Martin (Marty) Tankleff; "A Question of Guilt"

Stuart Namm Stuart Namm

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Published 6 years ago

Several years ago, after moving from Suffolk County, New York, where I had been a judge for over 17 years, to the coastal marsh of I was hired by a television production company in the United Kingdom as the "judicial consultant" for a thirteen part series entitled "The Serial Killers." Before the production of the series ended, I was given the task of finding two other serial killers as the original creator of the series had been unable to come up with the last two American serial killers. My title was then changed to interviewer, and I did the interviews for the last two episodes entitled by me, "The Lethal Lovers."
It was during that time that I was receiving countless letters from prisoners all over the country who claimed to be innocent, and had heard about what I had done, seeking my help in his or her own case. However, I had decided to give up the practice of law, and I could do nothing for them, even those on Death Row in Mississippi and Texas. It was long before anyone on TV was doing a show about prisoners who claimed to be innocent.
I had worked on "The Serial Killers" with the producer from the UK, Frazer Ashford, and we had become good friends. When we finished "The Serial Killers," I asked if he would be interested in doing a series about prisoners, convicted of murder, who claimed to be innocent, and he jumped on the idea. By that time, my first wife of 47 years had passed of a sudden heart attack without warning, and I had remarried to Nancy, who had lost her husband two months before Lenore passed. Both Frazer and she were excited about my idea, and we decided to do a television project which was to be a series of thirteen one hour episodes of convicted prisoners who claimed to be innocent and who had been convicted of murder, utilizing the letters I had been receiving from prisoners all over the country. The series was to be produced by Nancy, Frazer and myself. The first show in the series would be the Martin Tankleff story, the story of a young man convicted in Suffolk County, New York of murdering his adoptive parents, and who was serving two consecutive terms of 25 years for the murders, despite his claims of innocence. Nancy and I financed the entire project and Frazer was made a partner to compensate him for his work as the producer, and we brought over the crew from the UK who had worked on the Serial Killers project, but the Director had been changed. I decided to interview the lead detective in the witness box of a courtroom which we rented for that purpose in Wilmington, Norh Carolina.
We spent several months on the project which was financed by Nancy, myself and our personal retirement savings. After completion of a pilot for a 13 part series, we travelled to New Orleans for the NATPE (National Association of Television Producers and Executives) convention, and two TV networks were very interested in the series, the Discovery channel and Court TV, which was in its infancy. We wre very proud of our accomplshment, and I was both one of the producers and the interviewer for the series where final work was done in London after filming..
Ultimately, Court TV chose not to purchase the series, having contracted with a NYC producer to do a single (one off) show about Marty Tankleff, after they had already seen our finished video.
We then decided to have the Martin Tankleff story produced on DVD, and had 1000 copies printed at our own expense, and we have sold several hundred copies over the years, and it is still being advertised on Amazon. We gave many copies gratis to libraries of our choosing and other interested persons after the show was copyrighted.
It was my creation and idea to choose Mary's case as I had always believed that Marty was innocent based upon what I had seen in Suffolk County, and the cast of characters, but we decided to call it "A Question of Guilt," and let the audience decide for themselves. We hired a group of Wilmington, Norh Carolina actors, most of whom we knew personally and who did a wonderful job in the reenactment of the crime. Marty Tankleff was played by Wilmington's own Shane Fernando, a fine actor, who was still a teen at the time, who has gone on to become one of Wilmington's most distinguished citizens, and still a good friend.
Years having passed, and Marty Tankleff having been released from prison after 17 1/2 years, and having settled his wrongul death conviction for in excess of three million dollars, with other lawsuits pending, I decided that it was time for the public to see this story, on YouTube as we have always been very proud of our accomplishment!

P.S. Marty Tankleff graduated from Tuouro Law School earlier this year and has dedicated his life to helping prisoners like he had been to fight claimed wrongful convictions!
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