RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 12 – LAWFUEL -The Law News Network — The following statement can be attributed to James C. McCloskey, Executive Director of Centurion Ministries,
With Governor Warner’s announcement, it has been established once and for
all, with absolute scientific certainty through unimpeachable DNA testing,
that the semen found in Wanda McCoy belongs to Roger Coleman. This means that
Roger Coleman is the killer of Wanda McCoy. We now know that Roger’s
proclamations of innocence, even as he sat strapped in the electric chair
moments before his death, were false.
We, who seek the truth, must live or die by the sword of DNA. Through my
efforts, spanning from 1988 until the day of Roger’s execution on May 20 1992,
Centurion Ministries conducted an exhaustive reinvestigation of Roger’s
conviction. Up until the Centre of Forensic Sciences issued the most recent
DNA results, I had always believed in Roger’s complete innocence. In my view,
he had no motive, means, or opportunity to do this crime. I now know that I
was wrong. Indeed, this is a bitter pill to swallow.
Those of us who seek the truth in criminal justice cases must never be
afraid of finding it. If there is a means to discover the truth, we must
never shrink or shy away from using it in our search. We must never stop the
hard effort to touch the factual bottom of any case. The Truth can be very
elusive, and even illusory. Our search for facts can delude us into thinking
that what we have found is gold, only to discover that it is in fact fool’s
gold. But once the gold of absolute truth is revealed, we must embrace it,
and be thankful that we have finally uncovered it.
Believing in Roger’s innocence and even promising him on the night of his
execution that I would do all in my power to one day prove his innocence, I
have spent the last six years persistently pushing for the post execution DNA
testing that was just completed. Even though the results are far different
that I expected, and even though this particular truth feels like a kick in
the stomach, I do not regret that this effort has at last brought finality to
all who have had an interest in this matter. In Socrates’ Apology, he said
that, “in doing anything, we ought only consider if, in our doing, we are
doing right or wrong.” This arduous journey was an honest and diligent search
for the truth that I believe has served the public interest.
The search for the truth in establishing Roger Coleman’s innocence or
guilt is finally over. The controversy that has surrounded the Coleman case
for the last 25 years has now been put to rest, at least as far as I am
concerned. I’d like to thank Virginia Governor Mark Warner for authorizing
the DNA testing to proceed. Without his intervention, the complete truth
would never have been revealed.
I also want to thank Paul Enzinna, Esq. of the law firm Baker Botts in
Washington, DC for partnering with me in our six-year effort to get the DNA
I trust that all those with the power and authority to do so throughout
the nation will follow in Governor Warner’s footsteps — to have the courage
and vision to preserve all the biological evidence and allow post conviction
and even post execution DNA and other forensic testing to go forward so that
the absolute truth may be known to all. No one should fear the truth. As
Governor Warner did, let the DNA chips fall where they may. Only then, can
real justice be done.
The following statement can be attributed to Paul Enzinna
Partner, Baker Botts L.L.P. (Washington office):
The challenges — legal and logistical — that Centurion Ministries put in
front of us when we signed on to assist them in the Roger Coleman case six
years ago were daunting. But as in all our pro bono efforts, we wanted to
make certain Jim McCloskey and Centurion Ministries had access to the best
legal counsel available to address the complex issues of this case.
Our work with Centurion Ministries is a continuation of our firm’s more
than 150-year commitment to providing pro bono legal assistance on matters of
national and international import.
Centurion Ministries, Inc.
Web Site: http://www.centurionministries.org