Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Prelimary Hearing

The preliminary hearing was held on March 17, 2005. We were told by Todd’s attorney prior to the hearing that Todd would have to face trial. There was, of course, no choice since Brad had already been granted a deferred sentence. Brad didn’t admit to hearing Todd say anything in the Jeep about stabbing a tire, but testified that Todd said he “might have stabbed someone” at Brad’s house later that night. It’s hard to know what was truly said in this emotionally charged atmosphere, but Brad knew what happened, because he was fighting with Anthony Madril at the time and needed to deflect attention onto someone else. During the investigation, Brad stated that Todd was the one who suggested burning their clothes; during the preliminary hearing Brad stated that perhaps he (Brad) was the one who suggested burning their clothes; at the trial Brad admitted that he was the one who suggested burning their clothes and that Todd had to be talked into burning his shirt (once again, the only item of clothing Todd burned); of course, Brad neglected to mention that he then gave Todd a blood-stained shirt to wear. Also during the investigation, Jason Mellick, testified that Todd stated he stabbed someone in the truck. It is certainly possible that Jason, knowing Todd said he stabbed a tire inferred that he was the only one with a knife and must have stabbed someone. (At the trial, on the witness stand, Jason testified that he went home that night and masturbated! He was the first at Todd’s trial to testify; we were astounded with the prosecution’s leading witness.) Todd was never near Anthony Madril; his only encounter was with Chisum Lopez who admits that he could not get Todd to engage in a fight with him. If Todd were so interested in hurting people, he certainly had the opportunity to engage Chisum, but did not. Detective Ricky Frady appeared to be extremely biased in his testimony at the preliminary hearing and was unwilling to report the facts that he had collected in his interviews. Brad had been given a pass; at this point, the focus was on building a case against Todd.

I understand Brad’s fear of going to prison. It is unlikely he has the fortitude to accept the consequences of his behavior. Someone as entitled as he, growing up in the Broadmoor, having parents who consistently prevented him from suffering consequences, how could he go to prison? Brad’s response to an ex-friend who called him on what he had done was “Todd has ruined my life.” For Brad, it’s all about him. It’s ok for a former friend to be set up for his crime, but for us to talk about why Todd shouldn’t be the one in prison isn’t ok. Brad appears to be incapable of accepting responsibility for his actions, and doesn’t believe he should have to. Not for child pornography, not for rape, not for murder. It is unthinkable to me that any parent, no matter how much they love their child, would not understand the danger in this response. If Todd had stabbed Anthony Madril, I would be devastated and sad beyond belief. But I would also understand that there are consequences for taking someone’s life, and I would accept that he would spend time in prison. I will not accept that my son should spend time in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

An Observance, not a Celebration

Today is Bill’s and my 41st wedding anniversary. It’s an observance, not a celebration. Just as our 60th birthdays, our 40th anniversary, Joel’s 25th birthday, and holidays. Todd was charged with murder on his beloved sister’s (and our beloved daughter’s) 35th birthday. We mark time by the many nightmares we’ve faced since Brad Orgill decided to fight with Anthony Madril and set Todd up to serve his prison time. Yet, we know that Brad couldn’t have accomplished this without a system that allowed it and where numerous individuals decided that their careers and getting a conviction were more important than justice. Today, I offer the following letter I sent to Judge Martinez following Todd’s sentencing:

June 5, 2006

Honorable Judge Martinez:

You know me as Todd’s mother, but today I am writing to you not only as Todd’s mother, but as a therapist and citizen who is greatly concerned about the out-of-hand dismissals of the serious crimes of which Brad Orgill has been involved.

Prior to beginning Todd’s sentencing, the court reviewed a rape allegation case filed against Brad which was subsequently dropped. Consistent with confidentiality concerns, I do not know the name of the person who reported the most recent sexual assault, and I certainly respect that. However, please remember that this is now the second person who has reported a sexual assault by Brad Orgill. Statistically, more than half of sexual assaults go unreported, so given his history, one might anticipate that there could be other victims. The first assault, in 1998, resulted in Brad losing his position as a Residential Assistant at UCCS. He was not prosecuted in that case because the assault happened in Mexico. However, as you may recall, these records were subpoenaed from UCCS and were provided to our defense attorneys at the hearing to reset the date of sentencing.

Regarding the latest sexual assault allegation in July, 2005, as a therapist, it is unacceptable to me that the police department would place a pretext telephone call to an alleged rape victim. I called the Sex Crimes telephone line and was told that it is not standard practice for the police to make such telephone calls to persons who call to report a rape, for obvious reasons. It leads to the question, of course, as to why an exception was made in this case. What is also troubling, is the information that apparently the person reporting the assault is underage and told police that Brad provided alcohol to her, for which he was also not charged. Once again, someone in the legal system made the decision to not prosecute Brad, presumably for the benefit of his testimony against Todd. The little I know of the case certainly suggests that the person making these allegations is young, (under 21) and has been described as emotionally unstable. She, therefore, may actually be an at-risk person requiring additional protection against sexual predators who could take advantage of her vulnerable state. The sexual activity Brad and this young person engaged in certainly does not reflect an emotionally healthy relationship of mutual respect and caring, but one where the young sexual partner possessed unequal power and status. *

I am also writing to inform you of another investigation involving Brad that either is not in his record or was not released to our defense attorneys. Several months before Anthony Madril’s murder, Brad frantically called our house one Sunday evening to ask for the name of an attorney he might call. It seems that homicide detectives were at his door investigating an internet child pornography purchase on Brad’s credit card. Brad, of course, asserts that it must have been a previous business partner who made this purchase on his credit card.* *It is most disconcerting that nothing appears in his record about this investigation, suggesting that either the information wasn’t provided to the defense, the investigation was not completed, or that somehow this record disappeared. This certainly represents a failure of the system, either by way of incompetence or by way of deliberate cover-up.

Finally, I would like to call your attention to another fact that emerged from Todd’s case. I believe Brad’s behavior demonstrates that he clearly knew what happened to Anthony Madril and decided to set Todd up as the primary suspect from the night of Anthony Madril’s death. As you will recall from Brad’s testimony at trial, Brad is the person who questions Todd about the knife Todd used to stab the tire, even though he denies hearing the statement about stabbing the tire that Todd made in Joel’s jeep. Brad is the one who convinces Todd to burn his shirt when Todd clearly does not want to do it, which Brad burns along with Brad’s own shirt and pants, and then Brad provides Todd with one of Brad’s own shirts to wear. And, it is not just any shirt. Brad gives Todd a shirt that has human blood on the back of the neck and the back of the right sleeve.

This is the only article of clothing the District Attorney choose to provide DNA testing for on any of the clothing worn by Todd, despite the fact that it was clearly not Todd’s own clothing. (We had to send Todd’s clothing out of state for DNA testing at our own expense, and then pay experts to travel from California, to prove it was Todd’s own blood on the clothes he was wearing the night of Anthony’s death.) The DNA from the human blood on Brad’s shirt did not match any of the DNA collected from the persons involved in the events of the evening of November 20, 2004. It certainly leads to questions concerning Brad’s motivation for providing that particular shirt to Todd. Was it just a coincidence, that from all the shirts in his closet, Brad chose this particular shirt, a shirt with human blood on it, to give to Todd, or was this another attempt to set Todd up as the primary suspect? And, what about the shirt? Whose blood might this be? Is there another Brad victim out there somewhere? Why did the sheriff’s department and the District Attorney’s office not pursue an investigation involving the unidentified human blood on the shirt that Brad gave Todd to wear? Incidentally, the shirt had a Good Will tag on it, so Brad might assert that he bought the shirt with stains. Logically, it does not make sense that Good Will would sell a shirt with visible stains, or that someone would buy a shirt with visible stains. It does speak to the fact that Brad always has a way to try to cover his tracks, though. And it certainly seems unusual to have blood on the inside collar on the back of the neck and the back of the right sleeve. In fact, it seems downright creepy.

Brad’s history now includes involvement in two sexual assault allegations, a murder, child pornography purchased on the internet using Brad’s credit card, and some unanswered questions about blood stains on the shirt he gave Todd to wear. Brad’s pattern of behavior includes far too many victims. He exhibits a true antisocial profile, with no history of expressing regret, only of shifting the blame to others. His friends will tell you that he typically chooses very young sexual partners, which together with sexual assault allegations and his interest in child pornography, paints a very troubling picture. So far, he has always been successful at shifting the blame to the victims or to his friends for his antisocial behavior, and the legal system has facilitated his criminal activity through complicity. However, I believe this information should be documented, because if the past is a predictor of the future, one would expect his name to come up in the system again. Unless, of course, he utilizes better methods of cover-up and the system continues in its failure to document and prosecute his criminal activity.

Your Honor, I’m sending this information to you because I suspect you are the only person who doesn’t have an interest in burying this information even deeper, and I do believe that someone in a position of public trust needs to be aware of these issues.


Gloria Newmiller, M.A., LMFT

*Although physical evidence supporting her charge of sodomy was collected at Memorial Hospital, this young lady was charged with "false reporting."

**Todd was still working with Brad at the time. The day after detectives came to investigate Brad for purchasing child pornography on the internet, Brad replaced all of the hard drives on his computers.

Friday, June 20, 2008

When your son has been charged with murder

What do you do first when you learn your son has been charged with murder? First came the humiliation and disbelief as we told our employers. We avoided the television news reports but read the mostly inaccurate newspaper reports which appeared to be news releases from the prosecutor’s office. We went through the motions of working, eating, sleeping; compartmentalizing our lives, trying to keep it together as we continued to tell each other that this will never go to court; Todd is innocent, justice will prevail. After all, Todd was never near Anthony Madril, Brad Orgill was the one who’d fought, and Orgill’s clothes were covered in blood. Orgill’s guilty behavior after the stabbing included proposing that Todd and Mike Melick help him burn his bloody clothing, and then badgering them until they acquiesced. Orgill succeeded in talking Todd into burning his own shirt as well. Todd’s experience with Orgill’s personality was that of consistent overarching paranoia; he didn’t know that Orgill was actually trying to cover his bloody tracks or that Brad’s fight had resulted in death.

Not long after the stabbing we learned that Orgill’s parents bought him a new house because of his fear of going back to the house he’d been living in. Todd’s attorney Phil Tate learned that Amy Mullaney was about to cut a deal with Orgill; Tate met with her and urged her not to, stating “I don’t want you to make a mistake.” Mullaney angrily replied that Phil Tate didn’t need to worry about her. Such arrogance, such lack of concern for such an important decision.

Before any evidence returned from CBI, Mullaney cut a deal with Orgill for a four-year deferred sentence for accessory to murder. Remember, this is the guy who is fighting with the victim when he dies, Anthony identifies his assailant when he is pulled into the truck and says, “I just got stabbed”; Orgill is covered in Anthony’s blood. The prosecutor was threatening Joel with an eight year sentence for accomplice to murder for being the driver but having no other involvement.

Confident that forensic analysis of the evidence would support Todd’s innocence, we awaited the reports from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. We knew that Todd had used his knife to puncture the tire on Chas Schwartz’s pickup truck as the truck moved forward to pick up Anthony and leave the scene. Todd’s attorney Phil Tate had told us that the forensic evidence all came down to the presence or absence of blood in that puncture; blood in the puncture would show that Todd had stabbed Anthony. The absence of blood would strongly affirm his innocence. Tate cautioned us that any minute amount of blood found on Todd’s knife would be inconclusive because the knife had been handled after the stabbing at Orgill’s residence surrounded by Orgill’s bloody clothing, where small amounts of blood could easily have been transferred to the knife.

When the findings on the evidence were returned, the CBI reported that despite extensive and sensitive testing on the tire puncture, no blood was found. At that time Amy Mullaney removed herself from the case and assigned it to Jeff Lindsey. Lindsey wasn’t involved in making the deal with Brad (and said that he wouldn’t have made such a deal) but he was no more ethical in his handling of the case than was his supervisor.

The prosecutor’s office refused to test the DNA on Todd’s clothing, although it must be noted that there never was evidence of any blood anywhere except on the collar of Todd’s jacket and it was his own blood from the wound to his face inflicted by Lopez just before he jumped into the truck. Todd had to pay for his own DNA testing of his jacket and then had to fly two expert witnesses from California to discuss their findings (at a cost of thousands of dollars). This was required by the prosecutor’s office in order for these findings to be used in Todd’s defense.

What the prosecutor’s office decided to test was a shirt that Todd had not worn on the night Anthony was stabbed. They did DNA testing on a shirt Brad gave Todd to wear the following morning. (photos's of the shirt and a closeup of one of the stains appear here). The startling thing about this shirt is that it had human blood on the inside of the collar and the back of the sleeve--human blood that didn’t belong to anyone involved in this incident. It is especially interesting that Brad chose this particular shirt since Brad and Todd sold clothing on eBay; it would have been much easier for Brad to grab a shirt from inventory than from his own closet. Please hear me clearly: the night of this incident, Brad is covered in Anthony Madril’s blood, Brad burns his own shirt and pants and talks Todd into burning his shirt, and then replaces Todd’s shirt with one of his own blood-stained shirts. The shirt was an ugly plaid shirt and the blood wasn’t easily visible.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Nightmare Continues

Our nightmare continued when we learned that the sheriff’s department wanted to talk with Joel and might charge him as an accomplice to murder because he was driving. Joel talked to his attorney, Billie Trujillo (recommended by Todd’s attorney, Phil Tate), who advised Joel that the others in the truck have already talked to the sheriff’s department and that Joel needs to make a deal with the prosecutor.

Bill advised Joel to talk to his attorney and tell the truth; Joel has stated that Todd said in the jeep that he’d punctured the tire on the truck. Trujillo, who was supposed to be representing our son, sent Joel out of the room while he made telephone calls to the prosecutor and led Joel in the process of guessing what it was the prosecutors wanted to hear in order not to be charged with being an accomplice to murder.

When Joel finally guessed close enough, they offered him a deal. Joel knew that Todd had stated that he’d stabbed a tire, but he had to add a level of ambiguity; Joel said “they want me to say that Todd said ‘I stabbed one of them’”(meaning tire). Trujillo nods and the deal is made. Later, Trujillo arranged for Joel to meet with the investigator, Jeff Nohr, and the original prosecutors in the case, Amy Mullaney and Stephanie Rikeman; Trujillo himself didn't show up for this meeting. When Joel called Trujillo, he's unavailable, and Trujillo’s receptionist says he must have forgotten about the meeting. However, when Joel does reach him before the meeting begins, Trujillo advised Joel to go ahead with the meeting without him.

Joel is a 21-year-old young man, representing himself in front of the prosecutors and investigator, despite the fact that he is paying to be represented by counsel! Joel’s father Bill was outraged and called Trujillo to express his outrage at this abandonment. Trujillo told Bill it was none of his business, that Joel was his client.

During this meeting, Joel told Nohr, Mullany and Rikeman, that Todd was nowhere near the victim and that according to the discovery, they have found no blood on Todd’s knife. Mullany says, “Not yet, but we will.” (She made good on her promise; the knife was “missing” in the evidence room for two months; when it resurfaced and was delivered to CBI, the black debris, previously documented as being present, was gone and a microscopic amount of blood, previously documented as absent, was found on the knife.) The prosecutors then argued that Todd cleaned his knife – unbelievable since the knife was clearly not cleaned by nature of the fact that it was identified as having black debris on it by the detective who examined it!).

Throughout the time Trujillo was paid to represent Joel, he spent his time with Joel proselytizing rather than providing adequate legal counsel. Notably, Trujillo was promoted to magistrate shortly after this event and before Todd went to trial. We did hire a competent attorney to represent Joel prior to Todd’s trial.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Mother's Nightmare Through the Legal System

I am Todd Newmiller's Mother.

In a recent visit with Todd, after the appellate court’s decision to confirm his conviction, Todd shared the feeling that no one in America really cares about the wrongly convicted because they don’t believe it applies to their lives and that it couldn’t happen to them. Our family is a good example why every American should care about the wrongly convicted.

Our family is hard working and committed to the Constitution of the United States and in caring for our world and its people. Bill, as noted on the opening page, is a retired Air Force officer and English professor at the United States Air Force Academy. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist, working with children diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder and their families. Our daughter is an Internal Medicine physician, our son-in-law has a degree in Russian and Political Science, Todd has a degree in Communications and our youngest son, Joel, has a degree in Chemistry. Our eight year old granddaughter has her own blog site focusing on saving the earth. We live in a modest home in the Briargate area of Colorado Springs. Neither Bill nor I grew up privileged but we have always placed a high premium on education and leaving the world a better place. We are not so different from many middle-class Americans who work for a living.

Yet, as our website demonstrates, we are fighting in what currently feels like a losing battle to free our son from a wrongful conviction. We continue to be stunned by our experience with the legal system.

As a mother, I can’t begin to tell you what it is like to have sheriff deputies arrive at your door asking for your youngest son, telling you he was involved in a “tiff” the previous night; nothing serious. By the end of the hour you realize the police have lied to you. It was no tiff, there has been a stabbing and both of your sons were there. Further, the Captain calls and tells you they want to interview your sons as witnesses; he tells me that Brad Orgill, our son’s business partner, stabbed someone the previous night. This is the most serious and devastating news we have ever received and we knew that no one in such a situation should proceed without legal counsel. However, by the time Bill and I met then-Captain Shannon in person he threatened that our sons will be suspects instead of witnesses if they use their Constitutional rights to counsel before talking with the sheriff. He later made good on his threat. We are surprised when Shannon tells us that Brad Orgill had already been released. We called the only attorney we knew; he agrees to represent Todd and offers us assistance in finding an attorney for Joel. Thus began our journey through this legal nightmare.

By the end of the night, both of our sons are free and safe. They are stunned to learn that the previous night someone has died from a stab wound. As they process the events with us, both of our sons state they do not know what happened, but that Brad Orgill was in a fight the previous night and was covered in blood; on his face, on his clothing, on his shoes. I am shaken to the core to learn that our sons were present during a fight and a young man in the prime of his life has died.

Two days later, we drive our son, Todd, to the sheriff’s department where he is officially charged with second degree murder. Ricky Frady, the person ultimately leading the pack to charge Todd, loudly pronounces to Todd in our presence as he handcuffs him, that he is being charged with the murder of Anthony Madril. I sob as they lead Todd to the CJC to book him; Bill and I spend the entire night at CJC as we wait to post bond for Todd and bring him home with us. Trying to process all of this in the lobby of the CJC in the middle of the night was nothing short of surreal; listening to a bail bondswoman talk about her favorite books, the “Left Behind” series added to the surreal feeling that you have spent the night in hell.

But the nightmare was just beginning.