Jeff’s Voice: A Nightmare While Awake

I know some people may question a few things concerning my case, and I am also aware that many others have misconceptions regarding the same.

Baby Choe’s Death

The night of Chloe’s tragic death, I was taken from the hospital bat around 10:30 PM in the back of a sheriff’s car. When we arrived at the jail, I was placed in a room where I wasn’t permitted to use the phone. My pleas to speak to a guard or prison official were ignored, despite my repeated requests.

Chloe passed away at 10:55 pm. I didn’t know this at the time, as I was sitting at the police station for close to four hours.

When I was brought into the interrogation room, I found out Chloe had died in the following way: Immediately after sitting in a chair, I was advised me of my rights and my right to an attorney (which I understood and informed them that I didn’t need a lawyer, I hadn’t done anything wrong). To that, the deputy replied to me, “Jeffrey, Chloe is dead and she’s been raped, son, she’s ripped from end to end. This is a crime that carries the death penalty, so if you don’t tell us exactly what happened, you’ll be put to death, executed right up there at Parchman for this”.

Keep in mind, my head was spinning pretty much from the moment Becky carried Chloe from the bedroom. When they told me this, there weren’t any dramatic pauses or anything. Just as fast as you can say those words was the same amount of time I had to digest them. Like I said, I was already freaked out, and then hearing this, well, it was impossible to process. I mean what the hell could I say except bullshit and no, you’re lying, etc.? I don’t recall exactly what my words were to that, but you can imagine. I was horrified and in disbelief. It was like trying to wake up from a nightmare.

I asked how Chloe died, and they wouldn’t or couldn’t tell me how or why. To me this seemed like the least of their concerns, I was asking how she died and their responses were all about rape, rape, rape. All I could do was sit there looking angry and stupid. They told me they’d be doing a DNA rape/assault kit on me. I said something along the lines of, “Damned right you will…then you’ll know I didn’t do this”. The encounter didn’t last much longer. I was placed back in the holding cell/drunk tank, (I hadn’t been arrested yet). I kept asking to use the phone to let my grandparents know what was going on, but they refused to let me.

I sat there until Saturday. I was in shock, I think. At the hospital, right before I was taken to the station, a doctor or nurse had first come out and said Chloe may have been having an allergic reaction. Then she came out and said that Chloe was “pinking up” and had a 150 bpm heart rate, so it sounded like she was going to be okay.

I have never really been able to mourn Chloe properly because I was immediately accused of a horrible, disgusting crime. I would never have hurt her on purpose. I cared very much about her. The hardest days of the year for me are August 29th, her birthday, and February 21st, the day she died.

In the mornings, I would often get up with Chloe and let Becky sleep in. I had a surround sound system and I would turn on “Blue’s Clues”. I would watch her try to follow the sounds coming from the different speakers. It was so funny. Once, I stuck her, in her carseat, in the middle of all her stuffed animals and Becky came out of the kitchen and asked where Chloe was. We all laughed when Becky realized she hadn’t seen her in the stuffed animals.

I think often of what Chloe missed. She never had an ice cream cone. She never had a first day of school or a summer vacation. She would have been 14 this year. She will never get to be 14. It causes me great pain.

On Saturday, I was taken to the hospital so they could do the DNA sexual-assault kit on me. The whole time I felt hopeful because I knew I hadn’t done what I was accused of. And I knew DNA tests would prove it. Boy, was I so naive.

After we got back to the jail, I was handed an official arrest affidavit for capital murder. I was placed in a cell, in a block of cells, with no one else on the block. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

I had been cooperative, except for being angry and belligerent for being constantly accused of raping and killing a child! I mean, who wouldn’t be? Not long after I was placed in the empty cell block, I made myself read the actual arrest warrant, and it said that Chloe died as a result of a subdural hemorrhage…this was the moment when I knew (somewhat) what was going on, or how Chloe had died.

I got the jailers attention – it took a long time but when I did, I told them I needed to talk to the Deputy’s. It took a some more time before I was brought down to be questioned. Again I waived my right to an attorney, etc. because I wasn’t guilty of anything.

I explained to them how I accidently dropped Chloe and how very quickly she appeared to be okay. Becky had thought she was okay. After I told them what happened, they seemed content with what I had said, except they kept asking me about the rape. How this, how that and on and on. All I could do is ask them what in the hell were they talking about and to say I did not do that. It was as if that was all that they were worried about, just rape, rape, rape, over and over again.

I thought to myself that they had to be lying or there is something seriously wrong with their information. I kept thinking, why would a cop, or anyone, come up with a lie so vile and evil? But the disparaging remarks kept coming my way. A continuous barrage. Their demeanor, the veracity in their voices almost had me believing there was a rape. But who? Who could or would do something like that?

I knew damned good and well that I did no such thing. Again, during this interrogation, it was very testy, because of the outrageous accusations being leveled at me. I believe I said something like, “You’re both sick for even thinking this”, because by now, I was convinced that they were lying or didn’t know what they’re talking about…(turns out, in long overdue hindsight, that it was a little of both, but more of the latter).

Keep in mind all of this was before they ever turned on the video recorder. There were about two hours of this barrage before the video was even turned on. I asked twice for a polygraph, but they refused that.

During this (unrecorded) questioning, there was a mention of Chloe’s diaper rash. She had always had diaper rash, but I was trying to be helpful as possible, so I asked them if maybe the towel I dried Chloe off with could have irritated the rash. All they would say is that, no, she was ripped from end to end, even though we were talking about diaper rash. When I was telling them about the towel, I said maybe I went too far in on her, but I didn’t mean internally, inside her body. That’s not what I said. I meant the space between the buttocks, the gluteus fold. I thought the towel may have irritated the diaper rash. IF that was supposedly an admission of anything, why didn’t they stop right then and there and tell me to elaborate on that statement?

You know, when the cops read you your rights and say, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law”, they really need to amend it to say, “whatever you say will be taken out of context and/or distorted to be used against you.

So, don’t say anything at all and then they cannot twist what you don’t say. Believe me, now I know exactly why you should have an attorney present while you’re being questioned. But for my part, naivete ruled the day and I have suffered for it.

At trial, the most egregious element – and what kept me from receiving a directed verdict – was the anal dilation, which as a layman, I certainly had no clue about but after the long arduous years on death row the truth has come out.

At trial, the state went to great lengths to show the jury that I could not explain this dilation, (the dilation was, according to the state, sexual battery) but it turns out this dilation is caused by a TBI (traumatic brain injury). All of the medical authority in this case – to date – verifies this. Even Dr. Hayne – remember, my lawyers never spoke with Dr. Hayne even though the state and the trial court suggested they do so, and Dr. Hayne did not think a sexual assault happened. But, in fact, my lawyers never spoke with any expert despite knowing they should have. It was their JOB.

So my directed verdict went basically like this; my lawyer asked for a directed verdict, saying the jury could see the death occurred from an accidental fall, that there was no confession, no eyewitnesses, and the state had not proven sexual abuse. The court stated basically, there was NO CONFESSION, NO EYEWITNESSES, and the jury COULD see the death occurred from the fall – BUT, I (HAVARD) HAD NO EXPLANATION FOR THE DILATION.

So, my life is ruined and I am sent to death row because I can’t explain something only a medical professional, i.e. expert, can explain. An expert which I didn’t have. A kind of cruel Catch-22. Put the burden on me to explain something only an expert can explain, but provide no expert to help me meet this burden. That is not how our judicial system is supposed to work.

Dr. Hayne’s revelation that he didn’t see evidence of a sexual battery or that he found no evidence that anything like that had ever happened did not come out at trial.

The state – at trial – told the jury that I “hurt that baby” and that I couldn’t explain the dilation.

The court refused to grant a directed verdict for this same reason.

Turns out, I did explain it to the best of my knowledge, (but unknown to me).  I also now know that there were other medical explanations that likely caused her death that were set into motion by the fall, but in 2002 I had no one to explain it to me, so I COULD explain it to the court.

The Traumatic Brain Injury explains the very (non-criminal) reason for which they want to execute me.

About Lori Howard

I have long searched for my purpose in life and have come to realize that my calling is to advocate for the wrongfully convicted. I AM relentless.
This entry was posted in Blog Post by Jeff, Jeff's Voice and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Jeff’s Voice: A Nightmare While Awake

  1. Mike Wiesner (Smith) says:

    Jeff, I cannot express the outrage and despair I am feeling. Not only over how wrongful your conviction is, but that the appeals system has so far failed you. Please keep up hope, you are going to get a new trial soon!


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