The Case of Richard McClure
RE: Arizona criminal case CR-663715
I am writing in reference to the unjust prosecuting methods practiced in Pima County, Arizona. My name is Richard Dale McClure. I am defendant in an on-going criminal case number CR-63715. I recently went through my first jury trial in Pima County Superior Court. My trial was presided over by Judge Michael Alfred. The experience has been unnerving to say the least. As a person who has never been tried in a criminal court before, I always believed our system worked in the pursuit of justice. However, I have learned that Pima County practices their own kind of justice. I have never heard of a prosecutor having as much freedom as in Pima County. Let me explain. I will start with a synopsis of the case at hand, then follow up with the trial proceedings.
This case involves three illegal aliens, drug smuggling, a robbery and assault. The three illegal aliens are Jose I. Meza Espinoza, Rafael Rodriguez Soto, and Juan G. Cervantez. They are the drug smugglers/victims in this case. This case also involves another Hispanic male, Michael Ramirez, who is the ex-roommate of the three drug smugglers and the boyfriend of Juan Cervantez’ sister. Ramirez is the one said to have attempted to rob and assault the three victims. It was apparently a drug rip gone bad.
Ramirez is said to have had one or two black accomplices during this drug rip. This is who I am accused of being. (Please keep in mind that I have not participated in any of these illegal activities.) The charges in this case consist of three counts of first degree attempted murder, three counts of kidnapping, one count of burglary in the first degree and one count of armed robbery. All of these are class two felonies, carrying a sentencing range of sixty-three years in prison.
I will now explain how the police built their case. First of all, all three of the victims identified Michael Ramirez as being the leader of this robbery. They also agreed that Ramirez is the one that attempted to kill them and not his accomplice. Michel Ramirez was apprehended October 19, 1998. The robbery/assault happened in the early morning hours of October 3, 1998.
Upon arrest, Michael Ramirez gave a detailed description of the crime, his involvement, and his accomplice. Michael gave descriptions of two black males: 1) a male named Tray, 5’10" shaved head, no facial hair, medium build, approximately twenty-five to twenty-seven years of age, and 2) a black male named Dee, short hair, thin mustache, slim build, and around the same age. These descriptions also match those given by the victims Using these descriptions, the police put together a photo line-up.
From this line-up, the victims picked a man they said they were sure was the accomplice. This man’s name is Michael Virgil, a resident Tucson gang member. Later, the police put together another photo line-up. This time, Juan Cervantez was the only one to participate. Cervantez picked out another black male he said he was positive was the accomplice, Tony Cooper.
Later the police found that Michael Ramirez made telephone calls from the home of his older sister, Christina Ramirez, the night of the robbery. They also found that Christina was dating a black man, which would be me. On October 23, 1998, I rented a house in Sierra Vista, Arizona for Christina, her children, and me. This move had been planned and had nothing to do with illegal activities. However, the police claim because of the timeframe, this made me their number one suspect. On October 30, 1998, a search warrant was served on our home.
Where is the "probable cause"? What justifies the search warrant? Why was a Swat team used? eggy
I was taken to the police station in my underwear and socks, but I was not under arrest. There, I was subjected to a physical line-up and DNA testing. During the execution of the search warrant, the police turned up my personal safe. This safe had more than $16,000 in it and legal documents. Of course border patrol agent Stokes claimed there was only $9,980 in it when it got to the station house. The
police then claimed this money was stolen in this robbery and placed me under arrest. Ironically, the victims said that they only lost three
hundred to four hundred fifty dollars in the robbery. I was then taken to Pima County Jail where I have been here since October 30, 1998.
After the search, DNA and lineup, no evidence existed that Richard Dale McClure was involved in this crime. Obviously there was NOT grounds for a search of the home, and a Swat Team action. This is illegal police action. Agent Stokes harassed Christina Ramirez, threatening her that she must make a statement implicating Richard Dale McClure. Was this the falsified coerced "evidence" they used? eggy
What sense is it to haul someone to jail in their underwear and socks? Certainly with the amount of force they had, they could allow a person to get dressed! This is power mania, a demeaning act. eggy
Now let me explain the legal proceedings. For the eight months that I have been incarcerated, the prosecutor has never once asked me to give a statement regarding this case. Nor has the prosecution offered me any sort of plea bargain. It was my understanding that the prosecution had no viable evidence to try me on.
Due process requires that the defendant be provided all the evidence, charges against them. Obviously this was not done. Did they have no actual evidence to begin? eggy
April 16, 1999, four days before my trial was scheduled to begin, the prosecution offered Michael Ramirez a plea bargain to change his story. Now, all of the sudden, he said that I was the one with him during this robbery and I am the one that assaulted these people. This plea bargain would reduce his charges from eight class two felonies to one. So, instead of facing sixty-three years, he would only be
facing seven. Because of this sudden change, the prosecution asked that my trial to be moved to June 1, 1999. My trial started on June 1, 1999.
Original trial date of April 29, 1999, October 30.1998 was the date Richard was incarcerated. Speedy Trial??? The reason for a speedy trial, is because at the time of arrest, the prosecutor is supposed to have the evidence for trial. Was this prosecutor waiting to "find" some evidence? eggy
Prior to this, my attorney, Laura Udall, filed several motions to suppress biased evidence/accusations made by the state. The court denied all these motions, although the legal grounds supporting them were inarguable. The jury selection was another issue. The panel consisted of state employees, most of whom either worked for the state prosecutor’s office, or once did. There was even an active prosecutor, named Perkins, on the panel. The remainder were police or FBI agents’ wives, brothers, etc. Also, there were a few probation officers. All of them were middle to upper class Caucasians, with the exception of two African Americans, both of whom endured the entire questioning process without a flaw. However, the prosecution struck them for no apparent reason. All of the remaining jurors were either assaulted by a black man in the past, or had a relative who was. We argued the bias of the jury, but were denied.
A unanimous court stated in Smith v Texas …. (1940) that "it is part of the established tradition in the use of juries as instruments of public justice that the jury be a body truly representative of the community,,,," eggy
The state brought on its witnesses. I will exclude the ones who really have no relevance, so I do not bore you too much. First on the stand was Juan Cervantez, the victim, who was subsequently the only victim who would testify. He said he was given immunity from all drug charges for his testimony. Cervantez took the stand and identified me as a man he picked out of one of the line-ups. [he had NOT identified Richard in the lineup, he identified a Tony Cooper (eggy note]
He then went on to say that Michael Ramirez was the one who orchestrated the robbery and definitely the one that cut his throat and the throats of the other victims. He excluded the black male from being involved in this. The next witness for the state was Michael Ramirez. Michael took the stand and denied any voluntary involvement in these crimes. He claims that he was forced, by me, to stand by and watch as his friends were assaulted.
Then the state called Mirena Cervantez, who is Michael’s girlfriend and Juan Cervantez’ sister. She took the stand and said that Michael is the biggest liar she knows. She said that her brother told her he was the one who committed these crimes. She also said that she talked to Michael the night of the assault and he never mentioned being with his sister’s boyfriend (me).
Next, the state called Meena Ramirez, Michael’s wife. Meena testified that she and Michael have a good relationship. She visits him every weekend in jail. Nevertheless, she said, he is incapable of telling the truth. She also expressed his dislike of me because I am black and dating his sister. He also told her that he would do whatever he had to do to get out of this situation.
Last, they brought Christina Ramirez, who is Michael’s sister and my ex-girlfriend. The police said that Michael was at her house the night of the crime. The police said that Christina gave a statement to them saying that her brother and I told her that we had committed this crime. Christina took the stand and said that, indeed, she made that statement, but that it was not true. She said that agent Stokes threatened to arrest her for these crimes and take away her children if she did not make these statements. She says that her brother Michael told her that he was going to do this robbery. Then he gave her a detailed description of what he was going to do. Later that night, he came back and told her that he had done it. She says that she did not see me until after her brother had left. Moreover, I never told her anything about a robbery. Later, Agent Stokes testified that he did make these threats.
The only other evidence the state tried to use was a receipt for duct tape from Wal-Mart they claim to have found in my car, and a used roll of duct tape from the trunk of the car. The state criminologist verified that the tape from my car was not the tape used in the crimes. In fact, they were not even the same brand. The cashier from Wal-Mart testified that he/she remembered the purchase of the tape, because of the strange hour that it was purchased. Furthermore, the customer who purchased the tape was definitely not a black man, but a young Hispanic man.
There was only one set of fingerprints found at the crime scene. They were found on the duct tape used to bind the victims. Those prints belong to Michael Ramirez. There was absolutely no physical evidence placing me at the scene of the crime. No fingerprints, no DNA, nothing. However, the prosecutor stated that they found one fingerprint that belonged to me. He neglected to state that this fingerprint was found in my car. My attorney had to point that out.
Regardless of these facts, the jury returned with no decision. The jury hung eight to four in favor of acquittal. This may have had something to do with the fact that the judge dismissed jurors during deliberation.
Meanwhile, I am still incarcerated. I must now endure this whole process again unless I opt to sign a plea bargain, which my attorney is pretty sure they will now offer me. She thinks they will more than likely, offer me a plea for probation or time served just to sign off on a felony. In doing this, I will give up my right to retain my money that the state seized. I will be vindicating them of any wrongdoing. I will also lose my right to sue.
The prosecutor knows that it would be asinine to take me back to trial. However, he will not dismiss the charges. He is using the months that I will have to wait for a new trial to be scheduled, as a plea bargaining tool. My attorney has petitioned to remover herself from my case for purely financial reasons, giving the prosecution another couple of months to hold me due to lack of counsel.
Through reviewing several cases during my stay in Pima County Jail, I have come to realize that this is typical practice in this county. There are several other minorities who are being held under the same circumstances, many of whom have had exculpatory evidence presented in trial and are still being held.
I hope that you may be able to assist in exposing and rectifying the reprehensible prosecuting practice of Pima County. I will be eagerly awaiting your response. Thank you and God bless.
PS Court records will support all accusations in this letter. If you wish to inquire on some of the other cases, here are some names. Their cases are also on court record.
Donald Thurston Sherman Dennis L. James Jack Anderson
Case No. CR-64171 Case No. CR-61287 Case No. CR-59352
/kam 4 - June 26, 1999