New documents were unsealed surrounding Daniel Holtzclaw’s appeal. He is the former Oklahoma City police officer serving life in prison. Holtzclaw was convicted for sexually abusing women while on duty.
Looking back on June 26 and 27 of 2017, a secret hearing was held in Judge Timothy Henderson’s courtroom. Surveillance video shows that leaders of the police department’s forensic lab attended, but all the details of what happened inside were sealed.
On Thursday, the court ordered some documents to be unsealed. The paperwork shows the hearing was regarding a “personnel investigation”, which by Oklahoma law, can be kept confidential.
The personnel matter is in regards to Elaine Taylor, former Oklahoma City Police Chemist, who was assigned to Holtzclaw’s case. Taylor resigned days after the appeal was filed. Taylor’s testimony on DNA evidence played a key role in Holtzclaw’s conviction.
News 9 requested for Taylor’s emails from the city, only to be told they had already been “deleted”. Holtzclaw’s attorneys are concerned those emails could be critical in the appeal. His counsel is also worried that “additional evidence may be destroyed if swift action is not taken.”
On the other hand, the court order states the claims are “unsubstantiated”.
How Taylor’s personnel file ties into Holtzclaw’s appeal, if at all, is not clear because the actual details of the hearing remain sealed.
Thursday evening, Daniel Holtzclaw's sister, Jenny Holtzlcaw, released the following statement in response to the unsealed documents :
Daniel is innocent. He has had nothing to hide since his nightmare began. He has maintained openness and transparency, in contrast to how the prosecutors and state have conducted these secret proceedings dating back to May.
We welcome the limited unsealing today of the sealed motions and orders. But what the public needs to know is that Daniel still has no direct access to the sealed 347-page transcript of the secret hearings. His lawyers were not allowed to participate in those hearings. And there was no independent, professional scientific review of what appears to be at the heart of those hearings: the fundamentally flawed DNA analysis and testimony that was the linchpin for his convictions.
Daniel and our family remain extremely troubled by the alleged destruction of the crime lab analyst's emails and the withholding of thousands of emails related to her work. We are especially alarmed given the reporting in Mark Fuhrman's book, Death and Justice (p. 114) that this same analyst admitted destroying rape kits at the behest of disgraced OCPD chemist Joyce Gilchrist.
Daniel deserves a fair trail. We hope the Court of Criminal Appeals will grant him one and that all Oklahomans will have access to the truth.