Victims of the State

3 Cases

Fairbanks, AK

John J. Shaw

Convicted 1973, 80, 81

John L. Shaw was convicted in 1973 of aiding in the theft of merchandise from a store. Another man had stolen 17 pairs of pants from a men's store where both he and Shaw worked as janitors. That wrongful conviction led to Shaw being separately convicted of two other crimes: Failing to Appear for Sentencing in 1980, and for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm in 1981. He was imprisoned separately for all three convictions.

Shaw's public defender, David Backstrom, had a conflict of interest by also representing Shaw's codefendant, who freely admitted his guilt, but who also insisted Shaw had nothing to do with the thefts. The codefendant was prevented from testifying by Backstrom. Backstrom also prevented several witnesses for Shaw from testifying because by exonerating Shaw they would be implicating the attorney's other client, Shaw's codefendant.  (83) (84) (91) (93)  [7/05]

Kodiak Island, AK

Donald McDonald

Mar 28, 1986

After 28-year-old Laura Henderson Ibach disappeared, Donald “Mac” McDonald and James Kerwin were charged with her kidnapping and later with her murder. Laura was last seen with McDonald and Kerwin in McDonald's van on the night of her disappearance.  According to the two she had only been with them for a short period and they gave a plausible explanation as to why.
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Sitka County, AK

Richard Bingham

May 4, 1996

In 1996, Richard Bingham made a videotaped confession to the rape and murder of 17-year-old Jessica Baggen. He was acquitted at his 1997 trial because jurors saw on tape that he kept missing all the cues the interrogators fed him as they steered him to the correct details. DNA testing excluded Bingham as the source of the semen found in the victim. The foreign hair found on the victim's body was not Bingham's nor was the fingerprint found on a cigarette pack at the crime scene. Bingham was also unable to describe the unusual properties of the physical scene where the body was found nor the unusual way in which the victim had been silenced.  [3/06]