Murder Porn: Fight Bite

I am pro-death penalty as a concept, but the system is deeply flawed.

Death penalty cases are extremely expensive, racially biased, and the cocktail drug used to execute inmates is basically a form of torture.

Worst of all, there is evidence that innocent people have been – and continue to be – sentenced to death. I think this next episode might actually be one of those cases. A man was sentenced to death based on some very shaky evidence. When I looked into this case further I discovered multiple ongoing efforts to overturn his conviction.

“Punch Line” – Season 6, Episode 22

Summary: An elderly woman is brutally beaten to death in her hotel room (making this one of the most offensive punny titles in the entire series). Elwood Jones, a hotel maintenance worker, is convicted and given the death penalty.

This case always bothered me because the most incriminating piece of evidence could have easily been planted. At the end of the episode Elwood and his family claim that he was framed by police… was he?

Let’s take a look at the evidence.

Victim’s Jewelry: The victim was attacked after showering, so she was found in the nude. She was not wearing her favorite necklace, so the prosecution claimed it had been snatched off of her by the murderer.

pendant

 

 

Investigators were sure to point out that the victim never took off her necklace – not even when she showered. However, if the victim did remove her necklace when she showered, it is possible that this piece of evidence could have been planted. The necklace was allegedly found by a police officer who search Jones’ toolbox. No blood or fingerprints were found on the necklace.

Potential Murder Weapon: According to the prosecution, Jones’ toolbox contained objects consistent with bruising patterns found on the victim; specifically, a door chain and walkie talkie. Virtually all hotel employees had access to these objects, and no biological evidence from the victim (blood, hair, etc.) was found on the objects belonging to Jones. So, really, no murder weapon was ever found.

Master Key Card: Another piece of evidence which virtually all hotel employees had access to was the master key card. The prosecution claimed Jones used his master key card to access the victim’s room – but, again, this was just a theory. No eye witnesses, video surveillance, or anything else proved Jones had used the card to access the victim’s room.

Fight Bite: Jones had a cut on his hand which became severely infected with Eikenella corrodens, a type of bacteria found inside the mouth. These infections are extremely rare. Jones’ hand surgeon, who had 25 years of experience, had only ever seen three other cases like it. In all of these cases the infection was caused by a “fight bite” – i.e., punching someone in the mouth.

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E. corrodens lives on human teeth behind dental plaque and, according to Jones’ hand surgeon, a lot of force (like a punch) is required to dislodge it. Jones’ defense team argued that the victim’s mouth was never tested for the presence of E. corrodens. 

If the victim’s mouth had tested positive for E. corrodens, I would have liked to see her strain compared with the strain found in Jones’ injured hand.

This technology was available in the 1990’s when the crime occurred. In fact detectives had used it against the Rajneeshee cult – those crazy assholes featured in Netflix’s hit documentary Wild Wild Country – back in the 1980’s.

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The Forensic Files “Bio Attack” episode describes how Rajneeshee Cult Spokesperson and all around bad bitch Ma Anand Sheela (pictured above) poisoned more than 700 of her local townspeople with Salmonella. To prove she was responsible scientists compared the plasmid (surface protein) profile of the Salmonella strain isolated from the infected people with that of Salmonella found in Sheela’s laboratory. It was a match. Like Salmonella, the cell surface proteins of E. corrodens vary from strain to strain, so theoretically a similar comparison could have been made.

In addition, the victim was Hepatitis B positive. Had Jones punched her hard enough to transfer her E. corrodens deep inside his hand, his defense team argued that he would have also contracted the victim’s virulent Hepatitis B strain in the process. Jones tested negative for Hepatitis B.

In fact, none of Jones’ DNA was ever recovered from the victim and none of the victim’s DNA or biological evidence was ever definitively recovered from Jones. Oddly enough, Jones was not charged with the victim’s murder for an entire year after police allegedly found the victim’s necklace in Jones’ possession. It is pretty fucking suspicious that they waited so long to indict him despite having such a damning piece of evidence. It almost seems like, after a year of failing to find the perpetrator, investigators pinned the crime on Jones lest this become a cold case.

This is a disgraceful, horrifying, and hopefully false theory.

Jones’ execution is scheduled for 2021.

 

 

 

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