Wrongful Conviction Trial Resumes After A One Day Recess
Timothy Howard's wrongful conviction lawsuit against the state resumed this morning after a one-day recess. Howard's attorneys questioned a private detective and attempted to show that police from the beginning had the wrong information on who committed the murder and robbery. The private eye testified an informant took a police detective to a house near the bank and said that another man who used the alias Tim was one of the men who robbed the bank. But police instead issued a warrant for another Tim, Tim Howard who did not live at that address. Howard's attorneys say the man the informant named could have been one of the bank robbers, but they say that Tim was never questioned about the robbery.
The State called Franklin County Deputy Sheriff Diana Smoot. Smoot, who was 14 when East Main branch was robbed, was entering the bank at the time guard Berne Davis was shot. She testified at Howard's first trial and I-D'ed him as one of the suspects and did the same again today.
"Are you sure that this person sitting in the court room today is the same one you identified before? Yes," Smoot said.
But when one of Howard's attorneys James Owen cross examined Smoot, she said she could not be 100 percent that her identification was accurate.
"Would it be fair to say that during those conversations you'd said you could not make a positive ID now and you couldn't back then either? Right. I said I couldn't be definite," Smoot said.
Another interesting part of the testimony was when the former bank manager, Lillian Joyce Williams, was put on the stand. Williams, in 1977, identified Howard's co-defendant as the shooter in the robbery, but she could not identify him. But today, when asked to identify the second man involved in the robbery she pointed to Howard.
But During Williams' cross examination one of Howard's attorneys pointed out that she was unable to identify him in 1977.
"The question is did you look at both of them. And your answer was just vaguely. I can not tell you what the other one looked like. Other than he was a black person and that was it. Do you recall saying that? Uh, yeah, I probably would have said that," Williams said.
Court was in recess yesterday because a confidential informant came forward and said they knew who actually committed the crimes. However, fingerprints did not match. Testimony is set to resume Monday. If the jury finds for Howard, he could potentially receive millions of dollars.