Devonia Inman was convicted of shooting Taco Bell manager Donna Brown in a late night robbery. Inman was convicted based on witness testimony, including his girlfriend’s sister, a jailhouse snitch, and a Taco Bell employee, all of whom later said they lied.
At Inman’s trial in 2001, the judge rejected three defense witnesses who would have pointed to an alternate suspect, Taco Bell employee Hercules Brown, who was not related to the victim but was known for violence.
Inman’s fate now rests on a ski mask cut from an old pair of sweatpants. The mask appears in the original crime scene photos of the victim’s car, but GBI records indicate it was left sitting in the vehicle for days after the murder. It was not processed as evidence until the victim’s family found it, once the car had been returned. At the time of the murder, it was not customary for the GBI to screen evidence for the presence of saliva.
In 2011, the Georgia Innocence Project convinced a judge to order the GBI to test the inside of the mask for DNA.
The results matched Hercules Brown, according to the GBI’s test.
The evidence corroborated the three original defense witnesses who would have implicated Brown, if the judge had let them testify.