Justice: Denied -- The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted




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Jamie Higgins


Was the Eyewitness Wrong?

Editor: Phyllis Anne Lincoln, JD Staff

Two men entered Joe Moreno's residence while Elena Mendoza was visiting. The two robbed and killed Joe Moreno and attempted to kill Elena Mendoza. After they fled and the police were dispatched to the Wilmington, California address, Elena Mendoza gave a description of one of them as follows: black, six feet, really skinny, short hair and a dark complexion. Other witnesses who were not inside Joe Moreno's residence but outside or around the residence gave a similar description but gave a height of 5'8" to 5'9", 130-140 pounds and approximately 18 years of age. On the day of the crime, I had shoulder length hair in a Jeri-curl style. I am six feet, was 180 pounds, 28 years old with a muscular build as opposed to being "really skinny." The description the above witnesses gave was supposed to be of me. Incredible!

Readers, before I go any further I must ask one question, what's wrong with this picture?

There were prominent, credible and influential witnesses who would have testified that my physical appearance on the day of the above crimes was exactly as I recorded it above. In other words, besides my "race," I did not resemble the description given by Ms. Mendoza or the other witnesses in any way. Ms Mendoza actually stated: "I never got a good look at the one with the gun. I only saw the one without the gun." Yes, I am supposed to be the man with the gun. Are you now asking why I didn't call my witnesses to testify as to my physical appearance on September 18, 1992? I tried, but no matter how many times I demanded that these witnesses be called, my trial attorney, Barney Goldstein, brushed my requests aside and said, "They are not needed because the prosecution does not have a case." There were seven available defense witnesses standing by to assist me.

There was absolutely no physical evidence linking me to the above crime. I was cooperative with the detectives investigating the crime. I gave blood for a DNA test that could have proved I was not at the Wilmington address. My alibi was credible, but disregarded because my trial attorney never interviewed or called forth these witnesses. The detective located an "old" booking photo of me with short hair and placed it in a photo line-up card because all witnesses identified the gunman as having very short hair.

On December 23, 1992, Ms. Mendoza was shown a photo lineup card where she circled three of six photos that "looked familiar to her" as being the second guy in Joe's apartment. She circled photos 1,2 and 6. I was photo 6. Fifteen months later on March 24, 1994, the very same day as a live lineup, Ms. Mendoza was shown the December 2, 1992 photo lineup card again to confirm her selections. She was then taken to the live lineup. I was the only person in the photo lineup card she had seen on two occasions. Yes, it would surely seem that the photo lineup card and pre-trial line-up procedures or both were suggestive. There is no other evidence connecting me to the Wilmington crimes.

Readers, I could never murder anyone. I am not an angel but I am not a murderer. Yet I have been wrongly convicted as a murderer. In the reporter's transcript of my trial, Ms. Mendoza said she was only able to see the gunman from the waist up because a couch was between her and the gunman. She also admitted that she never saw the gunman's face head on. All this is incredible and I need your help desperately. I have no financial means of hiring competent counsel for I am poor and a layman at law. I am not looking for publicity for the sake of publicity. Over the years, I have come to witness that when the public is exposed to cases such as mine, the justice system will stop brushing aside pleas of innocence due to its heavy case loads. This is my story. I pray that my voice draws support to rid me of this horrible plight.

Jamie Higgins
Centinela State Prison
P O Box 921
C-5-211 up
Imperial, California USA 92251

Contact Person:
Phone: 814-623-5685

Justice Denied

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