By D. Razor Babb
Following a July 6, 2001, second-degree attempted murder conviction in a Van Nuys, California courtroom, Kevin Jerome Pullum wasn’t waiting around to see how the appeal might work out. Upon his return to the Los Angeles County Twin Towers jail, still dressed in the suit he wore to court, he walked out of the facility using an Eddie Murphy, Dr. Doolittle i.d. card.
Pullum says, “When I was walking through those jail corridors, I knew that if I was caught, I’d be taking my last breath. I just kept getting through doors though, till I hit the sidewalk outside.”
He was re-arrested 17 days later, with a 65-to-life prison term ahead of him.
The case is the result of a May 1999 shooting incident that Pullum claims he had no knowledge of, or involvement in. A careful examination of the evidence supports his contention. Almost a year after the shooting of victim Ralph Burnell, Pullum was pulled over for a traffic violation (April, 2000). He was shocked to learn there was a warrant out for his arrest for attempted murder. He was immediately taken into custody.
At the preliminary hearing, evidence of a 6-pack photo lineup procedure was presented, indicating that Pullum had been identified by witnesses who circled his photo and signed their names, even writing: “This is the man who I saw hurt the guy in the street.”
The victim, Burnell, testified that Pullum was NOT the man who shot him. The case was bound over for trial.
A year after the preliminary hearing, on June 22, 2001, a handwriting expert testified in court, raising suspicion regarding the authenticity of the 6- pack photo lineup procedure. Four days later, Van Nuys detective Daniel O’Hanian admitted to the court that he had created the identification document and that he had forged witness signatures and written remarks.
In the face of this seeming avalanche of evidence in support of disallowing the sole evidence that implicated Mr. Pullum, it’s unclear how the case even proceeded to, trial.
A gun discovered at the scene of the crime did not have Pullum’s fingerprints, and the victim swore under oath that he was not the shooter.
However, the trial did proceed, and 22 years later Kevin Pullum remains in prison.
A review by Los Angeles D.A. Gascon’s Conviction Review Integrity Unit remains in limbo, and Pullum continues to reach out to sources for help.
In spite of the bitterness that a wrongful conviction elicits, Pullum holds steadfast to optimism and hope. “I believe justice will prevail,” he says.
“I’m ready to get back to my life and I believe it’s my purpose to help at risk youth and give back to the community. They’ll listen to someone who has been through something like this. I’ve survived riots, situations and conditions in prison that could have ended my life. There has to be a greater purpose. I think I know what mine is.”
See Pullum’s filing from Mule Creek State Prison.
Razor Babb is an incarcerated writer at the Mule Creek State Prison at Ione California.