Saturday, December 17, 2005

CBS' 48 Hours tonight to feature Ill. murder case--show likely to feature Northwestern prof tarnished by recent lawsuit (w/exclusive material)

Tonight at 10pm Eastern, CBS' 48 Hours will run a story on the 1986 murders of Dyke and Karen Rhoads of Paris, IL. Herb Whitlock and Randy Steidl were found guilty of the murders--Steidl was initially sentenced to death, but later that was commuted to life in prison by then-Gov. George Ryan.

48 Hours has covered the Paris story before. It's believed tonight's show will feature an interview with Northwestern University Professor David Protess.

Will 48 Hours mention the recent lawsuit filed by Alstory Simon in Chicago? In that suit, Simon pleaded guilty to two murders that led to the exoneration of Anthony Porter in a well publicized case. Simon now alleges that he was coerced to testify falsely that he was the killer. Protess, as he continues to have in the Paris case, had a very prominent role in the Porter/Simon case.

More on the case here.

In the exoneration business, there is a dirty little secret. The discovered "real criminal" is tarred by innuendo by media figures--these same media figures are of course the champions of the whoever has been exonerated.

This seems to be the predicament Alstory Simon faces. As for the Paris murders, for years a local man has been targeted by a smear campaign.

Last month, an attorney for the City of Chicago, Walter Jones, said in court "The killer has been sitting in that room right there all day," while gesturing to the table where Anthony Porter was sitting. Porter sued Chicago for false arrest. Last month, a jury ruled in the favor of the City of Chicago, rejecting Anthony Porter's claims.

Sometime next week, Marathon Pundit has learned, a major Chicago area media outlet will have an extensive account of the Porter "exoneration" story. And no, this won't be a refashioning of what's in the above link.

This letter was sent to CBS recently by friends-of-the-blog John Pearman and Dan Curry. It's available exclusive to Marathon Pundit.

Please be advised that both of us represent an Illinois man, in legal and public relations capacities. Our client is being smeared by those who are seeking to exonerate two men for the 1986 murder of Karen and Dyke Rhoads in Paris, Illinois.

We contacted you in May as CBS prepared to do an "update" story on the murders on the program 48 Hours. We understand that update story may be ready to air on Dec. 17. In addition to our previous admonition that we stand prepared to take whatever legal, public relations or other action at our disposal to fight back against CBS
if it directly or indirectly implicates our client in the heinous crime, a new and pressing concern has arisen that we believe warrants your immediate review.

The "star vehicle" in your June 21, 2001 show was Northwestern University Journalism Professor David Protess and his students, who were chronicled investigating the Paris murders. Reference was made and footage shown of Protess' work on the highly publicized Anthony Porter murder exoneration in Illinois, a case that led directly to Illinois' death penalty moratorium.

A new and explosive post-conviction petition was filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court that alleges that Protess, his investigator, and an attorney, in effect "framed" an innocent man in order to trigger the Porter exoneration. The assertion is backed by newly revealed evidence including recantations by all known witnesses to the crime.

These new allegations already have received news coverage in the Chicago Tribune, and Chicago and Milwaukee TV stations. Other major media outlets are planning stories.

What should be of great concern to CBS is that the allegation states that Protess' investigator coerced a confession from the innocent man using as leverage a news program that may have contained false information. That news story aired Feb. 2, 1999 in a newscast anchored by Dan Rather.

Of course these allegations have to be tested in court and we have no direct knowledge of their accuracy. But we know the attorneys filing the action and they are highly respected in the Chicago area legal community.

We are asking you to fully review this new petition before again featuring Professor Protess as the centerpiece of your show. Should these allegations in the Porter case prove meritorius, it would mean that CBS is relying on a discredited individual to serve as a central spokesperson regarding the network's point-of-view in the Paris

We make this request without any knowledge of what role Professor Protess plays in your upcoming show. What concerns us is that he pointed the finger at our client in your 2001 show when Susan Spencer said:

SPENCER: (Voiceover) Professor Protess thinks there could be a link between what Karen saw and the shadowy men from Florida. Could this have been murder for hire?

I'll TIVO the show tonight.

Technorati tags:

No comments: