Tag Archives: IP-Support

Supported by an Innocence Project

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.

 

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Lamarr Monson

Lamarr Monson was convicted of brutally killing a 12-year-old girl in 1996.

He was tricked into a confessing that he stabbed the girl, but in fact it wasn’t true. A year later, the homicide inspector who oversaw Monson’s interrogation was removed for illegally obtaining confessions.

Now the finger-prints of someone who confessed to his girl friend have been matched to the likely murder weapon, a toilet seat.

The Michigan Innocence Clinic has filed a motion, arguing this new evidence is grounds for Lamarr Monson to get a new trial.

It’s been nearly 20 years since he went to prison.

“I knew he was innocent. But everywhere I went, I could get no help. No help. Nobody believed,” says Delores Monson, Lamarr’s mother.

Source

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Jan 30, 2017: Lamarr Monson, convicted of killing Detroit girl in 1996, granted new trial 

Feb 2, 2017 Released on Bond.

Aug 25, 2017 Case Dismissed

Suzanne Johnson

Suzanne was convicted of assault on a child causing death ( shaken baby ), it made no sense but experts thought at the time the only explanation of three symptoms was shaking.

The judge said she was obviously an exemplary, caring, and loving lady, but the medical science established her guilt.

However it is now known that a short fall, like a fall from a high chair, can result in trauma sufficient to cause an infant’s death. Additionally, death from a short fall injury is more probable when an infant has a previous skull injury. In fact, when Jasmine fell from her high chair, she had an existing skull fracture that had occurred months earlier. The preexisting skull fracture was confirmed by Jasmine’s failure to thrive, physical discomfort, feeding problems, constant crying, and by autopsy findings.

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

Marilyn Mulero

On May 12, 1992, two members of the Latin Kings were shot and killed in a Humboldt Park bathroom. At 9:00 p.m. the next evening, Chicago police arrested Marilyn Mulero and Jackie Montanez, took the women to Humboldt Park, and interrogated them about the murders. The officers displayed Marilyn and Montanez to Latin King members, which associated the women with the crimes. After being displayed, detectives separately interviewed the women. Police denied Marilyn legal representation and questioned her for over nine hours in her non-native language.

After interrogation without counsel or sleep, Marilyn signed a prepared statement, which implicated her for both murders. Marilyn’s attorney, Jeremiah Lynch, entered a blind plea of guilty, paving the way for Mulero’s death sentence. Lynch failed to provide Marilyn an accurate and honest assessment of the strength of her case. Lynch’s representation fell far below the objective and professional standards of reasonableness. Lynch did not interview a single witness, police officer, or verify any witness accounts, despite the fact that Marilyn maintained her innocence. In total, Lynch only spent about ten minutes with Marilyn. Shortly after a court sentenced Marilyn to death, Lynch quit the legal profession and entered priesthood.

The prosecution’s key witness, Jackie Serrano, claimed she witnessed the murders through her apartment window. Serrano saw three women and two men in the park from her apartment. Serrano saw the taller woman enter the bathroom with a man and heard a firecracker sound. Serrano saw the tallest woman leave the bathroom, without the man, and saw the shorter woman shoot the other man in the back of his head.

Subsequent investigation showed it was impossible for Serrano to observe the homicide. In addition, law enforcement officers, with almost two decades of experience, concluded Serrano’s account was impossible. Not only was it impossible to hear a gunshot or a verbal conversation, but it was physically impossible for anyone, at night, to have seen the murder from Serrano’s apartment, over 489 feet away. Montanez later admitted to shooting both men.

Despite strong evidence of innocence, Mulero has been wrongfully incarcerated for over two decades. She maintains her innocence and the California Innocence Project is working toward her exoneration.

Source: http://californiainnocenceproject.org/read-their-stories/marilyn-mulero/

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Rodney Patrick McNeal

On March 10, 1997 Rodney Patrick McNeal came home for lunch to take his pregnant wife to a doctor’s appointment. He found her murdered.

Despite compelling evidence of innocence, Patrick was convicted of murdering his wife and a court sentenced him to 30 years-to-life in prison.

A detailed timeline of Rodney’s movements shows that he could not have committed the crime.

Rodney has the support of the California Innocence Project.

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Kimberley Long

Kimberly Long spent the day of Oct. 5, 2003, bar-hopping around the Corona area with her boyfriend, Oswaldo “Ozzy” Conde, and their friend, Jeff Dills.

The three ended the day at a bar called Maverick’s and then went to the home she shared with Long, around 11 p.m. There, she and Conde got into a fight, after which Long left with Dills to cool off.

She returned home around 2 a.m. on Oct. 6. During a recent phone interview from the California Institution for Women in Corona, about 65 miles from Palm Springs, Long choked back tears while talking about that night.

“I remember walking through the door, and it was unlocked when I came in. I saw a light on in the back. I kicked off my shoes, and I saw Ozzy on the couch, and I called his name,” said Long, who was an emergency-room nurse at the time. “I walked over to the light to turn it on, and when I did that, I turned around, and I saw a big blood stain on the couch. I saw him and I realized that something went wrong.

Kimberley called 911, but was later charged and convicted of murder. The prosecution alleged Kimberley killed Conde and then changed her clothes before dialing 911, however while there was reportedly blood on every wall of the living room, there was no blood on Long or her clothing. The drains inside and outside of the house were dry, indicating there wasn’t an attempted cleanup.

Kimberley Long’s first trial ended in a hung jury, with nine of the 12 jurors voting to acquit. In 2009, her second trial ended in a guilty verdict for second-degree murder—even though the judge himself stated he would have acquitted her. Two alternate jurors also reportedly said later that something must have gone wrong during deliberations, because the evidence against Long was very thin. She was given a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

Kimberley has the support of the California Innocence Project.

Full article here (May 2015) | Discussion | Proposal Post

News

Conviction overturned, released on bail June 2016

Willard O’Neal

Willard O’Neal, 48, was convicted in 2004 of one count of first-degree murder and one count of shooting with intent to kill and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Bruce Chamberlain was killed on December 23, 2001 outside his bar, the Trapeze Lounge and Gildardo Rueda was injured.

The Oklahoma Innocence Project says the state’s case against O’Neal “rested on witnesses who gave false testimony and a ballistics expert who improperly testified regarding a gun that was mishandled by two law enforcement agencies.”

“My client had an alibi at the exact time the crime was taking place and the DNA evidence at the scene was not attributable to Mr. O’Neal,” said Christina Green, O’Neal’s attorney and interim legal director at the Oklahoma Innocence Project.

“To make matters worse, the state withheld DNA and other evidence from my client’s original trial attorney, in violation of his 14th amendment right to due process. As a result, he was ultimately convicted. The fact that the state failed to disclose all of their evidence, as requested by Mr. O’Neal’s original defense attorney, is a miscarriage of justice that should be rectified.”

Source

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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

Richard Raugust

“In recent years, a legal team assembled by the Montana Innocence Project has been mounting a case for Raugust’s innocence, fighting to secure a new murder trial by arguing that if jurors heard newly presented evidence that has emerged since Raugust’s conviction they would not reasonably believe he could have committed the crime, that the facts support his alibi, and that key state witnesses – including the man they say pulled the trigger – colluded to spin a web of lies, framing Raugust for Tash’s murder.”

Source : News aticle 29 August, 2015

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Conviction overturned November 16, 2015

In 2012, the Montana Innocence Project appealed Raugust’s conviction, saying that new evidence implicates another killer, and that if Raugust were granted a new trial, a jury would agree.

The new evidence challenges key testimony provided by the state’s sole eyewitness, a man the Montana Innocence Project asserts is the true killer, and claims that the testimony of a sheriff’s deputy would have supported Raugust’s alibi but was never divulged prior to trial.

Exoneration Report

Malcolm Scott and De’Marchoe Carpenter

Almost 20 years ago, a jury found Malcolm Scott and De’Marchoe Carpenter guilty of first-degree murder and related counts in a drive-by shooting that killed 19-year-old Karen Summers in 1994. Scott and Carpenter, who were 17 at the time of the crime, were sentenced to life plus 170 years in prison.

A witness who testified against the two in exchange for a deal from prosecutors, Michael Lee Wilson, was convicted of a different murder and executed in January 2014.

Shortly before his execution, Wilson released a videotaped confession discussing his deal with the state and a written affidavit saying that he had killed Summers during a gang-related drive-by shooting.

Christina Green with the Oklahoma Innocence Project and Josh Lee with Ward Lee & Coats are representing Scott in post-conviction relief proceedings.

News Article July 20, 2015

Innocence Project Post July 20, 2015

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22 Years Later, Oklahoma Innocence Project Could Free Two Convicted Murderers Jan 26, 2016

Death Row Inmates Claim They Committed Tulsa Murders Others Were Convicted For Jan 30, 2016 ( report on evidentiary hearing on Friday Jan 29, has videos ).

A killer’s word: Should Michael Lee Wilson’s confession free two men? Jan 31, 2016 readfrontier.com

A judge declared both De’Marchoe Carpenter and Malcolm Scott innocent Monday afternoon. May 9, 2016

Malcolm Scott and De’Marchoe Carpenter freed after 20 years in prison, declared innocent May 9, 2016

 

Darryl Howard

From Innocence Project Article July 2, 2015

Quote

In honor of Independence Day this year, the Innocence Project calls attention to the case of Darryl Howard, who, like others who have been wrongfully convicted at the hands of a flawed criminal justice system, is fighting to prove his innocence and to secure his freedom.

As some may recall, in May of 2014, a North Carolina judge ruled that Innocence Project client Darryl Howard was entitled to a new trial for the 1991 murders of a woman and her teenage daughter. Howard was convicted of the murders in 1995, but North Carolina Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson overturned the murder and arson convictions based on newly discovered evidence of innocence, including new DNA test results and evidence of prosecutorial and police misconduct in Howard’s case.

According to Judge Hudson, Howard’s case had the most “horrendous prosecution” that he’d seen in his 30-year law career. He vacated Howard’s convictions, but the state appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.  Judge Hudson was poised to release Howard from prison on unsecured bail, but the state asked the Court of Appeals to stay Howard’s release on bail pending the appellate court’s ruling.  The Court of Appeals denied the state’s request.  As a result, the state moved the North Carolina Supreme Court to stay his release on bail pending the appellate court’s ruling.  The North Caroline Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the motion, leaving Howard still incarcerated.

During that time, Howard has suffered more than the already intolerable injustice of remaining in prison despite his convictions being overturned. Earlier this year, Howard’s son died. In March, Howard’s wife, Nannie, penned an op-ed for the News & Observer in which she discussed the effects that Howard’s wrongful conviction and subsequent absence have had upon his family. Nannie wrote: “He is heartbroken that he missed out on so much of his son’s life and feels like he lost a part of himself. Because Darryl has been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, the streets raised his son. I have to keep reminding him that his son’s death wasn’t his fault. Had Darryl had the opportunity to have a meaningful relationship with his son, he might still be alive. Now Darryl will never know his son.”

The North Carolina Court of Appeals heard oral argument in April on Howard’s appeal. A decision could come as soon as July 7, but it could be longer. In the meantime, Howard sits behind bars, an innocent man who awaits his very own independence day.

Learn more about Howard’s case and read Nannie’s op-ed here.

End Quote

Darryl Howard and the rampaging prosecutor: Durham learns little from Duke lacrosse debacle Radley Balko, Washington Post, March 2014

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2014-05-27_howard_opinion Ruling vacating the conviction

Christopher Coleman

On May 5, 2009 at 5.43am, Christopher Coleman left his comfortable suburban house in Waterloo, Illinois to go to the gym.

After his workout he said he called home and was worried when no-one answered, so he rang a neighbor, police officer Justin Barlow, to check on his family.

At trial, Officer Jason Donjon, who entered the house with Mr Barlow, testified that they found the house was covered in threatening messages daubed in red paint.

The graffiti read: ‘I am watching’, ‘punished’ and ‘u have paid’.

Then they discovered the bodies of Mrs Coleman and her two sons, killed in separate bedrooms.

Mrs Coleman was left naked in bed, strangled with a ligature. Her eldest son, Garett, was curled up in bed with spray paint on his sheets.

Finally the youngest, Gavin, was seen lying face down with his limbs dangling either side of the bed and swear words daubed on his covers.

According to police computer experts, Coleman’s own laptop, accessed by his own password, was the source of anonymous profane threats against his family that Coleman had reported to police as early as November 2008.

Coroners took the temperature of Sheri Coleman’s liver at 11 a.m. and recorded 90.4 degrees. Then it was taken again at the funeral home at 1:17 p.m. and was recorded as 87.4 degrees.

Defense attorney Jim Stern said that was a rate of 1.5 degrees an hour, which he calculated put Sheri Coleman’s time of death after 5:30 a.m., while her husband was at the gym.

Dr Michael Baden said Stern got it wrong, because the body does not start losing heat for three to four hours after death.

Coleman was convicted of the murders in 2011.

News report on trial, April 27, 2011

However it is now believed that the murders were the work of serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards.

It’s probably the last murder committed by Edwards, in fact it was after his family tipped off the police in March 2009, and just weeks before his DNA was taken for testing in June 2009, prior to his arrest on 30 July 2009.

See the timeline here for the context of the murder :https://ededwardsserialkiller.wordpress.com/timeline/#2000

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September, 2015: John Cameron has written a 65-page PDF document that explains the coded messages Edward Wayne Edwards left in red paint on the walls.

Kenneth Moore

Kenneth Moore’s brother, and two other men, committed a series of heinous crimes in the summer of 1978, including robbery, rape and murder. His brother was sentenced to death and committed suicide soon after.

Kenneth had no part in these crimes, he was implicated due to a truck he had stolen and given to his brother weeks before.

Nevertheless, Kenneth was convicted and (aged 19) sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Kenneth was assisted by the Northern California Innocence project. DNA tests were conducted, but the sample was apparently switched or mis-labelled, because the results excluded both Kenneth and the victim.

Kenneth is seeking to have further DNA tests performed to prove his innocence, but this has been denied by the judge.

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Jeffrey Braun

Jeffrey Braun is serving life without parole for the October 2005 murder of John Chappell.

He was implicated in this murder, of which he had no knowledge, by two friends John Shears and Roy Fitzer after a dispute with a drug dealer ended with a non-fatal shooting.

Jeffrey was addicted to drugs, and this led to him committing  numerous robberies of drug dealers, however he did not commit murder or shoot anyone.

There was no DNA evidence, or eye witness testimony connecting Jeffrey to the murder, only the word of already convicted felons.

Jeffrey had an alibi for the night of the murder, but the state claimed that that anyone who testified on his behalf lied, even though there was no reason for them to lie.

A year and a half after being convicted, Jeffrey received a letter from Fitzer in which he admitted  that not only had he lied and tried to make a deal, but he also had recanted his lies at the time of Jeffrey’s trial and at no time did the prosecution provide the defence with the information that Fitzer refused to testify. Instead the prosecution postponed trial on the day Fitzer was supposed to testify, and had the court sign an order for his immediate return to prison rendering him unavailable to contact anyone.

Article at wrongly convicted news | Proposal post

Chris Tapp

Chris Tapp was wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of Angie Dodge of Idaho Falls, Idaho in 1997, after making a false confession. The investigator then and now mayor Fuhriman promised Chris complete immunity after the 40 hrs of questioning. Dna left on and around Miss Dodges body does NOT MATCH Chris Tapp.

Supported by the Idaho Innocence Project.

Video published Published on 19 Sep 2015

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Judges for Justice launch campaign to overturn Tapp conviction September 24, 2015

Chris Tapp to be released from prison March 20, 2015

 

Anthony Ray Hinton

Anthony was convicted of two shooting murders at fast food restaurants near Birmingham, Alabama in 1985. There were no eyewitnesses to either crime, and the fingerprints lifted from each crime scene did not match Mr. Hinton. The only evidence linking Mr. Hinton to the murders stemmed from a third shooting at a fast food restaurant in Bessemer. The victim in the third shooting did not die and misidentified Mr. Hinton as the assailant. At the time of the third shooting, Mr. Hinton was working in a locked warehouse 15 miles from the crime scene. His supervisor and other employees confirmed his innocence.

The State claimed that bullets recovered from all three crimes were fired from the same weapon and claimed that they matched a weapon recovered from Mr. Hinton’s mother.

In June 2002, three of the country’s top gun experts testified that they had examined the state’s evidence and concluded that the crime bullets could not be matched to the weapon recovered from Mr. Hinton’s mother and that the state had erred in making that claim.

After a long legal saga (including a successful appeal to the US Supreme Court), on September 25, 2014, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Laura Petro ordered a new trial for Mr. Hinton, and the Court of Criminal Appeals upheld that decision on November 21, 2014.

On April 2, 2015 the case was dismissed due to lack of evidence.

Anthony was represented by the Equal Justice Initiative.

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Report at National Registry of Exonerations

Christina WIlliams

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Witnesses that could have exonerated Christina were not interviewed, even after these witnesses came to the police department and asked to volunteer their information.

One witness at the scene testified during the trial that Christina was not even present when the crime occured.

There were weapons found at the scene, none of which could be associated with Christina.

There were fingerprints recovered that would point to other suspects.

Police instead arrested and convicted a girl that was under the influence of drugs and had no comprehension of anything that was going on, let alone the capabilities to formulate a plan and carry out a crime.