Convicted murderer Waseem Daker argues for a new trial in a Cobb Courtroom
by Lindsay Field
August 08, 2013 11:37 PM | 9169 views | 32 32 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Convicted murderer Waseem Daker is led into the courtroom of Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley on Thursday to argue his more than 100 motions for a new trial.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Convicted murderer Waseem Daker is led into the courtroom of Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley on Thursday to argue his more than 100 motions for a new trial.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
Loretta Spencer-Blatz is the former neighbor of Karmen Smith, whom Waseem Daker was convicted of killing.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Loretta Spencer-Blatz is the former neighbor of Karmen Smith, whom Waseem Daker was convicted of killing.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
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MARIETTA — A man convicted last fall for killing a mother and almost stabbing her young child to death 18 years ago argued Thursday that he deserves a new trial because DNA evidence found at the scene was not his.

Waseem Daker, who was sentenced to life in prison plus 47½ years in 2012 for the 1995 killing of Karmen Smith and the assault of her then-5-year-old son, Nick Smith, appeared before Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley on Thursday for a hearing on his motion for a new trial.

For more than six hours Thursday, Daker stood before Staley with his hands in shackles as he went one by one through 80 of the more than 100 reasons why he believes he deserves a new trial. The hearing will resume at 8 a.m. today.

One of his arguments is that DNA found on the murder weapon and a baseball cap and fingerprints at the scene were not his but that of someone else.

“My contention is that there is a numerous amount of evidence that shows that I’m not guilty of this crime,” Daker said. “There’s so much of it, let me think of where to begin.”

He said two people’s DNA was found on a murder weapon at the scene and that one was from a male and the other could be from a male or female. He did not specify which murder weapon.

Karmen Smith was reportedly stabbed twice in the back and then strangled with a rope Oct. 23, 1995.

Daker also argued that a hair found on the baseball cap and the fingerprints at the scene were not his.

State’s star witness recants

“If you believe the state’s theory, the only thing that links (myself) to the crime scene is one hair that they did a nuclear DNA test on in 2009 that matched me,” he said. “There’s no direct evidence; that particular piece of evidence is circumstantial.”

The hair Daker mentioned was one that was found on a blanket Karmen Smith was wrapped in after she was killed.

Loretta Spencer Blatz, who testified against Daker during his trial last fall but in March recanted her testimony in two separate affidavits, helped this particular argument.

One of the documents she filed states Daker’s hair follicle found on the blanket could have been left there days before when he and Blatz reportedly used the blanket together.

That information was not brought up during the murder trial.

“The verdict itself is based on fraud, basically, false allegations,” Daker said. “Despite all the demonizing she (Blatz) has done to me over the last 18 years … she believes in my innocence and that she falsely accused me.”

Blatz has not been subpoenaed for the hearing but she was in court Thursday and sat just a few rows behind Daker, who turned around to look at her each time he referenced her.

Daker also accused Staley and Judge Donald Howe of bias during the pre-trial hearings and trial.

“With all due respect judge, I believe that you had bias towards me throughout the entire trial,” Daker said. “The way your honor treated me, spoke to me in front of the jury … I was denied a fair trial because I was denied a fair judge.”

He said that Howe, who was a visiting senior judge from Douglas County, “rubberstamped” motions by the district attorney’s office and that Staley allowed the state to make arguments but then denied him.

“You gutted my defense,” Daker told Staley. “I don’t know any other way to say it.”

When Daker is done making his arguments the district attorney’s office will have a chance to respond to them.

More than 60 people subpoenaed

Before going through his list of arguments one by one, Staley asked Daker how many people had been subpoenaed to submit information or testify on his behalf.

“I’ve lost count to be honest,” Daker told her.

“That’s an inadequate answer,” Staley responded quickly. “You don’t know how many people you’ve subpoenaed yet you have all these subpoenas you put out for everybody with no direction to them whatsoever to do and you don’t know how many people you’ve subpoenaed?”

Responded Daker: “I know it’s approximately 60, but I haven’t received confirmation of service on some of them.”

Cobb Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans told Staley that his office has received a number of motions to quash, or suppress, subpoenas by attorneys representing various individuals and government employees who were ordered to appear in court.

“I’m hopeful that the court can give us some guidance,” Evans said.

Staley told Daker to make a list of every person he subpoenaed and put in writing how their testimony is relevant to a motion for a new trial.

She also told him to specify which reasons in his motion relate to that person’s need to testify.

Afterward, she excused everyone who had been subpoenaed and ordered Daker to begin his arguments for a new trial.

DNA expert on Daker’s side

Dr. Greg Hampikian, a DNA expert, geneticist, biology professor at Boise State University in Idaho and director of the Idaho Innocence Project, was in court for the hearing and wanted to testify.

“I was hoping the judge would let me testify out of order,” he said Thursday afternoon. “But (Staley) hasn’t given (Daker) anything, not even a normal courtesy to a witness.”

The Idaho Innocence Project, which was established in 2005, has a mission to identify, investigate and pursue claims of wrongful conviction and actual innocence made by Idaho inmates.

Hampikian attended Thursday’s hearing on his own accord and was not paid to be there.

“I was in Florida on vacation and just found out about this hearing (Wednesday) night at 11 p.m. and flew in on my own dollar and bought a shirt and tie at the airport,” he said.

Hampikian wanted to testify about Daker’s hair follicle, which Blatz stated in her affidavit could have been transferred to the blanket before Karmen Smith was killed.

“Her affidavit is a complete game changer,” he said. “The only evidence against him is the hair on the body. I wanted to testify about the impact of that hair.”

He originally testified last fall at the request of Daker’s former defense attorney but said he didn’t believe the now convicted murderer was innocent at that time.

“I always teach my students that you never know when the innocent client slips through your fingers,” Hampikian said about knowing what he knows now. “I think it’s just a horrible miscarriage of justice.”

He was drawn back into the case after receiving a call from Blatz about recanting her testimony.

“She just wants to get the truth out,” he said. “My testimony would have been totally different if I had known about her testimony. It’s just a horrible, horrible thing that he’s in prison.”

Hampikian has also been trying to help Daker get a new defense attorney and has contacted a few people himself.

He used to live in Georgia and still works with the Georgia Innocence Project, so he is familiar with several local attorneys.

“I’m just a very concerned and troubled expert,” he said. “I think a terrible injustice is being done in court (Thursday). I realize the judge has to run an orderly courtroom but I am displeased that I wasn’t able to talk. I believe (Blatz) would like to testify, too.”

Hampikian earned his doctorate in genetics in 1990 and has worked on hundreds of forensics cases with his Idaho-based organization, private parties and police agencies since 1999.

Since the Idaho Innocence Project was founded, it has helped more than a dozen wrongly accused or convicted people.

Comments
(32)
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anonymous
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August 03, 2014
How long the lad will serve in jail for perjury if the court decided the man is honest? What I am thinking is that both of them had a plot to kill that lady for some reason and get away with it with less time possible in jail. I see 2 possibilities: either her and Wasseem plotted the murder this way, or her and another man plot the murder. I see her involved in that murder somehow. They need to look for potential motivations of this lady to kill.
anonymous
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November 30, 2013
Justice was NOT served. I used to live in GA and what you saw on DATELINE was just a scratch in the surface. What everyone has failed to keep in mind is the DNA expert clearly said there was NO hair with a root in 1995 but miraculously one appeared 15 YEARS later. They have NO evidence except for the hair at the scene that likely came from one of the blankets given to the victim just days before her murder which could have come from the blankets Daker and Blatz shared. The murder weapon did NOT have Daker's DNA on it ( a different male DNA profile was found on the murder weapon) ALL evidence was coming back as NOT DAKERS DNA and then ALL FURTHER TESTING WAS STOPPED. In 1995 the 5 year old boy said the attacker was wearing a black mask and had BLUE eyes. DAKER has BROWN. At the time of Ms. Smith murder she was being harassed by current men she was dating as well as other EXES were harassed Ms. Smith up to the very day she was murdered.One had a history of being abusive to her, she was frightened of him and has BLUE EYES. A couple of her exes threatened to kill her, one of the ex's who was physically abusive towards her, broke into her apartment on a number of occasions, hit her one week before the murder was fighting and harassing her the evening before the murder and the morning of the murdered, he called in sick the very day his ex was murdered and he has BLUE EYES, who also at the time worked for Cobb County (the same County who investigated this case and prosecuted this case. Another man who was a suspect that she was dating, fled the State of GA the day after the murder. Another man she was involved with was a police officer who's wife called Karmen and threatened to harm her, another ex boyfriend threatened to kill her. One of her best friends from Iowa called the detectives in Cobb County back in 1995 to express concerns and thought it was a particular ex who threatened to kill karmen. Daker did not get a FAIR trial because the Judge would NOT allow him to bring up ALL the OTHER SUSPECTS for the Jury to hear. This is a very sad and terrible crime that occurred in 1995. We all want to see TRUE JUSTICE. Getting a conviction might make everyone feel better but there is a KILLER out there that has BLUE eyes that has gotten away with murdering a beautiful woman, attacking a 5 year old and there is an innocent man who sits behind bars. TRUE JUSTICE IS NEEDED!
Okay.
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August 12, 2013
I've known Loretta blatz for many years. Over 20. Waseem DID stalk her and her child Christina. Waseem DID threaten her.

Just remember - you only see and hear what the media allows.
anonymous
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August 14, 2013
just because someone stalks or harasses someone doesn't make them a killer. i think we all at some point in our life acted inappropriately.

anonymous
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August 14, 2013
I used to live in Cobb County. Your correct we only hear what the media prints. I have read terrible things about Mr. Daker for years even before his trail last year. I thought he was guilty from reading those news articles. After this article concerning his bid for a NEW trial, I think this case needs to be reopened and explored. Far 2 many inconsistencies. DNA discrepancies, Blatz lying, the victim saying the attacker had blue eyes, Judge biased.

When I saw news clips and read articles last year concerning this case, It was obvious the judge didn't like Daker. It didn't bother me back then because I thought he was guilty. Now I believe he is deserving of a new fair trial.
anonymous
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August 14, 2013
Since you know Blatz, was there a relationship with her and Daker?
anonymous
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October 11, 2013
The only credible one in this case is the DNA expect with the innocent project.
nice to know
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August 12, 2013
GREAT ARTICLE!

In observing the trial in 2012 and the hearing last week, It's nice to know that at least the journalist is UNbiased. Amazing how a journalist can hold to a higher standard of integrity more so than a court of law. If only the Judge and DA could do the same.
mrshmlow
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August 10, 2013
I have to wonder if the then five year old has any recollection of who committed the crimes.
Who knew
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August 12, 2013
when the little boy was questioned in the hospital just after the attack, he said the attacker was wearing a black mask and had blue eyes. Daker has brown.
blue eyes
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August 12, 2013
Nick said the perpetrator had blue eyes. He thought someone was punching him in his stomach. He was laying on the floor looking up at his attacker wearing a black mask with blue eyes. Blue eyes would pop out if someone was wearing a black mask. I think they need to look for the killer who has blue eyes and there DNA fits to the murder weapon (Daker's do not) this entire case is such a fiasco. Key witness lying! DNA not matching Daker! New Evidence! Expert DNA expert wanting to testify to Dakers innocence but Judge not allowing it. Blatz wanted to testify but judge wont allow. This all seems like a cover up
I heard
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August 12, 2013
During the 2012 trial it was brought up that the attacker had blue eyes. ODDLY, Daker has brown. That has always stood out to me. Nick testified he didnt remember saying that but he the police questioned him at the hospital and on tape he said the attacker was wearing a black mask and had blue eyes.
anonymous
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August 14, 2013
I also heard the attacker has BLUE eyes. Waseem Daker has BROWN. Makes you wonder doesn't it....
cool cool
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October 09, 2013
Nick said killer had (blue eyes). Nicks dad and ex husband to karmen smith has (blue eyes). Plus if daker would have killed, it would have probably been a quick killing. Plus why would he want all day for Nick to get home then stab him multiple times. Seems to me that it was a crime of passion. I would have both the ex and daker take lie detector test.
Ha.
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August 09, 2013
I personally know Loretta blatz, she is a attention seeking, lying narcissist whom is also bipolar and histrionic.

The ADA can defend each topic brought to the surface. Loretta was telling the truth before - and is now lying to get back in the limelight.

It's just what she does. She's always been this way.

Her and waseem are making a mockery of the court system.

speak out
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August 12, 2013
I'd have to disagree. I think we all want to hear what Blatz has to say but she isn't doing any interviews. Doesn't seem like an attention seeker to me. I wish she would break her silence and allow us all to hear what she lied about.
think about it
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August 12, 2013
one would have to think why she is recanting her statements and testimony. Wont she go to jail? It makes me think she is being truthful now. I wish she was attention seeking, I think many are curious to what she has to say.
if that
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August 12, 2013
If that is true, why hasnt she been doing interviews? I want to hear what she has to say. She seems to be hiding from the media and not running to them for attention.
anonymous
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August 14, 2013
Why would she lie? Lying would only get her arrested for perjury.
anonymous
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October 11, 2013
Just because you claim to have personally known Ms. Blatz doesn't mean anything. EVERYONE claims to have known someone involved in this case. My sister worked with the neighbors daughter who used to be date one of the guys who is now the babysisters husband who was once married to my uncle, who went to school with Blatz and I heard she was very nice.
YOU WANT THE TRUTH?
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November 20, 2013
I know Ms. Blatz. She is VERY REMORSEFUL! She has suffered from PTSD since the crimes took place in 1995. The DA gave her materials to study and prepare before the trial. She testified at the 2012 trial NOT by memory but rather from studying what she was given and told. AFTER the trial was the first she processed the events of 1995 and in doing so, she realized Mr. Daker is INNOCENT. Ms. Blatz was terrified of Mr. Daker because she was led to believe he was a killer who attacked a little boy with her daughter just feet away. She was traumatized. She believed the detectives when they said DAKER was the killer. She did lie in 1995 to protect her daughter and also for assure justice for Karmen and Nick because she was led to believe Daker was a killer.

Does anyone find it odd that Daker would kill Karmen and attack Nick? Blatz moved into the upper level of house 7 weeks before the murder. The attacker had BLUE eyes. Daker has BROWN. Daker had an ALIBI.

Several people threatened to kill Karmen, were harassing Karmen up to the very day she was killed. One was abusive towards her just one week before the murder. Karmen was frightened of a few men she broke things off from. THIS CASE WAS NOT PROPERLY INVESTIGATED. An innocent man sits in prison while the REAL KILLER IS OUT FREE!

VeryDisturbedBy This
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August 09, 2013
One of his problems is Daker does not know how to act in the courtroom. He's not a lawyer. He wastes a lot of time on irrelevant or unimportant issues. Further, his name is politically incorrect and the charges are heinous. But that does not detract from the fact that there are very serious problems with this case. The newly discovered evidence and the witness's recantation should have been explored-not just for Daker's benefit but for the public's benefit as well. Courtroom proceedings need to not only be fair *which has not happened here)but the public must perceive that the proceedings are fair. By rudely belittling and ridiculing Daker and prohibiting him from presenting his defense before and at trial, and then prohibiting him from presenting the testimony of Dr. Hampikian and Ms. Blatz at the motion for new trial, the judge is creatingthe public perception that the system is just not fair. This hurts the confidence in the court system necessary for a democracy to function. If the judge and D.A. are so confident in this case why do they have to act like this? If they think Dr. Hampikian and Ms. Blatz are probably wrong then air it out. Don't quash it. This just drags the whole thing out because eventually these people will be heard in some court. In the mean time a large segment of the thinking public that is following this story will doubt the court's integrity for a long time to come.
me2345678910
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August 12, 2013
ME 2!
my thoughts exactly
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August 12, 2013
agreed!
anonymous
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August 14, 2013
odd how the judge wouldn't allow either Blatz or the DNA EXPERT Dr. Hampikian who is with the INNOCENT PROJECT to testify. Makes you wonder what are they hiding? If a DNA expert leaves his vacation to fly to testify on Daker's behalf at his own expense, it speaks volumes. Cobb County is NOT seeking JUSTICE.
cobb 3
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August 09, 2013
I hope he gets a new trial. I dont think justice has been served in this case. DNA evidence at the crime scene that was not his, lying testimony of key witness, a bias Judge and newly discovered evidence.
concerned cit
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August 12, 2013
he is deserving of a new trial but as long as the judge continues to be biased, it wont happen.
heshouldbutwont
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August 12, 2013
this is cobb unethical county. He wont get a new trial.
cobb doesnt
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August 12, 2013
Cobb County is not out for the truth or justice. Daker requested a court appointed attorney many times but Judge Mary Staley has denied him. He also asked for a continuance, which was also denied. He has filed many motions to get access to the law library, again denied. DUE PROCESS? Doesn't appear so
Concerned Citz
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August 09, 2013
This is one of the best articles I have read concerning this case. Very informative. He is correct when saying the Judge was bias. I noticed that during his trial last year. It's easy for most of us to find Judge Staley's bias acceptable when you think someone is guilty. BUT in learning this new evidence, the other evidence that does not have his DNA on it, the lack of evidence, how the Judge prevented him to produce evidence that would exclude him, he just may be an innocent man who was falsely accused and convicted. Having a bias Judge does not help serve justice but rather pollutes it.
we're all concerned
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August 12, 2013
I think those who have watched this unfold are shocked of what a miscarriage of justice has occurred in this case.
if this could
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August 12, 2013
If this could happen to Daker, this could happen to anyone.
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