Category Archives: Exonerated

Cases when the wrongly convicted person was exonerated, or alternatively a plea deal was agreed, or charges were dropped.

Selwyn Days

Selwyn Days was accused of killing 79-year-old millionaire Archie Harris and his 35-year-old home health aide, Betty Ramcharan. Selwyn confessed to police after a seven-hour interrogation and nearly 14 hours in custody.

In 2003, Days’ first trial ended in a hung jury, but he was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder at his second trial in 2004. He was sentenced to 50 years, and his conviction was upheld by the appellate court.

Days appealed that conviction, claiming that his counsel was ineffective. Westchester County Court agreed in 2009, vacating the judgment and ordering a new trial.

The third trial again ended with a hung jury in 2011, but he was found guilty in his fourth trial.

In September 2015, the conviction was overturned based on the Westchester County Court’s decision in 2011 to bar expert testimony on the issue of false confessions.

The appellate court, noted the lack of physical evidence or eyewitness testimony linking Days to the murders, as well as the videotaped confession, in which officers “repeatedly employed suggestive and leading questions, fed the defendant specific details related to the crime scene, and used rapport-building techniques.”

The appellate court also said that “significant concerns” were raised by the fact that only the last 75 minutes, the confession, of the seven-hour interrogation were videotaped.

Days’ two experts in false confessions, Dr. Jessica Pearson and Dr. Richard A. Leo, had determined Days to be particularly vulnerable to false confessions, based in part on his low intelligence and history of mental illness, according to the ruling.

In August 2017, Selwyn was tried for a fifth time.

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Update September 12, 2017 : Selwyn Days acquitted in fifth trial for Eastchester double homicide

 

 

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Jason David Sadowski

Update: see Jason Sadowski is Innocent for full case details.

cropped2Jason David Sadowski was convicted in 2014 of assaulting and torturing Angel Paris  and Becky Bressette at Jason’s gym in July 2013. The conviction was overturned in December 2015, a retrial has been set for March 6, 2017.

Angel, a drug addict and admitted thief, and Becky gave conflicting, changing and incredible accounts of what occurred. According to the ruling  overturning the conviction “Although the police officers gave testimony regarding their observations, the prosecution highlights nothing from their testimony that disproves Sadowski’s rendition beyond a reasonable doubt. The victims also had many discrepancies in their account of the night and crimes.”

At the time  Angel was on parole/probation. She was also in drug court and had an open CPS case. She had warrants out for her arrest for bail jumping. So, on the night in question, she had been out drinking and using drugs, she had her violated her probation, parole and drug court conditions,  and was due in drug court in the morning for testing. She admitted to stealing money. She had also stolen jewelry and marijuana.

Becky was also a drug addict, who died of a methadone overdose between the preliminary hearing and trial. She was with Angel on the night she died.

What happened is this:

Jason wanted his money back ( the amount of stolen items totaled over $1,000 and would have been a grand theft charge ). When Jason said he was calling the cops Angel begged and pleaded for him not to. She turned on Becky, trying to shift blame. Angel was intent on getting the money back so Jason would not call the cops. She had plenty of motive to shift blame, and was fighting with Becky. Eventually, Angel persuaded another man present, Charles Leroy Cope, to help her tie Becky up to a pole with duct tape, to force her to say where the stolen items were. Then, bizarrely she started taping herself to another pole, apparently in an attempt to make it look as though she was a victim. When Jason came into the room, Angel told Jason no one was leaving until Jason recovered the remainder of his money. Shortly afterwards, Angel called 911, and eventually claimed that she and Becky were victims.

Charles gave statements to police consistent with Jason’s account. He was repeatedly asked if Jason ever touched, hit or threatened Angel or Becky, and responded that did not happen. However at trial, Charles’ attorney argued a “duress” defense consistent with the prosecution theory of events. Charles’ attorney failed to consult at all with his client before the preliminary hearing. Charles’ attorney later  told Jason’s attorney if he had known Jason had witnesses and evidence to rebut the prosecution case, he would not have offered a duress defense. Charles had issues from heavy drinking and drug use for years, and was battling with dementia and Alzheimer’s and did not testify. During proceedings he was seen shaking his head,  telling the assistant next to him no, that isn’t what happened, and that isn’t what he said.

At sentencing, Charles said he did not believe Jason could have done what he was convicted of, he never saw Jason hit either woman while they were all in the basement where he was living at the time. “I wasn’t upstairs, I don’t know, but I can’t believe him beating on those women,” he said. “Downstairs … that’s all I know, he never touched ’em downstairs. I never seen him hurt ’em.” He didn’t know what happened upstairs, he was sorry for it and said Jason was a good man who had helped him.

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Friday March 17, 2017 Sadowski found not guilty on all seven counts

Report at National Registry of Exonerations

Angelika Graswald

Angelika Graswald was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Vincent  Viafore, whose body was recovered from the Hudson River in April 2015. 

Prosecutors said Graswald removed a nickle-sized drain plug on the top of the kayak to allow it to fill with water, however experts say the amount of water entering a small hole on the top of the kayak could be minimal compared to the amount of water splashing into Viafore’s open cockpit.

In a nearly 12-hour taped interrogation by police 10 days after Viafore disappeared, Graswald repeatedly denied killing her fiance and said her desperate calls to 911 were real.

Graswald also said during that interrogation, which she punctuated with yoga and hopscotch, that she was “OK” with Viafore’s death and “wanted him dead.”

Graswald told ABC News’ Elizabeth Vargas in a November 2015 jailhouse interview that she was at her “breaking point” during the taped interrogation.

“Well they kept me asking me the same questions like a hundred times. I knew that I was innocent,” Graswald told Vargas. “I was at my breaking point. I just, I had it so I just gave ’em what they wanted.”

She also denied in the interview that she removed the plug from Viafore’s kayak with the intent to kill him, saying, “No, I did not.”

Graswald’s attorney, Richard Portale, said in a court hearing that Graswald may have miscarried a baby during an interrogation. He also claimed that his client asked investigators who “Miranda” was after she was read her Miranda rights, according to The Associated Press.

Sources:

Trial is set for February 14, 2017.

See also “Death on the Hudson“, 48 hours, Sep 12, 2015.

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July 24, 2017 Plea deal agreed  According to her attorney, Richard Portale, Graswald “will be home in December.”

 

Charles Johnson and Larod Styles

In July 2016, Cook County Judge Domenica A. Stephenson vacated the murder convictions of Charles Johnson, 39, and Larod Styles, 36, who, as teenagers, received life sentences in the December 1995 deaths of Yousef Ali and Khalid Ibrahim. Both men were fatally shot during a robbery at Elegant Auto Sales at 75th and Western.

After eight years of legal wrangling, which included an appellate court decision in their favor, attorneys representing the men said the day would not be possible if Illinois weren’t the only state in the nation to allow post-conviction fingerprint testing for defendants.

Matching fingerprints were found on a car at the used car lot and on the adhesive side of a price sticker that was torn off of one of two cars that was stolen from the lot, said defense attorney Steven Drizin, of Northwestern University’s Center On Wrongful Convictions.

The same prints were also found on the stolen cars themselves — which were abandoned about five miles from the crime scene. And the kicker, defense attorneys claim, is the fact that the fingerprints, when run through a law enforcement data base that was not available to detectives at the time of the original investigation, returned a match: a man with a lengthy criminal record who lives a short walk from where the stolen cars were found. According to a source, the man has since been interviewed by investigators.

“We are here today because we were able to use that database to not only exclude our clients . . . but to match those fingerprints to one person in particular who has nothing to do with our clients,” said Drizin, who discounted confessions the men gave to police.

In September 2016, Charles Johnson was freed on $50,000 bond, Styles was unable to post bond. Cook County prosecutors said they will retry both Johnson and Styles.

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February 15, 2017 Charges Dropped

Rodricus Crawford

Rodricus Crawford was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death.

On February 16, 2012, something truly terrible happened that could only be described as any parent’s worst nightmare. Rodricus Crawford, a young father in Caddo Parish, Louisiana woke up and noticed that his son, Roderius, who had just turned one a week earlier, was lifeless.

Rodricus, who was sleeping on the pullout couch, immediately yelled out for help. An uncle called 911. Various family members took turns performing CPR and it seemed like nothing they were doing was making one bit of difference.

When the EMTs showed up, they refused to allow Rodricus to get in the ambulance with the baby and were slow to leave. It had already taken far too long for them to get there. They were so disrespectful to the family that it caused a stir there in the community. Within minutes, police arrived. Thinking they might take Rodricus to the hospital, they instead arrested him and took him to the jail. His only son had died and instead of comforting him as the grieving father that he was, he was interrogated and harassed.

Not a single soul in his family believed Rodricus Crawford killed his son. When police called in the boy’s mother, who lived a few doors down, for questioning, she didn’t believe it either. Rodricus loved the boy with his whole heart — everybody in the community knew that. No motive existed.

Over the next year, what unfolded in Louisiana, under the leadership of its then-Acting District Attorney Dale Cox, was like a bad movie. With no motive and no witnesses, Rodricus Crawford was charged and convicted of murdering his son. Black jurors were routinely struck from the jury pool. Even though an expert testified that the young boy likely died of complications to undiagnosed sepsis and pneumonia, which the family thought was just a small cold, Cox was convinced, in part due to a pathologist’s report, that Rodricus had deliberately smothered him to death.

A cut on the boy’s lip, which multiple family members testified was caused by a recent fall in the bathroom, was used as the justification of the smothering claim. Anybody who has ever had children knows far too well how often kids fall and hurt themselves, but it was completely ignored.

Crawford’s first appeal was denied by the Supreme Court of Louisiana on November 14, 2014. In November 2016, the Louisiana Supreme Court overturned the conviction. Four medical experts submitted reports indicating that his son had died of pneumonia. The baby’s blood had tested positive for sepsis, which can be fatal for young children. One judge wrote: “No rational trier of fact could have concluded that the State presented sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had the specific intent to kill his one-year-old son,”

Sources: New York Daily News, November 18, 2016The New Yorker, November 23, 2016

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April 19, 2017 : charged dropped.

 

Lamonte McIntyre

17 year old Lamonte McIntyre was wrongfully imprisoned for a 1994 double murder. Attorney Cheryl Pilate is fighting to exonerate Lamonte with the help of Centurion Ministries, a national innocence project that fights to free the wrongfully convicted.

At trial, there was no gun, no motive, no evidence that McIntyre knew the victims. No fingerprints from the shotgun shell casings left at the scene. No blood-spattered shoes, socks, pants or shirt. No physical evidence of any kind linking McIntyre to the crime.

There were two eyewitnesses to the murder. Ruby Mitchell told police she thought it was “Lamonte something” – who would come by to talk to her niece. This led the police to Lamonte Mcintyre, however he was not the person she was referring to. When Mitchell informed the prosecutor, he threatened to have her children taken away.

The other witness Niko Quinn has now signed an affidavit stating that McIntyre was not the killer.

Pilate, in her recently filed motion, maintains that lead detective Golubski manipulated facts and witnesses leading to the false identification of McIntyre. She maintains that throughout the investigation and trial, two chief players — the lead detective and an assistant Wyandotte County prosecutor — not only “failed to seek the truth” but also “consistently subverted and concealed the truth — manufacturing evidence and presenting testimony that they knew to be false.”

More than 15 affidavits — from criminals and their cronies to police — point to the detective, Roger Golubski, who retired as a captain in 2010 after 35 years on the force. Using terms like “crooked” and “dirty,” the sworn statements speak of a detective who preyed on black women, some of them prostitutes, using his access to illegal drugs and the power of his badge.

Full Article and Video  Here Oct 25, 2016

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October 13, 2107 DA agrees motion for new trial and drops charges.

 

Jerome Morgan

Jerome Morgan was convicted of a 1993 murder, and was granted a new trial in 2014, due to two witnesses being pressured into identifying him as the killer. The director of the Innocence Project New Orleans, which represents Morgan,  says “there is no evidence against him and only evidence that he is innocent.”

Quote

In a ruling that could severely hamstring Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office in its bid to retry a 23-year-old murder case, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled Friday that the trial testimony of two key witnesses who have since recanted their identifications of the alleged killer can’t be used at his new trial.

Jerome Morgan, 40, is slated to stand trial again June 13, two decades after a jury convicted him of murder in the 1993 slaying of 16-year-old Clarence Landry during a birthday party at a Gentilly motel ballroom.

Criminal District Court Judge Darryl Derbigny overturned Morgan’s conviction and life sentence and granted him a new trial in early 2014. Derbigny said he believed the claims of the two witnesses, Hakim Shabazz and Kevin Johnson, that New Orleans Police Department detectives pressured them to identify Morgan as Landry’s killer.

Since then, Cannizzaro’s office has charged Shabazz and Johnson with perjury for their conflicting statements, rendering them silent as a new trial for Morgan approaches.

Both men, fearing additional charges, are invoking their Fifth Amendment right and refusing to take the witness stand, in what Morgan’s attorneys argue was a calculated move by prosecutors to keep them from testifying.

In lieu of their testimony, Judge Franz Zibilich, who will preside over the new trial, ruled that the jury could read transcripts of both their original testimony, identifying Morgan, and their recantations in 2013.

Assistant District Attorney Donna Andrieu has acknowledged that how the jury views those conflicting accounts stands at the heart of the case against Morgan. In court, Andrieu has claimed that Innocence Project New Orleans attorneys coerced false recantations from the two men.

The state’s high court ruled Friday that Zibilich was correct in barring from the trial the men’s initial identifications of Morgan to police butmistaken in allowing their 1996 trial testimony to be read at the new trial.
The ruling came on a 4-2 vote, with Justices Marcus Clark and Scott Crichton dissenting and Chief Justice Bernette Johnson not voting.

The Supreme Court vacated Zibilich’s ruling, though it said the judge could revisit the admissibility of their statements — both to police and to the jury that convicted Morgan — “if these witnesses testify at the retrial.”

Emily Maw, director of the Innocence Project New Orleans, which represents Morgan, hailed the ruling Saturday, saying she hoped it would prod Cannizzaro “to finally dismiss the charges against Jerome Morgan, because there is no evidence against him and only evidence that he is innocent.”

She said Morgan “has been fighting to clear his name since the moment he was arrested by police. He has never wavered from that fight, and it has been a long, hard ordeal for Jerome Morgan, and a long ordeal for the Landry family. It’s time to end it.”

Morgan was 16 when he was arrested and charged with the killing.

A spokesman for Cannizzaro’s office did not immediately comment on the high court’s ruling. The office has a policy against discussing open cases.

Shabazz and Johnson had been with Landry at a May 22, 1993, birthday party in the ballroom at the Howard Johnson motel on Old Gentilly Road. A fight broke out between two groups, and someone pulled a gun and opened fire. Landry was hit in the neck and shoulder, Shabazz in the side and another youth in the thigh.

When police arrived at the party, Morgan was there. Prosecutors alleged at his initial trial that he had managed to run away, hop a fence, stash the gun and return before police arrived.

The jury in the 1994 trial never heard evidence that police reached the scene just six minutes after the shooting started and locked down the ballroom. Instead, the jury heard that it took more than a half-hour for police to arrive. Morgan’s attorneys with the Innocence Project argued that prosecutors withheld the evidence of a quick arrival.

Johnson had testified that he chased the shooter out the door and down an alley. In 2013, he took the stand again, saying Landry had been his best friend and that he was pressured by police to identify Morgan as the shooter.

He first dismissed Morgan’s picture from a photo lineup and did so again seven months later, but he said a detective then pushed the picture back into the mix.

“Are you sure it’s not this guy right here?” the detective asked him, according to an affidavit Johnson signed.

He said the detective told him the photo was of Morgan. Johnson said he figured everybody else must be right, so he fingered Morgan as the killer.

Shabazz spent 10 days in the hospital recovering from his wounds, then got a call from a detective who asked him if he knew who had shot him. Shabazz said he didn’t. According to Shabazz, the detective then said, “Jerome shot you,” and asked Shabazz to come to the station to give a statement.

There, the detective pressured him to point out Morgan and made him feel he would be doing a public service if he did so, Shabazz said in 2013. “It’s almost like they painted this picture for me, that it was him,” he said on the witness stand, adding that he’d been wracked with guilt for years. “What I did, it just wasn’t right.”

Derbigny ruled that the “evidence presented before this court is wrought with deception, manipulation and coercion” by the NOPD.

Soon afterward, prosecutors filed perjury charges against Shabazz and Johnson. The law doesn’t require Cannizzaro’s office to prove on which occasion — in 1994 or in their recantations two decades later — the two men lied on the witness stand.

Cannizzaro’s office, meanwhile, has accused Maw, IPNO attorney Kristin Wenstrom and an investigator of coercing the recantations from Shabazz and Johnson, though no charges have been filed against the lawyers.

In postponing a May 2 trial date to let the higher courts rule, Zibilich pledged to stick to the June 13 trial date.

From Louisiana Supreme Court deals blow to prosecutors with key ruling on upcoming retrial for 1993 teen killing May 14, 2016

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Case dismissed May 31, 2016

Lorinda Swain

Lorinda Swain was convicted in 2002 for sexually abusing her adopted son.

But her son later told the court he’d lied about the abuse. After more than seven years in prison, Swain was let out on bond when a judge ruled she deserved a new trial.

But the Court of Appeals overruled that decision two separate times.

Source: What does an innocent person have to do to get their conviction overturned? April 4, 2016

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Calhoun Co. prosecutor won’t retry Lorinda Swain May 19, 2016
“In an order issued Wednesday, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Swain was entitled to a new trial. Later the same day, Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert told 24 Hour News 8 that his office would not move forward with the retrial.”

Keith Allen Harward

In 2009, University of Virginia law professor Brandon L. Garrett was poring over old trial records, looking for questionable forensic science evidence, when he came across the case of Keith Allen Harward, convicted of rape and murder in Newport News in 1986.

Now, the Innocence Project says recent DNA testing proves Harward didn’t commit the brutal 1982 crimes, casting further doubt on the validity of bite-mark comparison — a forensic technique that two experts testified strongly linked Harward to the crimes. It was their testimony that drew Garrett’s attention and concern in 2009.

..

Garrett, after reviewing the trial transcript, is not persuaded the bite-mark testimony was valid and said that when he learned a petition for a writ of actual innocence was filed by Harward earlier this month, “It was really, really, really disturbing to think you can just come across innocent people’s cases by accident like that.”

Harward, 59, has not been exonerated. Lawyers with the Innocence Project and the Washington law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP filed the innocence petition on March 4.

Proceedings have been stayed by the Virginia Supreme Court so that more DNA test results — said by Harward’s lawyers to further support innocence — can be submitted to the court.

 Full article here March 27, 2016

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Update April 2, 2016:

DNA implicates a career criminal in the rape of a Newport News woman and the murder of her husband more than three decades ago and conclusively proves the innocence of his former Navy shipmate wrongly convicted of the crimes, according to the imprisoned man’s lawyers.

April 8, 2016 : Virginia man exonerated by DNA evidence walks free after 33 years in jail

 

Feb 7, 2017 : After wrongful imprisonment of 33 years, Virginia man will get $1.6 million

Keith Allen Harward, who served 33 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit, will receive nearly $1.6 million from the commonwealth of Virginia under a bill approved Monday by the House of Delegates.

Harward was convicted of a 1982 rape and murder in Newport News. He was released from prison last year after DNA testing proved he was innocent. The House unanimously passed HB 1650 to provide relief to Harward, now 60.

 

Connie Oakes

Connie Oakes was wrongly convicted of fatally stabbing Casey Armstrong in the neck while he sat in the bathtub of his Medicine Hat trailer in May 2011.

The conviction was based on a confession from Wendy Scott, who has an IQ of 50 and had accused three others of the murder.

Scott subsequently retracted her confession, and her conviction has been overturned, due to a lack of corroborative physical evidence.

In January 2016, one of Connie’s lawyers told an appeal court “This verdict was not supported by any reasonable use of evidence, this is a person who has a history of blaming other people of murder. She has provided sworn testimony once again. This is troubling.”

Source: ‘I want to see her set free’: Defence seeks new trial for Connie Oakes in fatal Medicine Hat stabbing Calgary Herald, 12 January 2016.

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April 6, 2016 Connie Oakes’ murder conviction quashed over ‘unreliable’ testimony from low-IQ witness

April 28, 2016 ‘She’s coming home’: Connie Oakes free after murder charge stayed by Alberta Crown

 

Barry Beach granted clemency

Gov. Steve Bullock on Friday granted clemency for Barry Beach, who has served more than 30 years in prison for a murder he claims he did not commit.

The order issued Friday directs Beach’s sentence to time served, with an additional 10 years suspended. Additional requirements contained within the order direct Beach to serve the suspended portion of the sentence on probation under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.

The governor made the decision through House Bill 43, a law that gives him the power to grant clemency that kicked in Oct. 1. The law was inspired by Beach who has been denied parole four times despite growing public support and the backing of a bipartisan coalition of current and former state and federal officials.

Source

Sam Sheppard

Samuel Holmes “Sam” Sheppard (December 29, 1923 – April 6, 1970) was an American osteopathic physician and, toward the end of his life, a professional wrestler. He was convicted of the brutal murder of his pregnant wife, Marilyn Reese Sheppard on July 4, 1954, at their Bay Village, Ohio, home. He spent almost a decade in prison, mostly at the Ohio Penitentiary, before a retrial was ordered, where he was acquitted in 1966.

On June 6, 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court, by an 8-to-1 vote, struck down the murder conviction. The decision noted, among other factors, that a “carnival atmosphere” had permeated the trial, and that the trial judge Edward J. Blythin, was clearly biased against Sheppard because Judge Blythin had refused to sequester the jury, did not order the jury to ignore and disregard media reports of the case, and when speaking to newspaper columnist Dorothy Kilgallen shortly before the trial started said, “Well, he’s guilty as hell. There’s no question about it.”

Source: wikipedia

There is new evidence published October 30, 2015, showing the murder was committed by Edward Wayne Edwards :

This is the last page of a letter Edward Edwards sent to Dr. Sam Sheppard’s father Richard, July 13th 1954, just after he had killed pregnant Marilyn Sheppard in her bed while she slept, and set-up her husband Dr. Sam Sheppard. I didn’t know it existed until last week. Just like in the 2009 Christopher Coleman case in Illinois, Edwards left a clue on the P.S. at the end of the letter as to who the real killer was. He left the number 4 in mirror image as a clue to 4 Ds to his name, and 2 Es.

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Jack McCullough

Jack (John) McCullough was falsely accused of child murder over fifty years after the alleged event.

Jack was accused as a late teen over fifty years ago. He was immediately able to provide a complete alibi unequivocally corroborated by army recruiting officers and timed phone records placing him scores of miles from the scene of the crime.

Jack comes from a highly dysfunctional family. He shortly afterward he moved away and changed his name. But nearly fifty years later his semi-crazed half-sisters (you have to read these women’s communications to believe them) charged that their mother had told them on her deathbed that the alibi was faked, they also made numerous charges of incest and other sexual abuses against Jack, their father and many others.

Jack elected to be tried before a judge on the incest charges and she, having heard the sisters at length, quickly acquitted him on all counts. Being dependent upon a public defender and having won his first round hands down Jack elected to have another judge hear his already discredited half-sisters on the murder counts.

The State’s case depended on hearsay on top of hearsay.To back it up they produced three stoolies who swore Jack had confessed to them in the last several days that he killed the girl in three different ways in two different places.

It also brought in a sixty odd year old woman who suddenly claimed to have identify Jack as the killer. Though she knew the family well, she had failed to identify Jack at the time of the murder but fifty years later (after his picture had been all over the papers) had a fresh epiphany that he was the murderer.

As the numerous alibi witnesses were now dead or unlocatable, the defense attempted to introduce the signed and dated federal files immediately after the crime and including records of the precisely timed phone calls. However the Judge, a political hack who had never tried a murder case before, ruled that the extensive federal government records were hearsay and therefore inadmissable.

Instead he immediately convicted on the hearsay offered by the Weird Sisters and the stoolies.

On October 11, 2015 a new and better informed public defender armed with much new evidence filed an appeal on Jack’s behalf.

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News April 15, 2016 Man Wrongly Convicted in 1957 Illinois Murder Is Released

Innnocence Project Report April 27, 2016

Robert Jones

Man ‘wrongly’ jailed for decades for killing UK tourist

28 October 2015

A man has been in prison in the US for 23 years for shooting dead a British tourist even though the judge in his trial and police detectives believe he is innocent of the crime.

Robert Jones was accused of being behind a crime spree of rape, robbery and then the murder of holidaymaker Julie Stott in New Orleans in 1992.

Despite another man being convicted for the murder and being overwhelmingly linked to all the other crimes, Mr Jones was never released.

In June, the Louisiana Supreme Court acknowledged that Mr Jones did not get a fair trial and ruled that his case should be reopened. But he remains behind bars

See BBC video report for details ( it’s a must view! ): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-34655025

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November 19, 2015 Bail Granted | Story

January 26, 2017 Charges Dropped

 

 

Floyd Bledsoe

Tom Bledsoe’s gun was used to kill Zetta “Camille” Arfmann, of Oskaloosa. His bullets, bought hours before her death, tore through Arfmann’s head and chest.

He confessed to the crime twice to his pastor, and once to police. He told law enforcement exactly where they could find Arfmann’s body — under piled trash and plywood on the property where he lived with his parents near McLouth.

And, according to recent DNA results pursued by Kansas University’s Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence, semen consistent with Tom Bledsoe’s DNA was found inside Arfmann’s vagina.

But Tom Bledsoe is not in prison for the crime. His brother, Floyd Bledsoe, is.

Now, attorneys at KU’s Project for Innocence and the Midwest Innocence Project are asking a Jefferson County judge to reverse Floyd Bledsoe’s conviction and set him free in a motion filed Tuesday.

Bledsoe, 38, has been serving a life sentence for more than 15 years for the 1999 shooting death of Arfmann, his then-14-year-old sister-in-law.

He was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and indecent liberties with a child after an April 2000 three-day trial, despite the lack of any physical evidence tying him to the crime. Jefferson County prosecutor Jim Vanderbilt presented just one witness, of 28 total, whose testimony directly linked Bledsoe to Arfmann’s murder — and that was Tom Bledsoe, who was originally charged with the crime after confessing and providing police with the murder weapon, according to Journal-World articles from the time.

Source via Wrongful Convictions Blog

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News : Conviction overturned and released, December 8, 2015

Report at National Registry of Exonerations

Requiring police interrogations to be recorded may have prevented wrongful conviction Jan 2016

Alton Dandridge – Exoneration report

Beniah Alton Dandridge was released on October 1st, 2015 after Equal Justice Initiative presented evidence showing that he was innocent of the murder for which he spent 20 years in prison.

On May 5, 1995, Beniah Dandridge was charged with capital murder in the killing of Riley Manning Sr. in Montgomery, Alabama, based exclusively on the Alabama Bureau of Investigation’s assertion that bloody fingerprints found at the crime scene matched Mr. Dandridge. No other physical evidence connected Mr. Dandridge to the crime.

At trial, prosecutors relied on the ABI examiner’s testimony that the fingerprints definitely matched Mr. Dandridge. The only other evidence presented was the testimony of a jailhouse informant who, in exchange for a reduced sentence in a pending case, said Mr. Dandridge told him he was involved in the crime.

Mr. Dandridge testified that he had nothing to do with the murder and presented evidence, corroborated by other witnesses, that he was elsewhere at the time of the crime. The jury convicted him of the lesser offense of intentional murder, and he was sentenced to life in prison.

In state postconviction proceedings, David Suddeth, who was also charged with killing Mr. Manning and pleaded guilty to capital murder to avoid the death penalty, provided a sworn statement that Mr. Dandridge was not present when Mr. Manning was killed. The jailhouse informant also said in a sworn affidavit that he testified falsely against Mr. Dandridge to obtain a reduced sentence.

The trial judge nonetheless denied relief, and state and federal courts affirmed that decision on appeal, relying on the fingerprint match to reject Mr. Dandridge’s innocence claim. Despite the evidence that he had been wrongly convicted, and his impeccable conduct in prison, the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Mr. Dandridge parole twice.

EJI took on Mr. Dandridge’s case and filed a new challenge to his conviction in November 2014. In those proceedings, EJI presented evidence from independent forensic experts who testified that their examination of the fingerprint evidence conclusively excluded Mr. Dandridge.

The ABI’s examiner had used unreliable procedures to compare the fingerprints and had ignored obvious differences that clearly showed the prints did not belong to Mr. Dandridge. Excluding Mr. Dandridge, the experts found that the fingerprints instead matched the victim’s son, eliminating the State’s most significant evidence against Mr. Dandridge.

From http://www.eji.org/node/1156 – see full story there.

Montez Spradley – Exonerated

Montez Spradley was wrongly convicted of the 2004 murder of a 58-year old white woman in Birmingham.

He spent nine years behind bars — including three-and-a-half years on Alabama’s death row.

The prosecution relied on tainted and inconsistent testimony of his disgruntled ex-girlfriend as well as a jailhouse snitch, who both claimed he had confessed to them.

The ex-girlfriend wanted to back out, and was paid $10,000 for her testimony.

Neither the police nor the prosecutors ever disclosed the payments to the defense.  Judge Bahakel, before sentencing Montez to death, had signed off on a payment herself. Yet she never told Montez’s trial lawyers about it, and her order authorizing the payment never made it into the court file.

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PA Innocence Project Helps Lewis Fogle, Freed 34 Years After His Conviction Due to DNA Exclusion

Fogle’s wife has always stood by him, the couple married just before his conviction. “He’s my husband and I love him,” said a tearful Deb Fogle, “It’s been a long, long process.”

News Report August 13, 2015

Dare to Think

Lewis Fogle was yet another victim of incentivized testimony.  Fogle, a Pennsylvania man, was imprisoned 34 years ago for the rape and murder of a teenage girl mostly based upon the testimony of jailhouse snitches.  A judge this week vacated the conviction for the 1976 rape and murder of Deanna Long.  Prosecutors have not decided whether or not they will retry Fogle.  The Pennsylvania Innocence Project pressed police to dig out physical evidence that could be retested for DNA.  The Indiana County prosecutor’s office agreed to retest the items.

The DNA test excluded Fogle, who was serving life in prison, as the source of sperm found on the victim.  Prosecutors subsequently agreed to overturning Fogle’s conviction.  Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said his investigators are now combing through the remaining evidence to see if they have a strong enough case to retry Fogle.  Dougherty said that he believes Fogle…

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Davontae Sanford

No one in Wayne County’s legal system can even pretend at this point that Davontae Sanford committed the four murders he supposedly confessed to when he was 14-years-old.

The real murderer has admitted he was hired to carry out the drug hit, and Sanford, now 22, played no role.

Why Sanford, then an illiterate and partially blind teen, confessed is anyone’s guess. That he was so eagerly believed by cops and prosecutors and has been kept behind bars for so long despite the compelling evidence of his innocence speaks to a prosecutorial culture that leaves no room for admitting a mistake was made.

So at great expense to taxpayers, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy continues to fight to keep Sanford locked up.

Meanwhile, confessed hitman Vincent Smothers says he committed the 2007 murders in a drug house on Runyon Street in Detroit, and even told cops where to find the .45 caliber pistol used in the slayings. Smothers is serving time for other homicides.

Attorneys for the University of Michigan’s Innocence clinic and a similar project at Northwestern University were in court this week with a mountain of evidence that Sanford was wrongfully convicted.

Source: Detroit News April 17, 2015

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Detroit man who confessed to quadruple homicide at age 14 to be freed June 8, 2016