Omar Shepherd's Story

No Justice for a young man Doing Time but didn't do the crime


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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.

The beginning

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.

The truth

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 arrested

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 trial waiver.

Omar's Attorney

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.

Declination Hearing

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.

Sentencing

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
times.

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 terriincalifornia@yahoo.com or call
home 206-362-1095

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