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W - Witness Tampering

W - Witness Tampering

Witness tampering is the act of attempting to alter a witness's testimony or prevent the witness from testifying. Witness tampering often occurs in organized crime trials. It is a crime regardless of the method used.

A person may offer money or other compensation in effort to alter or prevent a witness from testifying.  Interfering with a witness's cooperation in a criminal case is a crime.

Blackmail is frequently used. If the witness has a secret that they do not want exposed, they can become a prime target for witness tampering. Threats of death or bodily harm is another method commonly used in witness tampering. Ordinarily witness tampering occurs when a witness is scheduled to testify at a trial or hearing or before the grand jury. For purposes of the A to Z blogging challenge and my crime fiction murder mystery, I am going to restrict witness tampering to the act of tampering or interfering with a witness's pre-trial statement or testimony.

Types of witness tampering: Intimidating or tampering with a witness to get the witness:

             To Lie
             Alter evidence
             Destroy evidence
             Refuse to cooperate with police
             Provide a fake alibi


Offering a bribe (money or other benefit)
Threat of physical violence
Threat of property damage
Threatening the witness's family
Threatening to harm the witness's business or reputation

What's Happening with the Crime Fiction Murder Mystery:

Aha, a big break in the case: On a hunch, Detective Coker had the crime lab test the gun found in Martha's hand for DNA. He struck out with any valuable prints, but DNA from sweat was recovered from the .38 found in the victim's hand and it matches her husband, Thomas Clinton

Detective Coker interviewed nurse Elisa Smith from the pediatric clinic and she admitted being former roommates with Pam Robinson, but denied stealing, borrowing, or ever seeing a gun. Coker followed Elisa Smith when she took an urgent break, immediately following their conversation. She drove to a remote area between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and Coker witnessed a meeting between Elisa Smith and Thomas Clinton. He also observed them embracing, hugging and kissing.

On another note:

The mystery witness who came forward some nine days after the murder and reported seeing a man at the victim's home on the night of the crime, contacted Detective Coker to recant her statement. She claims she was mistaken about the date and she also wanted to withdraw her photo identification of Michael Prejean as the person she observed. Detective Coker asked her to come into the police station, but she refused. He has asked the judge to issue a material witness warrant for the woman as he is certain she is the victim of witness tampering. He believes that someone has threatened, bribed or coerced her into recanting her earlier statement.

After reviewing the case file, Detective Coker recalled someone informing him that Dr. Russo has a rare negative blood type. In fact he does have a negative blood type, but not one of the rarest blood types. He got to thinking and has put in a call to the medical examiner. He needs to find out if there is a way that someone could fake or alter their blood test when they submit to a blood DNA test. 

He seems to recall watching one of those forensics or true crime television shows where a dentist was accused of rape and his blood DNA was not a match. Years later the police discovered the dentist surgically implanted someone else's blood into his arm for the purpose of the blood DNA test. Coker researched the case and discovered that the dentist implanted a drain filled with another man's blood and anticoagulants in his arm and tricked the lab tech into taking the blood sample from the place where the tube was inserted. 

Crazy huh? 

The man's name was John Sheenberger and he escaped prosecution for nearly a decade.

Shit. Coker might have to re-test all of the suspects.

Meanwhile Detective Coker began studying the content of Michael Prejean's travel blog. Nothing too interesting. The dude visited a lot of third world countries. One of his post intrigued Detective Coker.
It was titled:

This Little Kidney Went To Market: 

The blog post was more of a diary of the Prejean's journey to find a kidney and how he obtained a kidney transplant from a doctor referred to as Dr. Frankenstein, because he allegedly purchases kidneys from poor Moldovians and transfers them to wealthy patrons. Micheal Prejean apparently, was finally able to secure a much needed kidney. He traveled to Turkey for the operation and comments on his blog chastised him and blamed him for participating in the booming business of illegal kidney transplants. Interesting read, but Coker has more important issues, right here in the good ole U S of A. He bookmarked the weirdo's blog for later reading.

Still no luck locating the missing ring. Thomas Clinton maintains his story that he never thought about the ring on the night his wife died because he was under such severe emotional distress.

Do ya believe that one? Oh, yea ... forgot about my half million dollar ring.
Just slipped my mind.
Coker realized he doesn't like the slime ball, ass-wipe husband and he needs to temper his disdain so it doesn't negatively and erroneously impact his investigation.

Just as Detective Coker was leaving for the day a woman with a black eye entered the police station claiming to have information on the Martha Clinton murder. The witness's name is Rose DeSimone and she said she was coming forward to report that she believes Martha may have been killed by someone in mafia because of the outstanding gambling debts her husband owed. The hit might have been meant for Thomas or maybe his wife was killed as a warning. When asked if she had any proof to back up her story, she clammed up and darted out of the station. Detective Coker did a quick background check and discovered that Rose DeSimon is the girlfriend of the married mob boss, Frank Mondello. Mondello is a silent partner/owner of three of the casinos in Louisiana, part owner of Louisiana Downs Racetrack in Bossier City, La., and owner of thirty - one truck stops that have video poker machines.

 His jacket says he is a known bookmaker and has been collared three times for illegal bookmaking. He is the suspect in more than a dozen homicides, but no one has ever been willing to testify against him.

Detective Coker made a few unsuccessful attempts to call Mondello before heading out to find the mob boss. 

Their conversation was brief.

Det. Coker: "Do you know a Thomas Clinton."

Frank Mondello: "Can't say I do."

Det. Coker: "Word is you had his wife whacked because of his gambling debts."

Frank Mondello: "First of all, I ain't into taking bets. Second. I ain't involved in organized crime like you bozos seem to think. Third, if I was connected, we don't off women."

Det. Coker. "Nice story. So, you admit it wouldn't be outside the realm of business ... of a bookie ... in that line of business ...  who just happened to be connected, to um ... put a contract on the deadbeat gambler's head. Am I hearing you, right?"

Mondello: "You ain't too bright for a detective. Not saying I know nothing about the business ... cause I don't. But, hey I watch the Sopranos. And you's know what ? Dead men pay no debts. Now get the hell out of my store."

He had a point. Why kill Thomas?  He would never get his money. Kill the wife. That might scare him into paying. Coker didn't buy it, but made a note to check with the feds who have Mondello under twenty - four hour surveillance. But, he couldn't figure out why the girlfriend bothered to come in with this story in the first place. Weird. This case is full of weird shit.

For a complete list of all evidence, facts and clues in my crime fiction mystery, click on the Legal Fiction page of my blog.

Visit the Idea Bank page at the top of my blog for a complete witness list and a list of all the daily letter clues.

The 2015 A to Z blogging challenge is almost over. How many blogs have you visited. I plan to make my way through the entire list during the months of May & June.

Today's Clue: Letter W - Warrant 


Melissa Sugar said...

I wonder how often witness tampering happens?

Melissa Sugar said...

I love true crime stories. That John Schneeberger is a royal scumbag.

Precious Monsters

Melissa Sugar said...

I bet witness tampering happens more than we know, especially with the rich

Melissa Sugar said...

Detective Coker cracks me up with his attitude. He is kind of a loveable curmudgeon. And, wow, this post is chock full of info. The whole organ black market is messed up. Cool twist and "This little kidney went to market" is such a clever title :)

Melissa Sugar said...

Hi Melissa - kidneys now too - that's a troublesome market. Mondello might be happy to have the ring - it'd be a bonus payment ... but as Shell Flower says there's lots going on ... withnew evidence, new people and why did the new witness go along .. and what were Clinton and Elisa doing .. and then the implant of blood ... really yughy to think about - and to know these things happen ... I look forward to W .. and XYZ when I hope we'll zap someon!! Cheers Hilary

Melissa Sugar said...

I think gambling debt is a red herring. It makes witness tampering sound more feasible. I'm starting to have my own ideas. I'll wait till tomorrow.
Though I haven't tried every blog, I have gone to quite a number and have been going back to those few on a regular daily basis. Wish I had more time to check out every blog on the list.

Melissa Sugar said...

Thanks for the Witness Tampering info.


Melissa Sugar said...

Very interesting theme for the challenge. I'm sorry I missed most of it, now. :-/

Melissa Sugar said...

I bet it occurs more often than we think it does

Melissa Sugar said...

Yes he is. I feel so sorry for that woman who tried so hard to get people to believe her for like seven or eight years. Then he got caught because he molested his own kids, i think

Melissa Sugar said...

That's my opinion, as well

Melissa Sugar said...

Thanks Shell. I am worn out. Not so much from the challenge. I just never seem to anticipate how many other things I have to do during the day. I really appreciate you tuning in each day

Melissa Sugar said...

I feel confident that either you or Shell will have it solved. Or someone else, but the two of you have really paid attention

Melissa Sugar said...

Yes, we need some red herrings don't we. I had to try and steer all of you very smart sleuths in the wrong direction

Melissa Sugar said...

That's okay. Glad you stopped by

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