Category Archives: Virginia

Mike Crump

At the age of just 18 years old, Mike Crump was arrested and wrongfully convicted of the tragic murder of 21-year-old Eric “Nike” Jones in Virginia after an eyewitness misidentified Mike due to his hoodie. 

There was NO other evidence against Mike, no fingerprints, no DNA, just the word of one eyewitness who initially said it was too dark to see anything and she did not see the killer’s face, only the hooded sweatshirt that the killer wore.

Despite the lack of solid evidence against Mike, he was shockingly convicted by a single judge at a one day bench trial in 1996.  Mike was sentenced to a total of 40 years for a crime he did not commit and for which he continues to maintain his innocence.

Again and again in Mike’s case, evidence of his innocence has been disregarded.

See this petition for details.

[ Case description taken from petition ]

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Jens Söring

In March 1985, Derek and Nancy Haysom  were murdered in their home in Bedford County, Virginia.

Jens Söring ( age 18, the son of a German diplomat ) was studying at the University of Virginia, and was in a romantic relationship with Elizabeth Haysom, the victim’s daughter.

Six months later Jens and Elizabeth fled to Europe, and subsequently Jens confessed to the crime, claiming at trial it was a false confession to protect Elizabeth.

However relatively recent DNA tests show that two unknown men left blood at the scene, and lead to the conclusion that Jens was not present.

A full-length documentary film about the case, Killing for Love , was released in October 2016, and in June 2019, the case was covered in podcasts by Amanda Knox.

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Donna Hockman

Donna Hockman shot and killed Dustin Stanley in self-defense on July 25, 2008.

Stanley was a criminal informant, and had a record of 12 arrests for property destruction, assault and battery, disorderly conduct and annoying phone calls. He was also violent and had been stalking Donna for many months after being released from jail in February 2008 after signing a Confidential Informant Agreement.

On June 7, 2008, at a wedding, Stanley’s family told Donna that he had abused “every woman he’s ever dated”. Shortly after, a fight broke out between Stanley and his family, and later that night Stanley beat Donna bloody, bashed her head into her headboard and threw her onto the floor kicking her repeatedly.

Despite complaints to police, Stanley was not arrested, and Donna could not obtain any protection from him, apparently due to his status as a paid police informant.

On July 25, Donna shot Stanley at her home after he threatened to kill her and her son.

Donna was convicted of first degree murder on the basis of the testimony of six jailhouse informants who claimed she gave different accounts of events on July 25 and sentenced to life without parole.

More information at

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Emerson Stevens

Emerson Stevens was convicted after two 1986 trials of abducting a mother of two from her home on August 22, 1985, while her children were asleep in the house. Five days later, her body was found in shallow water near Belle Isle Marsh, off the Rappahannock River. Stevens was sentenced to 164 years and a day in prison.

In December 2016 the Innocence Project of the University of Virginia School of Law filed an amendment asked for the conviction to be vacated.

According to the amendment, withheld evidence was found including an FBI report identifying a number of additional viable suspects; several witness statements in interviews that conflict with their court testimony; disclosure of witnesses whose statements could have impeached the testimony of prosecution witnesses; and, evidence of coercion of witnesses by the state’s chief investigator. “Mr. Stevens was convicted of a crime he did not commit…The Commonwealth’s failure to disclose the exculpatory evidence on which those false testimony claims are based violates its obligations in Brady versus Maryland”.


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News: ( August 16, 2021 )
Emerson Stevens, the man at the center of a two-part Washingtonian investigative story from 2019, was granted an absolute pardon on Monday by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. Stevens was convicted in 1986 of murdering Mary Keyser Harding, a 24-year-old mother of two, in a small fishing town on Virginia’s Northern Neck. The Innocence Project at the University of Virginia had been working to exonerate him since 2009.

Sherman Brown

In 1970, 22-year-old Sherman Brown was convicted and sentenced to death in Virginia for murdering a 4-year-old boy in the child’s home. But last week, the Innocence Project—in collaboration with attorney Steven Rosenfield, the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP—filed a writ of actual innocence with the Virginia Supreme Court which says that results from new DNA testing strongly points to Brown being innocent. The attorneys also argue that Brown’s conviction was based on evidence which has now been proven to be unreliable and to have no scientific validity.

As detailed in a Richmond Times Dispatch article published today, on an October afternoon in 1969, a woman and her 4-year-old son answered her door while her younger child slept. The man at the door asked for a drink of water, so she let him in. But when he asked to have sex with her and she refused, she said that he struck her unconscious. Soon after the attack, she was found on her couch no longer wearing her underwear, and her 4-year-old was discovered in his bed, stabbed to death.

The victim identified Brown, but the victim said that she could not recall what happened after she was struck unconscious—and initially misidentified Brown’s father as the perpetrator—making her identification unreliable.

At trial, the prosecution’s case relied on the testimony from an FBI analyst who said that hairs on a sweatshirt, that belonged to Brown’s brother-in-law, “matched” Brown’s hair, and that this was important because fibers on this sweatshirt were found to have “matched” fibers from the victim’s robe and vice-versa. Brown’s conviction was based in large part on this flawed forensic evidence.

Evidence strongly points to the female victim being raped. Testing of physical evidence collected in connection with the crime has also excluded Brown and is powerful evidence that he did not commit these crimes. DNA testing also shows with more than 98% certainty that the victim’s husband is excluded as well. Steps are now being taken to conclusively exclude the victim’s husband.

According to Brown’s lawyers, they also have a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice which states that an audit of conviction cases based on hair analysis by the FBI reveals that the analyst gave erroneous testimony regarding the hair evidence. A fiber expert has also determined that the testimony regarding the fiber evidence went well beyond the scientific conclusions that could have been reached based on the testing that was conducted.

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme court ruled in Furman v. Georgia that capital punishment was cruel and unusual, and he was re-sentenced to life in prison. He’s now 69.

Source : Innocence Project

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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.


Joseph Giarratano

In February 1979 in Norfolk Virginia, Joseph Giarratano awoke to discover the bodies of two women with whom he shared an appartment. Michelle Kline had been strangled in her bed, and her mother Toni Kline, was in the bathroom, her carotid artery severed.

Giarratano, who had no memory of the night before, fled to his home state of Florida, and as soon as he arrived, turned himself in and confessed. He was 21, a suicidal alcoholic who suffered frequent delusions, hallucinations and blackouts.

The state’s psychiatrist warned that he had no actual memory of the night, and the confession could have been the product of mental disorder.

Even though his multiple confessions were confused and contradictory, both internally and with the forensic evidence, after proclaiming his own guilt, waiving his right to a jury trial, and asking to be executed, he was convicted of murder and sent to death row.

After trial a forensic expert said Toni Kline was stabbed from behind by a right-handed person, whereas Giarratano is left-handed and handicapped by a severe neurological weakness on his right side.

There was other exculpatory forensic evidence not submitted at trial : numerous unidentified fingerprints and nine hair samples that did not belong to Giarratano or the victims.

While in prison Giarratano advocated for Earl Washington Jr., who was later exonerated and given a full pardon.

In 1991, on execution day, under intense pressure from both conservatives and liberals, Governor L. Douglas Wilde commuted Giarratano’s death sentence, to life in prison, with parole possible after 25 years.

All appeals have been denied for procedural reasons, and Joseph remains in prison.


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Diane Fleming

Diane Fleming was a Sunday school teacher and a mother, who loved her husband and her family. She is a very kind lady who helped and fed the homeless for many years. One day her husband Charles became very ill and she called 911. Her husband was admitted to the hospital and he died after two days. The medical authorities and the police alleged that Diane poisoned her husband with methanol. She was arrested, indicted, and convicted for killing her husband.

Seven years later, Dr. Al Bayati was contacted about the Fleming case. He spent 400 hours investigating the case and his findings clearly reveal that Charles Fleming died as a result of adverse reaction to medication and supplement and misdiagnosis.


Read the full report here.


Charles (Chuck) Fleming’s acute illness developed on June 12, 2000 induced by the ingestion of toxic doses of creatine monohydrate and high levels of propylene glycol (PEG). Chuck was taking several medications contained PEG that increased creatine bioavability and caused acute renal failure, severe hypophosphatemia, and ketoacidosis. Chuck’s serum phosphorous level was 0.1 mg/dL (normal range: 2.8-4.9 mg/dL) and his hypophosphatemia caused hemolytic crisis. Chuck’s red blood cell count and hemoglobin levels on June 13th were reduced by 27% of those measured on June 12th.

The bleeding, edema, and necrosis observed in Chuck’s brain were caused by the high doses of heparin and sodium bicarbonate given in the Hospital. Chuck developed acute cardiac dysfunction due to hypophosphatemia, hypokalemia, hypomagnisemia, metabolic acidosis, and metabolic alkalosis. Chuck suffered from cardiomegaly and pulmonary atrophy as a result of the chronic use of corticosteroid medications. Chuck’s heart and right lung weights were 183% and 84% of normal average weight for age, respectively.

The treating physicians and the medical examiner did not measure formic acid in Chuck’s blood, urine, stomach contents, or tissues. The blood methanol measurements reported on June 12th and 13th represent a false positive. It is likely that the four bottles of Gatorade containing methanol presented in court are not the same bottles of Gatorade that Diane and Chuck spiked with creatine monohydrate on June 11th. The commonwealth’s allegation against Diane that she poisoned her husband with methanol is not supported by medical and scientific facts, which support Diane’s innocence.

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Mark Weiner – Exonerated

A Virginia judge on Tuesday vacated the conviction of a Montgomery County native who has long maintained he was innocent of abducting a woman in Charlottesville and taking her to an abandoned home in 2012.

Mark Weiner, 54, walked away from jail a free man after the Albemarle County prosecutor took the unusual step of siding with the defense in calling for the 2013 verdict to be thrown out. Weiner was serving an eight-year sentence.


Benjamin said an analysis of cellular data showed that during the course of the alleged abduction, Steiniger’s cellphone was pinging off a cell tower near her mother’s home and never accessed one that was close to the abandoned home.

Read full report here, Washington Post, Jul 14, 2015

or report

“Some prosecutors would call that sort of thing exculpatory information that must legally be turned over to the defense. Lunsford thanked the officer for stopping by and said she would no longer be needing his testimony after all. (This officer would later call the defense attorney and tell him what had transpired.) The second law enforcement officer offered up the same conclusion. He didn’t get to testify, either.”

or Discussion here.

Michael Kenneth McAlister

Michael Kenneth McAlister was convicted in 1986 despite the only trial evidence linking him to the attack being the victim’s eyewitness testimony.

The exoneration came five days before a hearing that could have led to McAlister’s indefinite confinement as a violent sex offender under the state’s civil commitment law. Authorities, including the former Richmond police detective who investigated McAlister and former and current city prosecutors, say the real perpetrator was a serial rapist who three decades ago bore a striking resemblance to McAlister.

“My staff and I have carefully and thoroughly reviewed the documentation in this case and concluded that a pardon is appropriate in light of the overwhelming evidence, including a recent confession by another individual, pointing to Mr McAlister’s actual innocence of the crime for which he was convicted,” McAuliffe said in a written statement.

Source: Guardian Report