Fresh Evidence Sparks Renewed Investigation into Lawrence Paine’s Conviction
Lawrence Paine, currently serving two life sentences in Wisconsin for the murders of Janari Saddler and Aaron Harrington, is at the center of an ongoing Frank Report investigation into potential police misconduct. FR has been probing the circumstances surrounding Paine’s conviction. A critical facet of this investigation involves two seasoned Milwaukee Police detectives – Gilberto Hernandez and Katherine Hein Spano – who led the original Paine investigation.
Questionable Evidence and Uninvestigated Leads
Despite an extensive crime scene investigation that yielded nine DNA samples, none matched Paine. Furthermore, Ronald Q. Terry, whose DNA was found at the crime scene and who possessed a gun matching the type used in the double homicide, was not thoroughly investigated.
A Failed Alibi and a Missing Witness
Paine’s alibi hinged on his presence at Club Paradise, a strip club, during the night of the murders. However, his claims were dismissed by Detectives Hernandez and Spano, who stated they could neither locate Anthony “Skin” Blackman, who Paine claimed was with him at the club, nor find footage of Paine at the club on the night of the murders.
Intimidation Tactics Overlooked
Witness Sherika Ray alleged she was intimidated by Terry and George Donald, who testified against Paine. Despite the gravity of these claims, Detective Hernandez failed to investigate the alleged intimidation or charge those involved.
The Crucial Role of Surveillance Footage
In a dramatic turn of events, the original, unedited surveillance footage from Club Paradise surfaced after 18 years. This footage, which contradicts the claims of the detectives, shows Paine and Blackman at the club on the night of the murders.
Manipulated Hotel Records Challenge Paine’s Alibi
Paine’s alibi, which stated he drove over five hours after leaving Club Paradise to see his son and stayed at a hotel, was challenged by the prosecutors using possibly manipulated hotel records. The timing of his arrival at the hotel would have made it almost impossible for him to be present at the scene of the murder.
Misconduct Allegations Against Spano and Hernandez
The misconduct allegations against former Milwaukee detectives Katherine Hein Spano and Gilbert Hernandez in the Paine case have exposed potentially alarming trends in their investigative practices. The alleged manipulation of evidence and testimonies has cast doubt on Paine’s conviction and raised concerns about other cases they were involved in.
Parallels in the Larnell Washington Case
One such case is Larnell Washington’s. Like the Paine case, Spano and Hernandez played crucial roles in the investigation when they opened the cold case from 1990. The parallels between these two cases, along with the mounting misconduct allegations, raise serious questions about the integrity of their investigation.
Groundbreaking Motion Filed in Washington Case
A motion was filed on September 20, 2023, in the case of defendant Larnell Washington, which introduced evidence of misconduct by Spano and Hernandez in his case.
The motion also cites numerous allegations against Spano and Hernandez, including their involvement in the case of William Avery, who was convicted based on a falsified confession elicited by the detectives.
Washington, who was charged with the murder of Annette Love this past February, is a free man as of Friday. Prosecutors admitted they did not have enough evidence to move forward, and witnesses kept changing their stories. They stopped short of admitting Hernandez and Spano falsified records in the case.
That evidence may come out soon enough, as it did in the Avery case.
Washington’s wife says his family plans to file a civil suit for false arrest.
Avery’s Exoneration and Hernandez’s Involvement in Michael Miller’s Case
William Avery’s defense team later had the DNA of the murdered victim tested; it matched serial killer Walter Ellis, leading to Avery’s exoneration and a $1 million jury award in a lawsuit against Hernandez. In another case, Hernandez may have falsified the confession of murder defendant Michael Miller.
The Frank Report will examine these cases in a subsequent post, shed more light on the potential misconduct of Detectives Spano and Hernandez, and present more evidence that Lawrence Paine, who has spent more than 18 years in prison, must be freed in the interest of justice.