Okla. Man On Death Row Claims Innocence; Ex Deputy Supports Him
(CBS) Otis Earl Short was shot to death during a break-in at his home on a January night in rural Oklahoma 16 years ago. His wife Minnie was attacked but survived.
Two petty criminals were arrested and were eventually convicted.
One, Tracy Dyer, admitted guilt and got life in prison. The other never confessed but was sentenced to die.
"My name is Jeffrey David Matthews and i'm set for execution,'' said the convict on a YouTube posting.
So far, his execution has been delayed twice.
Matthews' case is getting belated attention - because of the questions about it, and the means employed to raise them.
"I did not kill my uncle and I wasn't there,'' said Matthews.
In the 21st century, why write a letter when you can go up on YouTube and plead your case directly to the governor?
"I humbly ask you to help me in this matter,'' said Matthews in his YouTube posting. "I really would like for you to talk to Mike Mars."
Mike Mars is a former deputy sheriff who arrested Matthews. CBS News spoke to him last week.
"I know that he did not receive a fair trial and right now I know that he was innocent," Mars told CBS News.
Mars has complained about the case from the start. But only lately has he turned to YouTube as well to make his point to a wider audience.
"I firmly believe that they made Jeff Matthews fit the crime -- instead of the evidence convicting him,'' said Mars on YouTube.
Matthews' defenders note that no DNA evidence or finger prints have ever connected him to the murder scene. He also has two witnesses who provided him an alibi -- but who were somehow never called to testify.
"This is the perfect cocktail for a wrongful execution," said private investigator Paul Ciolino, a CBS News consultant.
Ciolino says recently discovered fingerprints from the scene could well point away from Matthews and toward someone else.
"All you have to do is say 'time out fellas, let's review this a little bit more carefully before we kill somebody who may be innocent.'"
Dyer, Matthews' co-defendant, originally accused him of pulling the trigger. But he now says someone else whom he will not name was the shooter
A juror from the second of Matthews' two trials has changed his mind about Matthews' guilt
"If I had things to do over again, I would not have sentenced Mr. Matthews to death,'' said the juror.
Sitzman sites some of the facts against Matthews:
-- Clothing that Minnie Short said one of her attackers wore was found in Matthews' home, along with prescription medicine she said was also taken.
-- Matthews admits talking with others about robbing his relatives. And one acquaintance testified he loaned Matthews a .45 caliber pistol hours before the murder. Ballistic testing showed it to be the murder weapon.
"If the state is going to execute a man or a woman then in my own mind there should be no doubt," said Sitzmann, the prosecutor
For now though, Matthews' execution date is set for August 17. Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry pushed it to next month, so authorities could continue to review evidence in his case.