Michael Whiteley’s Injustice

by | Jan 9, 2024

Michael Whiteley’s Injustice

by | Jan 9, 2024

jail cell bars cast shadows

Editor’s Note: The case of Michael Whiteley was previously reported on by the Libertarian Institute’s late managing editor, William Norman Grigg.

I’m the voice of Michael Whiteley; a slight stutter when frustrated, a laugh rarely and irritation always just below the surface. This is the tone I hear every time I take the call from IDOC just outside of Boise, Idaho. Incarcerated for almost 32 years for rape and kidnapping; crimes he did not commit. While we’ve been going about our days, Mike Whiteley’s life consists of the constant thought of dying in prison. Not jail, as he has corrected me on several occasions, but prison. It’s a real prison to be shut up to a small space with one incandescent light bulb, knowing you’re an “innocent not guilty man,” as he often tells me. Yesterday he told me he has no voice, and I replied “I’ll be your voice.”

He’s been interviewed by Mark Fuhrman and framed by Jared Fuhriman. He has talked to the producer from Dateline and been turned away by Idaho’s governor and been pushed aside by the Bonniville County courts many times…but why?

I don’t know, but this has been the hand he’s been dealt by The Lord. I can’t feel what he feels because I’ll get up and go to work tomorrow and Mike will chalk up another of his 11,000 plus days in prison. I truly believe to general public there is no sensationalism in a case that doesn’t have a murder. But this case will have a murder if the state of Idaho keeps him locked up. Will Grigg of the Libertarian Institute wrote a story about Michael titled “The Slow-Motion State Murder of Michael Whiteley.” He retrieved public records from Bonniville County, Idaho, studied the case intently and presented a very compelling argument against Mike’s conviction.

It was the perfect negative storm for Michael, who placed an ad in the newspaper for someone to clean a house that had been left unlivable by his then-wife Dineen. Silvia Canido, a recent immigrant from Bolivia, answered the ad and agreed to clean the property. Will Grigg’s description of Canido was “The Black Widow of Bonniville County.” She went on to swindle three more men out of money, jewelry, and anything else she could grab onto. But Michael was the trial run for the terror she would spread to numerous families. Two sons of one of the men later wrote a letter to Mike confirming her behavior and offered their help to him. Silvia began advances towards Michael even though he was still married. He refused these advances until she pressured him take her on a trip to Salmon, Idaho with her young son to see “the beautiful country side.” The trip ended in a crash on the way home and Silvia was in the hospital. She was driving and took her hands off the wheel to do something and the vehicle overturned, ejecting Silvia. Her son and Michael were fine but she had to be pulled from two feet of water nearby by Mike.

She claimed that Michael was driving because her mother would “kill” her if she knew the truth. So begins the deception.

Another piece to the puzzle is the Mormon influence in the city of Idaho Falls and the county of Bonniville. Raquel Gasalez Silvia’s mother was attending the local LDS church of which the arresting officer Jared Fuhriman was also a member. Her attitude with regard to Michael was very hostile and she wanted him to be gone. He wasn’t a Mormon and didn’t intend to be one.

Michael and Silvia had a short, tumultuous relationship and were even married for 28 days. Beautiful and convincing, she got what she wanted. Mike filed for divorce from his previous wife and as soon as it was final, Silvia demanded to see the document so she and Michael could be married. All the while, her mother was seething in the background. Several recordings were made of Raquel threatening Silvia with excommunication and her two children to be taken away from her if she didn’t get rid of Mike. There were several occasions back and forth with fighting and police calls to various residences in Idaho Falls. Silvia would proclaim her love for Mike and yet there would be a civil protection order against him. Clearly her mother was pulling the strings trying to shake Michael from their lives. The cooperation from the police officer at church didn’t hurt either.

Michael and Silvia took several trips together, including three trips to Utah to visit an abortion doctor. She claims in her recant letters that this was to end a pregnancy from a rape at the hands of officer Rick Hanson of the Idaho Falls Police Department. During a separate trip to Las Vegas on January 15, 1991, her mother Raquel Gonzales filed a missing persons report after receiving a phone call from her daughter. Weather only let them get as far as Cedar City, Utah where Mike had previously lived. This is the trip in which the kidnapping and rape supposedly took place. Her and her mother later claimed she was being held against her will and was raped multiple times on the trip. Eye witness testimony from the hotel maid said Silvia was moving about the premises freely without being accompanied by Michael Whiteley. This was three blocks from the Cedar City Police Station. Another eye witness, former principal of the local school, was introduced by Michael to Silvia at the gas station. His comments were that “she didn’t look like she was being held against her will.” Years later, after Michael had been incarcerated for five years, he contacted the Cedar City Police Department to inquire about January 15 and 16, 1991 to see if there were any calls made to them regarding a rape or kidnapping. There was no record of Silvia M. Canido. Wouldn’t a person being held against their will make contact with the police or raise some kind of red flag?

Another Bonniville County civil protection order was issued: Number 39833, a number forever etched in the mind of Michael Whiteley. This is the document used to arrest Mike when the couple returned to Idaho Falls. He was never served and didn’t know the protection order existed until he had already been incarcerated for ten years.

The police responded to a disturbance at Silvia’s home on January 16. Raquel had already struck Michael several times with a baseball bat. When the now infamous Jared Fuhriman arrived on the scene, a bishop from the Church was holding the bat as Raquel was in Mike’s face. On the way over to the scene Fuhriman called in to see if the protection order was valid. He got confirmation but didn’t have the document. A clerical error was made during the creation of the 39833 protection order. Issued November 8, 1990, it was to automatically terminate at 11:59 on February 6, 1990. Legally, it was not in effect at the time of the arrest on January 16, 1991.

In testimony by Fuhriman, he claimed there was no way he could have arrested Whiteley if the civil protection order was not in effect. Another charge had to be brought to keep Michael in jail. How about rape and kidnapping? Michael was to take the place of the real criminal, Rick Hansen. This was the test for corruption in Bonniville County for Jared Fuhriman. Ten years later he would use the same tactics to help convict Chris Tapp for the murder of Angie Dodge. Twenty years after Tapp’s conviction, it was overturned and the man walked free with $11.7 million in his pocket from the City of Idaho Falls.

Fuhriman interviewed Canido, with her mother present. Silvia claimed Whiteley kidnapped and raped her three times on the trip and once in Idaho on January 16 during the return trip. There is no record of a medical examination and no evidence of an exam was presented at the trial.

In a recorded phone call presented at Whiteley’s trial between Silvia and her mother, Gonzales is heard threatening her with taking her children away and ex communication from the LDS Church and saying she would “put Whiteley in jail” over the relationship.

In 2018 a certified statement was given by Joyce Williams, a woman who had been in a relationship with Sylvia Canido’s fourth husband, John Commander. Canido told both her and Commander that Jared Fuhriman, a bishop in the LDS Church, instructed her to lie about the rape or she would be ex communicated.

Once in custody, the arresting officer, the now notorious Jared Fuhriman, used the same tactics he would employ in the Chris Tapp case. Michael asked for an attorney and was told by Fuhriman that it was “too early” to get one but if he cooperated things would work out much better. Fuhriman produced a “voluntary” statement which Whiteley refused to sign. Fuhriman forged Whiteley’s signature and then lied about it at the pre-trial hearing. After this willful act of perjury he was confronted with the document and changed his initial testimony. Judge Marvin Smith accepted his altered version, and even commended him for his “demeanor and credibility.”

Offered a deal to spend four months in a rehabilitation facility if he plead guilty to 2nd degree kidnapping, Whiteley told Bonneville County Judge Marvin Smith that, “I have to plead not guilty Your Honor. I had or originally intended to plead the other way, but now that I sit here and run it through my heart and my mind, I don’t feel, your honor, that it is right to lie.” This deal would have avoided prison altogether. If Whiteley would have committed such crimes, wouldn’t he jump at the chance to accept the deal? Also keep in mind that this is the same Judge Smith who handed down his version of a life sentence to Whiteley but had been willing to accept a four month rehabilitation.

The trial didn’t go well for Whiteley, to say the least. Poor representation and a jury that wanted to go home rather than deliberate over the weekend convicted Whiteley in just two hours. No physical evidence was ever produced. Jurors complained of not being able to understand Canido nor the recordings that were played.

In 1997, six years after his conviction, Whiteley convinced District Judge Brent Moss to a post-conviction hearing. Appellate counsel John Radin presented evidence not brought forward at the initial trial along with testimony from several witnesses who had contact with Whiteley and Canido. One was Beaver High School principal Melvin Oscborn who said Sylvia didn’t give the impression of a hostage. Another was Pastor Stoneman from Idaho Falls who observed a happy, loving couple. Moss also accepted a transcription of a recording between Silvia and her mother Raquel. Sylvia told her mother that she fully intended to marry Michael. Her mother responded by telling her Whiteley was a rapist and threatened to have her children taken away and deported. At the post-trial hearing she was asked to repeat her initial trial testimony. She took the the Fifth Amendment seventy-one times.

These facts and others caused Judge Moss to issue an order setting aside Whiteley’s conviction and ordering a new trial. The Idaho Supreme Court overturned Judge Moss’ order.

When asked about the new events, Jared Fuhriman was outraged that someone he had helped put away was given opportunity for exoneration. No doubt he was relieved that the order was overturned. Moss wrote a letter to the Idaho State Judicial Counsel expressing his concern over the ruling in light of Canido’s evasiveness in answering questions during the post-conviction hearing. He wrote, “I was left with an uneasy feeling that justice was not served by the original verdict and that a new trial is appropriate. I am of the same opinion today.” These words would resound for years in the mind of Michael Whiteley, who continues to fight for a new trial. Although Judge Moss said in 1997 that Silvia Canido hadn’t recanted her trial testimony, two years later she would. In 1999 she wrote two recant letters pointing to her mother and the “people from her church” for telling her to lie about the rape and kidnapping to help put Michael Whiteley in prison. She also tells of a kidnapping and rape, not by Michael Whiteley, but by officer Rick Hansen of the Idaho Falls Police Department as leverage to keep her out of jail because of a knife she pulled on Michael’s son Jay. She laments the damage she has inflicted on Michael and his family by her actions and the actions of others influencing her.

Michael Whiteley was sentenced to twelve years fixed to life on count one and twelve years fixed to twenty-five on count two on little more than his ex-wife Silvia Canido’s testimony. Again, with no physical evidence presented and key eye witnesses never called, Mike was not even allowed to take the stand and tell his side of the story.

These facts and many others leave even the most casual observer stunned. Michael is continuing to reach out to any who will listen. He wasn’t given the death penalty, but it looks like that’s what it will be if he doesn’t get help. His latest trip to the doctor revealed his cancer has returned. 72 years old and worn from the path he’s been down, everything has been taken from him except his life. Some 11,600 plus days later, Michael Dwayne Whiteley still maintains his innocence.

Without your help Michael will die in prison. If you believe in justice and want to support his release, contact me at 208-376-7169 or russbedard@msn.com.

About Russ Bedard

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