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  1. In 2012, Shane’s first attorney, Gary Udashen, contacted me to learn more about Straight. He explained Shane’s case and informed me that the DNA evidence seemed to implicate someone else. Mr. Udashen said that Shane’s arrest was based on the testimony of former clients from Straight. He described Shane’s account of the events at Straight but said he was having trouble believing them because he had never heard of a program like Straight. He asked if I thought Shane’s story sounded plausible, and to me, Shane’s account was very believable – it was very easy to see how Shane could have been wrongly convicted, and that was before I had heard details about the way the prosecutors handled the case.

    Mr. Udashen said Shane was one of the victim’s friends and was originally one of many suspects in the case during the mid-1980s simply because he knew her personally. Shane had been court-ordered to Straight for unrelated issues, sometime after she was murdered. Police investigators came to Straight to question Shane about the murder and after their interview, they removed him from the suspect list and he went back to group.

    Mr. Udashen’s understanding was that Straight staff then told Shane that if he did not confess to the murder as a “past incident,” he would not be allowed to progress through the program. They also promised him that his confession would not be reported to the police. Shane eventually confessed, staff did not report the confession to the police, the murder confession simply became part of his “druggie-past,” Shane went on up through his phases and graduated from the program.

    He married, had kids, and went about living a healthy adult life with his family. Twenty-some years later, Ginger Hayden’s murder case was reopened and a former group member from the Dallas Straight program saw a TV news report about it. She called the police and reported the group-confession Shane made in Straight. State prosecutors then located an inmate in a Texas prison who was also in Straight with Shane. They arranged a plea deal with him and he testified against Shane in exchange for a lighter sentence. These testimonies were the evidence used in his conviction.

    From what I understand, there is very convincing new evidence that seems to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Shane is innocent. I believe that when this evidence is presented in court, it will lead to his exoneration.

    What seems most questionable, even by Straight standards, is that executive staff members would have hid a genuine murder confession from the authorities. Was it just a typical teenage phaser-turned-staff member who pushed for the confession? Were the executives aware of the confession?

    Some Straightlings who were in group with Shane and heard the confession, like those who reported him to the police, seem to be convinced that he really did it, but they have not had a chance to review all of the evidence.

    Considering that Shane was a court-ordered client, I assume all of the Dallas Straight staff would have been acting illegally to harbor a ward of the state who confessed to murderer. The simplest explanation might be that they knew they had coerced the story and assumed it was a fictional account, like so many other confessions in the program. If staff had reason to assume it was fictional, it’s easier to see why they wouldn’t have bothered to report it to the authorities.

    1. Author

      Straight, Inc. really damaged some of the people it claimed to help. With your additional information about this case, I’m more convinced than I already was of Shane’s innocence. I sure hope people send Shane’s attorney information they know about how prevalent the coercion was within the four walls of each and every location of the Straight, Inc. program. This situation could have happened to anyone enrolled in that program. Thanks Marcus!

  2. Thanks for the background info, Marcus. I didn’t know all of that and now I’m even more sure that this is a false conviction. Imagine recovering from Straight, building a whole new life and family and then, 30 years later, being dragged back into the program, away from kids, grand-kids, everything… only this time it’s for life.

    I just heard back from Jim Drummond. He said he received my affidavit, but it’s the only one so far. I literally had to wait a week for some work to come through before I had the $5 notary fee and postage to mail it.

    Please, folks, it’s such a little thing. Even if he doesn’t win his appeal it could mean SO much for him to know that some of us out here give a tiny fuck about the injustice done to him in the name of treatment.

    1. I am Shane’s AZ Mom.
      I have talked to Shane just about every day for the last 6 years. I am his little girl’s Grandma and have been her caregiver much of the time since his arrest, when she was 18 months old. Her Mommy worked and then the stress of the trial and his wrongful conviction took its toll and almost destroyed our daughter.

      Shane’s little girl is precious to us and she loves her Daddy. We visit him every 2 to 3 months in Huntsville and she knows the routine of the prison. She continues to sit on his lap for 4 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday talking and playing games like tic tac toe with skittles on a paper towel when there are no crayons and paper, coloring when they have crayons available,and sharing junk food from the vending machines. Ryley poses with him for a picture on special days and dances on his feet before they sit down (no standing up on his side of the table) and loves to sing to him. She is now 7 years old and reads to him from a few books they have and telling him riddles and facts she has learned from ABC Mouse.com. She is well liked by her classmates, likes to play with Legos, likes our dog, Josie, and swims well.

      Shane’s son is now 21 years old, works hard and is a great brother. Shane’s daughter is 22, married to a Navy man and has a precious little girl who spent the first 5 months of her life in the NICU. His daughter is the best of Mommies! We send Shane pictures of his Granddaughter and tease him about being a Grandpa.

      I am a Forensic Nurse and my husband is a retired police officer and businessman. We attended Shane’s trial and can tell you without a doubt that he was not well represented even though the attorney was highly-rated and well paid by our standards. The trial took 4 days and the defense portion took 2 hours. One ill prepared defense witness (not her fault she was not prepared ) and 2 of the prosecution’s witnesses were called by the defense with summation limited to 20 minutes. The jury got the case at about 3 o’clock on Friday afternoon. We hired Mr Drummond for the appeal process

      I tell you these things so you might know the affect’s this ordeal has had on our lives. It has been a painful yet Spiritual journey. Days of hopelessness and hope! Whenever you watch Dateline remember there are two sides to every story.

      1. Author

        I am so glad you posted this here Lori. It is always great to hear the other side. If anyone should understand there is always another side of the media reports, those who have been involved in Straight, Inc. and those involved in any other program should and probably do. This could have happened to any one of us. Let’s get our letters written to this attorney!

  3. There is a lot more to this story that was not even mentioned in the trial. For example, there is evidence in the file that Some Other Dude Did It (SODDI). Our first attorney decided it might confuse the jury if he drifted from his original theory of a Serial Killer and brought up the fact that another person actually sat in front of the apartment where the victim lived, with a detective and told him how he broke into the apartment (details) and stole a jar of coins. No burglaries were reported for the time frame and for 3 years prior. A shoe print that did not match Shane’s size even and we won’t even go into the problems with the DNA evidence.
    I am convinced and have always been convinced Shane did not do this thing.
    Thanks for listening,
    Lori

    1. Lori,
      I can’t tell you how much it means to me personally to have a chance to take some meaningful action to undo some of the harm done. I’m so glad you have reached out to us here.

      Kathy, you are pulling off something really wonderful here.

      Thanks!


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