|The injustice committed against Kimberly
Southall began upon the November 3, 1993 arrest of
Robert Lee Norris, at her home in Massillon,
Canton City Police Detective, Lester Barone,
and Detective Armondo, placed Robert Norris
in the police cruiser, then went into
Ms. Southall's residence and threatened, "We don't like the
statement you gave to Detective Schnell,"
and if you don't cooperate, you're going to be
arrested and charged with rape and kidnapping
too. They advised her that she needs to play along, or otherwise, she would
lose her home, her job, and her children.
Kimberly replied, "I won't lie for you,
I won't lie for him, and I won't lie on him!"
It's important to remember that without
Kimberly's cooperation (or false testimony) there was
simply no viable means to support or to
corroborate Sheila Knutty's allegations of kidnap and rape against Robert
Norris, and because of which, it was imperative to coerce Kimberly (by
threat of prosecution) to change her statement, originally given to the
Since Kimberly would not lie, she was indicted
"as a principle" (not as an accessory) for the
kidnap and rape of Sheila Knutty.
Kimberly was charged for the actual kidnap and rape of this complaining
witness, to wit, and despite any Grand Jury testimony to support any wrong-doing
on her part, an indictment issued charging her nonetheless, as clearly,
so long as she would not change her story, there simply was no viable basis
to support the prosecution of Robert Norris.
As such, it became necessary to charge
Kimberly, thereby making her a defendant in the matter
to undercut her ability to testify on
behalf of Robert Norris, as, after all, the semen didn't match,
Sheila had told numerous different stories
about the alleged incident, and with Norris denying the
allegations and Southall confirming that
denial, the conspiracy to falsely convict Norris simply
would not wash.
Nonetheless, Southall, being blameless,
and having absolutely no prior criminal history, (not so much as a parking
ticket in her entire life) was placed in the maximum security section of
the Stark County jail facility under a $100,000 cash bond. During
this most difficult ordeal, her home was broken into by the Klu Klux Klan,
and completely destroyed.
She lost her children, she lost her 17
years of employment under the condition
that if she proved that
was innocent of all charges, she would be allowed to return to work,
and she lost all her dignity
under the unending public scrutiny of
being repeatedly paraded into court for public humiliation, yet
still, she simply would not lie even to
prevent the loss of all that she had worked for all of her life.
Then came "the attorneys" (not only her
attorneys) but the attorneys retained by Robert Norris, telling
her that if she would not change her statement
and testify against Norris, she would be charged with
additional offenses and be convicted right
along with Mr. Norris. However, once the police, the
lawyers, and the court itself realized
that she was not going to commit perjury and send an innocent
man to prison, a different method
was required. On or about February 6, 1993, Kimberly was released from
the County jail on a $100,000 signature bond, however, this was no blessing,
as you will soon see.
Judge Sheila Farmer (who is now a Stark
County Fifth Appellate Court Judge) issued a directive not
allowing any of the respective defense
attorneys to speak with one another about the case, and then
refused to appoint a private investigator
to assist Kimberly or Robert in gathering critical evidence to
their defense. There was a reason
for this, and that reason was to compel Kimberly to attempt to
gather that evidence herself.
Kimberly repeatedly advised her court appointed
lawyer (Frank Beane) that a man named Gerald
Harris had been calling her and telling
her that he had tape recorded critical admissions on the part
of Sheila Knutty. He stated that
he taped her via an answering machine, and when he questioned
her about the alleged rape incident, she
admitted that she had lied under the direction of the police
detectives. Attorney Beane refused
to follow up on this critical evidence, and in turn, Kimberly
agreed to meet with Gerald Harris at a
local store in Massillon, Ohio, to retrieve this tape recording.
After meeting with Harris, he told her
that he had to go get the tape, to which she would drive him to
the area in which he said he lived.
He then pulled out a knife, and robbed and raped Kimberly,
repeatedly threatening that if she said
anything, he would kill her. This attack lasted for hours, and
afterwards Harris made her drive him to
another location and fled on foot. Of course Kimberly was
devastated, and upon her examination at
the Massillon City Hospital, semen was found along with
numerous injuries, and the police were
The police knew Mr. Harris "quite well"
as he had a substantially developed history of rape. When
they found him, he still had the knife
in his pocket, admitted that he had sexual intercourse with
Kimberly, and admitted that the money
he had came from her. However, he was not arrested!
Kimberly then contacted the Massillon,
Ohio chapter of the NAACP for help in personally filling rape,
kidnap, kidnap and felonious assault charges
against Gerald Harris. She, while in the company of
the NAACP, went to the Office of the Clerk
of Courts for the Massillon City Municipal Court and filed
those four charges.
However, after paying the fee, and filling
those charges, she was told by the Massillon City
Prosecutor that she could not be a rape
victim and a defendant in a rape case at the same time!
The prosecutor then proceeded to tell
her that he could
not find sufficient probable cause to arrest
Mr. Harris because he denied raping and
Kimberly then responded, "How in the
hell am I then under indictment for rape and kidnap
when I wasn't even accused of any wrong-doing
and the sperm doesn't match?"
The charges against Harris were then dropped
for insufficient probable cause to believe a crime had
occurred. (the semen taken from Kimberly
was, however, a perfect match to that of Gerald Harris).
One would surely think that this injustice
alone would have been enough standing by itself, but it only
got worse when it was discovered several
days later, that Gerald Harris was an undercover police
informant for the Metro Narcotics Squad
of the Massillon and Canton City Police Department,
i.e. "he worked for Detectives Barone
and Armondo", and was paid $20 for each time he informed
on a drug dealer. Moreover,
was routinely excused from all criminal acts of violence
including numerous other alleged rapes
of women in Stark County, Ohio. It then became all to
evident that the attack on Kimberly was
a police and prosecutorial design to punish her for not
cooperating in the prosecution of Norris.
Kimberly then became suicidal and was hospitalized
after attempting to kill herself, however, the
Honorable Judge Boggins and the Stark
County Prosecutors Office conspired to make sure that
nothing related to her mental state or
her attempted suicide, and the circumstances surrounding it,
never came before the jury.
It must be noted that even though Kimberly
was not competent to stand trial in this matter, it was
Robert Norris, who the Honorable Judge
John F. Boggins ordered to a psychological examination
in order to further delay the trial court
proceedings. Norris was found, not only to be perfectly sane,
but of greater importance, the 20 page
report issued by Dr. Kathleen Staffort, Ph.D., of the Summit
County Psycho Diagnostic Center, praised
Norris's intellect (if it did nothing else) and supported his
contention and unending argument that
our lawyers were grossly ineffective and that we could not
receive a fair trial.
Dr. Staffort scolded the court, that evaluating
Norris was a complete waste of her time, and especially so, in that the
issue surrounding his competence was not raised by his lawyers, rather,
raised by Judge Boggins himself.
After over eight (8) years of bitter cruelty,
Kimberly's rape and the circumstances surrounding that,
and the loss of all that she had worked
her entire life to attain, (coupled with Norris's "68 day hunger
strike" attempting to compel a speedy
trial, which almost cost him his life), a trial before an all white
jury commenced on July 19, 1993.
Problem was, that neither Kimberly nor Robert were able (at that
juncture) to call even a single witness
to their defense, as all of their scores of witnesses had either
suddenly died, or had completely dissappeared.
Even Kimberly's cousin, Gary Taylor, who
was an eye witness residing at Kimberly's home during the
alleged incident, dissappeared just prior
to the trial, and was later found dead. Other key defense
witnesses had died in the interim of these
Norris told no one that there was a report
which was issued in 1983 by the Department of Justice for
the State of Montana by a Forensic Scientist
named Kenneth Konzak, which totally and absolutely
excluded Norris as a suspect in this case,
and completely impeached the electrophoresis
test results alleged to have been yielded by the Criminalist Michele
M. Mitchell of the
Canton-Stark County Crime Lab.
The trial proceeded, and the State of Ohio
through the Stark County Proscuting Attorney painted a
horrible picture to the jury of a vicious
attack on this young woman, all the while Norris sat with no
emotion, and Kimberly sat in terror.
Norris instructed each of the defense counsels to waive opening
statements to the jury, to which the prosecution
objected, but the Court had to allow, as Norris had a
different result in mind. The State
of Ohio then presented its case, and the case it presented relied
solely upon the alleged scientific testing
conducted by Criminalist Mitchell. The State rested it's case
on Thursday, and the following morning
the defense was to make it's opening statements to the jury
and present it's case of defense.
That evening Norris placed a call to an
attorney in Billings, Montana, and requested that he fax a
DOJ report to the office of Norris's defense
counsel, Allen Beck, at a specific time the following
morning. When the court reconviened
at around 9:00am, Norris ordered his lawyer to go get the fax
from his office, and to file the document
as "Defense Exhibit H" and then to rest the case without
makinig any statement or offering a rebuttal.
Counsel Makey complied. Norris then ordered his
lawyer to request a mis-trial on the basis
of the State's witholding of this exculpatroy document
whereas "they knew of its existence throughout
the trial proceedings and said nothing".
The State of Ohio objected (after finding
themselves caught) as this Department of Justice report
completely and totally refuted the Mitchell
testimony and test results, and stipulated to the
accuracy of this DOJ report, and
questioned that Norris was an ABO blood type 0, and non-
secretor, which was in patent contradiction
to the testimony and alleged test results offered by the
Criminalist Michele M. Mitchell.
The DOJ report was submitted into evidence,
and with the defense case then rested, the jury could
only reach one finding based on the Montana
report, being that of innocence. This occurred on Friday.
However, all of the parties were called
back to court for the "same trial" on the next morning, a
Saturday. At those proceedings,
the State of Ohio recalled Mitchell in a last-ditch desprate attempt
to trick the jury into believing that
the stipulated DOJ report was in fact actually a series of typo-
graphical errors, and that it was
immaterial as to wether Norris was or is a secretor, "because
80% of these people are secretor"
and since Norris is one of these people he had to be the
source of the semen, and therefore guilty.
On July 26, 1993 the jury returned virdicts
of guilty on all counts against Kimberly and Robert, and
Kimberly was in turn sentenced to 20-50
years in prison. It must be pointed out that under Ohio law,
the maximum sentence that Kimberly could
have been sentenced to, (with rape being a first degree
felony and kidnap (in this case) being
a second degree felonly) was 18-45 years. Judge Boggins
sentenced Kimberly to a term of incarceration
which exceeds even the sentence allowable by Ohio
Kimberly was never able to tell her two
children goodbye, as she was transported to the Ohio
Reformatory for Women at Marysville, Ohio,
immediately after her sentencing. Then, the nightmare
which she thought could get no worse,
got increasingly worse.