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Appeal for Dr. Cyril Wecht

The prosecution of Dr. Cyril Wecht for alleged misuse of his coroner's office has, after six weeks of testimony and more than two weeks of jury deliberations, ended in a mistrial. One jury member was excused due to stress, and later told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "I kept looking for this big criminal scheme. I couldn't find it." The jury foreman said he went into the case with an open mind, "But as the case went on my thoughts were this was being politically driven."

The quick decision by the prosecution re-try the case, coupled with the lack of seriousness of some of the charges, has led many to wonder about the politics behind the prosecution. Dr. Wecht has been an outspoken opponent of the government on many issues, including though hardly limited to his Kennedy assassination work.

Dr. Wecht's son Ben has put out an appeal for a letter-writing campaign to keep new charges from being filed and stop the re-trial. Ben's emailed appeal is reproduced at the bottom of this page.

The Mary Ferrell Foundation is sending its own letter to prosecutor Mary Beth Buchanan - email us and we will add your name to this letter (printed below). Please respond quickly, as we intend to send this letter within a few days.

Letter from the MFF to U.S. Attorney Buchanan

The Honorable Mary Beth Buchanan
United States Attorney
United States Attorney's Office
Western District of Pennsylvania
U.S. Post Office & Courthouse, Suite 400
Seventh Avenue and Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Dear Ms. Buchanan,

We are writing to urge you to cease the prosecution of Dr. Cyril Wecht. After weeks of deliberation, the jury was unable to reach a guilty verdict on a single count. The government has had its day in court and, in the words of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it's time to stop. We respectfully ask that you reconsider an apparent decision to retry this case and spend more taxpayer money pursuing an unfounded case against Dr. Wecht.

Those of us who have met Dr. Wecht find him to be a man of outstanding civic-mindedness and integrity. He put his reputation on the line during his tenure on the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s, and has put his expertise and knowledge to great use since then. The renowned programs and reputation of the Cyril H. Wecht Institute for Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University speak for themselves.

There are undoubtedly far better uses of your office than continuing to pursue this case - one which has led even jurors to question the motivation behind Dr. Wecht's prosecution.

One way to remove these questions would be to admit that the case against Dr. Wecht was found to be unproven, and bring the tarnishing of his name to a close.


Rex Bradford, Senior Archivist, Mary Ferrell Foundation
Tyler Weaver, Executive Director, Mary Ferrell Foundation
Amy Agyepong, archivist, Mary Ferrell Foundation
Randolph Benson, Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies
Michael J. Cain, author
Bill Holiday, educator, Brattleboro High School
Mark Bridger, editor, Dealey Plaza Echo
Jeffrey L. Worcester II, Director, JFKMI
Colin McSween, actor and researcher
Peter Dale Scott, author
Susan Barnes, supporter of Dr. Wecht
David R. Wrone, Professor of History, Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
William Carter, Canadian Civil Servant
Lamar Waldron, author
Chris A. Bradford, researcher
Brenda Brody, researcher
David Reitzes, researcher
Barry Keane, Vice-Chairman, Dealey Plaza UK
John E. Shumaker, researcher
Carole Wilson, researcher
Gary Buell, citizen
Peter D. Antill, researcher
Chris Lightbrown, journalist
James Sawa, Pittsburgh researcher
John Geraghty, researcher
Donald B. Thomas, concerned citizen
Mike Dworetsky, Dealey Plaza UK
Lisa Pease, author and researcher
David H. Stern, M.D.
Alaric Rosman, retired teacher and researcher
Dick Russell, author
Carol Dunning, supporter of Dr. Wecht
Royce Bierma, researcher
Zaharoula Marinos, researcher
Jonathan Burak, Telecommunications Operations Representative
Gary L. Aguilar, M.D., Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology, University of California, San Francisco
Simon Smalley, researcher
Alan Firth, Dealey Plaza UK
John L.W. Orr, Member, Dealey Plaza UK
Bernard Wilds, researcher
Gerald D. McKnight, Professor Emeritus, Hood College, Frederick, MD.
Milicent L. Cranor, researcher
John D. Truesdale, retired
Stuart Galloway, secretary, Dealey Plaza UK
Richard J. Smith, researcher
Michael Bruni, citizen
Sean Bernard Sweeney, Dealey Plaza UK
Eric Sneary, researcher
Mark G. Barnard, researcher
Helen Taylor, Dealey Plaza UK
Margaret Janco, Pittsburgh


Add my name to this letter.

Note: This letter was mailed to US Attorney Buchanan, and cc'ed to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on April 14, 2008.

Names added after mailing:

Gerard Simone, Toronto, Canada
Peter Lemkin, researcher
John McLaughlin, West Gardiner, ME
Brian R. Ekdahl
Zachary Sklar, co-author of the screenplay for JFK
Donald Roberdeau, citizen
Anders Smedberg, Finland
Armand Herpe
Joseph Zirbel
Steven B. Holliday
Ana Mateu
Jim DiEugenio, author and researcher
Jack White, Fort Worth, TX
Patrick D. Collins, England, researcher
Steve Kober, citizen
Pablo Pena, Emeryville, CA
Susan Myers, Rochester, NY
Anthony Rapp, Punta Gorda, FL
Randolph D. Winnery, MD
Michael Nurko, researcher and COPA member

MFF Past News on the Wecht Case

Mar 23, 2009: Wecht Judge Questions Search Warrants
May 12, 2008: Wecht Retrial on Indefinite Stay
Apr 9, 2008: Mistrial in Wecht Case
Apr 7, 2008: Wecht Jury Deadlocked
Mar 27, 2008: Wecht Jury May Split Verdict
Mar 12, 2008: Defense Calls No Witnesses in Wecht Case
Mar 10, 2008: Wecht Trial in its Sixth Week
Jan 31, 2008: Wecht Trial Underway
Jan 4, 2008: Half of Counts Against Wecht Dropped
Oct 25, 2007: Wecht's Attorney Charges Political Prosecution
Jul 19, 2007: House Judiciary Committee Questions Wecht Prosecution
Mar 1, 2006: Cyril Wecht Defense Fund
Jan 23, 2006: Dr. Cyril Wecht Indicted

See also the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's index to its coverage of the trial.

Ben Wecht's Appeal

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Students,

As many of you know, the U.S. Attorney's Office here in Western Pennsylvania Tuesday announced its intention to re-try my father, former Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht, on miscellaneous charges of "public corruption" immediately on the heels of U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab's declaration of a mistrial following the government's first such effort. The prosecutor not only wasted no time in doing so, but did not even take the customary and legally prudent step of polling the jurors to determine how they were split.

Without getting into my own thoughts on the original or ongoing motives for this prosecution, I feel it important to point out that this jury of my father's peers, following nearly two months of testimony by 44 prosecution witnesses, and despite the fact that the defense did not find it necessary to call any witnesses to the stand, were unable to return a guilty verdict on even a single count -- and this despite the fact that they'd extended their deliberations, under the judge's orders, far past the point of deadlock. By any reasonable standard, the case against my father would appear to lack substance at this point in time.

I'm writing to you as a son, as a Western Pennsylvanian, and as an American, to ask you to share your own opinions on this matter with the editors of our leading local daily newspapers, as well as with U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan herself. While Ms. Buchanan will not be easy to dissuade from her chosen course of action, there is reason to believe that, faced with ample public pressure, she will have no choice but to consider her office's alternatives. And in a society (and region) faced with the multiple blights of gang warfare, drug trafficking, child pornography and other criminal activities, there is no question she has some "alternatives" to pursue.

By contrast, if a second trial is permitted to proceed, as scheduled, on May 27, the costs to both my father (financial, professional and otherwise) and to the taxpayers of Western Pennsylvania (already conservatively estimated at over $200,000) will continue to climb.

If you have any thoughts on this matter, please make your voice heard by writing to one or more of the addresses listed below. The time to act is now, before new charges are filed.

On behalf of my father, my family, and the cause of justice, I thank you.

Sincerely, Ben Wecht

p.s. For those unfamiliar with the case, here are some pertinent links to recent news items:

Retry Wecht? No
Some jurors skeptical of case against Wecht
The Wecht case: pronounce it dead
It's over: There is no need for a second Wecht trial

Letters to the Editor
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
34 Boulevard of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
FAX: 412-263-2014
EMAIL: letters@post-gazette.com
(250-word maximum)

Letters to the Editor
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
D.L. Clark Building
503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
FAX: 412-320-7965
EMAIL: opinion@tribweb.com
(200-word maximum)

The Honorable Mary Beth Buchanan
United States Attorney
United States Attorney's Office
Western District of Pennsylvania
U.S. Post Office & Courthouse, Suite 400
Seventh Avenue and Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
(NO maximum)

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