Thursday, November 25, 2010

Reform advocates want further investigation into Maine prison inmate's death.

In November of 2009, Maine prisoners wrote to the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, concerned about the abuse of a fellow inmate, Victor Valdez. Valdez was a non-English speaking, near deaf, dialysis patient with a heart condition. A spokesperson for the Coalition wrote to officials at the Maine Department of Corrections, who did nothing to investigate the allegations. One week later, Victor Valdez was dead! 

An investigation by the Maine Deputy Attorney General William Stokes found no foul play.  The last time Valdez was seen alive was when he was dragged away by guards; tubes had been pulled from his arms, and he was bleeding. His body cremated because it was the least costly method for his family, no autopsy was performed. A federal investigation may follow. 

Stan Moody, formerly a reverend at the prison where Valdez spent his last days, thinks churches should get involved. 

Dennis Dechaine, convicted of murder in 1989, mentions Stokes in a letter which he wrote after a suicide attempt.

Prosecutor Bill Stokes implied that I should not be allowed to continue appealing my case because I failed to make my case in previous efforts. That's the sort of flawed reasoning that drives me to distraction. Stokes' office first argued against DNA testing and now it's arguing to keep a jury from ever hearing the results of that testing. His office also fought to keep any discussion of alternate suspects from a jury.
Many Mainers (I estimate about half) believe Dennis is innocent and deserves a new trial; convicted by a jury after select evidence--which would not benefit the state's case--was withheld by prosecutors on Stokes' team.