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Mississippi Death Row Inmate Jeffrey Havard is Innocent!

This is an urgent story about a man on Mississippi’s death row who has done nothing wrong; he’s a victim of an angry lynch mob and an overzealous prosecution spawned by greed and politics. This is the story of Jeffrey Havard, 34, who today sits in a solitary cell on death row.

Jeffrey is accused of the murder and sexual assault of his girlfriend’s child, Chloe Britt, 6 months old, on February 21st, 2002, when Chloe wiggled out of his hands and hit her head on the toilet; Jeff thought she was okay and put her to sleep. When Chloe’s mother, Rebecca Britt returned home, she found Chloe blue in the face. Jeff and Rebecca rushed her to the ER, where she was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

In order to pursue a capital murder conviction and death sentence, the prosecution had to create an underlying felony. They did just that. They claimed Jeff sexually abused the child.  Jeffrey refused a plea bargain to life without parole, as he was obstinate in his denial of the charges.  After reading this article, you will know the truth, and, if you have a soul, you’ll be outraged by this abject miscarriage of justice. Jeff, 23 at the time of the incident, needs your help today!

The Timeline of Events on February 21, 2002

Jeff & Rebecca: Dinner and a Movie

The Accident; How it Happened

Chloe is in Danger, Taken to the ER

Pre-Trial Detainment and Questioning
Jeff is ArrestedRebecca's Initial StatementRebecca's Testimony Changes

In order to reach the charge of capital murder, there had to be an underlying felony. After discussing the situation with the ER nurses and doctors, the decision was made to charge Jeff with felonious child abuse and sexual battery — the two underlying felonies that allowed them to charge Jeff with capital murder, punishable by death in Mississippi. Jeff would shortly be indicted on these charges.
The coroner transported the child’s body to the morgue. Jeff was whisked away by police, some time prior to the child dying, perhaps around 10:45 pm. Rebecca was taken by police to give a statement some time after Chloe died, which was at 10:55 pm. The police had their minds made up, and instructed Rebecca and her parents, Lillian Watson and Johnny Watson, to give written statements that Thursday night. Additionally, Rebecca would give a video statement the following day, Friday.

Jeff was interviewed briefly and was the only person not asked to provide a written statement or a video statement the night the child died. The only thing he signed that night was the consent to search form and an acknowledgment that he had received his Miranda rights.

Jeff, at this point being temporarily detained under suspicion under arrest for capital murder, was placed in a cell by himself and remained there until about 2:37 am when police finally came to talk to him. On Saturday, the 23rd, Jeff was formally arrested and charged with capital murder.

But on Thursday night, they put Jeff in a cell and seized his clothing, gave him standard issue jail clothing. They did not attempt to speak to Jeff until around 2:37 am, and at that point in time they only took a very brief statement from him — a “general oral statement.” The written statement and video statement was not taken until 2 days later on the Saturday, the 23rd, and only after Jeff flagged down a jailor and told the jailor that he wanted to speak with deputies. This was after they had already “formally arrested” him for capital murder.

 Basically, the police had their minds made up on what they wanted to do, and didn’t care what Jeff had to say; they just wanted him to sign the consent form .

The crucial videotaped interview of Rebecca and her mother were never turned over to defense counsel; this potentially helpful information only surfaced in 2010.
Rebecca told the police how she went to the grocery store and how she found Chloe. The police suggested to Rebecca, however, that Chloe had been sexually assaulted prior to being violently shaken by Jeff. In a videotaped interview of Rebecca that took place the following day (Friday). Rebecca described Jeff as being a caring person who loved the child and had never hurt either her or her baby, that he’s had to fix bottles for her, help to change her diapers, and that although he had never given her a bath before, he was supposed to give her a bath when she went to the grocery store.

In Rebecca’s mother’s statement that night, mother told the police the same thing – that the plan was for Rebecca to go to the grocery store and while she was there, Jeff was going to bathe Chloe and get her ready for bed. Rebecca also told this to a nurse at the hospital, that that was the plan and the nurse included it in her handwritten statement.

 As intimated, these taped interviews praising Jeff’s character were never presented to the defense prior to trial and both would have helped Jeff had the defense known .

At trial, Rebecca testified that she came home and found that Jeff had bathed the child and that that surprised her because he had never bathed her before. The prosecution argued to the jury that the bathing was Jeff’s attempts to cover up his crime and  Jeff’s lawyers did nothing to elicit testimony to show that the bathing of the child was not a spontaneous thing but was actually the plan for the night .

When police went back into the cell at 2:30 am to talk with him, they opened up with telling him the child had been “ripped from end to end” in a “violent rape” and that he “better start talking because (he was) going to die by lethal injection”.  Jeff, then confounded, cooperated with police , and gave them permission to search his home. At this point, Jeff was dazed and confounded about the allegation of sexual abuse.

A 23 year old with no medical degree, Jeff stated he “didn’t know how” the anal dilation happened.  Outrageously, this statement would be used by the prosecution in their closing argument .

 

The Star Witness — Dr. Steven Hayne

The medical examiner that perform the autopsy, Dr. Steven Hayne, did not even mention sexual assault anywhere in the autopsy, and the defense later learned in 2010 that it was because he never saw any evidence of a sexual assault. Dr. Hayne is a pathologist and expert on sexual assault.  Dr. Hayne was the only expert witness the state called at the time of trial and was the only witness qualified to testify as to whether or not a sexual assault may have occurred.  The witnesses that did testify sexual battery had occurred, the ER staff, were not tendered as expert witnesses during the trial, although “expert testimony” was elicited from them by Prosecutor Harper. 

Jeff’s lawyers, Gus Sermos and Robert Clark, didn’t understand the science involve with either Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) or the anal dilation, and needed an expert. They were denied an appointed expert. They thus had no expert to testify in Jeff’s defense to pose other ideas of what might have caused the anal dilation, and were too naive to cross-examine Dr. Hayne properly.
When he was asked on the witness stand what the condition of the child’s anus was “indicative of” Hayne responded that it was “consistent with … penetration by an object.” Prosecuting Attorney Ronnie Harper rushed through his questioning of Dr. Hayne, and defense counsel Sermos and Clark were to uninformed to properly cross examine him, so Dr. Hayne never had the opportunity to mention there may have been a bevy of other causes of the anal dilation. When asked if it “could have” been sexual battery, .

Dr. Hayne did clarify what he meant back in 2002 in his 2010 deposition:
Question by Habeas Counsel Mark Jicka:From your standpoint, and from your expertise, you cannot say that this child was sexually abused, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, is that correct?

Dr. Hayne’s answer:I could not now and I could not then, either at the trial or when I wrote the report, or discussed the case with the coroner.

It’s not what Hayne testified to; it’s what wasn’t asked of him by defense counsel Gus Sermos and Robert Clark. Hayne later, after trial, said there were no signs of sexual abuse. The jury was led to believe Chloe was torn apart, ripped end to end, and had brain injuries. Defense counsel did nothing to refute this.

The jury actually did see photographs of the child’s anus. Prosecutor Harper showed each and every medical witness the State’s exhibit #5, which was the photograph that was taken by Dr. Hayne during autopsy. Each and every witness said that what they saw at the hospital was much worse. Had Dr. Hayne simply been properly cross-examined by defense counsel, the outcome may have very well been different.

Hayne is no longer permitted to practice medicine in the state of Mississippi.  Hayne stated during his deposition in 2010 that he did not put sexual assault in his autopsy report because he did not see any evidence of that.

Major Controversies With the Jeff Havard Case

The Primary Issue: Ineffective Defense Counsel

Dr. Hayne's Checkered History

Anal Dilation - Many Causes

Prominent Medical Examiners Weigh In

Prosecutorial Malfeasance and Manipulation

The Prosecution's Closing Arguments

The Controversy of Shaken Baby Syndrome

I think about Chloe every single day. There is not a day that goes by here on death row where I don’t think about her. In hindsight, I wish I would have gone with Rebecca to the video store that evening.Jeffrey Havard, from death row
All findings after the decision on Havard’s case have been ignored and denied by the Mississippi Supreme Court. The objection by the Mississippi Courts to review renewed testimonies and overruling evidence has made it impossible for Havard to escape death row. Even with public outcry over this case, The Mississippi Supreme Court continues to deny Jeffrey Havard the justice that he deserves. Until that time, the clock is ticking. Jeffrey Havard sits on death row as inmate L3955 with thousands of supporters.
Documents and Links

Trial Transcripts:

Pertinent Websites:

Jeff Havard’s interview from death row thanks to The Other Side of Justice (38 minutes):

My interview with ex-Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz and Criminal Defense Attorney Jennifer Fitzgerald regarding the Jeff Havard case:

Just to give some baseline as to what Jen was just talking about, in a 2 and a half day death penalty case … I was just in trial last month, and we had a day and a half on an insurance case — this is just an insurance case; this is just a civil case — a contract case, and a day and a half to select a jury in that case. We presented 3 witnesses in my case, and the trial lasted two weeks. When you have a death penalty case that lasted 2 and a half days, including jury selection, you get some sort of idea of the amount of detail that was paid attention to in this case.Ex-Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz

 

Please share this link and make others aware of this gross miscarriage of justice! An innocent man has been on death row for over 11 years, and the State of Mississippi is putting him on the fast-track to execution.  The time is now to help! As always, please leave your thoughts and comment(s) below.

Jason Weber
Founder of Occupy HLN. Hockey player-turned-professional. Graduate of Cornell University's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management '97. Sports fanatic, enjoy networking, and keeping up with current events. Technocrat, Schema, SEO, blogaholic, social media contributor, Stack Exchange contributor, and keeping up with G's daily algorithmic alterations.
Jason Weber
Jason Weber

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