Thursday, June 16, 2016

ICYMI #TheNatureOfTheBeast Preview @greenwichfilm Download @InterloperFilms Background #moreCOOLJUSTICE









  • Sweet download deal, The Nature of The Beast




  • PRISON MINISTRY BLOG POST:

  • Re-posted via Progressive Prison Project




  • The Beast AKA The Court System Unchecked: Lies & Cover-Ups

    Or:

    Fake drug raid based on dreads, baking soda in frig
    crippled defense of battered woman in accidental shooting


    By Andy Thibault -- Guest Blogger

    GREENWICH -- Here's how it works:

    The worst prosecutors and the worst cops see a big score. They see advancement. They see acclaim.

    They see it nice and easy when the defendant is a black woman from Hartford.

    Bonus: She's a Rastafarian.

    Some relatives and friends have dreadlocks. She has dreadlocks!

    The family -- as any household might -- keeps some baking soda in the refrigerator.

    In Hartford, this makes it nice and easy to cook up phony evidence and phony drug charges. This makes it real smooth to seize her house. This makes it oh so easy to destroy her defense.

    This is 'The Nature of The Beast.'

    'The Nature of The Beast' is also a documentary film about the early years of the Bonnie Foreshaw case. The film, directed by then Yale student Ondi Timoner, premiered on PBS in 1994. It will be shown again for the first time since 1994 at the Greenwich International Film Festival at 7 p.m. Friday, June 10 at the Greenwich Public Library. Tickets are available via the film festival website,http://www.greenwichfilm.org/.

    The film chronicles the state of Connecticut's blood lust to pursue the death penalty against a battered woman for an accidental and fatal shooting in 1986. It clearly details violations of her right to counsel and a fair trial. The film exposes how cops and prosecutors got away with jacking up charges to premeditated murder in a textbook manslaughter case.

    Typically, a manslaughter conviction could result in about 10 years in prison. Foreshaw, drugged by the state during her show trial and virtually ignored by her incompetent lawyer, would get the longest sentence of any woman in Connecticut history up to that point -- 45 years.

    “I was sure my film would force the powers-that-be to release Bonnie back in 1994, but the film went on PBS and nothing happened,” Timoner wrote in the prologue to 'more COOL JUSTICE,' my second collection of newspaper columns which features the Foreshaw case.

    “I realized people weren’t watching documentaries in the early ’90s so I went to Los Angeles to try to get a TV movie made to reach people and start a movement,” Timoner said, “but I was told the story was too controversial.”

    Foreshaw ended up serving 27 and a half years on a charge of premeditated murder of a woman she had never met.

    Foreshaw wrote of her remorse in a volume of redemptive memoirs, 'Couldn’t Keep It To Myself,' edited by the novelist Wally Lamb: “I never lost sight of the fact that I still had my life and Joyce Amos, the lady who tried to help me that night, had lost hers. She had been someone's mother and someone's daughter, same as me. A powerful sadness was closing in. I began to ask myself how I could survive – or if I even wanted to ... ”

    While in jail, Foreshaw was a surrogate mother and grandmother to many troubled women and teen-age girls. She was active in Literacy Volunteers, Alternatives to Violence and the Hospice Program. Guards called her a model inmate and a source of wisdom.

    She was granted a clemency hearing in 2013 and ultimately freed after Digital First Media published a Cool Justice column with a memo called The Blue Note by former public defender Jon Blue — now a Superior Court judge. Blue and others argued the proper charge for the accidental shooting should have been manslaughter.

  • Blue Note explained in 50 seconds, via CBS 880 NY


  • In the memo, suppressed for 24 years, Blue said, "The two most flagrant aspects of his [the fellow public defender's] representation were a failure to challenge a highly questionable confession and a failure to present an effective mental state defense."

    During a series of abusive relationships dating back to her childhood, Foreshaw was raped, hit repeatedly on the head with a baseball bat and stabbed in the neck.

    "A great deal of [this] relevant material was never produced [at trial] at all," Blue wrote. "No friends or family who knew Mrs. Foreshaw testified. A former husband had beaten Ms. Foreshaw on the head with a baseball bat ... and she had spent two weeks in the hospital. No hospital records were produced. Ms. Foreshaw had three failed marriages ending in domestic violence and divorce. No divorce or police records were produced. After she got out of the hospital, she had 'head problems' and went to see a neurologist. No neurologist was produced. The neurologist referred her to two different psychiatrists, who saw her a number of times. Neither of these psychiatrists was produced ... The end result was that the jury learned little or nothing about Ms. Foreshaw and what was really happening in her mind. She did not have an effective defense." More than two dozen lawyers had worked on Foreshaw's case since her arrest in 1986. Originally she was represented by a private attorney who dumped her because of her limited ability to pay. At the time, Foreshaw was a shop steward at a factory, owned a home and cared for three children. The original attorney had filed a motion to suppress a statement she gave under duress. Her statement, Blue noted, ends with the following sentence: "Det. Murdock has [advised] me of my rights I don't wish to [waive] my rights and sign this statement."

    "No questions whatsoever were ever asked about this," Blue wrote.

    The public defender, Blue wrote, "unaccountably withdrew the [suppression] motion immediately before the officer who had obtained the confession, John Murdock, began to testify."

    Foreshaw had been taken into custody shortly after midnight on March 27, 1986.

    "Officer Murdock," Blue wrote, "related that he began to interview Ms. Foreshaw at approximately 2 - 2:30 a.m. She wrote her statement out by hand but didn't sign it. The statement was introduced as a full exhibit and read to the jury, all without objection. The statement begins with a notation that it was started at 7 a.m. and finished at 7:30 a.m. What happened during the intervening 5 hours we do not know because Mr. O'Toole asked not one question about this interval, in spite of the fact that at least some innocent people might confess to killing their own mothers after being interrogated between 2 and 7 in the morning."

    Timoner resumed her coverage of the case during and after the clemency hearing. She had gone on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival twice: for 'DIG!' and 'We Live In Public.' Timoner, whose 'BRAND: A Second Coming,' had its TV premiere on Showtime last month, will host a question-and-answer session after the screening of 'The Nature of the Beast' at the GIFF.

    'The Nature of The Beast' also exposes how cops and prosecutors concocted the fake drug story which allowed the federal government to place a lien on her house.

    Former Bloomfield Police Sgt. Richard Cousins states in the film that cops received a tip.

    This so-called tip was used to cripple Foreshaw's defense. It demonstrates the laxity or corruption of judges who approve warrants with no actual basis for probable cause.

    The tip, Cousins said, was that there was a lot of cocaine and guns at the Foreshaw house and Rastafarians with Jamaican accents and dreadlocks.

    Wow, better watch out for those dreads.

    One of Foreshaw's daughters was in the house when Cousins said no one was home. Witnesses saw cops with guns pointed at each window of the house as they broke down the back door.

    "We got a lot of evidence of big time drug trafficking," Cousins said.

    What did cops find? They found baking soda in the refrigerator.

    Under federal forfeiture laws, for no good reason the burden of proof is on the accused. The Foreshaw family had to pay upwards of $90,000 to get the house back, thereby depleting any money for a competent lawyer.

    The state would refuse again and again to appoint a special public defender with homicide trial experience.

    The beatdown escalated in this Jim Crow court system. Cops and prosecutors suppressed crucial evidence about their main witness.

    Their main witness, Hector Freeman, was the man who harassed Foreshaw, followed her out of a social club and threatened to "fuck her up" after she rebuffed his entreaties to buy her a drink.

    Freeman pursued Foreshaw, would not leave her alone, followed her to her car. Freeman asked why Foreshaw thought she was “too good for a drink” with him. Freeman said again and again he was going to fuck her up. Freeman came toward her, he reached into his pocket. Foreshaw feared Freeman was going to pull a knife or a gun. Instead, Freeman pulled a pregnant woman in front of him.

    Foreshaw, then age 38, simultaneously fired her gun. She hit the pregnant woman who died. That woman, Joyce Amos, was used as a human shield after trying to restrain Freeman.

    The prosecution conveniently failed to disclose that Freeman had pending charges for assault of a police officer. A judge ruled Freeman's tainted testimony was just fine. That’s the way it works when the forces of the state want a conviction for an inflated charge regardless of the facts.

    Blue wrote in another memo Freeman had a substantial history of assaults, including more than one against police officers: "It should have been shown that due to his menacing gestures and the fact that he followed the defendant to her car, his behavior was consistent with his history of violence and was sufficient provocation to cause a violent reaction or over-reaction from a person suffering from PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder]."

    A psychiatrist says in 'The Nature of The Beast' Foreshaw was hyper-vigilant as a battered woman with PTSD, but that Judge Paul Vasington was not interested in PTSD, the core of the case.

    'The Nature of The Beast' also exposes former Hartford Police Detective Stephen Kumnick -- who went on to become an Inspector for the Hartford State's Attorney -- at best, as less than candid.

    Confronted with the fact that Foreshaw repeatedly asked for an attorney while being held for seven hours, and was told she needed to give a statement before calling a lawyer, Kumnick tells Timoner: "I'm not a mind reader."

    During the clemency hearing in 2013, Kumnick was asked by Erika Tindill, chair of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, if he had any idea what was going on from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. while Foreshaw was held in a room at the Hartford PD after the shooting.

    Kumnick testified: “No, I don’t.”

    “She may have been sitting in the interview room without anyone talking to her,” Kumnick testified. “We can’t force them to do anything they don’t want to do.”

    Does anyone of sound mind believe any of Kumnick's assertions?

    In another career highlight, Kumnick ratted out a fellow detective who was trying to cooperate with the federal government in an investigation of Hartford police corruption, according to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Janet Hall. That was related to a case in which James Thomas -- who prosecuted Foreshaw -- knowingly incarcerated the wrong man for a Hartford gang killing.

    Even though no gun was recovered in the Foreshaw case, Thomas waved a long-barreled handgun in front of the jury. The judge had allowed it in as evidence.

    Thomas also called Foreshaw a known drug dealer at sentencing.

    In 'The Nature of The Beast,' Thomas says, "It was a fairly straightforward case ... I handled the warrant process."

    This still makes me wonder why some people are in jail and others get to collect state pensions and play golf.

    Foreshaw has begun work on a memoir. She has also spoken at libraries and colleges since being released on Nov. 15, 2013.

  • moreCOOLJUSTICE website


  • moreCOOLJUSTICE direct


  • Film Fest photos, background


  • Friday, June 03, 2016

    Via @HartfordCourant’s @SusanDunne #BonnieForeshaw To See #TheNatureOfTheBeast For 1st Time @GreenwichFilm Fest


    Q & A With Director Ondi Timoner,
    Bonnie Foreshaw, Andy Thibault
    Follows Screening at Greenwich Public Library 6-10-16, 7
    pm



    Timoner Films Clemency Hearing in 2013 -- BOB THIESFIELD PHOTO



    Greenwich International Film Festival Features Movies With Strong CT Ties
    By SUSAN DUNNE

    The Greenwich International Film Festival will hold its second annual event from Thursday to Sunday, June 9 to 12, in Greenwich and Stamford. This year's lineup has movies starring some of the biggest stars in the movie world today: Kristen Stewart, Woody Harrelson, Ellen Page, Paul Rudd, Michael Shannon, Liam Hemsworth.

    However, Nutmeggers will likely have the most interest in the movies with strong ties to the state. These include the Connecticut premiere of the documentary "Newtown," a documentary about Connecticut native Norman Lear, and a 1994 documentary about Bonnie Jean Foreshaw, who was sent to prison after a 1986 Hartford killing and not released until 2013, after evidence surfaced that showed her public defender bungled her case.

    'Nature Of The Beast'

    Foreshaw was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 45 years in prison after accidentally shooting and killing a pregnant woman on Albany Avenue on March 27, 1986, while trying to defend herself against a man who was threatening her. The man was using the pregnant woman, Joyce Amos, as a human shield. Foreshaw, who lived in Bloomfield, carried a gun to protect herself against her abusive husband ...

  • Complete article


  • Foreshaw, Thibault at DiFranco's Restaurant, Litchfield, Prior to Appearance at Oliver Wolcott Library, September 2015 -- BOB THIESFIELD PHOTO


  • BACKGROUND: Blue Note, WNPR Transcript ...


  • TABLE SETTER:
    ‘The Nature of the Beast’ Redux


    GREENWICH, Conn. – Acclaimed Pasadena, CA-based documentary filmmaker and Yale alum Ondi Timoner will host a screening of her landmark work, ‘The Nature of the Beast,’ June 10 at 7 pm as part of the Greenwich International Film Festival.

    Timoner won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival twice, for ‘DIG!’ and ‘WE LIVE IN PUBLIC.’

    ‘The Nature of the Beast’ chronicles the unjust prosecution of battered Hartford woman Bonnie Foreshaw for jacked-up charges in an accidental shooting. Timoner, whose ‘BRAND: A Second Coming,’ had its TV premiere on Showtime this month, will host a question and answer session after the screening of ‘The Nature of the Beast.’

    Her upcoming projects include a biopic of American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. She will direct a script she wrote about Mapplethorpe.

    Timoner produced and filmed ‘The Nature of the Beast’ while at Yale in the 1990s.

    “I was sure my film would force the powers-that-be to release Bonnie back in 1994, but the film went on PBS and nothing happened,” Timoner wrote in the Prologue to ‘more COOL JUSTICE,’ a collection of newspaper columns by Andy Thibault featuring the Foreshaw case.

    “I realized people weren’t watching documentaries in the early 90s so I went to Los Angeles to try to get a TV movie made to reach people and start a movement,” Timoner said, “but I was told the story was too controversial.”

    Foreshaw ended up serving more than 27 years on a charge of premeditated murder of a woman she had never met.

    Foreshaw was granted a clemency hearing and ultimately freed after Thibault and Digital First Media published a memo called The Blue Note by former public defender Jon Blue – now a Superior Court judge – who presided over the Cheshire murder cases. Blue and others argued the proper charge for the accidental shooting should have been manslaughter.

    The memo was made public in a Cool Justice column published in May 2013 by the New Haven Register, The Register Citizen of Torrington, The Middletown Press and Litchfield County Times. Foreshaw was granted clemency six months later after the state reversed a decision denying her a hearing.

    Timoner resumed her coverage of the case during and after the clemency hearing.

    Foreshaw, a contributor to the acclaimed prison journals “Couldn’t Keep It To Myself” and “I’ll Fly Away,” has begun work on a memoir. She has also spoken at libraries and colleges since being released on Nov. 15, 2013.

    'The Nature of the Beast' will be shown at the Greenwich Public Library. Tickets are available via the
  • Greenwich International Film Festival website


  • Thursday, May 12, 2016

    Greenwich International Film Fest Features Bonnie Foreshaw 1994 Documentary ‘The Nature of the Beast’ by Ondi Timoner, Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner for ‘DIG!’ and ‘WE LIVE IN PUBLIC’ - Fri., June 10, 7 pm


    UPDATES:

    Greenwich International Film Festival News via Greenwich Time
    On June 9 at 5 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, 4 Horseneck Lane, is the opening premiere of the Greenwich International Film Festival. Opening night party 8 to 11 p.m.; awards presentation by actress Kristin Davis, live concert by John Popper of blues Draveler and Dar Williams. Festival runs through June 12 at Bowtie Cinemas and other venues in Greenwich and Stamford. Tickets at www.greenwichfilm.org. For more information visit www.greenwichfilm.org.

    Hartford Courant
    Greenwich International Film Festival is scheduled June 9 to 12, showing 35 features and 18 shorts in locations in Greenwich and Stamford. Some standouts are the Connecticut premiere of acclaimed documentary "Newtown"; a doc about Hartford-raised TV icon Norman Lear; a tribute to filmmaker Ondi Timoner, including a screening of her doc "The Nature of the Beast," about a Hartford slaying; the comedy "My Blind Brother" starring Charlie Hewson, of Darien; and the drama "The Fundamentals of Caring" by Rob Burnett, of Greenwich. Full slate: greenwichfilm.org.

    Jerusalem Post -
  • Ondi Timoner arrives to Tel Aviv’s Docaviv Film Festival


  • Press credentials for Greenwich International Film Festival






  • THE NATURE OF THE BEAST, 1994

    Director: Ondi Timoner

    The Nature of the Beast explores the life of Bonnie Jean Foreshaw, who was unjustly imprisoned for premeditated murder of a person she had never met. Here, Timoner picks up the story 20-some years later at Foreshaw's clemency hearing which showed she faced jacked-up charges by an ambitious prosecutor who withheld key evidence. Documentary evidence known as The Blue Note demonstrated Foreshaw's trial lawyer was incompetent and led to her freedom on Nov. 15, 2013.

  • Nature of the Beast preview


  • Following the screening at 7 pm, Friday, June 10, Cole Auditorium at Greenwich Library, the director will host a Q&A.

    Address: 101 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich, CT 06830
    Phone:(203) 622-7900

  • Complete Festival schedule


  • Festival website








  • Timoner’s Interloper Films














  • Talking Russell Brand's Revolution with Ondi Timoner









  • The Blue Note As Game Changer
    In Bonnie Foreshaw Case



  • 1st report of The Blue Note


  • Complete Blue Note


  • Cool Justice Editor's Note:

    Prosecutors hid arrest record of man who used pregnant woman as human shield

    The prosecution conveniently failed to disclose that Hector Freeman had pending charges for assault of a police officer. A judge ruled Freeman’s tainted testimony against Bonnie Foreshaw was just fine. That’s the way it works when the forces of the state want a conviction for an inflated charge regardless of the facts.




    Transcript,
    WNPR-fm
    August 5, 2013
    09:15 am ET
    Hartford, Connecticut


    JOHN DANKOSKY: Coming up next, we’ll talk about Bonnie Foreshaw, a woman who’s waited 27 years for a clemency hearing, despite a memo from a lawyer who said her trial was unfair. You can join the conversation, 860-275-7266. This is Where We Live.

    [Break]

    DANKOSKY: This is Where We Live. I’m John Dankosky. Twenty-seven years ago, Bonnie Foreshaw received the longest prison sentence ever given to a woman in Connecticut for shooting a pregnant woman. The woman and her baby died, but that is not by far the entire story. The pregnant woman was being used as a shield by a man that Bonnie feared would hurt her. Foreshaw suffered sexual and domestic abuse throughout her life and carried a gun for protection against an abusive husband who’d previously fractured her skull. Foreshaw’s public defender never mentioned her history of emotional abuse and distress, the questionable circumstances surrounding her confession, nor the conflicting eyewitness accounts of the crime. Despite all this and despite a stellar prison record and a redemptive memoir edited by Connecticut novelist Wally Lamb, she’s lost appeals and been twice denied clemency hearings. A new piece of evidence, though, has brought attention back to this case. Joining us today is Andy Thibault, who’s contributing editor and columnist for the Journal Register Company who has been following this story very, very closely. He joins us in the studio. Andy, welcome to the show.

    ANDY THIBAULT: Nice to be here, John.

    DANKOSKY: And WNPR reporter Diane Orson, who’s working on a story about Bonnie Foreshaw. Welcome back, Diane.

    DIANE ORSON: Thanks, John.

    DANKOSKY: Diane, what brought this case to your attention?

    ORSON: Well, I’d read that a woman in prison at York Correctional Institution in Niantic, named Bonnie Foreshaw, had been granted a clemency hearing and I recognized her name because years ago when I first came to Connecticut Public Radio, I worked as a co-producer for the show Open Air New England with Faith Middleton and I remembered that Faith had actually interviewed Bonnie Foreshaw. It was in the early nineties. Anyway, I contacted Faith and she got back to me and confirmed that this was the same person and I began to research the case.

    DANKOSKY: So, tell us Bonnie Foreshaw’s story. What exactly happened.

    ORSON: Well, you gave a good summary, but let me just go back and sort of fill in some of the details. March 27, 1986, Bonnie Jean Foreshaw – she was then 38 years old – a machinist at the Wire Mold Company in Hartford, she was shop steward, she was active in her union, she was supporting her children, she went to a Jamaican social club on Albany Avenue in Hartford and there she met a man who she’d never met before, named Hector Freeman, who wanted to buy her a drink. She refused him. He was persistent. She was in no mood and she left the club. At this point it’s important to mention that this is a woman who lived a very traumatic life. She is truly a battered woman. She’d been assaulted over and over again. She’d endured physical, verbal, sexual violence as a child. Later she was the victim of, as you said, horrible abuse by three husbands, stuff I don’t even want to talk about on the air. But suffice to say, I mean, she’s been beaten by a baseball bat, all kinds of horrible things. Bonnie Foreshaw made a decision to buy a .38 caliber gun for protection because her third husband was still stalking her and she felt threatened. So, back to the night of shooting, Hector Freeman follows her outside. He continues to sort of shout insults at her. And at this point I want to mention a documentary film was made in the mid-nineties about this case and it’s called The Nature of the Beast. It’s quite comprehensive. And at this point I’d like to play an excerpt from that film. This is the voice of Bonnie Foreshaw from an interview in prison describing, in her words, what happened that night.

    BONNIE FORESHAW [IN FILE VIDEO]: [Indistinguishable] with his hands in his pocket and he was cursing and threatening. And all I wanted to do was get in my car. And before I could do that, he came towards me with his hands, cursing, threatening. I pulled my gun out and shot, you know, and just shot once. Next thing I know, the lady fell, the man stopped, I got in my car and left. About 20 minutes later I was pulled over and arrested and charged with murder, which I found out the next day that the lady had died and I was told in court that I was going to be charged with double murder because she was pregnant. I didn’t know him, I didn’t know her and she was just there trying to keep him from bothering me.

    ORSON: So, as you heard, she was pulled over and what happened was Hector Freeman, the man, had pulled this woman, Joyce Amos, in front of him as a shield. This was a woman who had stepped in to try and diffuse the situation.

    DANKOSKY: Somebody that Bonnie Foreshaw did not know.

    ORSON: Did not know. Now let’s listen to an excerpt from a Channel 3 Eyewitness News report that took place right after the shooting.

    NEWSCASTER [IN FILE VIDEO]: Hartford police have arrested Bonnie Foreshaw Bloomfield in connection with the shooting. She was arraigned this morning here at Hartford Superior Court. Family members say 28-year-old Joyce Amos had gone out shortly after midnight for cigarettes. A short time later a family friend came to tell them Amos, who was pregnant, had been shot on Albany Avenue a short distance from their home.

    UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER [IN FILE VIDEO]: The first officers to arrive at the scene discovered that a pregnant female had been shot in the upper chest area.

    UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER [IN FILE VIDEO]: It was a boy. When they took the fetus, it was a boy.

    UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER [IN FILE VIDEO]: Certainly not closing out the possibility of bringing additional charges against the defendant. Right now we are going to be waiting for the autopsy report to see if in fact the fetus would have lived outside the mother’s womb. We’re going to be doing a good deal of research on case law in other states.

    REPORTER [IN FILE VIDEO]: Bailey says some states have dealt with charging a suspect with the murder of a fetus, but it is a grey legal area. The hospital today released photographs of Amos’ unborn child. When looking at them, family members say regardless of the legal resolution of this case, they feel as if though they had lost two members of their family.

    UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER [IN FILE VIDEO]: Who shoots a pregnant woman?

    ORSON: So, eventually what happened was the judge ruled that she could not be tried for the death of the fetus, but she was tried in 1987 for murder, not for manslaughter. Murder means intentionally causing the death of someone, premeditated murder. She’d never met either Hector Freeman or this woman, Joyce Amos, until the night of the shooting. So, she was arrested, you know, as we heard, minutes after the shooting. She was taken in, she was interrogated. Around 2:00 in the morning she hand-wrote out a confession, but she did not sign it. So, Bonnie has been represented over the years by a lot of people, like 20 different lawyers or something like that. A public defender was appointed to represent her for the death of Joyce Amos, the woman who had stepped – had been used as a shield – stepped into the situation. There are numerous questions, which we’re going to hear from Andy Thibault a little bit more about, about the way her case was handled in court. But the biggest question is why the public defender did not educate the jury about Bonnie Foreshaw’s history, a history that was really critical for people judging her as jurors to understand in order to make sense of why a battered woman might be carrying a gun, why she might shoot it if she felt threatened in self-defense. None of that was part of the trial. Instead, the jury found her guilty. She was given at the time, as you said, believed to be the longest sentence ever imposed in Connecticut’s history on a woman, a 45-year prison sentence. And so she has been incarcerated since then. She was 38 when she was arrested. She’s going to be I think 66 later this month. She’s been behind bars for more than 27 years.

    DANKOSKY: I want to bring in Andy Thibault now to talk a bit about this. And as we get to this new piece of evidence, maybe you can shed a little more light on something that Diane was hinting at with that piece of audio from the documentary about why exactly she was charged with murder, why she was given such a very long sentence in this case.

    THIBAULT: I think her charges were jacked up to advance the careers of prosecutors and cops and these charges had no basis in reality. In fact, I believe there’s an ongoing criminal conspiracy to violate Bonnie Foreshaw’s civil rights. I base that on a fake drug raid that was designed to dismantle her defense, the suspicious withdrawal of the motion to suppress her coerced confession. There’s a five-hour gap. We don’t know what happened between 2:00 and 7:00 a.m. and the prosecutor, James Thomas, falsely stated that Bonnie was a known drug seller, though he knew no drugs had been found. So, it was a setup. Bonnie, in effect, faced three prosecutors; the judge, the prosecutor James Thomas who stepped on a black woman victim of abuse and made her a poor woman by engineering the seizure of her house and diverting 80 grand that she could have used for a good private attorney.

    DANKOSKY: And perhaps the public in that we have never seen a case quite like this in Connecticut. A pregnant woman is shot. Both the woman and the fetus die. How much did public sentiment about that act, how much did that lead to it?

    THIBAULT: The prosecutors were very savvy in their manipulation of the media, but I’d like to quote Bonnie Foreshaw, who saw Joyce Amos as a good Samaritan, and said: I never lost sight of the fact that I still had my life and Joyce Amos, the lady who tried to help me that night, had lost hers.

    DANKOSKY: So, aside from what you’re calling an ongoing conspiracy that started with this charge and has gone for this many years, there’s this extra story – and this is the story of her representation at the time. Maybe you can talk about the letter that has recently come to light, a letter that you published, that maybe will, again, shed a little bit of light about what happened in and around the courtroom when Bonnie Foreshaw was being charged and being sentenced.

    THIBAULT: Sure. The significance of the Blue Note cannot be overstated. When I think, when I conceptualize this memo, which I’ve read 50 times, it’s more powerful each time. I think of Muhammad Ali, Cassius Clay, standing over Sonny Liston. I think of the Twin Towers. Once you look at it, you can’t turn away. I can read a few excerpts.

    DANKOSKY: And, again, explain the Blue Letter just so that people understand.

    THIBAULT: Judge John Blue, who was the presiding judge in the Cheshire Home Invasion case, in an earlier life, was a public defender. He was asked by Joette Katz, then a supervisor in the PD office –

    DANKOSKY: Now who’s the head of the DCF.

    THIBAULT: Right.

    DANKOSKY: Former Supreme Court judge.

    THIBAULT: Who is now a supporter of Bonnie Foreshaw’s clemency, as is Senator Blumenthal, which I think is very significant. I think the stars are aligned for some morsel of justice for Bonnie now. But from the Blue Note: A former husband had beaten Ms. Foreshaw in the head with a baseball bat a few years before the crime and she had spent two weeks in the hospital. No hospital records were produced. No neurologist was produced. The jury learned little or nothing about Ms. Foreshaw and what was really happening in her mind. She did not have an effective defense.

    ORSON: This was a memo written by then public defender John Blue to Joette Katz and he did this before he assumed the bench.

    DANKOSKY: Essentially saying that the representation that she got by a public defender was incompetent in a series of different ways. And why did this not come to public knowledge? Why did we not see this until just now?

    THIBAULT: Well, Joette Katz became a judge and John Blue became a judge on the same day, so in effect their hands were tied for the – they can’t get involved in any cases. However, this 24-year-old memo has been around for a while. A lot of people have seen it. It came to light 12 years ago that I know about for sure when Richard Emanuel found it, who’s now part of her legal team, which is managed by Mary Werblin, who of all her many lawyers, she’s clearly the one who has put Bonnie Foreshaw’s interest first and recognizes that Bonnie is the client.

    DANKOSKY: We’re talking with Andy Thibault, who’s a contributing editor and columnist for the Journal Register Company Connecticut Group who’s been writing extensively about the Bonnie Foreshaw story and brought this Blue Note, as he calls it, to light. WNPR’s Diane Orson has been following the story for us and she joins us in studio as well. Another piece of this, Diane, is who Bonnie Foreshaw has become during the time that she’s been in prison these many, many years.

    ORSON: Well, she’s actually a member of a writing group that is led by Connecticut author Wally Lamb. And I had a chance to speak to Wally Lamb last week about his I think 14-year relationship now with Bonnie Foreshaw as a student in his writing group. He has this writing program at the Niantic Prison and he tells me that he feels like the people that are in Connecticut’s prisons are voiceless populations, people who are marginalized, and he wants to let them have a safe place to tell their story. So, anyway, he spoke with me about Bonnie Foreshaw and I’d like to play a little excerpt from my conversation with him.

    WALLY LAMB: One of the things that I learned very quickly is how much respect Bonnie has at the prison, not only from inmates, but also from the guards and that comes from her long history of being a model prisoner. She never causes any trouble. She is very humble, very remorseful. And, you know, she said Joyce Amos was a mother, I’m a mother. She’s now a grandmother and I believe a great grandmother at this point. She was one of the first graduates of the York Hospice Program and so she has attended to dying inmates. And she has also worked for literacy volunteers. She has been a surrogate mother and now, more recently, a surrogate grandmother, for a lot of the inmates, many of whom have not had very good mother-daughter experiences. And so she’s just, you know, to see her sort of warehoused there year after year after year, after what I consider to be a grave injustice done to her in terms of her original charge and the sentence, it’s heartbreaking.

    ORSON: I just want to say I don’t think anyone in this story is seeking to exonerate Bonnie Foreshaw for what she did. I mean, a terrible thing happened. No one is claiming that she did nothing wrong. I think the question here is did our system do justice to this battered woman? Was she treated justly? Should she still be behind bars after 27 years? Was the charge inflated because the victim had been pregnant? These are some of the kinds of questions that this case raises.

    DANKOSKY: Andy Thibault, why after all these years, given all of this evidence, given what we hear Wally Lamb saying about a model prisoner who has done so much during her time there, why has she not gotten clemency? Why has she not gotten out of prison?

    THIBAULT: Well, it’s a fixed game and it’s no question this is a gross injustice and a shame for the state of Connecticut. I’d like to read a quote from Evan Stark, who’s a social worker who’s worked a lot for the prosecution. And he said, had Bonnie not been made stuperous by medication or had her character been accurately depicted, the prosecution would have been forced to answer the question that never surfaced at her trial: Why would a deeply religious woman in the throes of separating from her abusive husband with no history of violence, a good job and a happy family life, good home and excellent future prospects, risk all by shooting a man she had never met? Now, that fake drug raid I mentioned, a key player was Detective Kumnick, who is now the right-hand man of the Hartford State’s Attorney, Gail Hardy. So, I contend that her office and her actions are tainted in this case and others by using a guy like Kumnick. The judge, the public defender, the prosecutor, they all work for the state. They’re all on the same team. The state does not admit mistakes.

    DANKOSKY: When it comes to some of the connections that you’re making, what evidence do you have about this fixed game, Andy?

    THIBAULT: There was a fake drug raid that was used to dismantle her defense. You’ve got cops saying, oh, there’s all these guys who look like Rastafarians with guns running around Bonnie Foreshaw’s house. They make the drug raid, they seize her house, and on the court documents, nothing found, no drugs. The confession that was coerced in which she stated, I don’t want to sign this, immediately when Detective Murdock is called to the witness stand, the quote-unquote – I hate to say it – public defender, withdraws the motion to suppress the confession. Is that not suspicious? What did the prosecutor have on this guy? Nobody’s that stupid.

    DANKOSKY: So, what happens next? There is a clemency hearing now scheduled for October.

    THIBAULT: Right.

    DANKOSKY: What exactly happens in the saga of Bonnie Foreshaw next?

    THIBAULT: Well, you never know what’s going to happen because everybody in the system is a political appointee, however, the chairperson of the Parole and Pardons Board said that this is new and compelling evidence and that they’re taking another look because of the Blue Note. I challenge anyone to look at the Blue Note and come to any other conclusion that if Bonnie Foreshaw had been charged properly with manslaughter, she would have been free many years ago.

    DANKOSKY: I know, Diane, that you’ve spoken with some of the lawyers involved in her defense and we’d asked them to join us for this conversation today, but given this pending clemency hearing they declined

    ORSON: Correct.

    DANKOSKY: And they declined, in part, because they feel perhaps that they have a stronger case this time around from what I understand.

    ORSON: We’ll see.

    DANKOSKY: This story is remarkable and I thank you both for bringing it back to my attention. Diane Orson covers not only the courts, but also education and many other things for WNPR and she’s been covering this story and spoke recently with Wally Lamb and we’ll be hearing more from that interview and more on this story from Diane in the coming weeks. Thank you so much, Diane.

    ORSON: Thank you.

    DANKOSKY: I also want to thank Andy Thibault, who is with the Journal Register Company Connecticut Group, who’s a contributing editor and he brought this Blue Note, as he calls it, to our attention and we’re going to make more links available at WNPR.org. Andy, good to see you. Thank you so much for being here.

    THIBAULT: Thanks so much, John.


  • CBS 880 News: Bonnie goes free




  • Bonnie’s recent appearances






  • more COOL JUSTICE


  • Prologue, more COOL JUSTICE
    By ONDI TIMONER

    Andy Thibault, aka Cool Justice, is as close as we have to a modern-day revolutionary muckraker.

    Andy takes up the impossible and makes it possible through dogged determination and by seeing no boundaries when it comes to upholding the justice we all deserve.

    I met him 20 years after I’d made the film, “The Nature of the Beast,” about the life and case of Bonnie Jean Foreshaw. Upon being unjustly convicted of the premeditated murder of a person she had never met, Bonnie began serving what was then the longest sentence handed down against a woman in the state of Connecticut.

    Andy contacted me to ask if he could get a bunch of copies of my film to begin an enlightenment campaign on the state government to pardon Bonnie, who had been locked up for 27 years. Foreshaw had become a convenient stepping stone for cops and prosecutors when she shot – in self defense – a strange man who was pursuing her.

    The man testified to pulling a pregnant woman in front of him and using her as a human shield. When the woman died, Bonnie was charged with double murder, and railroaded into prison to serve a virtual life sentence of 45 years through a series of jaw-dropping miscarriages of justice.

    I was sure my film would force the powers-that-be to release Bonnie back in 1994, but the film went on PBS and nothing happened ... And nothing ever would have happened if it weren’t for Andy.

    He was relentless. He eventually chased down key players in state government, placing copies of my film into their hands. He also unearthed and published a smoking-gun document detailing Bonnie’s unfair trial. By October, there was a clemency hearing and by November 15th, Bonnie walked out of prison at the age of 66 to begin a life as a free woman.

    I witnessed this, and then watched Andy move to help another person who was being victimized by the state – this time a teenage transsexual who was a dependent of the state and had been locked away in an adult prison in solitary confinement because they didn’t know what to do with her.

    He made noise, rattled cages, called the press, wrote the press and she was temporarily placed in a therapeutic program, then apparently set up for a return to jail following an altercation in which several others were violent.

    My respect for this man has no limits. We can all learn a lot from Andy Thibault, especially about how to blaze through barriers and fight for what we believe is right. He reminds us that we all have this power, and that justice will have the day as long as we make sure of it.

    Ondi Timoner, Yale ’94, runs Interloper Films, based in Pasadena, CA.