Monday, January 3, 2011

Part 12: Concealing Evidence 101

In early 1991, Private Investigator Ira Robins obtained two fingerprint files pursuant to an open records request.  Those files allegedly contained two individual fingerprints taken by a police technician from the Christine Schultz home on the morning of her murder.  One was reportedly “lifted” from the headboard of the bed where she had been tied and murdered and the other was reportedly “lifted” from the back door of her home.  Both individual files were cross-referenced with a different file numbered 27690.  Both Robins’ verbal and written requests for fingerprint file 27690 met with denials by the Milwaukee Police Department.  (Exhibit 12 – 1)  Both denials admitted that photographs containing fingerprints relating to the Schultz murder were being withheld based on representations that police personnel were involved.  Since Laurie Bembenek had reported police misconduct to internal affairs wherein she submitted lewd photographs (Part 5) of police officers with children present and Christine Schultz’s girlfriend had reported a possible connection between a photograph, the photographer, and the murder (Part 6), Robins filed a lawsuit in order to gain those fingerprints. 

The Milwaukee Police Department, represented by the City Attorney’s office, contested Robins’ attempts to obtain the fingerprints and photographs listed on 27690.  Since Robins did not have an attorney it appeared as if he would fail in his efforts to obtain this very important evidence.  In seeking legal help Robins contacted Attorney Mary L. Woehrer who agreed to represent him in court.  The rest is history.  Attorney Woehrer took on the entire Milwaukee Police Department and won, but at a heavy price.  She became the victim of police intimidation both in the District Attorney’s office and at home and the subtle retaliation of the “good ole’ boy” friends of the District Attorney. 

Although Robins prevailed in court the obstruction of justice by the police and District Attorney were shameful and criminal.  During the proceedings, The Deputy Inspector of Internal Affairs, Walter Franklin, took the file containing the photographs, fingerprints, and police reports, and ran out of the courtroom.  He only returned when the judge threatened him with arrest.  He also tried to trick the judge by placing phony documents in the file.  Then, Deputy District Attorney Robert D. Donohoo appeared at the last minute and claimed that his office had a pending investigation and that he could not release certain portions of the file, but stated on the record that he would turn them over to Robins as soon as his investigation was completed.  Judge William Shaugnessy ordered the police to provide Robins a copy of the file with the exception of the evidence withheld by Donohoo from that file.  Robins had obtained a substantial amount of evidence showing the police department had concealed a photo album containing photographs and the fingerprints of Detective Elfred Schultz and Detective Captain Carl Ruscetti and their Internal Affairs investigation of Schultz. 

This evidence Robins obtained was presented at a John Doe Judicial hearing requested by Robins and former Milwaukee Medical Examiner Dr. Chesly Erwin. Both believed that crimes had been committed in order to convict Bembenek.  The “good ole’ Boy” Judge, William Haase, and Special Prosecutor, E Campion Kersten, refused to honor Attorney Woehrer’s request to re-examine certain evidence, including the alleged murder gun.  They issued a decision that only “significant” mistakes were made and that no crimes had been committed in the prosecution of Bembenek.  Recent tests have proven that Robins and Attorney Woehrer’s suspicions were, in fact, correct and that the Judge and Special Prosecutor failed to properly investigate the case and that crimes were, in fact, committed by public officials.

Note – Although Deputy District Attorney Donohoo told Judge Shaugnessy twice, on the record, that he would turn over the documents he was withholding pending his last minute “pending investigation” he never did.  He denied Robins repeated requests.  When Robins and Attorney Woehrer obtained a federal court order to view the entire file all references to that material were missing.  Even worse, when Robins hand delivered the copies of the fingerprints allegedly obtained from the headboard and back door of the Schultz home to the retired supervisor of the FBI fingerprint section he learned that one fingerprint was a copy of the other.  The two different reports showed that two different fingerprints had been “lifted” but one original fingerprint had been replaced with a duplicate of the other. 
Exhibit 12 – 1


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