Ultimate injustice: The wrongful conviction of Donald Ray Young

Donald Ray Young

by Donald Ray Young 

They – judge, prosecutor, police and agents of the state – contrived in 2005 to wrongfully convict me of a 1995 capital crime in Tulare County, Calif., and erroneously sentenced me to death at San Quentin State Prison in 2006. My actual innocence is overwhelming. My appeal is currently pending in the Supreme Court of California. 

The trial record must be certified as correct before my appeal can begin in fairness. That is not a 15-year toil, unless they have something to hide. They do. The trial court is controlling the record correction. 

The same surrogate prosecuting trial judge, Ronn M. Couillard, came out of retirement to stall the record correction proceedings and oversee his own atrocities. They changed the evidence to match their disingenuous narrative while securing a wrongful conviction.

Prosecutorial misconduct, police corruption, false witness testimony, manufactured evidence and racism saturates this case. Wickedness in elevated spaces recently invented a disinformation campaign against me. A twisted televised fictional portrayal for profit. 

The prosecution’s case rests squarely on the false testimony of a convicted Caucasian pedophile.

They tried the “any two will do” gambit opposed to solving this crime. This was choreographed to create misplaced hate. Trial attorneys Galatea Rose Delapp and Richard A. Beshwate Jr. opportunistically abandoned their oath and voluntarily entangled themselves in this deception. 

The prosecution’s case rests squarely on the false testimony of a convicted Caucasian pedophile, Anthony Wolfe. He raped a 7-year-old child on multiple occasions. That little girl was his sister, according to court documents. 

Wolfe couldn’t identify me in a photo taken in 1995 from the witness stand. Mental health records show that Wolfe is a pathological liar, who suffers from hallucinations. 

His testimony changed numerous times throughout the proceedings. He was given complete immunity. After his false testimony, he was released from his life sentence and placed in a witness protection program. 

At this point they expected me to be consumed by the system. I earned my paralegal and four associate degrees during this strife. They have effectively forgone the appellate process and opted for the court of public opinion, where rules don’t apply.

I successfully defended myself in the trial court for three years before the lawyers were involved. I faced systemic opposition from the onset. So much injustice to unpack: 

  • DNA evidence at crime scene unmatched 
  • Fingerprints found on murder weapons unmatched
  • DNA on mask unmatched
  • Two sets of transcripts discovered during trial – same page numbers, different information
  • Exculpatory evidence withheld or destroyed 
  • All Blacks were excluded from the jury. 

The only surviving witness, Guadalupe Cantu, described the offenders as two 5-foot-5-inch, 150-pound Hispanic males and one 6-foot, 180-pound darker male. At that time, I was 6-foot-4-inches and 260 pounds. 

Diane Grijalva-Contreras confessed to driving Andre Frost and two other assailants to the Patos Bar in her tan Monte Carlo the night in question. 

The Tulare County DA gave Contreras complete immunity to testify against Frost and the other suspects.

In her April 22, 1998, interview with Tulare Police Department (TPD) Detective Bryan Moore, she states, “They got out, they went in, and the light shined on them and they had something over their faces.” She went on to tell Moore, “They were throwing stuff out the window – just saying go this way and go that way.” 

Contreras had her truth fully corroborated by Frost in several audio and video taped confessions in explicit detail, with detectives along with DA investigators. Consequently, Contreras was arrested. 

The Tulare County DA gave Contreras complete immunity to testify against Frost and the other suspects – and then came Wolfe. After the wrongful conviction but before sentencing, Virginia Walker disclosed who really committed this crime. Her admission matched Contreras and Frost. 

Gary Coffman, the TPD evidence technician who was responsible for the evidence in this case, was charged with child sex trafficking – Operation Baby Face – and multiple drug and stolen firearm offenses. As a result, many cases were dismissed because Coffman stole drugs, money, firearms and other evidence from the TPD evidence room. 

A systemic problem within the TPD was uncovered when an audit of evidence-keeping and handling procedures was conducted. The audit resulted in a scathing 483-page report, entitled “Property Room Audit,” dated February 2016. This report documented the astounding fact that there was no evidence-gathering or evidence-keeping training of evidence technicians who worked for the TPD. 

For at least the last 25 years, the TPD has not had any guidelines for gathering and storing evidence, nor has there ever been a property manual. The audit finds that there has never been an inventory of the property room for the last 25 years, a time period during which this case was investigated and litigated. The audit also finds that access to and the security of the evidence room has been compromised because “it is not clear who may have had access to the evidence office.” 

The original evidence logs showed that multiple entries had been obscured with whiteout and new entries made on top of the obscured entries. 

Also important to understand, the Audit Executive Summary section 3.1.2 states, “An examination of the refrigerator found that there is no type of locking mechanism. A number of officers that submit evidence into the unlocked refrigerator, to which the entire chain of custody is broken, as any employee in the building has direct access.” Contamination issues also exist in the evidence room. 

The details contained in the audit are deeply disturbing. This is particularly true when we depend on the integrity of the physical evidence when deciding if someone ought to be found guilty of a crime. However, the details of this audit should not be a surprise to anyone who was involved in this trial, nor to anyone who has read the trial record and pleadings in this case. 

There have been fundamental flaws related to the reliability, security and chain of custody of the physical evidence from the crime scene and the evidence record-keeping documenting its handling since the inception of this case. The audit establishes that the chain of custody and evidence mishandling objections lodged throughout this trial were well-founded. 

The TPD was ordered to produce the original evidence logs used by their evidence technicians to keep track of the physical evidence at a court hearing in the middle of the jury trial. Those logs showed that multiple entries had been obscured with whiteout and new entries made on top of the obscured entries. 

The TPD evidence technicians admitted covering the original entries with whiteout. Gary Coffman was the TPD evidence technician who perverted the hair, blood and saliva taken from me. 

This is a synopsis of how my wrongful conviction was crafted. They knowingly sent an innocent man to death row, a scapegoat in a legal lynching. This is my struggle for exoneration. 

In Solidarity, 

Donald Ray Young 

Send our brother some love and light: Donald Ray Young, P.O. Box E-78474, CSP San Quentin, San Quentin, CA 94974.