Ralph Trent Stokes

On March 11, 1982, two men robbed Smokin’ Joe’s Korner, in Philadelphia.  Armed with guns, and wearing masks, the men entered the restaurant before it opened, herded the employees into the walk-in refrigerator and threatened to kill them if they failed to cooperate.

One of the men shot and killed two of the employees Mary Louise Figueroa and Eugene Jefferson.  Two other employees were threatened but not shot. However, when a United States Postal Service employee happened onto the scene, he was killed by a shot in the head.

Both Ralph Trent Stokes, age 19, who had worked at the restaurant, and Donald Jackson were arrested and charged with the murders. Threatened with the death penalty, Jackson testified that Ralph was the shooter, in exchange for a guilty plea to second-degree murder and a life sentence. Ralph was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death.

One witness, Donald Blackson, testified that he had not signed a statement incriminating Ralph, and contrary to the statement he did not remember talking to Ralph on the day of the murders.

Prosecutor Roger King failed to disclose exculpatory results of laboratory testing on items seized from Ralph’s home. King then made argument to the jury, and presented other evidence, which was completely rebutted by the undisclosed lab reports. King lied to defense counsel, the court and the jury.

More information is available at http://www.ralphtrentstokes.org

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