Attempting to Set the Record Straight: The Cory Maye Wiki

As anyone who has read my ranting lately will attest, I’m highly upset about the Cory Maye case. Since the mainstream media has so far neglected to cover the story (and I’m aware of several members of the MSM who know about the story), it is critical for citizen journalists to pick up the slack. Because of the nature of the way this particular story is unraveling across the blogosphere, there are a lot of innacuracies floating around.
What I’d like to do is to begin a maintainable narrative of the case containing as much factual accuracy as possible. Using Radley Balko’s original account as a starting point, I’d like to do the edits required to place the Cory Maye story on Wikipedia. I’ve made several minor updates to Wiki pages and articles before, but am not very knowledgeable about the process, so bear with me (and please comment below or update the Wiki entry as any new information becomes available or you note the inevitable mistakes made by me). Perhaps when/if the MSM picks up the story, they will have a factual basis for their coverage.
The base article is available after the jump, and the Wiki version is located here.
Cory Maye (M-D-1982?-present) is known for being convicted for the capital murder of Prentiss, Mississippi police officer Ron W. Jones. Maye pleaded not guilty at his trial, citing self-defense as the reason. He was convicted and sentenced to death by lethal injection and is currently on death row in Mississippi.
There is considerable controversy over the circumstances under which Officer Jones was killed. While the jury decided it was a case of capital murder, there is a growing sentiment which was precipitated on the blogosphere that this was a case of justifiable homicide.
Additional questions have been raised about the social and racial aspects of the case. Maye is black, while Jones is the white son of the local Chief of Police. The jury which convicted Maye was predominately white. Due to a lack of enough financial resources, Maye’s defense is currently being handled by a public defender.
Cory Maye
Little is known about Maye’s background at this time. He had an 18 month old (verify age) child with a girlfriend named Chenteal Longino. He fathered another child with another woman.
Maye was unemployed at the time of the raid which ultimately led to his notoriety. He and his current girlfriend had been renting a duplex apartment for less than two months and had actually occupied it for only a few weeks at the time of the raid.
The Incident
Officer Jones obtained a search warrant for the apartment of Jamie Smith and person(s) unknown where Mississippi drug, narcotics and/or controlled substance statutes were allegedly being violated. The warrant request was approved by the City Court of Prentiss by Judge Kruger. The location to be searched was part of a duplex apartment building, and a warrant was also served for the neighboring apartment in the name of person(s) unknown. Additional supporting documentation indicates that Jones based his information that a large quantity of marijuana was stored in both apartments upon the word of a confidential informant. Jones also indicated that he had seen a large amount of traffic at unusual hours at both apartments.
The warrants were executed by the Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force, a regional police agency in charge of carrying out drug raids in four surrounding counties. Officer Jones accompanied the Task Force on its raid on December 26, 2001, which initiated sometime after 11PM.
Smith was arrested without incident. Significant quantities of marijuana were found in his home. Both Maye’s current and former attorneys say Smith was never charged for drug possession or distribution. District Attorney McDonald says he doesn’t remember Smith being charged or convicted. Maye was never charged with a drug crime. The only criminal charge to come out of this raid was the murder charge against Maye.
Jones may not have been properly trained for this sort of law enforcement exercise. He was not a regular member of the narcotics task force, but a K9 officer for the Prentiss police department.
Maye contends that he was asleep in his living room when the raid occurred while his 18 (some versions suggest 14) month old daughter slept in the bedroom. As the raid commenced, some officers – including Jones — went to the back door of Maye’s residence, looking for a larger stash of drugs. One member of the Task Force broke down the outside door. Jones, who hadn’t drawn his gun, charged in and made his way to Maye’s bedroom. The police claim they announced themselves; however, Maye and his original attorney claim otherwise. Maye, fearing for his life and the safety of his daughter, fired at Jones three times with a Larson .380 caliber handgun, hitting him in the abdomen just below his bulletproof vest. Jones died a short time later.
The Trial
Maye had no criminal record, and wasn’t the named target of a search warrant. Police initially concluded they had found no drugs in Maye’s side of the duplex (check source on this). Later, police announced they’d found “traces” of marijuana (check source on this). According to the knowledge of the attorney who represented Maye at trial, police had found one smoked marijuana cigarette in Maye’s apartment. Documentation provides that a small plastic bag and three cigars stubs were found which allegedly contained traces of marijuana. Some suspect the validity of this documentation, as the time of the report was changed twice after the initial entry.
The trial was held at the Marion County, Mississippi courthouse. Maye testified that it was dark in his apartment when he heard someone breaking into the back door, which was located in the bedroom. “That’s when I fired the shots,” Maye said. “After I fired the shots, I heard them yell ‘police! police!’ Once I heard them, I put the weapon down and slid it away. I did not know they were police officers.”
The weapon used was stolen, but Maye probably had no knowledge of this. According to Balko, “I’ve found no mention of the gun in about a dozen local media reports on the case, nor was it mentioned in the evidence sheet of items seized from Maye’s home. The status of the gun was also suppressed at trial, though [District Attorney Buddy] McDonald says his bringing up the gun and the judge’s suppressing that tesimtony will turn up in the transcript.”
Mississippi law indicates that it is justifiable to kill another in an act of reasonable self defense. It also provides that the killing of a police officer is not capital murder if the killer had no knowledge that the victim was a peace officer or fireman.
The prosecution claimed that officers announced at the front door and then at the back door of Maye’s residence.
District Attorney Buddy McDaniel convinced the jurors that Maye was guilty of murder. The jury began deliberating at one o’clock and shortly after six Friday evening the death sentence was decided.
Rhonda Cooper, Maye’s attorney reports that after the trial, she spoke with two jurors by phone. She learned from them that the consensus among jurors was that Maye was convicted for two reasons. The first is that though they initially liked her, Maye’s lawyer, the jury soured on her when, in her closing arguments, she intimated that if the jury showed no mercy for Maye, God might neglect to bestow mercy on them when they meet him in heaven. They said the second reason May was convicted was that the jury felt he had been spoiled by his mother and grandmother, and wasn’t very respectful of elders and authority figures.
Shortly before Marion County Circuit Court Judge Michael Eubanks sentenced Maye to death by lethal injection, he asked Maye if he wanted to address the court. “No,” Maye replied.
The Controversy
While researching related material, columnist and blogger Radley Balko ran across the case of Cory Maye and blogged his initial findings. His entry was picked up by a few blogs, which led to more, creating a blogswarm. Considering the circumstances of the case, there is credible support for Maye from three distinct political identities: liberals, conservatives and libertarians. Internet momentum was probably assisted by the execution of Tookie Williams, which occurred while the Maye story was spreading across the Internet. There has been (at this time) no mainsteam media coverage of Maye since the time of his trial.
There is current talk on the Internet of forming a legal defense fund for Maye. Attorneys have offered pro bono legal assistance. A letter writing campaign to Governor Haley Barbour is currently underway.
Maye’s original attorney, Rhonda Cooper, had never tried a capital murder case before she represented Maye. According to Balko, Maye’s family terminated their relationship with Cooper after he was convicted. In her place, they hired a guy from California with no legal experience who convinced them that he’d had bad representation (given his lawyer’s closing argument, he was probably on to something). The new fellow has since failed on several occasions to file the proper appeals.
Officer Ron Jones was the sole officer who conducted the investigation that led to the raids. Because of this, history will never know the exact details of his investigation or the identity of his confidential informant. Jones apparently kept no records of his investigation into Maye or Smith. According to DA Buddy McDonald, all record of the investigation “died with Officer Jones.”
Based on the information included in the warrant affidavits, it appears Jones made no effort to identify Maye, to make a controlled drug buy from Maye to corroborate the informant’s story, or to do a criminal background check on Maye. There is no evidence indicating that Jones knew the identify of the person occupying Maye’s apartment.
The legitimacy of the warrant for Maye’s residence is questioned by some. It appears to have been issued solely on the word of a confidential informant, who says he spotted marijuana in the apartment. Some suggest that if the warrant was illegitimate, police should never have broken down Maye’s door. If it was legitimate, they’d still have to have clearly announced themselves, and given Maye time to answer the door, for him to be guilty of capital murder.
Maye is black. Jones was white. There were only two black members of the jury which convicted Maye in a state historically criticized for racist judicial activities.
The times listed on the evidence sheets for both Maye and Smith’s apartments were repeatedly scribbled out. Maye’s sheet lists no exact time the evidence was collected. The evidence in Smith’s apartment was collected on the 26th, immediately after the raid, while the evidence in Maye’s was apparently collected at 5:20am the next day (this being the last of three times entered, the first two having been scribbled out to the point of being illegible).
Cory Maye’s family and his attorney also accused officers of beating him while he was in custody after his arrest. Officers and prosecutors said those claims were completely false.
Media Reports:
Legal Documents:
Balko’s blogged entries:
UPDATE: Now that the wikipaedists have taken over the project, there is no need to continue to update this posting. Please feel free to make any changes to the record at the wiki entry. BTW, Radley Balko e-mailed to tell me he already has made one edit on the wiki.