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Justice for Joe G

This petition is awaiting approval by the Avaaz Community
Justice for Joe G


Why this is important

Petition Call to Action
In 1979 Joe Giarratano after a very truncated trial, was convicted of the murder of Barbara Klein and the murder/rape of her daughter Michelle, and sentenced to death.
In the mid 1980's volunteer attorneys and investigators unearthed a wealth of evidence to substantiate that there was not a shred of physical evidence to support the conviction. Further experts also clearly supported the conclusion that Joe at the time of his arrest was in the throes of drug and alcohol withdrawals and that he was heavily sedated with powerful anti-psychotic drugs during the course of and prior to his half-day trial. Independent experts concluded that Joe was not mentally competent to stand trial or otherwise assist in his own defense.
It soon became obvious that the newly discovered evidence established that his conviction was, is and continues to be based on a verdict that goes against and is contrary to the weight of the evidence subsequently found.
When judicial appeals were sought they were summarily denied as being procedurally barred: the actual merits of the claims in Joe's case were not judicially reviewed. The state's position articulated by the then state attorney General Mary Sue Terry was Orwellian:
"Evidence of innocence is irrelevant under Virginia Procedural Rules"
The only recourse open to obtain justice for Joe was to seek relief from then Governor Douglas Wilder. The position taken by the attorney general sparked a public outcry and Joe's case gained state, national and international attention.
In February 1991, just a few hours before Joe was to be electrocuted, Governor Wilder, in light of the evidence, granted Joe a conditional pardon and commuted his sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole only after serving a set number of years. While he felt that a new trial should be granted the Governor believed that the doctrine of separation of powers barred him from ordering a new trial, so the decision was left up to the Attorney General who denied it within hours stating that "evidence of innocence is irrelevant".
Joe`s counsel sought appropriate recourse to obtain the evidence to be tested for DNA. In 2004 after a day-long hearing, the keepers of the evidence could not explain why they could not find the evidence that had been in their possession. The fate of the evidence remains a mystery to this day.
Meanwhile Joe has languished in prison for 35 years for a crime he did not commit. For more details see
We, friends and supporters of Joe, believe that justice delayed is justice denied and that to deny justice is to cause injury. With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we stand with the proposition that "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."!

Posted July 3, 2013
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