This is all very touching but completely misguided. I watched the four videos making up one movie at https://ivansprayerforjustice.org/ and read the accompanying materials at https://www.change.org/p/justice-for-ivan?source_location=petition_nav and signed the petition. Then I watched them again carefully, and read the accompanying material carefully, and researched the case from online court documents, and now I realize that I and many others have been duped. Teleguz may or may not deserve the death penalty but the evidence shows overwhelmingly that he did hire Edwin Gilkes and Michael Hetrick to murder his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, Stephanie Sipe. Moreover, the claim of his attorney that Gilkes falsely testified that he saw Teleguz commit a murder that never happened is both false and a gross distortion. Gilkes may have made such a statement to an investigator, and it was excluded by the court as too inflammatory. But Teleguz's attorney had Gilkes explicitly deny making such a statement and he did deny it in the only testimony that the judge and jury heard, so that claim that such false testimony is responsible for his death sentence is simply false propaganda. See the opinion of appeals court Judge Jones below for details.
The videos are designed to make it seem as though Teleguz had nothing to do with any of the men who testified against him at trial, Edwin Gilkes, Michael Hetrick, and Aleksey Safanov. The movie leaves unexplained how Safanov led the police to the killer Hetrick whose blood was found at the murder scene and makes it seem that the police simply gave him and the other men Ivan's name in order to put him into the picture. They make it seem as though the police had found Hetrick on their own and then could not give up their unfounded zealous conviction that Ivan was behind it all and simply coerced the men who did the crime into implicating Teleguz. In fact Ivan Teleguz knew and met with both Gilkes and Hetrick and contracted with them to kill his ex-girlfriend. It is a thoroughly dishonest and deceitful documentary that takes advantage of the trust and goodwill that people knowledgeable about police and judicial corruption are willing to offer to someone pretending to defend the innocent yet unjustly accused and convicted. Gilkes' recanting affidavit in particular struck me as inculpatory rather than exculpatory, especially #3, which reads:
"During questioning, police told me that the Russian guy from Massachusetts [Safanov] was the one who told them about me. Since I only met that guy once [and did not talk about the murder with him], I figured Teleguz was the one who told that guy about me. That made me really angry at Teleguz. It was easier to make stuff up about Teleguz, because I believed that Teleguz threw me under the bus by telling police."
In the movie this goes by quickly and seems to explain why Gilkes--a black man--vengefully make up testimony against Teleguz, but if you stop and read it slowly it also clearly implicates Teleguz as knowing about Gilkes' role in the murder. In giving Gilkes' motive for revenge--because he inferred that Teleguz had also given him up to the police--it also reveals the involvement of Teleguz. Judge Jones, in assessing the credibility of Gilkes' recantation by affidavit drew the same conclusion and noted:
"The recantations contained in Gilkes' affidavits are incomplete at best and at worst are contradictory. While Gilkes retracted his trial testimony implicating Teleguz, he failed to provide any explanation why he and Hetrick traveled to Harrisonburg to murder Sipe, who drove them there, or how they ultimately located Sipe."
Furthermore, during his initial interview with Whitfield, Gilkes denied any involvement in the murder but still implicated Teleguz with purported second-hand information from Rymarenko. Tellingly, in his second affidavit, Gilkes stated,
(Pet'r's Ex. 34 3.)"Thus, after all of his supposed recantations, I infer from this statement that, at a minimum, Teleguz had sufficient prior knowledge of the murder for Gilkes to suspect that he had led police to his door.
"For these reasons, I find Gilkes' affidavits unreliable."
And by the way, the murder was pretty clearly a contract hit. The video shows that Hetrick was violent against women and makes it seem like a crime of passion, but another unconnected part reveals that Hetrick knocked on Sipe's door pretending to be a stranded motorist so he could gain access to her apartment, and then attacked her. The "stranded motorist" ploy indicates that she was the target of a contracted murder.
I go further. The neat handwritten affidavit of Gilkes that appears in part in the video was probably not written nor composed by Gilkes. The script is almost calligraphic proletarian. The likely conclusion is that the text was composed artfully by defense counsel with Gilkes' cooperation and handwritten by a secretary in block print to make it seem genuine. Too many details of legalistic phrasing that I will not pursue here about just what Gilkes affirms ooze concern about avoiding the charge of suborning perjury, and in exposing Gilkes' motivation to get even with Teleguz, the affidavit revealed that Teleguz knew that Gilkes had participated in the murder of Sipe, inculpating Teleguz, not exculpating him.
The judge's account of the "recantation" by Safarov is equally compelling. In contrast to the video propaganda that leaves a complete mystery how Safarov identified Gilkes except by the police feeding him information, Safarov initially provided information about the identity of Gilkes--whom he had met just once, and this is what convinced Gilkes that Teleguz must have opened his big mouth and told Safarov about the murder--that was not known to any of the state investigators:
Even assuming the authenticity of his affidavit, the reliability of Safanov's recantation is suspect, given that it fails to explain how Safanov possessed information necessary to rejuvenate the stale investigation. Before speaking with anyone related to the investigation of Sipe's murder, Safanov provided information to [Deputy Marshal] Nelson, an uninterested party, which information was neither publicly available nor provided to him by any law-enforcement officer. In particular, Safanov gave Nelson information that was unknown even to investigators assigned to the Sipe homicide -- that "a Russian male hired a black male from Pennsylvania, Lancaster, Pennsylvania to kill his wife."11 (Hr'g Tr. 143:9-10, Nov. 13, 2013.) A few days later, Safanov reported to Nelson that "the black male from Lancaster, PA, lives on the same one-way street as the Lancaster County Jail." (Resp't's Ex. 3, at 1.) A cross-reference of the Lancaster County Jail address with Teleguz's phone records led law enforcement to Gilkes, who in turn implicated Hetrick as the murderer.
As for the supposedly prejudicial "testimony" by Gilkes that he saw Teleguz murder another Russian in front of the Ephrata Recreational Center; this testimony is a fiction and an investigation of the murder indicates that Teleguz was involved in it. I excerpt from the option of Judge Jones, below:
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