Boston Herald

These men’s lives ruined forever
Boston Herald By Maggie Mulvihill
Wednesday, May 5, 2004

     Neil Miller says he can't even get a job at McDonald's after 10 years behind bars.
     Peter Vaughn developed a debilitating drug habit when he was freed.
     Ulysses Rodriguez Charles' 24-year-old daughter killed herself while he was in jail.

     All three tell searing stories about the horror of being an innocent man serving hard state prison time, and the desperation they now feel trying to assemble new lives after being freed.

     ``I can't get the time back I lost,'' said Charles, now 50, who did 19 1/2 years after being wrongly convicted in 1981 of raping three Brighton women. ``I try to deny those years. I can. I am. I do it very well, but everything has consequences,'' he said.

     In prison, Charles said he lifted weights to relieve the ``unbelievable'' stress. The food was rank. There was no healthcare. And his daughter, Denise, walked into traffic when he was four years into his sentence.

     ``The things you used to feel, you don't feel anymore. I feel empty. What is the point?'' asked Charles.

     In 2000, he was in jail when he married his wife, Rosalind. Today, they live in Dorchester, and he's a member of the iron worker's union, watching most of his buddies from the past retire. The time taken out of his life makes him bitter.

     ``I think someone should compensate me,'' Charles said, days after learning he may not have grounds to sue prosecutors. ``I'm very disappointed by that.''

     Neil Miller, now 37, said when he entered prison, his terror accelerating as fellow inmates taunted him as a ``tree jumper, panty raider, skinner'' - prison slang for rapists.

     He was furious when he learned the woman who led the investigation against him, Lt. Margot Hill, had been promoted. ``It disgusts me,'' Miller said. ``And it's a slap in the face to every victim that was raped.

     ``If it happened to me, and she investigated mine, how many other cases of rape has she investigated where she has missed key evidence and that person is in jail as well?'' Miller asked.

     Miller never got an apology from Hill, any other police officer or the prosecutor - though he did get an apology letter from the victim after his release.

     Police officials defend Hill, saying the victim identified Miller four separate times. Also, because DNA testing was not admissible in state courts until 1994, testing of sheets on the bed where the rape took place was not an option.

     Miller said those excuses mean nothing to him. The real rapist is out there ``endangering my daughter, my nieces, their families, your family,'' he said.

     Vaughn, 43, said he survives on a small disability check and what he makes working in the kitchen at a Brockton mental health center. He missed the first three years of his son's life - a son who died three years ago. ``For all the suffering I did, with loss of love and loss of family while incarcerated, there's no getting that time back,'' he said.

Wrongful convictions in Suffolk County, MA since 1982

2004 - Laurence Adams
Served 30 years for 1972 murder of MBTA police officer
Cleared because key witness was jailed when he claims Adams confessed to him at Dorchester house
Case unsolved

2004 - Stephan Cowans
Served 6 1/2 years for 1997 shooting of Boston Police officer with cop's own gun
Cleared due to error by BPD fingerprint technician and DNA
Case unsolved

2004 - Anthony Powell
Served nearly 13 years for 1991 kidnapping and rape.
Cleared through DNA
Case unsolved

2003 - Shawn Drumgold
Served 15 years for 1988 shooting of 12-year-old girl
Cleared when witnesses recanted
Case unsolved

2002 - Ulysses Rodriguez Charles
Served 19 1/2 years for rapes of three Brighton women in 1980
Cleared through DNA
Case unsolved

2000 - Neil J. Miller
Served 10 1/2 years for 1989 rape of Emerson College student
Cleared through DNA
Case unsolved

2000/2001 - Joseph Salvati
Served 33 years for 1965 gangland hit
Cleared because of Boston FBI corruption
Case unsolved

2000/2001 - Peter Limone
Served 35 years for 1965 gangland hit
Cleared because of Boston FBI corruption
Case unsolved

2000/2001 - Henry Tameleo
Died in prison in 1985 after serving 20 years for 1965 gangland hit
Cleared because of Boston FBI corruption
Case unsolved

2000/2001 -Louis M. Greco
Died in prison in 1995 after serving 30 years for 1965 gangland hit
Cleared because of Boston FBI corruption
Case unsolved

1999 - Marlon Passley
Served four years in prison for 1995 murder
Cleared because of bad eyewitness identification
New indictment filed against John Tibbs; case still open

1999 - Donnell Johnson
Served five years for 1994 murder of nine-year-old boy
Cleared after new witnesses came forward in federal probe.
Two men indicted for slaying in 2001; case still open

1997 - Marvin Mitchell
Served seven years for 1988 rape of 11-year-old girl.
Cleared through DNA
Case unsolved

1995 - Christopher Harding
Served nearly seven years for 1990 conviction of attempted murder of Boston police officer
Cleared when police misconduct surfaced
Status unclear

1986 - Peter Vaughn
Served three years for 1983 Fenway armed robbery
Cleared because of mistaken identity case
Status unclear

1986 Bobby Joe Leaster
Served 15 1/2 years in prison for 1970 murder of shopkeeper
Cleared through ballistics evidence and new witnesses
Status unclear

1982 - Lawyer Johnson
Spent 10 years in prison/originally sentenced to death
Cleared when new witness came forward
Status unclear

Death Penalty Issues
Life After Exoneration

Truth in Justice