Thomas Lane has maintained his innocence since he was arrested in 2003. He was convicted of capital murder of killing his estranged wife, despite a complete lack of physical evidence tying Mr. Lane to the crime scene (the blood/ DNA profile found at the crime scene did not match Mr. Lane). The hair found a foot from the body did not match Mr. Lane. The State’s only eyewitness, who claimed to have seen a truck similar to Mr. Lane’s truck near his wife’s home on the day of her death, testified that the man he saw that day weighed around 120 pounds – Mr. Lane at the time weighed over 285 pounds. On the day Mr. Lane’s wife died, over a dozen law enforcement officers walked through the front door of her house as part of their investigation and to document the scene, and not one found evidence of forced entry. The following day, however, after they allegedly found a chisel in Mr. Lane’s truck (however none of the crime photos taken during the search of Mr. Lanes truck showed a chisel), the police claimed they found a piece of the front door ripped off, the chain lock dangling, and a chisel mark on the door frame. A State witness was permitted to testify at trial that the “chisel mark” could have only been made by one single chisel in the entire world -- the chisel from Mr. Lane’s truck -- despite having never matched wood impressions made by a metal tool in his career. This was the only piece of physical evidence used against Mr. Lane. Defense counsel failed to hire a toolmarks expert to challenge this baseless assertion, or to hire an expert in crime scene investigations that would have established for the jury that if the chisel mark had existed on the day of the crime, at least one of the law enforcement members on the scene that day, using that door, would have noticed it.
In addition, there are questions about the State’s timeline in the case, which was based on the fact that Mr. Lane’s wife was found in her bathtub with the water running “fast and hard” but not overflowing. Because Mr. Lane had an alibi an hour before the victim’s body was discovered, the prosecution asserted at trial that the water could have been running for at least 57 minutes without overflowing onto the ground. (In addition, investigators reported that 50 minutes after the water was turned off, the water level was still above the tub overflow drain.) And Teresa’s hair was still blocking the overflow drain. Despite the centrality of this issue, defense counsel failed to hire a plumbing expert to explain the limits of an overflow valve and what would have happened under normal circumstances if water had run for almost an hour. Based on this scant physical evidence, that defense failed to challenge with expert testimony, Mr. Lane was convicted of capital murder. Though his first penalty phase trial in 2006 resulted in a life verdict, the State sought and obtained a death sentence at his second trial in 2016. Mr. Lane has filed a Rule 32 petition in the Mobile County Circuit Court, and he needs counsel/ experts to represent him in challenging his unlawfully obtained capital conviction and death sentence.
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