Hey Serial fans, I just released the first episode of a podcast about a man incarcerated for 39 years for a quadruple homicide he may have not committed. I'm Blake Higgins, AMA!
Hey Reddit, my name is Blake Higgins. I'm an independent journalist/storyteller/podcaster/who knows and I just released the first episode of my new podcast, Junction.
It's about a man named Ken Botham Jr. who's been in prison for over 39 years for the murder of his wife, Patricia, his neighbor, Linda Miracle, and his neighbor's two young sons, Troy and Chad. Several people have been researching the case over the years and have been collecting documents that bring his conviction into question. Some of these documents even indicate that there may be some viable DNA candidates to test in the case. Ken has maintained his innocence to this day and welcomes the DNA testing.
I first heard the story seven years ago from my teacher in a college philosophy class. It turns out this teacher, Thad, was Ken's son and had been working on the case for years. I kept the case in the back of my mind until 16 months ago, when I began to work with Thad on a documentary about this whole case.
It morphed into a podcast and I am happy to announce the release of the first episode that you can find on iTunes, Soundcloud or the website junctionpodcast.com. I also have posted hundreds of old newspaper articles and a behind-the-scenes blog at the website. That's also where people can donate or buy a Junction t-shirt (American Apparel brand) to help raise funds for the story. You can also text junction to 71777 to donate and receive updates on the story!
I'm trying to raise funds because I quit my job two months to focus on the story full time and have already sold everything I could to keep this going. The idea is to raise enough money to head to Grand Junction to keep on reporting on the story as it unfolds ala Serial. Now AMA!
My Proof: https://twitter.com/junctionpodcast/status/590050398687272960
Edit: Alright everyone, I'm calling it a night. Thanks for your questions! I'm going to keep this going at a slower pace over at /r/junctionpodcast Hope to see you there!
Edit #2: And I'll keep up with this thread as well if people want to keep asking questions!
Edit #3: Forgot the RSS feed, here it is http://junction.libsyn.com/rss
Journalism 100% Even his son is OK if turns out that the DNA actually proves his guilt. At this point everyone just wants answers and closure.
Do you still struggle back and forth? Are you emotionally invested like the lady in Serial?
Absolutely. The evidence against him makes him look so, so guilty. But it's all circumstantial! There's no direct proof that he committed these crimes. And then I look at the explanations for the evidence and he starts to look very innocent. There's also a lot of facts that didn't come out in trial that raise some serious doubts about his guilt.
I'm not very emotionally invested with Ken himself, but I definitely feel a deep bond with his son, Thad. We've spent a lot of time working together on this and I feel for the guy. He has a dad in prison, a mom who was murdered and a brother who died in a motorcyle accident at the age of 37. He's had a rough go of it, but refuses to let it rule his life. Pretty powerful.
But it's all circumstantial!
This is the most annoying and silly thing that people say about criminal law. They say this like there's something wrong with circumstantial evidence. This was a tactic used by defense attorneys to make the point that there was no direct evidence, and therefore lead the jury to infer that no direct evidence = reasonable doubt. But they can't actually say this, because the absences of direct evidence does not automatically mean reasonable doubt. It's a ploy, on par with "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." No, actually, we don't.
So when you say It's all circumstantial! you are implicitly taking the defense's side.
There is nothing wrong with circumstantial evidence, particularly when there is a lot of it and they are corroborating. For example, fingerprints are circumstantial evidence. Any time you need an expert witness to explain a test (DNA, tire tracks, whatever) you are dealing with circumstantial evidence.
Direct evidence is rare in trials, because when it exists (like eyewitnesses), defense lawyers will take a plea deal and avoid trial.
Remember, the standard in criminal trials is "beyond a reasonable doubt." Not absolute certainty, not even a 95% confidence interval.
Excellent points, very well said. I certainly don't have the experienced perspective of someone who has studied law. I'll be more careful in the future, thanks.
Edit: I think the reason why I get a little carried away with the circumstantial aspect of it is that I know the explanations behind this evidence. I think I sometimes mix the concepts of "circumstantial" and "beyond a reasonable doubt", which is not a good thing to do in such a precise story.
I can't wait to have a listen. Did you already weigh in on Adnan's guilt? Just curious?
I came away from Serial having absolutely no clue. There were so many things that made him look guilty, but so many things that made him look innocent. I guess I'm just content to live in the mystery:)
Makes you think, though, criminal justice and law in our society needs to be seriously re-examined. We like to think that we know what we're doing, but this recent slew of DNA exonerations says otherwise. It's too bad, because unsettled is not a comfortable feeling. Much easier to say: He's Guilty! and be done with it.
A friend of mine is a prosecutor and we both felt like there was just not enough actual evidence to convict in that case but she convinced me that he did it. Jay would have had no other reason to make up his story.
But don't you think Jay could have been upset or jealous or something that Adnan was close to his girlfriend? Oh jeez, getting off topic here haha
Sorry. Jay could have made it all up except that, the night she went missing, he told his friend about the murder and the shovels. No one else knew she was gone that night because of the snowstorm.
I have to go find your podcast now!
Haha do it! And report back here with what you think please! I would love to get some feedback.
How and why did you get interested in this case?
I first heard of this story seven years ago when I was in my freshman year of college. I was in Ken's (the guy in prison) son Thad's ethics class that he was teaching. The topic of the week was whether or not the death penalty was ever ethical and Thad shared his own personal example of his dad's story.
It's been stuck in the back of my mind ever since until about 16 months ago when Thad posted on facebook. He was frustrated with the progress on the case and I just so happened to be getting into documentary filmmaking. I messaged him and have been working on the story ever since!
Has Thad tried raising funds to support you? Has he or you tried to get the story out through other mainstream media sources?
Nope. He was hesitant to contact mainstream media sources until about 16 months ago because the case was being looked at by the Colorado Innocence Project. The project decided to close the case and I literally swooped in right at that moment. I think he likes working with me because he knows me and what kind of person I am. I'm hoping that the mainstream media picks up on this now that I have my ducks in a row and am ready to tell the whole story.
Colorado Innocence Project decided to close the case
Do you know why?
I'll definitely take a listen to the podcast!
Before they even looked at the samples they said that they felt Ken was guilty and it would be a waste of time. However, I've listened to a recording of the conversation where they closed the case, and it's pretty obvious they had no idea what they were talking about.
I have nothing to back this up, but it does seem interesting that the project is run by the same state Attorney General's office that fought Ken during his appeal. And that Ken would be entitled to millions of dollars if he were found innocent. Just another aspect of the case I'll be following up on.
When telling a story like this, how much to you assume the public understands about how the law works?
What would you do differently if you knew that lots of people had read this webcomic about the law?
It's a confusing area, so I'll just assume that I'm dealing with listeners who know very little and will plan on taking the time to explain the finer points so everyone can enjoy listening. If everyone was up to speed on the law, it's possible I would change up my strategy, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.
Hi. Does money raised go to your reporting efforts or towards the legal team?
The money will go toward the reporting efforts with any extra going toward charities benefiting women and children who have been victims of violence. I thought it would be a conflict of interest if I directed the funds to his legal defense. I'll be tracking all the money that comes in and everything that's spent and posting updates at junctionpodcast.com
Ok cool. Well I will give a listen. Is there a link somewhere or info in the podcast where to direct donations?
The information is in the podcast, but you can find a donation button and t-shirts to buy at junctionpodcast. You can also donate right from your smartphone by texting the word junction to 71777. You'll get a text back with a link!
How long have you been working on this research and article?
It's not an article, it's a podcast! And I've been working on this story for the last 16 months.
Can you give us an rss link or something so our podcast apps can quick subscribe? (this is for everybody. I'm not so lazy that I won't manually listen to it)
Whoops, sorry. The feed is http://junction.libsyn.com/rss. I'll update the OP too. Thanks!
I think I'd like something like this in book form, any thoughts?
I never say never, but that's pretty doubtful. I love this format because you get to connect with the storyteller and the people involved with the story on a much more personal level. Music and ambient sound also add a ton to the story. And for for the way most people are nowadays, I feel like I have a better chance of this story gaining traction if people are listening via their smartphones rather than sitting down to focus on a book.
I'm listening now. I started a podcast series earlier this year, the first episode was also a true crime story. Unfortunately I had to put the show on hiatus because I moved to the other side of the world. It's a lot of work, but I love the medium!
What other forms of journalism have you done? Do you have any examples of your other work?
Nice! You have a great voice. I've done a few short video pieces recently and some written work in college, but nothing that I would be proud to show. This is honestly my first big story.
Thanks Blake! I hope to continue when I have the time. Just finished listening to your first episode. Really enjoyed it! I hope you have the opportunity to continue the complete story. You've found yourself a listener.
Great, thanks! Glad you liked it.
1) Do you already think you have the answers to the 2 questions you pose at the end of the podcast?
2) Does the estranged husband's alibi involve LensCrafters? /s
No and no, but I got some ideas!
He's still in prison! I imagine he would react quite warmly, though.
Is this about journalism or about freeing him?
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