A former Clackamas County detective convicted of burglary and money laundering in 2017 was among the Oregon prisoners who sought early release on the basis of a Supreme Court case striking down non-unanimous jury decisions.
Floyd William Marsh Jr., 64, is currently serving a six-year, 10-month prison sentence after a jury voted 10-2 to find him guilty of participating in a 2011 home-invasion robbery in which a woman was shot with a stun gun and left tied up in a coat closet.
Retired in 2007 after 25 years with the sheriff's office, Marsh was convicted of four of eight charges, including second-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, first-degree aggravated theft and money laundering. His release date is March 3, 2023.
Lewis & Clark University's Criminal Justice Reform Clinic provided legal assistance to people convicted by non-unanimous juries after a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court case "Ramos v. Louisiana" ruled that all guilty verdicts in criminal trials must be unanimous. Marsh's team considered using the Ramos ruling to appeal his early release, however, his wife Connie Marsh says he likely will not be able to, following a Supreme Court ruling in May that the Ramos decision cannot be applied retroactively.
She said her husband is working with a lawyer to file a petition for his release from Oregon's Two Rivers Correctional Institute in Umatilla on the basis of a wrongful conviction.
"If he had had a fair trial at all, there's no way he would have been convicted. But evidence was suppressed, they twisted the arm of a vulnerable witness who was facing a lot of time for drug charges," Connie Marsh said. "All around, not a good example of what the American justice system should be."
She said that while in prison, her husband contracted the coronavirus, a situation she says was handled "horribly" by the prison.
"They treated the people with COVID so badly that, what happened was, everybody was hiding that they had it because they saw how Floyd and others were treated," Connie Marsh said.
She said her husband was among the first Two Rivers inmates to catch the virus in March, and the prison allegedly responded by placing him in solitary confinement multiple times, making him perform disciplinary tasks, and only providing him one mask for a two-week span.
Under Oregon law, eligible inmates can be granted early medical release from prison if they meet a list of criteria determining whether or not their continued sentencing is inhumane, but Connie Marsh says that her husband is more concerned with proving his innocence than being released early due to illness.
"Floyd does not want to get out of prison because he's sick. If they walked up to him and offered him a deal right now, he wouldn't take it. He never would have at any time," she said. "The point is, he's innocent. He says he cares more about how he gets out than when he gets out, and he has said that for the last nine years, and he has not wavered."
Defense attorney Brian Schmonsees, who represented Floyd Marsh during his trial in 2017, wrote in court documents that Marsh was wrongfully implicated by a longtime friend of his who was facing years in prison on unrelated drug charges, and said this was insufficient evidence for a conviction.
"The state's entire case is based upon the self-serving testimony of an accomplice witness, Gerald Wiese, who tried to throw Mr. Marsh to the wolves because Mr. Wiese had been caught with a substantial number of narcotics and was looking at years of prison time," Schmonsees wrote.
Clackamas County prosecutor Russell Amos said they got a break in the case when Connie Marsh, who was Floyd Marsh's girlfriend at the time, allegedly cooperated by giving authorities coins that they believed to be stolen during the home invasion.
Connie Marsh said detectives "confirmed" the coins to be stolen from Zdenka Trnkova during the robbery when Trnkova said they may have been in her safe. Marsh says Trnkova's then-boyfriend, Arnold Kachlik, was never able to confirm the coins were there.
The confirmation came "through me, through the detectives, through Arnold, to Zdenka, who said they might have been there. I mean that that was what all police reports will show how that how that went down. But yet at trial, it was Connie who found these in the shop," she said.
Potential issues with the DA's work in his case have so far been rejected by the Clackamas County Circuit Court. Presiding Judge Kathie F. Steele wrote on April 23 that a prosecutor's alleged mistakes will have to be brought up in appealing Marsh's conviction or in a complaint to the Oregon Bar Association.
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