Segments in this Video

The Crime (00:53)


Due process of law and the fundamental fairness doctrine require that the defense attorney must be competent and the results reliable. On October 30th, 1981 a retired interior decorator was murdered at his home— a suspect turned himself in and implicated another. At his trial William Hanes pleaded "Not Guilty."

The Main Characters (04:40)

When Gary Smith discovered Steven Romer was Daniel Robert Sprouse, he asked Sprouse to leave. Sprouse moved in with John Barlow, who fell in love with him— Marc DuFrenne would spend the night with Sprouse. Roberta Terry describes how she and the apartment manager discovered Barlow's body.

The Police Investigation (04:19)

Novella Hayes relayed to police how Sprouse told her to stay home the day after the murder. Law enforcement officials contend that Hanes confessed to the crime and volunteered that the murder weapon was Energine cleaning solution. Three witnesses did not identify Hanes during a line-up, but one identified DuFrenne.

The Legal Process (02:43)

Virginia Hanes recalls how she selected her son's attorney. The prosecution decided to bargain with Sprouse and Hanes pled not guilty. Susan McGraugh explains the importance of getting to know your clients to advocate for them— Hane's lawyer spent less than two hours with him prior to trial.

The Trial: Prosecution Presents Its Case (02:50)

The trial lasted five days. Steven Goldman called the police captain to describe the investigation and Sprouse who contended that Hanes jumped on Barlow and injected the cleaning fluid. Court reporter Chris Cook felt that the defense did not point out any flaws in the case or introduce other potential suspects.

The Trial: Defense (05:03)

Hanes testified that Sprouse forced him to carry Barlow to the bathroom and threatened his life if he went to the police. When Sprouse was arrested, he claimed that Hanes was the mastermind of the murder. Hanes was convicted of life in prison and Sprouse received a plea deal.

Appeals (04:43)

Four years passed before Hanes realized Gomric had not filed his appeal. The family hired Richard Sindel who attacked the previous legal strategy— inmates provided evidence that Sprouse had confessed that Hanes was innocent. At the federal appellate court, one of the judges discovered that Gomric had been disbarred in both Missouri and Illinois.

Where Are They Now? (00:55)

Sprouse overdosed on cocaine and died in prison. DuFrenne died of AIDs. Hanes remains in prison and will be eligible for parole when he is 86.

Credits: Fundamental Fairness (01:18)

Credits: Fundamental Fairness

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Fundamental Fairness

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This video is about a man convicted of murdering a wealthy elderly interior decorator with an injection of cleaning fluid. But did he do it? How do we know if any defendant has gotten a fair trial? Through this specific case, the legal system is examined to illustrate how it doesn't always work correctly. The documentary introduces the key players and their relationships, and then works through the police investigation, pre-trial issues, the trial, and the appeals process. Specific issues are raised about the respective roles and responsibilities of police as well as defense and prosecuting attorneys, about the rules of evidence, and about the decision-making process of judges at various stages in the appeals process. This is a case where many things appear to have gone wrong for the defendant. Through this exploration, questions are raised about the kinds of issues that need to be addressed in order to help insure that every defendant receives the fundamental fairness guaranteed by the Constitution.

Length: 28 minutes

Item#: BVL118698

ISBN: 978-1-63521-527-4

Copyright date: ©2004

Closed Captioned

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