Informant testimony is frequently used when the prosecution has NO direct evidence, has a weak circumstantial case and is forced to rely on the testimony of a jail house snitch (informant). The testimony of an informant benefits both the prosecution and the informant. The informant ALWAYS gets some sort of a deal, although the prosecution is careful not to actually promise the informant anything until after the informant’s actual testimony, that way when the informant is asked at trial whether he has been promised any deal he can honestly say NO, although it’s nothing more than a wink and nod because he knows he is going to benefit from his testimony. Typically the deal the informant gets is a reduced sentence, or an outright release from his sentence. The prosecution benefits because he has a very weak case and the informant bolsters his case by testifying that the defendant told him in jail that he committed the crime and is able to provide most if not all the details of the crime. Much of the time the details are in the newspapers that are supplied to the informant. Other times details may be provided by prison guards and/or police but rarely the prosecution. But don’t kid yourself the prosecution knows about what is going on and may be behind it. Why jurors believe the testimony of a known criminal and liar is anyone's guess. California no longer allows informant testimony without the collaboration of another witness which can often be difficult to accomplish. Give California credit because they realize how unreliable, false and dishonest informant testimony is. There are many innocent people wrongfully convicted sitting in prison today and even on death row based on informant testimony. Michael Clark is one of those unlucky ones that was wrongfully convicted based on informant testimony and unless his wrongful conviction is overturned will spend the rest of his natural life in prison.
Walter Stackhouse was a jailhouse snitch, cocaine addict, probation violator, and six-time felon on temporary release from California state prison. Stackhouse’s prior crimes included false information to a police officer, fraud, forgery, and false reporting. Stackhouse’s rap sheet included several crimes involving fraud and lying to police and was so long it was difficult to keep track of his previous convictions. He admitted to diluting his urine while on probation to pass urine tests. He also admitted that in bringing his information to police, in exchange he requested release from jail to work release to prevent appliance stores he owned from “going under.” He understood from the police in 1994 that he could make things “look better” for his work release prospects by agreeing to testify against Michael. This was the person who's testimony sent Michael Clark to prison with Life Without Parole (LWOP).
Stackhouse claimed he asked Michael did you kill somebody. He just wouldn’t say anything, you know. He kind of just nodded his head yes. I said well, did you. And he said the guy’s dead. And then he kind of just hushed up after that… The truth is that Mike has no recollection of ever meeting Stackhouse, and never would have told him anything about himself or the crime he was suspected of. This is so typical of informants. They don't even have to meet the person their stating confessed to a crime. They get their information form newspapers and yes authority figures. Ask yourself this, would Mike confess to a crime he did NOT commit to a perfect stranger, someone he never met before? Of course he wouldn't and of course he didn't. The police and prosecution needed this testimony because without it they would never had gotten a conviction, and they knew it.
Stackhouse also told police that Clark told him about the motorcycle incident, a police sketch that did not look like him, and that Clark would grab newspapers in the jail before other inmates could look at them, and that Clark had gotten rid of the gun. Stackhouse bolstered his statements by testifying that he had never testified against someone before because he feared what would happen if inmates in California knew he was testifying as a snitch, and he felt he had a moral obligation to testify in Clark’s case.
On November 5, 1994 Lead Detective Trujillo writes in his notes that Stackhouse is untrustworthy, needs a polygraph, and goes as far as to call him a “psychopath". What does this tell you about Stackhouse's credibility as a witness to be used in a 1st degree murder trial when the lead detective in the case doesn't trust him. It should be noted that Trujillo was NOT allowed to testify about his notes at trial by the court. This was a serious error by the court, in that the defense was not allowed to question the prosecution's key witness' (Stackhouse) credibility, the person most responsible for Mike's conviction; this should be overturned on appeal.
It should be noted Stackhouse’s claims existed in full in 1994 and were insufficient for the DA to even bring charges against Michael. The reasons why are apparent in that there is the thin ice of the supposed head nod, an ambiguous supposed admission by Michael of killing anyone if ever there was one. So that DA had no faith in Stackhouse's credibility and what he was claiming.
Police interrogated Dion Moore an acquaintance of Clark’s, who was a multiple time felon, drug user, and interstate trafficker in illegal guns between Colorado and Chicago.
Moore, who in 1995 negotiated a deal to testify against Clark in exchange for dismissal of pending cases against him, said he procured two 9mm Bryco-Jennings handguns, one for himself and one for Clark, in October 1994.
There is no indication in the record or in the 20-page warrant for Clark’s arrest that Moore was ever investigated for Grisham’s murder, despite keeping one of the two Bryco Jennings 9mm handguns for himself. It was a Bryco Jennings 9mm handgun that was suspected to be the murder weapon that killed Marty Grisham, although no weapon was ever found.
Dion Moore, a prosecution informant witness stated in a police report, dated March 16, 2010 that Mike returned the full metal jacketed round bullets to him and that he noticed Mike had hallow point bullets loaded in his gun. This is a key point because Mike’s gun did NOT have the full metal jacketed round bullets that killed Marty Grisham, but Dion Moore’s gun DID have those bullets. Just what role did Dion Moore play in the killing of Marty Grisham? In another section on this web site, Other Suspects, Dion Moore's possible role is discussed in more detail.
Dion Moore stated that his friends Vanessa Reich and Summer De Viere saw the gun, purported by police to be the murder weapon in Mike’s car on November 1, 1994, the day of the murder. Neither Vanessa nor Summer was ever called to testify by the defense or prosecution. It is believed that these two girl's would have contradicted Dion’s Moore’s statement about the gun being in Mike’s car on 11/1/94. Neither testified at trial. Lead Detective Chuck Heidel stated in Discovery that he located and contacted both Summer and Vanessa. Neither recalls this incident or the ride to the bus station as described by Dion. If these two girls had testified and contradicted Dion Moore’s statement it would have destroyed his credibility and showed that Mike did NOT have that gun in his car the day of the murder. Maybe this is why the prosecution never called these two girls to testify.
In conclusion Dion Moore had every reason to act as an informant by: 1) negotiating a deal to testify against Michael in exchange for dismissal of pending cases against him; 2) Taking the focus off himself for having the same type of gun police believed was the murder weapon and having in his gun the type of bullets that killed Marty Grisham; 3) Lying about his friends Vanessa and Summer having seen the suspected murder weapon in Mike's car the morning of the murder.
DENVER POST ARTICLE ON INFORMANT TESTIMONY
- Trinidad police arrested 40 people in a 2013 "drug sting" after two detectives (Vigil and Martin) botched their investigation and intentionally used wrong or misleading information from an unreliable confidential informant, according to a lawsuit the ACLU of Colorado filed Thursday.
- Danika Gonzales and Felicia Valdez claim their constitutional rights were violated by being arrested without probable cause. The lawsuit says Vigil and Martin fabricated details and used unchecked information from an unreliable confidential informant to obtain warrants for their arrests.
- The lawsuit alleges that Vigil and Martin's mishandling of the case was a result of the department's "conscious choice to have no policy regarding the use, supervision of, and reliance on confidential informants."
- Detectives also did not reveal that Bachicha agreed to work as an informant in exchange for the dismissal of pending felony charges by 3rd Judicial District Attorney Frank Ruybalid, according to the complaint.
In Mike's case the prosecution used two informants (Stackhouse and Moore) both unreliable, both career criminals, both liars, and both tried to obtain deals from the prosecution for false testimony. And because of their false testimony Mike was wrongfully convicted.