Wrongful conviction is a vice that has eaten deep into the justice system. It is particularly rampant among those who do not have a voice or whose track record stands against them. Some people have made it their duty to speak for those who have no voice, like Jimmie Staley and the case of Patrick Gonzalez Jr.
Jimmie Lee Staley is a private citizen with a keen interest in seeing justice prevail. She has been resilient in the pursuit of justice for a case that combines so many impeding factors; from mishandling of evidence to misconduct to dozens of professionals and experts turning a blind eye to the evidence, or lack thereof, in a 2009 murder case in Florida that attracted the death penalty. The man in question, who is presently on Death Row, is Leonard “Patrick” Gonzalez Jr.
Throughout her investigation, Staley uncovered a lot of information—not limited to this specific case—about the corrupt system that led to the injustice. As more issues were discovered in his search, more victims came forward to tell their stories. It was not long before Staley established a pattern: all of them were victims of corruption—the same circumstances that led to the wrongful conviction of Patrick Gonzalez. Patrick was convicted in three days without any substantial evidence linking him to the crime.
According to the media, Patrick Gonzalez Jr. was turned in by his father Leonard “Lenny” Gonzalez Sr. However, this seems utterly implausible on closer observation. Lenny Gonzalez, a motorcycle accident victim, suffers from organic brain damage, dementia, and paranoia/schizophrenia, which are all documented. He received SSI total disability for his mental incapacity. Yet his “confession” was said to have been elicited by the state attorney personally in a one-on-one interview that is unrecorded.
It should be noted that this confession came after three days of deputies’ interviews and was used to precipitate a narrative touted by two young black kids attempting to avoid lethal injection. The entirety of the case against Patrick Gonzalez, Jr. is based on these three confessions—from a dementia-ridden father and two frightened kids aged 16 and 19. It is quite clear that the law enforcement personnel’s operation method, in this case, is unprecedented.
Additionally, Staley found out that an individual was found in possession of a safe, which was taken from the scene of the crime, along with bloodied clothes used in the murder, the murder weapon, and other weapons used by accomplices to the crime. This man was given immunity yet never made any statement in court to the effect that Patrick Gonzalez Jr. was the culprit. The consensus by law enforcement professionals outside of the case was that he is an ATF Criminal informant who was being protected, as he was known to be a runner of guns to Mexico.
Wrongful conviction is a misfortune with far-reaching consequences, casting a shadow over the excellent work done by all those who uphold the law. It should be alarming that one need not look very far to come across someone who got a raw deal with the police. Locally, there is a lot of animosity for Patrick Gonzalez Jr., who has an unfavorable history with the community in the Pensacola area. Staley herself stated, “I knew Patrick before this. I didn’t like him, but everyone deserves a fair trial, and he most definitely did not get a fair trial. I cannot be sure of his innocence, but I am sure there is no evidence that he was involved in this crime.”
Despite this, Staley appears to be the only person willing to step up to the plate and demand that true justice run its course. She noted that a segment of the local community might feel differently but are unwilling to speak up for fear of retaliation from the Sherrif, who refers to the conviction of Patrick Gonzalez Jr. as his crowning achievement. Staley is bent on ensuring that due process is not denied to Patrick Gonzalez Jr. and that justice prevails.
Learn more about the Patrick Gonzalez case by visiting the website.