In order to receive a habeas corpus hearing, a petitioner must present sufficient “grounds for relief”. In Marna’s case, there are three principle areas that constitute grounds for relief:
Newly Discovered Evidence
Marna’s right to Due Process of Law, as guaranteed by the V and XIV Amendments of the United States Constitution, and Article I § 10 of The Missouri Constitution, was violated. Petitioner relies on Brady v. Maryland, 373, US 83, 85 S. ct. 1194, 10 L.ed.2d.215 (1963).
The newly discovered evidence comes in the form of:
- Suppression of Exculpatory Evidence
The prosecutor did not provide crime scene photos to Marna or her Counsel prior to her accepting the plea agreement. From 2002 to 2009, Marna attempted to acquire the crime scene photos by written request to her defense attorney, Robert Fleming, The Public Defender’s Office and her Appellate Counsel. The response was that the photos were not in her archive file, nor was there any indication that they had them in the Public Defender’s Office, which proves they were never provided to the defense by the prosecution, which is a Brady violation.
- Newly Discovered Evidence
Correspondence containing testimony of a confession by Robert Lawson. After her conviction and sentencing, Marna received correspondence from Mr Rick Meads, Robert Lawson’s cellmate at Moberly Correctional Center from 2003 to 2004. In his correspondence, Mr Meads recounts the alarming account of events leading up to the victim, Geraldine Jones’s death and stabbing, as told to him by Robert Lawson in prison. The version of events Mr Lawson told to Mr Meads in prison is a more detailed and entirely different account of the night of the murder, which more closely matches the evidence and crime scene photos than the version he originally disclosed to police. Moreover, the version of events in the jailhouse confession to Mr Meads provides a far greater amount of detail than false confession extracted from Marna and -perhaps more significantly – too much detail to be considered hearsay.
Marna’s was denied her rights to due process of law as guaranteed by the V and XIV Amendments of the United States Constitution, and Article I § 60 of The Missouri Constitution, in that the petitioner is actually innocent of the crime for which she ws convicted, but for the State’s misconduct, no juror would have voted to convict her. Petitioner relies on STATE ex.rel Armine v. Roper, 102 S.W.3.d 541(mo.2003); Schlup v. Delo, 115 S. ct. 851, 130 L.Ed2d 808 (1995).
- Marna gave an unreliable confession which contradicted crime scene photos and evidence due to lack of thorough investigation by the detectives, defense counsel and the prosecutor; the petitioner (Marna) was extremely prejudiced. Had they performed their duties properly, professional ethics would have prevented them from accepting her confession as true and reliable. After conviction, Marna received in her legal file copies of a very brief attorney log, which revealed an entry dated November 27, 2000, where the prosecutor said, “Defendant confessed. No evidence. Do believe Lawson did this.”
- The autopsy report was not thorough and complete in that it did not state:
- the exact time of death
- which wound – if any – was the cause of death
- which knife may have caused it
- results of rape kit
- whether victim’s alarmingly high blood alcohol level could have caused or contributed to her death.Ms. Jones had a history of drug use and witnesses confirmed her use of drugs just hours before her death, yet the autopsy shows none in her blood. The autopsy photos and report identify stab wounds to the victim’s back, back of the thigh and left hip, which were completely impossible to inflict in the position in which she was found (in the crime scene photos).The results of the rape kit were never recorded in the autopsy report which could have shown recent sexual activity, possibly showing a male was the last to see her alive.
- In March 2011, Marna wrote to Dr. Edward H. Adelstein D.V.M., M.D., Chief of Pathology, Harry S. Truman Veterans Hospital, Columbia, MO 64201, requesting that he review the autopsy report and photos. He, in turn, responded that after he “completed a careful study of the evidence, some issues were not clear”. The letter containing his preliminary observations and questions presents credible reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the petitioner. It is unknown to Marna why he did not follow up with his research and report, although she made several attempts to contact him further.
- The crime scene photos show a remarkably “clean” scene for a woman stabbed 38 times. There is absolutely no blood spatter, blood spray or cast off that one would expect from so many stab wounds. The position on the body appears to be staged, indicating she was propped up after death. If events had occurred the way they were portrayed in Marna’s confession, the victim would not have been in such a “relaxed” position, and the crime scene would have revealed a struggle.
- After Marna was sent to prison, she received letters from Mr. Rick Meads, then cellmate of her co-defendant, Robert Lawson. In these letters he gave her detailed accounts of the crime and the events leading up to it, which only her co-defendant would have known. Too many of these details matched evidence to be considered hearsay.
- a) Marna received a letter from her co-defendant, Robert Lawson (on or about September 2001), in which he clearly states his motive for wanting Ms. Jones dead.
b) Marna received another letter from co-defendant, Robert Lawson (on or about June 2012), stating that he put Xanax in Ms. Jones’s drink on the night of her death, when she wasn’t looking.
- Dr. Thomas W. Young, M.D., FAAFS, FASCP, FCAP, Forensic Pathologist wrote a report after Marna requested that he review the following items:
(i) Records from the Columbia Police Department
(ii) Black and white copies of of Geraldine Jones at the crime scene and at autopsy
(iii) The autopsy report, authored by Dr. Jay Dix, M.D.
(iv) Video recordings of the interviews of Marna Weber and Robert Lawson
After reviewing the above items, Dr. Young’s analysis shows that Robert Lawson knew the most of anyone about what happened. Lawson knew more than the police, and he certainly knew more than Marna, the very person he later accused of committing the homocide. Dr. Dix states that it is not reasonable to implicate someone who knows nothing about the murder, while the person making the accusation knows more about the murder than anyone else. In other words, Lawson knows too much.