Tag Archives: Life-Sentence

Adnan Syed

Adnan Syed, was convicted of first degree murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in January 1999.

The conviction was based on the testimony of Jay Wilds, who claimed he had helped Syed bury Lee’s body and dispose of her car, and cellphone evidence.

Syed’s lawyer has stated that “the cell tower evidence was misleading and should have never been admitted at trial.”

On November 6th, 2015 judge Martin P Welch ordered an appeals court to consider testimony from Asia McClain, who claimed to have seen him around the time of Lee’s disappearance, but whose account was never brought before the court by Syed’s lawyer at the time.

Welch also granted Syed’s petition to include a rediscovered document that casts doubt on cellphone-tower evidence that was critical to the prosecution’s case in 2000.

News Report

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6 July 2016 New trial granted

Lamont McKoy

It’s been nearly 25 years since 18-year-old Lamont McKoy was convicted for the murder of Myron Hailey in Fayetteville, North Carolina. But evidence — that was never introduced at trial — suggests McKoy never murdered anyone.

That didn’t stop the North Carolina Court of Appeals, which on Monday rejected, without comment, a request by McKoy’s attorneys to hold a hearing that would have addressed why this evidence was never revealed at trial. Or, for that matter, why it still is relevant today to help answer a basic question that has swirled around this case for decades: why is McKoy serving hard time, a life sentence, for a murder the feds later claimed was committed by another man?

More at the Marshall Project

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David Thorne

David Thorne is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for allegedly hiring an acquaintance to kill the mother of his son, however, he never hired anyone nor did the acquaintance do the crime.

Sometime between the evening hours on March 31, 1999 and 12:00 p.m. on April 1, 1999, Yvonne Layne, a mother of 5, was murdered in her home with one solid and steady slit to her throat.

David Thorne was convicted of complicity to aggravated murder/murder for hire on January 25, 2000 by a 12 person jury.

The police investigating the crime had tunnel vision throughout their investigation, narrowing in on David from the beginning.

The investigators were unable to get David to confess, so instead they went after his acquaintance, Joseph Wilkes, who was barely 18 years of age and a high school dropout.  After a lengthy interrogation, during which they told Joseph that David was “next door ratting him out”, he confessed, utilizing the story that the police had fed to him to what the police were telling him happened.  Joe took a plea deal and David went to trial.

Despite the lack of physical evidence of either Joe or David being at the scene and a poor police investigation, with very weak circumstantial evidence, an innocent man was convicted.

[ From the Website ]

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Aaron Finley

Aaron Finley was wrongly convicted of murder on the accusation of the true killer, bribed with a reduced sentence, and a very dubious identification that placed him in a car with the killer before the murder. The indictments of the killer and Aaron do not agree on the cause of death, and Steven Hayne’s autopsy report was not entered as evidence. Aaron also had an alibi which could have been confirmed by the prosecution based on a laundry ticket.

Aaron Finley was was indicted on April 12, 1996 and later convicted for the November 16, 1994 murder of George Monsour, during the commission of an armed robbery, and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of early release.

On November 16, 1994, Willie Davis went to the home of George Monsour, the victim, and pretended to be interested in purchasing Monsour’s car, an antique Chevrolet Impala. Davis agreed to purchase the car for $1,800.00 and he left to supposedly get the money. He returned to the Monsour home and Mr. Monsour went with Davis for a test drive. They left the Monsour home between 11:00 and 12:00.

Monsour’s body was found in Warren Lake in Lauderdale County in the early hours of November 17, 1994. Willie Davis confessed to the crime and led the police to the body. At the crime scene, the police found many personal items of Monsour’s scattered around the site of the murder.

The case against Aaron ( Source )

Willie Davis testified against Aaron at trial. Davis alleged that he and Finley drove Monsour to Warren Lake, that while they were driving down the interstate, he and Aaron stopped to switch who was driving the car. That at this time, while they were outside of the car and out of Monsour’s hearing range, that they decided to rob Monsour.  That Finley parked the car at Hillcrest and eventually forced Monsour by gunpoint down to Warren Lake. That it was at this point that Finley beat, kicked and eventually drowned Monsour. That he (Davis) took Mr. Monsour’s wallet while Finley was holding Monsour’s head under the water.

Rita Crane, a sister of one of the investigating officers, testified that she saw the Impala with Monsour and three black males on Interstate 20 on November 16, 1994, around noon. She identified Davis as the driver of the vehicle and Finley as one of the passengers in the vehicle. She further testified that she knew Monsour but did not realize at the time that he was in the vehicle.

The defense case

Aaron Finley and Stacey Armstrong (Davis’ cousin) were released in 1995 after not being indicted three times due to lack of evidence, but Willie Davis remained incarcerated and was convicted of the murder of George Monsour. However in April of 1996 Aaron Finley was indicted for capital murder. Willie Davis had made a deal with the district Attorney to testify against Aaron Finley to have his sentence be life in prison instead of the death penalty.

Willie Davis’s testimony and statements changed numerous times, and is not credible.

It’s implausible that Rita Crane could have identified Aaron in the Impala on Interstate 20 around noon.

Example Impala

Aaron, who was age 20 at the time, told detectives that on that morning of the murder he went to Perfection Cleaners to leave some clothes to be cleaned, there was a ticket made out which would have been in the possession of the cleaners, however this this was not available at trial to corroborate his alibi. The owner of Perfection Cleaners called the detective and told him he found the records concerning the date and time Aaron dropped his clothes off but no one ever came to pick the records up.

Aaron does not deny that he was in the car later that day, in the evening, and this is how he came to be a suspect.

There was no forensic evidence at the scene to link Aaron to the murder, only the testimony of Davis and the very doubtful sighting by Rita Crane. Furthermore, Rita Crane’s testimony was inconsistent and contradictory to statements she had made before and during trial ( see appeal ruling ).

Aaron has been supported by the Mississipi Justice Project.

Some documents are available here. In particular, the indictments do not agree on the how the victim died. Aaron’s indictment says “drowning”, but Davis’ indictment says “beating and shooting”. In addition, there is a reply to a request for the autopsy report which claims it is not a public record.

Also, a mysterious anonymous letter dated 27 March, 2006, claiming the crime was committed by Willie Davis and three others.

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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.”


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Dennis Dechaine

In March 1989, Dennis Dechaine was convicted of the murder of Sarah Cherry. Sarah Cherry went missing between noon and 3:20pm on Wednesday July 6, 1988. After police were called, two documents found in the driveway with Dennis Dechaine’s name on them lead police to begin searching for him, as well as for Sarah Cherry. At 8:30pm on the same day, Dennis was seen emerging from woods where the body was found two days later at 12:20pm on Friday July 8. He was subsequently detained by the police. Given these circumstances, it would be natural to suspect that Dennis abducted and murdered Sarah Cherry.

However, the medical examiner found that based upon the progression of rigor mortis, Sarah died 30 to 36 hours prior to her body being examined at 2p.m. on Friday, that is between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. Thursday morning, meaning that Dennis could not have been the murderer.

In addition, blood was found under Sarah’s fingernails, and DNA analysis excludes Dennis.

The prosecution claimed that Dechaine confessed, however this is contradicted by contemporaneous notes.

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Jermane Scott

20 years ago Jermane Scott was given a LIFE sentence for Agg Murder/Credit Card Misuse.

Jermane is from Ohio USA (trial court OHIO).

Jermane has maintained his innocence to the Agg Murder charge from the very beginning.

Jermane Scott did NOT commit murder.

  • No DNA evidence.
  • No Motive.
  • NO Murder Weapon and Inconsistent/Contradictory Witness Statements throughout.

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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


Cyrus Wilson

In 1992, five days after his 18th birthday, Cyrus Wilson was arrested and charged with first degree murder. In 1994, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He has maintained his innocence throughout the entire 22 years he has been incarcerated.

He was convicted on the eye witness testimony of a juvenile, who has since recanted his testimony. The facts of the case are simple, he was targeted as a suspect because the victim stole his car 3 months prior to the murder. He did not swear out a warrant against the victim at the time because he was 17 years old and not able to do so.

The gun an eyewitness testified was used to commit the murder has been proven by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations to not be the murder weapon. This information was not made available to Cyrus’s defense attorney (a court appointed public defender who had never defended a murder trial).

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Matthew Riley

Matthew Riley was convicted in October 2013 of the December 9, 2008 murder of his parents, Linda and Steven Riley in Sacramento, California, and was sentenced to life with no possibility of parole.

The murder occurred  early in the morning, in the afternoon Matthew discovered the bodies and called 911. From that moment he was the only target of the investigation, despite the fact that his family tried to get the police to consider other suspects.

Matthew had no reason to murder his own parents.

Unidentified DNA extracted from blood was found at the scene, and also unidentified finger-prints.

There was no forensic evidence linking him to the crime, however his wife Jannilin Overton testified that he left home that night. Overton, a meth addict, was not a credible witness, and her story changed several times. Overton testified that Matthew left their apartment around 3am. Matthew’s parents home, where they were murdered, was 40 miles from Matthew’s apartment. If he went out in the middle of the night at 3am intent on murdering his parents, he would have been at the scene around 4am.

The prosecution’s time of death seems incompatible with evidence found at the scene which suggests Matthew’s parents were attacked after Steven had made coffee. The morning routine was that Steven got up first and drank coffee while reading the paper. Then he brought Linda breakfast upstairs on a tray. When they were killed, the coffee pot was half-full and the breakfast tray was still downstairs. Security cameras showed a newspaper delivery car at 6:30am. This suggests the attack happened after 6:30am. Around 7:00 a.m., Matt made a purchase in a doughnut shop near his home, which was verified by a time-stamped receipt. If he murdered his parents, he would have been covered in blood, no trace was found in his car, there is no place or time for him to have cleaned up, driven back before buying the doughnut.

At the sentencing hearing, the judge said Matthew staged a fake ransacking of the residence but made the mistake of leaving valuables normally taken by a thief. The judge said “They were horrific assaults and during many trials over 22 years as a judge, the savage nature of the attacks showed that it would have to be a crazy person, serial killer or some connection – it would have to be someone close to them”.

The judge added that Riley’s guilty demeanor after his parent’s death was an important factor in the case, “He was dispassionate – almost matter of fact”.

Family members, including Matthew’s Aunt, and the brother of victim Linda Riley, believe that Matthew was wrongly convicted.

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Wife Of Convicted Murderer Explains Why She Lied On The Stand (VIDEO) Huffington post, April 16, 2015

A possible alternate suspect would be Edward Wayne Edwards.

Matt Sopron

Matt Sopron was implicated in a double murder nine months after the crime by the true perpetrators who were looking to avoid a death sentence.

There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, and the witnesses implicating him all told different stories. Defense witnesses contradicted their testimony.

After trial, two prosecution witnesses recanted and related how they were coerced into giving false evidence, transcripts are available here.

Matt was asleep at home when the crime took place, and he had no knowledge of it.

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News December 18, 2018

After serving 20 years of a life sentence, Matthew Sopron walked out of Stateville Prison Tuesday afternoon a free man — just hours after Cook County prosecutors dropped murder charges against him after witnesses admitted to lying on the stand during his trial.

Earlier, Sopron, 45, had smiled as he walked past a courtroom gallery overflowing with supporters Tuesday morning. Gasps and sniffling filled the room as Assistant State’s Attorney Carol Rogala asked Judge Timothy Joyce to vacate Sopron’s conviction for a 1995 gang shooting that killed two eighth-grade girls.

“Finally, justice,” Sopron’s mother, Patricia, said in the courthouse lobby after the hearing. “How many years that the lies never matched up, but the truth always matched up? In court last week, we heard the same exact words [from each witness], so the truth was there.”



Brian Peixoto

Brian Peixoto was wrongfully convicted in 1996 for the murder of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son Christopher Affonso, Jr., and sentenced to life in prison in Massachusetts. Peixoto’s supporters state that the child died from injuries sustained during a fall, not from child abuse, and they have four nationally and internationally recognized medical experts that support their claims. New expert evidence proves Brian’s innocence.

Source: Injustice Anywhere

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Lincoln Keith

Lincoln Keith was arrested in 1984 and convicted of murder-for-hire based on coerced testimony from the killer and another defendant in exchange for leniency.

The State claimed the victim’s granddaughter offered him $400 , but she was acquitted.

The State claimed he “blurted out” a confession with many people present, that only one detective heard, Snow Robertson.

The bullet and casing recovered did not match Keith’s gun.

One juror was a family friend of detective Robertson.

He had an alibi, but the witness was not called at trial.

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Bill Wilson

This case is included to show just how ridiculous wrongful convictions can be.

Wilson was convicted of murdering his wife after she left and some old bones were found in a cave in 1912.

Luckily his wife turned up alive and well after he was convicted.

In 1932, Yale’s Borchard included Bill Wilson’s story in his book “Convicting the Innocent,” an examination of 65 wrongful convictions in America.


Michael Hanline – case dismissed

A California man who was freed after serving 34 years of a life sentence for murder had the charges formally dismissed Wednesday.

Michael Hanline, 69, was the longest-serving wrongfully incarcerated inmate in California history, according to the California Innocence Project, whose lawyers worked for 15 years to free him and persuaded prosecutors to re-examine the evidence.

Testing showed DNA found at the crime scene did not come from Hanline or his alleged accomplice. In addition, prosecutors withheld evidence that should have been disclosed to Hanline’s legal team during the trial.


Christy Phillips

Christy was convicted as a juvenile and has been imprisoned for 13 years. She was arrested and detained two months after she had turned 15 years old. During her 48-hour detention, the police denied her contact with her mother, a lawyer, food, and water. She did not sleep during this time. She was coerced into making a false confession. Aged 16, she was tried in an adult court, and sentenced to two life sentences for a crime she did not commit.

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John Horton

Featured Case #41: John Horton was wrongly convicted of murder in 1995. His cousin subsequently confessed to the crime. The case is supported by the Center of Wrongful Convictions of Youth at Northwestern University School of Law.

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12 October 2016 : New trial granted

The Court ruled that John was entitled to a new trial because prosecutors had violated his due process rights by not disclosing exculpatory evidence, although a special concurrence penned by one of the Justices added that this case was riddled with “outrageous errors and missteps” and that John has “significant” evidence of actual innocence.

Ruling | News Report

10 February 2016 : Released on Bond.  Judge Joseph G. McGraw set his bond at $50,000.


Jason Payne

Featured Case #40 : On December 11, 2007 in the town of Quitman, Texas two people were shot to death. Nichole Payne, wife of Jason Payne and her son by a previous marriage, Austin Taylor Wages. Upon discovering the two bodies Jason immediately called 911 at 9:09 AM and told the operator that “his wife and his son are both shot” and that he needed help.

The lead detective in the case Lt. Det. Miles Tucker of the Wood County Sheriff’s Office requested the assistance of Sgt.Noel Martin, a Criminologist with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office to come out to the crime scene and perform a crime scene reconstruction. After doing a thorough and extensive examination of the crime scene, and a rigorous examination of the autopsy report and other evidence Noel Martin, the only forensic expert at the crime scene issued his findings: Murder Suicide. This must of come as a surprise to Lt. Tucker who likely felt that Martin, a fellow police officer and prosecution expert witness would issue a finding that would support his theory of a Double Homicide.

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Stacey Hyde

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Closed Group

Retrial Wednesday April 15, 2015.

Report on retrial May 21, 2015.

Exonerated May 21, 2015 – BBC Breaking News

Report in Wells Journal

Justice for Women, who campaigned on behalf of Miss Hyde have slammed the prosecutor Christopher Quinlan QC for “aggressively pursuing” the prosecution in the face of what they described as: “overwhelming evidence that undermined his case for murder. In particular, at the appeal the adolescent psychiatrist instructed by the Crown was unable to support the prosecution and instead gave evidence for the defence.”

Quinlan vigorously opposed applications for bail following the successful appeal, and Miss Hyde remained in custody for a further six months awaiting trial.

A spokesman for Justice for Women said that despite evidence in support of self defence, Miss Hyde was willing to plead guilty to manslaughter. These detailed representations were rejected although the DPP refused to provide reasons for her decision.

Speaking after the verdict, Miss Hyde said: “I would like to say thank you to Justice for Women, my legal team, friends and family for believing in me and giving me hope and strength to never give up. I will be forever grateful and blessed to have been given my life back.”

Report in Guardian 21 May 2015

Outside the court, Hyde said on Thursday: “I would like to say thank you to Justice for Women, my legal team, friends and family for believing in me and giving me hope and strength to never give up. I will be for ever grateful and blessed to have been given my life back.”

Francis, 33, also from Wells, had a history of violence towards women. It was acknowledged by the prosecution that there had been 27 separate incidents of domestic violence between him and his girlfriend, Holly Banwell, and that he had also been violent towards his previous girlfriend.

Report in Guardian 11 June 2015 “There are many more who need their cases re-examined’

Letter from defense team published in Guardian 16 June 2015

Shirley Southerland

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Shirley Southerland was framed for murder. There were no eyewitnesses, no physical evidence, no murder weapon found. The only testimonies were from three known drug addicts, i.e. Angelica Cavasos, Pedro Cavasos, and Yvonne Gonzales, and informants for the Houston Police department.


On November 30, 2014, parole was granted.

On July 15, 2015, Shirley was released.