The Hidden MemoA recently discovered internal memorandum from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office greatly undermines the first-degree murder charge against Debbie Peagler. Perhaps this is why the District Attorney’s office illegally hid this memo for over 25 years.
The memo, written in 1983 by a head deputy at the time, begins by stating, “the trial deputy and myself no longer feel that the death penalty is appropriate in this case.” This crucial fact was never shared with Debbie Peagler. Instead, the prosecutor threatened to pursue the death penalty against Debbie, wrongfully coercing her to accept a “deal” to life in prison. It is illegal for a prosecutor to attempt to pursue or to posture as if pursuing a sentence for which he knows he lacks the evidence.
Today, Frederick P. Horn, the trial prosecutor who handled Debbie’s case, is a Superior Court judge in Orange County.
The memo goes on to state that the key witness in the case against Debbie “appears to have committed perjury.” It is illegal for a prosecutor to use perjured evidence in any legal proceeding, especially one in which a defendant is led to believe that his or her life is at stake due to a possible death sentence.
The memo also describes “additional considerations,” including “the possibility that the victim Oliver Wilson was killed because he had been molesting Deborah Peagler’s minor child from a previous marriage.” This factor would have undoubtedly led both judge and jury to have a greater understanding of Debbie’s actions, possibly leading them to conclude that she was only guilty of a lesser crime or that she was acting in self-defense. Again, it was illegal for prosecutors to hide their knowledge of this exculpatory evidence from Debbie and her legal counsel.
What may be most striking is the fact that, while Debbie sat behind bars for the next quarter century, the memo remained buried in the DA’s files. Under District Attorney Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office continued to oppose Debbie’s requests for parole and to assert that it had always had had a “slam dunk case” against Debbie. Meanwhile, Cooley’s office refused numerous requests to turn the document over to Debbie and her legal team. In 2007 private investigator Bobby Buechler finally managed to obtain the memo from an independent source.
Click HERE to see a copy of the hidden memo.