Omar Shepherd's Story
No Justice for a young man Doing Time but didn't do the
My son, age 16, is serving time in an adult prison. Serving time for second
degree murder that he did not commit. I hope you will be interested in learning
why this is not just another case of a mother protecting the arbitrary innocence
of her child. What has happened to Omar is a complete failure of the justice
system. Omar is a young male who had absolutely no representation by his
lawyer. The prosecution and the lawyer were clearly on the same side. The
prosecution fit the case together like a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces did not
fit but were forced into place anyway. The scene is a bleeding homeless white
man lying on the sidewalk with three young black men speeding away in a car.
The court appointed an attorney, a private attorney because the co-defendants
had public defenders. We had no money for private counsel. The victim Thomas
Flannick Jr., died of peritonitis and pneumonia caused by a misplaced feeding
tube. He was moved from Harborview Hospital to a convalescent hospital 40
miles away where he contracted peritonitis and died three weeks after the
assault. Omar was convicted of stomping Mr. Flannick to death even though
he died of peritonitis. According to the jury Omar was convicted because
of his statement.
A warrant was served at our house on June 6, 2001, the assault occurred
on May 18, 2001 and Khalid Shepherd, Omar's older brother and Eddie Dixon,
Omar's cousin, were arrested for assault and 10-12 bags of so called evidence
were taken, Jennifer was Khalid's girlfriend, her car was taken in also. Jennifer
was also taken in for questioning. I took Omar in and the detectives said
they would ask him questions. I was unaware I could be present and I was
not told I could go in with Omar during his questioning. After about 2 hours
Omar made a 20- minute statement.
Omar's statement to detectives
The detectives told Omar that his brother had confessed to this crime and
was taking the whole blame on himself and that he had 2 strikes and this
would be his third and he was going prison for the rest of his life. Omar
afraid for his brother told the police that he was walking home from a teenage
club when a group of boys approached him. He asked them for a cigarette and
he was punched by one of them. Omar fell in the street and when he got up
he hit the first person he saw who was one of the teenagers and ran home
to get his brother and cousin. He said they come back where the boys had
jumped him and saw a person on the ground. Omar told police he got out of
the car and he kicked the man on the ground once in the head, but the man
was bleeding all over the place before Omar ever touched him. He said that
Eddie came over and jumped on the man's head, threw a cup at him and kicked
him. He told them that Khalid had stopped the car in the street and came
over a few seconds later and said lets go this man is not moving. Omar told
the police that Khalid never touched the man lying on the ground. Omar said
that everyone panicked, got scared and took off in the car. In the taped
statement the detectives said over and over you stomped this man right. Omar
never said he stomped Mr. Flannick.
Omar was heading home from the teenage club and he did stop and ask the
group of boys for a cigarette and he was punched by one of them. Omar fell
in the street and got up and hit one of the boys and ran home to get his brother
and cousin. When they got back to the scene of the attack the boys were gone
and Mr. Flannick was on the ground bleeding badly. Omar and his cousin and
brother got out of the car, but did not get too close to the victim. The
other boys were gone. Omar and Khalid did not see Mr. Flannick's face, but
he was covered in blood. The boys panicked then and ran away.
Omar was arrested and charged with assault because Mr. Flannick was still
alive. He was taken to the juvenile facility. Omar went to court the next
day and his arraignment was postponed because the prosecution wanted to
try Omar as an adult because he was 15 years old. Now it is no longer assault;
it is now murder because the victim died. Omar went to court several times
before he was appointed a defense attorney that was a private attorney because
his co-defendants had public defenders. Omar never signed his go day speed
When Omar first met his lawyer he was devastated by his negative attitude.
He told Omar from the first meeting, " The prosecution has a good case against
you. You are facing a lot of time because you confessed to stomping and
killing Mr. Flannick". Also he said that the white girl in the juvenile
center that everyone was talking about was his client and she was charged
with aggravated first degree murder. He knew we had heard that Crystal,
age 15, was going to stay at juvenile status and she had just got 4 years
for robbing and killing a man with a gun. "Don't think that the same thing
is going to happen for you because Crystal has some serious issues." He
concluded by telling Omar. "Your statement is a confession." He did not
give Omar a chance to ask any questions nor did he tell Omar anything that
was going to happen or what to expect. He said for over a month and a half
that he was waiting for the reports to come in. He did not return Omar's
calls or my calls for a month and half. He did not go see Omar again until
I went to an ex- mayor who was running for re-election in Tacoma. He made
a few phone calls and asked why the attorney was not returning his client's
or clients mother's calls or why he had not even asked Omar what happened.
At that point I called the ACLU and made a complaint. I called the NAACP
and emailed them and I got no response. I made a complaint with the BAR Association
and asked them why this lawyer was not contacting us. I also contacted other
lawyers and asked if this was procedure to not respond to your client and
client's mother considering the boy was 15 yrs old. I was told over and over
that Omar's lawyer did not have to talk to me if he did not want to. That
Omar was his client. He wasn't contacting Omar either. Then he did contact
Omar and told him he was away in CA. Omar's attorney continued to be very
negative toward Omar.
Omar turned 16 years old on September 13 and his declination hearing was
on September 10th. Omar's lawyer told him that he would be brought up to
adult status because of his age. At the hearing Omar 's statement was heard.
A letter that Khalid's girlfriend, Jennifer, had written to Omar was entered
into evidence. The prosecution said the letter showed that Omar was exhibiting
adult behavior because of that letter from Jennifer. The letter had nothing
to do with the case. The letter was used against Omar. A report by the probation
dept from juvenile said that Omar should be tried as an adult because of
the severity of the crime and they believed Omar had gang ties. They said
he was violent and deserved to be declined. When asked where the information
came from that Omar had ' gang ties and that Omar was violent the officer
answered that Omar had on blue clothes and his hair was in braids when he
was brought in. The officer also said that Omar called the boys who jumped
him slobs. She
did admit that there was no proof that Omar ever had any kind of gang ties
or violent behavior anywhere in CA or WA. In the end the judge said that
Omar would be declined because he believed Omar was a very angry and violent
young man (even though the psycologist said Omar was very young mentally
and very dependent on his brother, Khalid, and that Omar had never exhibited
any violent behavior. Omar has not lived with his father since he was 3 years
old and his brother is the only father figure he has known and he did nothing
without his older brother. Omar was handed over and taken to the Piece County
Jail that night. Omar and Khalid's cases were combined and they were tried
together. Eddie had been severed from their case. He changed his story several
times saying, "I am sorry I kicked him" to "I didn't do anything. Omar and
Khalid did everything." He was no longer a co-defendant. He was the state's
star witness. He testified against Omar and Khalid.
The next day Omar was charged as an adult. On September 20th at the amnions
hearing, Judge Chuscoff says he couldn't find Omar's go day speedy trial
waiver. He asks John, "where is the waiver?" John said he was not Omar's
attorney at that time and he had nothing to do with that. The judge
told Omar he had to sign a wavier then. Khalid told Omar not to sign it.
John told the judge he couldn't represent Omar because of another trial if
Omar did not sign the waiver. At that point the judge told Omar if he didn't
sign the waiver he would be tried alone without Khalid.
Omar got really scared and signed the waiver. Omar was arrested on June
6th and he signed his 1st go day speedy trial waiver on September 20th. That
is clearly past go days. There is no record of Omar signing a waiver as
a juvenile. I asked John about this and he told me if I was going to try
and get Omar off because of the waiver I was going to be very disappointed
and that was that.
Attempts to change attorneys
The BAR and ACLU told me that Omar had to send a letter to the Office of
Assigned council asking that John be removed. Omar was scared to death to
have John as his lawyer. Omar felt that John was so negative to him. John
told Omar over and over that" you stomped Mr. Flannick" and "because you
confessed". He never said we have a tough case but I will give it all I
can. It was always "don't count on anything except a lot of time because
of your confession". He did not seem interested in Omar again. And
Omar felt he did not like him and he was not on his side. Omar sent a letter
to the office of Assigned counsel and they gave the letter to John. John
went to Omar and asked why did he do that Omar said that he felt . John did
not represent him and he had not really talked to Omar in months. At
that point John sat down with Omar and had a long meeting with him (about
2 hours and told Omar for the first time about the reports and the case).
John still does not give Omar any hope.
Attempts to remove Omar's statement
In court the prosecution said Omar made his statement without any force
or coercion Detectives said they never told Omar his brother confessed and
was going to take the blame all on himself and that he would go to jail for
the rest of his life. They said Omar was not under the influence of anything.
He gave his statement freely. Detective Davidson who booked Omar into juvenile
said Omar was not intoxicated, but the detective had forgotten he asked
Omar if he had had anything to drink or smoke within
the last 24 hours and Omar told him he had smoked marijuana before he came
in and the detective had written it down on a form he filled out. The detective
also said they never told Omar that his brother had 2 strikes because they
did not know about the 2 strikes when they questioned Omar. Omar took the
stand and was asked about that day and he said he had smoked a lot of pot
prior to coming in because he was nervous because he saw all kinds of police
cars at his house.
The judge said he believed Omar was intoxicated, but not enough to impair
his judgment. He said he also believed Omar made the statement trying to
help his brother because he believed at the time that his brother had 2 strikes
and this would be his third and he would go to jail for the rest of his
life. Jennifer, Khalid's girlfriend, told the same two detectives early
that morning, about 10a.m. that Khalid had 2 strikes. The same two detectives
that questioned Jennifer earlier questioned Omar after 2 p.m. In the end
the statement was allowed.
Statement is only evidence against Omar.
The prosecution offered Omar the deal to plead guilty as charged and they
would recommend he get the low end of second degree murder. Omar declined
because he did not kill Mr. Flannick.
The jury of my son's peers were 10 older white mostly men and 2 black men,
(one very old and one in his 40's I believe). Court began with witnesses
that did not see anything. The crime scene had been cleaned by the fire department
before the detectives arrived. The evidence that was at the scene was a
shattered cup with Eddie's fingerprints on it and Coroner's pictures and
statements saying what Mr. Flannick died of peritonitis and pneumonia. In
the end there was no evidence pointing to Omar except his statement. The
jury never heard Omar's taped statement. They did not know Omar was under
the influence and they did not hear that Omar believed his brother had two
strikes and that was the reason he made the statement.
The jury heard questions the prosecution asked the detectives about the
taped statement (about 7 questions). I asked John to let the jury know that
there was no blood or anything in the car. He said, "no because the car had
been cleaned." What kind of answer is that? I knew that the car had been torn
to shreds looking for evidence. Blood cannot be washed out of a car or anything
else. Mr. Flannick had been stomped and kicked viciously, according to the
prosecution. If Omar and Khalid jumped in the car and took off then there
should have been at least some blood or hair in that car. What kind of a
lawyer if he cared anything about his client, would say that about his client?
Also, Judge Brian Chuscoff ordered the jury out of the court several times
because he asked the prosecution if they could charge Omar and Khalid with
something other than second degree murder. He said that he thought it was
assault but he did not know the degree of assault. Judge Chuschoff did not
allow the cause of death to accompany the jury in their deliberations. He
allowed the date of death and let them believe that Omar and Khalid assaulted
the victim and caused his death, county in which death occurred things like
that but not anything about the actual cause of death. The jury convicted
Omar on his statement and there was no evidence to link his brother to the
crime. Khalid was found not guilty.
Omar was convicted on Feb 12th and his sentencing was set for March. The
prosecution asked that the sentencing be postponed because they need more
time to get something together for the hearing. Omar said no he wanted to
be sentenced in March. The day of the hearing John (Omar's attorney) told
Omar he wanted Omar to postpone the sentencing because he wanted Omar evaluated
by the same doctor that evaluated Omar as a juvenile. At first Omar said
no. John said this evaluation would help Omar .He said the doctor would testify.
Omar still said no. He said if Omar did not change his mind he would
go to the judge and ask for more time because this evaluation was good for
Omar. He said it would most likely take a good deal of time off his sentence.
The sentencing got postponed a few times until June 28 and Omar was sentenced
to 18 yrs and 4 mos.
He is now in Clallam Bay Corrections Center serving time for a crime he
did not commit.
I have written many people and I get no response and I have written to
the Innocence Project but was told that Omar has an appeal attorney and
if his appeal is denied they may step in. . A city councilman (since the
1980's) was the head juror and he glared at Omar (he didn't tale notes like
everyone else and his arms were folded across his chest throughout the whole
trial) the very first time he laid his eyes on him.
Please read this and help us if you can.
My name is Terri Smith, and I am the mother of Omar Shepherd and Khalid
Shepherd. I believe that my son was not represented. There was no justice
for Omar. What possible reason would a nice looking 15year old young black
man jump on and beat up a man who is 41 years old, a homeless man with a gray
beard and gray hair that looked like he was seventy? (According to the prosecution)
Why would Omar who left a teenage club where he was totally dressed up and
looking very nice for girls and hanging out with his friends head for home
stop and kill an old man? Omar made a statement to clear his brother because
he believed at the time he was questioned that his brother was on his way
to prison for the rest of his life. Omar never had a chance with the lawyer
that was forced upon him. Omar's lawyer never told the jury anything that
had happened as far as why the statement was ever made. Mr. Eddie Dixon changed
his story at least 9 times and was caught lying on the stand 17
The state wanted two brothers and when they could not get both of them
they went after the one that made the mistake of trying to help his brother.
The judge totally changed. He made a complete 360 degree turn from the judge
he had been throughout the trial when it was time to sentence Omar. He was
very hostile towards Omar and said he never believed Omar for a minute. He
said he never thought Omar was jumped by anybody. He said Omar just beat
this man almost to death and went to get his brother and cousin to finish
him off. He said his opinion does not matter to anyone except him, but how
could he say that and he was the one doing the sentencing. According to him
Omar is a vicious killer and should get the maximum sentence even though
the sentencing board recommended Omar get the low end because he was a good
kid and not a vicious killer and had never been in any trouble. This was
the same judge that stopped the court at least 5 times and had the jury removed
and argued with the prosecution that this was not murder it was assault
but he could not say what degree assault. He also said during the hearing
to suppress Omar's statement that he believed Omar was under the influence
of marijuana but not enough to impair his judgment and that he believed Omar
made the statement trying to protect his brother. The doctor did not testify
for Omar at the sentencing.
One of the questions I wanted the lawyer to ask was: why would a 15year
old kid 5'8" 140 lbs beat up and practically kill a very old looking man 5'7"
130 lbs leave him on the ground run 1 mile home, get his brother who is 5'
9" 180 lbs and cousin 6"1" 285 lbs to finish beating someone already ~ severely
beaten and bleeding everywhere?
We have started a group, "Setting it Straight" and Khalid is trying to
tell his story. He has gone on TV with me two times and he has gone to the
papers. He is trying to get this story told because he was there and he
knows that Omar is innocent and did not touch Mr. Flannick.
© Copyright 2003 Terri Smith
Thank you for taking the time to read this paper regarding Omar.
Omar Shepherd DOC 837340 D-H3
Clallam Bay Corrections Center
1830 Eaglecrest Way
Clallam Bay, WA 98326
If anyone can help us please write me firstname.lastname@example.org or call