Associated Press

Judge to 25-year inmate cleared in slaying: "You're free to go"
Associated Press
January 28, 2008

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — A man who spent more than two decades in prison for the slaying of an 89-year-old woman walked into the Vigo County Courthouse shackled to three other prisoners and walked out a free man after a judge agreed with prosecutors that DNA evidence exonerated him.

Vigo Superior Court Judge Michael Lewis ordered the release of David L. Scott on Monday during a brief hearing.

“Mr. Scott, you’re free to go,” Lewis said. Scott nodded his head as the judge ordered his release.

Scott and his relatives did not make public comments and avoided reporters after leaving the courtroom.
David Scott leaves court a free man
David Scott leaves court a free man

Scott, 39, had been serving a 50-year prison sentence for the 1984 murder of Loretta Keith, who was bludgeoned to death in her bed with a hydraulic jack. Authorities said that DNA testing not available in 1984 — including analysis of blood found on a nylon stocking at Keith’s home — cleared Scott.

Prosecutors said the DNA test results showed that Kevin Mark Weeks, 44, of LaGrange, Ky., was the person who killed Keith. Weeks was arrested Friday, and was still being held in the Shelby County, Ky., jail on Monday. Jail officials said they did not know whether Weeks had an attorney.

“This all happened so fast,” said Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt, who filed a joint petition with Scott for his release. “The number one priority was to get Weeks in custody, then to get Scott released. Now the investigation will continue.”

Modesitt said prosecutors were expected to file a motion to throw out Scott’s conviction unless investigators turned up new information linking Scott to the crime. He said Weeks was expected to appear in court today or Wednesday, but his return to Indiana depended on whether he waived extradition.

Scott was just 14 months away from his release date.

William J. Maher, an attorney for the Scott family, did not comment when asked whether a lawsuit would be filed over Scott’s imprisonment. Maher said Scott and his family were relieved at his release.

“They are thrilled to have him out of prison and the DNA tests shows he innocent; he’s absolutely relieved and thrilled,” Maher said.

He said Scott spoke on the phone with his mother, who is wheelchair bound, soon after leaving the courtroom.
“She is pleased to see her innocent son free from prison,” Maher said.

Maher sat with Scott during the court hearing, and Scott went to Maher’s office across the street from the Vigo County Courthouse immediately after his release.

Scott, who entered court on Monday with a cleanly shaven head, trim goatee and dark glasses that he removed before the hearing, was composed throughout the proceedings, and smiled and nodded at the small crowd of supporters that filled the courtroom.

The jury convicted Scott of Keith’s slaying largely on a covertly taped conversation in which he said he had participated in Keith’s murder.

Scott’s sister, Carol Smith, has maintained for more than two decades that the taping was a setup and that her brother was tricked into the statement, and said her family has been fighting for years to have the DNA evidence admitted.

Dan Orman, 44, who attended the hearing to show his support, said he was a best friend of Scott’s before Scott went to prison.

“He’d tell a story and believe it himself,” Orman said. “He was just a kid. He should sue everyone he can possibly sue.”

Supporters gathered in the hallway before the hearing applauded as Scott was led into the courtroom.

Max Greenlee, 61, who attended the hearing with his wife, said he knew Scott before he was sent to prison, having worked construction with Scott’s stepfather.

“I think he ought to be compensated for all of the time he’s lost,” Greenlee said. “If it was me, I’d drop the biggest lawsuit Vigo County has ever seen. On the other hand, I’d be thankful just to be free again.


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