2016 – Concise Statement of the Case

Petition For Allowance of Appeal in the Supreme Court filed on 1/28/2016

  1. CONCISE STATEMENT OF THE CASE.

On the night of February 9, 1976, George Wilhelm was murdered on the roof top of the Smithfield-Liberty Avenue parking garage in downtown Pittsburgh. Petitioner Charles (“Zeke”) Goldblum (hereinafter “Goldblum”), was charged and ultimately convicted of Wilhelm’s murder. However, it is evident—now more than ever—that the only one responsible for Wilhelm’s death was the Goldblum’s co-defendant, Clarence Miller.

Goldblum was first introduced to Wilhelm by Clarence Miller, on Sunday, February 8, 1976 at a meeting in a downtown McDonald’s. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss a debt owed by Miller to Wilhelm, born of a fraud perpetrated against Wilhelm by Miller and two accomplices, Thaddeus Dedo and Fred Orlosky. This fraud involved the extraction of money from Wilhelm in exchange for their promise to deliver Wilhelm a mineral deed, which never existed.

Goldblum, a recently barred attorney, understood his role to be a mediator between Miller and Wilhelm.[1] At the time of this meeting, Goldblum believed that Miller was going to disclose the fraud to Wilhelm and promise repayment of the defrauded monies. However, as the meeting progressed, Goldblum came to realize that Miller had abandoned that plan and continued to lie to Wilhelm. [1] Goldblum agreed to attend this meeting at Miller’s behest as repayment for their previous criminal episode; Miller had been hired by the Appellant to burn down the Appellant’s failing restaurant in order to collect the insurance proceeds.

Miller asked Goldblum to again attend another meeting with himself (Miller) and Wilhelm at the same McDonald’s. Goldblum reluctantly agreed and they again met on Monday evening, February 9, 1976, to discuss the debt situation. Goldblum was under the impression that Miller intended to pay Wilhelm back the money he defrauded from him. However, this was not the case.

This second meeting ran longer than expected and Wilhelm wanted to move his car from the street. To continue their conversation, Goldblum and Miller accompanied Wilhelm as he drove his vehicle into the Smithfield-Liberty Avenue parking garage. With Miller in the front passenger seat and Goldblum in the rear driver’s side seat, Wilhelm parked his car on the roof of the garage.

As recalled by Goldblum, when Wilhelm shut off his engine, Miller finally told Wilhelm that he could not immediately repay the debt. Inflamed by what he had just been told, Wilhelm struck Miller in the face. This incited Miller, who lost control and retaliated by stabbing Wilhelm from the passenger seat with a pair of grass shears found within Wilhelm’s car. Goldblum recalls that Wilhelm was bleeding from the wounds inside the car and exited the driver’s side door. It was at this point that Miller exited the front passenger seat, came around the vehicle and continued stabbing Wilhelm. Goldblum then exited the left rear passenger door and ran in the direction of the exit. As Goldblum turned around, he witnessed Miller lift Wilhelm over the garage wall, from which Wilhelm fell onto the skywalk below.

Goldblum then walked back to Miller and looked over the wall, where he saw Wilhelm lying on the top of a skywalk below. As Miller and Goldblum were discussing why Miller had stabbed Wilhelm, an elevator door opened and a man, later identified as Richard Kurutz, exited and saw the two of them together. Goldblum then walked down the exit ramp and Miller followed him. As they left the scene, Goldblum agreed to provide Miller with an alibi from fear that Miller would tell the police about the arson.

After they left the garage, Miller removed his bloody gloves and discarded them. They were later found by a bystander and retrieved by the police. Analysis by the Crime Lab showed that the hairs found within the bloodied gloves were similar to those of Miller, but not those of Goldblum. Goldblum was beholden to Miller, who had committed the arson for Goldblum. In a combination of fear and sense of self-preservation he agreed to provide Miller with an alibi and drove him home.

The police came to the scene and found Wilhelm on top of the walkway connecting the parking garage to Gimbel’s Department store, one floor below the top floor parking area. Police Officer Thomas Pobicki climbed down to Wilhelm who declared, “Clarence Miller did this to me.” [1] This dying declaration verified Miller’s PCHA petition claiming he blacked out due to a state of extreme mental stress and instability and could not recall or testify truthfully as to what happened on that rooftop.

Photographs were taken of the vehicle and scene. Evidence was gathered and protected. The vehicle and scene were photographed by Crime Scene Detective Sal Crisanti. During an interview with Jim Ramsey in 2011, Police Sergeant Joe Modispatcher, who administered a polygraph to Miller, recalled that in the days before the Goldblum trial he saw interior photos of Wilhelm’s vehicle, including those of blood spatter on the dashboard of the vehicle. These photos were never turned over to the defense and have since gone missing along with the entirety of the homicide division’s investigative file (kept in triplicate). Without these photos Goldblum’s defense could not call expert witnesses to testify as to who wielded the grass sheer inside the vehicle.

In a deposition of Miller taken on September 9th, 2004 by Goldblum’s attorney Lee Markovitz, Miller stated that a “hand-shake” agreement was made between his attorney, Vincent Murovich, and Detective Ronald Freeman, who spearheaded the investigation, and Peter Dixon, the ADA who tried the case. According to Miller, in exchange for his total cooperation, he would be pled out as an accessory to homicide and given a sentence of 10-20 years. Both the police and prosecutor claim there was no official promise or deal made to Miller. In an April 24, 2008 deposition of Detective Freeman taken by Goldblum’s attorney Stan Levenson, Freeman stated that if Miller asked for a deal he would have given him one.

Once the police and prosecutors secured Miller as a cooperative witness, willing to falsely accuse Goldblum, they needed a motive. In an April 2, 1976 interview of Miller, conducted by Detectives Freeman and Gorny, Miller mentioned the land fraud scheme perpetrated against Wilhelm and falsely accused Goldblum as the mastermind behind the scheme.   This was the first mention of the land fraud made by Miller nearly 2 months into the investigation. Miller stated that in late 1973 or early 1974 he became a part of a conspiracy to defraud Wilhelm of money he gained from a worker’s compensation settlement by selling falsified deeds to Federal land in North Carolina, using his “political connections.” Miller claimed that after Wilhelm expressed interest in purchasing land, he informed Goldblum who supposedly headed the scheme.

Miller testified that his friend Ted Dedo posed as Ken Manella, an aide to US Senator Schweiker, in order to further the fraud and misrepresent that the North Carolina land could be purchased through back door political influence. Fred Orlowsky acted as a go between and traveled to North Carolina. According to Miller, Goldblum was the mastermind who called the shots, collected the money from Wilhelm, and distributed the money to the co-conspirators.

However, the police only found one witness other than Miller willing to testify that Goldblum was acquainted with or was seen with George Wilhelm in 1973 or 1974. This witness was William J. Hill, a friend of Wilhelm’s. Hill testified that he never recalled seeing Goldblum and Wilhelm together, but recalled Wilhelm mentioning Goldblum’s name in casual conversation. Despite Goldblum’s defense attorney Rothman’s objections that Hill’s testimony was pure hearsay, it was ultimately admitted at trial.

To make matters worse, during Goldblum’s trial, Thaddeus Dedo, one of the co-conspirators in the land fraud perpetrated against Wilhelm, made it known that he would have testified that Goldblum was not part of the conspiracy if given immunity by the prosecution or Court. However, Dedo was not granted immunity and, as such, refused to testify.

Goldblum denied any involvement in the land fraud and conspiracy and denied knowing Wilhelm in 1973 or 1974. The only “evidence” which ties Goldblum to this land fraud which the police used as motive for Goldblum to kill Wilhelm is Miller’s false testimony. Two of Miller’s co-conspirators, Dedo and Orlowsky, have cleared Goldblum of participating in the land fraud and conspiracy. Orlowsky claimed that he told the police Goldblum was not part of the conspiracy. A review of the FBI’s initial investigative file into the matter showed no mention of Goldblum’s name.

During a March 2, 1976 interview with Detective Ronald Freeman, Miller told police that Goldblum recruited Wilhelm to burn down his restaurant for the insurance, despite the fact that Wilhelm had no criminal past or inclination. Although nobody in the District Attorney’s office believed Wilhelm was involved in the arson, this story was nevertheless presented at trial. In fact, it was widely believed that it was actually Miller who set the fire, as later admitted by members of the District Attorney’s office. The initial investigation into the November 30, 1975 fire yielded no suspicion of wrongdoing and the case was closed.

Miller claimed that he had nothing to do with the fire, and that Goldblum and Wilhelm were the perpetrators due to the supposed debt Goldblum owed Wilhelm for “masterminding” the land fraud. This was accepted by the police in spite of Miller’s failure of an unrecorded polygraph on May 25, 1976, in which polygraph operator Det. Joseph Stottlemyer claimed Miller lied when asked if he was involved in the arson. The report documenting this polygraph interview was not put into Wilhelm’s homicide file until January 27, 1978, well after Goldblum’s trial.

On February 13, 1976, Clarence Miller was given the first of three polygraphs. The first polygraph was administered by Sgt. Joe Modispatcher who determined that Miller failed. He told Det. Freeman that Miller was the lone assailant. The polygraphs confirm and verify that Miller was guilty of Wilhelm’s murder, that he lied and testified falsely that Wilhelm was involved in the arson, that he lied and testified falsely about his own involvement in the arson, and corroborates Miller’s PCRA Petition, wherein he admits that his statements made against Goldblum were false.

Interestingly, two subsequent polygraphs were administered to Miller by Det. Joseph Stottlemyer on May 10, 1976 and May 25, 1976. Stottlemyer did not enter either polygraph into the Master Log, required by procedure, and there were no disclosures of the polygraphs to Goldblum’s defense because no report was prepared at that time. After the May 10th 1976, polygraph Miller admitted to participating in the murder by holding Wilhelm down, which starkly contrasted with his trial testimony. Miller’s admission was kept from the defense at Goldblum’s trial and the prosecutor allowed Miller to testify that he had nothing to do with the murder. The jury was allowed to hear this patently false and damning testimony.

The polygraph information was not turned over to Goldblum’s attorney and remained a secret until Miller’s trial some fifteen months later. The prosecutor identified Wilhelm as the arsonist of Goldblum’s restaurant to provide false motive. Several years later the District Attorney’s office publically apologized to the Wilhelm family for falsely portraying Wilhelm as an arsonist. The false motive was planted in the jury’s minds to help convict Goldblum.  The police knew on May 25, 1976 that Miller was lying about his involvement in the arson, but the prosecutor nevertheless allowed him to falsely testify before the court and jury.

The prosecutor claimed during Goldblum’s trial that Wilhelm assisted Goldblum in the arson, which was extremely damaging. Goldblum later admitted his involvement in the arson and named Miller as the person who set the fire, (which corroborates the impartial witness testimony of Edith Wilson and, once again, disputes the false, but convenient assertions of the police, prosecution and Miller). Miller blamed Wilhelm because he was dead and could not defend himself. The prosecutors later admitted their misrepresentation to the Wilhelm family and apologized to them during a 1999 Board of Pardons hearing for characterizing Wilhelm as an arsonist when he was a good and decent person. In his appeal to the Superior Court, Goldblum sought remand for an evidentiary hearing to develop the record’s disturbing indication that the prosecutor failed to correct false testimony on the part of Clarence Miller, one of the government’s principal witness.

At trial, when examined regarding photographs taken of the scene, Detective Crisanti testified that only one photo was taken of the vehicle interior. This photograph, though made available to Goldblum’s defense, did not capture the blood spatter on the vehicle’s dashboard. Despite many of the investigating officers recalling the blood spatter, including a detailed description by Detective Ronald Freeman during his trial testimony, only one photograph of the vehicle’s interior has ever been made available. Additionally, reports by the Mobile Crime Unit, documented that blood spatters were scraped and preserved from the vehicle’s dashboard. It was standard procedure to document such evidence with a photograph before scraping and bagging it. Either due to an incompetent job of the Mobile Crime Unit in failing to photograph the blood spatter or the failure of the prosecution to make all of the photographs available, Goldblum’s defense was deprived of key evidence.

The blood soaked gloves were examined by the Allegheny County Crime Lab and a hair, consistent with Miller’s was found inside the glove. It was not consistent with a hair sample taken from Goldblum. The Crime Lab did not find any hair or other evidence that Goldblum wore the blood soaked gloves. The Crime Lab also identified the blood on the gloves as that of Wilhelm.

In an interview on March 2, 1976, Miller told the police he disposed of bloody clothing in a City Garbage Truck at the top of his hill. This was corroborated by a neighbor at trial, William Held, who testified he believed he saw blood on the clothing Miller disposed of. The fact that Miller’s clothing was covered in blood and that he felt the need to dispose of it, further corroborates that Miller was the killer. The police reports verify that there was a lot of blood at the scene and therefore anyone close to the victim should have had blood on them and their clothing. The Pathologist noted in his report approximately how much blood was spilt. A separate report, along with photographs of the clothing Goldblum wore that night, showed that Goldblum had no blood on his clothing, indicating he was not involved in the murder.

On February 10, 1976, the police interviewed Miller at his home. The police noticed scratches on his face and arms consistent with a struggle. Miller initially blamed his cat for the scratches; however, Goldblum would confirm that there was a struggle between Miller and Wilhelm in the front seat of the vehicle prior to the initial stabbing and that Miller was struck in the face.

Goldblum’s home and vehicle were searched yielding no evidence indicating his involvement in the homicide. This verifies Goldblum’s contentions and further corroborates Miller’s statements in his 1980 PCHA petition. Furthermore, there were no scratches, lacerations or wounds on Goldblum, suggesting that he was not involved in any altercation.

After arraignment, Miller called his attorney, Vincent Murovich. According to Miller, Murovich was present when Ronald Freeman and Peter Dixon made an informal plea offer of a 10 to 20 year prison sentence if Miller provided information against Goldblum. This recollection clarifies why Murovich, an experienced litigator, allowed the police unfettered and unsupervised access to a client accused of such a serious crime.

By February 12th 1976, Murovich had surrendered Miller to the police for cooperation and was not present during questioning by the detectives or prosecutors, a strange occurrence for an experienced lawyer representing a client charged with serious crimes, unless there was, in fact, an understanding that Miller would be given consideration at sentencing. There was no discussion concerning Miller pleading temporary insanity. Miller took advantage of this opportunity to reduce his sentence and began to weave false stories that would give motive for Goldblum to injure or kill Wilhelm.

To recap, investigators and prosecutors used Miller to construct a theory that Goldblum’s involvement in the land fraud and Wilhelm’s involvement in the arson formed the motive for Goldblum to murder Wilhelm, all of which was untrue and wholly reliant on Miller’s inconsistent, constantly evolving statements. Dedo and Orlowsky, both members of the land fraud conspiracy with Miller, have independently claimed that Goldblum had nothing to do with the crime and therefore had no motive to harm Wilhelm. To make matters worse, Goldblum did not even know Wilhelm at the time of the fraud.

In Miller’s PCHA petition, dated May 9, 1980, he stated the following: he became extremely ill at his home when the police questioned him; on the ride to police headquarters; he was taken to the hospital for treatment; he reported this illness to his attorneys Murovich and Harry Stump; Attorney Stump never told him that he could present a defense of not guilty by reason of temporary insanity; his mental state was not normal at the time of interrogation by the police; the statements that he gave to the police were not true and not of his making or his free will, but instead a product of the police interrogator’s own design and personal conviction.

In his PCHA petition Miller stated:

“That the statements that I gave to the police and signed that I saw Charles Zeke Goldblum stabb [sic] George Wilhelm are not true because at that point I blacked out and remember nothing. I wasn’t even aware of my own existence let alone anything that happened about George Wilhelm…Petitioner states that the statements the police gave him to sign were a product of their minds and not Petitioner’s and further that the statement was signed under the threat of personal physical injury by the police and put Petitioner in a mental state of extreme fear that he blacked out at least twice during the police’s intimidating interrogation and had to be hospitalized forwith [sic] for mental psychological stress…I did not knowingly know that I had a right under the law to plea not guilty by reason of temporary insanity and further my trial attorney did not explain this defense to me so I did not know it was available to me had I knew this I would have plead not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.”

Miller’s arguments have been corroborated by police reports showing his transfer to Southside Hospital for treatment after passing out multiple times during police interrogation. Miller was kept at the hospital for at least one day then returned to police for further interrogation.

Miller’s actions and false statements were the product of police suggestion. This is verified and corroborated by the mental health professionals who examined Miller, the police reports and the witness testimony, evidence, and admissions by representatives of the District Attorney’s office conflicting with Miller’s testimony at Goldblum’s trial. Miller reacted to the police the way he did because he suffered from confabulatory amnesia; a condition that was brought on by a brain injury suffered when he was struck by a trolley as a child. What’s more, Miller was highly susceptible to manipulation, fearful of a lengthy prison sentence, and laboring under the assumption that a bargain was struck for a sentence of 10 to 20 years. Telling lies was a way of life for Miller due to his mental illness.

Since Goldblum’s conviction, a number of experts have authored reports to the effect that Goldblum could not have been the assailant based on the blood spatter pattern:

  1. Joshua Perper, the Pathologist in this case issued a report stating that after reviewing all of the available information in this case, in his medical opinion, the perpetrator was most likely the person to the right of the victim, Clarence Miller.
  2. Cyril Wecht, the Coroner, has issued affidavits stating that after reviewing all of the available reports in this case, it is his medical opinion that the person to the right of the victim stabbed the victim. That person was Clarence Miller.
  3. Henry Lee, a forensic scientist and blood spatter expert issued an affidavit which states that after reviewing all of the available reports in this case, it is his professional opinion the person to the right of the victim stabbed the victim. That person was Clarence Miller.
  4. Michael M. Baden and Barbara C. Wolf, both forensic pathologists, issued an affidavit which states that after reviewing all of the available reports in this case, it is their professional opinion the person to the right of the victim stabbed the victim. That person was Clarence Miller.
  5. Herbert L. MacDonnell, a forensic scientist, primarily a blood spatter expert, issued an affidavit which states that after reviewing all of the available reports in this case, it is his professional opinion the person to the right of the victim stabbed the victim. That person was Clarence Miller.
  6. Toby Wolson, of Miami Dade County, Crime Lab, who was brought into the case by Det. Freeman, claimed that after reviewing all of the available reports in this investigation that he could not render an opinion because there is no photographic evidence to review. Dr. Wolson claimed that no blood spatter expert can render an opinion without photographic evidence because they did not see the blood spatter personally and they would need the photos to examine the blood spatter. Wolson, however, did state that if the blood on the dashboard appeared as Det. Freeman described it, then he would have to agree with the other doctors that the most likely person to stab Wilhelm was the person to the right. That person was Clarence Miller.

Detective Freeman testified both in a deposition and at trial that he saw the blood spatter on the dashboard and gave a detailed description of same at trial. Freeman, a trained homicide detective, recalled that the spatter on the dashboard had traveled from left to right and the tail of blood was facing the passenger side door. This is of great importance as Freeman, being an experienced homicide investigator, should have understood that if the blood spatter tail is facing right then the blood had to come from the left. Freeman had training and practical application of this scientific fact. He knew that if the blood spatter came from left to right then the person to the right of the victim was the person who stabbed the victim. The person to the right of the victim in the vehicle was Clarence Miller, as stipulated at trial. Freeman also knew that for a blood spatter expert to testify on what direction the blood came from and who the likely person was to have stabbed the victim, he (the expert) likely would want photographs because he would not have been at the crime scene and would not have viewed the blood spatter personally.

A few days prior to trial, Sgt. Modispatcher recalled seeing blood spatter photos in the case file and they were never turned over to the defense (as required) prior to trial, as related to Jim Ramsey during a 2011 interview. Freeman admitted in a deposition with Attorney Chris Eyster that he recalled seeing the photos but could not remember where or when. In an October 19, 2001, interview with Investigator William Myers, Freeman admitted to testifying that he saw blood inside the Wilhelm vehicle and he may have seen photographs but he could not remember where or when. Freeman also stated that he believed he shared the photos with Pete Dixon but that Dixon did not use them at trial, which corroborates Modispatcher’s statements that photos of the blood spatter existed.

The Goldblum case has a long and tortured history which is described below by reference to what has been become known as the Coffey No Merit Letter which came about as a result of the filing on July 1, 2013, of Goldblum’s 3rd pro se PCRA Petition. Judge McDaniel of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, appointed counsel, Attorney Scott Coffey to represent Goldblum, however, contrary to the wishes of Goldblum, Coffey filed a Finley/Turner[4]“No Merit” letter and sought permission to withdraw as counsel.[5] Judge McDaniel issued a Notice of Intent to Dismiss and subsequently dismissed Goldblum’s PCRA Petition, without a hearing, on April 14, 2014. Goldblum appealed the Order of April 14, 2014. Briefs were timely filed by the parties, including a Reply Brief by Goldblum.

[4] Commonwealth v. Finley, 550 A.2d 213 (Pa.Super. 1988)(en banc); Commonwealth v. Turner, 518 Pa. 491, 544 A.2d 927 (Pa. 1988)

[5] A copy of the Coffey No Merit letter which includes a lengthy procedural history of the Goldblum case is included in the Superior Court Appendix filed with this Petition. See, RR000112a-RR000138a.

Goldblum’s Reply Brief, (containing an Affidavit from Alex Homyak and a copy of the Final Perper Report of May 22, 2015) sets forth the circumstances under which Goldblum’s defense team (Attorneys Villanova and Alex Homyak and investigator James Ramsey) obtained Dr. Perper’s cooperation and commissioned a report that Goldblum contended constituted after-discovered evidence which formed the basis of Goldblum’s 3rd PCRA Petition. [6]             Goldblum filed his most recent PCRA Petition within sixty (60) days of the date

Dr. Perper authored his final report. In his final report of May 22, 2013, Dr. Perper analyzed the unusual circumstances under which the files and evidence in the Goldblum case, particularly the blood spatter photographs disappeared at the time of the Goldblum trial. On July 31, 2015 the Superior Court issued a Memorandum Opinion affirming the PCRA Court on grounds of untimeliness.

Thereafter, the Prothonotary of the Superior Court advised the Commonwealth of the filing of the Opinion, however, it failed to give Goldblum’s attorney notice of the filing of or issuance of that Opinion. Goldblum’s counsel later discovered the filing, however, by that time, the thirty days for the filing of a Petition for Allowance of Appeal to the Supreme Court had passed. The Superior Court Prothonotary acknowledged that it had not given notice to Goldblum’s counsel and counsel then filed, on October 2, 2015 at No. 68 WM-2015, a Motion for Leave to File Petition for Allowance of Appeal, Nunc Pro Tunc. On October 29, 2015 the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court entered an Order granting Goldblum’s Petition for Leave to File Petition for Allowance of Appeal Nunc Pro Tunc. This Petition is filed in compliance with that Order.


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TV Report on Zeke’s case

It has been more than 20 years since Ken Rice filed this in-depth report on Zeke’s case. 20 years since Zeke’s judge and prosecutor both labeled his trial “A Miscarriage of Justice.”

And 20 years later, Zeke is still in prison, serving a life sentence for a crime he did not commit.

 

Quotes

"Clarence . . . Clarence Miller did this to me." George Wilhelm's dying declaration to police, February 9, 1976 (T.T. 1528).

". . . Goldblum was not the individual who inflicted the fatal stab wounds on Mr. George Wilhelm." Dr. Cyril Wecht, Coroner of Allegheny County in letter to Board of Pardons, September 1, 1994; Henry Lee, Ph.D., report dated February 25, 1997.

"This is the one case in 21 years [as a judge] which seriously troubles my conscience about the result." The Honorable Donald Ziegler as quoted in Michael Bucsko, Judge Haunted by Dying Man's Last Sentences, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 5, 1995.

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