Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry

Cautionary tale: the dire importance of strong criminal defense

With undue and sad regularity, stories emerge in Missouri and nationally that underscore an unquestionable fallibility inherent in the criminal justice system and the attendant need of every criminal suspect to secure timely, knowledge and aggressive defense representation.

Following is just such a story. Its gripping details and flatly tragic dimensions spotlight the sheer urgency for any individual in America accused of a violent crime or other offense to have a proven and empathetic advocate in his or her corner when the state or federal government alleges criminal misconduct.

The case in point involved a teenage girl who was murdered in Portland, Maine, in 1992. A 13-year-old girl -- the only material witness in the matter -- implicated the dead girl's boyfriend, who was also a minor at the time.

The result: the defendant was convicted of murder as an adult and sentenced to a prison term of 70 years.

Earlier this month, some 27 years into that term, the now 44-year-old man was released on bail pending a new trial (which a judge says she "wouldn't want to go forward on").

The reason why: The witness says she fabricated the whole story, being relentlessly pressured by local criminal authorities to do so. She told a packed courtroom recently in what a media report termed a "stunning admission" that law enforcers cajoled her testimony, which she provided out of fear that failure to do so would yield harsh criminal consequences for her relevant to juvenile charges she was facing at the time.

"They basically told me what to say," she told the courtroom audience.

The story unquestionably has an admonitory quality to it, stressing the vital importance of a suspect in any criminal matter to procure without delay diligent representation from an experienced defense attorney.

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Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry

120 South Central Avenue
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Saint Louis, MO 63105

Phone: 314-499-1424
Fax: 314-862-8050
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