“There’s no closure or answers,” Porter said. "I can’t get to the answer as to why I was made to do 15 years for a murder they knew or should of known I didn’t do.”
In 1998, Porter was convicted of killing Tyrone Camp, a 35-year-old Louisville truck driver, on Dec. 27, 1996.
Porter was sentenced to 60 years in prison. He served 15 years before untested DNA evidence exonerated him in 2011.
...See the rest of this story here
THE VIRGINIA Senate has passed legislation that would transform all law enforcement agencies in the commonwealth into secret police, quite literally, a dangerous step in the direction of unaccountable and non-transparent government. No other state has gone as far as the Senate bill would take Virginia into the realm of secrecy where it concerns state and local police...See the rest of this story here..
Lewis “Jim” Fogle was exonerated and released last year after 34 years in prison when DNA testing proved he was not the perpetrator of the crime for which he was sentenced to life without parole. According to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, he is the longest serving exoneree in Pennsylvania and the fourth longest serving in the country. He spent more than half his life in prison based on the fabricated testimonies of jailhouse informants...See the rest of this story here.
Albert Woodfox speaks after 43 years in solitary confinement: 'I would not let them drive me insane'
In 1951, scientists at McGill University conducted an experiment in which they subjected male graduates to solitary confinement in a simulated prison cell, to see how they would cope with prolonged isolation...See the rest of this story here
EW YORK—There were only a few hours before Christmas was over. Nicole Hamilton sped along the familiar barren highway to get home in time to open presents with her sons before midnight. She had spent the day visiting her husband in prison—a husband whom most of her family and friends did not know she had.
They had fallen in love under inauspicious circumstances.
Every weekend—for 18 years...See the rest of this story here..
BELLFONTE, PA (WPMT) In July 1979, James Hugney Sr. was convicted after a jury trial in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County of a notorious arson-murder then called by the media “the Burning Bed Case.” The case was called the “Burning Bed” because the prosecution’s theory of the case was that Hugney in a fit of anger set his house on fire by pouring flammable liquid around the bed of his then 16-year old son: his namesake James Hugney, Jr while his son slept in the bed. His house was gutted by the fire. Five days after the fire, his son died as a complication of his burns where he had 3rd degree burns over 98% of his body...See the rest of this story here
While a host of suppliers have found prisons and jails to be a unique niche, perhaps none has adapted to the new marketplace as masterfully as Bob Barker Industries. Founded in the 1970s and now based in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, Bob Barker (no connection to the former TV game show host) produces a wide range of goods for prisoners and prison staff....See the rest of this story here
Taxpayers have shelled out nearly $25 million for wrongful convictions obtained and upheld under former district attorney Charles Hynes, and the money could keep flowing as his replacement continues to reinvestigate questionable cases.
The city has paid out the cash as part of pre-litigation settlements to people who spent decades in prison only to have their convictions overturned during the past two years...See the rest of this story here
Innocent people can be questioned by police in such a way that they end up convincing themselves that they’ve committed a crime. And this belief can be so strong, they can sometimes follow that belief up with a false confession.
Early last year, a team of lawyers and statisticians published a paper stating that 4.1 percent of criminal defendants who are sentenced to death in the US are falsely convicted...See the rest of this story here
SEATTLE — A Seattle man who was wrongfully imprisoned for a decade was compensated with nearly $500,000 on Friday.
King County Superior Court Judge Laura Middaugh signed the order awarding the money to Brandon Redtailhawk Olebar, closing another chapter of his exoneration.
Olebar, 31, was imprisoned after a group of people broke into the home of his sister's boyfriend..See the rest of this story here
Surveillance video at an Ohio Walmart shows the moment police fired upon and killed a man who was carrying an air rifle sold at the store.
The recently released video appears to show 22-year-old John Crawford III being fired upon just seconds after police encounter him.
The August 5 incident triggered protests from residents and family members demanding the video be released. ..See the rest of this story here
ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- It was roughly two hours into the forum on Tuesday night, hosted in a college auditorium by local hip-hop station HOT 104.1, when Cary Ball Sr. decided he had heard enough.
Ball, a large man wearing a plain white T-shirt, gray fitted baseball cap and cargo shorts, was here to attend a discussion about the issues raised in the wake of the death of an unarmed, black 18-year-old in the nearby suburb of Ferguson earlier this month...See the rest of the story here
SEATTLE — Washington's Supreme Court on Thursday made it easier for convicts to obtain DNA testing that could prove their innocence.
In a 6-3 ruling, the justices said that in deciding whether to grant such testing, courts must presume that the results of testing would be favorable to the convict — significantly tipping the calculation in the convict's favor...See the rest of this story here
IBERIA PARISH, LA — Authorities claim that a man committed suicide via gunshot while handcuffed and unattended in the back of a police cruiser. However, an autopsy report states that the man — who had his handcuffed behind his back, and was already searched for weapons — was shot in the chest...See the rest of the story here
The New York Times ran into a firestorm of criticism in the Twitter-sphere Monday for a profile of slain Missouri teenager Michael Brown that described him as "no angel" for a past that included drug and alcohol use and an alleged shoplifting incident.
The National Journal reported that about 1,700 — and counting — tweets..See the rest of this story here
WASHINGTON — Jolted by images of protesters clashing with heavily armed police officers in Missouri, President Obama has ordered a comprehensive review of the government’s decade-old strategy of outfitting local police departments with military-grade body armor, mine-resistant trucks, silencers and automatic rifles, senior officials say...See the rest of this story here
Police in Ottawa, Kansas shot and killed an 18 year old, unarmed teen Saturday night.
Ottawa police were called about 7:50 p.m. Saturday to Orscheln Farm and Home at 2008 S. Princeton St. on a report of a person reportedly armed with a gun.
However, the family of deceased 18-year-old Joseph Jennings, said there was no gun. Ottawa Police have not confirmed that Jennings was armed either..See the rest of this story here
He offered inconsistent confessions for his daughter’s murder, and the DNA of another man—a serial rapist—was found at the crime scene. But South Carolina was determined to convict. Now the Supreme Court can bring him justice.
In their conference Thursday morning, the justices of the United States Supreme Court will consider for review the case of a South Carolina man whose murder conviction and life sentence are among the least defensible you will ever see. ..See the rest of this story here
"You know what's in our minds and what we have to do."
This was the scene on the Yellowstone County Courthouse lawn on Saturday where supporters of Barry Beach gathered to show they've not given up hope on freeing Beach.
Barry's mother told the crowd the encouragement she gives to her son...See the rest of this story here
A new study suggests that Missouri public defenders are not spending enough time representing clients due to heavy caseloads.
“It demonstrates precisely what we have been asserting for years — that our caseloads are at crisis level, and despite the efforts of committed and skilled public defenders, many of our clients do not receive the level of representation that is guaranteed by the U.S. and Missouri constitutions,”..See the rest of this story here
This report discusses the use of prison bed occupancy guarantee clauses in prison privatization contracts and explores how bed occupancy guarantees undermine criminal justice policy and democratic, accountable government. The report sheds light on the for-profit private prison industry’s reliance on high prison populations, and how these occupancy guarantee provisions directly benefit its bottom line. ..See the rest of this story here
The United States has no database of police shootings. There is no standardized process by which officers log when they've discharged their weapons and why. There is no central infrastructure for handling that information and making it public. Researchers, confronted with the reality that there are over 17,000 law enforcement agencies in the country, aren't even sure how you'd go about setting one up. No one is keeping track of how many American citizens are shot by their police. This is crazy. This is governmental malpractice on a national scale. We'd like your help in changing this...See the rest of this story here
Last Thursday in New York City, thousands of people marched from 14th Street to Times Square to protest a very American brand of unhinged police power. The show of paramilitary suppression against mostly black folk the night before in Ferguson, Missouri, had pissed everybody off, from radicals to moderates, and the glowing embers of unrest needed only a breath of oxygen to spark their latent flame...See the rest of this story here
Daniel McGowan may have been the first person thrown in solitary confinement for writing a HuffPost blog. Now he'll be the first person to sue the Bureau of Prisons over it.
The environmental activist and former prisoner filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the prison system over an April 2013 incident in which U.S. Marshals threw him in a Brooklyn federal jail -- ironically, for criticizing earlier violations of his free speech...See the rest of this story here
Police Refuse To Release Walmart Footage of Officer Killing Unarmed African-American Holding Toy Gun
John Crawford III was an African-American man from Cincinnati, Ohio. On Tuesday, August 5, only four days before
police shot and killed unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Crawford got a ride up to the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, a city known for discriminatory practices. Last year, a judge ruled that the city could no longer stop busses from bringing downtown, predominantly African American residents to the Fairfield Commons Mall, right across the street from the Walmart on Pentagon Blvd.
Only a few weeks after New York City police killed the unarmed Eric Garner after placing him in a chokehold Beavercreek police shot and killed Crawford while he was on the phone in the Beavercreek Walmart, speaking with the mother of his child.
Crawford had picked up a toy rifle inside of the store, right off the shelves. The rifle was not one of the real firearms that the store sells, which are locked up and kept in a restricted area...See the rest of this story here
New DNA testing has prompted a judge to toss out a life sentence for the man convicted in the brutal 1996 murder of an elderly woman that shook a tiny northern Michigan town.
A Circuit Court judge this week ordered a new trial for 39-year-old Jamie Lee Peterson, whose case was profiled by NBC News in December. The order was based largely on new DNA testing that implicated another man in the crime.
Prosecutors must now decide whether to retry Peterson, who remains in prison, for the brutal October 1996 rape and slaying of Geraldine Montgomery, a 68-year-old former schoolteacher, in Kalkaska, Michigan, a town of about 2,200 residents in the northern reaches of the state...See the rest of this story here
NEW YORK – A Brooklyn man has won a $125,000 settlement over his arrest for recording a stop-and-frisk arrest on is cellphone.
The Daily News reports that Dick George was sitting in his car on June 14, 2012 when he saw police searching three youths.
George took out his cellphone and began taking pictures.
George told the youths to get the officers' badge numbers next time.
Court papers allege that the officers overheard his remark and violently pulled George out of his car..See the rest of this story here
NORTH AUGUSTA, SC — A woman was handcuffed and taken to jail when she was accused of using prohibited language in a grocery store.
Danielle Wolf, a 22-year-old mother of two, admits to getting frustrated while shopping on August 10th, 2014.
She admits that when her husband piled frozen pizzas on top of the loaves of bread in her shopping cart, she told him to “stop squishing the f***ing bread.”
But a busybody eyewitness thought the language was inappropriate. Wolf claims the female witness confronted her, and then phoned police.
“She’s like, ‘You used the F-word,’” Mrs. Wolf told WJBF.
North August Police Officer Travis A. Smith arrived at the Kroger grocery store and arrested the mom...See the rest of this story here
Chasing New Jersey first brought you the story of Shaneen Allen, the single mother from Philadelphia who didn't know it was illegal to bring the gun she was legally licensed to carry in Philly into New Jersey. When she got pulled over for a minor traffic offense she told the police about the gun and was arrested facing a mandatory three-year sentence.
After hearing about the case, most people thought there's no way she would do time for an honest mistake. Well, yesterday she was in court and she can now face a maximum sentence of 11.5 years in prison. Ten years for possession of a weapon and another 18 months for possession of the bullets...See the rest of this story here
Veda Ajamu, 46, a mother of three, has led a vigorous campaign for the release of her brother, Robert Shipp, sentenced to life without parole at age 20 for crack. Her change.org petition has earned more than 140,000 signatures of support. Veda explains what keeps the fire going in her quest for justice.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I live in Memphis, Tenn., where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Each day, I am reminded of his boldness and outspokenness about various inequalities.
Why do I fight for my brother, Robert Shipp?..See the rest of this story here
I woke up on the morning of July 31 at 4 am, feeling apprehensive, elated and ready to take on the world. For most of the 2.2 million people behind the fence in this country, it was just another day. For me, it was the day I would leave prison for the last time.
I was scheduled to report to R&D (the Receiving and Discharge department at FCC Forrest City) at 11 am to be processed out. Those last hours seemed to take forever. It was all coming to an end, after two decades and counting. I was finally going home—or to the halfway house at least. I felt the immensity of it in my gut...See the rest of this story here
A northwest Missouri man who spent more than 17 years in prison after he was twice convicted in his neighbor’s shooting death has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against a former special state prosecutor and others he says conspired to frame him for murder.
Mark Woodworth of Chillicothe filed suit in U.S. District Court in Kansas City on Monday, less than one month after a special prosecutor dismissed a first-degree murder charge against Woodworth, finding insufficient probable cause while opting against a third trial in Cathy Robertson’s 1990 death.
The lawsuit names former state prosecutor Kenny Hulshof..See the rest of this story here
By reducing (not eliminating) mandatory minimum drug sentences, the Smarter Sentencing Act would decrease the federal prison population to a manageable level and save $24 billion over the next 20 years, according to the Justice Department. Instead of building more prisons and hiring more guards to supervise more nonviolent drug offenders, the Justice Department could instead use the savings on smarter, more cost-effective law enforcement, victim services, or rehabilitative programs that reduce crime. And the Smarter Sentencing Act is no get-out-of-jail free card – under it, everyone still goes to prison. It is a modest but powerful solution to a problem that will only worsen if Congress does nothing...See the rest of this story here
A few years ago, a young black man named DeMarcus Sanders got pulled over in Waterloo, Iowa, because a cop thought he was playing music too loud. DeMarcus didn’t expect his car to be searched, or to get arrested when the officer discovered a small amount of marijuana. He also didn’t expect to spend 30 days in jail, or to lose his job, his college credits and his driver’s license for six months – or for DeMarcus and his young son to live with the consequences of a criminal record, forever.
Was DeMarcus the architect of his own misfortune? He did get caught breaking the law, after all. Or is he just another American caught up in a system designed to arrest nearly 750,000 people per year at a cost of nearly $10bn to taxpayers
– for the crime of possessing a relatively harmless plant while black? See the rest of this story here
A New York medical examiner has concluded what many suspected after watching video of Eric Garner’s fatal police encounter: The Staten Island man died as the result of an illegal police chokehold. NBC’s New York affiliate has the story:
The city medical examiner has ruled the death of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old father whose death in police custody sparked national outrage, a homicide, saying a chokehold killed him.
The medical examiner said compression of the neck and chest, along with his positioning on the ground while being restrained by police, caused his death.
See Also: Here’s What Some Cops Are Saying About the Death of Eric Garner
Garner’s acute and chronic bronchial asthma, obesity and hypertensive cardiovascular disease were contributing factors, the medical examiner determined...See the rest of this story here
Problems at the FBI lab first surfaced in the early 1990s, when scientist-turned-whistleblower Fred Whitehurst reported that sloppy work by examiners was producing unreliable forensic testimony. Justice officials launched a task force that was active from 1996 to 2004 to ensure that potentially exculpatory evidence involving criticized agents was turned over to defendants.
But The Post found that such notification rarely happened and that not all flawed cases were properly reviewed.
Justice Department officials, responding to Wednesday’s report, said that they had been diligent in trying to protect defendants’ rights in undertaking a review of unprecedented size and complexity...See the rest of this story here
On February 24, 2009, New York City police, acting on a tip from an anonymous informant about a marijuana-growing operation, went to a home in the Bellerose neighborhood of Queens, New York. When they arrived, 34-year-old Patrick Murray, a New York firefighter, was sitting in a rental truck in the driveway of the building.
The officers detained Murray and took a set of keys from him. They went inside the building and, using the keys they got from Murray, opened the doors to the boiler room and to another room that contained 100 marijuana plants...See the rest of this story here
The federal law that makes possession of marijuana a crime has its origins in legislation that was passed in an atmosphere of hysteria during the 1930s and that was firmly rooted in prejudices against Mexican immigrants and African-Americans, who were associated with marijuana use at the time. This racially freighted history lives on in current federal policy, which is so driven by myth and propaganda that it is almost impervious to reason.
The cannabis plant, also known as hemp, was widely grown in the United States for use in fabric during the mid-19th century. The practice of smoking it appeared in Texas border towns around 1900, brought by Mexican immigrants who cultivated cannabis as an intoxicant and for medicinal purposes as they had done at home...See the rest of this story here
After 18 years behind bars, an innocent man has been released from prison due to the efforts of the West Virginia Innocence Project at the West Virginia University College of Law.
Kenneth Manns was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder and sexual assault in Mercer County. Due to faulty forensic evidence, WVIP students obtained a re-sentencing and lesser sentence for Manns, making him immediately eligible for parole. Manns was released in July, becoming the WVIP’s first client to be granted parole.
“With perseverance, our law students worked with our criminal justice system to get to the right result,” said Valena Beety, associate professor of law and director of the WVIP. “This man was serving life in prison and now he is in the process of going home to be with his family and son thanks to everyone’s hard work.”..See the rest of this story here
Jeffrey Deskovic has received more than $13.7 million in compensation for spending nearly 16 years in prison for a Peekskill rape and murder he did not commit.
But what he's really wanted is a public trial where he and the people he blames for his ordeal would testify under oath. He'll get that in the next few weeks when his 2007 federal lawsuit goes to trial. The remaining defendants are Putnam County and Daniel Stephens, a retired sheriff's investigator who administered the lie detector test that led to Deskovic's false confession.
"This is my chance to hold people accountable in court," Deskovic told The Journal News on Friday. "I want to fully expose everything. ... That can't happen giving interviews or settling (the lawsuit)."..See the rest of this story here
The Controversial Felony Murder Case of The Elkhart 4: Should Teens Be Sentenced to 50 Years in Prison?
On one day, with one bad decision, the lives of four teens were shattered.
It was an afternoon much like any other in the quiet suburb of Elkhart, Indiana, when five friends gathered on a porch.
“I got off school that day... we ended up talking, coming up with a dumb a-- plan,” said Blake Layman from his cell at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Terre Haute, Indiana.
That "dumb plan" resulted in one teen being shot dead and his teenage friends convicted of murder – even though they weren't the ones who pulled the trigger. They now face sentences of as much as 55 years in prison in a case that has sparked outrage and a re-examination of the nature of juvenile crime and punishment...See the rest of this story here
Michael Phillips had long ago given up trying to clear his name. At 57, he was a registered sex offender, living in a nursing home, wheelchair-bound from severe sickle cell anemia.
Then in May, two police officers delivered news that Phillips says only God could have ordained: Dallas County, Texas, prosecutors had proved through DNA testing that he had spent 12 years in prison for a rape he hadn't committed.
Hundreds of people have been exonerated through DNA testing. But on Friday, Phillips will become the first exonerated by DNA through systematic testing by a prosecutor's office even though he hadn't requested the testing, according to the National Registry of Exonerations, a project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law.
"I'm in awe," Phillips of Dallas told USA TODAY. "At first, I thought I was like, kind of in another time zone or a twilight zone."..See the rest of this story here
A former gang leader who alleged he was framed by corrupt Chicago Heights police officers for a 1993 murder recalled on Wednesday how years ago he asked his family to raise $1,000 to buy legal books, then taught himself the law and wrote the court filings that eventually won him a new trial.With the help of attorneys from the University of Chicago’s Exoneration Project, Rodell Sanders, 49, returned home to his family hours after a Cook County jury acquitted him Tuesday night. He had spent 20 years in prison.
“I studied 10, 11 and 12 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Sanders, surrounded by family. “I wouldn’t go on the yard...I told my family stop coming down on visits so much, and I just committed myself to the law.”
“I didn’t want to die in prison. ..See the rest of this story here
Nathan Brown was dressed in pajamas, playing with his 2-year-old daughter, Alicia, when police officers showed up at his Metairie apartment early one August morning 17 years ago.
They told him to get dressed. He put on some shorts but remained bare-chested except for a tattoo reading “Michelle.” Police took him to a woman who had just been accosted, her dress ripped by a man who tried to rape her before she beat him back with a high-heeled shoe.
The woman, who also lived in the apartment complex, identified Brown as her assailant.
That was 1997, the last time Brown would taste freedom until Wednesday, when a state judge vacated his conviction on an attempted rape charge and nullified his 25-year prison sentence after recent DNA testing of the victim’s dress revealed another man’s genetic markers.
Now 40, Brown emerged from Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, then arrived in New Orleans to a welcome party of friends and family members at the Mid-City offices of the Innocence Project New Orleans, which helped secure his release, along with the New York-based Innocence Project...See the rest of this story here
In the United States today, we have a problem with our prisons. We incarcerate our people at nearly six times the rate of most other industrialized nations, and yet we have higher rates of crime.
While our crime rate has dropped substantially over the past 20 years, crime and our high level of incarceration continue to have massive social and economic costs to our nation. According to the Pew Center on the States, state and federal spending on corrections has grown 400 percent over the past 20 years, from about $12 billion to about $60 billion. Corrections spending is currently among the fastest growing line items in state budgets, and 1 in 8 full-time state government employees works in corrections. Clearly we have a long way to go still, but there are methods we can use to make our communities safer while reducing incarceration, with its massive associated costs..See the rest of this story here
Allow Immediate, Emergency, Expedited DNA Testing For Wrongfully Convicted William Thomas Zeigler Jr.
is sitting in a cage on Florida's death row right now for his 38th year. His 69th birthday is July 25, 2014. Due to a horrible rush to judgment by Orange County, Fl. Sheriff's Office, lead Detective Don Frye, Tommy Zeigler was wrongfully arrested and charged with the quadruple 1975 Christmas Eve murders. William Thomas Zeigler Jr. along with his wife, mother in law and father in law plus a man named Charlie Mays who was labeled by the prosecution as an innocent customer and by the defense as one of the gang or hired robbers, were all shot and left for dead inside the Zeigler furniture store on Christmas Eve 1975. My client Tommy Zeigler awoke, crawled around and made it to the telephone to call for help. That is when his nightmare got worse..See the rest of this petition here
A D.C. Superior Court judge concluded Monday that DNA evidence exonerates a man who spent 26 years in prison in the 1982 killing of a Washington woman.
Kevin Martin’s case marks the fifth time in as many years that federal prosecutors in the District have acknowledged that errors by an elite FBI forensic unit had led to a conviction that should be overturned...See the rest of this story here
When prison overcrowding is discussed, why are old-law prisoners never on the table (“Number of inmates in Ohio is on increase,”Dispatch article, Nov. 21)?
“Old law” prisoners received indeterminate sentences, such as five to 15 years and 20 years to life, and must see the Ohio Parole Board. Prisoners convicted after the “new law,” which is Senate Bill 2 that was approved in 1996, generally serve shorter sentences even for the same crimes, know their release dates and are usually not subject to parole review...See the rest of this story here
Every day now, myths about the death penalty explode.
Glenn Ford's exoneration in March, after 30 years on Louisiana's death row, gave the lie to two urban legends: There are no innocent people on death row, and if a death-row prisoner were innocent, we would set him free right away and compensate him generously for his lost years.
In April, Oklahoma's gruesomely induced heart attack on a sentient and terrified Clayton Lockett did in another myth: When we execute bad guys, it's quick and painless.
Then there's the whopper that the Supreme Court exposed in May: The nation no longer executes mentally disabled inmates. Florida, it turns out, continues to do exactly that.
A June Washington Post/ABC News poll brought down another shibboleth: The public supports the death penalty. In fact, a majority prefer life without parole to executions.
Still, one seemingly soothing claim about the death penalty persists. Yes, some capital-defense lawyers are obviously incompetent, and their clients are seriously mentally challenged. Yes, prosecutors sometimes hide evidence of innocence. Yes, some defendants are put on death row by erroneous eyewitness identifications. And, yes, every so often, a death-row inmate turns out to be innocent. But, because of painstaking appeals and clemency reviews, no innocent person is ever executed...See the rest of this story here
Washington, D.C. – The United States Sentencing Commission cast a historic vote today to allow 46,290 federal drug prisoners to petition for sentence reductions. This is the largest number of federal drug prisoners ever to benefit from a guideline amendment being made retroactive. Members of the Commission voted to make the amendment retroactive with no exclusions, though they did move the earliest possible release date from Nov. 1, 2014, to November 2015.
“Today, seven people unanimously decided to change the lives of tens of thousands of families whose loved ones were given overly long drug sentences,” said FAMM President Julie Stewart...See the rest of this story here
In March 2009, 45-year-old Viken Keuylian, owner of Lamborghini Orange County in Santa Ana, California, the world’s largest Lamborghini dealership, was accused by federal authorities of committing a $12 million fraud.
Keuylian was charged with a single count of wire fraud. He was accused of borrowing millions of dollars from Volkswagen Credit International to fund the purchase of expensive Italian luxury cars from the Lamborghini factory, and then failing to repay the loans after the cars were sold. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California contended Keuylian used the money to prop up his other business ventures, including a winery, a commercial building in Newport Beach, California, and a Lotus dealership in Beverly Hills, California.
On May 11, 2009, Keuylian pled guilty to one count of wire fraud. The plea agreement stated that beginning no later than the September 2007, Keuylian became financially overextended and instead of using the proceeds of the sales of cars to pay Volkswagen Credit, he used the funds to keep his other businesses afloat...See the rest of this story here
A North Carolina man who spent nearly two decades in prison for murder will be released as early as this week as he awaits a new trial.
Darryl Anthony Howard, 52, was awarded a new trial in May after a judge found misconduct during his 1995 conviction. On Tuesday, a state appeals court denied prosecutors’ request to keep Howard behind bars until they try him again, paving the way for his release.
Seema Saifee, one of Howard’s attorneys, delivered the news to him by phone early Tuesday.
“There was just this moment of pure joy,” said Saifee, a staff attorney with the nonprofit Innocence Project, which seeks to overturn wrongful convictions. “He has been waiting for this for so many years. He never gave up,” she added...See the rest of this story here
Defense lawyers get a lot of grief for a lot of reasons: they thrive on technicalities, they charge high fees, they advocate for the obviously guilty. They don’t get much credit for working the system pro bono to free the innocent. On June 12 the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association did just that, honoring two longtime lawyers, Mike Ware and Keith Hampton, with the Percy Foreman Lawyer of the Year award at the twenty-seventh annual Rusty Duncan Advanced Criminal Law Course in San Antonio.
When their names were called, the crowd, made up mostly of other defense lawyers, stood to give Ware and Hampton a lengthy ovation. Their work had helped free six innocent people in 2013. Fran and Dan Keller—an Austin couple infamously convicted of ritually abusing children at their day care center—were released in November after spending 21 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. That same month, the “San Antonio Four”—Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh, Cassandra Rivera, and Anna Vasquez—made national headlines when three of them were set free after spending roughly fifteen years behind bars for sexually abusing a young girl (Vasquez had been paroled the year before), a crime they were wrongfully accused of...See the rest of this story
The Free Marquez Ridge Team Needs Your Help!
Here's your chance to show your love and support for Justice and Freedom.
Marquez Ridge has been denied nearly 2 decades of his life for a crime that he did not commit. Illegally sentenced to 32 years by a Judge who was in collusion with a prosecutor who swore to "get" him for not testifying in a case he really had nothing to offer on.
Aug 1995 (2) months before the alleged theft of car rims, valued @ $1,000. The prosecutor vowed to bring him to trial, force witnesses to testify, and put them in jail to serve her purposes. ...See the rest of this petition here
Teens in Isolation: State Advisers to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission Hold Briefing on Juvenile Solitary Confinement in New York
Johnny Perez was sixteen when he was arrested for weapons possession. New York State automatically charges people ages 16 and over as adults, so the teenager was charged as an adult. Unable to afford the $100,000 bail, he was sent to Rikers Island to await trial. There, he was placed in C-74, the unit for 16 to 18 year olds. “A lot of the adolescents can be real territorial,” he recalled. At C-74, they tried to control the phones, the bathrooms and all other aspects of life in the jail. Perez got into a fight over using the phone. “It was a gang-only phone, but I didn’t care,” he said. For that fight, the 16-year-old was sent to solitary confinement (known on Rikers as “the Bing”) for sixty days.
When Perez entered solitary, jail staff took his clothes and issued him a jumpsuit. He was placed in a cell which he described as a “concrete slab with a mattress. There was a toilet-sink combo, but nowhere to sit.” He sometimes spent days without eating or being able to use the phone...See the rest of this story here
Nineteen years ago, a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge sentenced Jabbar Collins to a prison term of 34-years-to-life for the murder of Abraham Pollack, a Brooklyn rabbi shot dead in the hallway of his apartment building. That day, Collins told the court he was innocent; the judge disagreed and said he wished he could send Collins off to a hard labor camp.
Today at noon, Collins is scheduled to appear before a different judge and receive much different news: the state of New York has agreed to pay him $3 million for the 15 years he lost behind bars, serving time for a crime there is very good reason to believe he didn't commit.
The award comes as part of a lawsuit Collins filed against both the state and city of New York three years ago after his murder conviction was overturned in federal court in 2010. In a statement, Collins' attorney, Joel Rudin, said that while the award is one of the highest ever agreed to by the state, he and Collins hope it will lead to an even bigger payment from the city...See the rest of this story here
Gordon “Randy” Steidl deserves a pardon from the State of Illinois.
Steidl, who spent 17 years in prison — 12 of them on Death Row — for a 1986 double murder he didn’t commit, has become a national face of the movement to abolish the death penalty. With his earnest and unassuming demeanor and a personal story of dogged triumph over a broken legal system, he has changed minds in the last six states to abolish capital punishment, helping legislators to understand the risks of executing the innocent. Without him, Illinois might still be putting prisoners to death...See the rest of this story here
Lately, Josh has been having delirious dreams, often waking in cold sweats, panicked and disoriented. “I started to feel like I was going crazy,” he said. The episodes are unpleasant, but they’re not unfamiliar; they’re reminiscent of the time he spent in solitary confinement as a teenager 16 years ago.
Josh’s story is a glimpse into a troubling practice that is sometimes considered too cruel for adults, and even more so when used on minors. The effects are damaging and lasting, and ultimately, they’re not just a problem for the child, but for society as a whole. ..See the rest of this story here
There has been a big, bipartisan push in Congress to right a wrong in the United States’ approach to the drug policy. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act (S. 1410), a measure that would end mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) has introducedcompanion legislation in the House.
Unfortunately, this much-needed, fiscally responsible reform has been stalled in both chambers thanks to leaders from both parties who haven’t accepted that the War on Drugs has been an abject failure.
Criminal law professor Alex Kreit explains why Congress should wise up, giving three reasons that mandatory minimum prison sentences are bad policy in the latest video from Learn Liberty, a project of the Institute for Human Studies...See the rest of this story here
After 17 years of proclaiming his innocence to any and everyone who would listen, Nathan Brown, 40, walked out of prison Wednesday morning (June 25), set free from his cell and the wrongful attempted rape conviction that he always had faith would be overturned.
Jefferson Parish District Court Judge Ray Steibvacated Brown's 1997 conviction and his 25-year sentence after attorneys from The Innocence Project presented DNA evidence that exonerated him.
"It's really a relief mentally, physically, to be free from serving time for a crime that you did not commit," Brown said Wednesday afternoon as he held his 1-year-old grandson, Kenard Southern, for the first time. "It was hard. It wasn't no easy task being in prison for 17 years for something you had no knowledge of."..See the rest of this story here
Nearly 200 people attended the Northern California Innocence Project’s (NCIP) Eyewitness Identification Best Practices Symposium at the University of San Francisco (USF) on May 21, 2014. The symposium brought together police chiefs, district attorneys, social scientists and criminal justice reform advocates to discuss best practices for eyewitness identification procedures in California, and inspired some jurisdictions to make changes to their existing procedures...See the rest of this story here
Two years after the US supreme court banned mandatory sentences of life without parole for people under 18 years old, most of the states that carry the brutal punishment have done nothing to change their ways, leaving the vast majority of the prisoners already on the sentence still facing the prospect of spending the rest of their natural life in a cell.
A report from the Washington-based justice reform body, the Sentencing Project, underlines what has become a legal paradox. In 2012, the highest judicial panel ruled in Miller v Alabama that mandatory life without parole for juveniles was a violation of the eighth amendment that forbids cruel and unusual punishment. Yet since then only 13 of the 28 states that carry the sentence have amended their laws.
Even many among those 13 have failed to meet the spirit of the supreme court’s ruling by replacing full-life sentences with exceptionally harsh terms that will still see prisoners who were convicted as teenagers – some as young as 13 – languish in prison until their elder years. Nebraska has introduced a minimum 40 years in custody for juveniles convicted of homicide before a parole review can even be contemplated.
In Iowa, the governor went even further and commuted all the state’s juvenile life without parole sentences to minimum terms of 60 years...See the rest of this story here
In a landmark digital privacy decision, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Wednesday that police officers must have warrants to search suspects' cellphones upon arrest.
The justices ruled that police cannot search a cellphone without a warrant because the devices deserve special protection, since they contain so much information about a person's private life and are a "pervasive and insistent part of daily life."..See the rest of this story here
A man convicted of attempted rape in 1997 of an assault in Metairie was set to go free Wednesday after serving nearly 17 years of a 25-year prison sentence, following DNA testing of the victim’s dress that revealed another man’s genetic markings.
Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick’s office joined in a motion with attorneys for the Innocence Project to vacate the conviction of Nathan Brown, which was based largely on the victim identifying him in a “show-up” identification — one that took place in person on the night of the crime.
The victim was returning to her apartment complex, where Brown also lived, when she was attacked from behind, wrestled to the sidewalk and bitten in the neck by a man who tried to rape her. She fought him off, grabbed her purse and fled...See the rest of this story here
We first wrote about the absurd case against US Air Force Tech Sgt. Matt Pinkerton in early November, when he was charged with murder by Assistant State’s Attorney Glen Neubauer. What was Pinkerton’s crime? Not pausing to dial 9-1-1 after Kendall Green forced is way into Pinkerton’s home at 2:00 AM.
Our friend and Bearing Arms contributor Mike McDaniel has been following the Pinkerton case on his own site, and now reports that charges against Pinkerton have been dismissed by the judge… and that’s no small thing:
…Pinkerton was apparently not acquitted, in other words, found not guilty of the charges. There is a significant difference in the process of the similar outcomes. To be acquitted, one much normally endure a complete trial and a jury must render a “not guilty” verdict. In this case it seems that the judge determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to sustain any of the multiple charges against Pinkerton. If this trial followed the normal course of such things, after the prosecution presented its case, the defense asked that the judge dismiss the charges because the prosecution failed to sustain its burden of proof, and that request was obviously granted, likely with prejudice, meaning the charges cannot be refilled in the future. If so, the case is over...See the rest of this story here
DENVER - After 13 years, a man previously convicted of murder as a teenager had his charge changed and was released from prison Monday.
Lorenzo Montoya was originally convicted of the first-degree murder of teacher Emily Johnson in 2000, when he was 15-years-old. Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney's Office, said Montoya returned to court for a motion that he had ineffective council at the time of his trial.
Montoya, now 29, is now represented by lawyers from the Center for Juvenile Justice, a non-profit organization. According to that group, their argument also presented new DNA evidence that showed Montoya did not commit the murder.
"In lieu of a hearing on Mr. Montoya's claims or a new trial, the Denver District Attorney offered to dismiss all of the charges against Mr. Montoya and release him immediately in exchange for a guilty plea to accessory after the fact," Center for Juvenile Justice wrote in a statement...See the rest of this story here
The cynical way to look at this is to write them off as criminals who deserve to "just do their time." If you're inclined to think that way, consider this: Most prisoners return to society after their sentences are complete. What will make them more likely to be good citizens: solitary confinement or rehabilitation programs? See Youtube here
On May 28, 2014, Lisa Roberts was released after serving nearly twelve years in prison for a crime she did not commit. In 2004, Roberts pled guilty to the murder of her girlfriend, Jerri Lee Williams, after the prosecution told Roberts’ defense attorney that it planned to introduce new evidence of cell phone tower data that would pinpoint Roberts’ location near the scene of the crime. Roberts had been prepared to go to trial, but, on the eve of trial, was advised by her lawyer to take a plea. Ten years later, U.S. District Judge Malcolm Marsh found that Roberts had established a “colorable showing of actual innocence” through new DNA technology and her team’s investigation. He then found that Roberts’ lawyer in 2004 had failed to take reasonable steps to investigate and independently evaluate the reliability of the State’s evidence of cell phone tower data before advising his client to plead guilty to manslaughter... See the rest of this story here
At 2:55 p.m. on May 25, 2002, the naked body of 25-year-old Jerri Williams was found in Kelley Point Park in Portland, Oregon. A medical examiner performed an autopsy and said Williams had been strangled to death and estimated the time of death to be 11:40 a.m.
On August 16, 2002, Portland police arrested 37-year-old Lisa Roberts, the victim’s lesbian lover, and charged Roberts with intentional murder, assault, harassment and menacing.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office contended that Williams was the victim of a love triangle involving Roberts and another woman, Terry Collins, and pointed to evidence that Roberts had a history of domestic violence..See the rest of this story here
Imagine spending 19 years in prison for a murder you did not commit. Imagine enduring the indignities of life behind bars, and missing out on the lives of your children and grandchildren, knowing that you are innocent. Imagine that while you sit in a cell, the real killer is somewhere out there, possibly destroying other lives.See the rest of this story here
INDIANAPOLIS -The atrium at the IU McKinney School of Law echoed with applause as Kristine Bunch took to the podium.
In law circles, she's known as "Bunch v. State of Indiana." At the law school Friday, aspiring legal minds got to know her as Krissy, the young single mother who took on the State and won her freedom after sitting behind bars for almost 17 years. She was convicted of setting a fire that killed her 3-year-old son in 1995.
"This just can't ever happen again," she told the audience.
Kristine Bunch's case took a turn in 2012 after attorneys at the Innocence Project at Northwestern University uncovered a troubling ATF report that ultimately led to her freedom. That report revealed Indiana State Fire Marshal investigators got it wrong. They accused Kristine of pouring an accelerant on the floor and setting her mobile home on fire. The problem: ATF found no evidence of an accelerant.
That report was kept secret by investigators. Not even the prosecutors on Kristine's case knew about it..See the rest of this article here
I recently had the privilege of joining three jury nullification heavyweights on a panel hosted by the International Drug Policy Reform Conference. The discussion focused on how strategic jury nullification can be used to dismantle the War on Drugs.
If you watch this 84-minute panel from beginning to end, you’ll become a jury nullification genius. But if you don’t have the time to spare, I’ve prepared a rough transcription below featuring my favorite quotes and moments. If you want to jump to the the beginning of a specific speaker’s transcript or video presentation, you can do that after the jump..See the rest of this story here
As many as 300 U.S. inmates sentenced to death over a 30-year period were probably innocent, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The courts converted many of their death sentences to life, the study found. The U.S. judicial system, however, has actually killed innocent people.
While doubt exists in many past executions, seven people have received official pardons after their executions in prison. Read their stories below....See the rest of this story here
Delaware’s longest serving death row inmate has been granted a new trial.
The Delaware Supreme Court reversed Jermaine Wright’s murder conviction and death sentence citing a “miscarriage of justice” in their unanimous ruling on Monday.
Wright, who was 18 years old when he was arrested, has served 21 years on Delaware’s death row after he was convicted for the murder of liquor store clerk Phillip Seifert.
Seifert was working at Hi-Way Inn liquor store in Wilmington on January 14, 1991, when the store was robbed around 10:30 p.m. According to witnesses, two African American males in their mid-20s were seen fleeing the store. Seifert was shot three times and died at a local hospital...See the rest of this story here
In February, I wrote about a Fifth Circuit decision rejecting the claims of a defendant who was convicted based on improbable testimony from the controversial medical examiner Steven Hayne. Over the course of about two decades, Hayne nearly monopolized Mississippi’s criminal autopsy referrals, performing 1,500-1,800 autopsies per year all by himself. Most of these were done for the state’s prosecutors. Hayne’s testimony was responsible for several convictions that later resulted in acquittals after a new trial, dismissed charges, or DNA exonorations.
I’ve been covering this scandal for the better part of a decade now. Hayne has been found to have given testimony completely unsupported by science, regularly worked with known charlatans like the discredited “bite mark expert” Michael West, and has been sharply criticized by colleagues for his improbable workload, sloppy practices, and dubious testimony. He has also been shown to have perjured himself about his qualifications. Despite all of this, and despite the fact that there are literally thousands of people in prison due in part or mostly to Hayne’s autopsies and testimony, neither state nor federal courts have shown any interest in determining just how much damage Hayne may have done to the criminal justice system of Mississippi (and to a lesser extent Louisiana). The Mississippi legislature hasn’t shown much interest. And state attorney general Jim Hood continues to defend Hayne. (Hood often used Hayne during his time as a district attorney.).See the rest of this story here
Tyrone Hicks with his daughter Takisha on Thursday after he was exonerated in a series of rapes in The Bronx for which he served 10 years in prison. Photo: Robert Kalfus
Disabled Navy veteran Tyrone Hicks spent 10 years behind bars, branded “the Bronx rapist” — but he knew all the while he was innocent and struggled every day to figure out a way to prove it.When he was released seven years ago, he enlisted the help of a group of law-school students.
Six years later, their undying efforts uncovered stunning evidence buried within a case file that convinced a Bronx Supreme Court judge to clear him of all charges Thursday.
“I’m so grateful,” Hicks, 57, said of the “angels” from New York Law School’s Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic.
The legal eagles found that never-before-tested scrapings from beneath the victim’s fingernails contained DNA that did not belong to Hicks — proving he could not have committed the crime.
“It’s great to see someone innocent go free,” said one of the students, Astrid Avedissian. “It’s amazing to see it.”
Hicks’ ordeal began 16 years ago as a sex fiend dubbed “the Bronx rapist” was terrorizing the borough with a series of attacks on women..See the rest of this story here
No matter on which side of the death penalty debate you might find yourself, the real question in this case is, should you trust a so-called criminal justice system that deliberately would withhold evidence in a case to make sure the prosecution’s will be done? Although this case falls into a different category, more and more evidence surfaces on a daily basis that indicates prosecution teams have played fast and loose with evidence at times to win convictions. Advances in science have brought some of those wrongful convictions to light. In some cases, we will never know what the truth might be due to judges refuses to let defendants resubmit evidence for modern scientific testing.
Some might call it an overzealous attitude towards pursuing justice. That could be part of the problem but we also think it could be do to a criminal justice system tied to politics. Elected prosecutors are forced to run on won-lost records rather than diligence and moral rectitude even in the face of a loss. Voters are told to care only that they win cases. We’ve heard a number of complaints from police officials around the country who have complained about prosecutors not taking cases to court simply for fear of losing. We, like those police officials, say, if the evidence is enough to warrant a trial, let the jury decide.....See the rest of this story here
Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro didn’t stop with a concession that Ronald Bodenheimer and another former prosecutor, Harold “Tookie” Gilbert Jr., deliberately hid a detailed police report in the case in two separate trials.
In setting Adams loose at age 61, Cannizzaro also agreed that a pair of former NOPD police detectives lied on the witness stand to help convict Adams twice in the 1979 murder of Cathy Ulfers, the wife of a former New Orleans cop who is himself now serving a life prison sentence for killing his second wife.Following a stunning admission of intentional abuse decades ago at the hands of prosecutors — including one who became a judge and then landed in federal prison for his role in a judicial corruption scandal that rocked the Jefferson Parish courthouse — Reginald Adams walked free Monday, exonerated after 34 years behind bars on a murder rap.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro didn’t stop with a concession that Ronald Bodenheimer and another former prosecutor, Harold “Tookie” Gilbert Jr., deliberately hid a detailed police report in the case in two separate trials.
In setting Adams loose at age 61, Cannizzaro also agreed that a pair of former NOPD police detectives lied on the witness stand to help convict Adams twice in the 1979 murder of Cathy Ulfers, the wife of a former New Orleans cop who is himself now serving a life prison sentence for killing his second wife..... See the rest of this story here
Two years ago, Eric Locke was held without bail, awaiting trial and facing the death penalty for killing the owner of a North Philadelphia check-cashing business.
Locke, 34, insisted he was innocent and said he could prove he was in Williamsport, 180 miles away, when Joel Blumer was shot to death.
On Friday, prosecutors officially believed him. Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy went before a Philadelphia judge and withdrew all charges.
Afterward, Conroy said he could not comment at length about Locke's case because the killing of Blumer is now an open investigation.
"In light of the evidence we have . . . the most prudent course was to withdraw the charges and continue to investigate," he said....See the rest of this story here
Meeting Resurrection After Exoneration in New Orleans~
Imagine spending 30 years in prison. Thirty years on death row, awaiting death by electrocution. Finally prosecutors admit that you were not at the scene of the murder and could not have participated in it; as a result the court frees you. Exonerated after 30 years: what happens now?
Yesterday I was introduced to Glenn Ford who was released from Louisiana State Penitentiary on March 12th this year, where he had been since March 1985. Aged 64, an innocent man, he doesn’t move fast. Health is a big problem for exonerates; when you have been locked up for 23 hours a day in a cell you lose a lot of mobility....See the rest of this story here
Numerous studies have shown that eyewitness identification of a suspect is a problematic form of evidence – eyewitness misidentification has played a part in nearly 75% of wrongful convictions overturned through DNA testing. Nevertheless, eyewitness testimony is an incredibly influential form of evidence in criminal law and very compelling to a jury...See the rest of this story here
MILWAUKEE, Wisc. (WITI) — A woman was hit by a sheriff’s deputy who rolled through a stop sign, and then was arrested for drunk driving...See the rest of this story here
Science and law have led to the exoneration of hundreds of criminal defendants in recent decades, but big questions remain: How many other innocent defendants are locked up? How many are wrongly executed?
About one in 25 people imprisoned under a death sentence is likely innocent, according to a new statistical study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And that means it is all but certain that at least several of the 1,320 defendants executed since 1977 were innocent, the study says.
From 1973 to 2004, 1.6 percent of those sentenced to death in the U.S. — 138 prisoners — were exonerated and released because of innocence.
But the great majority of innocent people who are sentenced to death are never identified and freed, says professor Samuel Gross of the University of Michigan Law School, the study's lead author..See the rest of this story here
The death Sunday of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, middleweight prizefighter, heavyweight champion of the wrongfully convicted, is a vivid reminder of a plague that has long corrupted the criminal justice system — perjury by prosecution witnesses who have ulterior motives to lie.
HELENA – Gov. Steve Bullock took the unusual step Wednesday of writing a letter supporting parole for convicted murderer Barry Beach, telling the Board of Pardons and Parole it should focus not on whether Beach is guilty or innocent, but whether he’s a good candidate for parole.
Bullock’s letter comes just six days before the board will hold a hearing on whether to consider commuting Beach’s 100-year, no-parole sentence so he could be paroled.
“The reasons for maintaining Mr. Beach’s 100-years-without-parole sentence at taxpayer expense diminish with each passing year,” Bullock wrote.
The New York Times obituary of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was long on detail about the man's grim upbringing, boxing prowess, and wrongful convictions, but dreadfully short on the many ways in which he spent the last decades of his life helping other exonerees. Of the 2,500 words or so the paper employed to describe Carter's remarkable (and remarkably well-chronicled) journey, less than 200 words emphasized the good works he did for countless people upon his release from prison. Bob Dylan may have drawn attention to his wrongful conviction, but Bob Marley serves as a better soundtrack for his life. It was a redemption song.
Fifty-one years ago, the Supreme Court in Gideon v. Wainright ruled that every American accused of a crime is entitled to an attorney. But today public defenders are overworked and underpaid, often burning out and leaving the job shortly after they start, according to Jonathan Rapping, the founder of an organization that helps to prepare lawyers for a career as a public defender.
Four innocent men, Danial Williams, Joseph Dick, Derek Tice, and Eric Wilson, all veterans of the U.S. Navy, were convicted of crimes they did not commit. An objective, comprehensive review of this case by the nation’s leading experts in the fields of forensic pathology, forensic DNA analysis, crime scene reconstruction, and false confessions leaves no doubt that Danial, Joe, Derek, and Eric were wrongly accused, falsely confessed, and are all innocent. They were convicted based on false confessions extracted by a detective who has a documented history of eliciting false confessions and has recently been indicted by a federal grand jury on extortion charges. (Read more about the detective here.)
On October 27, 2010, the detective was convicted by a U.S. District Court on two counts of extortion and one count of making false statements to the FBI. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each count of extortion and up to five years in prison on the count of making false statements. (Read a press release issued by the Norfolk Four legal team following the detective’s conviction here).
In Virginia and around the nation, innocent people are being freed in cases where the exonerating physical evidence is much less compelling than here.
Together, they became known as the Ford Heights Four. Convicted of the 1978 rape and double murder of a young, newly engaged couple in the south suburbs, they came to embody much of what was wrong with Cook County's criminal justice system.
Today, nearly two decades after their 1996 release, the three survivors are graying men whose lives illustrate how the pain of prison can haunt an inmate for years. They show, too, how big-money settlements can bring comforts never before imagined but also their share of trouble.
"I thought I was going to be happy," Raines told the Tribune. "But you want to know the truth? It's not easy."
Tuesday afternoon, a Brooklyn courtroom erupted with shouts of joy. Jonathan Fleming, 51, was announced released from prison after serving 25 years for a murder he did not commit. “Thank you God!” was yelled from the rows of seated spectators. “Come and hug your mother,” a Fleming supporter commanded of the newly-freed man.
Evidence revealed that Fleming was 1,000 miles away on vacation in Orlando in 1989 when Darryl "Black" Rush was shot to death. Fleming vociferously protested his arrest and subsequent conviction, producing plane tickets and other documentary evidence, to prove that he was not in the New York area at the time of the murder. Police investigators and then prosecutors countered that evidence with the argument that Fleming took a quick flight from Orlando to New York, killed Rush and took the next available flight back to Orlando.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A 74-year-old woman who served 32 years for a murder committed by an abusive boyfriend will be released from prison, a Los Angeles judge ruled Monday.
Known as "Mother Mary" to friends and family, Mary Virginia Jones was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murder, kidnapping and robbery in a fatal shooting in 1981.
Her abuser, Mose Willis, kidnapped two men and ordered Jones at gunpoint to drive a car to a back alley in Los Angeles, where Willis shot the men. Jones ran and was arrested a few days later...See the rest of this story here
Brooklyn’s new district attorney dropped an appeal that challenged last year’s release of a man who served 22 years in prison for a discredited murder conviction.
William Lopez, 55, was sprung in January 2013 by a federal judge who found that his already questionable case was “reduced to rubble” after an eyewitness recanted.
The judge, Nicholas Garaufis, took his ruling a step further last March when he ordered Brooklyn prosecutors not to retry Lopez and dismiss all charges.
Former DA Charles Hynes, who fought for years to keep the defendant locked up, appealed that decision, but his successor, Kenneth Thompson, has now reversed course.
I want to reflect on the story of Pinocchio as it relates to the wrongful conviction of Jeffrey Harvard. The metaphor is an apt caricature to a Pinocchio law and Pinocchio legal system, controlled by invisible strings and a growing wooden nose.
Since 2002, Havard has sat on death row in Mississippi for the sexual assault and murder of his girlfriend’s 6-month old daughter, Chloe Britt. Havard has always maintained his innocence. What really happened that night was Chloe slipped from his arms while he lifted her from the tub, causing her head to hit the toilet. In fact, new evidence strongly supports the claim that Chloe’s death was a tragic accident, not murder.
A Japanese man who may have been on death row longer than anyone else in the world walked out of prison on Thursday after newly analyzed DNA evidence prompted a judge to order that he be retried.
Iwao Hakamada, now 78, was sentenced to death in 1968. The part-time boxer had been arrested a year earlier for a crime that shocked Japan — the 1966 murders of a family of four. Hakamada had allegedly robbed the owner of a miso manufacturing company where he worked, then killed that man, the man's wife and their two children. The family's home was burned in what may have been an attempt to cover up the crime..See the rest of this story here
The city comptroller’s decision to pay $6.4 million to a man wrongfully convicted of murder before he even filed a lawsuit marked a sharp break with past practice and could have ramifications for similar cases, lawyers who specialize in wrongful convictions said.
The decision to negotiate a settlement with David Ranta, who was imprisoned for 23 years after being framed by a rogue detective, without involving the city’s Law Department has no precedent in recent history, city officials and lawyers said.
Gloria Killian's murder conviction had been overturned. Carrying a small bag of her belongings, she walked out of prison as a free woman.
Only ex-prisoners can fully know the emotions that overtake someone during such a moment. It's a mix of two feelings: joy -- for surviving their ordeal -- and fear about the challenges they surely will face in the outside world.
Only a handful of police departments statewide have adopted a two-year-old Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services model policy aimed at curbing eyewitness misidentification, according to surveys conducted with law enforcement agencies across the state earlier this year.
Errors by victims and eyewitnesses picking out suspects in photo or in-person lineups helped put behind bars all but three of 16 wrongly convicted men proven innocent by DNA of rapes and murders in Virginia..See the rest of this story here
COLUMBIA, Mo. - The attorney for a man wrongly convicted in the 2001 slaying of a Missouri sports editor filed a civil rights lawsuit seeking $100 million for her client on Monday.
Ryan Ferguson released from prison
The attorney for 29-year-old Ryan Ferguson, Kathleen Zellner, alleges fabricated evidence in the case and the lack of a complete police investigation into the 2001 killing of Kent Heitholt in the 50-page complaint, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. Heitholt was a sports editor for the paper.
Ferguson was arrested in 2004 for Heitholt's murder after a friend, Chuck Erickson, confessed that they committed the crime together. However, Erickson later recanted his testimony, as did an eyewitness who had reported seeing Ferguson at the scene.
I love this video by Matthew Cooke (in case you're not aware, he's an Oscar nominated writer, comedian, and activist) for many reasons. It's 11 minutes long and completely packed with facts from beginning to end. I’ve shared before but in light of recent events I’m sharing again. Real US History, not the stuff we learned in school and factual data on many issues we face today in the United States. Open your mind and watch, at minimum, you'll learn something and it will make you think... If you're in to those sorts of things..
A Maricopa County judge sentenced me to death in 1992.
At the time of the murder for which I was convicted, the actual perpetrator, Ken Phillips, was on probation for a violent sexual offense. Three weeks after the crime for which I was sentenced to die, he sexually assaulted and choked a 7-year-old girl. He matched the description of a man seen near the location of the murder; it was later determined that shoe prints, palm prints and blood found at the scene matched him as well....See the rest of this story here
WHITEVILLE, N.C. — For the first time in nearly 40 years, Joseph Sledge woke up behind bars with a chance of becoming a free man. The 70-year-old needed one more win at an innocence hearing.
Three judges listened to closing statements Friday about how Sledge was wrongfully convicted in the 1976 stabbing deaths of a mother and her adult daughter. A few hours later, carrying his belongings in plastic bags, Sledge emerged from a North Carolina jail, saying he was looking forward to what most people consider the most mundane of activities: "Going home. Relaxing. Sleeping in a real bed. Probably get in a pool of water and swim for a little while."..See the rest of this story here
You can’t quite call those five former inmates “lucky,” given that they spent years behind bars serving time for crimes they didn’t commit. But they had better fortune than Cameron Todd Willingham, whom the state of Texas put to death in 2004. Willingham was executed for the 1991 deaths of his three young daughters in a house fire prosecutors charged Willingham had set himself. Later investigations demonstrated that the charges were based on shoddy forensic work. Shortly before Willingham’s execution, the renowned arson expert Gerald Hurst sent Perry and the Texas Board of Pardon and Parole an analysis demonstrating that Willingham could not have set the fire that killed his daughters, but a defiant Perry signed Willingham’s death warrant anyway. Subsequent investigations have only cast further doubt on the case against Willingham...See the rest of this story here
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, is preparing to issue a full pardon to a man sent to the gallows almost 75 years ago for a murder he did not commit.
Harry Gleeson from Co Tipperary is to become the first recipient of a posthumous pardon from the State once the move is approved by Cabinet in the weeks ahead.
A spokeswoman could not confirm if Mr Gleeson’s body would be exhumed from a grave in Mountjoy Prison where the execution took place, though such a move does seem likely once the pardon has been granted...See the rest of this story here
To The Brown Family,
I wish I had a word of automatic comfort but I don’t. I wish I could say that it will be alright on a certain or specific day but I can’t. I wish that all of the pain that I have endured could possibly ease some of yours but it won’t. What I can do for you is what has been done for me: pray for you then share my continuing journey as you begin yours.
I hate that you and your family must join this exclusive yet growing group of parents and relatives who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence...See the rest of this story here
(CNN) -- New York Law School professor Robert Blecker was on the radio the other day, telling NPR's "Here and Now" that we should have the death penalty, even if there is a risk that innocent people might be executed. I wonder if Blecker or other death penalty supporters would sacrifice their lives to keep this broken system going.
I was once the youngest person in the U.S. on death row. And I was innocent.
There was videotape of me in 1995, at 16, playing basketball just before the time of a murder in New Orleans' French Quarter. There was even a clock showing the time on the videotape. My basketball coach was driving me and my teammates home at the time of the crime.
My airtight alibi didn't matter...See the rest of this story here
"Yes, there is good reason to think that many of these unjustifiable homicides by police across the country are racially motivated. But there is a lot more than that going on here. Our country is simply not paying enough attention to the terrible lack of accountability of police departments and the way it affects all of us—regardless of race or ethnicity. Because if a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy — that was my son, Michael — can be shot in the head under a street light with his hands cuffed behind his back, in front of five eyewitnesses (including his mother and sister), and his father was a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who flew in three wars for his country — that’s me — and I still couldn’t get anything done about it, then Joe the plumber and Javier the roofer aren’t going to be able to do anything about it either."..See the rest of this story here
DALLAS — Convicted of setting her uncle on fire, Sonia Cacy has waited two decades to clear her name and challenge the case against her, which rested on science the state now acknowledges was wrong.
She'll get that chance Monday, in the same far West Texas city where she remembers her young son tearfully chasing after her when the jury found her guilty of murder.
Fire investigation experts have spent years trying to change attitudes about arson cases like Cacy’s, which they say was based on guesswork, not science. But proving innocence has been difficult in this realm of science that’s less clear than DNA testing or other means criminal-justice advocates use to free the wrongfully convicted...See the rest of this story here
Day 13: Innocence Matters Builds a Case of Innocence 17 Years Later-A 17-Day Video Journal of One Innocent Woman’s 17-Year Struggle for Freedom
FFor the 26 years David Lee Gavitt sat in a Michigan prison, he told everyone who would listen that he did not set the fire that killed his wife and two baby girls. Nearly 25 years would pass before some of the nation’s top fire experts would tell him they believed him.“David’s case was the classic example of a bad arson case,” said John Lentini, a leading fire scientist who reviewed Gavitt’s case during the effort to get his conviction overturned. “People jumped to conclusions.”
Since Gavitt’s conviction in 1986, the field of fire investigation has been turned on its head. Scientists and investigators have discovered that features long considered signs of a fire intentionally set, in fact also occur during accidents. This has prompted the re-examination of arson convictions across the country that may have been based on bad science...See the rest of this story here
We are human beings. We deserve to be buried by out children not the other way around. No matter how u felt about black people look at this Mother and look at this father and tell me as a human being how u cannot feel empathy for them. How can u not feel sympathy for their pain..See the rest of this story here
In response to the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole's denial of Barry Beach's clemency application this month, James McCloskey, executive director of Centurion Ministries, which has been fighting on Beach's behalf, issued a detailed commentary today. His response follows in full:
My name is Jim McCloskey. In 1980, I began the work of Centurion Ministries (CM). CM’s mission is to identify and then work to free those men and women across America who, after a rigorous vetting process, we believe to be factually innocent of the crimes for which they are serving life or death sentences. Barry Beach is one of our clients. Throughout the last 14 years we have conducted an exhaustive investigation of his conviction and Kimberly Nees’ homicide...See the rest of this story here
When you start reading Nell Bernstein's haunting book about juvenile justice in America, you'll surely become heartbroken at the ways in which our nation systematically abuses, neglects, tortures, and otherwise ruins the lives of generations of children. No parent in America could read this wrenching work and not be touched to tears by its depictions of what our laws and our public officials do to our kids.
But later in your reading of Bernstein's Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile PrisonSee the rest of this story here
The New York man who was wrongfully convicted of murder for a 1997 Brooklyn homicide was finally released from jail Tuesday after it was revealed that the key eyewitness was incarcerated at the time she claimed to have seen him before the murder.
Roger Logan spent 17 years behind bars after he fell victim to the work of a disgraced detective...See the rest of this story here
NEW YORK (AP) — When three half brothers' decades-old murder convictions were thrown out last month, they became a dramatic example of an idea spreading among prosecutors nationwide: "integrity units" dedicated to double-checking convictions to determine whether justice was served.
Over the last seven years, more than a dozen prosecutors' offices across the country have created such staff teams or expert panels to review wrongful-conviction claims. The groups have agreed to revisit more than 4,900 cases, resulting in at least 61 convictions tossed so far, according to a tally compiled from interviews, prosecutors' reports and news accounts..See the rest of this story here
The damage from prosecutorial misconduct can be devastating. Putting innocents behind bars not only effects those wrongfully accused – it greatly damages the public trust in the judicial system. Conceded, long-concealed prosecutorial transgressions are neither isolated nor atypical in our justice system. Blind Justice continuously tracks and distributes news of prosecutorial misconduct to raise awareness of the need for conviction integrity. Our Jon-Adrian Velazquez ad (featured above) focuses on a man convicted of murder and confined to a prison cell for the past 14 years without a single shred of physical evidence linking him to the crime...See the rest of this story here
DURHAM, N.C. — A Durham judge on Tuesday ordered a new trial for a man convicted in the 1991 murders of a woman and her daughter due to misconduct by a Durham police detective and the prosecuting assistant district attorney.
Darryl Howard is serving 80 years in prison for the killings of Doris Washington and her 13-year-old daughter, Nishonda, inside their apartment in the now-defunct Few Gardens public housing community...See the rest of this story here
The deputy described beating inmates unprovoked, slapping them, shooting them with a Taser gun and aggressively searching them to pick a fight — something he learned "on the job." He would huddle with other jail guards to get their stories straight and write up reports with bogus scenarios justifying the brutality. If the inmate had no visible injuries, he wouldn't report the use of force, period.
He did all this with impunity, former Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Gilbert Michel testified..See the rest of this story here
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said the modern American system in which 97 percent of defendants plead guilty “is totally different from what the founding fathers had in mind.” Rakoff elaborated on his concerns during an interview with the New York Daily News, a month after he first raised the issue during a speech at the University of Southern California....See the rest of this story here
False confessions induced by interrogators are among the leading causes of wrongful imprisonment in the United States, research shows. During hours-long, emotionally stressful interrogations, authorities have coerced, intentionally or not, innocent people to admit to crimes.
“Many who confess do so in short interrogations,” University of Virginia law professor Brandon Garrett writes in his book, “Convicting the Innocent....See the rest of this story here
He looked like a lost little boy searching for his mother.
Even at 275 pounds and standing at a towering 6-foot-4, Tony Yarbough appeared childlike as he carried two bouquets of roses on Mother’s Day through the verdant, eternal pasture of Rosemount Memorial Park, a cemetery in Elizabeth, N.J.
He’d traveled here with friends and his attorney Phil Smallman from St. Albans, Queens. As songbirds chased each other through the budding oaks and jets roared into the blue heavens from nearby Newark Airport around 8:45 a.m.,.. See the rest of this story here
Too many innocent people have been executed over the years. As terrible news of death sentences and botched executions continues, it is time to end the death penalty worldwide.
A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scienceshas found about one in 25 people imprisoned under a death sentence is likely innocent. 1320 prisoners were sentenced to death since 1977 – the research indicates several were almost certainly innocent.
From 1973 to 2004, 1.6 percent of those sentenced to death in the US - 138 prisoners - were subsequently found innocent and released.... Read more at links at name and title
On April 28 a study published in the prestigous Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicated that far more innocent people have been sentenced to death than those found through the legal process. According to the study, many innocent defendants are probably not being identified because they were taken off death row and given a lesser sentence. The rate of exonerations for those sentenced to death would be over twice as high if all cases were given the heightened scrutiny often accorded to those who remain on death row. The authors of "The Rate of False Conviction of Criminal Defendants Who are Sentenced to Death" concluded: "[A] conservative estimate of the proportion of erroneous convictions of defendants sentenced to death in the United States from 1973 through 2004 [is] 4.1%.. See the rest of this story here
In a move that could result in the prison release of hundreds or thousands of low-level drug offenders, the Justice Department said Monday that it will advise President Obama to widen his guidelines for granting clemency...See more of this story here
It is unfathomable to anyone who has not experienced it.
Eighteen years of freedom and life stripped away because of a wrongful conviction, Anthony Graves, otherwise known as Death RowExoneree 138, shared his experience with Sam Houston State University at an event on Saturday.
“Social Justice and Music,” part of the 52nd Annual SHSUContemporary Music Festival, was a panel including Graves and criminal justice experts including founder and chief counsel for the Innocence Project of Texas Jeff Blackburn..See the rest of this story here
The Marshall County District Attorney General’s Office dismissed the remaining charges against Randy Mills on Friday, exonerating him of a 1999 rape. The dismissal was in response to a November 2013 decision by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals decision ordering a new trial for Mills based on new DNA evidence proving his innocence.
“Randy Mills spent more than a decade locked up for a crime that more thorough investigation and careful forensic work would have revealed that he shouldn’t have been charged with in the first place,” said Bryce Benjet, a staff attorney with the Innocence Project. “This day was a long time coming, and I know Mr. Mills was happy to have been with close friends when it finally came.”..See the rest of this story here
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Malisha Blyden had never seen the person she was convicted of trying to kill.
Because of a misdialed phone number, she was convicted and sentenced to 40 years behind bars.
Now, Blyden has been exonerated, talk about justice long denied.
"If you're innocent don't give up, just keep fighting!" said Malisha Blyden, wrongfully convicted.
Malisha Blyden was innocent from the very beginning...See the rest of this story here
The State Bar of Texas is investigating former Burleson County District Attorney Charles Sebesta in the capital murder conviction of Anthony Graves in 1994, a state senator announced Tuesday.
Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, tweeted a picture of the letter Graves received from the State Bar's Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel with Friday's date confirming the investigation.
In January, Ellis, state Sen. John Whitmire and state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, all Houston Democrats, joined Graves in urging the state bar to investigate and punish Sebesta.
"I am seeking justice for the man who wrongfully prosecuted me," Graves, 48, told reporters.
Gerald Barton, a black man originally from Jordantown near Digby, was convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1970. His case was reopened in 2008 and the verdict overturned after the woman said she had lied and that her brother had sexually assaulted her since she was nine...See the rest of this story here
(CNN) -- When former death row inmate John Thompson left a Louisiana prison in 2003 he was one of the lucky ones.
He had the support of his family and the lawyers who had worked for more than a decade to prove his innocence in the 1984 shooting death of a hotel executive from a prominent New Orleans family.
Within six months of his release, he was married and holding down a steady job...See the rest of this story here
A controversial case that imprisoned three men including a former Woonsocket
Rhode Island police detective may see a new outcome more than thirty years after the crime. A lengthy motion filed in Superior Court by lawyers for Raymond Tempest Jr., 61, seeks to have his conviction of the 1982 murder of Doreen Picard vacated after DNA testing of a hair found in the victim’s hand proved not to be from Tempest..See the rest of this story here
The problem of wrongful conviction is attracting more attention in Albany, and while there is still no comprehensive approach to dealing with this critical issue, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has proposed welcome legislation to deal with its aftermath.
When New Yorkers are exonerated of crimes for which they have been wrongly convicted and sentenced, there is no way for some of them to seek compensation for what can be decades behind bars. Schneiderman’s bill, the Unjust Imprisonment Act, would ensure that all wrongfully convicted people have the opportunity to seek compensation. As it stands, some people – often those most in need – are excluded from that possibility...See the rest of this story here
CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - A man exonerated after serving 17 years in prison for a 1995 robbery and murder is suing the city and a number of Chicago police officers.
Alprentiss Nash filed the nine-count lawsuit in federal court Tuesday, alleging Chicago police violated the Civil Rights Act and denied him his constitutional rights...See the rest of this story here
The Jacksonville, Florida woman whose 20-year sentence for firing warning shots at her ex-husband was overturned may face 60 years to life in prison if prosecutors successfully retry her case.
Marissa Alexander was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2012 for firing three warning shots in the direction of her ex-husband, who she alleged was abusive. Her conviction was overturned after the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled that the judge in her case, James Daniel, was wrong to instruct the jury that in order to be proven innocent, Alexander had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was a battered woman...See the rest of this story here
I was the first person in the United States to be exonerated from death row because of DNA testing.
In 1984, I was 23 years old, newly married and living in Cambridge, Maryland. I had just served four years in the Marine Corps. I had never been arrested. This all changed on August 9, 1984, when the police knocked on my door at 3 a.m. and arrested me for the murder of 9-year-old Dawn Hamilton.
In a matter of days I became the most hated man in Maryland...See the rest of this story here
(CNN) -- By the time Edward Lee Elmore won his freedom at age 53, he had spent 30 years -- most of them on death row -- imprisoned in South Carolina for a crime he says he did not commit.
Law enforcement planted evidence and prosecutors manipulated facts to cast Elmore as the only suspect in the 1982 murder of 75-year-old Dorothy Edwards, his lawyers claim...See the rest of this story here
Her #FoxNews article has been shared over 40,000 times -despite the fact that there is still no evidence that Darren Wilson suffered a fractured eye socket. No source will go on record to back up her lies. No pictures have ever been presented to back up her claims. Let's share this image of her wearing this hat 40,000 times because we need to stand up against these attacks against #MikeBrown! #Ferguson
Prosecutors often bend the facts to secure convictions against defendants whose guilt they have a strong degree of faith in. But in the penultimate episode of the Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer,” Wisconsin’s Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz looks 12 jurors in the face and delivers a whopper of a lie to seal the fate of a 17-year-old homicide defendant....See the rest of this story here
The body of 14-year-old Crystal Champagne was found underneath a bridge in Louisiana in 1996, an electrical cord wrapped around her neck and her clothes in disarray. It didn’t take long to find the man who did it: within a couple of days, her cousin Damon Thibodeaux confessed to police on tape that he had raped and murdered her.....See the rest of this story here
Antony Caravella had to wait 26 years for justice. The 46-year-old was wrongfully imprisoned after being framed by two Miramar police officers for the rape and murder of 58-year old Ada Cox Jankowski.
Jankowski was in fact brutally raped and stabbed over a dozen times, but the mentally challenged Caravella had nothing to do with the crimes against her. Still, back in 1983, Caravella was framed by two police officers William Mantesta and George Pierson...See the rest of this story here
During a lecture at the University of Florida on Jan. 20, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens acknowledged evidence that proved “beyond a shadow of doubt” that Texas executed an innocent man in the 1980s.
Stevens referred to a book The Wrong Carlos by Columbia Law School professor James Liebman, saying that it had sufficiently demonstrated that “there is a Texas case in which they executed the wrong defendant and the person they executed did not in fact commit the crime for which he was punished.”..See the rest of this story here
The National Registry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan Law School has put out its report for 2014, and once again, America is breaking new ground in letting innocent people out of prisons. Last year, 125 people were freed from prison. This beats the 91 freed in both 2012 and 2013. The report notes, though, that one of the reasons the number is so much higher this year is due to 33 exonerations in drug cases in a single county, Harris County, in Texas.
Who does the registry credit for this increase? Prosecutors. No, really. The report notes a rise in exonerations due to the efforts of Conviction Integrity Units..See the rest of this story here
Convicted of double murder at the age of 14 in 1977, Johnnie Lee Savory of Peoria, holding a picture of himself as a child, spent most of his life behind bars, until being released on parole in 2006. As one of his final acts in office, former Gov. Pat Quinn pardoned Savory, meaning his record will be expunged or purged. Savory and lawyers with the Center on Wrongful Convictions still are seeking a legal ruling asserting his innocence. In this 2012 photo, Savory and his team announced they had filed a motion requesting advanced DNA testing on some evidence from his trial...See the rest of this story here
Just how many individuals on death row are incorrectly convicted? The question has dogged attorneys and civil rights advocates for years, but a simple answer is almost impossible because few wrongful cases are ever overturned. A new analysis is adding a level of much-needed detail, and it concludes that more than twice as many inmates were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death than have been exonerated and freed...See the rest of this story here
Going to prison for a crime you did not commit is a nightmare that has inspired great fiction, from “The Count of Monte Cristo” to modern Hollywood takes such as “The Shawshank Redemption.”
Meanwhile, in the real world the introduction of modern genetic testing into the criminal justice system has added a new twist to these old themes, providing for some a way out from behind bars — through an exoneration process that leads from the laboratory to the courtroom.
DNA evidence has saved the lives of those on death row..See the rest of this story here
Even though the FBI has identified Washington, D.C. as a high-frequency area for sex trafficking of minors, city officials there are expressing reservations about a critical component of an anti-trafficking law that advocates say would expand protections for survivors of this violence — claiming that some children are prostitution “offenders.”.
Nationally, the average age of entry into commercial sexual exploitation is 11-14 years old, and many of these survivors are lured by traffickers with false promises .See the rest of this story here
As darkness fell on Canfield Drive on August 9, a makeshift memorial sprang up in the middle of the street where Michael Brown's body had been sprawled in plain view for more than four hours. Flowers and candles were scattered over the bloodstains on the pavement. Someone had affixed a stuffed animal to a streetlight pole a few yards away. Neighborhood residents and others were gathering, many of them upset and angry.
Soon, police vehicles reappeared, including from the St. Louis County Police Department, which had taken control of the investigation. Several officers emerged with dogs. What happened next, according to several sources, was emblematic of what has inflamed the city of Ferguson, Missouri..See the rest of this story here
Of all the adventures my lucky children had this summer — swimming in two oceans, hanging out on their bearded uncle’s commercial salmon fishing boat, endless Popsicles — the biggest one, they told me, was just 495 feet away in their own D.C. neighborhood.
They got to walk to the corner store on Capitol Hill by themselves. Clutch your pearls, America. The boys are 7 and 10. Apparently, I could be arrested for this...See the rest of this story here
A judge on Monday dismissed all charges and vacated the sentence of a man who has spent more than 20 years in prison on convictions of multiple sex crimes against three children.
Michael Alan Parker dropped his head and wept as Judge Marvin Pope announced his decision in Buncombe County Superior Court. Parker's lawyer, Sean Devereux, expects him to be released Tuesday from Craggy Correctional Center..See the rest of this story here
The Ferguson police officer who shot unarmed teen Michael Brown had worked at a department that was disbanded by authorities over racial tensions, the Washington Post reports.
Darren Wilson and the other officers at the Jennings, Missouri, police department lost their jobs three years ago. Wilson was a rookie cop at the time...See the rest of this story here
It is true he is no longer a felon, no longer a convicted sex offender. No longer is he required to register with police anywhere he calls home. No longer is he restricted from hanging out in a public park. No longer is he forced to take a test to measure his chances for recidivism—that is, for again committing the kind of sexual assault he has insisted from day one he never committed in the first place...See the rest of this story here
Michael Alan Parker, a client of Duke Law School’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic, has been released from prison after 22 years of incarceration for crimes he did not commit, including allegations of child sexual abuse.
At a hearing in Asheville on Aug. 25, Superior Court Judge Marvin Pope overturned Parker’s 1994 conviction..See the rest of this story here
If you're paying attention to the events unfolding in Ferguson -- and by God, you better be -- then you probably already know there is a group of people in this country of ours who are determined to change the focus of the conversation about the killing of Mike Brown and the subsequent protests, attempting to shift the lens away from the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens and the killing of a black teenager. If you're reading this, you probably already know the folks I'm talking about. But here they are. #Staywoke...See the rest of this story here
Here is how Darren Wilson became the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Mike Brown, as told by two lengthy profiles in The Washington Postand the New York Times.
Wilson, now 28, grew up in a “chaotic” home. ..See the rest of this stroy here
For those not registered on the National Liberty Alliance (NLA) mailing list… here’s your chance, America, to speak out, stand up, and do your part to remove the corruption in The People’s courts.
As John says… “Do not procrastinate.” Time and desire have a way of slipping away.
Instructions are below. ..See the rest of this story here
Thousands of people gathered on New York’s Staten Island on Saturday as they protested against police violence.....
Organized by Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network advocacy group, the #WeWillNotGoBack march attracted close to 3,000 people from across New York City and New Jersey, according to initial estimates by the police.
Protesters marched through the streets, chanting against police brutality and holding up numerous signs, many of which read, “Respect Human Rights.” Others featured statements like, “The police are criminals, not our youth,” and,“We seek justice, not violence.”..See the rest of this story here
If the state Supreme Court orders a hearing in the case involving Death Row inmate Jeffrey Havard, it will be the second in a row involving Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Others could follow. At least 11 people are behind bars in Mississippi — and two on Death Row — because of testimony involving that syndrome.
The syndrome has long been used to convict thousands of parents, caregivers and others, but now questions are being raised about the science behind it...See the rest of this story here
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said Tuesday that both of the officers opened fire on Powell when he came within a three or four feet of them holding a knife "in an overhand grip."
But the newly released cell phone footage undermines the statement, showing Powell approaching the cops, but not coming as close as was reported, with his hands at his side. The officers began shooting within 15 seconds of their arrival, hitting Powell with a barrage of bullets...See the rest of this story here
THOUSANDS of people plead guilty to crimes every year in the United States because they know that the odds of a jury’s believing their word over a police officer’s are slim to none. As a juror, whom are you likely to believe: the alleged criminal in an orange jumpsuit or two well-groomed police officers in uniforms who just swore to God they’re telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but? As one of my colleagues recently put it, “Everyone knows you have to be crazy to accuse the police of lying.”..See the rest of this story here
New York City has agreed to pay $10 million to settle a wrongful conviction lawsuit filed by Jabbar Collins, who spent 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.
The settlement announced today concludes a decades-long struggle for Collins, now 42.
He was just 22 when he was sent to Green Haven Correctional Facility in upstate New York for the 1994 murder of Brooklyn landlord Abraham Pollack. In the years that followed, Collins turned his cell into a full-fledged jailhouse lawyer's office. He filed Freedom of Information Requests, re-interviewed witnesses, and taught himself to write and submit legal motions. Eventually, he gained the attention of a Manhattan defense attorney named Joel Rudin, who helped Collins win his freedom by persuading Federal Judge Dora Irizarry to vacate his conviction in 2010.
As ProPublica has reported, the effort by Rudin and Collins, in many ways, helped trigger the downfall of former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles "Joe" Hynes..See the rest of this story here
You can’t solve a public health crisis by locking people up.
Jim Pugel knows this. After more than 30 years with the Seattle Police Department, he’s seen first-hand that sending people to prison for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses doesn’t work.
The incarceration rate for drug crimes in the United States expanded tenfold since 1980. Half of all people in federal prison are there on drug charges; most are not high-level actors in the drug trade and have no prior record for a violent offense. ...See the rest of this story here
"If you don't want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground," warns Officer Sunil Dutta of the Los Angeles Police Department, "just do what I tell you."
The thing is, Officer Dutta (pictured) is also anAdjunct Professor of Homeland Security and Criminal Justice at Colorado Technical University. And he uttered those words not in the heat of the moment, but in an opinion piece in theWashington Post responding to widespread criticism of police attitudes and tactics currently on display in Ferguson, Missouri, but increasingly common nationwide...See the rest of this story here
A 17-year-old Florida boy was sentenced to 23 years in prison on Friday for the fatal shooting of a retired police dog, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported.
Ivins Rosier was found guilty in May on charges of cruelty to animals with a firearm, burglary of a dwelling with a firearm and shooting into a building in connection with the Nov. 18, 2012 shooting of the dog while breaking into Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Robert Boody’s home. Rosier’s co-defendant, 20-year-old Gilson Gilles, is still awaiting trial on the same charges.
Prosecutors noted to the jury that Rosier confessed to breaking into the residence while wearing a GPS bracelet because of a previous burglary arrest. The Associated Press reported that Rosier had refused to take a plea agreement requiring him to serve a 20-year sentence...See the rest of this story here
WASHINGTON — FERGUSON, Mo., has become a virtual war zone. In the wake of the shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, outsize armored vehicles have lined streets and tear gas has filled the air. Officers dressed in camouflage uniforms from Ferguson’s 53-person police force have pointed M-16s at the very citizens they are sworn to protect and serve.
The police response has shocked America. The escalating tension in this town of 21,200 people between a largely white police department and a majority African-American community is a central part of the crisis, but the militarization of the police is a dimension of the story that has national implications.
Ferguson’s police force got equipped this way thanks to the Pentagon, and it’s happening all over the country. The Department of Defense provides military-grade weapons and equipment to local law enforcement agencies through the 1033 program, enacted by Congress in 1997 to expand the practice of dispensing extra military gear...See the rest of this story here
Twenty-five years ago today, an Illinois court overturned Gary Dotson’s conviction for rape and aggravated kidnapping after DNA tests performed on the biological evidence in the original rape kit excluded him as the perpetrator. This was the first exoneration of an innocent prisoner in this country based on post-conviction DNA testing, and it was not the last. According to data compiled by the Innocence Project in New York City, post-conviction DNA evidence has since yielded 316 other exonerations in the United States.
learned from these DNA exonerations? Scholars have examined these cases in search of what went wrong. Among the chief contributors to the conviction..See the rest of this story here
Kenneth Young, shackled in a chair and wearing a red prison jumpsuit, recalls the unthinkable.“They was like, ‘Well, Mr. Young, you know, you not going home no more. You gonna die in prison.’ I’m like, ‘Who gonna die in prison? I ain’t dying in prison.’ So I was in denial because it happened so fast. It’s like one day, I’m 15 years old and I’m in society. And the next I’m not, and you telling me I ain’t never gonna go home?”
“Everything happened so fast,” he says.
A barbed-wired gate outside the Florida prison closes, before the scene shifts back to Young, on the inside...See the rest of this story here
The Washington Post had a blockbuster front-page investigation with a lengthy Aug. 3 story about an unreliable witness in a Texas execution case. But the story came from a new kid on the block.
“The Prosecutor and the Snitch” was the first story to be published by The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news site focused on criminal justice reform. The Marshall Project, named after former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, plans to officially launch in October.
Founder and Chairman Neil Barsky, a former hedge fund manager, has also worked as a reporter for outlets including the Wall Street Journal, and he directed the 2013 documentary Koch. The site has a staff of 17, with more than a dozen editorial staff.
“I think there is a growing national consensus that our system is broken, it’s inefficient, it’s expensive, it’s often inhumane,” said Barsky. “And I think that good, honest, aggressive reporting is often a fabulous way to change minds.”
Barsky decided to launch The Marshall Project as a nonprofit because, as he puts it, “we’re dealing with an incredibly important topic..See the rest of this story here
County of Conviction: San Diego
Convicted of: Second-Degree Murder
Sentence: 15 Years to Life
Years Served: 21 Years
Released: August 10, 2004
Cost of Wrongful Incarceration: $945,000
Kenneth Marsh was convicted in November 1983 for the death of 33-month-old Phillip Buell, who died 10 months earlier from a head injury sustained when he fell off a couch and hit his head on a brick hearth. Although the incident was originally treated as an accidental fall by the San Diego Police Department..See the rest of this story here
Sen. Marco Rubio hasn’t hammered out a firm position on mandatory minimum sentencing laws yet.
A year ago, that would have been perfectly normal for a Republican senator and rumored presidential contender. But over the last months, most of the potential Republican nominees have voiced support for policy changes that historically might have gotten them the toxic “soft on crime” label. These days, though, backing prison reform lets Republicans simultaneously resurrect compassionate conservatism and reach out to voters who wouldn’t typically find much to love from the GOP.
Rep. Paul Ryan is one of the latest potential presidential candidates to tout mandatory minimum sentencing reform as part of a conservative strategy to reduce poverty. The Daily Beast reportedthat in May Ryan indicated to a group of reporters that he was revisiting the issue, especially regarding mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders...See the rest of this story here
Man wrongly imprisoned for 21 years in Connecticut seeks millionsMan wrongly imprisoned for 21 years in Connecticut seeks millions
HARTFORD, Conn. • A Connecticut man cleared of murder and rape charges after being locked up for two decades made an emotional appeal for millions in compensation on Tuesday, telling the state claims commissioner about the fear he endured in prison.
Kenneth Ireland was imprisoned at the age of 18 and released in 2009 at age 39 after DNA tests proved that another man fatally beat a mother of four in 1986. He's seeking $5.4 million to $8 million under Connecticut's wrongful incarceration law...See the rest of this story here
The poll’s purpose was, in O’Reilly’s pipe dream world, to facilitate an extremely negative response and then to air a segment on The O’Reilly Factor derailing cannabis legalization (like he did Monday night). By polling his own audience, O’Reilly and his team could paint a delusional picture, but one supported by “data.”..See the rest of this story here
The criminal justice system continues to treat black and white defendants differently. It also convicts innocent people.
But whose fault is that, considering that nearly 95 percent of convictions result from plea bargains where defendants agree to the sentences?
Psychology professor Vanessa Edkins from the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne has spent years researching bias in plea bargaining, sentencing and attorney-client relations.
She recently co-authored a study, titled "The Innocent Defendant's Dilemma," based on a disquieting experiment on nearly 100 students at F.I.T...See the rest of this story here
Shortly before midnight on November 13, 1990, a gunman broke into the home of 44-year-old Lyndel Robertson. He and his 41-year-old wife Catherine were shot while in bed at their home outside of Chillicothe, Missouri. Lyndel was shot four times and survived. Catherine was shot twice and died.
When the paramedics arrived, they found Catherine dead in bed. Lyndel was on the floor. He spit out a bullet fragment and another bullet fragment was found in the bed. At the hospital, a third fragment was removed from Lyndel’s tongue. One of the bullets was lodged near his liver.
There were no signs of forced entry, the house had not been ransacked, and money was lying out in the open in the living room.
Two or three hours after the shooting, authorities went to the nearby house of Claude Woodworth. The Woodworth family, including Claude’s 16-year-old son, Mark, was in a farming partnership with the Robertsons. Claude Woodworth told investigators that Lyndel kept a .22 caliber Ruger pistol in his pickup truck, and that it was identical to one he owned. Claude Woodworth retrieved his own gun from his bedroom. The gun was examined and returned...See the rest of this story here
Janet Burke wept 30 years ago while testifying against Thomas E. Haynesworth, the man she was certain had raped her. “He had a face I couldn’t forget,” she told the jury.
The 1984 attack brought Burke’s world to a halt. After Haynesworth was safely in prison, she said, “time passed and the memories began to fade. I began to think that my life might be normal once more.”
A quarter-century later, Burke was married, had a career and was raising two children when DNA proved she had identified the wrong man. The real rapist went on to victimize others...See the rest of this story here
We were two of more than 100 former prosecutors, judges, state bar presidents, along with former Gov. William Milliken, who joined a friend of the court brief urging the Michigan Supreme Court to apply a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to those serving a mandatory life without parole sentence handed down when they were teenagers.
The Michigan Legislature had already codified the U.S. Supreme Court ruling for cases going forward by removing the “mandatory” part of the sentence, thus allowing the judge in each case to tailor the sentence to the person and circumstances before him or her and give the teen convicted a chance to show they have been rehabilitated....See the rest of this story here
The Department of Justice has responded to a Freedom of Information Act request from FDL News for documents estimating the costs that the federal government will not have to incur if the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014 is passed.
The 12 page draft memo provided to FDL indicates that the DOJ estimates the cost avoidance resulting from the bill’s passage would be $23.9 billion over the next 20 years...See the rest of this story here
If the Obama administration is to be believed, America’s infamous “War on Drugs” is over.
In its most recent National Drug Control Strategy, released last week, officials promised a more humane and sympathetic approach to drug users and addiction. Out, the report suggests, are “tough on crime” policies. Rather than more police and more prisons, officials talk about public health and education. They promise to use evidence-based practices to combat drug abuse. And they want to use compassionate messaging and successful reentry programs to reduce the stigma drug offenders and addicts face.
Unfortunately, the government’s actions don’t jibe with their rhetoric...See the rest of this story here
At a time when most infants rock in cradles, take naps on grandma’s shoulder or play bouncy-bounce on a knee, I crawled around in a 4-by-6-foot concrete box the size of a small closet. Instead of the background lullaby from a pull toy in a crib, I would have heard “Chow time!” yelled through the slot in the steel door and then a slam — the food port in our prison cell in solitary confinement. I was born in prison; I spent part of the first year of my life in “the hole.”...See the rest of this story here
Wake up America we need to get these three justices out of the USA supreme court and STOP THE INJUSTICES OF ALL USA CITIZENS.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. We have 5 percent of the world’s population, yet 25 percent of its prisoners. There are over 2 million people in prison and jail, and nearly 2 million children with a parent incarcerated. Of them, 400,000 are age four or younger. One in three black males born today will go to prison at some point in his life. There are over 500 percent more women in prison today than in 1980. Our incarceration rate is 800 percent higher than Germany’s and 1300 percent higher than Japan’s.
What do you call something like that?
Undeniably, today’s term of art is “mass incarceration.” The phrase now seems ubiquitous, and is in use by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, CNN, Al Jazeera, and MSNBC; Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, The University of Chicago Law School, NYU Law, and myriad other academics; the Brookings Institution, the Sentencing Project, the Urban Institute, the AFL-CIO, and countless others, including the Brennan Center.
The problems embodied by the phrase “mass incarceration” are now the bête noire of criminal justice reform advocates. The term means much to many on both the left and right of the political spectrum: a failure of social justice, a violation of human rights, an ineffective crime-control policy, an egregious waste of taxpayer money...See the rest of this story here
Judge Arguello presiding over proceedings related to defendant's allegations of judicial misconduct against her is a violation of the defendants’ right of due process. The Supreme Court of The United States (SCOTUS), in the case In re: Murchison, 349 U.S. 133 (1955), held that a trial judge who presides over a trial/proceeding when they have an interest in the outcome is a 5th Amendment violation of due process. In the case of the IRP6, Judge Arguello, not only violated the IRP6 defendants 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when she coerced them to testify in their criminal trial against their will, but served up a second 5th Amendment violation, this time a denial of due process when she presided over subsequent judicial misconduct proceedings related to the allegations of coercion that were levied against her by the IRP6. Like the trial judge in Murchison, Judge Arguello cannot be a judge in her own case and try matters which she has an interest in the outcome.
THE MURCHISON CASE
In 1955, Michigan law authorized its judges to act as one-man grand jury where the judge could compel witnesses to appear before him in secret proceedings to testify about suspected crimes. In Murchison, the judge charged two witnesses with contempt, one for perjury and the other for refusing to answer questions. After charging/indicting them in a secret chamber hearing, he ordered them to appear in a public trial in open court. The judge convicted them and sentenced them on contempt charges. ..See the rest of this story here
I have wondered countless times over the past 30 years whether I would live to see the end of the death penalty in the United States. I now know that day will come, and I believe that the current Supreme Court will be its architect.
In its ruling in Hall v. Florida in May, the court — with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy at the helm — reminded us that the core value animating the Eighth Amendment’s cruel and unusual punishments clause is the preservation of human dignity against the affront of unnecessarily harsh punishment. ..See the rest of this story here
A Spencer County woman who claimed she pleaded guilty to a homicide she didn't commit only because she was railroaded by a state police detective has been granted a new trial.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruling Friday means that Susan Jean King likely will be exonerated in the 1998 slaying of Kyle "Deanie" Breeden, lawyers say.
"This is a great victory for Susan, her family and the Kentucky criminal justice system," said Linda A. Smith, director of the Department of Public Advocacy's Kentucky Innocence Project, which won the case...See the rest of this story here
Jay Biggs letter
My name is Jay and I am serving life for a murder I did not commit, a murder that never happened. 5 years ago my infant daughter passed away and police claimed her death was suspicious. However there was no practical proof. Two years later I was arrested and charged. Lawyers told me the prosecution was taking a 50/50 gamble that by using such a heinous story jurors would be blind to factuality. Dr. Spitz, the foremost pathologist and author of the "Bible" of pathologists clearly stated at trial "This child died of Sids, namely she asphyxiated on vomit ". Police found no DNA or other physical evidence and said they could not even identify vomit. Mainly because they lacked the techology or professionals of a big city, they felt that their suspicions were good enough. I am incarerated because police had no evidence, they had no evidence because no murder occurred and one poor man cannot take on police and state prosecutors alone. They are right, alone I will not succeed in righting this wrong...See the rest of this story here
Prison labor — with no union protection, overtime pay, vacation days, pensions, benefits, health and safety protection, or Social Security withholding — also makes complex components for McDonnell Douglas/Boeing’s F-15 fighter aircraft, the General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16, and Bell/Textron’s Cobra helicopter. Prison labor produces night-vision goggles, body armor, camouflage uniforms, radio and communication devices, and lighting systems and components for 30-mm to 300-mm battleship anti-aircraft guns, along with land mine sweepers and electro-optical equipment for the BAE Systems Bradley Fighting Vehicle’s laser rangefinder. Prisoners recycle toxic electronic equipment and overhaul military vehicles.
Labor in federal prisons is contracted out by UNICOR, previously known as Federal Prison Industries, a quasi-public, for-profit corporation run by the Bureau of Prisons. In 14 prison factories, more than 3,000 prisoners manufacture electronic equipment for land, sea and airborne communication. UNICOR is now the U.S. government’s 39th largest contractor, with 110 factories at 79 federal penitentiaries...See the rest of this story here
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV/AP) -A special prosecutor has dismissed a first-degree murder charge against a northwest Missouri man facing a third trial in his neighbor's 1990 death - the latest and likely final legal victory in a nearly quarter-century effort to clear his name.Platte County Circuit Clerk Sandra Dowd confirmed Tuesday the decision by former Clay County prosecutor Don Norris in the case of Mark Woodworth, who was 16 when Cathy Robertson was shot and killed in Chillicothe.The special prosecutor said he dropped the murder charge and four other felony charges because the wrong man was prosecuted two decades ago.
The charges weren't dismissed with prejudice, meaning they could be refiled. But defense attorneys don't think that will occur after speaking with prosecutors.
"It's over," defense attorney Bob Ramsey said. ..See the rest of this story here
High school dropout. U.S. Army Military Police Officer. Highly decorated undercover cop and narcotics detective. New York City Department of Correction Commissioner. Police Commissioner of the City of New York. United States Secretary of Homeland Security Nominee. Convicted Felon.
My life has been a series of highs and lows. But now I am embarking on the next chapter, and one I believe will define my legacy: Reformer.
Today I want to use my unique set of criminal justice experiences -- from both sides of the prison wall -- to help end the mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent offenders....See the rest of this story here
Because jails have become an acceptable place to warehouse the mentally ill, Jawaun Westbrooks, whose family says he suffers from a bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was in a position to allegedly assault two women with a hammer near Navy Pier last week.
“I feel sorry for the ladies. They didn’t deserve that. But if something would have been done sooner, all of this could have been avoided,” said Corneal Westbrooks, the mentally ill man’s brother.
Since his brother was diagnosed with mental illness 10 years ago, Westbrooks said, the 28-year-old has been in and out of jails for offenses, including loitering and aggravated battery to a police officer...See the rest of this story here
Tim Howard was sentenced to death for the 1998 murders in Ashdown of Brian Day, his best friend, and Day’s wife Shannon Day, who was also a close friend. He was also convicted of attempting to kill the couple’s infant son.
Attention was drawn to Howard’s case when the Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed Howard’s conviction, but with three of the seven justices dissenting. In unprec
edented opinions for a death case in Arkansas, the three dissenters wrote that they did not find sufficient evidence even to convict Howard—let alone to sentence him to death.
Since that ruling, concern about Howard’s case has escalated. Here are a few reasons why:..See the rest of this story here
The State Bar of Texas has decided it will try former Burleson County District Attorney Charles Sebesta before an administrative judge to determine whether Sebesta will receive punitive action for his role in wrongfully sentencing exoneree Anthony Graves to death in 1994. This comes after the Bar found sufficient evidence of alleged prosecutorial misconduct in the case.
Graves spent 18 years incarcerated in a Texas prison—12 of them on death row—before his wrongful mass murder conviction was overturned by the U.S. 5th Circuit of Appeals in 2006, concluding that Sebesta intentionally withheld favorable evidence and used false testimony in the case..See the rest of this story here
A former New York Police Department officer convicted of planning to kidnap and rape women before killing and eating them is set to go free after a federal judge overturned his conviction.
According to Reuters, the so-called “Cannibal Cop” Gilberto Valle was acquitted by US District Judge Paul Gardephe on Monday. Valle has been in prison since he was arrested in 2012, and potentially faced life behind bars on kidnapping conspiracy charges.
In his opinion, Judge Gardephe stated that the evidence used to originally convict Valle did not sufficiently prove that the former officer acted on what his attorneys said were sexual, cannibalistic fantasies involving women he never met, as well as his wife.
"The evidentiary record is such that it is more likely than not the case that all of Valle's Internet communications about kidnapping are fantasy role-play," the judge wrote...See the rest of this story here
Eleven New York inmates have been exonerated so far this year — as many as in any other full year — and Brooklyn leads the way, a new study reveals.
A team of 13 in the office of new District Attorney Kenneth Thompson is in the middle of a review of 100 cases — an effort that has already yielded eight exonerations, with more expected.
“I am determined to get to the bottom of these cases,” said Thompson, who defeated Charles Hynes in last year’s election and took over in January...See the rest of this story here
'The Dixmoor Five' case is back in the news, giving Gov. Quinn a ripe chance to right an old wrong. Will he take it?
Now that the Dixmoor Five case is in the news again, Gov. Pat Quinn has a great opportunity to take care of some unfinished business on his desk.
The Dixmoor Five were teenagers when they were railroaded into prison for the 1991 rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in the south suburb. The case against them fell apart March, 2011, when DNA evidence found on the victim was matched to a convicted rapist who had been living near the victim's home at the time of the murder.
Those members of the Dixmoor Five who were still imprisoned were released. And in October, 2012, they collectively filed a federal lawsuit against state and local law enforcement officials alleging that police concealed or ignored evidence that pointed to the real killer and coerced false confessions from two of them...See the rest of this story here
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -The Florida Supreme Court is throwing out the conviction of a death row inmate after new DNA evidence raised questions about whether he murdered a woman nearly 30 years ago.
A divided court Thursday overturned the conviction and death sentence imposed on Paul C. Hildwin...See the rest of this story here
Two men who spent close to 15 years in prison for their alleged roles as lookouts in a double murder on Chicago's North Side had their convictions thrown out on Tuesday, bringing to a close a controversial case that hinged on a series of confessions that turned out to be false.
Lewis Gardner and Paul Phillips were the last of four men to have their murder convictions thrown out in connection with the November 1992 murders of two people in an apartment near Clarendon Park. Though they had served their time, they continued to fight to prove their innocence, an effort that gained steam after Cook County prosecutors dropped the case against one of their co-defendants last summer.....See the rest of this story here
On June 13, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously reversed Tawuan Townes's conviction and death sentence after the trial judge failed to properly instruct the jury on the element of intent.
In November 2008, two armed men attempted to rob Christopher Woods in Dothan, Alabama, and Woods was shot and killed. Police arrested Tawuan Townes in the middle of the night and began interrogating him at the police station. Tawuan had just turned 18, had no prior experience with the criminal justice system, and had only completed eighth grade.
After police lied to Tawuan, telling him that his co-defendant had implicated him in the crime, and offered to help him if he confessed, Tawuan told police that he had been with Cornelius Benton when Benton kicked in Woods' front door and admitted he had fired a warning shot. Benton began to beat Woods and Tawuan asked him not to shoot, but Benton shot and killed Woods. Tawuan was charged with capital burglary-murder....See the rest of this story here
You can hear shouts of relief, joy and exhilaration as Donya Davis walked out of the Wayne County Jail Friday. The father of 12 children served almost seven years in prison for a 2006 rape even though DNA evidence points to another man and excludes him.
"There's been three DNA tests and I've passed them all," he says.
"The first miracle in a DNA case is that the evidence is still around and, thankfully, the evidence in Donya's case was around," says Marla Mitchell-Cichon of The Innocence Project.
Davis's first trial ended with a mistrial and he was convicted in a second trial.
In 2013, The Innocence Project and students from Cooley Law School sought the DNA testing and won. ..See the rest of this story here
The number of exonerations in the U.S. of those wrongfully convicted were at a record high in 2013, at 87. The previous record high was 83 exonerations in 2009. The new report reveals some interesting trends in wrongful convictions that may help identify more and raise awareness.
Adrian Thomas was found not guilty on Thursday of killing his infant son, ending a saga that began nearly six years ago.
Jurors deliberated for about seven hours over two days before acquitting Thomas just after 3 p.m. in the Rensselaer County courtroom.
Thomas looked surprised at the decision but remained composed as the not-guilty verdict on one count of second-degree murder was read. He put his face to his hands and later hugged one of his lawyers.
Prosecutors had argued that Thomas threw his 4-month-old son, Matthew Dante Thomas, onto a bed in frustration, causing trauma and death on Sept. 23, 2008....See the rest of this story here
We are raising money for the post conviction relief of Robert (Bob) Richardson.
On Jan 9, 2012, Bob shot and killed his father, Robert Richardson, Jr. (58). He had just learned that he would not be allowed to leave the family home, where his father had abused and tortured him for years. Bob had earlier been told that he would be allowed to leave and go live with family members, but his father cruelly denied him this hope, once they were home and alone. Bob was driven to desperation by years of abuse and neglect at the hands of his father, some of which may have been witnessed by friends and family. The withdrawal of this last hope of escape was more than he could take.
Bob's mother had passed away from cancer when he was only 10, and after that, the abuse by his father escalated. Bob was often seen with bruises, and wearing clothing that was dirty and worn. He often went without food. The level of abuse was horrific, and left the boy in fear for his life. On more than one occasion, Bob believed that his father tried to kill him, and he desperately tried to escape by running away, but the police always found him and returned him to his abuser... See more of this story here
More than two decades after 11-year-old Holly Staker was raped and murdered in what became one of Lake County’s most contentious prosecutions, DNA evidence from her case has been matched to a potential suspect in a second slaying that took place nearly a decade later, attorneys said Tuesday.
DNA evidence from blood obtained from a two-by-four used to beat Delwin Foxworth in early 2000 – before he was doused with gasoline and set on fire – matches DNA from semen taken from Holly’s body, according to the attorneys and court documents.
A lawyer for the man convicted of Foxworth’s murder said the evidence shows that his client is innocent -- as he has long insisted. The DNA match also buttresses evidence that Juan Rivera was wrongly convicted of Holly’s rape and murder and that the failure to identify and arrest her real killer allowed that same individual to take part in Foxworth’s murder eight years later, according to one of Rivera’s attorneys.See the rest of this story here
My father, Marc Foster was convicted in 2001 of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and sentenced to life in prison because of two prior convictions. Even though my father had already served his time for the two prior convictions it did not matter because he was considered a career criminal. So its like he was being sentenced twice for one crime.
The year my father was sentenced I was a freshman in high school. Growing up with my father not physically around made me angry and I could not understand it. I knew very little about my father’s case, I did not even know how much time he had to serve because he tried to protect me. Thirteen years later I am now a 27-year-old college graduate currently pursuing my Masters degree in Social Work and I give a lot of credit to my father. Although he is not here physically I speak to him regularly and he offers me as much guidance as possible. He tells me every chance he gets how proud he is of me and I admire how strong he is. He has also taught me to forgive people for mistakes they make and how important it is to spend my time wisely because it is something you cannot get back. See the rest of this story here
Eric Glisson spent 18 years of his life in jail for a crime he didn't commit. From behind bars, and with the help of those who believed in him, he proved his innocence.
In case you missed last night's #Dateline, you can watch Eric's story here... See full episode here
From the Center for Public Integrity:
A prominent state lawmakers’ advisory group issued a major report Tuesday warning of the “school to prison” pipeline and offering multiple alternatives to harsh school discipline and police crackdowns on students.
Released by the Council of State Governments — a nonpartisan national research group that advises legislators — the “School Discipline Consensus Report” encourages schools and lawmakers to embrace ideas such as conflict resolution and counseling — rather than suspensions, expulsions and forcing kids into juvenile court for infractions as minor as cursing or shoving matches....See the rest of this story here
The small, independent and incredibly effective Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) has delivered us a great service once more.
Not content with *only* filing lawsuits, pressing states to move away fromPrison Based Election Gerrymandering; battling corrupt and expensive jail phone systems; and protecting prisoners’ rights to communicate unhindered by letter, PPI is committed to providing fellow prison reformers with accurate up-to-date data on mass incarceration. We cannot rely on the governmet to provide recent data.
“Until 2006, researchers, advocates, and policymakers could rely on state-level race and ethnicity incarceration rate data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics “Prisons and Jails at Midyear” series. Unfortunately, these state-level statistics have not been updated in eight years,” says PPI...See the rest of this story here
Yesterday, the U.S. Sentencing Commission sent Congress eight amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines. Among those recommended guideline changes was one that would lower all drug sentencing guidelines by two levels. At FAMM, we refer to that amendment as “Drugs Minus Two.” This change would lower the sentencing guidelines for drug offenses by an average of 11 months per defendant.
Congress has 180 days (6 months) to consider the amendments it received yesterday. If Congress takes no action to stop them, the amendments will automatically become law effective November 1, 2014, so anyone sentenced ON or AFTER that date will benefit from the lower sentencing guideline.
There are three important dates coming up that you need to remember. On June 10, the U.S. Sentencing Commission will hold a hearing on whether to make retroactive the proposed amendment to lower the drug tables by two levels (Drugs Minus 2). FAMM testified at the hearing that led to the new amendment. We are now recommending the Commission invite a former prisoner who benefitted when they made crack minus 2 retroactive in 2007, so they can see what a difference retroactivity makes in a person’s life. See the rest of this story here
Randall Mills didn't rape that 12-year-old girl in March 1999.
It's a truth he bore for 11 years and three months in a Tennessee prison cell. Few believed him until DNA evidence in 2008 proved he didn't sexually assault a preteen neighbor. It was three more years before he was released from prison — and even then he still faced being tried on the charges all over again.
But on April 4, in light of the DNA evidence and a wavering victim, prosecutors in Marshall County finally dropped all charges. ..See the rest of this story here
Sabrina Butler (pictured, r.), the only woman among the 144 people exonerated from death row since 1973, recently told her story in TIME Magainze. Butler was just 17 years old when she went to check on her infant son and found he had stopped breathing. She attempted to resuscitate him and rushed him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The next day, a detective accused Butler of murdering her son. "I was alone with no lawyer or parent with me. I told him I tried to save my baby. He wrote down what I said and threw it in the garbage. He yelled at me for three hours. No matter what I said, he screamed over and over that I had killed my baby. I was terrified. I was put in jail and not allowed to attend Walter’s funeral." Butler describes how she was coerced into signing a false confession: "I was a teenager who, less than 24 hours before, had lost my precious baby boy...See the rest of this story here
A Tulsa woman was released from prison on Friday after new DNA tests cast doubt on evidence presented at her trial twenty years ago when she was convicted of murdering her son, reportsNewson6.
Michelle Murphy was convicted for killing her 15-week-old baby, Travis, who was found by police nearly decapitated on her kitchen floor in 1994.
Murphy was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Friday afternoon Tulsa County District Judge William Kellough vacated Murphy’s conviction after new DNA tests presented to the court and prosecutors cast doubt on evidence presented at her trial.
Prosecutor Tim Harris, who led the case against Murphy in ’94, said that he had no choice but to ask the court to vacate the sentence based upon the new DNA tests....See the rest of this story here
In January, a federal judge in Chicago issued a stunning ruling: Shaken baby syndrome as a cause of death has little to no scientific basis.
It’s not known what effect the ruling might have on other shaken baby cases, including at least one being appealed in Wisconsin. But one expert called it a “turning point” in the medical-legal debate over whether such injuries were intentionally caused.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly found that a reasonable person likely would find the medical evidence supporting shaken baby syndrome “unscientific and thus unsupportable.”
“It appears from the evidence at the hearing,” Kennelly wrote, “that the mechanism by which shaking purportedly causes these sorts of injuries is as yet unclear, assuming it exists at all.”...See the rest of this story here
These 50 state profiles, plus one for the United States as a whole, draw on graphs made from two Prison Policy Initiative briefings and other materials we have produced on those states. The two briefings are:
New York State is poised to become the first state in the nation to create a public commission specifically designed to investigate complaints of misconduct by prosecutors and impose discipline upon prosecutors who violate the rules. The commission is modeled after commissions on judicial conduct, which exist in every state, including New York, to regulate the conduct of judges. Given the prosecutor's unique role as a "minister of justice" who occupies a "quasi-judicial" position, the huge costs on the criminal justice system from prosecutorial misconduct, and the abject failure of other mechanisms to discipline prosecutors, it is essential to the integrity of the justice system and the public's confidence that the system functions fairly and accurately, that this commission be created..See the rest of this story here
Exonerations in cases like that of Michael Morton of Texas — who was freed in 2011 after DNA testing on evidence previously hidden by the prosecution identified another man as the killer of Morton’s wife — have demonstrated discovery’s crucial role in wrongful convictions. Despite some reforms to the discovery process in a few states, though, laws in most of America remain a tangled mess, according to The Crime Report. For every successful reform, Kate Pastor reports here, bills in other states die aborning....See the rest of this story here
A few weeks back, District Attorney Seth Williams did something amazing: He said he was going to start looking for innocent people and free them from prison.
More precisely, he appointed homicide prosecutor Mark Gilson to lead a “conviction integrity unit” to comb through old cases, look for possible wrongful convictions, and get those convictions overturned. Overturning convictions, of course, is not something that prosecutors like to see happen.
But Williams made the move with the support of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, a non-profit office staffed with interns from law schools around the city, which has a mission of undoing wrongful convictions. Marissa Boyers Bluestineis the project’s legal director. She spoke to Philly Mag recently about the new position, and why it’s worth it to Philly to try and help the wrongfully convicted.
“We're not saying that we can tell you who's innocent and who's not, but we need the partnership to be able to make that determination,” she said, “and we're very proud to be doing it with the district attorney.”..Read more at links provided at pictures and title
Describing Indiana’s colorful political past, columnist Neal Peirce once wrote, “No state had more venal patronage politics.”
During the 1920s, after the Ku Klux Klan gained control of offices across the state, a corruption investigation implicated Gov. Ed Jackson, the Marion County Republican chairman and Indianapolis Mayor John Duvall, among others.
Other examples of patronage weren’t as dramatic but certainly were systematic. Some old-timers still remember the “two percent club” that required them to contribute to political parties as recently as the 1970s. And even into the 1980s political parties benefited from a license branch system that sent profits from plate sales directly to the party controlling the governor’s office.
As Peirce pointed out, reforms in recent decades have “shriveled the spoils system” here. And there is other good news in the state, now home to 6.5 million residents. Indiana’s state government receives generally high marks for judicial accountability, state budget transparency, new ethics restrictions on lawmakers and lobbyists, and the creation of an Inspector General’s office.
But a review of transparency and accountability here also reveals inconsistent ethics enforcement, feeble campaign finance regulation, and an inadequate open records law. “Hoosiers deserve open, honest and accountable government but too many of our state laws fail to ensure these ideals,” said Julia Vaughn, policy director of Common Cause-Indiana..... Read more at links at name and title
In January 1990, when Jeffrey Deskovic was 16 years old, he was arrested for the rape and murder of his classmate, 15-year-old Angela Correa in Peeskill, N.Y. He was not guilty of the crimes but became a suspect after he was late to school the following day and after he cried openly at her funeral.
"I was driven to the town of Brewster. I wasn't able to leave on my own," he recalled in a recent phone interview. The officers read him his Miranda rights, his right to remain silent, but he did not understand the significance at the time.
It was a school day and his family had no idea where he was. The police officers attached him to a polygraph test after giving him several cups of coffee throughout the day but no food. They played "good cop, bad cop" and interrogated him
"They told me if I did what they wanted, I could go home," he said. "I took the out which they offered.".... Read more at links at name and title
Deliberately conservative figure lays bare extent of possible miscarriages of justice suggesting that the innocence of more than 200 prisoners still in the system may never be recognised
At least 4.1% of all defendants sentenced to death in the US in the modern era are innocent, according to the first major study to attempt to calculate how often states get it wrong in their wielding of the ultimate punishment.
A team of legal experts and statisticians from Michigan and Pennsylvania used the latest statistical techniques to produce a peer-reviewed estimate of the “dark figure” that lies behind the death penalty – how many of the more than 8,000 men and women who have been put on death row since the 1970s were falsely convicted..... Read more at links at name and title
The scene of the crime was the small two-bedroom house at 8767 Birmingham Dr. in South Austin. The victim was Sylvia Reyes Holt, a gregarious 36-year-old mother of one and employee of computer chipmaker Spansion Inc.
Two days before Christmas 2010 Sylvia was found dead in her home by an Austin paramedic, dispatched after a friend of hers called 911. He'd seen her just after her shift ended on Wednesday evening, Dec. 22, but uncharacteristically, she never arrived at work the next morning. He drove to her house just before 5pm on Dec. 23; her Suzuki SUV was in the driveway. No one answered his knock – could she have had an accident, or fallen ill?
Bring your posters !!!!!This is a march open to all Floridians to , please come help spread the word , about wrongful convictions, police & judicial corruption , unfair sentencing , self defense& stand your ground , any matter you want to bring to Attention to the judicial system and courts .
LUBBOCK, Tex. — In the back of the Cotton Exchange building in Lubbock’s dusty downtown, the Innocence Project of Texas keeps more than 10,000 files from state prisoners in dozens of blue, purple, and white plastic boxes.
In each file is a letter from an inmate proclaiming innocence and asking for help in proving such in the courts.
“We’re a bank for inmates,” the nonprofit’s founder and chief counsel, Jeff Blackburn, said as he stood among the boxes. A few letters date back to the 1960s. Clinics like the Innocence Project can be found at public law schools across Texas. The clinics, which offer legal help to people who may have been falsely convicted, range from small student-organized groups to the Innocence Project of Texas, affiliated with the law school at Texas Tech University, which has three lawyers, an advisory board and an office off-campus.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams today announced that longtime homicide prosecutor Mark Gilson will head a conviction-integrity unit charged with exonerating people imprisoned for crimes they did not commit.
Williams said that it must be ensured that "only the guilty are convicted," and that the public perceived such cases as "tests of the integrity of the system." But the announcement marks a major turnaround: CP has covered Williams' resistance to forming a conviction integrity unit since 2011.
Williams ran on a "smart on crime" platform in 2009 and said that he would "seriously consider" creating such a unit, which now exist in a number of district attorney offices including Manhattan and Dallas. But he later resisted doing so, and even went so far as to dissent from reforms proposed by the state Senate's Advisory Committee on Wrongful Convictions. Last year, Pennsylvania Innocence Project Legal Director Marissa Bluestine said the D.A. had sought to dismiss every single claim of actual innocence they made on procedural grounds.
Strengthen laws to hold Prosecutors accountable for judicial misconduct in US courtrooms and protect citizens from wrongful convictions
These injustices are too often, because of wrong identification, and prosecutorial misconduct, or misconduct on the part of others involved in the judicial process. In 1998, Congressman Murtha and Congressman McDade introduced H.R. 3396 to Congress. Unfortunately, the Bill did not get passed in its entirety, to become a stand alone Bill. However, it was later introduced in a watered down version, and hidden within the Omnibus Appropriations Act 1998.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) produced a report for Congress on the Murtha-McDade Act. To view the CRS report on the Omnibus Appropriations Act 1998, go to: McDade-Murtha Amendment: Ethical Standards for Justice Department Attorneys
The original Billl introduced by Murtha and McDade, clearly addressed the urgency for holding Prosecutors and those directly involved in the judicial process accountable for prosecutorial misconduct. AJC understands the importance of this Bill and how much it is desperately needed to help protect average citizens from being wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for crimes they did not commit!
In addition to signing this petition, AJC request that you also contact your state's congress representative and ask them to revive/sponsor/co-sponsor a Bill like the original Citizens Protection Act 1998 to stregthen laws to hold Prosecutors accountable, when they step outside of judicial laws.
A New Hampshire legislative committee on Thursday reversed an earlier position and endorsed a bill to repeal the state’s death penalty, setting up a vote on final passage next week.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 to endorse the bill ending the death penalty. Earlier this week, the panel had deadlocked with one member absent; a tie vote automatically killed the bill’s chances.
The full Senate will vote on repeal on April 17. Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R)told the Associated Press the vote won’t break down along party lines, and will likely be close.
Republicans control 13 of New Hampshire’s 24 state Senate seats. One Republican joined two Democrats in the Judiciary Committee to give the bill a positive recommendation.
The Democratic-controlled House voted overwhelmingly earlier this year to end the death penalty, and Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) said she supports the proposal.
The New Hampshire legislature passed a death penalty repeal in 2000, but then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) vetoed the bill.
If the measure passes, New Hampshire would become the 19th state to end the death penalty. Neighboring Maine was one of the first states to abolish it all the way back in 1887. Vermont ended capital punishment in 1964, and Massachusetts followed suit in 1984.
The measure wouldn’t save the lone person on New Hampshire’s death row. Michael Addison, convicted in 2006 of murdering a Manchester police officer, would be the first person executed in New Hampshire since 1939.
Albemarle County Sheriff J.E. “Chip” Harding is canvassing law enforcement leaders across the state gauging support for a government-backed commission to help prevent wrongful convictions.
Improving the quality and accuracy of investigations would not only decrease the possibility of convicting the innocent, but strengthen cases against the guilty and improve public safety, he said.
Harding, who helped clear Michael Hash, wrongfully convicted of a 1996 capital murder in Culpeper, has written to 123 sheriffs and 247 police chiefs about creating a justice commission to review research and recommend changes.
“I have spent most of my 40-year criminal justice career investigating serious crime,” Harding wrote. “I took hundreds of felony cases to state and federal courts. I never lost a single one. I thought I was a ‘cutting edge’ investigator, always doing it the right way.”
“I now know I was wrong.”
Harding said that in recent years he has been enlightened by research into the causes of wrongful convictions, sometimes the result of easily corrected errors such as focusing on one suspect to the exclusion of others or error-prone lineup procedures.
Jacksonville, Fla-At a hearing Wednesday morning in the retrial of Marissa Alexander, the judge said a hearing will be held May 16 to determine if there will be a "stand your ground" hearing later on.
Alexander is charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for firing what she claims was a warning shot into a wall near her estranged husband, Rico Gray, and his two young sons. Her stand your ground motion was denied in the initial case, and she was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison due to the state's 10-20-Life statutes for discharging a gun during a felony. Before her trial, she turned down a three-year plea deal.
Alexander's conviction was overturned on appeal.
They spent decades locked up for murders they did not commit. Now they are approaching the moment when they have to put a price on the years they lost in a prison cell.
Kenneth Ireland and Miguel Roman, whose cases are regarded as two of Connecticut's most notorious legal failures, have until the end of this month to place a dollar value on things that seem virtually incalculable: lost liberty and happiness, missed family time, a ruined reputation.
But the amounts will be important because these cases — the first to test Connecticut's 2008 wrongful incarceration compensation law — are likely to provide a benchmark for the additional 15 pending wrongful incarceration claims now before the claims commissioner.
PEORIA — In less than four minutes, the moment Christopher Coleman waited 20 years for was over.Coleman, 40, walked out of Chief Peoria County Circuit Judge Steve Kouri’s courtroom a free man Thursday after State’s Attorney Jerry Brady dropped all charges against him, ending Coleman’s 20-year fight for his freedom.The rare development came less than six months after the Illinois Supreme Court overturned an appellate court ruling and ordered a new trial for Coleman, saying evidence presented a few years ago at a post-conviction hearing was solid enough to merit a new trial.When Kouri made the dismissal official, Coleman took a deep breath. Outside the courtroom, he hugged his mother, Armanda Coleman. He also hugged his attorney, Karen Daniel, the co-director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University’s School of Law, which took up his case five years ago. And he hugged his friends.
Over 11,000 sexual assault kits, some dating back to the 1980's, were found abandoned in a Detroit Police storage facility back in 2009.
Not long after the rape kits were discovered, Worthy pushed to start the processing with Michigan State Police.
So far, 1,600 rape kits have been processed, resulting in the identification of about 100 serial rapists and ten convicted rapists, according to Worthy.
Worthy told reporters that perpetrators have moved on from Michigan to commit similar crimes in 23 other states.
Wrongfully imprisoned man David Ranta gets $6.4M in settlement with city following 23 years behind bars
David Ranta paid the price for his wrongful conviction in a 1990 murder — and now, so has the city.
The innocent man, framed and jailed for more than two decades in the slaying of a beloved Brooklyn rabbi, reached a $6.4 million settlement with the city Thursday.
“No amount of money can compensate David for the 23 years that were taken away from him,” said his attorney, Pierre Sussman. “This settlement will allow him the stability to get his life back together. He was happy and relieved because it’s providing stability for him to take care of his health and take care of his family.”
On September 28, Damon Thibodeaux was freed from death row in Louisiana after an extensive investigation, including DNA testing and the cooperation of Jefferson Parrish District Attorney Paul Connick. Thibodeaux was sentenced to death for the 1996 rape and murder of his cousin. He at first confessed to the attack after a nine-hour interrogation by detectives. He recanted a few hours later and claimed his confession was coerced. In releasing Thibodeaux, Connick said, "I have concluded that the primary evidence in this case, the confession, is unreliable. Without the confession the conviction can't stand, and therefore in the interest of justice, it must be vacated." Thibodeaux is the 141st person to be exonerated and freed from death row since 1973, and the 18th person released through DNA evidence. The Innocence Project in New York, which worked on his case for years, counts Thibodeaux as the 300th exoneration achieved through DNA testing in the U.S. (capital and non-capital cases). Barry Scheck, a founder of the Innocence Project, said, “The 300th exoneration is an extraordinary event, and it couldn’t be more fitting that it’s an innocent man on death row who gave a false confession. People have a very hard time with the concept that an innocent person could confess to a crime that they didn’t commit. But it happens a lot. It’s the ultimate risk that an innocent man could be executed.”
After being cleared of a murder for which he spent two decades in prison, Sabein C. Burgess spent some of his first free moments in a dingy carryout next to the city courthouse holding his baby granddaughter, with his family and lawyers swarming around.
"There were a lot of times I didn't think I was going to get out," Burgess said.
But the evidence — gathered over years — had reached a tipping point. Shortly after Burgess' conviction, another man confessed to carrying out the killing with a notorious hit man. Then two years ago, the victim's son, who witnessed the killing as a boy, came forward to say Burgess didn't do it. And the forensic evidence has been challenged as shaky.