The following statement was provided by William Watson, the brother of Diane Becker, who was murdered in Abingdon in 1981. Two Harford County men, John N. Huffington and Deno Kanaras were previously convicted of the murder. Huffington, serving life in prison for the murder of Ms. Becker and her boyfriend, Joseph Hudson, was granted a new trial in May after a judge in Frederick County vacated his convictions. Kanaras, also sentenced to life for the murder of Ms. Becker, was released from prison after his sentence was reduced in 2008. Huffington’s lawyers are now asking the court to order his release pending his retrial.
On behalf of the family of Diana Becker, victim, who was murdered bon May 25, 1981, we would like to make the following statement in regard to recent legal hearings
In August of 2008, Deno Kanaras was irresponsibly released from the Maryland Department of Corrections with the concurrence of the State's Attorney's Office and without proper notification of the victim's family. It was a dark, sad day for the family of Diana Becker who continue to suffer for that unfortunate practice of legal and judicial malfeasance. Now, at the very time Kanaras is about to escape the chains of conditional parole (August 2013), we, the family of Diana Becker, are once again having to endure another onslaught from the very system of justice designed to protect society and bring a measure of lawful resolution to a heinous crime. In this particular case that crime was the deliberate, premeditated murder of a mother of a then 4-year-old boy, a daughter of grieving parents, a sister to three siblings and a grandmother of two lives whom she will never have laid eyes upon.
Even though the preponderance of evidence in the case against John Huffington led two juries to convict him (the second after appeal was granted), a judge in Frederick County Circuit Court has chosen to grant this convicted man a new trial because of a recently passed Maryland law allowing reconsideration of a conviction when evidence is found to be falsely presented at trial. In this case, it was a single hair, originally testified to as being from Huffington and found on Diana's bed sheets. Later DNA examination has proven the hair not to be from him (Huffington).
Forget the fact that the five-gallon water jug filled with coins used to crush Diana's skull had Huffington's fingerprints on it. Forget the mountain of circumstantial evidence placing the murderer in the presence of the victim that evening or other crucial physical evidence, including bloody clothing bleached to hide evidence and thrown into a trash Dumpster. Forget the testimony of his accomplice who provided sordid details of what occurred that fateful evening. Forget the good work of detectives who not only provided the case evidence but also were in possession of other evidence that pointed to the murderers but was not deemed appropriate for trial. And forget that he (Huffington) was convicted of murdering Joe Hudson that same evening.
Two juries did not convict Huffington beyond a reasonable doubt and sentence him to death because of a strand of hair. However, a well funded Washington law firm, Ropes and Gray, and their publicity seeking legal ilk have seized on this opportunity. No, not to bring justice to John Norman Huffington, but rather to score a victory for a movement where judicial politics ignores the most basic tenants of common sense and is disrespectful both of our traditional system of justice and the sensibilities of the victim's it seeks to protect.
Now, 32 years after Diana was taken from us, lawyers will convene. And this case, where evidence has deteriorated or is gone, where the lead investigator has since passed, where witnesses may not exist, and where the State will be at a huge disadvantage, will be erroneously retried.
And, once again, the cries from a 4-year-old boy yelling for help and exclaiming, "My mommy is covered with blood and won't wake up!" are not being heard. They aren't heard on the legal cocktail circuit in Washington D.C., not by John Huffington and they aren't heard in a Frederick courtroom. But, we, the victims, hear them in our hearts and our troubled minds once again.
Havre de Grace