When Law Enforcement Goes Rouge

A true story that will shock you to your core: (this is just an initial draft, more will be added soon)

First, thank you for taking the time to read this. My name is William John Ziegler, and while I am unable to personally make this post, it is being done on my behalf. I fear, that if I don’t get the facts out in a public forum and do it now … well, I might find that more of my life will be stolen … or worse!

Once you hear the additional facts that never saw the light of day in a courtroom, you WILL be left totally stunned. (These facts will come later)

I need to tell you my true story (almost 13 years so far) of injustice that affected, not just my life and my family’s lives (this has had a profoundly negative effect on my little sister whom has epilepsy), but also denies true justice for the victim himself. A story that’s so twisted and bizarre, it’s got all the makings for a best selling crime novel. I can assure you it’s not fiction, but in fact, it is all too real.

Imagine, one night you’re relaxing after a hard day of work. Some friends come by to have a few drinks – then everything that can go wrong does. The next thing you know, your life is out of your control and becomes a living nightmare – you find, instead of building a life – you’re convicted of a Capital Murder you had no part of and given a sentence of death! You ask yourself, “How can this happen?”

Take one Detective, possibly trying to protect one of their own family members; another Detective that has no problems with committing perjury for a fellow officer and friend; then add to the mix, an over-zealous Assistant District Attorney, [probably looking to boost her career] willing to present false witness testimony, alter facts, misrepresent the code of law – and you have all the makings for a wrongful conviction.

But wait … that’s not all! For the icing on the cake – add court appointed attorney, Habib Yazdi [FKA Habib Yazdtchi] that could barely speak English and either didn’t understand the law or just didn’t care. I’m guessing he didn’t care, considering this same attorney was disciplined by the Alabama Bar for pulling a [loaded] gun in court during his own divorce proceedings. He also allegedly chained/attached himself to a light-pole/lamppost another time, and yet another time, threw his body down in the middle of a main avenue during heavy traffic… well, you’re getting this picture aren’t you? (You are going to learn a lot more about all these people later) Link: List of Alabama Attorneys disciplined for misconduct, scroll to bottom of page.

It’s taken almost 13 agonizing years but the facts are finally coming forth. But, despite the fact real evidence finally made it into Court, and despite the fact a Judge has granted me a new trial, I have learned that the Attorney General of Alabama, Luther Strange, intends to appeal the Judge’s Order, instead of admitting they were/did wrong! I guess in Alabama it’s more about saving face, rather than justice. Read Lagniappe article here

READ BREAKING NEWS: &

AmendedOrder

Please, allow me the opportunity to put forth some facts and information, before you make any determinations or come to any conclusions. I ask you to keep an open mind, check out the facts, then absorb the reality of my situation: I am an innocent man on Alabama’s death row.

If you think a person can’t be convicted without any evidence – think again. Unfortunately, the justice system is truly blind at times. Sometimes a trial is more about politics and in some cases, it’s about law enforcement protecting their own – at all costs, even if it means the life of an innocent person.

During my original Trial, the truth never made it to Court. Only lies and twisted versions of ‘circumstances’ where presented. While I can’t speak for all other cases, I can tell you:

It’s not about the real facts – it’s what’s deemed as “admissible” in court. Or what they define as so called evidence: Perjured testimony and withheld truths, to incite rage and outrage by my community – a sure-fire way to ensure a conviction and steer the public away from the real truth.

FACTS:

  •  Assailant(s) was Right-handed (I’m left handed)
  • Forensic evidence proved Victim was murdered at a different – time, place and manner than what prosecutor claimed in court
  • The only thing linking me to the crime was perjured testimony
  • Most of the wounds were inflicted after the victim was already deceased (I have my own theories on this)
  • The total amount of wounds included every scratch and scrap (another means to create outrage?)
  • Prosecutor stated “no knives were recovered” when in fact, she knew, not only had they retrieved my (uncleaned) pocket knife, but they tested it for blood, more than once and couldn’t find even a minuet trace of victim DNA
  • All [real] evidence which exonerated me was withheld
  • Court Appointed attorney was totally incompetent (and actually engaged in  reprehensible actions that gave the appearance of guilt
  • I requested (the court denied) a polygraph test, under the administration of Sodium Pentathol – so there would be no doubt to the veracity of my answers

More to come soon …

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A PLEA FOR HELP: OPEN LETTER TO MEDIA

William J Ziegler has spent over a decade on Alabama’s Death Row, for a crime he did NOT commit. Recently, he was granted the right to a new trial, due to a myriad of misconduct and Civil Rights violations and overwhelming evidence of actual innocence.

With no physical or forensic evidence, he was convicted on perjured testimonies and manipulated ‘circumstantial’ evidence. While there was ample evidence available to exonerate him of this crime, none of that evidence would be presented in court. Rather, it was ignored or secreted by both the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) and the Mobile District Attorney’s Office (MDAO).

Even though the recent ruling gives new hope of proving that innocence, the State wasted no time in filing a “Notice of Appeal.” A process that can prolong his wrongful incarceration for up to five more years.

On November 02, 2012, Circuit Court Judge, Sarah Stewart issued an Amended Ruling, http://http://williamjziegler.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Ziegler-AmendedOrderinpdf.pdf blistering the MCSO, along with the MDAO, in addition to Trial and Appellant Counsel. Following are EXCERPTS from the ruling:

THE STATE SUPPRESSED SIGNIFICANT EXCULPATORY AND IMPEACHMENT EVIDENCE FROM ZIEGLER’S DEFENSE IN VIOLATION OF BRADY:

…the prosecution failed to disclose or turn over multiple pieces of evidence that were exculpatory and/or could have served as powerful impeachment evidence for the defense. Additionally, the prosecution offered the testimony from at least two witnesses whose testimony was untrue and the prosecution knew, or should have known, that the testimony at issue was untrue.

The State offered no physical or scientific evidence that connected Ziegler with Baker’s death.

…In large measure, the State’s entire case rested upon two individuals, Randall and Vickie Bosarge.

“The Court has considered the voluminous evidence and pleadings … Whether because of the multiple violations of his due process protections under Brady, because of the myriad failures of trial and appellate counsel to provide constitutionally adequate representation under the Sixth Amendment, or because of the significant failures in the selection of the jury, Ziegler’s constitutional right to a fair trial was violated in numerous respects. Under any analysis, this Court cannot say that Ziegler received a fair trial and, accordingly, under our constitutional system and pursuant to Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, he is entitled to a new trial.”

Footnote 1: Because the Court grants Ziegler’s request for a new trial based on Brady violations, ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and juror misconduct, the Court need not and does not address Ziegler’s other claims at this time.

“Between the March 16, 2000 preliminary hearing and the October 30, 2000 arraignment, no attorney did any work on Ziegler’s behalf on the then pending charges of Murder.”

Counsel Was Ineffective for Failing to Raise the Issue of Prosecutorial Misconduct on Appeal

“The record reflects that there were a number of instances of prosecutorial misconduct throughout the proceedings against Ziegler.”

“The same is true for appellate counsel’s failure to raise the issue of prosecutorial misconduct on appeal.”

In addressing the conflict of interest:

In an attempt to address the potential conflict, McGowin had an ex parte and unrecorded conversation with Judge Kendall in which she informed him of her potential conflict. Judge Kendall did not take any action or make any comment on the record about McGowin’s potential conflict with regards to her prior representation of Ziegler and her current representation of Davis. (McGowin Dep. 24:4-21.)

END EXCERPTS

Basically, all evidence that exculpated my son was withheld and all the circumstantial evidence that was used to convict my son, was either misrepresented or manipulated.

FACTS Jury never heard:

  1. Assailant(s) was/were Right-handed, my son is Left-handed.
  2. The time, place and manner in which victim was murdered, was proven to be different than MDAO stated (Sheriff Tillman, District Attorney John Tyson, Chief Deputy Mayo, the Coroner, the Pathologist, Investigators, and others discussed this at location/time deceased body was discovered)
  3. My son had solid alibi during forensically ‘proven’ time of death.
  4. Jay Bennett had more than one motive, my son had no motive.
  5. My son’s ‘uncleaned’ pocket knife was taken as evidence and forensically tested, several times, and tested negative for any type trace evidence. The Jury however, was told there were no ‘weapons’ recovered, and left them with the impression no knives were recovered. Defense Counsel never objected nor made clear that a knife was in fact recovered and it belonged to my son, but had tested ‘NEGATIVE’ for any trace.
  6. My son demanded to be given a polygraph test and not only was he denied, but MDAO & MCSO took measure to prevent this from happening. My son even offered to do so under the administration of Sodium Pentathol.

The following is a list of the people involved in this case, along with how they were listed/labeled by MCSO:

  • Russell ‘Allen’ Baker: victim
  • James (Jay) Gordon Bennett: suspect
  • William Alexander Randall: suspect, who would become key witness
  • Patricia Renee Davis: suspect/witness
  • Sarah Meyers: witness
  • Dawn Kohn: witness

OTHER FACTS:

  • Detective Dale Kohn, is first to make contact with James Bennett, who admits Baker is dead, leads Detective Kohn to deceased’s body – and then is released to go home
  • Detective Dale Kohn, aware of the fact [prior to such discovery] that his niece, Dawn Kohn was present with both suspect, Bennett, and victim, Russell Allen Baker at the time of the homicide. However Dawn Kohn was never considered a suspect, even after the discovery of a letter she had hand-written prior to the discovery of Baker’s body, where she discusses the death of Baker.
  • Detective Kohn, continued to remain active on case, despite it was against policy/procedure, and he was in a conflicted and possibly compromising position, that required he remove himself.
  • Detectives, Kohn and Donald Lunceford, took measures to secrete the fact that Detective Kohn remained active in the investigation. (perusal into the conduct of these two detectives’ might give you more insight) Detective Donald Lunceford even went so far as to deliver perjured testimony.
  • Either MCSO or MDAO had information and reason [enough to get a search warrant] to believe that Bennett was seen in a neighboring City with Baker either in the car, or the trunk of the car.
  • Both Detectives, Lunceford and Kohn, were also aware of the volatile relationship between Bennett and Baker, and both were also informed by numerous witnesses that Bennett was, in fact, the one making threats against Baker’s life.
  • MDAO and MCSO were aware Bennett had beat then pushed Baker out of a moving car, just two weeks prior to homicide.
  • Bennett’s vehicle had blood evidence on interior, seats, headliner, and even in the trunk. Yet those documents of that evidence have never been produced to this date, despite the Judge’s Order to Produce.
  • Bag of “MCSO evidence” left in said vehicle to be disposed of and never introduced or disclosed to exist. This bag contained a bloody sweatshirt. (No mention was ever made to the fact that, Dawn Kohn returned home with a different shirt on, then when she left her home that night.)
  • Alabama Law is quite clear when it comes to the experience and mental state of practicing Attorneys. The legal rules (five year rule) are also quite clear.
ADDITIONAL FACTS:
  • The MDAO would also use another witness, Ms. Vicki (Houseknecht) Bosarge, as a corroborating witness to “intent.” It would later come to light, why and how she came to testify falsely.
  • Assistant District Attorney (ADA), Deborah Tillman asked Ms. Vicki Bosarge, outside the presence of the Jury, who she heard making threats towards Allen Baker, and Ms. Bosarge initially stated: “… Jay woke me up by – - he was telling Allen that he was gonna kill him and –” (Tr 199:6-8). But, after a recess and once the Jury returned Bosarge was asked, “And did William Ziegler make a statement?” Her reply, “Something to the effect… — you’re a walking dead man.” (Tr 205:25-24, 206:1-3) The Jury was never made aware of Ms. Bosarge’s first answer.
  • ADA Deborah Tillman, knew Ms Bosarge, believed her 12 year old daughter was pregnant with Allen Baker’s baby. Ms. Bosarge stated there was a reference to losing custody of that daughter, in addition to other statements.
  • ADA Deborah Tillman, actually went so far as to tell the Jury, and I quote:”You’re gonna hear from Will Ziegler, and he’s gonna tell you how he kicked Allen Baker as he laid in that bathtub.” (Tr. 154:7-9) This statement was made, while she raised and extended her arm towards my son, pointing her finger at him. Not only is this a clear violation of law, but it was completely false. This statement of admission was in fact made by William Randall. But neither defense counsels, Habib Yazdi, nor Greg Hughes objected; nor was this false information corrected for the Jury.

From Police procedures violations and discarding key [blood] evidence, to out right perjury and police cover-ups by the MCSO; and Prosecutorial Misconduct by MDAO, from presenting perjured witness testimonies to withholding exculpatory evidence, witness vouching, and other reprehensible actions such as making false statements to the Jury about what my son, William, would be getting on the stand to testify about.

 

The Ruling, details the facts and findings of law on the ‘allowable’ claims. The overwhelming facts and evidence presented during his Rule 32 hearing, can only leave the reader shocked at the level of misconduct and miscarriage of justice. This is not a case based on some legal technicality, but in fact, is a case based on a myriad of misconduct perpetrated by all parties involved. (Footnotes give additional information.)

Habib Yazdi, (FNA Habib Yazdtchi) appointed to represent my son, is THE POSTER CHILD for ineffective assistance of Legal Counsel. He was not even qualified to practice law in Alabama, but the Supreme Court of Alabama granted a ‘waiver’ for some unclear reason.

This same attorney, during his own divorce proceedings, pulled a fully loaded semi-automatic handgun in an Alabama Courtroom, threatening to kill his soon-to-be ex wife and/or her attorney; and was then ordered to undergo Psychiatric evaluation, which resulted in Mr. Yazdi being placed under the care of a Psychiatrist.

This is only one of a number of incidents where Mr. Yazdi has displayed a disturbed mental status, and they appoint him to represent my son on a Capital Murder charge? My son, as well as myself, protested this appointment, as this was not our first encounter with him. He was the attorney who represented my son on a prior charge of ‘receiving stolen property’ for a ring my son found on a demolition site, convincing my son that, if he didn’t plea guilty and forced going to Trial, he was going to spend the next ten years of his life in a prison cell. That guilty plea would be used as an aggravating factor in determining my son’s sentence in this case.

MORE ON HABIB YAZDI:

Habib Yazdi. FKA Habib Yazdtchi, was allowed to advertised himself as a criminal ‘specialist’ for several years, without having achieved that qualification, a clear ethics violation of the ABA. Although he was ‘appointed as indigent defense’ Mr Yazdi contacted me and solicited ‘legal retainer’ fees. Another clear ethics violation of ABA Rules and Guidelines. His words were, and I quote: “A gooda Attorney will cost you a $25,000.00, but I only a charge you a $10,000.00.” Once I declined him, he contacted another family member and made the same offer. Again he was declined. (This is not the only case were he solicited ‘fees’ for a case in which he had been appointed as ‘indigent’ counsel by the Courts.)

Should this man be allowed to even practice civil law, let alone criminal law, and most especially defend a person charged with Capital Murder?

Considering the above mentioned incident with Mr. Yazdi is only one of a number of incidents where Mr. Yazdi has displayed a disturbed mental status and a clear lack of integrity, why is the State of Alabama allowing this man to continue practicing law? All these facts are now a matter of record and can be verified.

My name is O’Della Wilson, mother of William John Ziegler and my son has already been robbed of almost thirteen years of his life, for a crime he is NOT GUILTY of committing, and my two other children, along with myself, have also been sentenced and punished as a by-product of this wrongful conviction and death sentence. How long is too long for this madness to continue?

I fear every single day for the life of my son, as he must face perilous danger inside those prison walls. An institution in which he has already been stabbed three times. I do not want to wake up one morning to find out my son has also become a murder victim because the State of Alabama refuses to admit their guilt and culpability, and release my innocent son from the torment of death row, due to that wrongful conviction.

From what we know and have seen thus far, if we cannot get some type of National Media attention, my son will become another statistic and Alabama will sweep this under a rug. Only one small independent print-medium has been willing to help us expose all this wrongdoing, but they are limited to a local small audience. Something the officials here most likely figure, will never garner any outside attention to their wrongdoings.

Please help us share this story, and possibly hold those responsible for this wrongful conviction and death sentence accountable for their misconduct, or at the very least expose them in an attempt to stop these unconscionable acts from happening in the future.

CONTACT INFO:

@odellawilson on twitter
www.facebook.com/odellawilson
 
O’Della Wilson
P.O. Box 66096
Mobile, AL 36606
Mother to William John Ziegler,
an Alabama Death Row Inmate
Posted in Uncategorized, Wrongful Conviction | 2 Comments

Letter to Governor Bentley of Alabama

Dear Governor Bentley:

My name is O’Della Wilson, I am the mother of William John Ziegler, an inmate on Alabama’s Death Row in Holman Correctional Facility.

While I was told it is not proper to contact you directly concerning my son, I find the State’s conduct, not just improper, but downright unconscionable. I have to believe, at this point, you are still unaware of the details involved in my son’s case.

Given the fact, I had to choose an ‘issue’ of concern, the ‘Pardons and Paroles’ came closest to my topic of concern, but by no means is an accurate description of the problem at hand.

I am Formally requesting that you [personally] familiarize yourself with this case. Examine the overwhelming facts and evidence presented during his Rule 32 hearing, then and only then try to deny this is a wrongful conviction and miscarriage of justice. I am, as many others, left dismayed and confused as to why the State of Alabama would choose to appeal the Amended Ruling, issued November 02, 2012 by Circuit Judge, Sarah Stewart.

This is not a case based on some legal technicality, but in fact, is a case based on a myriad of misconduct perpetrated by the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office and the Mobile District Attorney’s Office, compounded by the appointment of one, Habib Yazdi, (FNA Habib Yazdtchi) as the defense attorney to represent my son. Habib Yazdi is THE POSTER CHILD for ineffective assistance of Legal Counsel. And the list goes on. In fact, every aspect of the original trial was a total failure of our legal system.

While there was a litany of EVIDENCE available from the onset that exonerated my son, the MCSO Investigators and the Mobile District Attorney’s Office chose to ignore those facts; and instead ‘produced’ their version of evidence such as perjured testimony and jailhouse snitches, and ‘reworked’ circumstantial evidence to fit their theory.

ADA Deborah Tillman actually misquoted Alabama Code, and even went so far as to tell the Jury, and I quote:”You’re gonna hear from Will Ziegler, and he’s gonna tell you how he kicked Allen Baker as he laid in that bathtub.” (Tr. 154:7-9) This statement was made, while she raised and extended her arm towards my son, pointing her finger at him. I find this conduct reprehensible at the very least and outright obvious Prosecutorial Misconduct. The first of many violations of my son’s Constitutionally protected Rights.

I would like to bring to your attention a few more circumstances and facts of record, that even to a layperson, would raise a ‘red warning flag’ in which you would only be left to question the conflicting information and improprieties of the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office. As stated, only a few circumstances will be addressed in this letter, for brevity’s sake, and many of the details have already been defined/addressed in Judge Sarah Stewart’s Amended Ruling.

1. Detective Dale Kohn, is first to make contact with James Bennett, and first on scene where the decedent’s body was located. Detective Dale Kohn, was aware of the fact [prior to such discovery] that his niece, Dawn Kohn was present with both suspect, James Gordon Bennett and victim, Russell Allen Baker at the time of the homicide.

1.a. Bennett admits Baker is dead, leads detective to deceased’s body – and then is released to go home?
1.b. Why didn’t Detective Kohn, remove himself at that point? He was aware he was in a conflicted and possibly compromising position just as soon as hearing his niece’s name.
1.c. All law enforcement present on scene that night [homicide] discussed the fact that scene was only a dumpsite.

2. Detectives, Kohn and Donald Lunceford, took measures to secrete the fact that Detective Kohn remained active in the investigation. (perusal into the conduct of these two detectives’ might give you more insight) Detective Donald Lunceford even went so far as to deliver perjured testimony.

3. Both Lunceford and Kohn, had information and reason [enough to get a search warrant] to believe that Bennett was seen in a neighboring City with Baker either in the car, or the trunk of the car. Both Detectives were also aware of the volatile relationship between Bennett and Baker, and both were also informed by numerous witnesses that Bennett was, in fact, the one making threats against Baker’s life.

3.a. Bennett’s vehicle had blood evidence on interior, seats, headliner, and even in the trunk. Yet those documents of that evidence have never been produced to this date, despite the Judge’s Order to Produce.
3.b. Bag of “MCSO evidence” left in said vehicle to be disposed of and never introduced or disclosed to exist.

Also, a huge ‘red flag’ to the District Attorney’s Office, should have been the fact that my son was demanding to be given a polygraph test and denied. I ask you, Governor Bentley, can you tell me of a single homicide investigation, with questionable circumstances, where the Investigators themselves didn’t request the suspect to submit to a polygraph, let alone deny a suspect to avail of one? Not only did my son request to be given a polygraph, but offered to do so under the administration of Sodium Pentathol.

Are the above facts not problematic enough for you? Please, continue to read:

4. The Mobile District Attorney’s Office, in this case, represented by ADA Deborah Tillman, not only were aware of the above facts, but actually withheld this exculpatory evidence and presented perjured testimony of at least two witnesses. To further stress the importance of ADA Tillman’s misconduct, I would request you also read the original Trial transcripts where, outside the presence of the Jury, ADA Tillman asked Ms. Vicki Bosarge who made the threat ‘Allen’s a walking dead man’ and see what her reply was. It was only after ADA Tillman discussed further with Ms Bosarge, prior to the Jury returning did Bosarge change her answer from Jay Bennett to William. But, the Jury was never made aware of this fact.

5. Fact: Assailant(s) was/were Right-handed, my son is Left-handed. This is another fact, they were all aware of from the start. So how could prosecutor, ADA Deborah Tillman, not know they were targeting the wrong person? How can she claim not to have done anything wrong?

6. While the Jury was told, no weapons were found, the MCSO had in fact, not only recovered my son’s pocket knife [which matches the description given by everyone else], but tested it more than once and found absolutely no presence of blood. What was also clear, is the fact the knife had not been cleaned.

7. Alabama Law is quite clear when it comes to the experience and mental state of practicing Attorneys. The legal rules (five year rule) are also quite clear. Which brings me to the Attorney appointed to represent my son, Habib Yazdi. who by the way, advertised himself as a criminal ‘specialist’ for several years, without having achieved that qualification I might add. Unless I have grave misunderstanding, Mr Yazdi, FKA Mr Yazdtchi, was not even qualified to practice law in Alabama and had to be granted a ‘waiver’ from the state and was even given special ‘consideration’ to take the state bar exam. This attorney also contacted me and solicited ‘legal retainer’ fees, for this very charge against my son. His words were, and I quote: “A gooda Attorney will cost you a $25,000.00, but I only a charge you a $10,000.00.” Once I declined him, he contacted another family member and made the same offer. Again he was declined.

Now factor in that this same attorney, in a prior year during his own divorce proceedings, proceeded to pull a fully loaded semi-automatic gun in an Alabama Courtroom, threatening to kill his soon-to-be ex wife and/or her attorney; and was then ordered to undergo Psychiatric evaluation, which resulted in Mr. Yazdi being placed under the care of a Psychiatrist – should this man be allowed to even practice civil law, let alone criminal law, and most especially defend a person charged with Capital Murder?

Considering the above mentioned incident with Mr. Yazdi is only one of a number of incidents where Mr. Yazdi has displayed a disturbed mental status, why is the State of Alabama allowing this man to continue practicing law?

Your team of Legal Advisers can confirm all these facts with little effort and I’m sure they will be privy to much more, and with greater detail. But, while they are confirming these mentioned facts, a perusal of the records, in which a search is conducted for a recurrence of certain names appearing together on any given case, might possibly show a ‘pattern’ that warrants great concern on several other cases. However, for the moment, my concern is the wrongful conviction and detention of my son, William John Ziegler.

My son has been robbed of almost thirteen years of his life, for a crime he is NOT GUILTY of committing, and my two other children, along with myself have also been sentenced and punished in our lives as a by-product of this wrongful conviction and death sentence, these past thirteen years. I ask you Governor:

When is enough going to be enough for the State of Alabama? I fear every single day for the life of my son, as he must face perilous danger inside those prison walls. An institution in which he has already been shanked/stabbed three times. I do not want to wake up one morning to find out my son has also become a murder victim because the State of Alabama refuses to admit their guilt and culpability, and release my innocent son from the torment of death row, due to that wrongful conviction.

Now, on an end note: Oftentimes, there is clear and convincing evidence that never even makes it into a courtroom due to admissability and other issues. In this case however, there is clear and convincing overwhelming evidence. Yet, this clear and convincing evidence that DID meet the criteria of Court rules and procedures, is only a small part of all the facts surrounding this injustice against my son and our entire family.

I request and look forward to your prompt reply. Until that time

Respectfully,

O’Della Wilson

Mother to William John Ziegler

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