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Old 09-27-2016, 10:38 AM   #1
TheCars1986
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Default Final Appeal - Michael Lloyd Self

So I searched through the forums and never really found a "main" thread devoted to this case, but I came across one of Self's appeals online. I don't know if it's been posted on here, but here it is. A lot of it is legal jargon, but there are some interesting parts (starting around page 19). This ruling appears to say that because Self (and his attorney's) never raised that his arrest was illegal during any proceedings or trials, that a district court's ruling that his arrest was illegal, was invalid. Which is odd to me. If Self truly was coerced into confessing, thereby making his arrest illegal, he and his attorney's would have been shouting that from the rooftops every chance they got. They never did. Also of note:

-Self changed his story about the interrogation over the years. First he said there were other officers present, and did not mention the bit about the revolver and the faux Russian roulette technique. He later said that he was alone with the chief at the time, Don Morris, and added the bit about the gun.

-Self made no mention of being beaten to a doctor who was examining him later that day. Photographs were taken of Self that same afternoon, and show no bruising.

-On the stand at his trial, he admitted that he couldn't remember which version of the interrogation story was correct.

-Believe it or not, Chief Don Morris (one of the two crooked cops mentioned on UM who later went to jail for armed robbery) was the one who had the photographs taken at the hospital to combat a possible police brutality charge.

-Inconsistent testimony from Self's appointed attorney, who testified during a Habeas hearing, that Self told him he was afraid of Morris and told him about the beating during the interrogation. The attorney made no mention of this at a suppression hearing 6 years prior.

-Remember the rough and tumble Elvis lookalike during the segment, David Coburn? He was the sheriff from a neighboring county who visited Self in prison, and became an advocate for his innocence. During the segment, Coburn makes a comment about how he wasn't called to testify at Self's trial. It turns out, there was a really good reason for this. Coburn himself was a known drunk, and was also known to mistreat prisoners violently, and he was the primary reason that the former chief (JC Norman) was removed and replaced with Don Morris. Coburn's antics garnered a lot of negative attention on the PD and they were trying to clean up their image.

-The other former police officer interviewed in the segment mentioned that when he left the interrogation room, Self was acting fine and normal, and that when he returned 30 to 45 minutes later, he was visibly distraught and highly emotional. There was testimony at Self's Habeas hearing that this officer, when discussing the case with a friend, never mentioned the change in Self's demeanor and never mentioned his suspicions that Morris coerced a confession from Self.

-Morris, assistant chief Tommy Deal, and another officer present during the interrogation were all convicted for bank robbery. The UM segment only mentions Morris and Deal being convicted.

-Another witness, a former deputy sheriff only identified as Shapiro, testified at the Habeas hearing that he had specifically asked Self if he was hurt prior to taking him to the hospital and self had told him that he wasn't. This same witness also said that during the examination of Self at the hospital, Morris was not present. Self had maintained that the reason he did not tell the doctor about the abuse by Morris was because Morris was there and he was scared of his threats being carried out.

-Shapiro did not think highly of Morris during his testimony at the Habeas hearing, and had maintained that it was his belief that Self was not coerced into testifying.

-Another deputy sheriff testified at the Habeas hearing that he had specifically asked Self on that same date (June 9th, first confession) if he had been "abused, threatened, or mistreated, or if any coercion or trickery had been used to obtain his statement" and that Self answered with "a very clear negative".

-Self maintains that there were differences in his first (June 9th) and second (June 12th) confessions. One was the description of where he dumped the bodies. On June 9th, he says it was a "culvert", and on June 12th, he says "bayou". Both words were used by other witnesses in describing the location to where the bodies were found. Both words could be used to describe the location.

-On his June 12th confession, Self says that he discarded the victim's clothing on Red Bluff Road, but the clothing was found in the area of where the bodies were ultimately found. It's worth noting that this was his second confession. If the officers were coercing him into confessing to match the "known" facts about the case, why would they then have him confess to a detail that they knew was untrue? The bodies were found 4 months prior to Self's confessions. The police already knew that the clothing was found near their bodies. So why not "fix" this little detail in Self's 2nd confession? There is also another road closer to where the bodies were found, called Old Choate Road. The court concedes that since Red Bluff Road intersects with Old Choate Road, Self was misremembering the road names and made a mistake.

-There were additional facts taken during a "oral" 3rd confession on June 23rd, which contradict where he initially encountered the victims. Again, if the police were coercing him into confessing to fit the known facts of the case, why would they continue to have inconsistencies in his accounts?

-Self led two different officers to the exact location where the bodies were found. The area was described as "very desolate". Self maintains he was "just guessing". This was the June 23rd oral confession described further below.

-Self got a lawyer after the June 9th confession, but waived his right to have him present during the 2nd confession on June 12th, despite repeated warnings about how what he said could be used against him.

-Self testified at his trial that the second confession was not coerced and that he was not beaten or threatened, and that only Deal was present, who had treated him favorably.

Here is Self's June 12th confession, in part (his first confession from June 9th was never admitted into evidence):

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Lloyd Self
The day of August 4th, 1971, I was driving around at approximate 9:00 P.M. and I had had several nerve pills and 8 to 10 bottles of beer in my system. After I saw Renee Johnson walking on El Camino Real, south toward Nasa I, I was going north on El Camino Real and I turned around and came back and picked her up. I asked her what she was doing when she got into the car and she said nothing at the time. I asked her what she wanted to do and she mentioned going over the Nasa Bay Yacht Club. I told her I would drop her off there. We went to the Yacht Club and she asked me to wait. She came back a few minutes later with Sharon Shaw. We then drove around the Clear Lake. The two girls had previously had something to drink. I had two joints of marijuana in the car, but neither girl smoked it. I also had 5 beers with me. We drank them and they began to feel good and getting loud. We drove thru El Largo and that vicinity. Renee was sitting next to me and Sharon was sitting on the passenger's side of the car. Sharon was hanging out the window jumping up and down hollering at everybody and shooting peace signs at them. Renee was jumping up and down next to me playing with the radio and getting on my nerves. I asked them both to be quite. They quieted down some but not a whole lot. I had stopped along the side of the road and had gotten them quieted down, by telling them that I was going to whip them or make them walk if they did not quiet down. The later it got the more it got on my nerves. Neither one of the girls wanted to go home, they wanted to drive around some more. We parked at Camp Red Bluff and went down by the lake. I tried to get into Renee's pants, by feeling around on her and tried to get her hot and did not succeed. Sharon was throwing rocks in the lake. We all got into the car and drove to Red Bluff and Old Kirby Road, where there were some trees at the corner of the intersection and a small dirt road. I pulled into the dirt road and went as far as I could go. I tried getting fresh again with Renee and Sharon was out of the car. We fought in the front seat because I wanted it, but she would not let me have it. I wasn't thinking straight and I reached into the back seat on the floorboard, and grabbed a coke bottle, she crawled out on the passenger side and I slid out on the passenger side too, I began swinging and hit Sharon in the neck somewhere, I hit her again and she fell, I do not know if she was unconscious or not. Her nose was bleeding. Renee started running towards Kirby Rd. She was looking back hollowing don't hit me, don't hit me. When I caught her, I brought her back to the car and hit her in the butt, made her get back into the car and hit her again in the left shoulder. She didn't move and I left her there on the front seat. I knocked her out at this point. I got out of the car and opened the back seat and put Sharon in the back seat laying down, her nose was still bleeding and it was getting on her arm. I then shut the door and walked around the car and got into the front seat of the car and left. I then got on Red Bluff and drive towards the Bay Area, turned right on Bay Area down to Big Three Welding and Chemical Plant, and turned right on a dead end street, went to the dead end backed the car up heading the car back towards the Bay Area and stopped. The two girls were still not moving, I got out walked around the car and opened the passenger side door and grabbed Renee about the waist and pulled her out. After I got her out of the car I stripped off her clothes and dropped her on the ground, threw her clothes in the front seat, and got Sharon out of the back seat, by the legs and arms, and after I got her out of the car I stripped her clothes off except her panties, and put them in the front seat. Neither one of the girls was moving, I panicked and shoved them into the Bayou. I put old grass and tree limbs over the top of the bodies. I shut the passenger door. I got into the car and drove back to the Bay Area and got back on Red Bluff and drove very slow throwing out the clothes in the ditch on the right and left side of the road, by swinging my car back and forth on the road. I then drove to Kemah to a U-Tot-Em, and went inside and bought a coke and cigarettes and talked to the man working in the store and left and went home at around 12:30 or 1 a.m. and watched T.V. and fell asleep on the couch.
And from another appeal, in addition to the written statement, he gave an oral statement on June 23rd (which would be his 3rd confession) to 2 deputies from the Harris County Jail (unaffiliated with the PD which Morris and Deal worked for) and said:

"The appellant agreed to show the Deputies various locations in the Clear Lake and Nassau Bay area where he had been on the night of August 4, 1971, and to tell them what he had done that night. The testimony of Beamer, in which he related what the appellant told the officers and where he took them, may be summarized as follows: The appellant took them first to the Sizzler Steak House where he said he picked up Rhonda Renee Johnson. The appellant then directed them to drive to the Nassau Bay Yacht Club. The appellant said that at this club Rhonda Renee Johnson left his car and came back with Sharon Shaw. Appellant told Beamer that with both girls in the car he drove to a Jack-In-The-Box restaurant where they drank cokes and ate hamburgers. The trio then drove around for quite some time in the El Largo subdivision, then to the Timber Cove addition, and finally they stopped at the side of Old Red Bluff Road. Near this spot the appellant told Beamer that he struck both girls with a coke bottle. He put the bodies of the girls in the car and drove to a grassy area near Choate Road where he undressed the girls and put their clothes back in the car. Appellant showed Beamer where he carried the bodies across the guardrail and threw them into the water near a culvert; this was the place where the remains of their bodies had been found."

I'll have more to add on my thoughts later, and you can read another appeal here.
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Old 09-27-2016, 11:12 AM   #2
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Interesting! I've never actually seen this segment before, so my knowledge about this case is limited. It seemed like there was a general consensus that Self was innocent, but I'm curious to see if you feel differently. I know that Edward Harold Bell allegedly confessed to Self's murders (among several others), but his claims have never been corroborated.
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Old 09-27-2016, 12:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinW
Interesting! I've never actually seen this segment before, so my knowledge about this case is limited. It seemed like there was a general consensus that Self was innocent, but I'm curious to see if you feel differently. I know that Edward Harold Bell allegedly confessed to Self's murders (among several others), but his claims have never been corroborated.
Overall, I think Self is guilty. Had he not led the 2 deputies to the spot where the bodies were found, I'd say he was innocent. There really was no forensic evidence per se, but that was due to the condition that the bodies were found in (skeletal remains). The coroner could not rule a manner of death, due to the condition of the bodies. But he did not rule out death via manner of homicide. Self's confession, coupled with his showing where he dumped the bodies, sealed his fate.

As to the police brutality charge, I actually believe a portion of it. I believe that Don Morris implicitly threatened Self with a billy club into confessing on June 9th. But I don't think it was coerced. Anyway, this June 9th confession was not admitted into evidence so it was never brought up at trial. His June 12th confession, however, was admitted into evidence. And Self admitted that he was treated favorably during this time and that Morris was not present. It was only after the fact that he claimed the coerced June 9th confession made him scared into confessing a second time on June 12th. I honestly believe that the former officer who visited Self in prison (David Coburn, interviewed in the segment), felt bitter about being forced out of his job and replaced with Morris, and hearing a similar story about Morris using a Russian roulette tactic (as he stated in his UM interview), coached Self into using this story to tarnish Morris's character and throw doubt into the story.
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Old 09-30-2016, 09:50 AM   #4
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the cars,

thank you for starting this thread. I was looking for one about a week ago as I saw this segment on the escape channel. I do not think there is one thread out there so now we have one.

Forgive me if I missed it in your post, but did UM mention that he had a low IQ. not trying to stereotype in order to conclude to his guilt or innocence but we have seen other cases where people with low IQ's or mental disabilities have falsely confessed to crimes.

I do believe that any police brutality or illegal questioning/interrogating that violates protocol(not a perceived violation but a real one) warrants consideration for a new trial after the fact. This may be a legal question and some states may have different laws.

I get the sense that he could have been innocent and that there are definitely some questions about the detective work and how they handled this case.
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Old 09-30-2016, 09:58 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DALLASTEXAN!!
Forgive me if I missed it in your post, but did UM mention that he had a low IQ. not trying to stereotype in order to conclude to his guilt or innocence but we have seen other cases where people with low IQ's or mental disabilities have falsely confessed to crimes.
This is one of the most oft repeated claims that I've heard for high profile cases over the years, and I've found that it doesn't matter how high or low one's IQ is in determining false confessions or coerced confessions. The data shows that it could happen to anyone under pressure. Although the argument could be made that one with a lower IQ could be more susceptible to a false confession, I don't think this would apply in the Self case. He led the police to the location where the bodies were found. He was asked about how he would have known that if he were truly innocent and he said he was "just guessing".
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Old 09-30-2016, 10:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCars1986
This is one of the most oft repeated claims that I've heard for high profile cases over the years, and I've found that it doesn't matter how high or low one's IQ is in determining false confessions or coerced confessions. The data shows that it could happen to anyone under pressure. Although the argument could be made that one with a lower IQ could be more susceptible to a false confession, I don't think this would apply in the Self case. He led the police to the location where the bodies were found. He was asked about how he would have known that if he were truly innocent and he said he was "just guessing".
In this case I may agree with you given how much detail that he gave in his confession he could very well be guilty. I just could not remember off the top of my head if that was mentioned by UM in the segment. My main concern is did he receive fair/legal treatment from the detective(s). Regardless of guilt or innocence the justice system is supposed to function correctly, but obviously it does not always work that way. As far as the IQ or mental issue yes that could be used and abused in defense of a guilty criminal, but it could also very well be used by a detective that is taking a shortcut to close a case.

I do think that people with low IQ or more specifically mental disabilities can be taken advantage of. Just as a underage child could be taken advantage of in that way. I was not aware of all of the information on this case as I've only seen the segment a couple of times and UM gives a very biased defense for Self.
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Old 09-30-2016, 11:12 PM   #7
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It has been awhile since I watched the Self case (I thought he was innocent based on the presentation alone), but I wanted to thank you for posting this. It is ALWAYS refreshing to get a new point of view especially on a Final Appeal.
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:52 PM   #8
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Just rereading the confession I can't help but feel he did it. Just too many details coupled with the fact that most of them rang true.

Oddly, I thought there was an article (or a series of articles) about ten years ago that indicated the police thought someone else actually committed the murders and that Self really was innocent, but Self had already died in prison by that point. Anyone remember that?
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Old 10-01-2016, 07:52 PM   #9
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I'm with Cars--I'd probably say innocent but for his leading police to the bodies.
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Old 10-03-2016, 10:21 AM   #10
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What's strange is that 3 different people confessed to this crime?
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Old 10-03-2016, 12:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justins5256
Just rereading the confession I can't help but feel he did it. Just too many details coupled with the fact that most of them rang true.

Oddly, I thought there was an article (or a series of articles) about ten years ago that indicated the police thought someone else actually committed the murders and that Self really was innocent, but Self had already died in prison by that point. Anyone remember that?
Yes, I recently read an article about that. Some feel that a serial killer was responsible and that Self was innocent.

ETA: I must be in the minority because a lot of you guys are saying you've rarely or never seen the segment before. This is probably the most repeated "Final Appeal" segments I've seen.
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Old 02-23-2018, 07:38 AM   #12
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Rewatched this one yesterday on Prime, and man did UM spin this to make Self look like a hapless victim. Early in the segment, they bring up the fact that Self is mentally slow, and would be an unlikely person to commit such a brutal crime. 5 minutes later they go to the coerced confession and Stack says something like, "this is based off of the word of Michael Lloyd Self". Cue the creepy music and overacting from the threatening cop. It annoys me to no end that these final appeal segments gave so much weight to the appellants version of events. This segment in particular.
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Old 02-23-2018, 08:08 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCars1986
Rewatched this one yesterday on Prime, and man did UM spin this to make Self look like a hapless victim. Early in the segment, they bring up the fact that Self is mentally slow, and would be an unlikely person to commit such a brutal crime. 5 minutes later they go to the coerced confession and Stack says something like, "this is based off of the word of Michael Lloyd Self". Cue the creepy music and overacting from the threatening cop. It annoys me to no end that these final appeal segments gave so much weight to the appellants version of events. This segment in particular.
Yes. I think this is the reason so many people on this forum rally around claims of innocence in final appeals or murder in questionable suicide cases. I mean, if you just watched that bias presentation, what other conclusion are you going to draw?

Another thing you gotta love about the slant is how little time they devote to the other side of the argument, if they even give it a voice at all. Some appeals, such as that of Thomas Drake, have no commentary from the prosecution. I do recall that the prosecutor in the Self case was interviewed, but he wasn't very effective in getting his points across, IMO. Also, he had much less time compared to Self, Coburn, and Self's attorney (I'm blanking on his name but I can picture his unique mustache and his making fun of the polygraph test results).
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Old 02-23-2018, 12:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justins5256
Another thing you gotta love about the slant is how little time they devote to the other side of the argument, if they even give it a voice at all. Some appeals, such as that of Thomas Drake, have no commentary from the prosecution. I do recall that the prosecutor in the Self case was interviewed, but he wasn't very effective in getting his points across, IMO. Also, he had much less time compared to Self, Coburn, and Self's attorney (I'm blanking on his name but I can picture his unique mustache and his making fun of the polygraph test results).
The segment made the prosecutor look corrupt an/or inept. They bring up the 3 different confessions from Self, and the prosecutor says something to the effect of that he had to only pick the one confession that fit the known evidence to admit it at Self's trial and go from there. And another bone of contention with the segment: towards the end they introduce a possible "real killer" who confessed in 1980, who knew some specific detail about what type of rope was used to tie the murdered girls up, and this is used as more proof that Self was innocent. What's glossed over, however, is that one of the attorney's present for the interview with this guy says how all over the place he was with his statements, and how he wouldn't reveal too much information because he was trying to minimize his involvement (something to this effect). Which is weird considering the guy was actually confessing to murdering the girls, and proclaiming Self innocent. Isn't it more likely that the "minimizing" and being all over the place because the guy was some nut job attention seeker who had absolutely nothing to do with the murders? UM never presents this as a possibility.
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Old 06-30-2018, 09:58 AM   #15
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Not convinced he is innocent, but it is a clear miscarriage of justice he was convicted. You have a corrupt senior police officer & a regular plod who were out robbing banks, the former who it appears was left alone with him in a room. He was hauled in for no reason other than it seems being the town simpleton, was not offered a lawyer or at the very least a suitable adult, no tape recordings of what was going down & there were so many miscarriages of justice from that era involving police verbals & forced confessions it seems highly likely he was railroaded into it.

Don't believe the guy who confessed in 1980-he simply seemed to be one of those people who would confess to anything, but didn't have the detail to back it up. In this day & age he would never even likely have been taken downtown for questioning, if he was then he would have had a lawyer present & everything on tape. It is likely that an innocent man spent 30 years in prison for this crime.
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