Missouri Woman Conviction Overturned: Know More Here

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A Missouri woman who had spent 43 years in jail for confessing to a murder in 1980 while she was a mental patient had her conviction overturned by a court, which also heard arguments from the woman’s attorneys that the murderer might have been a former police officer.

In a late-night decision on Friday, Judge Ryan Horsman said that Sandra Hemme, 64, had proven her true innocence and that she may be freed in 30 days unless the prosecution decided to retry her in the killing of Patricia Jeschke, a 31-year-old library employee.

According to the judge, Hemme’s trial attorney was incompetent, and the prosecution withheld information that could have strengthened her case.

According to Hemme’s lawyers, who filed a motion calling for her quick release, this is the longest a woman has been imprisoned due to an incorrect conviction.

Her lawyers stated in a statement, “We are grateful to the Court for acknowledging the grave injustice Ms. Hemme has endured for more than four decades,” and they promised to keep working to have the charges dropped so Hemme may be reunited with her family.

When Hemme was first questioned about Jeschke’s death, her attorneys claim that she was wearing wrist restraints and was so profoundly sedated that she “could not hold her head up straight” or “articulate anything beyond monosyllabic responses.”

In a petition for Hemme’s exoneration, the attorneys said that the authorities disregarded her “wildly contradictory” assertions and withheld information that linked Jeschke’s credit card attempt to then-police officer Michael Holman. 2015 saw Holman’s passing.

“No evidence whatsoever outside of Ms. Hemme’s unreliable statements connects her to the crime,” the court wrote.

“In contrast, this Court finds that the evidence directly ties Holman to this crime and murder scene,” the judge wrote.

When Jeschke failed to show up for work on November 13, 1980, her worried mother broke through a window in her apartment and found her naked dead in a pool of blood on the floor.

Jeschke had a telephone cable tied around her hands behind her back, pantyhose around her throat, and a knife beneath her skull.

Hemme was not being looked into in relation to the killing until she turned up at the residence of a nurse who had treated her when she was carrying a knife and would not go away, over two weeks later.

Hemme was found by police hiding in a cupboard, and they returned her to St. Joseph’s Hospital. When she started hearing voices at the age of twelve, she ended up in the hospital multiple times.

The day before Jeschke’s death was discovered, Hemme had been released from the same hospital and had hitched more than 100 miles across the state to go to her parents’ house that evening.

Law authorities found the timing strange, and Hemme was subsequently questioned.

When Hemme was first questioned, she was receiving treatment with antipsychotic medications that had caused involuntary spasms of her muscles.

Her lawyers petitioned on her behalf, claiming that she was complaining of her eyes rolling back in her head.

Hemme seemed “mentally confused,” according to detectives, and was unable to comprehend their questioning.

Her counsel stated in the appeal that “every time the police extracted a statement from Ms. Hemme, it changed dramatically from the last, often incorporating explanations of facts the police had just recently uncovered.”

Eventually, Hemme claimed to have seen Joseph Wabski, a male, kill Jeschke.

Wabski and Hemme met while both were admitted to the state hospital’s detoxification unit. Wabski was first accused of capital murder, but the charges against him were later withdrawn by the prosecution after they discovered Wabski was attending an alcohol treatment facility in Topeka, Kansas.

Hemme sobbed and said she was the murderer after discovering Wabski wasn’t the one who killed her.

Holman was also beginning to be considered a suspect by the police. Holman was caught about a month after the murder for fabricating an insurance claim and reporting his pickup truck as stolen.

Holman’s alibi—that he slept the night with a woman at a nearby motel—could not be verified because the identical truck was observed close to the killing scene.

On the day that Jeschke’s death was found, Holman—who was eventually dismissed and passed away—also made an effort to use her credit card at a camera store in Kansas City, Missouri.

According to Holman, he discovered the credit card in a purse that was abandoned in a ditch.

Police searched Holman’s house and discovered in a closet a pair of gold horseshoe-shaped earrings that Jeschke’s father claimed he knew as his own.

Jewelry taken from another woman during a break-in earlier that year was also discovered by the police.

After that, the four-day probe into Holman came to an abrupt stop, and Hemme’s lawyers said they were never given access to many of the findings.

On Christmas Day 1980, Hemme wrote to her parents, suggesting that she might as well enter a guilty plea.

“Even though I’m innocent, they want to put someone away, so they can say the case is solved,” Hemme wrote.

“Just let it end,” she added. “I’m tired.”

Hemme consented to admit guilt to capital murder the following spring in exchange for the death sentence being dropped.

However, the judge first turned down her guilty plea because she did not provide enough information regarding the occurrence.

Her lawyer informed her that if the judge accepted her guilty plea, she would have a chance to avoid receiving the death penalty. After a little break and some guidance, she provided the judge with further information.

Although the plea was eventually overturned on appeal, she was found guilty once more in 1985 following a day-long trial during which the jury was not informed of the specifics of what her present attorneys describe as “grotesquely coercive” questioning techniques.

Larry Harman stated in her attorneys’ appeal that the system “failed her at every opportunity.” Previously, Harman—who is currently a judge—assisted Hemme in getting her first guilty plea overturned.

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