"If you save the life of one person, it is as if you saved the world," the Talmud teaches us. If this is true, then Pete Shellem, a journalist for the Patriot News (based out of Harrisburg, Pa). has saved the world at least four times and is now working on his fifth.
These four were wrongly convicted of homicides they did not commit. All told they had served 66 years in prison. They would have likely died there if not for Shellem and his solid investigative reporting. For an article describing Shellem and his good works, check out Mario Cattabiani's piece entitled "The Sleuth" in the American Journalism Review at www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=4341
After "The Sleuth" ran, Shellem published his most recent piece on May 27, 2007, "In a case of look-alikes, was the wrong man convicted?" available on the Patriot News website for
free (as are all of Shellem's stories). The story raises serious questions about the guilt of Charles T. "Ted" Dubbs who was convicted of two sexual assaults of women on jogging trails in Lancaster County in May 2002 on the basis of photo idnetifications. New evidence, namely a confession by Wilbur Cyrus Brown II, a serial rapist who assaulted two other women on the same part of the jogging trails and 11 other similar attacks across the state, has to date failed to persuade the local prosecutor of Dubbs' innocence despite the fact that the crimes are nearly identical in all respects, particularly in the words used by the assailant and the nature of the sexual assault. First District Attorney Heidi Eakin has an explanation for why Brown is lying -- he's a copycat criminal who is trying to get back at her for insisting that the cases in Lancaster County be prosecuted instead of allowing him to plead guilty to all of the crimes in Dauphin County. After reading Shellem's story, this seems far-fetched. Is this another case of prosecutorial tunnelvision, a refusal to accept the fact that an innocent man was convicted? Stay tuned. A hearing on Dubb's post-conviction petition is set for July 9th.