Letter: Withheld evidence proves Thurlby innocent of crime

Jul. 05, 2013 @ 12:01 AM

Editor:

I am writing to make you aware of the wrongful conviction I suspect from the Sevier County judicial system.

In 1997, William Thurlby was convicted of murder in Judge Rex Ogle’s court and sentenced to 60 years. Eight years after Bill’s trial many documents were uncovered that had been withheld from his defense and hidden in the prosecutor’s case file. These documents were obtained when a friend went to the court clerk’s office to obtain a copy of an item Bill needed for his post-conviction appeal. The court clerk handed the entire case file to this friend. All the information found withheld from Bill’s defense was copied and is now posted on the web page his wife has established.

Bill’s public defender, Ed Miller, attempted to obtain the criminal history of the person who found the victim’s body. None of the requests were answered and yet the requested five-page NCIC report was in the case file. This information was downloaded to the Sheriff’s office the day after the victim’s body was found, and even though requested, was never turned over to Miller.

Miller also made two recommendations to Bill not to take the deal offered by ADA Hawkins if he was truly not guilty. Bill followed the advice and proceeded to trial. Had Bill known of all that was withheld from his defense, perhaps the ADA’s 25-year sentencing offer would have looked more appealing.That sentence would have freed Bill years ago.

There is also withheld evidence of inconclusive and deceptive answers on polygraphs administered by the TBI at the Sevier County Sheriff’s office on three of the state’s primary witnesses. These polygraphs indicated the state’s witnesses did not give truthful answers, but were allowed to testify.

Included in the withheld evidence is a court order signed by Judge Ogle to hold the evidence from this trial for “safekeeping” by the sheriff’s office. When the post-conviction attorney went to collect this evidence for DNA testing, all the evidence useful in proving DNA was missing.

This evidence would have proven the person who found the body and was not conclusively truthful on the polygraph, is the actual person who should have been charged.

William Thurlby has now served 17 years without one incident of misconduct. He has always told the truth. A 27-page TBI report was withheld from the defense. Evidence in this report was found to differ from the testimony of the FBI agent. Information contained on the victim’s death certificate does not match the testimony of the pathologist. Withheld evidence is on the web page.

Bill’s wife has posted all documents discovered withheld. The evidence suggests there was a deliberate attempt to cover up the evidence that would have proven William Thurlby innocent.

Without help Bill will die in prison for a murder he did not commit, and the true murderer will go unpunished. The stress has caused Bill to suffer from a serious heart condition. He requires extensive medical care. I would appreciate any help in freeing William Thurlby.

Cindy Lynn Ostergard

Rockford, Ill.