Oct. 25, 2010
 
Former News Anchor Recalls ‘Mall Rapist’ Saga
Falsely Convicted Man ‘Victim’ Too
 
By Tony Rutherford
Huntingtonnews.net Reporter
 
Huntngton, WV (HNN) – DNA testing last week resulted in the indictment of a current inmate in the so-called ‘Mall Rapist’ case stemming from 1987. At the time, employees and shoppers worried about the man who had brutally assaulted two victims from the Huntington Mall.
 
A 22 count indictment now charges Donald Good with multiple counts of kidnapping, aggravated robbery, sexual abuse and various sexual assault charges.
 
During 80s time frame, Kathy Brown, now an attorney was a reporter/news anchor, for WSAZ-TV. The familiar red-haired reporter covered portions of the case which originally sent Glen Dale Woodall to prison for hundreds of years, covered the fight of his family and attorney Lonnie Simmons to have DNA evidence admitted , and covered the unraveling of evidence from discredited state police chemist Fred Zain.
 
“People just did not want to go to the mall. It was really a panic situation [then],” Ms. Brown recalled. Complicating accurate coverage of the incidents, “people could not tell the rumors from what was true. There was chaos and upheaval for people working there.”
 
And the Mall owner’s barred reporters from the property.
 
“As a reporter, we could not get on site. The owners did not want any extra publicity other than what they were already getting. We could not go out there to talk to anyone. It was a fight every day to just try and cover it,” Ms. Brown explained.
 
Asked about the pressure on law enforcement to find a suspect, Ms. Brown said, “the owners of Huntington Mall were frantic to someone arrested and to get a conviction.” Still, law enforcement, at the time, believed they “had found the right guy.”
 
WSAZ newsroom reporters asked Brown earlier this week, “Why did they arrest Woodall?”
 
She recalled that Woodall worked across the street [from the mall] at a cemetery and at work he wore brown pants. “Neither victim saw a face [but] both of the victims saw brown pants,” Brown said.
 
Colliding with the political pressure to find the rapist, a then phenomenal W.Va. State Police chemist, Fred Zain, provided all the right answers for convicting Glen Dale Woodall and hundreds of others.
 
With Glen in prison, the Woodall family stood by his side, including raising money for private counsel and further DNA testing through bake sales and craft sales.
 
“I remember calling [and] they were very vocal,” Brown said.
 
Brown explained that after Woodall’s family hired Lonnie Simmons as defense attorney , it was a long battle getting new evidence into court. “Lonnie Simmons appealed certain aspects of [Woodall’s] case to the West Virginia Supreme Court nineteen times before the court agreed to let him have his testing.”
 
Simmons sought advice from DNA experts, too. Their names would later become near household words --- Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, both ran the Innocence Project and both were prominent in the murder acquittal of O.J. Simpson.
 
WOODALL VICTIM TOO
 
Freed from Moundsville five years after conviction, “Woodall [himself] became one of the victims,” explained Brown. Although free, many community members doubted his innocence.
 
“The day they brought Glen back from Moundsville, one of the victims pounded her fist on the vehicle they had brought him back in,” Brown said.
 
According to the book , Actual Innocence, the victims’ actions “stiffened the back of the prosecutors when they received the new DNA. Prior to release, Woodall was on home confinement with an electronic bracelet. It was not until May 1992 that WV determined not to re-try Woodall. In September, they agreed to pay him a million dollars for wrongful conviction.
 
Remembering the victim’s response to seeing Woodall in the vehicle, Brown explained [the victim] “ had been told ‘the jury had convicted him.’ She could not believe that they were going to let him go. She was scared, frightened out of her mind that they were letting the guy who did this to her go. I don’t think she understood science. We explained many times that DNA excluded [Woodall] , it could not at the time include or pinpoint who it was.”
 
WV AHEAD OF CURVE ON SCIENCE AT TIME
 
Chemist Zain falsely testified concerning serology evidence at Woodall’s trail. That was “one of a number of things” that went wrong, Brown said.
 
“They had collected a hair that they thought was from Woodall . I’m pretty sure this was a pubic hair although they thought it was a beard hair. There was controversy as to whether Glen [Woodall] had a beard at the time. “
 
Zain, for a while, became a behind the scenes justice crusader. He would testify that blood and semen samples at crime scenes matched those of defendants. No one checked his credentials. The chemist had a degree in English and had failed organic chemistry. He flunked an FBI course on forensic science.
 
“Here he was getting all of these convictions. There were prosecutor’s all over the country that wanted to use Fred Zain because he was getting remarkable results. [But] Fred Zain’s resume was fabricated; his education was fabricated,” Brown said. Labs where he worked did not have the technologies necessary to produce the results Zain “supposedly” had gotten, Brown said.
 
After he left WV, he went to Texas. When knowledge of falsified findings became widespread, several states , including West Virginia put him on trial ; however, no conviction was obtained. The judge found an indictment for defrauding the state by accepting a salary then falsifying evidence and committing perjury was too vague.
 
No one in the state policy hierarchy had a clue as to why Zain fabricated evidence. They also sought to distance themselves from a background check. For instance, Ray Barber, state police lab chief at the time, said Zain had a “lab background” from the Department of Natural Resources, thus , he felt it unnecessary to validate Zain’s credentials.
 
Brown suggested his “findings under a microscope” had been the result of his “imagination.” She recalled covering a trial at which he was not convicted. “They were going to re-try him, but he died.”
 
The red-haired reporter by that time was working in a double capacity --- she was attending law school and worked part time at WSAZ.
 
Working for the public defender’s office in Charleston, Brown conducted her own investigation into those found guilty through Zain’s testimony. Brown said, “There were so many people , the paper’s say 134, but I think it was higher.” She referred back to Zain’s work --- authenticating tests which labs did not have equipment to perform for her suspicions.
 
LESSON LEARNED… DON’T RUSH TO JUDGMENT
 
The rush to judgment convicted the innocent, which is why Brown speaking for herself defends Marshall University’s actions in their investigation of a dormitory sexual assault . She suggested this illustrates reasonable behavior, by helping prevent possible wrongful public accusations and preventing the spread of unnerving rumors. In short, more a thorough investigation assists in preventing false allegations from scaring the life of a defendant like Woodall.
 
EDITOR’’S NOTE: Here is a link to the WV Supreme Court on the Zain investigation, where they concluded that the actual guilt of 134 people was substantially in doubt. Nine men were freed.
 
http://www.truthinjustice.org/zainreport.htm
 
REACTION
 
Although Cabell County Prosecutor Chris Chiles announced the indictment of Good, apparent family members have already touted his innocence on the WSAZ forum. For instance, “Funny [it] took 18 years to accuse [Good] of this crime, go back read the report of these rapes, blonde hair found, [he] is red headed…..”
 
Woodall still lives in Huntington. He told a media outlet that he is thankful for the work of his attorney Lonnie Simmons and others.
 
Finally, Brown hopes that the increasing DNA technologies will someday help bring closure to other unsolved cases, such as the Kanawha County sniper killings and the quadruple murder of four teens in Huntington on Charleston Avenue.



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