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Jacob's trial was a travesty. The only evidence linking Jake to the crime was his forced confession and the statement of his brother, Tim. Jake recanted his statement soon after. Tim, his brother, would retract statement after the trial and paid a huge penalty for it, serving ten years for perjury (for recanting). How many people have been freed because a witness recanted years later and that witness did not suffer imprisonment for it? A lot. But in Jake's case, his brother paid a price and did not waiver. Unfortunately for Jake, that was too late for him. No gun was found.


The Echols Testimony

The worst thing, the absolute worst thing in the trial, was the testimony of Edward Echols, a coach at University Middle School. Everything else was recanted confessions and other dubious statements. No gun was found; no DNA; Jake did not look like the person described by the victim's brother as the killer. And then suddenly, near the end of the trial, appeared this "rebuttal" witness, Edward Echols. Mr. Echols testified that Jake called him (no date given) from jail and during the phone call confessed to killing the victim. And the reason: He was afraid the victim had a gun. This was horrible and damning testimony. And to understand just how damning it was, here's a quote from the Appellate Court when they denied Jake's Motion for a New Trial:

In its rebuttal evidence, the State presented testimony from a teacher at University High School who testified that Blackmon called him in early June 1994 on the telephone. During the conversation Blackmon "said this guy was trying to shoot him, so that's why he did what he did.... He said that's why he shot him, because this guy was trying to shoot him." By point seven, Blackmon claims that this evidence was sufficient to raise self-defense, and the court erred when it refused to instruct the jury on the issue. However, "a robber has no right of self-defense against his victim." Westley v. State, 754 S.W.2d 224, 230 (Tex.Crim.App. 1988), cert. denied, 492 U.S. 911, 109 S.Ct. 3229, 106 L.Ed.2d 577 (1989); Davis v. State, 597 S.W.2d 358, (Tex.Crim.App.), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 976, 101 S.Ct. 388, 66 L.Ed.2d 238 (1980); see also TEX.PENAL CODE ANN. § 9.31(b)(4) (Vernon Supp.1996). Therefore, the court properly refused to instruct the jury on self-defense. We overrule point seven.


Wow, so Jake apparently shot the victim he was trying to rob as if in self-defense. That's pretty serious, but also pretty interesting. Right after Jake's interrogation by Det. Wilson, Jake recanted his testimony. So, now, Echols is saying that months later, out of the clear blue Jake calls him, someone Jake is not close to, and just up and confesses to a capital crime but not only that, he adds a whole new twist to things, things not mentioned by anyone before and a particular statement that would devastate any appeal Jake might make. My question is: was this perjured testimony, concocted by someone, and forced on Echols? You'll see why shortly.

This is Echols' testimony from Jake's trial:



(note: I will be adding the complete trial transcript in sections over the next few months.)

What he said basically was that one day Jake just called him from the jail. Now Jake knew Coach Echols but they were not close friends. So Jake calls him from the jail while the coach is at school. The Coach takes the call and during that call, out of the clear blue, Jake confesses the crime and supplies a totally new reason: fear of being shot. This was never brought up before. As the Appellate Court correctly noted, a robber has no right of self-defense.

Jake's lawyer, Hurley, did not recall Jake to the stand to rebut this, so it remained unrebutted testimony and therefore was accepted as true, at least by the Appellate Court.

Did Mr. Hurley realize what was happening? Don't know. Should he, as a lawyer, have known the consequences to Jake of statements alleging an unrebutted confession? One would think, wouldn't one? You don't even need legal experience to comprehend this.

But there were some issues with Coach Echols' testimony, which I believe call it in its entirety into question.

A quick call to the McLennan County Jail, where Jake was housed at the time, confirms that inmates at the jail may only make collect calls or use a prepaid phone card (now) or an account; but then, in 1994, there was only collect calls. In any case, Jake's parents were so poor even if accounts were available, they couldn't afford one for him. Funny, Coach Echols didn't mention how Jake called him at school. He said he was at school when he was notified Jake called him. In fact he goes into detail about it. A call to the Waco School District confirms that school personnel may not accept collect calls. I repeat these two statements: In 1994 Jake could only make collect calls from jail and school personnel can not accept collect calls at school. And Echols was at school when Jake supposedly called him from jail.

How did this happen? More to the point, it took me maybe 5 minutes to find this out.

This is from the McLennon County Jail's web site:

Visitation and Phone Calls

Just to make it easy, here's the relevant section:



Jake had no money and in those days there were no calling cards and no accounts. Only collect calls allowed.

Why did Jake's lawyer, Hurley, not do even a modicum of research on this point? Hurley seemed to be acting like a co-D.A.

Well, in fact, Jake did speak to Echols around that time. Margie, the common law wife of Jake's dad, arranged it. She felt that since Coach Echols was good with troubled boys, he might be of some comfort to Jake while he was in jail.

So, Jake called Margie and Margie arranged a three-way call to the Coach.

But this was never mentioned at trial; or on cross. And no one to this day has spoken to Margie about this.

To me, it looks like Echols seriously embellished the conversation with Jake. Think about it: A kid he doesn't know well, for no obvious reason, just calls him from jail (which he can't do) and confesses to a capital crime and adds a totally new and extremely damning detail, and this at the end of the trial. And his lawyer makes no objection and offers no rebuttal. Sure, right. He certainly lied on the stand about getting the phone call. Why wasn't this rebutted? You would have to ask Jake's lawyer. Could someone, someone familiar with the law and the significance of adding Jake's supposed fear the man had a gun, contrary to his testimony, coached the coach? Why else would Echols insert himself into this? And maybe if Echols is still alive, he might have second thoughts about this damning and, to me at least, contrived testimony. He would be safe from indictment as perjury has a statute of limitations, which ran out a long time ago while Jake sat in prison.

You can check out the Statute of Limitations for Perjury in Texas here:

Statute of Limitations in Texas

Jacob has complained repeatedly to us about his representation. How half-hearted it seemed to him and this seems to confirm that sentiment.