In April of 1999 Timothy James Young was arrested for a crime that he did not commit. In 2006, after a long battle with the criminal justice system, he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death row. Tim arrived to San Quentin’s death row on April 20, 2006. After a four year wait, on June 23, 2010, the California Supreme Court appointed Karen Kelly as his appellate attorney from their attorney pool.* To date, the record on appeal has yet to be corrected and certified, and the opening brief has yet to be filed. These delays are perhaps unsurprising in a case that has a long history of racism, corruption and collusion, as well as police and prosecutorial misconduct. Read on, as we expose the injustices that led to Tim’s wrongful conviction, and help us to build a movement that is capable of securing his freedom. Join us in our fight to free Tim Young!
* For appellate cases, the California Supreme Court, the court that rules on the first stage of an appeal, handpick and appoint the attorney who prepares the opening brief. The only way to get around this conflict of interest is to find pro bono representation for Tim, or to raise enough funds to hire private council. Statistics show that these two avenues produce the highest rate of exonerations.
Witness description does not match– On July 18, 1995, a bar called Pato’s Place was robbed and five patrons were killed. The surviving witness, bar owner, Lupe Cantu, stated that the suspects were Hispanic. He also stated that two of the three suspects were shorter than 5’8 and were skinny, and that the third suspect was approximately 5’10, skinny/medium build. In stark contrast, Timothy James Young is an African American male that stands approximately 6’3 in height, and at the time of the crime he weighed over 320 pounds.
Fingerprint evidence does not match– Fingerprint and palm impressions were found on the murder weapons, but they do not belong to Timothy Young, or anyone else who was charged with the crime. To date, the person who the prints actually belong to remain a mystery.
Evidence Tampering- Police admit under oath to falsifying records, tampering with evidence, and destroying exculpatory evidence. One of the evidence lab technicians who participated in these corrupt practices was later charged and convicted of drug and weapons possession, stealing from the evidence room, and human trafficking.
The star witness was not credible- The star witness for the prosecution was an unsavory character by the name of Anthony Wolfe. Anthony Wolfe was a well known con artist and drug addict who had prior felony convictions that included: Lewd and lascivious acts with a child (whereas he was found guilty of molesting his little sister,) burglary, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of stolen property, vehicle theft, assault on a peace officer (two separate incidents,) possession of a weapon while incarcerated at Folsom Prison, escape from custody while incarcerated in Fresno County, and lastly, counterfeiting.
The story behind the star witness- Wolfe was arrested on counterfeiting charges, was facing three strikes, and looking at a life sentence. While incarcerated, he began contacting various law enforcement agencies in hopes of making a deal. Wolfe claimed to have knowledge of the Pato’s Place murders as well as other crimes that had been committed in the Central Valley, and stated that he would be willing to help solve said crimes in exchange for his freedom. Although Tulare County had already arrested people for the Pato’s Place murders, and although they already had people of interest, at the behest of neighboring Kings County, they eventually took Wolfe up on his offer.
Grooming the witness- Investigators agreed that all of Wolfe’s case knowledge seemed to stem from news reports, nevertheless, they freed him, wired him up, and sent him out into the community to gather incriminating evidence. When that failed to bear fruit, investigators changed plans and began a two year grooming process. During that time, Wolfe was interviewed by his “handlers” on numerous occasions, each interrogation producing a different story then the last. Finally, when investigators felt they had a viable story that could be corroborated (through witness intimidation and coercion,) they offered Wolfe an immunity agreement. (It should be noted that this grooming continued all the way up to jury selection, and even during the course of the trial.)
Terms of the testimony-As a culmination of Wolfe’s numerous interviews, these are the lies that were settled upon, and that Wolfe agreed to testify to : 1) That he and Young were together the entire day of July 18, 1995, and that Young was even in the car with him later that night when he was pulled over and arrested in Corcoran, California for speeding and running a stop sign. 2) That he and Young were drinking heavily all day while plotting and preparing to commit a crime. 3) That he and Young were in Corcoran most of the day drinking, and that they then traveled back to Hanford, California where Wolfe testified that he stopped at a parking lot and attempted to steal a car, but failed because his car stealing equipment broke off into the ignition. 4) That he and Young then traveled to the residence of an individual named Joseph Bonner, in Riverdale, California so that they could pick up weapons to commit a crime. 5) That he and Young then went to Tulare, California to case out a place to commit a crime. That they committed the crime that has been referred to as the Pato’s Place incident. That they then traveled to Hanford, California and stopped at an individual’s residence by the name of Nathan Sharp so that they could divide the money, and that Nathan Sharp was there to let them in. That they then traveled back to Corcoran, California where Wolfe was pulled over for a traffic stop and arrested.
Reality check- All of this would’ve gone off without a hitch except for one thing. Subsequent to Wolfe signing the immunity agreement, Tim’s work records and medical records surfaced, and they completely contradicted the state’s case, as well as every lie that had been uttered by the state’s star witness.
Tim’s alibi- Tim’s medical records showed that on July 18, 1995, Tim had three different medical appointments in three different counties. He also had a medical appointment the following day for a bone scan. Tim’s work records revealed that on July 18, 1995, he had a meeting in Hanford, California with his management team at Pirelli Tires.
Additional contradictions- It should be noted that law enforcement followed up on Wolfe’s claim of the attempted car theft and came up empty. They checked with surrounding business, and they checked with every locksmith and tow truck service in town and there were no records of an attempted car theft, or reports of anyone needing assistance with a car that was unable to start due to a screw being broke off in the ignition. It should also be noted that Nathan Sharp’s work records proved that he was at work on the night of the Pato’s Place murders, meaning that he could not have been at his residence to greet Wolfe at the door and let him inside. Lastly, and most importantly, it should be noted that Sergeant Ray Garcia of the Corcoran police department testified at trial that on the night of July 18, 1995, he conducted a felony traffic stop on Wolfe and arrested him for outstanding warrants. He further testified that neither Timothy Young or his brother Donald Young were in the vehicle at the time of Wolfe’s arrest. (RT. pg. 1149-1156)
Injustice- The judge, jury and prosecutor turned a blind eye to the alibi evidence in the Young case, and Anthony Wolfe was allowed to lie his way to freedom.
Prosecutorial misconduct- Prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence, provided defense attorneys with a fake set of discovery, and engaged in unethical behavior.
Judicial misconduct- Judge Ronn Couillard, who presided over the trial, continually aided the prosecution throughout trial. Couillard gave the prosecutor hand signals when he felt that she should object to statements by the defense, and/or, he would object on her behalf when she failed to do so. Couillard would object on behalf of the prosecution, sustain the objection and then refuse to allow defense attorneys to thoroughly cross examine witnesses. (Vol.74, pg.3576)
Judicial collusion- Trial judge, Ronn Couillard acted as a surrogate prosecutor for the District Attorney’s office. He violated judicial canons, acted unethical, and failed to protect and uphold the interest of justice.
Motion to disqualify- Defendants sought to disqualify judge Ronn Couillard on two separate occasions, both motions were denied.
Jury misconduct- Prior to the rendering of the unjust verdict, one of the jurors was kicked off the jury for discussing the case outside the presence of the jury. The juror was a schoolteacher, and it was determined that she had been sharing her personal views and discussing the case with her students. In spite of this jury misconduct, the judge refused to grant a mistrial.
Jury bias- The jurors were seen laughing and giggling throughout the entire trial. It is also documented that one of the jurors lived next door to a relative of one of the victims, and that they had discussions about the case prior to the jury being sworn in.
Tainted jury pool- The jury pool was tainted, and as a result, defendants did not have a fair and impartial jury.
No African Americans on the jury-
Not a single black person was on the jury. This violated defendant’s right to a fair trial.
No change of venue- Defendants were denied a change of venue, and in return they did not receive a fair trial.
Third party culpability- The trial Judge prevented attorneys from putting on a third party defense, even though police reports and trial testimony indicated that others committed the crime.
Witness intimidation- Witnesses were threatened, intimidated and coerced by law enforcement officials. One witness testified that police officers came to his house, kicked his door in, put a gun to his head and threatened to kill him in front of his wife and kids. He was told that if he didn’t cooperate with the investigation and corroborate the story of Anthony Wolfe (the state’s star witness,) that he himself would be charged with the crime. The witness was taken to jail, placed in the “Hole,” and remained there until he agreed to corroborate the lies of Anthony Wolfe. These lies backfired at trial because they were controverted by Tim’s alibi and timeline.
Gary Coffman, the Tulare Police Department Evidence Technician whose perjured testimony helped the D.A. secure a wrongful conviction in the Young brothers’ murder case, is now a convicted felon! Learn more about his crimes and the corruption in which he was involved. Additional documents are here.