David Hyde 

In March of 1991, seventy-two year old John Lee and his fifty year old daughter, Ginger Lee were found bludgeoned to death on the floor of the Lees’ business, The Joyland Market, in Phoenix. The gruesome discovery caused fear to run through the Chinese community, and left detectives seeking a quick arrest, and their efforts soon garnering them information from an informant that pointed to David Hyde’s brother, Jackie Johnson, and another suspect who was never arrested.
David was not mentioned as a possible participant in the robbery and murders, however, when the arrests were made it was Jackie and David that detectives took into custody. Then, after spending six hours alone in the room with Detective Armando Saldate, David made a confession. However, detectives did not get the same from Jackie. All they had to tentatively connect him to the murders was a large bloody bowie knife found in his car that an expert later said could have been used in the murders, but that was not conclusively connected to the crimes. Added to that witnesses had saw the brothers who lived in the neighborhood around the store on the night of the robbery.
The prosecution of the two fell to Noel Levy who by the morning after arrest had a recanted confession and Jackie who refused to admit to anything. Notably, with it clear that David would not testify against his brother, and claiming that his confession had not been voluntary, Levy did not have sufficient evidence to go forward. However, that never stopped him and Saldate together, and they had soon made it past a Grand Jury and were preparing to prosecute.
“I honestly believed back in 1991 that there was no real evidence to convict me. I'm just the lucky one of the innocent people in the justice system who gets a fair shake. I consider Mr. Simpson an angel because he got me off death row. He did more than I could have asked for. But I want to stress that I'm innocent,” Hyde told the New Times in 2004.
As it happened, upon arrest Hyde as others had pled not guilty and simply expected to be treated fairly in an American courtroom. What he learned was that it takes no credible evidence to convict even the innocent especially if you face an indifferent prosecutor without adequate defense counsel. David’s trial was a joke, with the appellate judge, Tomas O'Toole later pointing to an inadequate defense along with Levy’s use of false statements concerning the blood evidence as sufficient grounds to grant David a new trial.
In fact, David‘s conviction was a determined effort by Levy to close the case by conviction by any means possible, because when he had taken Jackie to trial, the evidence did not stand up. He was acquitted on all charges, and the jury never aware of his extremely violent tendencies which would later leave him sentenced to prison for seven years for a carjacking involving Jackie beating the owner as he was dragged from the car. In fact, the same attorney who later failed to adequately defend David argued successfully for Jackie, and his acquittal did not look good for the prosecutor’s office when it hit print. When Jackie walked free it left the Chinese Community on edge with no one held responsible for the murders. So, Levy focused on using David as his scapegoat by any means possible.
There was no actual evidence against David except for the paraphrased report containing a confession that only came after hours of David being drilled by the dubious detective and the witnesses placing the brothers in the area around the store, but that did not stop Levy. The case needed some sort of reinforcement, so by the time David got to court, Levy was holding a jacket that belonged to him which had a blood stain on it. Then, without testing to confirm that the blood actually belonged to the victims, Levy went forward.
“This jacket had blood right here on the right sleeve of a right-handed hacker. And it's human blood, a swipe on the left chest. Where did the blood come from? I suggest the Joyland Market. When? March 8, 1991. Whose blood? John and/or Ginger Lee
” Levy proclaimed to the jury after describing the gruesome scene of their murders.
“I suggest”
to you he declared, with those words a common phrase repeatedly approved by the appellate courts though they allow prosecutors to enter into evidence facts that have no substantiation whatsoever. And from there, Levy went on to present his fabricated case, as telling the jury David was the actual killer who had stood over the Lee’s lifeless bodies after his dastardly deed was done.
That Levy then put a jailhouse snitch, Billy Lipp on the stand was only par for the course. That Lipp got a cushy deal for his testimony was also in line with his other prosecutions. So, an extremely questionable version of David’s confession was suddenly repeated by a shady character who would ultimately walk away from his own crimes for helping to condemn David. And, of course, Levy still had Saldate to declare himself an upstanding and experienced officer who had by his astonishing powers of persuasion gotten the first confession. It was all a carefully orchestrated charade, but the jury had no way of knowing the actual facts including that the blood on the jacket belonged to Jackie not the victims.
David Hyde was convicted and sentenced to death as the actual killer of the Lees as his brother and the other suspect named by the informant both walked free. Levy had his conviction, but he did not have the murderer as would be proven years later. Most importantly, he did not have a conviction that could withstand scrutiny, and as David pointed out, he was one of the lucky ones. He lost too many years to death row, but by the diligent effort of Phoenix attorney Alan Simpson, the truth of the case would be uncovered.
Though it was more than a decade after his nightmare began, David's case was finally overturned on appellate review based on Ineffective Assistance of Counsel and the fact that the results of later DNA testing on the jacket proved Levy's assertion to the jury that the blood belonged to the victims was wrong. Yet, just as disturbing is the fact that after Jackie had been acquitted on both counts, Levy needed David to be convicted as the actual killer in his place, so he simply changed his story. After his assertion at Jackie’s trial that Jackie committed the murders as David waited outside, when David went to trial he merely developed a second scenario.
And so, uncontested by the defense, Levy painted the right picture and not only managed to wrongfully convict, but after the case was overturned in the courts, the Maricopa County Prosecutor's office threatened to produce evidence that had not been used in the first trial to reconvict. His superiors completely ignored the fact that Levy had convicted David by his creation of a mockery of justice in the first place and were threatening to further persecute a man that O'Toole felt had been convicted on far less than substantial or trustworthy evidence.
In fact, O’Toole agreed with Simpson that the DNA alone would have very likely prevented conviction, with his stating, “The DNA evidence would have probably changed the verdict or sentence….The state relied heavily on the victim's blood being on the jackets. Without the blood to bolster its argument that Hyde was the sole killer, the remaining state's evidence was substantially weakened.
He was to add, “There was no credible eyewitness testimony placing [Hyde] at the scene and hisstatements [to police and, allegedly, to a jailhouse snitch named Lipps] were contradictory and suspect.
The confession that David was alleged to have made as well seemed less than credible to the judge, as he considered the tactics that Saldate used in gaining the statement. His conclusion was that the supposed confession if in fact given was not the product of proper procedure by detectives, with his concluding,“Hyde's statements to police were the product of six hours of suggestive interrogation, misrepresentation about the nature and strength of the evidence gathered at the scene, and other intentional misstatements designed to obtain an admission.”
The judge clearly saw through the prosecutor’s sham, but still David was in a place where justice did not exist, and would finally concede to a plea of no contest to second degree murder and robbery. The deal left David to carry the felony on his record for the rest of his life, though in theory he does not admit guilt. In fact, it leaves the prosecutor to say that David would have been convicted if taken back to court, and David admitting that he feared pursuing his right to a fair trial in Maricopa County after the fabrications used to convict him the first time.
As David learned, justice is an undependable and constantly varying situation. Levy had easily managed to lead the first jury down the garden path, wrongfully convict and leave David to suffer for another's crime, though David never for a moment ceased in maintaining his innocence. He knew the risk of going back to court, but refused to plea guilty to a crime that he did commit. Thus, in 2004 New Times quoted Hyde as saying concerning his acceptance of the plea, “I told my attorney that I wasn't about to plea guilty to something I didn't do and that we'd have to let the cards fall where they fall. Then, they said they'd let us go 'no-contest.' I took it, because I've learned that you never know what a jury is going to do,”
David survived the worst of inhumanity to leave Arizona Death Row searching for an employer who could overlook not only his felony conviction that still stands, but one who could see past the more than a decade that he had not been allowed to work and gain experience. He was to receive no financial compensation for the years of life stolen from him, nor even an apology from the prosecutor’s office and certainly not from Levy.
Still, if David has knowledge that relates his brother to the crime, he refused to attempt to see that his brother is punished. He keeps his silence to date, after stating that he loves his brother, though he knows that Jackie has problems. David in the years before had acted to protect his brother, and continued to do so even after his release, as certainly realizing the sort of justice doled out for the mentally ill in Maricopa County is no different than that which he faced.

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