WHAT WENT WRONG?
The criminal justice system is designed to convict the right person. So how did this happen?
Mark Rickles was appointed by the court as John’s attorney after his family-paid attorney fled Bucks County. However, Rickles had a major conflict of interest which he neglected to disclose: as the solicitor for the Bristol Township Civil Service Commission, he was involved in a lawsuit accusing the Commission of giving unwarranted promotions to inexperienced and under-qualified officers. Mr. Rickles also failed to contact or provide in court several key witnesses that would have supported John’s claims. He also failed to call on witnesses who arrived at the courthouse, ready to testify on John’s behalf. Mr. Rickles did provide John with a PI firm after his arrest, however that firm has since changed its name and John has been (unsuccessfully) attempting to verify their credentials for many years. We have also discovered that the man responsible for investigating John’s case with that firm was formerly involved with officers within the narcotics division of the Bristol police.
FAILURE TO INVESTIGATE DAUGHTER
Sheila’s daughter, Sharon, had a history of violence towards those around her. This included her son Ricky (whom she semi-blinded by hitting in the head with an iron at around age four, and was later removed from her care), her brother Barry, and her mother Sheila, on whom she relied for money, along with prostitution to support her drug habit. Sharon did not tell tell anybody that she overheard John confessing to the murder until her arrest for possession of drugs six months later. Sharon left Sheila’s apartment on the evening of the murder, according to a witness, with a wad of cash. Two witnesses gave statements saying they saw Sharon with blood on her hands that day. One witness, who worked as a prostitute outside Ballpark Tavern, where Sharon also worked, claims Sharon threatened her, saying: “I f***ed my mother up, I’ll f*** you up too”.
John was convicted based on the eyewitness testimony of Sharon Ginsberg and three prints of his that were found in the apartment: one on the underside of the toilet seat, one on Sheila’s phone, and a bloody print on the remote control. The apartment was wiped of prints between the murder and when the police discovered the body. Only two prints of Sheila were found in her own apartment! The print on the remote control was not discovered until three weeks after the murder, the same day that Detective Victor Tunis checked out a vial of the victim’s blood from evidence. The print was sent to the lab for testing the next day. Detective Tunis has kept a framed photo of that print on his office wall. A palm print was also discovered on the base of the trophy used to “knock out” Sheila Ginsberg. This print does not match John, and the police repeatedly failed to provide a clear prints from other suspects. Mr. Rickles did not follow up on this.