek Cannon
(Taken from the original page at: http://web.archive.org/web/20081120120938/http://www.ourfight4justice.com/cannon/cannontrial3.htm)