Snitch Testimony: Lies and Misrepresentation

At Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s trial, jailhouse snitch testimony was used by the prosecution even though it contradicted the coroner’s evidence.* The snitch, Bruce Wheeler, stated that he received no incentives for testifying against Jeff:
“The prosecutor promised me nothing.”

The prosecution then emphasized this point:
“I will tell you again you should believe him… Bruce Wheeler got nothing for his appearance in this courtroom. He got nothing… Nothing reduced, nothing dismissed.”**

We now know, however, that this was not true: Wheeler did receive benefits for giving false testimony against Jeff. Moreover, the prosecution was aware that Wheeler received benefits and knew that he was lying about them.

In a sworn affidavit given in 2014, Wheeler mentions three benefits for testifying against Jeff.

  1. “It was implied that I would do less time in prison if I testified.”
  2. “I asked the prosecutors to get me to Ross Correctional as opposed to one of the institutions that was considered more dangerous, if I helped them in Wogenstahl’s case. I ended up at Ross Correctional, and I believe it was because of my testimony.”
  3. “The prosecutors promised if I testified they would write a letter to the Parole Board on my behalf.”*** [The prosecution did subsequently write a letter to the Parole Board on Wheeler’s behalf.****]

As well as falsely denying that the snitch was incentivized by the state, the prosecutor played down Wheeler’s conviction for assaulting a two-year-old child, dismissing the crime as “something stupid” and “a thoughtless, unthinking act”. The prosecutor also omitted Wheeler’s initial failure to tell the truth about the assault.

Yet the same prosecutor, at Wheeler’s trial, had referred to his crime in a very different way:

“I don’t understand how he [Wheeler] can back hand this child with this kind of force and not know how it happened. It stretches the bounds of credibility. Quite frankly, I just don’t believe it.”†

The state’s lies and misrepresentation at Jeff’s trial are likely to have had a significant impression on the jury. As Clive Zimmerman notes,

”Triers of fact tend to believe confession evidence, even when offered by a jailhouse snitch.”‡

The prosecution’s suppression of impeaching evidence about Wheeler is but one more piece of ‘wholly improper’ prosecutorial misconduct at Jeff’s trial to add to the already ‘plain and plentiful’ list made in 2012 by Judge Karen Moore.§

Jeff should have a new trial.

*See State v. Wogenstahl. B-926287. Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s Motion for leave to file a Motion for New Trial, based on newly discovered evidence from the U.S. Department of Justice, filed in the Court of Common Pleas, Hamilton County, Criminal Division. Filed January 2014. Page 19. (Office of the Ohio Assistant Public Defender). Print.
** See Appellant Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s Motion to Remand Case to the Trial Court, filed in the Supreme Court of Ohio, October 7, 2016 – Case No. 2016-0423; pp 31 -32. 
*** See Volume 1 of Appendix to Appellant Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s Motion to Remand Case to the Trial Court, filed in the Supreme Court of Ohio, October 7, 2016 – Case No. 2016-0423; pp. 169 – 170, Exhibit 35, points 5 – 7.
**** See Volume 1 of Appendix to Appellant Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s Motion to Remand Case to the Trial Court, filed in the Supreme Court of Ohio, October 7, 2016 – Case No. 2016-0423; Page 173, Exhibit 36.
See Appellant Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s Motion to Remand Case to the Trial Court, filed in the Supreme Court of Ohio, October 7, 2016 – Case No. 2016-0423; pp 33 – 34. 
See Clifford S. Zimmerman, “From the Jailhouse to the Courthouse, The Role of Informants in Wrongful Convictions”, P. 68 of Chapter 3 in “Wrongly Convicted, Perspectives on Failed Justice”, ed. Saundra D. Westerfelt and John A. Humphrey, 2001.
§See State v. Wogenstahl. 07-4285. United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. February 2012. Pages 48-49 (Moore, J., concurring). uscourts. Web. August 24 2014.

 

 

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