Readers who have read our last issue will remember the tragic story of Diane Fleming who is currently serving a life sentence in a US jail for a crime she did not commit. For those who are reading our magazine for the first time, Diane’s husband, Chuck Fleming, unwittingly consumed soft drinks that contained aspartame. The autopsy report concluded that Chuck had died of methanol poisoning. The prosecutor for the State of Virginia accused his wife, Diane, of poisoning him with windscreen washer fluid, on the basis of only slim circumstantial evidence.
The trial was most unusual, taking only two days to convict her with many questions left unanswered and the evidence in Diane’s defence was poorly presented to the jury.
In an effort to gain public support for Diane’s release, Namaste Magazine is publishing another article about Diane which is a personal account written by Diane’s close and loyal friend Betty Rickmond. Betty has crucial details of the events surrounding this travesty of justice. By the Namaste Team
By Betty P. Rickmond
When I finished reading John Grisham’s “The Innocent Man” and I was so enlightened; not only because it was a true story; it makes us all aware of what possibly goes on “behind the scenes” in our juridical system! We are all lead to believe that our juridical system is to be trusted and accepted! In the last five years I have begun to have doubts!
This book really “hits home” because a dear friend and fellow parishioner of mine/ours sits in Fluvanna Correctional Center, Troy, VA as I type; found guilty of first degree murder, accused of adulteration of her husband’s Gatorade with methanol, supposedly with “windshield washer fluid”; the only thing they (the detectives) found in her home that had any traces of methanol in it; and the seal on the bottle had not been broken and the “full” bottle of windshield washer fluid was still on the garage shelf.
Let me begin from Sunday, June 11, 2000:
This typical Sunday morning, Diane Fleming, her 18 year old son, Jeff, 7 year old daughter, Meagan, left home together to attend Sunday School and Sunday School Appreciation Service. Her husband, Charles (Chuck) and older son, Chuckie, age 24 arrived later for the 11 AM service.
After the service, Diane, Chuck, Jeff and Meagan proceeded to the local Costco to purchase a muscle enhancing product called “Creatine” because Chuck wanted to add this substance to his “body building” regime he had begun 6 months earlier. He was also experimenting with the “Ripped Fuel” (containing ephedra) and he took a number of prescriptions for various ailments. Also, Chuck Fleming drank 8 to 10 diet drinks, daily, his main source of liquids; this included mixing his Bourbon whiskey drinks nightly with diet Sprite. Many, including me/we were not aware of the dangers of ingesting aspartame (the sweetener in the diet drinks). Coke Company even admits that aspartame when exposed to 86 deg. or higher breaks down into methanol. Diane purchased diet Cokes by the cases to be stored in the garage because Chuck insisted the refrigerator be stocked each afternoon before he returned home from work.
Back to Sunday Afternoon
Costco did not sell the Creatine, so Diane went to the local GNC and purchased the Creatine. They did purchase a case of Gatorade at Costco because Chuck did not want to mix the Creatine with water (he seldom drank) or juice (he never drank). It is a MUST you consume copious amounts of water when ingesting Creatine! Creatine pulls the water from your body into your muscles, therefore enhancing your muscles. But, you MUST replenish that water in your system! Chuck Fleming did not!
When Diane returned home with the bottle of Creatine, she and Chuck mixed one bottle of the Gatorade with 1-1/2 heaping “tablespoon” of Creatine; the directions called for “teaspoon” but Chuck misread the abbreviations, therefore, the bottle/s had three times the recommended amount. Diane later realised the mistake and mentioned it to Chuck; his response was “more is better”! Chuck Fleming did not know, because it was his first time of ingesting Creatine, that he was ingesting what is called a “Creatine Blast”. Dr. Terjung, PhD, professor of physiology in biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia, sent me a document, which states “any signs of intoxication from Creatine would occur the first time of ingesting”.
Creatine enters the blood stream within 30 to 60 minutes, then begins its function.
I have researched and also discovered that many Creatines contain Aspartame, which I believe could be the reason for the small traces of methanol found in the Gatorade bottles because it was some time before testing was done for methanol after the bottles were confiscated by the detectives. The chemical name for Creatine is “methyl quanidine-acetic acid”. The chemical makeup for Creatine is: three amino acids – Arginine, Glycine and Methionine (CH3).
A publication from the “Pub Med”, National Library of Medicine, states “A number of N-methyl compounds, including several methylamines, “creatine”, sarcosine, choline and betaine, were readily fermented by enriched cultures yielding “methane” as a major product.
Included in Diane’s Habeas is an affidavit from, Joseph J. Saady, Ph D, Chief Forensic Toxicologist, stating he performed “certain tests” on the Gatorade bottles for dye and soap elements of windshield washer fluid. It states, “As a result, I could not definitely determine whether any amount of windshield washer colorant was present in the Gatorade mixture and, therefore, did not issue a Certificate of Analysis”. He notified Investigator, Elizabeth Baker, that he would not be issuing a report because no definite conclusions could be reached from the tests.
THESE TESTS, NOR THE NOTIFICATION TO ELIZABETH BAKER WERE NEVER MADE AVAILABLE TO DIANE’S ATTORNEY, THEREFORE, NEVER MENTIONED AT DIANE’S TRIAL FOR THE JURY TO HEAR AND, THE TESTS WERE PERFORMED TWO MONTHS OR MORE BEFORE HER TRIAL!!
By law, the prosecution MUST divulge any “exculpatory” evidence they have to the defense before trial. Failure to do so is called a “Brady Violation” and is grounds for a reversal on appeal.
A very respected toxicologist in LA is adamant that a test “NFT1” could detect the source of the small traces of methanol that were in the Gatorade bottles. Investigator, “Elizabeth Baker” at the police department in Chesterfield County said she would not release the bottles. What! How can she make that decision?
SIGNS OF NAUSEA
Back to the Fleming home that Sunday afternoon: Chuck, after tasting the Creatine in the warm Gatorade, decided to put it in the refrigerator until he returned home from his regular games of basketball, outside in the hot sunshine. He drank that first bottle of Gatorade/Creatine, worked in his garage, ate only ice cream for dinner and later brought in FOUR more bottles of Gatorade from the garage for Diane and him to mix for his consumption the next day at work. He, after they finished the task, retired early, saying he was tired. The next morning he felt ill, but went to work, taking with him the bottles of Gatorade/Creatine.
Diane was taking her little girl to school and passed Chuck returning home, she thought, to get his briefcase, he had left in the car. When she arrived back home, he was on the sofa, showing signs of nausea. She immediately asked him if he wanted to go to a doctor and he replied, “It’s probably just a flu bug or something; I’ll be O K in awhile.” After some time, he finally allowed Diane to call a doctor, who called in a prescription. By late afternoon his condition worsened, so finally she convinced him to let her call 911. He was rushed to hospital, diagnosed with methanol poisoning, lapsed into a coma, lingered for 2 more days until life support was disconnected.
The doctor advised Diane that Chuck had methanol poisoning and she should get the police involved.
Diane called a friend, who was a policeman, and he helped her contact the police.
The same afternoon her husband died, the detectives came to her home, looking for anything containing methanol and took the “unopened” gallon of windshield washer fluid that Diane pointed to on the shelf in the garage and the medications Chuck was taking. Diane, upon request from the doctor, had taken to the hospital, the bottle of Creatine, his Bourbon and whiskey bottles, and the water bottle he had taken to play basketball. She also told the detectives about the bottles he had taken to work and reached in her refrigerator and took a Gatorade bottle from the shelf and handed it to the detective.
The detectives also found a discarded Gatorade bottle in the garage; the bottle Diane is certain Chuck had drunk his first Creatine/Gatorade from; but because the bottle had no traces of methanol and only had Chuckie’s (son) fingerprints, they (detectives) disregarded it.
One “fact” sheet (I have hundreds in my possession) states, “Creatine is not stable in “aqueous” solution due to an intramolecular cyclisation”.
Diane’s oldest son, Chuckie, returned home that Sunday evening from work shortly after Chuck had retired. When he was first questioned by the detective on June 28, 2000 Chuckie stated, “I remember that night when I came home I was looking in the pantry for something. There was this container. In it was the Creatine. And I asked I didn’t know what that was. And asked Mom what’s this for. And Mom’s like you don’t want to take that. It’s a formula for muscle builders.”
When the prosecuting attorney, Davenport, questioned Chuckie (page 85 of Transcript)
“Did you see her in the kitchen?” Chuckie answered “Yes”. Davenport asked “And can you tell the ladies and gentlemen what she was doing?” Chuckie: “Well, she had some bottles, just a few bottles of Gatorade on the counter and this stuff called Creatine and I asked her what that was for and she said Chuck was taking that for – it was some kind of exercise supplement. I’m not sure what, but she said that it was a muscle building drink and said I didn’t need to be drinking it.”
Later on page ‘87’ of transcript Davenport asked:
“Now the bottles of Gatorade that you saw your mother “MIXING” with Creatine when you came home from the Food Lion about 9:30 on Sunday, did you ever touch the bottles?” Again, he (Davenport) repeated during his closing arguments on page 362 of transcript, “ Chuckie said when he came home from work, his stepfather was in the bedroom and she was “MIXING” Creatine and Gatorade in the kitchen.”
REFER BACK TO PAGE 85: CHUCKIE NEVER TESTIFIED HE SAW HIS MOTHER “MIXING” CREATINE IN THE GATORADE AND THE FIRST TIME HE WAS QUESTIONED, BEFORE HE WAS GIVEN A POLYGRAPH, HE TOLD THE DETECTIVE THE CREATINE WAS IN THE PANTRY WHEN HE CAME HOME FROM WORK. SO, DIANE AND CHUCK HAD FINISHED MIXING THE CREATINE IN THE GATORADE BECAUSE IT WAS ON THE SHELF IN THE PANTRY!
THREE PANEL JUDGES DENIED HER APPEAL
This was one of the reasons the “Single Reviewer Judge” denied her first appeal and since then all other appeals have been denied. After discovering this misquote, I called Diane’s attorney, Craig Cooley, and called it to his attention. He wrote a supplement to the appeal “before” the “three panel judges” ruled, but to no avail, the three panel judges denied her appeal. In an affidavit Chuckie wrote, that was notarised on March 8, 2005, he (Chuckie) writes, “I never testified at trial that I saw my mother, Diane Fleming, “mixing” the contents of any Gatorade bottles. In fact, I do not recall seeing my mother ever touching the Gatorade bottles.” It is so hard to understand how many times, just a simple technicality can justify a mistrial or retrial and something this crucial is completely ignored!
Diane’s youngest son, Jeff, was graduating from high school the Thursday evening following the death of his stepfather on Wednesday. Diane’s parents left Missouri that Monday, in route to Diane’s home to attend her son’s (Jeff) graduation Thursday evening (the day after Chuck died). How could “anyone” believe Diane would choose that day, Sunday, to kill her husband?!
Later, Diane and her sons agreed to polygraphs. Diane was told she passed with “flying colours” as did Jeff, but was told Chuckie’s was questionable. A page from the “police report” in Diane’s Habeas confirms her results. Knowing this, and believing the detectives were targeting Chuckie; Diane knows now, in retrospect, she did a stupid thing; believing her son was innocent, she removed the hard drive from the “family” computer that contained some horror sites he frequently visited. In her mind, she believed if the detectives saw these sites he visited, they would think Chuckie was weird. Chuckie writes in his Affidavit that was notarised March 8, 2005 for Diane’s Habeas “The name of the website that my mother knew I visited was ‘Mortado’s Page of Filth’. If I had been asked at trial I would have stated that the primary focus of the website was the discussion of horror movies.”
SEARCHES FOR METHANOL POISONING
Special agent, Michael P. Monroe, from the Virginia State Police, testified he examined Charles (Chuck) Fleming’s computer and determined on three occasions that visits were made to the Internet sites related to methanol poisoning on May 15, 2000. Mr. Monroe testified this computer was in his possession from July 20, 2000 until he completed his review on August 20, 2000. Diane had changed out the hard drive from this computer, as stated in above paragraph, early July, 2000; so she (Diane) questions; “How could anything from May, 2000 show up on a hard drive that was placed in the computer in early July, 2000?” She readily admitted she did searches for methanol poisoning the week of June 11th, 2000 after the doctor informed her of her husband’s diagnosis.
Thirteen months after Chuck’s death, Diane was arrested for the murder of her husband. She was granted bail until her trial in 2002.
Keep in mind, none of the above information was made available, prior to Diane’s trial, regarding the Aspartame, Creatine, Ephedra, etc. because at that time, none of us was aware of the dangerous side-effects of all of the above; either one or a combination of could be the culprit! Many hours and much research have gone into the information provided. This is why I/we hope and pray she will be granted an evidentiary hearing or “A Writ of Innocence” hearing.
A professor of law at VCU, Mason Byrd, took an interest in Diane’s case, wrote her Habeas, which was argued by her Habeas Attorney, David Hargett. Mr. Hargett argued 22 issues before the same Judge Cleo Powell, Chesterfield Circuit Court, who presided over Diane’s trial in February, 2002. She denied each and every one of the 22 issues. I have a hard time understanding why the judge who sentenced you would be the one to hear your Habeas. Some of Diane’s staunch supporters who were present at Diane’s Habeas Hearing (I was out of town) said they thought that Judge Powell was going to fall asleep during the hearing!
Some very qualified doctors, toxicologists, a former judge and others have written affidavits and declared, after reviewing Chuck Fleming’s autopsy, that he died from aspartame poisoning. I have a number of these notarised affidavits in my possession.
It is so hard to convince, even her attorneys, that “something” not “someone” could be responsible for Chuck’s death!!
If anyone researches “Aspartame Poisoning” and “Creatine”, he/she will be amazed at the side effects either of these substances can cause. Creatine’s chemical make-up is enough to make me question what actually broke down in the Gatorade bottles to produce the traces of methanol.
A Certificate of Alcohol/Drug Analysis dated June 13, 2000, from the Medical College of Virginia Hospital of Virginia Commonwealth University signed by a Carl H. Wolf, II, M. S., actually states that on the bottle of Phosphagen Creatine (the bottle Diane took to the hospital upon the request of the doctor) “Contents were not tested for methanol, due to the fact that the contents were in powder form and thus could not contain methanol”. Another Certificate of Analysis was issued by the Division of Forensic Science, dated July 29, 2002, AFTER her conviction, on the same bottle of Phosphagen Creatine. The results: “methanol not detected”!
Another “fact” sheet from the “Methanol Institute” states “A single can of diet soda containing 200 milligrams aspartame, would produce 20 milligrams of methanol in the body”. So, if a person drank an average of 8 to 10 diet drinks daily, the consumption of methanol from aspartame would be 160 to 200 milligrams of methanol “daily”; and if that person ingested other products containing aspartame such as Equal, NutraSweet, Spoonful, low-fat cookies, Jell-O, pudding, ice cream, and numerous others, the milligrams of methanol ingested would be even more!
ASPARTAME’S SAFETY IS FLAWED AND FULL OF LIES
Wendell W. Whitman, M. Div., N.D. writes:
“When ingested, aspartame breaks down into three amino acids as well as methanol, a poisonous alcohol. The continuing digestive process than converts this methanol into formaldehyde”.
In 1974, neuroscience researcher, Dr. John Olney, from the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri and consumer attorney, James Turner, investigated the research performed by S. D. Searle on aspartame and concluded it was flawed. These two men were instrumental in influencing the FDA to withhold its approval of aspartame from August to December of 1974. However, Searle Drugs vigorously lobbied Federal and Congressional Officials to move aspartame to the market despite substantial evidence of the chemical’s detrimental side effects. The FDA proclaimed in 1984 that “no evidence has been established that aspartame’s methanol by-product ever reached toxic levels,” saying, “Many fruit juices contain higher levels of the natural compound”. However, the Medical World News in 1978 reported that the methanol content of aspartame is more than “1000” times greater than most foods under FDA’s control. Aspartame is composed of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Dr. James Baich in his book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, places aspartame in the category of a “chemical poison”. Aspartame has been declared by some to be the most dangerous food additive on the market. When ingested, aspartame breaks down into three amino acids as well as methanol, a poisonous alcohol. The continuing digestive process then converts this methanol into formaldehyde. People who ingest aspartame should perhaps see their mortician and ask for an embalming discount since they will already be partially embalmed with formaldehyde when they die. When aspartame is heated above 86 degrees Fahrenheit, free methanol is created. This occurs when aspartame is improperly stored or heated in a food product such as Jell-O.”
In closing, I would like to repeat what I have said and written many times during the last 4 ½ years:
SO MANY DOCTORS, TOXICOLOGISTS, PROFESSORS, AND VICTIMS;
THEY CAN’T ALL BE WRONG!!!
I quote a paragraph from another “best seller” written by John Grisham: “The jury is all important. Guilt versus innocence. Freedom versus prison. Life versus death. All to be determined by the jury. It’s a fragile system, this trusting of lives to twelve average, ordinary people who do not understand the law and are intimidated by the process.”
I am so obsessed with helping prove Diane’s innocence. I cannot sit by and watch a beautiful, kind, intelligent, loving mother of three (especially her now is daughter 13) sit in prison for 25 more years. She was sentenced to 30 + 20 years to run concurrently.
Dying For A Diet Coke? By Chris Wheeler, New Zealand october 2007. Contains the damning Statement by Louis J. Elsas, II, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, before the USA Senate Committee of Labor and Human Resources on the subject “Nutrasweet: Health and safety concerns”, November 3, 1987.
This is the FDA Audit which proves Searle How they faked the lab tests and tried to deceive the FDA.
This document shows corporate jockeying to get a product on the market.
The Congressional Record on aspartame.
Congressional Record, Dr. Richard Wurtman, Aspartame
Letter from Senator Howard Metzenbaum on United States Senate Stationary (Committee on the Budget) dated February 3, 1986 to Orrin Hatch who was the Chairman of the Labor and Human Resources Committee.
Letter from Senator Howard Metzenbaum of the Senate Committe on Labor and Human Resources to Senator Orrin Hatch, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources
February 25, 1986.
“I am at a loss to comprehend the thrust of your recent letters on my request for hearings on the safety concerns raised in the scientific community regarding NutraSweet…” (asapartame)
The FDA Board of Inquiry Report that revoked Searle’s petition for aspartame approval.
SC-18862, 52 week Oral toxicity Study in Infant Monkeys.
S. Hrg. 100-567 “Nutrasweet” – health and safety concerns Hearing Before The Committee On Labor And Human Resources United States Senate, Hundredth Congress First Session On Examining The Health And Safety Concerns Of Nutrasweet (Aspartame) November 3, 1987.
Aspartame interacts with all drugs and vaccines Case histories of aspartame adverse-events.
Athlete Alert on Sudden Cardiac Death by Russell Blaylock, MD
Mission Possible International aspartame news.
Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, 1000, page medical text by Dr H.J. Roberts MD
Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills
Dr. Blaylock discusses the toxic effects of a number of food additives, including MSG (monosodium glutamate), aspartame and L-cystein.
The Secret Life of Bill Clinton.
by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. Cited
This book reports Dr. Fierro’s role in the Vince Foster affair:
Regnery Publishing 1997, ISBN 0-89526-408-0
(See previous issue of Namaste Magazine, Dr Fierro is involved in Diane’s case)
The Strange Death of Vincent Foster:
An Investigation by Christopher Ruddy. Free Press, Simon & Schuster, 1997. ISBN 0-684-83837-0
Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World
To purchase these films, please see inside back cover of this magazine for details.
An archival site on aspartame with many articles and official documents that prove aspartame is illegaly on the market.
June 25, 2007
Related Links: Ramazzini Aspartame Study
Centre for Science in the Public Iinterest
Aspartame Letter to FDA
Aspartame Letter to Food Products Association
“Because aspartame is so widely consumed, it is urgent that the FDA evaluate whether aspartame still poses a ‘reasonable certainty of no harm,’ the standard used for gauging the safety of food additives,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “But consumers, particularly parents, shouldn’t wait for the FDA to act. People shouldn’t panic, but they should stop buying beverages and foods containing aspartame…
…As a result of the new study, for the first time CSPI downgraded aspartame on its online Chemical Cuisine directory from a “use caution” rating to “everyone should avoid.” CSPI also urges everyone to avoid the artificial sweeteners acesulfame potassium and saccharin…”
A Request to the Public and the Media
We ask you to tell the truth, if you dare, and stop the cover-up concerning the poison marketed as aspartame.
It is has been yet another SAD SAD week for truth and journalism. On the 23rd October 2007, the Daily Mail in the UK did a U-TURN and published incorrect information regarding aspartame! WHY we must ask? In view of the undeniable mountain of evidence against aspartame, it is beyond our comprehension how the Daily Mail could print such sludge. If this were not such a serious matter, one would find what they have printed laughable. However, it can never ERASE the truth. The perpetrators of aspartame have infinite support for their heinous crimes against the public and continually present false information through the media. This stance is maintained by beings that are within the corridors of power.
Read John Swintons address to the Free Press from 1880 in News Not In The News
There is no longer an online petition website for Diane because it was ineffective. Names of petioners were collected sometime ago and given to the Prison Governor, who to date has made no response. If you can think of anyway to help Diane, we implore you to do so. Follow the links in this article, do whatever additional research you feel is necessary and help us to obtain a release for Diane.
Dr. Betty Martini, Founder, Mission Possible Int.,
Tel: (1)770 242 2599
If you would like to help/write to Diane, her address is:
Mrs. Diane Fleming, #311655
FCCW 8D 209A, Box 1000, Troy, Virginia 22974. USA.
You can only send a maximum of 5 pages to Diane.
(Cost 39c stamp in the USA)
Donations would be most gratefully received by Money Order and International Money Order. To help with Diane’s legal defense, please send donations to:
Diane Fleming C/O David Hargett,
Attorney 11545 Nuckols Road, Suite C, Glen Allen,
Virginia 23059, USA.
Betty Rickmond can been contacted by