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Death Row Artist James P. Anderson, A Case Of Reasonable Doubt

by STEVE ARGUE (steveorchid [at]
Free James P. Anderson!
Death Row Artist James P. Anderson, A Case Of
Reasonable Doubt.

Artist James P. Anderson has sat in prison, mostly
on death row, for the past 22 years. From the prison
cells where men are warehoused to die at San Quentin
State Prison, his paintings are a reaffirmation of
beauty and humanity. James P. Anderson's painting
"Desire" seems to me to show a pathway to his desire
to live, dream, and create under a system that simply
wants him to die.

Anderson was convicted of the murder of two women
in 1979, but maintains he is innocent.

If James Anderson is innocent he's in good company.
In the year 2000 alone 58 death row inmates had their
convictions overturned largely as a result of new DNA
evidence being brought to light. Still prosecutors
have fought against the use of DNA evidence to
overturn old convictions, even when the lives of
innocent people are on the line.

James P. Anderson has not had the benefit of new
DNA evidence coming to light, especially with the
crime scene never having been secured, but a number of
major questions do cast doubts on the prosecutions
version of events.

James P. Anderson is a black man. He was convicted
by an all white jury in Riverside County, California.
All white juries do not understand issues that Blacks
face in America like police, prosecutorial, and
judicial racism. In addition death penalty juries are
always more likely to convict because all who oppose
the death penalty are excluded from these juries,
making them juries that are more biased towards
supporting the prosecution. An all white death
penalty jury is in fact one that is likely to contain
a number of people who think that all Black people are
criminals, making these jurors incapable of weighing
the evidence even if it is presented fairly. For a
Black man in racist America, an all white death
penalty jury is not a jury of his peers, and is a
violation of his constitutional rights.

The gap in understanding legal realities in America
could be seen starkly during the O.J. Simpson trial.
Most whites assumed he did it based partly on
pro-police and pro-prosecutorial bias. That bias
included believing the forensic evidence. Yet blacks
were more likely to question that forensic evidence
based on the possibility that it was planted by a
white power Nazi named Mark Fuhrman who has admitted
to planting evidence in the past.

O.J. Simpson had the benefit of being defended by
the best legal representation money can buy. James P.
Anderson was defended by a public defender, Keith
Long, who was suspended from the bar while working on
his case. Incompetent attorneys are very common in
death penalty cases, but it is almost impossible to
get a new trial based on ineffective assistance. The
systems message is clear, the lives of the poor and
working class are cheep in America, justice in only
for those who can afford it.

Anderson maintains that he was framed-up by the
actual killer who he says is Fred Anders. Anderson
says Fred Anders, a white man, was angered by the
interracial relationship between his sister, Sheila
Lynn Anders and James Anderson. In addition Anderson
states that Fred Anders had the additional motive to
frame him because Anderson had just found out about
Fred Anders sexual assault of a 9-year old girl.

The prosecution called only one eyewitness to the
murders to testify, Fred Anders. A crucial piece of
police evidence does back up Anderson's claim that it
was Fred Anders who committed the crime, a piece of
the murder weapon was found in Fred Anders jacket
pocket. That section of the murder weapon was a 3 to
4-foot piece of rope that forensically attached to the
rope used to hang Louise Flanagan. Also found in Fred
Anders pocket was a knife.

The District Attorney on the case, Thomas Douglas,
told the jury that Fred Anders had passed a polygraph
test with flying colors. Later, under questioning,
that same DA admitted he had lied, stating that no
polygraph was given, even though his statement during
the trial is part of the court record.

Fred Anders was the brother of Anderson's
girlfriend, Sheila Lynn Anders. All three had been
traveling together although Anderson didn't really
know Fred Anders. James Anderson informed this
reporter that it was while the three were driving that
he found out the extreme prejudice of Fred Anders.
Detective B. Byers wrote in his police report that
Sheila Lynn Anders had stated that her blood brother,
Fred Anders, and not James P. Anderson, had committed
the murders. She later changed her story after the
prosecution, in violation of federal law, allowed Fred
Anders to visit her in jail. Suddenly she changed her
story and backed up her brother, but she wasn't called
as a witness by the prosecution. Obviously her
testimony would have been useless to the prosecution
with her earlier statements to Detective Byers being
on record, but she was now useless to the defense as
an eyewitness.

Particularly damaging to the defense of James P.
Anderson was the testimony of Deborah Baros claiming
that she was an eyewitness to another murder committed
by James P. Anderson in 1978. This was a murder of a
gas station attendant named Jack Mackey. Yet while
the prosecution claims that her statements
are consistent with evidence, the fact of the matter
is that she gave 2 different versions as to what
happened in taped interviews. In addition Deborah
Baros claims that James P. Anderson communicates with
her telepathically, she states that she remembers many
things through dreams, and claims that her imaginary
son Anthony was riding with them in the car when they
committed the murders. The prosecution admits that
Deborah's son Anthony was imaginary based on various
evidence, but considered her a good witness even with
her unable to state one version of what took place.
Obviously Deborah Baros could not differentiate
between reality and her own dreams and hallucinations,
and the prosecutions use of her in a trial to put a
man on death row was criminal activity on their part.

Deborah Baros is under the powerful medications
premarin, Tylenol with codeine, fioricet, xanax,
darvocet, amitriptyline, mellaril, mebaral, and
prophenol. She is taking these medications as a
result of "mental anguish" caused by a New Hampshire
court taking her real children away in 1987 for her
alleged sexual abuse of them.

It is very damaging to have someone come forward
and claim to be a witness to the defendant carrying
out a similar crime to the one they are being accused.
This is true even when the witness is not very
credible and other evidence in the crime are purely
circumstantial. The accusations of similar crimes
weigh heavy in the minds of the jurors, making them
less apt to rule in favor of any reasonable doubts
they may have.

For police motivated by racism, other political
motivations, corruption, or just a desire to close a
case the manipulation of mentally vulnerable people
for false testimony has occurred in other cases. In
the case of Leonard Peltier the FBI coerced a mentally
ill South Dakota woman named Myrtle Poor Bear to
testify against him in order to gain Leonard Peltier's
extradition from Canada. Myrtle Poor Bear says that
the FBI threatened to take her children away. She
says the FBI also showed her pictures of Anna Mae with
her hands cut off. Anna Mae was an Indian activist
who is widely believed to have been murdered by the
FBI. Myrtle Poor Bear says that after the FBI showed
her the gruesome pictures of Anna Mae the FBI told her
that she would look even worse when they were done
with her, that they would put her through a meat
grinder and no one would even be able to recognize

Under this kind of intimidation Myrtle Poor Bear
testified that she was the girlfriend of Leonard
Peltier, even though they had never met, and that she
was a witness to Peltier's involvement in killing two
FBI agents, even though she was not. Myrtle Poor Bear
later recanted this testimony.

There is no evidence of such manipulation in the
particular case of the testimony of Deborah Baros, but
we should understand that someone like Deborah Baros
would be susceptible to manipulation.

The use of only two eyewitnesses: one who does not
even know the difference between reality and dreams,
and another who potentially carried out the two other
murders and who was carrying a piece of the murder
weapon in his pocket raises serious questions in this
case. The fact that the prosecution did not call a
third eyewitness, Sheila Lynn Anders, because she
originally had said that James P. Anderson was
innocent, is also telling of the weak case against
James P. Anderson.

The standard for guilt is supposed to be guilty
beyond a reasonable doubt, yet an all white pro-death
penalty jury raised on the prejudices of the
mainstream media does not usually have a proper grip
of reality to understand what a reasonable doubt is
and why it is important. The fact that juries are
selected in death penalty cases, eliminating all who
have the sense to oppose the death penalty, is one
more reason why the death penalty should be abolished.
The flimsy evidence used to convict James P. Anderson
and how unreliable convictions really are should make
everyone question the death penalty. Death is
permanent. Besides the fact that the prosecution
never proved a reasonable case against James P.
Anderson, the contribution he is making to the world
through his art is another reason James P. Anderson
must live.

When I spoke to James P. Anderson on the phone from
San Quinton he told me that before all this happened
he had no idea how corrupt the system really is.
Really the death penalty is a weapon of terror held by
a racist system, and nobody is safe. Adding to the
inhumane treatment of being on death row, James P.
Anderson has not been able to get proper medical
attention for a condition that has impaired his sight
and gives him constant headaches.

While the abolition of the death penalty will not assure
justice, there will be no justice as long as there is a
death penalty.

The racist death penalty must be abolished!
Death penalty juries must be abolished!
We demand proper medical attention for James P. Anderson!
Free James P. Anderson!

For more information, and to see James P. Anderson's
art visit:

James Anderson Interviews, The Dagger Magazine

Canadian Coalition Against The Death Penalty (CCADP)
Web Page for James Anderson

Medical Files

Police Reports

The Art of James Anderson: The Dagger Magazine

The Art of James Anderson: Canadian Coalition Against
the Death Penality

The Art of James Anderson: Iconoclast Productions

James Anderson: Surviving the System

James Anderson T-Shirts

James Anderson
PO Box C 11400 2E66
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, California
94974 USA
I have edited out some typos and made some minor changes in style to this article that I posted previously. Previously people suggested that OJ Simpson is guilty and I should not bring up his case in relation to Anderson's. They stated that I think OJ Simpson is innocent. I have never said that OJ Simpson is innocent. I merely stated that blacks are more likely than whites to be able to see through police misconduct as it relates to racist cops planting evidence. Justice in the case of OJ Simpson was the fact that he was equitted when the police and prosecution were not able to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If Simpson is guilty the injustice has to do with the credibility of racist cops who plant evidence. Those of us who believe in the legal standard of innocent until proven guilty can not be blamed for a system that protects racist cops.
by steve
"The gap in understanding legal realities in America
could be seen starkly during the O.J. Simpson trial.
Most whites assumed he did it based partly on
pro-police and pro-prosecutorial bias..."

Two words:


That's why most people thought he was guilty. If you found your wife dead what would you do? Call the cops or run away in your Bronco?
by Steve Argue
You quote me yet it does not prove your point. Actually it proves mine. It backs up exactly what I said. To say it is wrong to assume someone is guilty when a white power nazi is in charge of an investigation is not saying that he is necessarily innocent. You are exactly the type of person who I talk about in my article, the type of person who has no understanding of the concept that a person has to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The issue of the Bronco is a whole other story, and as you should know the chase did not take place immediatly after the murders.
As for the article, I was really talking about the case of James P. Anderson and it is unfortunate that the discussion has gotten side tracked on to other issues. I am going to rewrite the article to dumb it down to a level that more people with your kind of touching faith in the likes of Mark Furhman can understand what is happening to James P. Anderson.
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