Welcome to the other side of what’s always a deadly week. I’m obliged to report an addition to my Mid-July Tragedy Cluster master list: the brutal murder of Fahim Saleh on the 13th. And the heat wave camped over NYC at the moment is probably going to claim a few lives. Wherever you are, stay safe: hydrate and wear your masks. — SDB
Greg Kelley’s original defense attorney is going on offense. Kelley is the wrongfully convicted HS football star featured in Showtime’s five-part docuseries Outcry; one of the chief architects of Kelley’s plight, Cedar Park (TX) detective Chris Dailey, resigned earlier this month, just a few days after the series debuted (and showed him on the stand averring that the point of any police investigation is “successful prosecution”). But Dailey’s not the only case figure Outcry takes aim at. Also coming in for the production’s scorn is Kelley’s initial defense counsel, Patricia Cummings, whom Kelley’s appeals team alleged didn’t look into Johnathan McCarty — who had access to the children Kelley was accused of assaulting, and who at the time of the crimes looked like he could have been Kelley’s brother — because she represented McCarty as well. Outcry seems almost more interested in her brittle balkiness when she’s called to the stand during an appeals hearing; it’s as though she never heard of arguing ineffective assistance of counsel, and is taking that choice on Keith Hampton’s part extremely personally. (She also bears a striking resemblance her own self to Maura Tierney, so we’ll see if/how that plays out in a Lifetime account of the case.)
Well, Cummings is now rumbling about “malign” this and “malicious” that, issuing a statement via Dubin Consulting that announces her intention to “exhaust all legal avenues to right” the “wrong” done to her reputation by Outcry. It appears other press outlets got the statement a couple of weeks ago — KXAN reprints it pretty much in its entirety, along with an “unsick burn, Patrice” retort from series director Pat Kondelis that almost dares Cummings to sue — but evidently Dubin et al. just noticed that I wrote up the series over the weekend, so I received the statement via email yesterday. Not sure how I’m meant to respond, except to note that, when your Dutch aunt who runs the daycare where the crime is alleged to have occurred recommends an attorney for you who also represents her son who looks just like you and had means and opportunity? This is what you get. Also not sure on what grounds she’d sue — exposure to the compleat Good Wife-iverse has me guessing “tortious interference” — but we’ll see how it plays out. — SDB
The AV Club has a lengthy interview with Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story star Amanda Peet. Everyone’s no doubt sick of my saying Peet should have become a huge star already — and the fact that she hasn’t is partly on me for not watching Brockmire, which I would have if I’d known she was in it! I will start! — but it’s the truth, and I really hope her cringily sympathetic portrait of a first wife’s ultimate unraveling is what does it. Among the topics covered: how Peet avoided turning in an “imitation,” or relying on “tabloid blips” instead of inhabiting the writing; her “awesome” ladies-who-lunch scene-mates (and not for nothing but where is Missi Pyle’s Dirty John?); and this outstanding observation that particularly Method actors, but really all actors in true-crime re-enactment/recreation projects, might consider having skywritten over the set in future, namely that “mentally ill is not a playable action.” — SDB
A new podcast from Reveal and PRX investigates the “indentured servitude” rehab system in a new podcast, American Rehab. This is one of those stories that exists in the greyish area around true crime, but between the criminalization of addiction, the racial injustice baked into that, and the involvement of the courts…and a cult? I think it qualifies. All episodes have dropped, and you can listen to the first one here, plus get a sense of what’s in store:
In 1960s California, a cult leader mesmerized America by claiming to have discovered the cure for heroin addiction. His rehab ran on punishment and profits, putting participants to work and generating millions from their free labor. A new system of rehab was born. Over the decades, the model would be hailed by an American president and endorsed by judges across the country. Today, these rehabs are flourishing by turning people desperate for treatment into an unpaid labor force. As the opioid epidemic rages on, Reveal uncovers tens of thousands of people each year trapped in the gears of this rehab machine.
Makes you wonder what some of the “beneficiaries” of drug diversion court are getting diverted to, eh what? (And AA/NA may not provide a safer haven if one’s amends list includes felonious behavior.)
Elsewhere in the pod-verse, UT-Austin students Haley Butler and Tinu Thomas decided to investigate the 2005 murder of Jennifer Cave in a podcast called The Orange Tree (named for the condominium complex near campus where Cave’s body was found). Butler and Thomas were journalism students at UT when they started researching the case; they’re now grads, and the first audio directors of The Drag, a podcast network within the Moody College J-school. The docu podcast began dropping episodes last week. — SDB
Maybe I should change my title to “audio director” from “chief bottle-washer.” If you’ve got thoughts on that, or anything else we’re writing about around here, hit us in the comments,
and if you know anyone who might find Best Evidence interesting, why not forward it? Large groups can gather virtually, after all…and I’m going to need all the help I can get with the new season of Love After Lockup.
Speaking of crowd-sourcing, Investigation Discovery’s Reasonable Doubt has gotten a fourth season — and the show’s asking for viewers’ help to find potential topics. “With their parallel expertise of the law, hosts retired homicide detective Chris Anderson and criminal defense attorney Fatima Silva know that the justice system doesn’t always get it right,” ID’s press release notes, and after some burnishing remarks from network “Group President” Henry Schleiff, the release adds that the show “is actively looking for potential wrongful conviction cases to investigate for next season. Viewers and fans are advised to submit ideas on questionable courtroom convictions at the following link: ID Show Submission Form.”
Interested to know if any of you might submit, and which case(s) you’d have in mind if you did. — SDB
Tuesday on Best Evidence: Welp, apparently some genius just crashed a car into the TD Bank 6 blocks from my house, but unless that was actually a bank robbery/until a podcast is made about the Bay Ridge Heist, we’ll have to see what Eve’s got in store!
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