This was emailed to me early this morning:
Public Statement concerning the Capital Murder charges of Byrd and Melanie Billings
When the government brings a person to trial, it’s an incredible phenomenon that most of us assume that the defendant is guilty… At least guilty of something? Oftentimes when the media gets hold of a story politicians get an opportunity to get a little “face time” on T.V. or in the newspaper, that assumption of “Automatic Guilt” intensifies like in this case, whether the defendant was guilty or not. What the average citizen tends to forget is that there are safeguards against such inflamed public passion. According to the Constitution, a defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty. And, that is to protect not just innocent defendants, but, for the protection of all of us against tyranny of prejudice, bias, and pre-conceived opinions.
For example, in this case, the Government , State Attorney Bill Eddins and Sheriff David Morgan, accused me of the murders of two innocent people. Countless press conferences and interviews precipitated a wave of public passion that reached the citizens of the entire world. As politicians it became impossible for Sheriff Morgan and State Attorney Eddins to protect my rights, rather than further their political careers. Thank God for the Constitution. The sixth amendment protects my rights, and I hope this court will not allow that guilty verdict to stand. The Government did not prove their case in court, but, instead, presented their case to the public via the media. Please don’t let their fast food style to justice trample on the Bill of Rights and the Constitution that was set up to protect me, to protect us all from tyranny. When the government puts me in the limelight saying that I am a horrible person, etc, etc but does not prove it in court, how do I rebut that?
From the very beginning of this ordeal I have professed my innocence. Also from the very start the government has announced to the world that I was guilty. Both Sheriff Morgan and State Attorney Eddins wove a complicated conspiracy story for local, national, and international media outlets that was broadcasted across the nation. They made multiple appearances on entertainment talk shows, as well as several national news programs and radio talk shows. They spoon-fed the public claims of evidence that never materialized and they introduced alleged “Star Witnesses” who would never appear in court.
For example, why wasn’t Hugh Wiggins (the person that all of the evidence pointed to) called to testify by the prosecution? The community certainly remembered his questioning by the State. Why would the State pollute the minds of the jury pool with his “organized crime” statements and his immunity deal? They did this while hiding behind the First Amendment, while using it to pre-empt my Sixth Amendment rights. In appearances on television programs like Nancy Grace, Larry King, Oprah, and the O’Reily Factor, they precipitated as much publicity as they could. Those types of entertainment television shows can’t really be considered Press or News shows. Shows like that do not report the news. Often these shows prey upon the tragedy and sorrow of the victim’s family to attract viewers and raise their ratings. By making inflammatory statements and showing their own slanted version of events, presenting untrue statements, unsworn assertions, and stating speculations as true fact, it influenced viewers by firing the passion of hate against me. The Government knew that what they were doing was illegal and unethical… but they also know that their actions are rarely, if ever, questioned or disciplined by the Courts.
In this particular case, it was so obvious that the Sheriff and State Attorney set out to get as much personal “face-time” publicity as possible. They made shocking statements about military tactics, ninja garb, ties to organized crime, conspiracies that cross state lines and international borders, promises of a story that would “Play out like a summer action flick”, and, as Sheriff Morgan said, “A real humdinger”. Both Morgan and Eddins took a horrible tragedy and politicized it! According to Judicial canon and the Supreme Court (Singer vs. State 1959) “Prosecuting officials, being lawyers, are strictly prohibited… for making for publication statements which pertain to pending or anticipated litigation for the reason that such statements may interfere with a fair trial. All prosecutors must observe this canon and the courts must enforce its observation… Law Enforcement officials, likewise, must be required to abstain from making pre-trial statements regarding the details of crimes under investigation by them”, (such) statements tend to establish the guilt or innocence of one accused of the crime. Neither my legal team, nor my family, or anyone representing me has called a single PRESS CONFERENCE, granted any interviews (and believe me many were requested) or made any public statements to respond to any of the pre-trial allegations made by the representing Government.
The Supreme Court continued: “…There is nothing to prevent the announcement of the commission of a crime, or of an arrest of one suspected of committing it; but they should not publish matters relating to Evidence which they have acquired, statements attributed to witnesses, or statements or confessions attributed to an accused. Publications of such statements, Evidence, or confession forms the basis for trial by newspaper…” (In this case multi cyber, print, electronic, and digital media as well)”…Further, such statements, evidence or confession either may not be submitted at the trial, or if offered may not be admitted ”. For example, Hugh Wiggins was given immunity for his testimony and was never called. Yet, if those who sit on the Jury have read or watched the press version of them it is most difficult, if not impossible, for the human mind not to “fill in” from its extra judicial knowledge, that which is not offered at the trial, or to determine the veracity of a witness by comparing the newspaper (media) version of the facts with the testimony given at trial. In the words of one of the prosecutors, “Hey doesn’t that look familiar”.
The Supreme Court goes on to say, “It is a tribute to the Press that most people believe as true what is written or spoken by the press media, yet it must be admitted that press reports are not always accurate and are seldom complete. “ Further, the accused has no means to answer them, nor is there any appeal from “Conviction on Trial by Newspaper”.
In this case the officers of the Court and of the Law used their positions and media contacts to influence the public with pervasive pretrial publicity and inflammatory statements to create hostility towards ME, the accused. Basically, I was tried and convicted in the Media with the participation and assistance of the Sheriff’s Department and the office of the State Attorney that represent our government. They promised to present forensic evidence and eye-witness evidence against me. But what they did not say through the media was that there was no tangible evidence connecting me as participating in these crimes, because I am not guilty.
I was looking forward to seeing all of the so-called “Indisputable Evidence” presented in court. I truly believed that I would not have to say anything and the fact of my innocence would prove me “not guilty.” I knew that no one had told the public that Leonard Gonzalez Sr. suffers from severe brain damage due to an accident several years ago that left him 100% mentally disabled. It was not shared with the media that the Sheriff’s Department had prior knowledge and knew well of Sr.’s disability and how easy it was for them to use his disability against him during “questioning”. Gonzalez Sr. suffers from such severe brain damage that it was easy to use suggestive interrogation techniques to get him to say just about anything you want. Sr. can only hear out of one ear, wears coke bottle thick glasses, walks with a cane most of the time, and being less than 5’ tall he probably couldn’t even reach the pedals on a van that big… and they got him to confess to being a “get-away driver”. It was interesting that for the last year and a half the State was telling the media and the public about all of these witnesses and all of the so-called codefendants that would be testifying against me… What happened to them??? How come they only called 2 scared kids who both admitted that they were testifying in hopes of getting two extremely reduced sentences and that basically their testimonies were “Slot Machine” confessions. For example, the conscious misrepresentations to benefit themselves! Anyway, they admitted to lying under oath, and they have no problem doing it if it will get them out of trouble. Their own testimonies impeached them. It was transparent to everyone in the courtroom, and to millions of others including hundreds of law students taking notes across the United States that their testimony was the product of purely selfish considerations. But, I’ll get back to that in a moment.
Back to the reason I never tried using the media as a tool to help me prevail in court. Although the Sheriff and the State Attorney used the grief and tragedy of the Billings family to help them accomplish their objective for political gain, I did not want to stoop to that level. I am not guilty of the charges that the media and jury convicted me of. I truly believed that the truth would prevail in court. And, also, every time those murders were splashed across the television, the world- wide- web, or in print I feared the Billings children and my children would be victimized again and again. I was confident that the prosecution’s evidence would prove itself to be smoke and mirrors. Here is what evidence they presented to the jury:
1. The State produced a murder weapon that they were able to prove fired every shot that killed the victims. It was also proven that the gun had the DNA of four people, none that belonged to me. The State never produced any evidence that the murder weapon had been in my custody or control. In fact, the State admitted that the gun had been discovered in a car owned by Hugh Wiggins.
2. The State produced a safe that was taken from back yard of Hugh Wiggins. Again, no fingerprints, DNA or other evidence put the safe in my custody and control. In fact, the only fingerprints discovered by the police belonged to the family of Hugh Wiggins.
3. The State produced a video of the actual crime taking place, and the prosecutor admitted that the quality of the video was so poor that it was impossible to really tell who anyone is. The video was sent to Quantico and testimony from an FBI video expert showed that the video could not be enhanced enough to accurately identify any of the assailants on the video. I was not in the video.
4. The State showed a photo of a red van from the video. Again, remember, the FBI stated that the video of the van could not be positively matched to the red van found at the residence of Leonard Gonzalez Sr.
5. The State called two men who both admitted that they had actually participated in the murders. Both men admitted that they had lied several times to the investigators and their family, and they have no problem lying to suit their needs. Neither of the criminal informants testified that they had seen who actually pulled the trigger that killed the victims. Furthermore, the teens contradicted themselves and each other numerous times during the interrogations and during the trial.
6. The State called two men, Lonnie Smith and Tony Eisa, that supposedly were being recruited by me to participate in a robbery. Neither man testified that they were told the time, the place, or who the victims of the alleged robbery would be. Neither man could place me at the scene of the crime and both men denied their own involvement. Please note that Lonnie Smith was arrested for heroin in February 2010 and mysteriously his charges disappeared just days before his testimony. In addition to this cover-up, Tony Eisa admitted to being a crack user, white supremacist, a convicted child molester, with a rap sheet extending from Chicago gang involvement to Panama City, FL. Nevertheless, Tony Eisa negotiated a testimony against me with the State Attorney’s office and bragged to others that he was paid to testify against me in this case and for other crimes he claimed I committed in other jurisdictions. So far, no reliable witnesses!
7. The State called my biological father’s ex-wife, Carol Brant, to testify that she overheard us talking about a robbery. However, she did not know who, what or where of our conversation. She, too, could not place me at the crime scene.
8. The State shared and admitted photos of me shopping at Walmart as evidence. One of the photos showed 2 black men walking behind me in the parking lot; another photo showed me buying a box with boots in it. There was no testimony by anyone that was shown that those boots matched the footprints at the crime scene. Additionally, there is no evidence that proved that I even knew these black men or that they were even at the crime scene! (Except for career criminal gangster Tony Eisa).
9. The State brought forth a mechanic ( a dear friend of Tony Eisa’s) who testified that I asked him to switch tires on the red van just days after the crimes.
10. The State then called Eddie Denson of Moss Point, Mississippi to testify that he received a cache of weapons from Hugh Wiggins just days after the crime. Denson testified that he had never met me nor had any knowledge of my involvement in the murders.
11. The State called Deputy Chief Bill Chavers to testify that he spoke with me just prior to my arrest and stated that I voluntarily gave my whereabouts at the time and denied any involvement in the crimes that were committed. (It must be noted here that Bill Chavers had his ranking in the Sheriff’s Department reduced soon after this investigation began whereby Chavers retired as a result of Sheriff Morgan’s demotion).
• Not one scintilla of physical evidence placed me at the crime scene, or with the murder weapon, or behind the wheel of the get-away vehicle, or in possession of the victim’s safe.
• Why didn’t the State bring Hugh Wiggins to testify against me? The Sheriff and State Attorney said there would be witnesses. Where are they? Are those career criminals who testified truly credible witnesses?
• Supreme Court case, Irvin vs. Dowd, emphasized that “When a defendant’s life is at stake, it is not requiring too much that the accused be tried in an atmosphere by so huge a wave of public passion”.
Again, it was the very Government that brought me to trial-by-media that brought me to trial that precipitated, encouraged, and fostered the very public hostility. And the trial-by-media caused a jury to convict me of charges that the prosecution did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt or to the exclusion of any hypothesis than that of innocence.
In conclusion, from the very beginning of this whole ordeal I have professed my innocence regardless of the law enforcement and prosecution’s misconduct that occurred from the very beginning of the investigation. The very conviction of the jury should be reversed due to the lack of evidence, which did not prove my guilt. ( After the trial several people of the jury admitted that they had read and heard about the Billings murders prior to and during the trial.) The prosecution did not produce any evidence that I had ever been at the crime scene, or that I had control of the murder weapon, or that the get-away vehicle was definitely the same vehicle found at Gonzalez Sr’s residence. It was not proven that I had ever been seen driving or controlling a red van. And, finally, people from all across this country watched this trial on television and the internet, and the public saw that the prosecution did not prove their case for them to support.
Many people who watched this trial questioned how this high profile case only lasted 3 days after jury selection. Citizens without law degrees wrote hundreds of blogs about how obvious I should not have been found guilty. So whether I get sentenced to death or life without parole I am still not guilty of the charges against me. The question I pose is this, “Does Lady Justice hold a double-edged sword and balanced scales and wears a blind-fold in Pensacola?”. It should not have been necessary for me to say this. “Not Guilty” should have been enough. I should not have been found guilty because Mark O’Brian and the Pensacola News Journal said so, or because Larry King , Nancy Grace, and Sheriff Morgan broadcasted it to millions of people around the world. The Government brought me to trial. The burden of proof should have been on them. The Government and the Media declared my guilt outside of the courtroom, but, inside they just did not prove their case.
I expect my attorneys to make another motion for a verdict of acquittal and for justice to be served. Not the “fast food-style” justice admitted via the media, but the kind that is the law.