After years of debate and study, a rare coalition of the New York State Bar Association, the District Attorneys Association of New York and the Innocence Project proposed on Tuesday that the state adopt practices to reduce the chances that juries would be swayed by mistaken eyewitnesses or false confessions.
In effect, the proposals would require investigators to treat the words of witnesses and suspects as if they were another kind of trace evidence subject to contamination.
Singa Jones, aged 19, was convicted of an armed robbery he did not commit and was sentenced to 29 years in prison. Nobody was hurt in the robbery, although property was stolen by 6 or 7 young men.
Singa was not present, and did not even know the robbers.
The conviction was based on a single doubful eyewitness identification.
Joseph Denham was caught, plead guilty and was sentenced to 3 years. The other robbers were not caught or prosecuted.
Singa admitted being a member of a gang, and this unfairly prejudiced the jury against him. He had no prior criminal record, and has not committed any crime ever, let alone armed robbery.
A case of extremely doubtful identification by children of the victim. In 2010 the Midwest Innocence Project (MIP) paid to have DNA testing conducted on the hair and other hairs found at the scene. That testing proved that the only physical evidence used against Rodney at trial could NOT have come from him.
Oral arguments in the Missouri Appeals Court 18 November, 2014
November 28, 2015: Melissa DeBoer recants: “Rodney Lincoln did NOT kill my mom. He did not attempt to kill my sister and I. It was Tommy Lynn Sells. When the veil fell from my eyes I was horrified. I have kept an innocent man in prison for 34 years.. I did not know I was wrong but I was.. and realizing it is so painful. When I saw a picture of Tommy Lynn Sells, I had a horrible, horrible feeling. And when I think about that terrible night, I now see how I could have gotten mixed up. This is all I can really say right now.”
June 2, 2018 : sentence commuted by governor.
Nyki Kish was convicted of murder after Ross Hammond was stabbed a street fight. There was no reliable evidence Nyki either stabbed Hammond, that Hammond was stabbed with the knife that Nyki was alleged to have obtained from her friend, or that Nyki ever had possession of that knife.
It’s much more plausible that Hammond was stabbed by another knife, and not the knife which he had in his possession after he was stabbed.
Nyki was wrongly portrayed as a “pan-handler” in the local press, and her conviction was unfair in many ways,
This is a rather incomplete summary of this complex case, see the Website for more details.
Note: this article is categorised as “Crime committed by others”, given that Hammond was fighting with a knife, it’s entirely possible whoever did stab him ( not Nyki Kish ) was arguably acting in self-defense. Hammond was certainly acting in a very provocative way.
Featured Case #4
James Stone is innocent, but has lost nearly 30 years of his life.
Around 5am on August 10, 1985, a young woman was stabbed twice 40 miles West of New Albany, Indiana. She had given James Stone a lift home around 2am. James never left home, as his family knew for certain, however the woman accused James, likely out of fear of her real attacker.
The police believed the story of the woman, concocted false evidence to support the story, and James was wrongly convicted. Trial facts:
o A tape recording of a detective’s perjured testimony was erased, resulting in an incomplete record of the trial.
o The erased perjury was a detective’s claim to have matched James’ tennis shoes to the crime scene. In fact testimony from another detective proved this to be impossible, the shoes were locked in a car boot the whole time.
o An ex-boyfriend of the woman was never questioned by police and his existence was concealed from the jury. The break-up was just a week before the attack.
o The prosecutor was Stan O. Faith, who lied, suppressed evidence and suborned perjury during the first trial of David Camm, freed after 13 years in prison on October 24, 2013.
Hearing on 14 November 2014 was postponed.
Appeal hearing March 19, 2015 – denied.