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Appellant's Brief - Florida State University College of Law

Appellant's Brief - Florida State University College of Law

found blood on a plaid

found blood on a plaid blanket that purportedly Mr. Riechmann sat upon while driving. 6 According to Rhodes, the blood established that Mr. Riechmann could not have been sitting upon the blanket at the moment that Ms. Kischnick was shot and her blood splattered. Finally, for the third component of its case, the State relied upon a jailhouse informant, Walter Smykowski, to testify to Mr. Riechmann’s statements and conduct while incarcerated on federal gun charges. 7 According to Smykowski, Mr. Riechmann had implied in statements to him that police had overlooked a fourth gun. Mr. Riechmann was described as jubilant at the expectation of becoming a millionaire (in deutschmarks) when he received the proceeds from Ms. Kischnick’s life insurance policies. When Smykowski asked Mr. Riechmann if he had killed his girlfriend, Mr. Riechmann turned “white as the wall” (R.4112). In collateral proceedings in 1996, Mr. Riechmann established that the State withheld evidence that revealed 6 The plaid blanket was delivered to Rhodes on June 29, 1987, by Detective Hanlon (R. 3278). On the third attempt to find blood on the plaid blanket, affirmative results were obtained. These results were not disclosed to the defense until after trial had commenced. 7 The State was able to obtain an indictment only after obtaining a statement from Smykowski. 4

weaknesses in the forensic analysis. Some police reports had been doctored or redacted before disclosure to trial counsel; others were withheld altogether. Despite the discovery breaches, the trial court did not find sufficient prejudice under Brady in light of Smykowski’s incriminating trial testimony. Thus, Mr. Riechmann’s conviction was left in place because the forensic evidence, though tattered, was sufficient when coupled with the undamaged Smykowski testimony to leave the judge’s confidence in the verdict intact. Following the denial of a new trial in 1996 and while an appeal was pending in this Court, Mr. Riechmann’s counsel located a former Miami Beach police officer who provided new information. Hilliard Veski had been the officer who conducted the inventory of the rental car after the shooting. Veski revealed that after his work on the Riechmann case in October of 1987, he ran into unrelated trouble at the police department that jeopardized his employment--it was alleged he used illegal drugs. At that time, one of the prosecutors on Mr. Riechmann’s case, Beth Sreenan, approached Veski and told him that if his testimony regarding the location of evidence within the rental car matched where she suggested he found the evidence, the disciplinary proceedings would have a better 5

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