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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kevin Lee Green - Wrongfully Convicted

September 30, 1979 is a date that I doubt Kevin Lee Green will ever be able to forget.  That's the day his life would change forever.

In 1979, Kevin Green was a 21 year old Corporal in the Marine Corps and lived with his pregnant 20 year old wife, Dianne in Tuston, California.

By all accounts, including Kevin's, he and Dianne Green had a rocky marriage.  The police had been called to their apartment on more than one occasion to settle their arguments which sometimes led to physical contact.  But according to Kevin, at the time of this horrific event, he and Dianne were trying to work their problems out.  Dianne was nearly term with her pregnancy and they were hopeful of a happier future.

In the early morning hours on this date, Kevin decided to make a run to the local Jack in the Box to get something to eat.  He states he went to the one across the street but that the drive through was backed up so  he elected to go to another location that was about 15 minutes away for his food.  Both sides have speculated on this decision.  Both sides have their own views on this.  Kevin says the one across the street was busy so he opted to go to the other one where he might be waited on quicker.  Dianne and the prosecutors took the view that he wanted to be able to say he was gone long enough for a stranger to have entered his apartment and brutally attack his wife.

From the very beginning, Kevin has stated that when he walked out of their first floor apartment, he noticed a black man in the parking lot and when he returned, the same black man was about to enter a van parked in their parking lot.  When Kevin walked past this man, he ducked his head down so Kevin wouldn't be able to see his face.

When Kevin entered their apartment, he found Dianne in their bedroom.  She had been raped, strangled and viciously hit in the head with a round object.  Kevin thought initially that she had been shot in the head but it would be discovered later that she had in fact been hit in the head with a wooden object such as a table leg with the bolt used to attach the leg to the table making the round wound to Dianne's head that first led Kevin to believe she had been shot.

Kevin called police and an ambulance and stayed with Dianne.  Several hours after arriving at the hospital, the baby girl Dianne had been carrying died and the decision to perform an emergency C-Section was made although the doctor's feared Dianne might not make it through the surgery.  She lapsed into a coma and Kevin stayed with her.

Eventually Dianne woke from her coma but her brain was damaged to the point that she had no memories of the event.  She had forgotten how to speak and needed constant care and rehabilitation.

Kevin and Dianne moved into her parents home until she could recover.

From the very beginning the police zeroed in on Kevin to the exclusion of all others.  When Dianne was attacked, there were other very similar attacks in the area.  All women lived in ground floor apartments.  All women were beaten about the head.  All women had been raped. All but one had died.  Yet the police still focused their entire attention on Kevin.

The doctors had warned Kevin and Dianne's parents to allow Dianne to form her own memories of that night.  They strongly warned them that if they helped her at all, their suggestions would become a part of Dianne's memory.  That she would incorporate those suggestions into her newly formed memory and it would be as real as if she had actually remembered the event.

No one knows for sure, but it has always been my belief that one or both of her parents planted memories into Dianne's head.  Maybe they didn't mean to - maybe they were just both so convinced that Kevin was guilty that they didn't see the harm in planting those memories.  They may have been so afraid that if her memory never returned, Kevin might walk way unscathed that they felt it would be the lessor of two evils for them to help their daughter form a new memory than to allow Kevin to walk around free.

While I do not subscribe to the following theory, Dianne's parents may have been completely innocent of malice.  They may have simply answered her questions and when Dianne put all those answers together, she formed a new memory.  Questions like "Did Kevin ever hit me?"  "Is Kevin the violent type?"  "Were we happy as a married couple?"  I'm sure Dianne had tons of questions.

Whichever of the above scenarios are factual, Dianne did eventually form a memory of that night and she called the police to tell them.

She states that she and Kevin violently argued earlier in the evening.  He wanted sex and she did not.  So according to her "new" memory, he beat her, raped her and then beat her some more.  That was all the police needed to hear.

Kevin was tried and convicted of second degree murder for the death of their unborn child, the attempted murder on Dianne Green and assault with a deadly weapon for the attack.  On November 7, 1980 he was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Kevin Green would sit in prison from November 1980 until October 1996.  16 years for a crime he didn't commit.

Kevin could have gotten out of prison well before 1996.  The problem?  He steadfastly refused to admit his guilt and show remorse to the parole board for something he didn't do.

The prosecutions case was built upon the witness testimony of a woman who had major brain damage and at best a faulty and highly suggestible memory. Then there were the police reports from earlier domestic disturbances, interviews with neighbors who had heard them fighting and semen recovered from Dianne Green that matched Kevin Green's blood type. Remember back in 1979/1980 DNA was just a twinkle in its daddy's eye so blood type was the best they could do.  Unfortunately for Kevin, type O is a very common blood type.

As stated earlier in this piece, during the same time that Dianne Green was attacked there were a series of other very similar attacks in this area.  The attacks had begun about 10 months before Dianne Green's attack and there were 20 in all.  The police had dubbed him the "Bedroom Basher".

1996 DNA was just beginning to be used as a tool to detectives.  Cold case detectives gathered the evidence from the 20 attacks and sent DNA off for testing.  Against all odds, a match is found.  A convicted Sex Offender named Gerald Parker who is set to be paroled in a month from prison.  Detectives have to move fast if they want to get to him before he gets released.

They set up an interview with him and they bring their 20 cases with them.  Parker isn't interested in speaking about any of the cases.  Until they get to the Kevin & Dianne Green case.  It seems that Parker was a Marine himself and it has always bothered him that he found out that he had done this to a fellow Marine.

Parker remembered everything about that night and that crime.  And he told the police everything he remembered.  Apparently the only thing in Parker's life that he cherished was the fact that he had been a Marine.  It was the only good thing he had ever done.

Because of the new DNA evidence and Parker's confession, Kevin Green was released.  Eventually he would be paid $100 for each day he served in prison.

The bulk of his nightmare was over.  Now he had to deal with a wrongful death suit that his now ex-wife Dianne had filed and won while he was in prison.  She had won a multi-million dollar judgment from him.  Kevin had to hire an attorney and fight to have that judgment overturned.  The court over turned the judgment and suggested Kevin settle out of court with Dianne.  Which he did.  Personally, I would never have given her a dime.  But apparently Kevin was a better man.  He has said that while he was a victim in this situation it was nothing compared to the damage Dianne suffered during this ordeal.  He has repeatedly excused her attitude, opinions and actions over the years.  He feels she has every right to be angry, frustrated and bitter.

Kevin said one of the first things he did when released was to visit his infant daughter's grave.  He said he felt he had to go there and tell her in person that he was out of prison and that he didn't kill her - that Gerald Parker had done it.

To this day, while Dianne will admit that maybe Kevin didn't strike the proverbial "final" blow, he had indeed beaten and raped her that night and in her mind he deserved everything that he got.  She vehemently states that at the least had he not left the door unlocked perhaps none of this would have happened to her.

When I watched footage of both Kevin and Dianne, it was difficult to watch Dianne.  She was so full of bitterness, anger and revenge while Kevin was forgiving, kind and understanding.

Would I have reacted to this situation like Kevin or Dianne?  I'm not sure.  I would like to say Kevin but I don't know.  I guess none of us do until we go through it.