• Doug Tjapkes

Why the Karen Boes case is important to YOU. And its outcome!

You’ll be hearing and reading a lot about Karen Boes in the next few days. She’s the woman from Zeeland who was convicted of first-degree murder in the fiery death of her 14-year-old daughter. The state claims she set the fire. I know that the issue of race is a factor when it comes to wrongful convictions. It’s no secret that many cases involve indigent, Black people...and that’s rotten. But Karen is a White person, living in lily-white southern Ottawa County...and she wasn’t poor. That’s why you must pay attention to this case. I keep hammering on this! It’s no stretch of the imagination to say that YOU could be a victim someday. I can rattle off numerous names of prominent people---White, middle to upper-class people---who were wrongly convicted. A business person, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, even a cop! The Michigan Innocence Clinic is asking Ottawa County Circuit Court to grant Karen a new trial, and you’ll want to keep an eye on this. You see, the Assistant Prosecutor who obtained Karen’s conviction in 2003 was Jon Hulsing, who is now a judge in the very same circuit court. You think she’ll get a fair shake? Nearly every judge in our county has served earlier in the Prosecutor’s Office. I don’t like that, but it’s what we have. When you get a chance read Karen’s story in The Daily Beast. I thought the case stunk back then, and I still think so. The Innocence Clinic claims to have proof that junk science was used to convict Karen, and based on new and better science today, it contends that a jury never would have found her guilty. I’m not as generous with my opinion. Here's my position. The state new darn well that it was using junk science back then. And it is my contention that if a Prosecutor uses unethical methods to rob an innocent woman of 20 years of her life, that is a crime. That Prosecutor should be charged! Prosecutorial misconduct is a major reason for wrongful convictions. Sadly, Prosecutors are immune. I don’t see any quick answers to the problem. Some say, for example, that Prosecutors should be appointed rather than elected. One thing is certain: Prosecutors must be held accountable. Meanwhile, watch Karen’s case. And watch your back!

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