- The Honorable Earl Ray Tomblin, Governor
- United States of America
On March 15, 2005, Dr. Ebb Whitley died in his Iaeger, West Virginia home. The State indicted Charles Lively and Tommy Owens for murder and arson. The State alleged that Mr. Lively and Mr. Owens beat the victim, then set the house afire.
A medical expert testified that Dr. Whitley did not have any bruises or trauma, and smoke inhalation alone caused his death. The murder hinged on the purported arson. A jury convicted Mr. Lively. In a separate trial, Owens was acquitted of the charges brought against him in relation of Dr. Whitley's alleged murder. The prosecution contended that both men were guilty, or both were innocent.
At trial, Fire Marshall Robbie Bailey claimed the fire was incendiary. But insurer Casto's investigator, Mr. Griffith found no proof of arson and labeled it "undetermined." His company paid the victim. In post-trial phase Mr. Sid Bell, prosecutor retained fire expert Craig Beyler, Ph.D. Dr. Beyler's report found the source of the fire to be electrical. He added that Mr. Bailey had "gotten it wrong and that this fire cannot be incendiary." Without any physical injuries, and without arson Dr. Whitley's death had to be accidental.
In State v. Lively, West Virginia Supreme Court No 34856, Justice Ketchum wrote a scathing dissent. He began, "I dissent because the defendant (Lively) did not receive a fair trial." and, "The State only called two witnesses who had knowledge of defendant Jason Lively's alleged involvement in the murder, one of whom recanted his story on the stand, the other, a jailhouse "snitch" whose story was riddled with inconsistencies." He concluded writing, "A complete review of the trial transcript and my years of trial experience tell me that this defendant did not receive a fair trial. It isn't even close."[Emphasis supplied]
Mr. Lively's case shines a spotlight on the myriad errors than can send an innocent man to prison. Dr. Whitley died by accident. This travesty, this mockery of justice which sent an innocent man to prison needs a remedy. We ask you to grant Charles J. Lively an unconditional pardon so he can return to his family.
We the undersigned respectfully urge you to grant Charles J. Lively an unconditional pardon.
The Pardon Request for Charles Jason Lively petition to The Honorable Earl Ray Tomblin, Governor was written by Billie Blankenship and is in the category Law & Order at GoPetition.