From the April 2004 Idaho Observer:

Travesty of justice in Virgina

by Stephen Fox

A ghastly miscarriage of Justice has evidently occurred in Virginia; please allow me to remind your readers:

A woman, Diane Fleming, has recently been sentenced to 50 years in prison in Troy, Virginia. Her husband, Charles, died of “acute and chronic methanol poisoning,” according to the autopsy report. In a two day trial, the jury was persuaded that he was poisoned with methyl alcohol from the windshield washer fluid during festivities for their son's high school graduation; however, it was also admitted that the fluid discovered in the garage was unopened and contained exactly the amount of methanol supposed to be in an unopened and sealed bottle of windshield washer fluid.

That Charles was addicted to aspartame sweetened “diet” drinks, “all he ever drank,” which release cumulatively toxic levels of methanol into the bloodstream, was never considered at the trial. That aspartame becomes methanol and formaldehyde when ingested by all humans evidently was not part of the jury's deliberations. That it also precipitates diabetes and interacts with insulin, triggers lupus, birth defects, male sexual dysfunction - can trigger an irregular heart rhythm and interacts with all cardiac medication, damages the cardiac conduction system and causes sudden death., as well as behavioral problems, obesity, ADD, ADHD, depletes serotonin triggering such things as bipolar, suicidal tendencies, mood swings, insomnia, etc. and triggers memory loss and confusion and lack of concentration -- was not part of the jury's deliberations.

Charles' death occurred in 2000; the trial was in 2002 in Richmond; he had been drinking 10 diet beverages a day, as well as taking a prescription drug, Metrex, had been playing basketball, came home, announced that he was ill, then declined his wife's request to call 911. After he died, his wife called the police, gave them the bottles of Gatorade; she took a lie detector test and the police told her that she answered truthfully. The results were not admissible. Very little of the Prosecution's flawed logic in this two-day trial was effectively questioned by her lawyer.

Virginia State Medical Examiner Dr. Marcella Fierro, M.D., apparently chose to reject peer-reviewed documents, affidavits, and articles on methanol toxicity, yet several had indeed been sent to her and handed to her, particularly that of Dr. H.J. Roberts, M.D. He is the author of a 1038 page medical text, ASPARTAME DISEASE; AN IGNORED EPIDEMIC, and he has treated victims of aspartame for 20 years; his data base contains case histories of 1,200 aspartame reactions.

This could be one of the ultimate horrors of miscarried justice in America: An innocent woman is now imprisoned because her husband poisoned himself with a recognized neurotoxic additive which a phalanx of MDs, neurotoxicologists and clinicians have thus identified. Her chances for post-conviction relief were then diminished because the chief medical examiner stated, “There is no legitimate scientific basis to conclude that aspartame ingestion played any role in Chuck's methanol poisoning.”

The late Morgan Raiford, MD, an important methanol toxicity specialist who owned the Atlanta Eye Hospital, wrote in 1986: “Aspartame should be withdrawn from the market place until the toxic methyl alcohol radical has been eliminated. Methyl alcohol has no place in a product to be allowed to be produced by any manufacturer for human use.”

Does Dr. Fierro have some reason for not consulting with Dr. Roberts and preventing published science and affidavits to be part of the record? Perhaps they would open up lawsuits regarding aspartame and the fact that its toxicity would be proven and thus become prima facie evidence in later cases? Can Dr. Fierro give some other reason to you and your readers?

The life of an innocent woman is hanging in the balance. Wouldn't it be appropriate for to precisely determine the manufacturer of the methanol found in Charles' tissues?

This entire matter should be brought by your reporters with their questions, and by your readers with their letters, to the attention of the Attorney General, the Virginia Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Real Justice remains possible in Virginia, not just the amount of Justice that Diane Fleming can afford.

For more information, your reporters and readers could examine these websites:


Note: We have just learned that this is not the first time Dr. Fierro's testimony has kept an innocent woman behind bars. Beverly Monroe was recently released after spending seven years in prison when it was determined her conviction was based on forensic untruths from the state of Virginia's expert witness -- Dr. Fierro.

See petition below


Petition to release Diane Fleming

Virginia Governor Mark Warner
State Capitol, 3rd Floor
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Attorney General Jerry Kilgore
900 E. Main St.
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Governor Warner:

Date _____________________________________________

We, the undersigned, formally request your intercession in a great miscarriage of justice.

In 2002, the state of Virginia convicted Diane Fleming for the murder of her husband, Charles Fleming.

Charles drank 8 to 10 aspartame-containing diet beverages daily, and also consumed a variety of prescription and non-prescription drugs, and other aspartame-containing products like Metrex and Equal. Aspartame is 10 percent methanol and contributes to the release of free methanol in the body. The night before he became extremely ill, Charles mixed aspartame-containing Gatorade with the aspartame-containing product Creatine. Charles lapsed into a coma and died on the third day. The autopsy report shows the cause of Charles' death was acute and chronic methanol poisoning -- a finding consistent with his pattern of long-term aspartame consumption. The state, however, found Diane guilty of poisoning her husband -- with an unopened gallon of methanol-containing windshield washer fluid. Four physicians have provided the court with affidavits stating Fleming died from acute and chronic methanol poisoning from long-term consumption of aspartame.

The affidavits resulted in a meeting between Fleming's attorney and Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Marcella Fierro March 2, 2004. Without considering the reports submitted to her in advance of the meeting and without consulting with world renowned toxicologist and aspartame toxicity expert Dr. H.J. Roberts, one of the affiants in this case, Dr. Fierro told Diane's attorney that no evidence linking chronic methanol toxicity to aspartame consumption exists in the medical literature. Dr. Fierro's position in this case is simply incorrect.

We ask that you commission a review of Charles' death by impartial coroners, toxicologists and jurists who have access to the published medical literature necessary to make an informed recommendation in this case. We are confident that such a review will reveal Diane Fleming's innocence. We then pray you will exercise your executive authority to grant clemency to Diane in this case and order her immediate release from prison.

Mission Possible of Duluth, Georgia, is leading the effort to commute Diane's sentence. Mission Possible is willing to accommodate your office in any way to achieve a just end to this woman's nightmare. Please contact Mission Possible Director Betty Martini with any questions or concerns arising from the contents of this respectfully-submitted petition.




Petition to release Diane Fleming

Please copy and forward to: Mission Possible, 9270 River Club Pkwy., Duluth, GA 30097


INSTRUCTIONS FOR PETITION ABOVE: Diane Fleming was sentenced to serve 50 years in prison as a cover for what really murdered her husband: Acute and chronic methanol poisoning from long-term consumption of aspartame. She is innocent of the crime for which she is currently imprisoned. We believe innocent people should not be in prison.

1. Copy and sign the petition above (make additional copies for others).

2. Send signed original copy to Virginia governor; copy to Virginia State attorney general (addresses indicated at top of petition).

3. Send copy of the original to Mission Possible (address indicated at bottom of petition).

(An electronic version of this petition is also available at

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