Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tim Kennedy: A Dream Deferred

Tim Kennedy enters the courtroom, shackled in orange prison garb. His eyes are bight, he controls a hopeful smile. He’s already told interviewers that whatever happens in today’s hearing, he’ll be happy. Happy because he’s waited 14 years for a second chance to show his innocence. There’s hope that this morning’s hearing will see his dream of exoneration become reality, that his prosecutor, Dan Zook, will acknowledge that “mistakes were made,” that charges will be dropped, that Kennedy will walk free.

As I sat in the courtroom, TV cameras rolled, and lines from the poet Langston Hughes played in my head.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin
in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like
rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Kennedy’s dream was deferred.

John Dicke, Kennedy’s attorney, reminded the court that assumptions, such as the soundness of now-discredited bullet-lead analysis, used to justify Kennedy’s original trial, were no longer valid. He pointed to the newly-brought-to-light evidence previously described by presiding Judge Thomas Kane to be “of such character as to probably bring an acquittal.” And Dicke recounted Kennedy’s reputation as a trustworthy and well-behaved inmate, as he’s waited all these years for exoneration.

But clearly, Dicke already knew that the DA would not drop the case. Otherwise, Dicke would not have had to proceed with an argument for setting bail at a relatively low $60,000.

Prosecutor Dan Zook’s insistence on retrying Kennedy centered upon character assassination. Kennedy, according to Zook was an unemployed drug dealer strung out on meth, though the record shows that Kennedy had no previous criminal record. Dicke rebutted, saying that Kennedy had suffered from an addiction to prescription painkillers. Zook only indirectly addressed the issue of a letter from an alternate suspect that Judge Kane had previously ruled “contains language that could be interpreted as solicitation of perjury” as well as “an admission to involvement in the murders." This letter had been withheld by the prosecution at Kennedy’s original trial.

So far, the DA’s office has been unwilling to reveal whether the failure to turn over the letter might result in any disciplinary action against those responsible for the failure. Today’s hearing suggests that the DA is uninterested in re-examining the 1991 murders in light of new scientific evidence.

I left the courthouse wondering if the DA’s office was as committed to finding truth as to saving face.

Tim Kennedy and his family left with a dream of exoneration that continues to be deferred.


Unknown said...

A deferred dream...good way to put it Bill. How many more out there?? It is truly heartbreaking how the prosecutors seek destruction and not truth.

Marcia said...

I woke up at 5:00a.m. to attend the conference. My mind was focused on going. My intuition didn't cooperate. Had I attended, I would have been visibly angry. That doesn't help anyone, especially Tim Kennedy and his family.

If the DA's office were genuinely committed to saving face, then FINDING TRUTH would have been the only way to SAVE FACE. The ONLY way!

I will definitely be at Mr. Kennedy's trial in September. I will be stronger and prepared.

What does this say for Colorado's justice system, especially in El Paso County?

Anonymous said...

This post says that Mr. Kennedy had no criminal record. yet the Denver Post repporte that Mr. Kennedy was in trouble for prescription drug forgery and also for theft of a truck. Many who know tim also know that he indeed had a problem with methamphetamine as well. Maybe he is guilty as charged or maybe not. The next trial will tell.

William Newmiller said...


I've posted your comment, even though it fails to substantiate the claim you make about Kennedy's record. I've searched the Denver Post's archives and cannot find the article you refer to. In the future, it would be better if you could provide documentation for such claims.

I take no personal responsibiilty for your remarks here, and should anyone provide documented details about Mr. Kennedy's past in this regard, I would appreciate receiving it. For now, what you have provided should be seen simply as gossip--the kind of gossip that does little to advance justice and may simply confuse the feeble-minded.

Further, readers are advised that Mr. Kennedy's history doesn't change the finding that the prosecution in his case fought dirty to win it.

Anonymous said...

The Denver Post article is not gossip, unless Susan Greene fabricated a story annd just made it up. See Denver Post article by columnist Susan Greene, 4/26/2009. She writes "The former carpenter had a rap sheet for steaaling a truck and feeding his vicodin habit by forging his name on a prescription." This is available in the Denver Post archives.
A Westword cover story, in Volume 21, Number 10 dated November 9-12, titled 'Live Fast, Die Young, page 26 says that Kennedy had "arrests for possession of narcotics equipment, dangerous drugs and carrying a concealed weapon." That Westword Story was where I learned the news about my former housemate, who I lived with during 1978-1979 with two other house mates in a house on Mariposa St in Denver. I am simply pointing out the fact that the suggestion by the defense that Tim had no prior criminal record before his current arrest is not true. Ask his family and they will tell you. Perhaps the prosecution fought dirty as you say, but just because Tim says he is innocent does not make it so. I have documented the source of what I have said here. Now it will be up to the trial and a jury to decide if Tim goes free. I hope that he is innocent and will go free. Find the Denver Post article at

William Newmiller said...


Thanks for providing the reference. A "rap sheet" is a Record of Arrest and Prosecution, which is not necessarily the same thing as a conviction. The contents of rap sheets vary from country to country. To learn more about rap sheets, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criminal_record.

But I don't want to turn this into a semantic argument about Kennedy's pre-conversion character.

As you rightly suggest, the determination of his guilt or innocence will have to depend upon more than his word. The problem for Mr. Kennedy is that the deficiencies in his first trial left him with little more than that for his defense. When I see a documented case of the prosecution withholding evidence that has been judged to be of such importance to the defense, I get very suspicious of the prosecution's committment to truth and justice.

Justice isn't served when a person is convicted of murder based upon other behaviors. All of us have a stake in seeing that those convicted of murder are actually the people who committed the murder.

Unless I misread your comment, it sounds like you may have roomed with Kennedy at some point. Is that the case?

Anonymous said...

That is correct. I moved to Denver from Florida in 1978 and my old Florida neighbor and friend Robbie was living with Tim on Mariposa St. I shared the house with them for less than a year and then got my own apartment. Tim helped me join Denver carpenters union local 55 and make a better living and we worked some jobs together. I am thankful for that. Then, after a while I never saw Tim again but read the 1997 Westword story when it came out. I turned the pages and saw Tim's photo. It is a long and really bizarre story and is available on Google.

William Newmiller said...


Thanks for sharing this personal information. I have no personal connection with Tim Kennedy. But I believe that he and every citizen is entiitled to a fair and speedy trial when accused of a crime. In his case that apparently did not happen, and the public servants who are responsible for this, should be held accountable.

I suspect that Tim is, like most of us, a complex individual--not always a saint, sometimes a sinner. Your experience tells me he can also be a decent guy willing to help a friend.

Thanks again, for what you've shared.

Anonymous said...

why do you refuse to point out that it was Kennedy's gun that shot both victims and that he was filing off the serial number the next morning when police arrived at his home. The bullets found at his home matched the bullets at the murder scene. All of this came out at trial and motions.

William Newmiller said...

Anonymous asks "why do you refuse to point out that it was Kennedy's gun that shot both victims and that he was filing off the serial number the next morning when police arrived at his home."

The answer is that I have no way to document that claim. I challenge the poster to offer documentation to the effect that Kennedy was caught in the act of filing off the serial number. Without documentation, your comment (which you have provided anonymously) really carries no weight. Not even the weight of your honor since you are unwilling to indicate your identity.

That said, the record is clear that Kennedy doesn't deny ownership of the gun, which he claims to have lent to his friends.

Regarding Anonymous's comment about bullets matching, Anonymous needs to read up on the FBI's discrediting comparative bullet lead analysis in 2005. The process used to "match" bullets from the same lot has been revealed to be junk science.