June 3 Akron – Imagine that you’re driving from work when a policeman detains you for questioning. Although you haven’t been drinking, during the conversation you admit that you attended a party in 2007 and probably drove home drunk. Then imagine that the officer arrests you for drunk driving and, based solely upon your statement about the 2007 party, prosecutors file charges against you for drunk driving.
While reasonable people will dismiss this hypothetical as preposterous, this is essentially how prosecutors in Akron Ohio handled HIV-related charges against Ladon Bell.
By all accounts, Mr. Bell is no angel. Arrested for breaking into several cars and a Dairy Mart, an allegedly intoxicated Bell wrestled with medical personnel and spit in the eye of a policeman.
Bell then claimed he was HIV positive.
Although the CDC doubts that HIV can be spread by spitting AND no record exists that corroborates Bell’s alleged HIV status, prosecutors offered Bell three years if he plead guilty to HIV-related crimes and threatened Bell with two five-year counts for burglary if he didn’t. Against his attorney’s advice, Ladon Bell made his “Alford Plea” and accepted three years to avoid ten.
Now let’s get back to your hypothetical DUI arrest. Prosecutors have no evidence that you drove drunk in 2007. Nevertheless, they offer you a one-year sentence for drunk driving and ten years for two burglaries you didn’t commit if you don’t.
What would you do?
Judges, lawyers and cops who handle drunk driving cases know that prosecutors need more than an admission to file criminal charges. Even when officers acquire blood, breath or urine samples from DUI arrestees, prosecutors must prove that the testing equipment was properly calibrated and in good working order when the samples were tested.
For HIV cases, however, NO SUCH TESTING OR CALIBRATION EXISTS. Instead, judges and juries are expected to believe junk scientists and marketing information produced by the de facto testing monopoly of LabCorp and Quest. And unlike the well known and regularly calibrated testing equipment that is used to establish blood-alcohol content, HIV testing facilities are veiled in cult-like secrecy to protect Americans from a pandemic that never occurred:
Although the alleged cause of AIDS cannot be spread by passionate kissing, prosecutors had no problem coercing the belligerent black man into accepting three years to avoid ten.
For career cops and prosecutors, it’s hard to imagine what former prosecutors like Alice Hand, Veronica McBeth, David Sotelo and Mike Nifong think when abusing their offices to prosecute the factually innocent for political reasons. Then again, what can we expect from local, state or federal health agencies that are funded, directly and indirectly by an industry that has paid more than $7 billion to settle criminal and civil complaints since 2004.
Ladon Bell is one of 30+ criminal HIV defendants who have received scientific and legal assistance from OMSJ’s HIV Innocence Group. Without generous donations like yours, OMSJ cannot provide the assistance needed to defend the factually innocent.