A thousand words

“I can finally sleep at night,” says Don Hennick, the Seattle sculptor and Good Samaritan who was charged with purse-snatching in the Pike Place Market July 31, 1997—after the victim saw him running after the thief, and even though he had no criminal record and passed two polygraphs. Last Friday, prosecutors dropped the first-degree theft charge because of “new information”: Brad Wakeman, a local architect who also pursued the purse snatcher, came forward to say the thief he chased wasn’t the Hennick pictured in a September 3 Weekly story. Wakeman missed the previous TV coverage and newspaper articles (which didn’t show Hennick anyway). “What frustrates me is the Times [and Post-Intelligencer] did several articles and never showed a photograph,” Hennick recalls. “Every time I talked to a reporter I said, ‘Please, show a photo of me dressed as I was then.'” Glad we obliged. But Hennick still laments that the case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning he could be charged again, and seeks more witnesses “to prove my innocence beyond a doubt.” So here’s his picture, again.

Brushes with death

Hennick’s ordeal points up a much bigger and irreversible injustice: the execution of innocent people. The charges against him were dropped just as 30-plus former death-row inmates whose convictions were reversed met in Chicago to dis- cuss their near-death experiences. A 1987 study—done just as the states’ gallows were cranking up again after the 1970s hiatus—tallied 350 defendants wrongfully convicted of capital murder or rape in this century, 139 sentenced to death, and 23 actually executed. Many were probably convicted on the same sort of shaky eyewitness testimony that got Hennick charged. But execution means never having the chance to say you’re sorry.

Hopeful philosopher seeks strong leader . . .

What did Kwame Ture/Stokely Carmichael, the civil-rights-turned-Black Power leader who died last week, have in common with Plato, Voltaire, Hegel, and Heidegger? Carmichael, a former philosophy student, followed in the long line of philosophers who, attending more to words than deeds, took up with bloody tyrants. Despairing of this country, he immigrated to Guinea in 1969 and, according to the obits, remained close to its president, Ahmed Sekou Toure, an eloquent exponent of liberation rhetoric, until Toure’s death. It was only then, when Toure’s dungeons were opened, that the world saw how he oppressed and tortured his opponents.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

This screenshot from Auburn Police Department bodycam footage shows an officer about to fire his weapon and kill dog on May 13, 2022.
Auburn police shoot dog, and owner claims it wasn’t justified

See videos of attack as well as bodycam footage of officer firing at dog.

File photo.
King County Council approves creation of Cannabis Safety Taskforce amid rash of dispensary robberies

The multi-agency task force will cooperate to find ways to improve safety in the cash-only industry.

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Diane Renee Erdmann and Bernard Ross Hansen. Photos courtesy of FBI
FBI arrests Auburn couple after 11-day manhunt

The couple was previously convicted for fraud and skipped sentencing on April 29.

Screenshot from Barnes and Noble website
Cover art of books that KSD Librarian Gavin Downing says have been under fire: “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts),” by Lev A.C. Rosen, “If I Was Your Girl,” by Meredith Russo, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George Matthew Johnson.
Kent middle school librarian wins intellectual freedom award

Gavin Downing refused to keep ‘silence in the library’ amid attempted book banning and censorship.

Kent elementary school teacher accused of using racist language toward student

River Ridge Elementary instructor placed on administrative leave by Kent School District.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.

Joann and Allan Thomas are flanked in court by their attorneys Terrence Kellogg (fourth from the right) and John Henry Browne (far right) on May 10, 2022. Judge Richard Jones is presiding over the case. Sketch by Seattle-based artist Lois Silver
At drainage district corruption trial, it’s a tale of dueling conspiracies

Allan and Joann Thomas are in trial in Seattle on fraud charges.

Most Read