Yesterday, newspaper Florida Today published an involved exposé on John Preston and his ties to the Brevard County justice system. The article was accompanied by an editorial from the paper on the same subject. Florida Today has taken the initiative in investigating every Brevard county case in which Preston testified, looking for more innocent people that were railroaded by this charlatan of an “expert.”
Calls are growing for State Attorney Norm Wolfinger and his staff to reinvestigate and reopen more cases in which convictions may have been tainted by Preston’s questionable word, as well as reliance on jailhouse informants. Some allege corruption by prosecutors at the time.
Wolfinger has ignored those calls, pointing instead to the established legal channels through which prisoners can seek post-conviction relief. Wolfinger is, then, shrugging off the serious concerns – and the dictates of common sense – that say that indigent prisoners have no resources for marshaling a legal defense to overturn their convictions.
It’s astounding to review the evidence available at the time that Preston was a fraud. It seems as clear as day in hindsight. For example, what a dead giveaway this is:
Goshorn’s test of the dog handler’s scent-tracking ability involved two lawyers jogging down separate paths. The following morning, the dog was given one lawyer’s sweat-soaked shirt to see if the dog could follow the trail. The dog failed.
Goshorn told Preston that he would give him a second chance a day later, but the handler and his dog left town and never testified in Brevard again.
And then the money quote, from Judge Goshorn’s affidavit:
“It is my belief that the only way Preston could achieve the results he achieved in numerous other cases was having obtained information about the case prior to the scent tracking so that Preston could lead the dog to the suspect or evidence in question,” Goshorn continued in his affidavit. “I believe that Preston was regularly retained to confirm the state’s preconceived notions about a case.”
Give the article and the editorial a read, both compelling pieces, and we’re happy to see the media awaken to this scandal. Preston testified in as many as 60 cases in Brevard county alone. Who knows how many more innocent people are victims of Preston in that county, throughout Florida, and elsewhere in the nation?
(Note: Florida Today errs when they say the Innocence Project of Florida ‘helped free’ Juan Ramos. We did not exist until almost twenty years after he was exonerated.)