Anatomy of a Wrongful Conviction
by Marion Faye Cason
In this world today, most criminal suspects are not innocent. And those who are innocent should not become suspects. I am one of the innocent.
Yet true, the law may prosecute with earnestness and strike hard blows. But they are not at liberty to strike foul ones. The law has a duty to refrain from improper methods to avoid wrongful conviction, and to produce those which are legally just.
In my case, Prosecutor Ernie Page struck a foul blow with his opening statement in my trial. "On January 30, 2000, God gave little Serenity Nicole Miller to Marion Faye Cason. And on January 2 of 2003, Marion Faye Cason gave little Serenity Nicole Miller back to God." That is really a foul blow. Now nothing about me suggested that I would be plucked from my life, singled out as a murderer who carried out gruesome business in an especially hideous fashion. And then sent to prison for the rest of my natural life. In fact, I look like I could be any one of hundreds of millions of ordinary American citizens. I am an innocent woman.
A lot of things in my case just don't fit. For one, If I were guilty, then why did I cooperate with the case investigators? Second, most of the state witnesses were ex-family members. Their friends, and their friend's friends, who had plenty of time from 2000 to 2006, to elaborate some good stories- most of which do not match their depositions or statements.
Also if I may speak bluntly, I did not get a decent day's work from Darren K Jackson, my public defender at the time. Mr. Jackson did not check on the important fact of the timeline, especially the time that I departed our home the day of the Serenity's death.. Darren Jackson gave an uninspiring performance. He seemed more interested in his run for judge then my case.
Now I've learned the psychological process of indicting and convicting a person is far more subtle than just pieces of evidence. The prosecutor assumes the guilt of the suspect, and then observes all facts and evidence through a tiny prism.
In my case this rings true. The proscecution should have been more skeptical of their own assertions, and done a more critical and analysis of the evidence. Someone should tell the jurors "you are doing this because we have to find the truth. The police haven't necessarily found the truth. The district attorney hasn't found the truth. Only you can." My jurors were only out but maybe 15 minutes. Not long enough to look at all the evidence.
Now in wrongful convictions, these are many factors which exist in my case. False confession of the codefendant and another witness, a lawyer who fell down on the job, and prosecutorial misconduct. Now honestly, if you were in my shoes, wouldn't you fight till justice was fairly served?
Sleeping lawyers can't challenge liars, cheaters, or truth shavers. They can't expose errors made honestly or dishonestly. In my case the state gave me an attorney who failed to present an available alibi witness, and failed to interview and present witnesses who could have testified in rebuttal of the prosecutor's case. Was Darren K Jackson a sleeping lawyer? Yes. Ernie page, the prosecutor, could see through nothing but that tiny fabricated prism of guilt.
And not the evidence right in front of him. False confessions of witnesses, and the true guilty party, "the codefendant". A jury who deliberated maybe 15 to 20 minutes tops, who returned with a guilty verdict.
Now take everything I've said into consideration. Now please hear this. What about the pain and anguish already suffered by myself, my family, my friends, but most important: my son. I lost a sweet, intelligent, beautiful, fun-loving, child to that monster. And now I'm forced to serve his time? I did not murder my child, was never even in trouble. Yet now I sit here in the state prison for someone else's crime. Who can honestly say that is fair? The over sentencing of natural life +20 without parole. Can you honestly say that his justice? I can't. Thank you for your time.
Marion Faye Cason
Marion Faye Cason was born in 1978 in Boaz, Alabama. Her family says she was a happy and adventurous child. Her brother was born when Marion was 11 and the following year the Casons’ moved to Live Oak, Fla. In high school, Marion struggled to belong. She began dating, but at a young age, she started a trend of trusting the wrong men who hurt her. She coped with her internal misery by self-mutilating. She claims she would cut because she didn’t know how to let her feelings out.
When she was in the 11th grade, she married her high school boyfriend but the couple split after six months. Then Marion married another high school friend, Jim Miller, and soon after, she discovered she was pregnant. Her daughter, Serinity Nichole Miller, was born on January 30, 2000. Marion loved her newborn daughter, and in 2001, she gave birth to a son, Joshawa. Her happiness was short-lived when, the following year, she learned that her husband was arrested for a lewd and lascivious act upon a child under the age of 16. She began divorce proceedings and now had to support two young children. She went to the department of family services for financial aid and was placed in a subsidized housing project in Live Oak. Craving male attention and support, the single mother befriended Frederick Stegall, a co-worker at her job. Stegall moved in with Cason and her kids. Marion says she felt more secure having a man in the house and that the relationship was strictly platonic, although according to the prosecution, Stegall claimed otherwise. The police say that Marion was warned about Stegalls’ criminal record for child abuse but Marion claims she did not know, and the she never saw him hurt her children. Marion maintains that her daughter never had any bruises and can only recall one injury when her little girl fell out of bed a few days before she died.
On January 2, 2003 Marion claims she left the house with Stegall watching the children while she ran errands. When she returned, there was an ambulance that was taking Serinity to the hospital because she had stopped breathing. Serenity was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital and the ER doctor noticed that she had been deceased for approximately 2-3 hours before her arrival at the hospital. The doctors immediately notified the police that her death looked like a classic case of child abuse. Both Marion and Stegall became suspects. The autopsy report confirmed the detectives’ suspicions that child abuse, most likely smothering, was the cause of death.
(Note two and a half years later!!!)
On July 28, 2005, Marion and Stegall were indicted by a grand jury for felony murder in the first degree along with charges of child abuse and neglect. Cason was arrested and placed in jail. Stegall plead guilty to second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Marion chose to go trial and her trial began on December 11, 2006. On December 14, the jury returned with its verdict of guilty on all counts. She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Although she has lost her appeals, she still maintains she is innocent.
Natural Life Plus 25
by Faye Cason
Here I am again sitting here alone
with no one to call my own
doing time for a crime
that just ain't mine.
They say I'll never leave this place
I was told as tears ran down my face
you say you don't know the how or why
as I watched my family cry
as they took me away
I'll never forget that day
they gave me natural life and 25
there are days I wonder why I'm even alive.
I've cried till I can't cry no more
now I hear the slam of my cell door
my life has been taken away from me
but I have hopes one day of being free
I pray my day will come
because this place and got me feeling so dumb.
Watching all these girls getting played out
not knowing what love is really about
so here I sit singing that same old song
wishing that these tears were gone.
No use in wishing for what used to be
now I got to do me
here I sit with life with no parole
trying not to let it take a toll
just know that there is more to me
then what the court wants society to see.
August 15, 2012
Thank you for your letter of support. I am enclosing a copy of the autopsy report which shows that my child's death was "undetermined." It also shows that she had no broken bones or fractures old or new. I have to get copies of some other paperwork but will be glad to send them to you. I will try to think of anything that I can send you that may help you understand my case a little better. I am also enclosing a poem.
I will not lie. I really do have hope of being free one day. I would never hurt my children or any child. I love them dearly. I really do wish that it was me instead of my sweet Serenity who passed away. I would gladly die for my children. I'm sorry for rambling but your letter gives me hope of not being seen as a monster, that I'm an innocent mom, who trusted the wrong person.
Thank you for your time,
March 8, 2013
I have been doing some research on my case. I've come up with a lot of facts and criminal law.
My state attorney, Mr. Page, let false testimony into my trial. He allowed the doctor to give a complex and different report than she originally composed. She testified that my child had a hairline fraction on her skull. In fact, her report stated no such thing.
I've never been a part of the dance and party crowd. I prefer to read. I'll read whatever I can get my hands on.
No one wants to believe that their child is laying there dead. I didn't know what to say when that day, January 2, 2003, at 4 PM-they told me I had lost one of the most precious of people. I lost my heart and my soul, when I lost Serenity. The day of serenity's funeral, I held her hand in mine and waited hoping for some sign of life. Something to prove it was all a bad dream.
On the inside, I was fuming and fighting my emotions. Not knowing where to turn or who to turn to. I knew nothing of the cause of my beautiful child's death. To this day, I'm clueless as to what happened.
Now I know that an examination of the scene where my child died, and the performance of a complete autopsy, and a review of my child's, and, my family medical history are three critical elements that will give the medical investigation team valuable knowledge to assist in determining how and why my child died.
I don't understand why this was not taken into consideration in this case, did the doctor do a thorough examination. Did she check all points in this case? I don't believe she did. I don't believe that all possibilities were investigated. If they were, this case would have had a different outcome and my mind would be at ease. To finally know what happened to my little girl. Trust me, I know this is a difficult case. But I only wish to seek what is right and justified. Concerning my child, let me categorically state, and shout that I myself in no way murdered nor abused her. Moreover, let me state that no one can even tell me how she died.
I feel that I should not have been charged with murder. I mean that just isn't justice. It is a miscarriage of justice. Especially when one is falsely accused of something one did not do. I don't believe that all venues were considered or investigated in this case.
Is it truly justice if we go by hearsay and speculation upon what we think happened, instead of the facts of what occurred. If people were charged and sentenced based just on what we think may have happened, the DOC would be well past capacity. Based on theories and biased statements, I was wrongfully charged, and overly sentenced with my child's death. To me, this is truly a miscarriage of justice.
Thank you for your time