Aaron Finley was wrongly convicted of murder on the accusation of the true killer, bribed with a reduced sentence, and a very dubious identification that placed him in a car with the killer before the murder. The indictments of the killer and Aaron do not agree on the cause of death, and Steven Hayne’s autopsy report was not entered as evidence. Aaron also had an alibi which could have been confirmed by the prosecution based on a laundry ticket.
Aaron Finley was was indicted on April 12, 1996 and later convicted for the November 16, 1994 murder of George Monsour, during the commission of an armed robbery, and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of early release.
On November 16, 1994, Willie Davis went to the home of George Monsour, the victim, and pretended to be interested in purchasing Monsour’s car, an antique Chevrolet Impala. Davis agreed to purchase the car for $1,800.00 and he left to supposedly get the money. He returned to the Monsour home and Mr. Monsour went with Davis for a test drive. They left the Monsour home between 11:00 and 12:00.
Monsour’s body was found in Warren Lake in Lauderdale County in the early hours of November 17, 1994. Willie Davis confessed to the crime and led the police to the body. At the crime scene, the police found many personal items of Monsour’s scattered around the site of the murder.
The case against Aaron ( Source )
Willie Davis testified against Aaron at trial. Davis alleged that he and Finley drove Monsour to Warren Lake, that while they were driving down the interstate, he and Aaron stopped to switch who was driving the car. That at this time, while they were outside of the car and out of Monsour’s hearing range, that they decided to rob Monsour. That Finley parked the car at Hillcrest and eventually forced Monsour by gunpoint down to Warren Lake. That it was at this point that Finley beat, kicked and eventually drowned Monsour. That he (Davis) took Mr. Monsour’s wallet while Finley was holding Monsour’s head under the water.
Rita Crane, a sister of one of the investigating officers, testified that she saw the Impala with Monsour and three black males on Interstate 20 on November 16, 1994, around noon. She identified Davis as the driver of the vehicle and Finley as one of the passengers in the vehicle. She further testified that she knew Monsour but did not realize at the time that he was in the vehicle.
The defense case
Aaron Finley and Stacey Armstrong (Davis’ cousin) were released in 1995 after not being indicted three times due to lack of evidence, but Willie Davis remained incarcerated and was convicted of the murder of George Monsour. However in April of 1996 Aaron Finley was indicted for capital murder. Willie Davis had made a deal with the district Attorney to testify against Aaron Finley to have his sentence be life in prison instead of the death penalty.
Willie Davis’s testimony and statements changed numerous times, and is not credible.
It’s implausible that Rita Crane could have identified Aaron in the Impala on Interstate 20 around noon.
Aaron, who was age 20 at the time, told detectives that on that morning of the murder he went to Perfection Cleaners to leave some clothes to be cleaned, there was a ticket made out which would have been in the possession of the cleaners, however this this was not available at trial to corroborate his alibi. The owner of Perfection Cleaners called the detective and told him he found the records concerning the date and time Aaron dropped his clothes off but no one ever came to pick the records up.
Aaron does not deny that he was in the car later that day, in the evening, and this is how he came to be a suspect.
There was no forensic evidence at the scene to link Aaron to the murder, only the testimony of Davis and the very doubtful sighting by Rita Crane. Furthermore, Rita Crane’s testimony was inconsistent and contradictory to statements she had made before and during trial ( see appeal ruling ).
Aaron has been supported by the Mississipi Justice Project.
Some documents are available here. In particular, the indictments do not agree on the how the victim died. Aaron’s indictment says “drowning”, but Davis’ indictment says “beating and shooting”. In addition, there is a reply to a request for the autopsy report which claims it is not a public record.
Also, a mysterious anonymous letter dated 27 March, 2006, claiming the crime was committed by Willie Davis and three others.