#105: Ye Olde Mailman Delivereth

105.1  Dear Stolf: Have you ever heard of the case of North Carolina v. John Lee Conaway? …from Perry Masonite, Tile City, NM

105.2  Dear Perry:  ‘Deed I have…there was even a book written about it. And what’s interesting to us is that the outcome was determined by the hiring and testimony of a “genealogy expert.” BTW, the defendant is not related to Grease’s Kenickie, the late Jeff Conaway…to start with, different races…

105.3  First the background: On the night of August 22, 1991, John Lee Conaway and 3 accomplices robbed a convenience store at gunpoint and kidnapped 2 male employees, who were subsequently driven out to the woods and shot dead…this happened in the small town of Hamlet, North Carolina. The 3 co-defendants at the 1992 trial testified against Conaway in exchange for guilty pleas to kidnapping and each served 10 years. Conaway was found guilty and sentenced to death.

105.4   Now at some point, the defense became aware that one of the jurors, Rannie Waddell, Junior, was related to one of the co-defendants, Kelly Harrington. This information was obtained via an anonymous phone call, and there was some dispute about precisely when this occurred. The problem was that Waddell, during juror voir dire, had indicated he was not related to any of the parties to the proceedings. Was he in fact related, and if so, how? Was the relationship close enough to be considered “juror bias”? Had the defense “sat” on this information, allowing the trial to go forward, bringing it up only upon conviction?

105.5  Please do not be shocked to learn that it took 16 years for these issues to be resolved. In 2008, the Supreme Court of North Carolina granted Conaway a new trial, and he was ultimately re-sentenced to 2 life terms in 2010. Thus grind the wheels of justice. But as we observe in Chart 369, it was determined that juror Rannie Waddell Jr., who died 5 years after the trial, was indeed related to the co-defendant Kelly Harrington.

chart 369

105.6  The transcript of the ruling overturning the convictions called this relationship “double 1st cousins once removed”…that is, Waddell was a double 1st cousin to Kelly Harrington’s father Johnny…their mothers being sisters and their fathers being half-brothers. Since we have half-brothers on one side, such a characterization is not precisely true…Waddell and Johnny Harrington were 1st cousins on their mothers’ side, but half-1st cousins on their fathers’ side…a Coefficient of Relationship of 1/8 + 1/16 = 3/16…slightly less than that of full double 1st cousins, which is 4/16 or 1/4, the equivalent of half-siblings.

105.7   But despite the approximate description of “double 1st cousins once removed,” the correct relationship was spelled out in the record by the “genealogy expert,” that of mothers who were sisters and fathers who were half-brothers. Waddell and Johnny Harrington were thus described as “1st cousins who shared 3 of 4 grandparents…2 maternal grandparents and a paternal grandmother.”

105.8  Apparently, several members of the Waddell and Harrington families were less than forthcoming about these relationships…nevertheless, it was established that the 2 “cousins” were very close growing up, and in the same high school class. Since juror Waddell was dead, his reasoning or motives for denying this were never determined. Upon appeal, it was ruled that the relationship was not close enough to presume bias, but as we know, this was eventually overturned. It seems strange to me that this was the initial ruling…from a purely theoretically point of view, certainly a pair of half-1st cousins could be leading lives completely separate from each other, but this was not the case here, and the individuals in question were also full 1st cousins to boot.

105.9  And regardless, the juror had lied during the impanelling proceeding, hence the new trial…it was noted that “kinship between a juror and a participant in a criminal trial constitutes a classic form of juror partiality.” The question of course is how close does that kinship have to be. The current law of North Carolina, as is common in many other states, excludes jurors who are related to another participant by blood or marriage up to and including the 6th degree. This the law correctly explains as the number of “steps” from one individual up to a common ancestor, then back down to the other individual. The equivalent of counting steps is to count the individuals involved, minus the one you start with. 6th degree would typically mean 2nd cousins, altho there are other possibilities…and to this extent, full relations and half relations are equivalent, since you are reckoning thru individuals, not couples.

105.10  As you can see in Chart 369,  the relationship between the juror and the co-defendant is in the 5th degree, and in 2 different ways. Whether or not the juror knew this…and it certainly strains credulity to suppose that in this case he didn’t…he should have been disqualified. In the words of Sir Edward Coke, Chief Justice in Britain during the early 1600s, “The law presumeth that one kinsman doth favor another before a stranger.”

105.11  Dear Stolf: We now know Kate and Will aren’t expecting twins…but why all the speculation in the first place?  …from R. J. Royalswatcher, Sceptreville, Wyoming

105.12  Dear RJ: Sarah Burton, who designed Kate’s wedding dress is expecting twins…in the comic strip, Mike Doonesbury’s daughter Alex is expecting twins…but alas, Kate is expected, in July, to a throw a singleton, if you’ll pardon my saying. The reason for all the hubbub, bub, was that twins run in both Kate and Will’s families…and there has never been, so we are told, twins in the immediate line of succession to the British throne. Now granted, only fraternal twins are thought to be influenced by genetics…indenticals are believed to be mere accidents of chance. Spokesmen for the Middletons have declined to elucidate which of their pairs are fraternal and which identical, and I’m not feeling inclined to do the research…but Chart 370  gives you the basics…the twins are in solid colors…

chart 370

105.13  On the Spencer side, William has identical 1st cousins, and a great grandfather, Lady Di’s maternal grandfather, who was an identical twin…some reports I saw called Lord Fermoy William’s grandfather, but he is Lady Di’s grandfather. With the Middletons, Kate’s paternal grandmother was a twin…and in fact the Glassborow twins married brothers…as were 2 of her great grand maiden aunts.

105.14  Now if Kate were going to have twins, the first one out would be, quite logically, the next in line, behind grandfather Charles and father Will. And today, that’s regardless of sex…up until last year, male heirs had predominance, but, starting with Kate and Will’s offspring, no more. Over in Denmark last year, Crown Princess Mary gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. News reports speculated that she would have a Caesarean section delivery, and that the presiding doctor would thus be “effectively choosing the babies’ position in the line of succession.”

105.15  Turns out surgery wasn’t necessary…Prince Vincent arrived naturally about a half an hour before Princess Josephine. But I’m gratified to learn that others besides myself were woefully ignorant of the realities of human birthing. As my brother the doctor explained it to me, twin babies would be packed in there pretty tight, and with the Caesarean procedure, there is no “choosing”…one will “present” itself and be taken out first, simple as that…it’s not like lifting tots from a tub. Till next week, cheers, tra, and Bob’s your uncle…


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


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