Truth in Justice
Newsletter - February - March, 2006
Cedric Willis, 29, of
Jackson was freed after spending 12 years locked up
for a crime he didn't commit, a judge ruled.
Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie T. Green dismissed murder and armed
robbery charges against Willis after District Attorney Faye Peterson
made the motion.
"No one wants an innocent person in prison," Green said.
Pitt always said the only thing he was guilty of was having bad
and that the only thing prosecutors put on trial was his
Now, 12 years after the New Brunswick (Canada) man, an admitted
alcoholic, was condemned to life in prison for the rape and murder of
stepdaughter, authorities have finally tested key evidence from the
scene and have found none of it matches his DNA.
After his amnesia
cleared in prison, Christopher Bennett, of Stark County,
Ohio, begged someone to test the blood on a van dashboard, sure it
prove he wasn't the driver in a fatal crash. The Ohio Innocence Project
and DNA tests, along with other evidence, convinced the Ohio Court of
to unanimously reverse his conviction -- in spite of his guilty plea.
Alan Crotzer of Tampa, Florida
stepped into the warm sunlight outside the
courthouse and raised his arms to the sky, celebrating his freedom
more than 24 years behind bars for crimes he didn't commit.
A judge freed the 45-year-old Crotzer after DNA testing and other
convinced prosecutors he was not involved in the 1981 armed robbery and
that led to his 130-year prison sentence.
claims he is innocent of a Manoa, Hawaii robbery that happened
in July, 2000. Robert Rees of the Honolulu Advertiser described
"What we have here is an injustice illustrative of the dangers inherent
in eyewitness identifications without one iota of physical evidence.
The Rodrigues verdict is illustrative also of the danger of combining
prosecutors, uninhibited either by a dearth of evidence or by sloppy
work, with a judge who may have allowed her subjective feeling about
credibility of witnesses to become a factor in determination of guilt."
But the Hawaii Supreme Court upheld his conviction, and he turned
in on January 9, 2006.
Fifteen years ago, Arlene Tankleff was
slashed across the throat and bludgeoned
to death, and her husband, Seymour, was mortally wounded in the middle
the night in their affluent Long Island home. Their son, Martin, 17,
then recanted. But in 1990 he was convicted of their murders in a
publicized trial that was featured on Court TV. Ever since, he
the other surviving relatives have insisted that he did not kill his
Seymour Tankleff's brother, Norman, said that he never doubted the
innocence. Mrs. Tankleff's sister, Marcella Falbee, said, "From the
none of us ever believed he did this." Now Martin Tankleff's supporters
to have new evidence, obtained by a former New York City homicide
that they say points to the real culprits.
Pushing to Clear His Name
HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS
UK's Criminal Cases Review
New Zealand is considering implementing a Criminal Cases Review
similar to that in the United Kingdom. Reporter Donna Chisholm
into how well the CCRC functions--or doesn't function. The
of the innocent and the pitfalls in the legal system are strikingly
similar On Both Sides of
The cost of justice is too high for some Florida lawmakers, who'd
let innocent persons rot in prison than allow DNA testing that would
m. They would rather do that than eliminate deadlines for DNA
of inmates. Measure
In 1994, Chicago cops used a "reverse lineup" (in which a suspect is
to identify his victims), along with threats and physical abuse, to
17-year-old Lafonso Rollins into confessing to the rape of an elderly
woman. He was convicted and sentenced to 75 years prison, but he
was freed in 2004
when DNA proved his innocence. He sued. Discovery in his
civil suit disclosed that the police crime lab had excluded him based
type before Rollins was ever tried. Oops. The great
the city $9 million.
Cops & Crime Lab, Working Together
With the help of testimony from convicted murderer Clarence Zacke,
County prosecutors sent Wilton Dedge to prison for 22 years for a crime
did not commit. In December, 2005,
Zacke was sentenced to life in prison for raping his adopted daughter
Now, Dedge's attorneys are calling for an investigation of the state
office after learning during Zacke's rape trial that the child-rape
were the subject of a grand jury investigation before Dedge's trial in
Dirt, Hidden Deals
: A former FBI agent helped set up the 1992
shotgun murder of a Brooklyn mobster,
a federal civil suit filed by the gangster's widow charges.
The agent, Lindley DeVecchio, pulled a surveillance team shortly before
rubout of Nicholas Grancio as a favor to Mafia capo Gregory Scarpa Sr.
DeVecchio's secret informant, the suit contends.
It's Nothing Personal; It's Just Business
The Search for Truth
Like alchemists cooking up recipes to turn lead into gold, men in lab
look to technology to replace investigation. Junk by any other
is still ... junk.
Projects provide representation and/or investigative assistance
to prison inmates who claim to be innocent of the crimes for which they
convicted. There is now at least one innocence project serving each
Most of these innocence projects are new and overwhelmed with
so waiting time between application and acceptance is long. Wrongfully
convicted persons should not be dissuaded from applying to Innocence
Projects because of this, but should have realistic expectations
regarding acceptance and time
lags. Check the list for the innocence project in your area; we
The links pages at Truth in Justice are frequently updated. Be
to check them for resources, "must" reading, websites of inmates with
innocence claims and more. Start at
SITE SEARCH ENGINE
There are now over 1,200 pages at Truth in Justice. The site
search engine on the main page can make it faster and easier to find
what you seek.
And remember, YOU can make a difference!
Sheila and Doug Berry
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