The Trial

  • There were two grand juries in this case. The initial indictment was dismissed because it was predominantly based on Clayton’s interrogation and coerced statements which were later suppressed.
  • Clayton was prosecuted for and convicted of murder despite statements by the Assistant District Attorney to the first grand jury that the evidence did not support that charge.
  • Before trial, Clayton was offered a plea bargain for Criminally Negligent Homicide (2 years in the family's understanding) if he would plead guilty. Clayton refused. His relationship with his beloved daughter is precious to him, and he was not willing to taint that memory with a confession he knew was false just to be at less risk of a long sentence. After a Murder 2 conviction, he was sentenced to 40 years with 10 suspended and 15 years of mandatory probation after release.
  • Following the prosecutor’s assertions that character witnesses would “mislead” the jury (a judgement that mistakenly assumes the coerced statements were true), the judge ruled that she would severely limit character witnesses to, at the most, three. Many friends that had waited anxiously for years to serve as those witnesses were on subpoena, but were never called.
  • The trial judge refused to allow the jury to hear testimony from Jennifer Moore, a former supervisor at Hope Community Resources, where Clayton worked with emotionally challenged and difficult clients. The judge said that her testimony was “not relevant to the case” even though the prosecution was asserting that Jocelynn had been fussy and hard to care for due to her disability, that she therefore had been at higher risk for abuse, and that they claimed Clayton had lost his temper due to frustration.
  • During the trial, the prosecutor threatened to prosecute witnesses with perjury if they said anything about Clayton being a good father or even used the word “gentle,” for instance. His argument was based on the idea that because these potential witnesses knew, or “must know”, of the false confession, that testifying that he was a good and caring father would mean they were liars.
  • However, the same prosecutor elected not to prosecute a potential juror for obvious perjury during jury selection. The juror had been openly discussing details of the media coverage of the case with the potential jury pool, yet denied it on the stand. Some of the jurors that were selected, potentially heard her statements and were not removed. Also, a juror was allowed who had a close enough relationship with the primary prosecution expert, a local pediatrician who never treated Jocelynn, that the juror had attended a barbecue at her house before.
  • The prosecution also repeatedly asserted that any statements about Clayton being a good father or gentle person should open up the suppressed evidence (Clayton's coerced and non-voluntary statements to police) into the trial.
  • The judge refused to rule on whether she would allow that to happen, hinting that she might allow it by saying several times that she would “recognize it [whatever would cause her to open it up] if she saw it.”
  • Without the benefit of the false confession expert (who had been precluded from testifying because the judge determined it was too apparent that he believed Clayton to be innocent), defense counsel was afraid to bring and ask witnesses to describe Clayton’s interactions with Jocelynn as a father, since it would be difficult to keep them from accidentally using descriptive words like “good” or “gentle”.
  • After the defense rested its case, the judge informed counsel that she would have never agreed with the prosecution’s argument. She stated on sealed record (which is inaccessible to anyone other than the appellate court) that the state’s claims were ridiculous. But when defense counsel subsequently asked permission to bring more character witnesses, the judge denied their request.
  • When Jocelynn’s mother, CJ, was sworn in as a witness, she was presented with a list of more than five things that she couldn’t say or allude to on the stand: factual information that she was not permitted to mention, plus instructions that she shouldn’t characterize her husband’s parenting with positive adjectives because of the threats of “opening the door” to the suppressed evidence. (She already knew of the prosecutor’s threats and the judge’s hints that she might consider them, because CJ was allowed to observe the whole trial. As Jocelynn’s mother, she was classified as a victim in the case.) Meanwhile, both prosecutors were following a line of questioning to try to get her to say those very things. CJ was confused about how to tell the "whole" truth, while having to speak around prohibited subjects, without appearing uncooperative. These things included:
  • She could not mention the genetic illness in her own family or her own diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Type 3 from Mayo Clinic. This made it hard to discuss her search for the baby’s diagnosis prior to and after her death since, at the time, she had been comparing Jocelynn’s symptoms with those she had observed in herself and others. Prosecutors specifically asked her why she was "doing research" after Jocelynn's death, despite knowing she wasn't allowed to answer.
  • She could not tell the jury what Clayton explained to her had happened when he called her immediately after the accident.
  • She could not speak to the demeanor of the PICU doctor at the hospital even when being questioned about those events. She was not able to explain how the doctor treated her husband and other male members of the family inappropriately, or how she chose to relay the news of Jocelynn's death without Clayton present.
  • She could not speak to the demeanor of the police, including the officers that had tortured her with the autopsy photos of her child, nor characterise that interrogation, while being accused of not answering questions they clearly were not asking her.
  • She had to be careful to avoid certain types of adjectives when describing Clay as a father for fear of “opening the door” to the evidence that had been suppressed.
  • Because of the dilemma surrounding her testimony, during a break, CJ begged assistance from the court clerk’s office; explaining that she was being put into an untenable situation as a witness where she was being prevented from telling the truth concerning questions she was being asked. They responded that she needed a lawyer, but that they would not help her obtain one. CJ did not have the time nor the finances to get her own lawyer in the middle of her husband’s trial.

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