The Innocent Imprisoned   
Some fears are universal. Death. Disease. The loss of a child. Going to jail for something you didn't do.  The people listed here are living the last one, their lives wasting away in prison for crimes they didn't commit.

Note:  We add links to updates with the original news articles reporting developments in innocence cases, so be sure to scroll down to check for "new news".

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Nineteen years have passed since Darryl Anthony Howard of Durham, NC buried his head in his hands in a Durham County Superior Court room and sobbed at the three guilty verdicts returned by the jury.  “I didn’t do it,” Howard said pounding his fist against the defense table. “I didn’t kill those girls, I can’t believe it.”  Now, attorneys with the Innocence Project say new DNA evidence points to a career criminal known to be associated with The New York Boys, a gang of drug dealers who were in Durham in the 1990s.

The murder riveted New York City and stymied detectives for months: What chance meetings and turns of fate led Mark Fisher, a photogenic 19-year-old college football player from New Jersey, to end up shot dead on a quiet Brooklyn street, his body wrapped in a yellow blanket?  John Giuca’s conviction was considered a victory for Brooklyn DA Charles J.  Hynes, who was in a tough re-election fight at the time; its review now carries political overtones for his successor, Kenneth P. Thompson, whom defense lawyers are pressing to make good on a campaign theme by aggressively investigating the possible wrongful convictions.

UPDATE: Feb. 2, 2014 -- Petition Seeking to Void Brooklyn Murder Conviction Calls Verdict a ‘Sham’

Antoine Stone, a street preacher, in Far Rockaway, Queens, was shot to death on Sept. 10, 1994.  Joan  Purser-Gennace testified at Robert Jones' trial that she saw the killing from her second-story window, but she now insists that she could not identify the gunman.  She said the detectives made threatening comments about her husband and children, and hinted that her immigration status could come into play. And when she tried to tell an assistant district attorney, Debra L. Pomodore, that she could not identify the gunman, she said Ms. Pomodore became enraged.  “It was eating me up inside,” she told Justice Joseph A. Zayas, who will decide if Robert goes free, or remains in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Jason Strong, convicted of murder before authorities determined the victim's identity, is focusing his push to clear his name in part on DNA, a forensic tool that has exonerated four men of rape or murder in Lake County, Illinois since 2010.   Additionally, his former girlfriend says she lied to accommodate police, and his alleged accomplices have recanted their incriminating statements.

John Horton, of Rockford, IL, who was 17 at the time, was convicted of killing Arthur Castenada in 1993 and sentenced to natural life in prison. His conviction was upheld by an appellate court and the Illinois Supreme Court. Horton has long claimed his innocence, and Clifton English has been confessing to prison officials for years to killing Castaneda.  Students at the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth at Northwestern University School of Law have listened, and have filed a petition to overturn his conviction.

Imprisoned for the 1984 kidnapping and slaying of a convenience store clerk in Ada, Oklahoma, Karl was the victim of shoddy police work and poor representation and should be freed "as soon as humanly possible."  Robert Mayer detailed this miscarriage of justice in his 2006 book, Dreams of Ada.  The Oklahoma Innocence Project, formed in 2011, has filed a legal challenge that could lead to his exoneration.

UPDATE:  10/23/13 - Karl's application for post-conviction relief has been granted.  Pontotoc County District Judge Tom Landrith has also ordered “hundreds of documents” the Oklahoma Innocence Project says were never disclosed in the case to be turned over to the court by Dec. 31. 

Link:
Richard Diguglielmo
White Plains, NY
Convicted and exonerated, then his conviction was reinstated and he was returned to prison.

Charles Ray Finch, of Wilson, NC, has spent the last 36 years in prison for a killing he always maintained he didn’t commit.  The Duke Law Innocence Project launched a decade-long investigation uncovering new evidence that advocates say should now free Finch, 74, from the walls that have imprisoned him.  “I think this is a total miscarriage of justice,” said James Coleman Jr., co-director of the Duke Wrongful Convictions Clinic. “That’s how we all feel.”

When Marshall Morgan, Jr., a basketball star at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, was shot to death in his car in 1993, police zeroed in on Tyrone Hood because his fingerprint was found in trash left in the victim's car, and he lived near the school.  Police never looked at the victim's father, Marshall Morgan, Sr., who got $50,000 insurance from his son's death.  The senior Morgan insured and killed two more people before he got caught, and he was still not charged in one of those murders.  And Tyrone Hood, a family man who did nothing wrong, is still in prison.

Seneca Malone of Milwaukee, WI is serving a life sentence for homicide, but he will be getting a new trial after the Wisconsin Innocence Project accused his attorney of mounting a bungled defense.  He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but he didn't testify on his own behalf, and his public defender  called no witnesses.  The state, of course, is determined to defend its conviction.  When another jury hears all the lies told by Mr. Malone's sole accuser, the outcome should be different.

Richard LaFuente has had plenty of opportunities to leave federal prison and go back to Plainview, Texas. All he had to do was confess to a murder on the Devils Lake Sioux reservation in North Dakota, for which he was convicted in 1986, and show a little remorse. The first time he refused was at a 1994 court hearing. “I can’t show remorse,” he told his attorney. “I won’t ask forgiveness for something I didn’t do.” He went back to his cell. For the next seventeen years, at six parole hearings (the latest in June 2011), LaFuente refused to confess and show remorse, and each time he was sent back to his cell.

Although she will soon finish serving her sentence and be released from prison, Susan King is anxious for the Kentucky Court of Appeals to take up her case.  Like so many innocent people, she pled no contest to manslaughter in the death of her ex-boyfriend -- a crime it seems unlikely she would have been physically able to commit in the first place.  Then, in May of 2012, Louisville police arrested Richard Thomas Jarrell Jr., who gave a detailed confession to the murder for which Susan was imprisoned.

It was Louisville, Kentucky Detective Barron Morgan who told Susan's attorneys at the Kentucky Innocence Project about Jarrell's confession.  Kentucky State Police complained that Det. Morgan was interfering with Susan's conviction, which led to Detectie Morgan's transfer from detective to night shift patrol.  The Real "Code of Silence."

Jurors following the law and with newly discovered evidence available to them wouldn’t convict Alfred Cleveland if he were tried again for the 1991 murder of Marsha Blakely, a federal appeals court has determined.  In a recent decision, handed down on Cleveland’s 43rd birthday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “Cleveland has presented a credible claim of actual innocence” that is enough to overcome the time limits that a U.S. District judge previously determined prevented him from receiving a new trial.

Stephen Keyes was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and arson in a 1996 fire at his home in Springville, near Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds is considering a request by Keyes' attorney to review the case, since his office implemented a policy last year designed to prevent wrongful arson convictions in the face of changing fire science.  Keyes is seeking a new trial based largely on a report from Gerald Hurst, a prominent defense expert from Texas who worked on the Willingham case and others, that concluded the investigation was based on techniques "long relegated to the category of old wives' tales."

In 1999, Pamela Jacobazzi, a Bartlett, IL day care provider, was convicted of killing 10-month-old Matthew Czapski after the child lapsed into a coma while in her care and later died.  She was sentenced to 32 years in prison for "shaking" the infant.  Matthew's pediatric records, however, show he had sickle cell trait and external hydrocephalus, factors not considered by the state's expert -- factors which could cause the child's death in precisely the manner it occurred.

Lathierial Boyd
In 1985, Lathierial Boyd of Chicago, IL was a hot young model with a promising career.  But in 1990, he became a prisoner serving a life sentence for a double murder based on tenuous and conflicting eyewitness identification.  His case has split appellate courts, and he is now waiting to see if the US Supreme Court will give him the justice he has sought for 22 years.

A veteran Green Bay, WI police officer, John Maloney was convicted of murder, arson and mutilating a corpse in the 1998 death of his estranged wife, Sandra.  But the only evidence of arson was concocted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice investigators, who used forensic fraud and perjury to help a now-disgraced prosecutor get the first conviction of a Wisconsin police officer for the most serious felony under the law.  Despite compelling evidence of his innocence, Maloney remains in prison for lack of legal representation.

Penny Brummer of Spring Green, WI was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Sarah Gonstead.  But who really killed Sarah?  And who else has he killed?  Visit their website for answers.

Ricky Kidd has served 16 years of a life sentence without parole for a murder in Kansas City, MO he didn’t commit.  If he were in almost any other part of the country, he'd be free.  But he's in the Eighth Circuit, which has such a high standard for reviewing innocence claims that Ricky has been unable to present his compelling evidence of innocence.  The U.S. Supreme Court is his last hope.

Willie isn't locked up right now -- he's been released on parole.  But he hasn't been fully exonerated yet, either.  The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission has agreed unanimously that enough credible evidence exists to refer Willie's case to a 3-judge panel that has the power to completely exonerate him.  We look forward to the day he will be truly free.

In 2001, the Chicago Tribune examined Daniel Taylor's conviction in a series called "Cops & Confessions."  Despite a solid alibi, Daniel was badgered into confessing to a double murder and sentenced to life without parole.  It took ten years to get permission from a federal court to appeal, and the appeal could take years.  Meanwhile, the state of Illinois continues to focus on defending its conviction, even though it was based on withholding evidence of innocence and forcing a juvenile to confess to something he did not do.

Even the St. Louis, MO police who charged George Allen, Jr. with the rape and murder of Mary Bell in 1982 felt "iffy" about their case.  Small wonder.  The rudimentary blood typing available then excluded Mr. Allen, but the state never turned that evidence over to the defense.  The state concealed the crime scene diagram they had Mr. Allen draw, too, because it was so inaccurate.  They convicted Mr. Allen, and kept Mary Bell's killer on streets and free to kill again and again and again.

UPDATE:  November 2, 2012 --
Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green on Friday ordered 56-year-old George Allen Jr. released from prison within 10 days unless the St. Louis circuit attorney decides to retry him.

Ten years ago, a Jackson, Mississippi jury convicted Jeff Havard of brutally raping and killing six-month-old Chloe Britt while he was caring for her, and he was sentenced to death.  After all, pathologist Dr. Steven Hayne testified the baby had been raped, and police said she was "ripped from end to end."  Turns out, no, that's not what happened.  Baby Chloe was not sexually abused; she died because of a tragic fall.  But Jeff Havard still awaits execution.

In 1998, when Barton McNeil's young daughter, Christina, was killed, no one believed his claim that his former girlfriend, Misook Wang, did it.  A jury convicted McNeil and he was sentenced to 100 years in prison.  But now Wang has been charged with killing her mother-in-law, and the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project has stepped forward to help McNeil prove his innocence.

The Virginia Court of Appeals has overturned the first-degree murder conviction of a former Navy SEAL trainee in the 1995 slaying of college student Jennifer Lea Evans in Virginia Beach.  In granting an appeal of Dustin Allen Turner, a divided three-judge panel vacated his convictions of murder and abduction with intent to defile and found him guilty only of being an accessory after the fact -- a misdemeanor. The judges remanded the case to the Virginia Beach Circuit Court with instructions to modify the conviction order accordingly.  This is the first petition contested by the state that has been granted under Virginia's Actual Innocence statute.

UPDATE:  January 12, 2011 - An en banc review by the full Virginia Court of Appeals has reversed the 3-judge panel and affirmed Dustin Turner's conviction, ruling that a rational juror could infer that Turner still could be guilty of abduction by deception with the intent to defile and, therefore, guilty of felony murder.

UPDATE:  September 17, 2011 -  The Virginia Supreme Court has unanimously rejected Dustin Turner's bid for exoneration.


Mark Woodworth
When Mark Woodworth's neighbors were attacked during the night at their farm home near Chillicothe, MO, killing the wife and seriously injuring the husband, the attacker was identified by the surviving victim as his daughter's "psycho" ex-boyfriend.  Nonetheless, local authorities zeroed in on 16-year-old Mark Woodworth.  Then they brought in Asst. AG wiz kid Kenny Hulshof to turn innuendo and speculation into conviction -- not once, but twice.  Now, at long last, the evidence hidden in order to get two convictions has surfaced.  Will there finally be justice for Mark?

Kristine Bunch of Greenburg, Indiana has been in prison since 1996, convicted of arson and murder in a fire that claimed the life of her young son.  Her conviction was based on junk science and made a certainty when the prosecution and ATF hid evidence of her innocence.  The Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law is seeking her exoneration.

Unbelievable.  In 1987, Leo Schofield was convicted of killing his wife, Michelle, based entirely on circumstantial evidence.  In 2004, fingerprints found in Michelle's bloodied car were identified as those of Jeremy Scott, a violent felon who lived near the canal where Michelle's car and body were found. But the Florida Court of Appeals has denied Leo Schofield a new trial because, they say, those fingerprints do not give rise to a reasonable doubt about Leo's guilt.

In 1988, the centerpiece of the prosecution's murder case against William Ray -- in fact, the only physical evidence the state had -- was a baseball cap worn by the man who killed Baltimore restaurant owner George Prassos.  But when Ray's defense team sought the cap for DNA testing, prosecutors say it has been lost.  How convenient; how unbelievable.

He wasn't named Bill and he didn't look like anyone else in the line up, but in 1982, a traumatized child said he was the man who murdered her mother.  Rodney Lincoln had only family members for his alibi, and it wasn't enough to outweigh the single pubic hair from the murder scene that lab analysts said was "consistent" with his own.  Now, 29 years later, DNA testing proves that was not Rodney's hair.  He is hoping to die a free man.

UPDATE:  St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Robin Vannoy has scheduled a three-day hearing in September, 2013 to consider both sides. It will be the culmination of a seven-year battle under a state law that allows for post-conviction DNA testing in certain instances, and will be key to whether Lincoln’s convictions are overturned.

In 2009, a Battle Creek, MI judge ordered a new trial for Lorinda Swain, who has steadfastly maintained her innocence since being accused of a sex crime with her son.  Judge Conrad Sindt ordered the new trial after hearing two days of testimony that included new witnesses and her son, who recanted his original statement.

UPDATE:  May 1, 2011 - In 2010, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed Judge Sindt, reinstating Lorinda Swain's conviction.  The state supreme court declined to hear the matter, and she will have to return to prison to complete her 25 year sentence.

UPDATE:  Aug. 23, 2013 -  Judge Sindt, after hearing the testimony of another witness who had been suppressed at trial, has again reversed Lorinda's conviction.  Prosecutor Susan Maladenof can appeal Judge Sindt’s order again, try the case with no witnesses and no physical evidence, or dismiss the charges.

While Robert Caulley was trying to prove that he didn't murder his parents nearly 15 years ago, his defense attorney and wife were engaged in a romantic affair before, during and after the trial, according to records filed on April 20, 2011 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.  Gosh, d'ya think his lawyer had a reason to want him convicted?

Click below to learn about all the other evidence of Robert Cauley's innocence.
test of convictions

UPDATE: January 10, 2012 - Robert Cauley is granted a new trial.  Click HERE to read the Court's decision (pdf format).

Another mistrial has been declared in the long saga of the Westchester County (NY) prosecutor's attempt to convict Selwyn Days of a double murder with no DNA or other physical evidence pointing to him.  The deadlock this time was 9 to 3 for acquittal.  "Of course the case will be retried," said DA spokesman Lucian Chalfen.

December 20, 2011 - Selwyn Davis was convicted at his fourth trial, and sentenced to two consecutive terms of 25 years.  “We’re going to continue fighting for him. We’ve maintained his innocence throughout,” said his lawyer, Glenn Garber of the Manhattan-based Exoneration Initiative.

Ronnie Rhodes has spent 30 years in a Kansas prison for a murder he says he didn't commit. His case remained forgotten until last year, when it caught the attention of students in a class at Washburn law school studying wrongful convictions.  To them, Rhodes' conviction illustrates many of the problems found in hundreds of cases where inmates were later proven innocent through DNA — ambiguous eyewitness testimony, ineffective defense and questionable evidence.

A panel of Pennsylvania Superior Court judges has overturned a Montgomery County judge’s decision denying  Robert Conway’s bid to conduct DNA tests on items recovered from a 1986 crime scene – tests Conway claimed might prove his innocence.  County Assistant District Attorney Robert Falin fought Conway’s request, and a reasonable person has to wonder what the State is trying to hide.

Chad Evans is serving a 43 years-to-life sentence at the state prison in Concord, New Hampshire.  He was convicted of murder in the death of 21-month-old Kassidy Bortner, who died in November, 2000.  But he said new material, including DNA evidence, has come to light in his case.

Reynold Moore, 62, one of six men convicted in October 1995 of being party to the murder of Tom Monfils in a Green Bay, WI paper mill,has enlisted the aid of the Wisconsin Innocence Project in seeking a new trial.  The new evidence in Moore's appeal concerns testimony by James Gilliam, a prison inmate who had testified at trial that Moore told him in jail that he participated in a group beating of Monfils at a water fountain in the mill.  WIP attorney Byron Lichstein claims Gilliam has since changed his story and now says Moore actually told him that Moore stepped in to try to prevent the beating, not to participate in it.  Without Gilliam's jailhouse snitch testimony, there is no evidence connecting Moore to Monfils' death.

UPDATE:  On January 21, 2010, Rey Moore's petition for a new trial was denied.

Related

In 1995, Michael Johnson, Mike Piaskowski, Keith Kutska, Michael Hirn, Dale Basten and Rey Moore were convicted of killing co-worker Tom Monfils in 1992 in a Green Bay, WI paper mill.  In 2001, Mike Piaskowski was freed when his habeas petition was granted.  Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Terrance Evans upheld his exoneration, saying that the " record is devoid of any direct evidence that Piaskowski participated in the beating of Monfils."  The same evidence that cleared Mike, clears the other five defendants.  So why are they still in prison?

Greg Brown Jr., 33, of Pittsburgh, PA who has been in state prison since 1997, serving three consecutive life prison terms, claims that he has new evidence that shows that two witnesses who received reward money after the trial did not disclose potential payment at trial and that the fire on Bricelyn Street in Homewood wasn't arson. That evidence came as a result of an investigation conducted by the Innocence Institute of Point Park University.

UPDATE:  March 13, 2014:  Greg Brown granted new trial.

Bennett was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in 1984 for the murder of his neighbor, Helen Nardi the year before. He has long maintained his innocence. He passed a lie detector test. He could not be tied to the case by a rape kit examination. And several people testified he was elsewhere when Nardi was sexually assaulted and murdered.  The state attorney's office used a familiar strategy in convicting Bennett -- employing testimony from dog handler John Preston in combination with a jailhouse snitch who came forward in return for promises of leniency.  There is no DNA in the Bennett case, but a strong case for his innocence nonetheless.

Mr. VonAllmen spent 11 years in prison for a 1981 abduction and rape he has always insisted he did not do.  Although he has been outside prison walls for 16 years, he is still willing to risk being found guilty again in order to clear his name -- and the Kentucky Innocence Project is helping him.

Steve Haddock visits the grave of his mother, Barbara, a few times a year at the St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Lenexa,KS. The plot next to Barbara is reserved for Steve’s father, Ken.  The inscription on the headstone reads “Ken and Barbie Forever.”  In a complicated legal case, Steve and his two sisters, Jen and Jody, have been fighting for the release of their father for nearly two decades, never losing faith in his innocence.  “There was never, ever any thought in our minds that our dad could have done this,” Steve said.

In 1985, Cress was convicted of raping and battering Battle Creek, MI teenager Patty Rosansky, leaving her body in a trash-filled ravine.  Since then, his case has been argued through state and federal courts in a bewildering history of lost and destroyed evidence, contrary confessions from an Arkansas killer, pleas by a U.S. senator and demands of prosecutors and the Rosansky family that he never go free.  Now his bid for release is before the board that will advise Gov.  Granholm.

Representatives from The Connecticut Innocence Project, a division of the state public defender services, have collected evidence in the case of Erik C. Rasmussen, who was 25 in 1990 when a jury convicted hm of murdering his wife, 22-year-old Loreli T. Rasmussen.  Rasmussen, who has maintained his innocence since his arrest, would be the first case examined with the help of a nearly $1.5 million post-conviction DNA federal grant awarded collectively to the Connecticut Innocence Project, Office of the Chief State’s Attorney and state forensic science laboratory.

The Ohio Innocence Project has filed a motion on behalf of 47-year-old Glen Tinney, asking a Richland County judge to allow Tinney to withdraw his guilty plea in the 1988 death of 33-year-old Ted White.  The county prosecutor's office is opposed.  But Mansfield police Lt. John Wendling said he has believed for years that another man committed the crime and convinced Tinney to plead guilty after the two became friends while serving time in the same facility.  The Ohio Innocence Project has said there are at least 65 factual errors in the case.

After 20 years in prison for the 1987 murder of a young woman in Sauk County, WIsconsin, Terry Vollbrecht is hoping that new DNA findings will prove what he has said from day one:  He is innocent.  The Wisconsin Innocence Project has filed a motion for a new trial based on the DNA evidence, as well as evidence withheld from the defense 20 years ago.

Reynold Moore, 62, one of six men convicted in October 1995 of being party to the murder of Tom Monfils in a Green Bay, WI paper mill,has enlisted the aid of the Wisconsin Innocence Project in seeking a new trial.  The new evidence in Moore's appeal concerns testimony by James Gilliam, a prison inmate who had testified at trial that Moore told him in jail that he participated in a group beating of Monfils at a water fountain in the mill.  WIP attorney Byron Lichstein claims Gilliam has since changed his story and now says Moore actually told him that Moore stepped in to try to prevent the beating, not to participate in it.  Without Gilliam's jailhouse snitch testimony, there is no evidence connecting Moore to Monfils' death.

UPDATE:  On January 21, 2010, Rey Moore's petition for a new trial was denied.

Debra Jean Milke has been sitting on Arizona’s death row for nearly 20 years, largely because a police detective said she confessed to plotting her 4-year-old son’s murder.  Now Ms. Milke could get a new trial, and even her freedom, because the detective, who was alone with Ms. Milke when he said she confessed, skipped one of the most basic steps when officers interview suspects — getting them to sign a Miranda waiver, giving up their right to remain silent.   “I don’t know any place in the civilized world in the last 30 years,” said Judge Alex Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, “where a state has found a waiver of constitutional rights without a signed waiver.”

Karl Vinson's family hopes that science will redeem their faith and convince the authorities to free him after 23 years in prison.  The Innocence Project at the University of Michigan Law School, in a motion filed September 14, 2009 in Wayne County Circuit Court, said it has new scientific evidence that Vinson was not the man who crawled through a window in 1986 to rape a 9-year-old Detroit girl in her bed.

The Harris County (Texas) Medical Examiner's office has quietly rewritten the results of a 1998 autopsy, prompting renewed innocence claims on behalf of a baby sitter sent to prison nearly a decade ago for allegedly shaking a 4-month-old infant hard enough to cause fatal injuries.  The original autopsy classified the baby's death as a homicide and was used by prosecutors as a key piece of evidence against Cynthia Cash, now 53, a former nurse convicted of fatal injury to a child after 4-month-old Abbey Clements died after being rushed to the hospital from Cash's home.  But the modified autopsy report made public in a new appeal calls the cause of death “undetermined” and found no evidence of “trauma” in the postmortem exam.

The Ohio Innocence Project says Kevin Keith did not kill three people, including a 7-year-old girl, and wound three others in a 1994 shooting in Bucyrus.  The group, which has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to consider Keith's claim of innocence, generally steers clear of death-penalty cases because inmates already have attorneys making their case. In this one, Keith's public defenders say there is another suspect and that a police detective lied about a witness' statement.

UPDATE: 4/6/10 - Innocence groups from around the country have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of an Ohio man sentenced to die in September for fatally shooting three people.  Evidence that could clear Keith has never been heard.  Ohio is determined to kill him.

Owen Barber pulled the trigger ten times and told a Northern Virginia jury that his friend Justin Wolfe had hired him to do it. Barber cut a deal with prosecutors and got 28 years. Wolfe got the death penalty. Did Barber tell the truth—or is an innocent man awaiting execution?

UPDATE - 5/11/09:  The US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on May 11th, 2009 ordered a federal district-court judge to reexamine Barber’s recantation. The judge, Raymond A. Jackson of the federal district court for eastern Virginia, previously had dismissed the new evidence in the case, but a three-judge panel found errors in that decision. While the panel did not order Jackson to hold an evidentiary hearing, it noted that Barber’s testimony was key to Wolfe’s prosecution—a fact that it said “strongly suggests” the need for a fresh investigation.

UPDATE:  In 2011, a federal judge overturned Justin's conviction, ruling that prosecutors engaged in such egregious misconduct that he should not be retried.  But the Commonwealth appealed, and in May, 2013, a 3-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 split, ruled Justin can be retried.  Dissenting Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote:  "The Commonwealth’s misconduct has continued far too long, and the cumulative misconduct permeating this case has tainted it in such a way that it is doubtful Wolfe will receive a fair and just trial. Enough is enough."

Gary Richard of Houston, TX has spent over 20 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit, thanks to the defective lab work of Christy Kim and the perjured testimony of boss, James Bolding.  Simple serology tests excluded Gary, a secretor, since the rapist was a non-secretor.  Prosecutors concede Gary should be released, but they continue to deny his innocence.

Curtis Severns has been in federal prison since 2006. Convicted of intentionally starting the fire in his gun shop, he has 25 more years on his sentence. Severns has maintained his innocence all along. As in many arson cases, he was convicted almost exclusively by the testimony of fire investigators who relied on assumptions that some of the leading arson experts in the country now say are false. In fact, new evidence and a Texas Observer investigation reveal that Severns remains in federal prison in Beaumont for a crime he didn’t commit.

Davontae Sanford, a developmentally disabled 16-year-old, sits in prison after his lawyer says he was coerced to confess to killing four people in a rumored drug house on Detroit's east side. Now, an admission from a confessed hit man could finally win him a new trial.

It was one of the most terrifying crimes ever to hit Kaukauna, WI, a community of 13,000.  On June 25, 2000, Shanna Van Dyn Hoven, a 19-year-old UW-Madison student, was stabbed to death as she jogged by a quarry near her home about 6 p.m.  Prosecutors said Hudson stabbed Van Dyn Hoven, a stranger, in a fit of misplaced rage, and that they caught him red-handed, covered in her blood.  Newly uncovered evidence, however, appears to support Hudson's contentions -- and raises more questions about the conduct of the police and the prosecutor, Vince Biskupic.

Related Links
Key Points of Motion Evidence Graphics Sheet
Comprehensive Motion (pdf) DA's Tactics Questioned

Defense attorneys in a 20-year-old murder case are now pointing the finger at a Colorado inmate in an attempt to free their client. The defense outlined some of its claims during a hearing in Scotts Bluff County Court (Nebraska) Tuesday.  A jury convicted Jeff Boppre, 44, in March 1989 of two counts of first-degree murder in the Sept. 19, 1988, murders of Richard Valdez, 25, and his pregnant girlfriend, Sharon Condon, 19.  Increasingly sophisticated DNA tests appear to support what Jeff has said for two decades -- he's innocent.

On October 2, 2006, Hannah Overton of Corpus Christi, TX and her husband rushed their foster son to a hospital, where the child died of salt poisoning related to an eating disorder that led him to gorge and to consume strange objects.  Less than a year later, Hannah was convicted of capital murder based on the theory that she waited too long--less than an hour--before rushing the boy to the hospital.  Bennett Gershman, a nationally recognized expert on prosecutorial misconduct, reviewed Hannah's case and stated, “A conviction for capital murder can’t rest on such a flimsy, almost incredibly thin reed, as this one rests on. It rests on sand."

Michael O'Laughlin, of Lee, MA, has been convicted, freed and convicted again for beating a Lee woman nearly to death in 2000. Now, he is hoping to be freed again.  He was convicted in 2002 of beating Annmarie Kotowski with a baseball bat in her apartment. That verdict was overturned by a state appeals court in 2005, which found there was insufficient evidence to support a guilty finding, but then reinstated in 2006 by the Supreme Judicial Court. Now the New England Innocence Project is seeking DNA testing of the blood, hair and other voluminous physical evidence that could identify the assailant.  And we're all wondering why the testing wasn't done in the first place.

DNA tests have excluded Charles as the donor of skin found under the fingernails of Edna Franklin, the 72-year-old North Houston, TX grandmother he was convicted of beating and stabbing to death.  Charles is scheduled to die, and Texas has the most efficient death machine in the country.  Is innocence enough to spare him from the executioner?

When William Richards came home from work in High Desert, CA and found his wife, Pamela, bludgeoned to death with a cinder block on their front lawn, he instantly became the only suspect.  The local authorities had to work hard to obtain a conviction, though.  It took three trials -- the first two ended with hung juries -- and false evidence manufactured by a county crime lab analyst to make William appear guilty.  Now DNA from under Pamela's fingernails excludes William, and DNA on the murder weapon shows someone else was holding it.  The DA, of course, just doesn't see William being exonerated.

UPDATE:  August 13, 2009 -
California Superior Court Judge Brian McCarville has granted a Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by the California Innocence Project on behalf of William Joseph Richards.  "The court finds due to the bitemark, DNA and hair evidence that the People's case was undermined and points unerringly to innocence," Judge McCarville wrote.  Will the DA prosecute Richards a fourth time?

On Sept. 15, 1978, the night Muhammad Ali made boxing history by defeating Leon Spinks to win the heavyweight championship for a record third time, a security guard was robbed and killed while on duty at a Masonic temple in Harvey. Four days later, Harvey police detectives said Anthony McKinney, 18, had confessed to killing Donald Lundahl with a single shotgun blast to the head. No physical evidence linked McKinney to the crime -- the shotgun and Lundahl's wallet were never found.  Now, more than three decades since McKinney's arrest, Karen Daniel and Steven Drizin, lawyers at Northwestern University Law School's Center on Wrongful Convictions, are seeking a new trial based on new evidence they say shows that McKinney is innocent. They cite evidence uncovered by journalism and law students at the university that includes a videotaped interview with another man who said he was there when Lundahl was killed and that McKinney wasn't involved.

Traveling salesmen Travis Rowley and Michael Lee are accused in the deaths of Tak and Pung Sil Yi, who were killed in their Albuquerque, NM home in December, 2007.  But Clifton Bloomfield has pled guilty to the crimes, confessing that he acted alone, and Bloomfield's is the only DNA at the scene.  Prosecutors soldier on, incapable of admitting error.

Prosecutors in Elyria, Ohio don’t seem to be interested in whether convicted killer Clarence Weaver has been wrongly imprisoned for the 1991 murder of his wife.  That's why they're opposed to DNA testing of rape kit and other evidence, tests that could show semen or biological material that was missed and possibly identify another suspectOne possible suspect is the Weaver’s former neighbor, Gilbert Glass Jr., who is in prison after being convicted in a sexual assault with similarities to the attack on Helen Weaver.

Temujin was convicted of murdering a man he had never met in Flint, Michigan on November 5, 1986, even though numerous witnesses placed him in Escanaba, Michigan at the same time, 460 miles away.  How did the prosecutor leap that huge alibi gap -- literally the size of Lake Michigan?  He told the jurors that Temujin "could have" chartered a plane, but never offered any proof of that.  One juror said his alibi was "too perfect."  They convicted him anyway, and he's been in prison since then.

When Melissa Koontz disappeared June 24, 1989 from the highway between Springfield and Waverly, Illinois, her story brought to life every young woman’s biggest fear and every parent’s worst nightmare. A week later, authorities discovered the body of the 18-year-old Culver-Stockton College honor student dumped in a cornfield west of town. Koontz had been stabbed to death. Though the body was fully clothed, Koontz’s bra was unfastened and her underwear torn.  Eventually, five people were sent to prison for the crime, which authorities said at the time began as a robbery. Two of the accused, Gary Edgington and Tom McMillen, are serving life sentences in prison.  Edgington confessed to helping murder Koontz, but McMillen has steadfastly denied he had anything to do with it.  Nearly 20 years after the crime, the Downstate Innocence Project at the University of Illinois at Springfield wants to see if McMillen is telling the truth.

An all-white jury in Concord, NC convicted Ronnie Long of the rape of a prominent white widow -- the wife of a Cannon Mills executive -- in 1976, a crime Ronnie has always denied committing.  His conviction was based on the victim's eyewitness identification of Ronnie.  Now staff and attorneys with the NC Center on Actual Innocence have uncovered laboratory evidence that clears Ronnie -- evidence the state had all along and hid from Ronnie's defense for 32 years. 

When Milwaukee, WI police told 17-year-old Alphonso that he could go home as soon as he signed and initialed a statement he hadn't written and couldn't read, he did as they told him to do.  He didn't go home.  He went to prison for a murder he knew nothing about.  Twenty-three years later, Alphonso is still trying to get home, and his supporters have formed Justice4James to help him get there.

Bloomington, IL gas station attendant Bill Little was killed in a robbery on March 31, 1991.  In 1999, Jamie Snow and Susan Claycomb were charged with his murder and robbery.  Susan was acquitted, but Jamie was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.  Now, a former police officer who was one of the first on the scene says the lone eyewitness could not have seen Jamie as he testified he did.

What were you doing in 1981?  Had you even been born yet?  William Dillon of Brevard County, Florida started a life prison term that year for a crime he didn't commit.  His case had all the hallmarks of a wrongful conviction; now DNA confirms his innocence. 

It was a hot, humid August night in 1995 when two men entered E.T.'s Sandwiches Almighty Deli in Newark, NJ ordered "a corn beef sandwich with everything" and shot the owner dead.  Newark detectives quickly zeroed in on a suspect, Darrell Edwards, who lived in the neighborhood, and arrested him on Sept. 15, 1995 based on a "police-directed" identification of him by a heroin addict, who has since recanted.  After three mistrials, a jury convicted Edwards of store owner Errich Thomas' murder.  Now, DNA proves what Darrell has said all along:  he wasn't there.  The state, of course, is wrapped in denial and opposing a retrial.

Link:
The teenager’s brutal 1997 murder shocked Fairbanks, Alaska. Four young men are serving decades for the crime. Yet, 10 years later, questions remain about the Hartman verdicts. Was justice served? This series presents the results of a six-year, independent investigation by a University of Alaska Fairbanks journalism professor and his students. The Daily News-Miner provided financial and editing support for this project.

For almost 22 years, Robert Conway of Norristown, PA has proclaimed his innocence in the brutal stabbing murder of shopkeeper Michele Capitano.  The only evidence authorities had was testimony from a jailhouse snitch who claimed Robert confessed to him.  The commonwealth failed to identify a single droplet of Ms. Capitano's blood on Mr. Conway's person, clothing, shoes and pocket knife.  Now Robert is seeking DNA tests to prove his innocence.

Emerson is anything but a sympathetic figure.  A thief and forger, he told Pennsylvania police that he witnessed two men rape a woman and throw her off a 44-foot-high Juniata County bridge in 1977.  He was looking for a break for himself by making up lies to frame others, and it backfired.  Emerson was charged with the murder, and former star junk scientist, police chemist Janice Roadcap, clinched the conviction when she testified that a "uniquely shaped" hair on the victim's leg came from Emerson's chest.  But DNA has cleared Emerson, who appears to be what he has said all along that he is -- innocent of murder.

Link
Jeff Howard
Why has SD Gov. Rounds failed to sign Howard's commutation papers?

A Waco, TX attorney has launched an innocence project at Baylor University, choosing one of the most gripping cases in McLennan County history as the group’s first assignment.  Since February, Walter M. Reaves Jr. and three Baylor Law School students have been poring over evidence from the 1988 trial of Ed Graf. The Hewitt resident was convicted of killing his two stepsons by burning them alive in a storage shed behind their home. He is serving a life sentence in a Gatesville prison.  Graf's conviction was based entirely on circumstantial evidence.  Deciding someone’s guilt on such measures is not prudent, Reaves said. Once someone is painted as a criminal, almost any action they take can be construed to fit that theory, he said, even though there may be innocent explanations for it.

UPDATE - May 29, 2008 - The Texas Observer's Dave Mann takes an in-depth look at the evidence in Ed Graf's case.  Victim of Circumstance?

UPDATE - March 28, 2013 - New trial ordered in Ed Graf's 1986 arson/murder case.

In 2004, Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay were convicted in a Washington state court of the brutal bludgeoning of Atif's father, his mother and his autistic sister.They were also convicted in the court of public opinion. We believe that they are in prison for the remainder of their lives because the public and the jury were denied access to the truth.

This is a story about an innocent man who has been in prison for 26 years while two attorneys who knew he was innocent stayed silent. They did so because they felt they had no choice.   Alton Logan was convicted of killing a security guard at a McDonald's in Chicago in 1982. Police arrested him after a tip and got three eyewitnesses to identify him. Logan, his mother and brother all testified he was at home asleep when the murder occurred. But a jury found him guilty of first degree murder.  New evidence reveals that Logan did not commit that murder.  What is worse, the attorneys for the real killer, Andrew Wilson, knew Logan was innocent, but could not violate lawyer-client confidentiality to expose him.


Don Siegelman, former Democratic Governor of Alabama, has a lot in common with Georgia Thompson .  Both were prosecuted for acts that were not crimes, by politically motivated U.S. Attorneys, at the behest of vengeful politicos highly placed in the Bush administration.  The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals tossed Thompson's conviction at the conclusion of oral argument, ordering her immediate release from prison.  It has taken longer, but the foundation of lies and corruption underlying Siegelman's conviction is starting to crumble.  Clearly, Bush and his cronies have turned the U.S. Department of Justice into a cadre of political operatives.

In 1990, when he was charged with the murder of Myron Hailey in Fayetteville, NC, Lamont McKoy turned down a plea deal that would have had him out of jail in 7 months.  He knew he was innocent, and he believed a jury would see that.  He was wrong.  With only speculation and innuendo as evidence, the state convinced a jury of Lamont's guilt.  He has been in prison ever since.  Now he's hoping the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence can help him clear his name and gain his freedom.

On March 21, 2000, Christopher Fuller of Hamilton, Ohio told police his daughter Randi, almost 3 years old, choked on a glass of water and held her breath.  But after a grueling interrogation that was not recorded, police claimed Fuller confessed to killing Randi when she resisted his attempt to sexually assault her.  He was charged with capital murder, but the Hamilton authorities were apparently worried about getting the death penalty, so they brought in Dr. Death, Dr. Charles Smith of Ontario, Canada.  Smith was already under investigation for finding crimes where none existed in the deaths of children.  He came through for the Ohio boys.  The jury not only convicted Fuller, they recommended death.  Only Fuller's previously clean record saved him from execution, but he still languishes in prison, for the rest of his life.
Link:
THE CHARLES SMITH BLOG
Harold Levy , author of The Charles Smith Blog, tells us: I recently retired from the Toronto Star where I have been reporting on Dr. Charles Randal Smith - a former pediatric pathologist at the Hospital for Sick Children - for the past six years. I intend, through this blog, to periodically report developments relating to Dr. Smith in the context of the on-going public inquiry, the on-going independent probe of cases he worked on between 1981 and 1991, and cases which have been launched, or will be launched in the civil courts.  I am currently researching a book on Dr. Smith and would appreciate hearing from anyone who can provide me with useful information.

Link:
Lebrew Jones: A Wrongful Conviction
Multimedia Investigative Report by Christine Young
New York Times-Herald Record

UPDATE:
Murder victim's mom meets convicted killer
Lois Hall says the wrong man is in prison


John Spirko is hard to like.  He's lived a life of crime that makes him virtually incredible.  But he says he's innocent of the murder of Betty Jane Mottinger, a crime that put him on Ohio's death row.  An investigation by the Cleveland Plain Dealer strongly supports Spirko's claim that he did not commit this crime.

Click HERE to read Bob Payne's full series about John Spirko at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

UPDATE:  Ohio governor commutes Spirko death sentence to life without parole.

Lee Wayne Hunt of Smithfield, NC vividly remembers the day 21 years ago when an FBI scientist walked into a North Carolina courthouse and told jurors that he was able to match the lead content of bullets found at the crime scene to that of bullets in a box connected to Hunt's co-defendant. The testimony provided the sole forensic evidence to corroborate the prosecution's circumstantial case.  In 2005, the bureau ended its bullet-lead-matching technique after experts concluded that the very type of testimony given in Hunt's case -- matching a crime-scene bullet to those in a suspect's box -- was scientifically invalid.  They threw out the science -- but haven't lifted a finger to help the wrongly convicted put into prison by it.

“Max Soffar has been on Texas’s death row for almost three decades for a crime he did not commit,” David Dow, Head of the Texas Innocence Network and one of Soffar’s attorneys, told the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. “We urge the court to do the right thing and strike down Mr. Soffar’s wrongful conviction. Too many innocent people have been executed as a result of mistakes in the system. The risk of executing an innocent man is unacceptable in a just society.”

A retrial could be in the works for two men convicted of murdering a woman outside a convenience store 11 years ago in West Texas.  Judge Felix Klein found that the jury might have reached a different verdict in the cases of Alberto Sifuentes and Jesús Ramírez had it heard about an alibi witness who could place the men almost 35 miles from the crime scene minutes before the murder in Littlefield, and if defense attorneys had investigated two other suspects who matched descriptions given to police.

Reasonable Doubts

Frederick Freeman sits in a Michigan prison, sentenced to life, for a small-town murder 20 years ago. A team of advocates, from former FBI agents to a veteran TV newsman, says he was railroaded while the real killer remains free. 

In a remarkable series published in the Detroit Metro Times,
Sandra Svoboda explores the first investigation, years of re-investigation, and the crucial role of eyewitness identification.

Part I
Eyewitness to What?
Part II


The Dallas County district attorney's office is looking into whether Clay Chabot was unfairly convicted in the 1986 rape and murder of a Garland woman after a recent DNA test connected another man to the crime.  Gerald Pabst was arrested on a capital murder charge on July 31, 2007, two decades after he testified that Clay Chabot attacked Galua Crosby. Mr. Chabot was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.   DA Craig Watkins said Mr. Chabot, 48, could get a new trial. DNA does not link him to the crime.

UPDATE: 10/19/07 - Both the prosecution and the defense joined in a motion for a new trial for Clay Chabot.  Judge Lana Myers agreed with the requests, and now the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals must approve her recommendation.
 
"He" is from West Hartford, Connecticut, short, clumsy and mentally impaired, with thick glasses and hearing aids in both ears, given to telling the same stale jokes over and over. His nickname was Mr. Magoo. He once was a dishwasher. He’s now a convict serving a life term for rape and murder. "They" are people who befriended him without knowing him: advocates for the disabled, lawyers, writers, a detective, nurses, business people, psychologists, teachers, perhaps 100 in all at different times, a core group of perhaps 25. For years, many of them met every other Wednesday at the Burger King in Wethersfield, Connecticut to plot strategy.  At last, they are taking his innocence claims back to court.

UPDATE:  Judge calls LaPointe's petition a waste of time.

UPDATE:  Killers in MacDougall .  There are killers
in MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution.  Richard Lapointe is not one of them.

UPDATE:  March 25, 2009 - The tide may have finally turned in Richard's favor.  The Connecticut Court of Appeals has ruled that Judge Fuger was wrong in dismissing Richard's claims of suppression of exculpatory evidence and ineffective assistance of counsel (which the judge called "a waste of time").  Click HERE to read the opinion.  For more information, visit www.friendsofrichardlapointe.com

Perhaps only Roger Dean Gillispie knows for sure whether he kidnapped and raped three Fairborn, Ohio area women in 1988.  No physical evidence tied him to the crime.  He was convicted on the basis of eyewitness identifications made two years after the crimes occurred.  His case illustrates the tough road for inmates who insist they are innocent but cannot use DNA to prove it.

UPDATE: 7/9/08 - Roger's petition for a new trial was denied at the local court level.  The judge found that the eyewitness identification issues were "fully litigated" before Roger's first conviction, that the defense "should have known" about discovery violations, and that the defense has no new information about an alternative suspect whose official presence goes back to the beginning of the case.  The Ohio Innocence Project, representing Roger, will appeal.

UPDATE: 12/15/11 - U.S. District Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz has ruled that Roger Dean Gillispie didn’t get a fair trial when he was convicted of rape, kidnapping and aggravated robbery in 1991 and ordered the state to either retry him by July 1 or free him from prison.  Former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro is one of Gillispie's advocates; the current Ohio Attorney General vows to appeal.  A classic case of false identification and prosecutor intractability.

UPDATE:  12/23/11 - Roger Gillispie has been released from prison on recognizance bond, wearing an electronic monitor and kept under house arrest.  His legal saga could continue for years.

Consider the pitiful case of Cesar Fierro, who has been on death row since 1980 for the murder and robbery of El Paso taxi driver Nicholas Castanon.  Fierro, who was not considered a suspect until months after the February 1979 murder, was convicted on the basis of two things: the shaky testimony of an alleged co-conspirator and his own confession, which many now conclude was coerced.  Fierro, whose landlord testified the accused was home on the night of the killing, confessed to the crime because he was told his mother and stepfather would be tortured by the police in a jail in Ciudad Juárez, where they lived. After his parents were released from the Juárez jail, Fierro recanted. Without that confession, Fierro would not be sitting on death row today.  The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled no harm had been caused by the extorted confession.

The conviction of David Thorne of Alliance, Ohio of murder for hire is a textbook example of sloppy crime scene processing, lazy investigation, unreliable and contradictory witnesses, unqualified experts and incompetent defense lawyering.  In fact, criminal profiler Brent Turvey, M.S., uses it to teach investigators and lawyers how not to handle a murder case. 

Defense attorneys for James A. Kulbicki offered a string of alibi witnesses, and he flat-out said he didn't do it. He was, after all, a Baltimore police sergeant, and, he insisted, not a killer.  But a state police ballistics expert named Joseph Kopera helped convict the officer by saying that bullet fragments found in his truck and in his mistress' head could have come from his gun - testimony that is now being questioned.  Kopera recently killed himself after being confronted with evidence that he lied about his credentials.  Kublicki's attorneys challenged Kopera's findings and assertions in court papers filed a year earlier, arguing that the firearms examiner's testimony did not match his notes. And that was before they discovered that Kopera claimed to have degrees that he never earned.

UPDATE:  It's easy to understand why the Baltimore DA wanted to blindside James Kulbicki and his attorneys.  They have to be steaming mad after Kulbicki's lawyers exposed the systematic forensic fraud committed by police ballistics expert Joseph Kopera.  But their reach exceeded their grasp when they did DNA tests -- without court approval or notice to Kulbicki's lawyers -- on bone fragments that were contaminated 14 years ago when they were collected.  Will One-Upsmanish Replace Law and Science? [Includes full texts of state and defense motions]

A joint project by the Washington Post and 60 Minutes reviews the conviction of James Kulbicki, in which key testimony and the science behind it has been discredited.

People around the world are learning how the U.S. legal system works based on James Kulbicki's case -- a web of lies woven around junk science and blatant prosecutorial misconduct, a politicized judiciary unwilling to correct injustice, and an apathetic public more interested in entertainment than in truth.  As Ludwig De Braeckeleer capably demonstrates for South Korea's Oh My News, The Whole World is Watching .

Barry Allen Beach has maintained his innocence every day since he confessed two decades ago to the brutal 1979 murder of 18-year-old Kimberly Nees outside Poplar, Montana.  Centurion Ministries believes Beach and hopes to free him as the group has 40 others who were wrongly imprisoned across the nation.  They have good reason to believe Beach is innocent, and that a trio of jealous females killed Kimberly.

UPDATE:  On August 23, 2007, the Montana Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Barry Beach's innocence claim and his application for pardon.

UPDATE:  The Montana Supreme Court on November 24, 2009 sent Barry Beach's case back to District Court in Roosevelt County to conduct a hearing "to assess Beach's allegedly newly discovered evidence."  The high court ruled District Judge David Cybulski's March 2008 order did not include the analysis on which he based his decision to deny Beach a hearing on his petition seeking post-conviction relief.

UPDATE:  On December 7, 2011, Barry Beach was released on his own recognizance while he awaits a new trial.  He is free for the first time in almost 30 years.

UPDATE:  In May, 2013, Barry Beach was forced to return to prison, to continue serving his 100 year sentence for a crime he did not commit, after the Montana Supreme Court overturned a lower court's decision to grant him a new trial.

Montanans for Justice.  See the website for detailed information and the latest news about this case, and to find out how you can help.

Elizabeth Golebiewski was 23 in 1983 when a Lucas County (Ohio) Common Pleas Court jury convicted the North Toledo woman of using a toy gun to sexually assault her daughter and then killing her.  A convicted thief testified at trial that Elizabeth had confessed to her during conversations in jail that she had killed the child, offering grisly details that authorities contend only investigators and the killer would have been aware of at the time.  Elizabeth's request for DNA testing of the toy gun and other evidence has been granted.  And, while it is a long shot, DNA tissue from someone other than the mother or child might just be enough to prompt a judge to review the 1983 conviction.

Dewayne Cunningham has spent 11 years of a life sentence in Alabama's Atmore prison for a rape he insists he did not commit.  The evidence that might confirm his claim -- a condom wrapper recovered from the Flomaton park where the rape occurred and a pubic hair taken from the victim's body -- remains locked in a vault in the Escambia County circuit clerk's office.  Alabama is one of nine states that has no law allowing for DNA testing after a conviction, and authorities have resisted Cunningham's requests for access to the evidence. So his last hope for exoneration rests in a federal lawsuit filed in Mobile by lawyers from the University of Wisconsin Law School's Innocence Project.

On the morning of Sept. 19, 1992, a man named Leonard Aquino stood with another man in front of a building in Woodside, NY. He was approached by a couple of men who spoke briefly, then opened fire. Mr. Aquino was killed; another man, Paul Peralta, was shot, but survived.  Mr. Rivera's picture was picked out of an array of photos by Mr. Peralta and another witness, and in February 1993, five months after the shooting, Mr. Rivera was charged with killing Mr. Aquino and shooting Mr. Peralta. He was convicted in December 1995.  The eyewitness now says he did not see the killer long enough to identify him, and new witnesses have come forward to assert that Mr. Rivera was not even present at the scene of the crime.

Cory Maye was convicted of murder in the 2001 death of Prentiss, Mississippi police officer Ron W. Jones during a drug raid on the other half of Maye's duplex. Maye has said he thought that the intruders were burglars and did not realize they were police. He pleaded not guilty at his trial, citing self-defense. Nevertheless, Maye was convicted of murder and was sentenced to death. On September 21, 2006, the death sentence was overturned by Judge Michael Eubanks, and Maye was sentenced to life in prison.  His case attracted little attention until late 2005, when Reason magazine senior editor and police misconduct researcher Radley Balko brought it to light in the article we have reposted here.  Maye's supporters say his conviction and sentence raise issues about the right to self-defense, police conduct in the War on Drugs, and racial and social inequities in Mississippi. They have also raised questions about whether he has received competent legal representation.

UPDATE:  On November 17, 2009, the Mississippi Court of Appeals ruled that Maye's constitutional right of vicinage was violated when Judge Eubanks refused to return the case to Jefferson Davis County, where the alleged crime occurred. The court reversed Maye's conviction and remanded the case for a new trial.


In Chicago in 1997, June Siler mistakenly identified Robert Wilson as the man who slashed her wish a razor blade, after viewing a suggestive photo line up and being told he had confessed.  This is a chilling reminder of how easy it is for police and prosecutors to manipulate a witness' testimony.  Now, June wants to make things right for Robert.

When police were summoned to the Bethlehem, NY home of Joan and Peter Porco in the early hours of November 14, 2004, they found Peter hacked to death and Joan terribly wounded.  Det. Chris Bowdish felt he knew as soon as he walked into the house that one of the two Porco sons, Jonathan or Christopher, had to have been responsible.  He asked Joan if Jonathan had done it, and she shook her head "no."  Then he asked if Christopher did it, and he says she nodded "yes."  There was never any turning back after that; no other suspects were ever considered, and the state built a single-minded case to convict Christopher -- despite Joan's strong support of Christopher's innocence and the irrelevance of a "head nod" as evidence of anything at all.

Funny thing about Bethlehem, NY.  In a span of 5 weeks during the fall of 2004, and within a radius of less than 3 miles, two college seniors with no connection to one another hacked people to death.  That is the bill of goods sold to juries, first in Erick Westervelt's case, then in Christopher Porco's case.  Det. Chris Bowdish and his partner, Det. Charles Rudolph, used classic Reid techniques over a 2-day period to extract what they said was Erick Westervelt's confession to the bludgeoning murder of Timothy Gray.  No physical evidence connected Westervelt to Gray's killing, and Westervelt had a solid alibi.

Instead of patting each other's backs, these
crack detectives and prosecutors from Albany County, NY should be looking over their shoulders for a serial killer.

False Confessions: An Important Series from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
and The Innocence Institute of Point Park University

False Confessions:  How and Why
False Confession Cases:
Tiffany Pritchett
Da'Ron Cox
Troy Joseph

Barry Beach of Poplar, Montana has been in prison for 22 years for the murder of a neighbor.  His conviction was based on a confession wrung from Beach by investigators in Louisiana, who prayed with Beach, threatened him and described in detail death by Louisiana’s electric chair.  The best physical evidence at the scene, a bloody handprint, did not belong to Beach and was never explained.  Beach's appeals have been exhausted, and Centurion Ministries has undertaken his case in hope of gaining clemency.

UPDATE: 
Barry Beach, imprisoned 22 years for a murder he and many others say he didn’t commit, has been granted a public hearing by the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole.  A Long-Awaited Break .

What trumps DNA excluding a suspect as the killer in a homicide case?  In Clark County, Nevada, a checkered past and a jailhouse snitch are more believable than the gold standard of forensic science.

Interrogated for 10 hours, Jonathan Peskin, a dazed diabetic from Vernon, CT confessed to child molestation. He has been in prison for 18 months awaiting trial. But he is the victim, author Donald Connery writes.

Former FBI Agent James Wedick, a superstar at the agency, is the latest casualty in the war on terror. After viewing the interrogation tapes of Umer and Hamid Hayat, Wedick, the G-man though and through, was stunned. He immediately called the defense attorney and told him -- "it's the sorriest interrogation, the sorriest confession, I've ever seen." As hard as it was for him to criticize his former colleagues and his beloved former employer, he felt compelled to testify for the defense, the first such time he had ever opposed the agency. But, as Mark Araz writes in his excellent story reposted here from the LA Times, the judge refused to allow him to testify. Arax's story is not only a story of two wrongful convictions -- it is a powerful story of how the FBI has changed since 9/11. Desperate to sniff out Al Qaeda cells, millions of dollars in taxpayer money is being spent on investigations being led by rookie agents who lack the expertise to lead them. Caution is being thrown to the wind, procedures are being tossed out the window, civil liberties are being trampled, all in the name of catching terrorists.

UPDATE: 
Before any jury trial begins in the United States, prospective jurors are instructed that a defendant is presumed innocent. It’s up to prosecutors to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and the potential jurors are asked if they can abide by that rule. Hamid Hayat’s terrorism trial last year was no exception, and the 12 jurors who heard the Lodi man’s case raised no objections to jury rules. But the foreman who led them to a guilty verdict later said publicly that it was better to risk convicting an innocent man than to acquit a guilty man.  It's Okay to Make the Innocent Pay

On Sept. 28, 2000, Kim Camm and her two children were victims of a triple murder in New Albany, Ind. They were found shot to death at home in their garage.  But just hours after the memorial service, police arrested their prime suspect, David Camm, for murdering his wife and two children. Camm, who claims his innocence, has a very good alibi. Eleven witnesses say they were with him at the time of the murder.  Nonetheless, he was convicted.  His conviction was overturned in August, 2004 -- but the charges were reissued and Camm is facing retrial.

UPDATE: On March 3, 2006, David Camm was again found guilty of murdering his family.

UPDATE:  Camm and Family Speak Out at Sentencing


Police were convinced that Michelle Moore-Bosko, a young Navy wife, was raped and murdered by eight men in her small Norfolk apartment in 1997 while her husband was away at sea. And five of them confessed.  But Bosko's apartment showed no signs of mass attack, and the DNA left behind matched only one man: Omar A. Ballard, a convicted sex offender, who gave details of the killing and said he acted alone.  The four others who confessed -- Danial J. Williams, Joseph J. Dick Jr., Derek E. Tice and Eric C. Wilson -- all Navy sailors, later recanted but were convicted anyway, and three of them are serving life sentences. 

UPDATE:  Derek Tice wins state habeas
Because of one mistake by his lawyers, one of the men convicted in the 1997 rape and murder of a young Navy wife could be set free, a judge has found.  The state, of course, says it will appeal and wants Tice kept in prison while it does so.  Click HERE to read the judge's decision.

UPDATE:  1/13/01 -  Unbelievable!  On the same day four former Virginia attorneys general declared that the Norfolk Four are innocent of the rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko, the Virginia Supreme Court flipped his habeas and reinstated his conviction.

UPDATE:  4/21/11 -
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit unanimously upheld a lower court's decision to grant a petition to clear the criminal record of Derek Tice, one of four former sailors convicted in the 1997 rape and murder of a Navy wife.  One down, three to go.

Alan Berlow, an independent free lance writer who has written frequently about wrongful convictions (an earlier article about the Chris Ochoa case for Salon magazine is a classic), has done it again.  His piece "What Happened in Norfolk?" picks apart the case against the Norfolk Four, four Navy sailors stationed in Norfolk, Virginia who many believe were wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko, the wife of another seaman.  Three of the men are still locked up despite the fact that DNA evidence found on the victim was linked to another man, Omar Ballard, who subsequently confessed to having committed the crime by himself.

Margaret Edds, the author of one of the best books on the Earl Washington wrongful conviction (“An Expendable Man”), has turned her laser-like focus on the infamous Norfolk Four case in this cover story from the Richmond Style Weekly.  Anything You Say.

UPDATE:  While the clemency petition submitted during the administration of Virginia Governor Mark Warner continues to languish on the desk of his successor, Governor Tim Kaine, 26 more voices have joined the throng of police, prosecutors, judges and politicians urging pardon and release of the Norfolk Four.  Retired FBI agents conclude Norfolk Four are innocent victims of Virginia's system.

UPDATE:  8/6/09 - Gov. Tim Kaine gives half a loaf -- conditional pardon and commutation of sentence -- to three of the Norfolk four.  This means they will be released from prison but the Governor refuses to recognize that they are factually innocent.  Gov. Kaine has aspirations to higher office, and apparently thinks that doing the right thing will cost him votes.


UPDATE:  9/15/09 - A federal judge has overturned the rape and murder convictions of Derek Elliott Tice, one of the "Norfolk Four," ruling that his lawyers should have challenged the use of his confession at his trial.  Expect the Commonwealth of Virginia to appeal to the very conservative 4th Circuit Court.

UPDATE:  11/20/09 -- Does it ever end?  U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams, who overturned the rape and murder convictions of Derek Tice, has ruled that Tice can be re-tried on the original charges.  The state has 120 days to decide whether to re-charge him.

UPDATE:  8/5/11 - After dragging out the process nearly two more years, the Commonwealth of Virginia has dropped all charges against Derek Tice.  One down, three to go.

Microscopic comparison of carpet fibers -- utterly junk science -- convicted Wayne Williams of two of the Atlanta child murders that terrorized the city in 1981, and police blamed Williams for 27 other uncharged killings.  The newly ensconced Dekalb County police chief who was never convinced of Wayne Williams' guilt has reopened five of the 1981 "Atlanta Child Murder" cases.  Families of many of the murdered children have been unconvinced all these years, too.  Williams says he is imprisoned with at least four relatives of his alleged victims, and that even they believe in his innocence.

UPDATE:  DNA Testing Sought
Lawyers for Wayne Williams, blamed for the murders of two dozen children and young men in the late 1970s and early '80s, have asked to perform DNA testing on dog hair, human hair and blood.

Here's a new twist on SAID -- Sexual Assault Allegations in Divorce -- where one spouse levels false sexual assault allegations against the other as a ploy to obtain custody of the children.  Usually the children are the alleged victims, but in this case, the wife said she had been raped.  The allegation was made only after Mr. Coleman filed for divorce and sought custody and after Mrs. Coleman retained a divorce lawyer.  There was no physical evidence because Mrs. Coleman said undergoing a rape exam "wasn't a priority".  Yet a jury in Waterbury, CT convicted Mr. Coleman of rape.

In 1984, Mohamed El-Tabech of Lincoln, Nebraska went to get ice cream.  Upon his return home, he found his wife had been murdered.  He called 911 and responding police found him sitting on the floor, rocking back and forth in grief.  El-Tabech vowed to kill his wife's murderer.  Instead, he was convicted of killing Lynn El-Tabech himself.  His fight for DNA testing led to a new law in Nebraska but the state continues to oppose testing in El-Tabech's case.

In 2002, Broward (Florida) U.S. District Judge Norman C. Roettger, who died in 2003, granted Kelley a new trial. State prosecutors said they could not retry Kelley, clearing the way for his release from prison.  But a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned Roettger's decision and reinstated Kelley's conviction. Chief Justice Gerald Tjoflat wrote the opinion.  Now the only thing standing between Kelley, 62, and a lethal shot of potassium chloride is the petition to the U.S. Supreme Court by Tribe -- a legal giant who represented Al Gore in the recount battle after the 2000 election.

Valentino Dixon
Torriano Jackson died in a hail of gunfire from a machine gun one August night in 1991 in Buffalo, New York.  Today, two men sit in prison: one convicted of that killing but denying his guilt, the other insisting he is the killer.  Who is telling the truth, who is lying -- and why?  Read The Buffalo News series and see what you think.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5



Last year, former Pima County, AZ DA Kenneth Peasley was disbarred for intentionally presenting false evidence in death-penalty cases—something that had never before happened to an American prosecutor. In a 1992 triple-murder case, Peasley introduced testimony that he knew to be false; three men were convicted and sentenced to die. Peasley was convinced that the three were guilty, but he also believed that the evidence needed a push. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since the mid-nineteen-seventies a hundred and seventeen death-row inmates have been released. Defense lawyers, often relying on DNA testing, have shown repeatedly how shoddy crime-lab work, lying informants, and mistaken eyewitness identifications, among other factors, led to unjust convictions. But DNA tests don’t reveal how innocent people come to be prosecuted in the first place. The career of Kenneth Peasley -- and the case of Martin Soto-Fong -- do.

Katie Hamlin, a 15-year-old Cherokee County, Georgia girl, met a terrible end.  In the early morning hours of July 2, 2002, she was raped, strangled and then her body was set on fire.  Roberto Rocha, the 20-year-old mentally disabled son of a preacher, was charged with her murder -- police claim he confessed -- and although Rocha can prove he was in Brazil when the crime occurred, Cherokee County DA Garry Moss refuses to dismiss the charges.

In the 1989 nationally syndicated television program on the case, A Matter of Life and Death, television journalist Ike Pappas noted: ``In 1975, Tommy Zeigler was attempting to clean up corruption right in his hometown of Winter Garden, Florida. He was helpful in shutting down the old Edgewater Hotel, a center of prostitution and drug dealing. But he was also trying to gather information on other illegal activities such as gun running and, most importantly, loan sharking. The loan sharks made a fortune letting [black] migrant workers buy groceries on credit at an interest rate of 520 percent per year. And Tommy Zeigler alleges that certain members of the Winter Garden police force were in on the action.''

On Christmas Eve that year, there was a multiple murder at the Zeigler family furniture store. Zeigler was charged with the murders. Maurice Paul, who openly opposed Ziegler's efforts, was the trial judge who presided over Zeigler's fate.  Paul overrode the jury's recommendation and sentenced Zeigler to death.  Zeigler has maintained his innocence.

Now DNA evidence offers Zeigler the hope of a very different future Christmas.

Rodwell was convicted of the November 1978 fatal shooting of Louis Rose Jr. outside a Somerville, MA bakery. The state's key witness against him was David P. Nagle, a law enforcement snitch who made a career out of committing armed robberies to support his drug habit, according to court documents.  But prosecutors not only failed to disclose the sweetheart deal Nagle got in exchange for his testimony -- 7 to 12 years for 10 armed robberies -- they actively concealed it.

Link:  A special interactive report brought to you by journalnow.com

A Special Report

The Attack at the Silk Plant Forest

JournalNow Edition * Winston-Salem, N.C. * November 21-25, 2004
On Dec. 9, 1995 Jill Marker was brutally beaten in the back of The Silk Plant Forest, then located in the Silas Creek Shopping Center. Two years later, Kalvin Michael Smith was arrested for the crime. This six month re-examination of the case is based on hundreds of pages of police reports and interviews with Marker, her family and others.

UPDATE: 
1/9/2009 - The hearing on Kalvin Smith’s post-conviction petition took place over this past few week with the primary claims focusing on ineffectiveness of Smith’s trial counsel and Brady violations concerning evidentiary materials which the prosecution and police failed to disclose to the defense.  Smith also testified about the circumstances under which he confessed, a confession he has always maintained was false and spoon-fed to him by detectives.  In a brief ruling from the bench after closing arguments, Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Richard Doughton dashed the hopes of Smith and all of his supporters who packed the courtroom:“My conclusion is that the defendant has failed to prove his claim, and of these remaining claims, and I’m going to rule in favor of the state.”

Smith and his attorneys have vowed to appeal.  Meanwhile, another investigation into the case is still ongoing.  The City Council assigned a Citizen’s Review Committee to hold hearings on the case to investigate whether there was any police or prosecutorial misconduct, a committee whose mandate was broadened to do intensive fact-finding on the case not unlike an Innocence Commission in March 2008.  Perhaps this Committee’s findings can lead to newly discovered evidence that can once again reopen the case for Smith.

Dennis Dechaine has been in a Maine prison for 16 years, convicted of the abduction, sexual torture and murder of a 12-year-old girl.  In a striking move for a state that has steadfastly defended its handling of the case, Maine Attorney General G. Steven Rowe has appointed a three-member panel to review the 1988 killing of Sarah Cherry for any evidence of misconduct by police or prosecutors. 

Jane was convicted of killing Bob Dorotik, her husband of 30 years, and sentenced to 25 years to life in Chowchilla Women's Prison.  Even the judge has expressed doubts about her guilt.  Now, in her own words, Jane describes her life in prison and her continuing belief that someday she will be free.

Suffolk County (Boston), MA prosecutors have announced they will seek to vacate Angel Toro's conviction for the 1981 murder of a motel desk clerk because a police report that could have cleared him was withheld from the defense, and two key witnesses have admitted they lied under police pressure.  He's not free yet, but if Toro walks out of prison, he can thank his real Angel -- his wife, Debra.

UPDATE:  Judge vacates Toro's conviction .

Two More Wrongful Convictions Courtesy of the Houston (TX) Police Crime Lab

The only evidence that tied Lawrence Napper to the 2001 kidnapping and molestation of a 6-year-old boy was DNA.  Turns out it wasn't his DNA.  Of course, he is still in prison.  Lawrence Napper

George Rodriguez was sentenced to 60 years in prison for aggravated rape and kidnapping, based primarily on HPD Crime Lab's serological [based on blood type only] identification of him.  A panel of six scientists has reviewed the evidence in Rodriguez's case and reported the crime lab's conclusions were "scientifically unsound".  Of course, he is still in prison, too.  George Rodriguez

UPDATE:  George Rodriguez, exonerated by DNA, wonders "Why am I Still in Prison?"

David Lemus and Olmado Hidalgo have spent 12 years in jail for the murder of a New York City nightclub bouncer named Marcus Peterson and the attempted murder of another man on Nov. 23, 1990.  A 2002 New Police Department investigative report concluded Thomas Morales committed the murders, but Morales is free while Lemus and Hidalgo remain in prison.

In 1995 in Hattiesburg, MS, Stephanie phoned surgeon Dr. David Stephens' wife of 32 years, Karen, and disclosed that she and the doctor had been having an affair for years.  A few hours later, Karen was rushed to the hospital with a self-inflicted gunshot wound; she died three months later.  Stephanie married Dr. Stephens.  She was crippled in a car accident the next year.  By the spring of 2001, Dr. Stephens, already a diabetic, was terminally ill with liver disease.  When he died, a drug used for anesthesia was found in his blood.  Stephanie was subsequently convicted of her husband's murder.  But was she convicted on the basis of sound evidence, or because she was the "other woman"? 

UPDATE:  October 16, 2006 - Stephanie Stephens died in prison of pneumonia.

Michael Roper's case has all the hallmarks of a wrongful conviction -- shaky eyewitness identification, jailhouse "snitch" testimony and no physical evidence connecting him to the murder of an Akron, Ohio convenience store owner.  At his 4th trial the jury convicted him, but they didn't know another suspect closely resembles Roper. 

Nothing about the double homicide seemed to finger Tyrone Noling. Even the former sheriff doesn't believe he should be on death row.

UPDATE:  Evidence withheld by the state comes to light.  Get all the updates at TyroneNoling.com

There was no confession, no blood evidence, no witnesses, inconclusive balistics and inconclusive GSR testing, but with virtually no defense, a jury convicted Robert Dana of killing his best friend Gene Koller and Gene's girlfriend Elaine Matte.  That was 28 years ago.  Robert has always maintained his innocence.  Now someone has come forward with information that could help Robert.

When 80-year-old Anna Knaze was robbed and beaten to death in 1992 in Johnstown, PA, Det. Richard Rok decided Ernest Simmons had done it.  Problem was, he had no evidence.  Rok recruited Simmons' girlfriend to secretly tape record conversations with him, but instead of confessing, Simmons denied committing the crime 19 times.  Finally, Rok was able to convince another elderly robbery victim to identify Simmons as her attacker and claim he threatened to give her "the same thing Anna Knaze got".  She lied -- she never saw her assailant's face.  But Rok got the conviction he wanted.  Ernest Simmons Got the Death Penalty

And what about Det. Rok?  Over the years he was accused of
assaulting suspects, conducting searches without warrants and pushing a witness to make false identifications.  He's in Federal Prison Now

Vidale McDowell is serving a life sentence in Michigan for second degree murder.  When McDowell was arrested, he had no police record. He was an 18-year-old senior at Trombley Adultday High School in Detroit.  The primary evidence used to convict McDowell consisted of a written statement from his 13-year-old friend, Antoine Morris, who almost immediately recanted the accusation, saying that police forced it from him.  Confessions and Recantations

In May, 1988 Jason Derrick was convicted of murdering grocer Rama Sharma in Pasco County, Florida and sentenced to death.  There were no eyewitnesses, no weapon, no physical evidence whatsoever connecting Derrick to the crime -- just the testimony of the original suspect and a jailhouse snitch.  Now another man has made statements implicating himself, and Derrick will get a hearing in March, 2004.  A Life Hangs in the Balance

After three indictments, two trials and a handful of appellate proceedings, some of the best legal minds in Virginia still are trying to decide whether Merry Pease was a domestic-violence victim or a cold-blooded killer. It is the claim of prosecutorial misconduct -- which was one of the reasons the case was overturned the first time around -- that is drawing new attention to it.  What Can Go Wrong, Did Go Wrong

UPDATE:  On October 31, 2003, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed Merry's conviction.  Prosecutor Tim McAfee, whose egregious misconduct in Merry's first trial
led to reversal of her conviction , has dodged the bullet of disbarment because in the eyes of the Virginia State Bar, in obtaining a second conviction against Merry, McAfee "cured" his misconduct.  Click HERE to read the Virginia Supreme Court's rationalization.

Almost 30 years ago, a snitch (who later recanted) fingered Maurice Carter for shooting an off-duty Michigan police officer.  No physical evidence connected Carter to the crime, and the clerk who got the best look at the gunman says it was "one hundred percent definitely not" Carter.  Yet his motion for a new trial and his petition for clemency languish.  Meanwhile, Carter has end-stage liver disease and will die without a transplant -- which he cannot get as long as he is in prison.  De Facto Death Penalty for an Innocent Man

Michael Roper's case has all the hallmarks of a wrongful conviction -- shaky eyewitness identification, jailhouse "snitch" testimony and no physical evidence connecting him to the murder of an Akron, Ohio convenience store owner.  At his 4th trial the jury convicted him, but they didn't know another suspect closely resembles Roper.

UPDATE:  Michael Roper denied new trial despite prosecutor misconduct.  

For half of his 42 years, Nicholas J. Yarris has been on death row in Pennsylvania prisons, emphatically telling anyone who would listen that he didn't commit the 1981 abduction, rape and murder of a Delaware County woman for which he was convicted. He now may have scientific evidence that he has been telling the truth from behind bars for more than two decades.  Nick Yarris Cleared by DNA

Click HERE to visit Nick's weblog.

In 1999, Alan Yurko of Orlando, FL was convicted of shaking his 10-week-old son to death and sentenced to life without parole.  But the autopsy performed by Dr. Stashio Gore doesn't come close to minimum standard of care --  and Dr. Gore admits to all the bad science.

William Kelley
For nearly 19 years, William Kelley, a thief, bartender, and stagehand from Boston, has lived on Florida's death row, convicted of a hired hit on a millionaire citrus grower in 1966.  Now, he could be about to trade his near-total isolation for the spare bedroom in his brother's Tewksbury split-level, thanks to a federal judge's decision to throw out his conviction. Last fall, US District Judge Norman C. Roettger ordered a new trial, based on ''prosecutorial misconduct'' and the ''deficient'' representation of Kelley's lawyers.  

Had the North Carolina Supreme Court not been compelled to stay his execution, Henry Lee Hunt's life would have ended before the N.C. Actual Innocence Commission began.  Neither the Governor nor the court, or for that matter, the rest of the state, can rely on the validity of Hunt's conviction. 

September 13, 2003:  The State of North Carolina executed Henry Lee Hunt.


In November, 2000, Marshall King, a Virginia State Trooper, and Bruno Crutchfield, Brodnax, VA Police Chief, were convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.  Those convictions, based on perjured testimony by snitches, were vacated by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Payne, who observed, "This trial has a taint on it that stinks awful." Crutchfield has been released on bond, but federal prosecutors have trotted out yet another snitch to claim King did what they did -- suborned perjury -- to keep the former cop in prison while he awaits retrial.
 
Ernest Willis had the bad luck to survive a fatal fire.  Cops didn't like the way he acted afterward.   They had no evidence to support their suspicions: no fingerprints, no bodily fluids, no flammable liquids in the house or on Willis' clothes or body, no witnesses, no motive.  They charged him anyway, kept him drugged through his trial and got a conviction.  Then the appeals courts abandoned him.   Now he waits on death row while his final appeal before execution works its way through federal court.


A dozen forensic experts agree Judi Eftenoff died of an accidental overdose of cocaine, and that she was neither beaten nor murdered.  Like John Maloney, Brian has been sentenced to life in prison for crimes that never even happened.

 
Meet Michael Kenneth McAlister of Richmond, VA.  He's the victim of mistaken identity by the victim of attempted rape.  Even the investigator and prosecutor who put him in prison doubt his guilt.  They went to the parole board in support of his release, but this is Virginia so the parole board denied McAlister's bid.  He is Without Hope
 
Michael McAlister's cause has been taken to Virginia Governor Mark Warner. Petition for Pardon

UPDATE:  Michael McAlister, his petition for pardon inexplicably denied by Gov. Mark Warner, has been released on mandatory parole.  Finally Free
 
Douglas Wright

When little Donovan Wright of York County, PA died, it was a tragedy.  The tragedy was compounded by the testimony of a medical expert who claimed he could reliably time Donovan's critical injury to a period when the child was in the care of his father, Doug Wright.  Doug was convicted of killing his son.  Now the doctor acknowledges his testimony was faulty; he was wrong.  But he is unconcerned because he can't remember either Donovan or Doug.
Forgotten by Justice

UPDATE:  4/9/07- Old Report Brings New Hope for Doug Wright .  A police accident report, withheld from the defense at the time of Doug's trial, proves that Donovan Wright was in a 99 mph car crash one month before his death.  Donovan did not receive medical care immediately after the crash, and could have sustained his ultimately-fatal injuries in the wreck -- not at the hands of his father.

In Dauphin County, PA, police and prosecutors are old hands at putting innocent people in prison and keeping them there.  No effort was spared to convict 14-year-old Steven Crawford of murdering his friend John Eddie Mitchell.  Crawford has spent the last 28 years in prison, even though authorities identified Mitchell's killers 25 years ago.  One Life Lost ... Another Life Wasted

Prosecutors concede Steven Crawford did not get a fair trial.  Crawford freed on $1 Million bail.  Slaying Retrial Unlikely
 
Coleman Johnson, Jr.

A series of bomb blasts in tiny Louisa, Virginia sent shockwaves of fear through the community.  Coleman Johnson, Jr.'s conviction for one of the bombings was purchased with perjured testimony.   The bomber remains at large, and the community remains in danger.

 
   
Louis Taylor
Louis Taylor has been in jail since he was 16, convicted of setting the 1970 Pioneer Hotel fire in Tucson, Ariz., which claimed the lives of 28 people.  New information the jury never heard points to other suspects who were never investigated.
 

David Munchinski:
A Question of Innocence

David Munchinski has been in prison for over 20 years for murders he says he did not commit.  But his daughter Raina has uncovered evidence that the star witness against him later admitted lying, prosecutors hid exculpatory evidence and Munchinski's co-defendant testified that another man committed the crimes with him.

Update (8/19/10):  Missing exhibits solidify Munchinski's innocence

"This solidifies the fact that everything in this case in which the government has had a hand in, from 1977 to the present, is highly suspicious, highly irregular, unorthodox, highly unusual, inexplicable and violative of every notion of fundamental fairness and due process of law," Munchinski's attorney, Noah Geary wrote in court filing.


On August 5, 2011,
Chief Magistrate Lisa Pupo Lenihan said David Munchinski is entitled to a new trial in the case, known as the Bear Rocks Murders, because prosecutors withheld evidence that would have cast doubts on the man's guilt.  Prosecutors have 120 days to decide whether to re-try him.

Update (9/30/11):  David Munchinski has been released on bond pending the state's appeal of Judge Lenihan's decision granting him a new trial.
 
Gerald Amirault
Parole Board Recommends Release
Gov. Denies Parole:  Still the Witch Trial State
 
James Harry Reyos
How could he kill a priest in Houston, Texas  when he was 200 miles away in Roswell, New Mexico?
 
Kevin Fitzpatrick
Who assaulted Connie Young in Leesville, Louisiana in 1992?
From WAFB-TV
You Be the Judge
 
The Yogurt Shop Murder Trial Headlines Shout 'Guilty!' -- But Did the Prosecution Make Its Case?
from the Austin Chronicle
Robert Springsteen:  Somebody Has to Die

UPDATE
Robert Springsteen's Conviction Overturned
Co-defendant Michael Scott's conviction likely to fall on the same grounds

UPDATE  - 2/27/07
 The US Supreme Court refused to hear the state's appeal and affirmed reversal of Springsteen's conviction.  Re-trial expected before the end of 2007.

UPDATE - 6/6/07
Michael Scott's Conviction Falls
Same grounds, same 5-4 majority as in Springsteen's appeal decision.

UPDATE:  4/18/08
New DNA Evidence Excludes All Four Defendants

UPDATE:  6/24/09
Judge orders Springsteen and Scott released.

UPDATE:  10/28/09
Travis County prosecutors moved to dismiss the murder indictments against Michael Scott and Robert Springsteen, the two remaining defendants in 1991 yogurt shop murders after announcing in court today that they are still looking for the person whose DNA was found last year in one of the four teenage victims. Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said, "I believe it is the best legal and strategic course to take and is the one that leaves us in the best possible posture to ultimately retry both Springsteen and Scott.”  Never try to confuse her with scientific facts.



   
Stella Nickell
Seattle, WA
Michael Kenneth McAlister
Richmond, VA
Penny Brummer
Madison, Wisconsin
Lathierial Boyd
Chicago, IL
Han Tak Lee (Acrobat File)
Stroud Township, Pa.
Vernon Joe
Suffolk, Virginia
Crosley Green
Death Row - Florida
Jeffrey K. Ragland
Council Bluffs, IA
Letitia Smallwood
Muncy, Pa.
Albert Wesley Brown
Tulsa, OK
Lee Max Barnett
Chico, California
Anibal Rousseau
Houston, TX
Nellie Sue Whitt
Bedford, VA
Hany Kiareldeen
Bloomfield, NJ
Kenneth Hansen
Chicago, IL
Dwayne McKinney
Santa Ana, CA
Patrick Bradford
Evansville, IN
Edward Lee Elmore
Greenwood, SC
Anthony Spears
Mesa, AZ
Jack Chase
Hampton, NY
  Joseph Giarratano [includes update]
Hampton Roads, VA
William Jonathan Mayo
Cincinnati, Ohio
  Ron Eitel
Houston, TX
Michael Austin
Baltimore, MD




Koua Fong Lee, serving eight years for vehicular homicide because of a fatal crash involving his Toyota Camry, is hoping for exoneration amid concerns over unintended acceleration in some of Toyota's vehicles.  He has always maintained his innocence in the 2006 crash, which killed Javis Adams, 33, his 10-year-old son, Javis Adams Jr., and 6-year-old Devyn Bolton.  Mr. Lee is not the first innocent person convicted of murder due to a defective auto.  Sheila Bryan was convicted of killing her mother (and later cleared) because the defective ignition switch in her  Ford caused a fatal fire. 

UPDATE:  On August 6, 2010, Koua Fong Lee's conviction was vacated and he was released from prison.  The prosecuting attorney has decided not to retry him.

New lab tests show that DNA recovered from the semen-stained underwear of a 12-year-old rape victim couldn't have come from the man who has served more than 27 years in prison for the crime.  Raymond Towler has maintained his innocence for nearly three decades, insisting he wasn't the man who abducted two young children from a Cleveland park on May 24, 1981.  His lawyers with the Ohio Innocence Project say the results prove Towler's innocence.

UPDATE:  On May 5, 2010, a beaming Raymond Towler was fold by Judge Eileen Gallagher:  "Mr. Towler, you are free to go."

It's a case of technicalities. It's a case of changed stories. Of questionable evidence.  For Joshua Kezer and the attorneys representing him, it's a case of unjustified imprisonment, an unfair trial and new evidence that proves Kezer was not the right man. Kezer's defense team has reason to be optimistic. Cole County Judge Richard Callahan has thrown out a conviction before in a similar trial.

UPDATE:  February 18, 2009 - Joshua's attorneys' optimism was on target.  After 17 years in prison for a murder Judge Callahan says Joshua did not commit, he has walked out of prison a free man.

The Innocence Project at Cooley Law School in Lansing has secured a new hearing for Nathaniel Hatchett, who was convicted in 1998 in Macomb County Circuit Court on charges of kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct and carjacking.  One of the main issues raised by the project's law students was why the court and defense were never notified of additional DNA samples that were taken from the victim's husband as part of the investigation.  DNA samples taken from the victim did not match Hatchett, either, but the prosecutor led the judge to believe that the DNA samples were from the victim's husband.

UPDATE:  On April 14, 2008, the Macomb County prosecutor's office dismissed all charges against Nathaniel.  He left the courtroom a free man, in the arms of his family.

For 14 years, Lynn DeJac of Buffalo, NY has steadfastly denied that she killed her 13-year-old daughter, Crystallynn Girard.  All along, she has accused her estranged boyfriend, Dennis Donohue, of strangling her child when Lynn was out for the evening.  A jury didn't believe her.  A judge called her accusation against Donohue a "red herring."    Now -- finally -- Donohue has been charged with one murder and is under investigation for two others.  One of those uncharged murders is that of Crystallynn Girard.

UPDATE: 11/9/07 - New trial opposed by DA Clark.

UPDATE:  11/17/07 - Police investigators say DeJac could not have murdered her daughter.

UPDATE:  11/28/07 - DeJac's conviction reversed; DA Clark vows to re-try her.

Note:  In 1994, the prosecution gave Dennis Donohue complete immunity from prosecution for Crystallynn's murder in exchange for his testimony against Lynn DeJac.  If Donohue killed the child -- and DNA evidence strongly supports that he did -- thanks to the state, he will never be held accountable for what he did to Crystallynn.

UPDATE:  2/13/08 - Prosecution autopsy review claims Crystallynn died of cocaine overdose .   While this new finding means Lynn DeJac will not be retried, it raises troubling questions about the competence of the medical examiner and the state's motivation to "slip out the back door" regarding Dennis Donohue's immunity.

UPDATES:  2/29/08 -  Exonerated mother says killer is still free.   All charges against Lynn DeJac have been dropped.  But on her first full day of freedom since being cleared by DNA evidence of the 1993 murder of her daughter, Lynn DeJac said that she can’t be at peace until the real killer is brought to justice and a new autopsy finding that the girl died of an overdose is reversed.

2/29/08 - Honored detective suspended without pay, charged with defying orders.  
Detective Dennis A. Delano, an outspoken member of the Buffalo Police Cold Case Squad, faces departmental charges and has been suspended without pay.  The 28-year department veteran has publicly asserted he does not believe DeJac killed her 13-year-old daughter, Crystallynn Girard, in 1993.  Delano also has criticized the Erie County District Attorney's Office for accepting new forensic findings that indicate Crystallynn died of a cocaine overdose and not strangulation.

Kennedy Brewer of Macon, Mississippi, a mildly retarded, Black defendant, was convicted of raping and killing a 3-year-old girl and sentenced to death in 1992.  In 2002, he was cleared by DNA, but he wasn't released.  He has spent the past 5 years in the local jail, awaiting retrial.  Because you can bet, the local authorities plan to get another conviction and another death sentence.  The Sheriff says he can't look for a DNA match because Mississippi doesn't have a DNA database -- which is news to the state's crime lab director.  The prosecutor will bring back his star witness, dentist Dr. Michael West, whose bite mark testimony has been disproven by DNA in other cases, and who resigned from professional forensic dentistry groups to avoid expulsion.  Prosecutors are so sure they're right about Kennedy's guilt that they're willing to bet his life on it.

UPDATE:  2/9/08 - Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks, both convicted of killing 3-year-old girls in Noxubee County, Mississippi, and both cleared by DNA, are slated to be released.  What did it take to reach this point?  Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood had to take the prosecutions of these murders away from the Noxubee County DA, something almost unheard of in the state's history.  The Attorney General has charged Albert Johnson with the murders of both children.

Somewhere between the spot Peggy Hettrick was abducted and the Fort Collins, Colorado field where her partially clad body was dumped, her killer would have shed pieces of himself, mothlike. As he pulled her through the grass that dark morning on Feb. 11, 1987, his skin cells could have sloughed off onto her black coat. A strand of his hair could have hooked onto her shoes. A sneeze could have dampened her blouse. This is the law of forensic science: When two people come into contact, they leave cells on each other. But in the Hettrick murder case, authorities strayed from this law by losing some of these biological relics and destroying evidence linked to a prominent doctor they never investigated for the crime. In doing so, they may have covered the killer's genetic tracks.  This happened in Fort Collins, where a detective clung to his belief that a 15-year-old boy committed the crime, despite no physical evidence. In a county where prosecutors opposed saving DNA, let alone testing it. In a state where the law doesn't create a duty to preserve forensic evidence.  The result:  An innocent man, Tim Masters, goes to prison for life, and the real killer moves on.

UPDATE:  January 3, 2008:  Innocence Bid Gets Boost
Fort Collins, CO authorities violated evidence-discovery rules when they withheld expert opinions that conflicted with their theory that a 15-year-old Tim Masters murdered Peggy Hettrick in 1987, according to special prosecutors.

UPDATE:  January 22, 2008:  Tim Masters released and his conviction vacated.   DNA excludes Masters and points to another suspect.



In 1988, Arlene Tankleff was slashed across the throat and bludgeoned to death, and her husband, Seymour, was mortally wounded in the middle of the night in their affluent Long Island home. Their son, Martin, 17, confessed, then recanted. But in 1990 he was convicted of their murders in a highly publicized trial that was featured on Court TV.  Ever since, he and the other surviving relatives have insisted that he did not kill his parents. Seymour Tankleff's brother, Norman, said that he never doubted the son's innocence. Mrs. Tankleff's sister, Marcella Falbee, said, "From the beginning, none of us ever believed he did this." Now Martin Tankleff's supporters claim to have new evidence, obtained by a former New York City homicide detective, that they say points to the real culprits.  Pushing to Clear His Name


It was 1993 when Dorka Lisker was murdered in her home in Sherman Oaks, CA.  Her 17-year-old son, Bruce, was charged with the murder. He had a drug problem and a history of fighting with his mother.  Phillip  Rabichow, then a deputy district attorney, convinced a jury that Bruce was guilty. As the years rolled by and Lisker reached middle age in prison, Rabichow rarely gave the case a second thought. But in 2005, new information had shaken his faith in the fairness of the verdict: A bloody footprint found at the scene did not match Lisker's shoes. A mysterious phone call made around the time of the murder raised further questions. 

UPDATE:  August 18, 2005 -  FBI confirms shoe print at scene not Lisker's.

UPDATE:  August 8, 2009 - Judge overturns Bruce Lisker's conviction in 1983 killing of his mother

UPDATE:  August 22, 2009 - D.A. to retry Lisker in mother's 1983 slaying


If you are not familiar with Kenny's case -- one of the most compelling cases of innocence we have seen -- please read the following:

Complete transcript of Frontline Scotland's Killing Time profile of Kenny Richey's case.

The Rhoads' Murders
In 1986, newlyweds Dyke and Karen Rhoads were stabbed to death in their Paris, IL home.  Randy Steidl and Herb Whitlock were convicted of their muders on the strength of perjured testimony that contrradicted the physical  evidence.

Charles T. "Ted" Dubbs was convicted of sexually assaulting two women in Dauphin County, PA in 2000 and 2001.  Both women identified him as their attacker.  Wilbur Cyrus Brown, II has been convicted of a series of similar attacks, and has confessed to the two attacks Dubbs was convicted of committing.  Did the eyes deceive?
Charles Dubbs in 1999
Dubbs in 1999
composite sketch
Composite Sketch
Wilbur Cyrus Brown, II in 2001
Brown in 2001
UPDATE:  On 9/11/07, Judge David Ashworth dropped all charges against Ted Dubbs after prosecutors admitted the crimes he was convicted of committing were perpetrated by Wilbur Brown.   Dubbs'  Conviction  Thrown  Out.


Lawyers say the case against Bob and Randy could be titled The Insider's Guide to Prosecutorial Misconduct.

The victim, shot while riding on the back of her husband's motorcycle in South Florida, identified someone else as her assailant.  The best-positioned eyewitness was unable to pick out Persad from a photo lineup; he, too, picked someone else.  He couldn't identify him in court, either.  The same eyewitness said there was nothing unusual about the assailant's car, while Persad's car had foreign slogans written all over it.  Moreover, three witnesses testified Persad was studying for an exam with them when the incident happened.  But the victim's husband was shown a photo of Persad by an ex-FBI investigator, told Persad was the assailant, identified him in court -- and Persad is doing 43 years in prison.

UPDATE:  3/1/07 - Persad's
was one of the most controversial criminal cases in recent memory: one eyewitness, a 90-second look at a stranger before the stranger fired. No physical evidence.  Persad's case wended in and out of courts for years. A month ago, Circuit Judge Jorge Labarga threw out the ID, the keystone of the case. On March 1, 2007, prosecutors wiped Persad's slate clean.  Charge dropped in "road rage" shooting .

David Gladden
12/11/05:  A mentally retarded man is convicted of murder. A serial killer lived next door to the victim. Testimony is suspect. After a decade in prison, Pete Shellem of the Harrisburg, PA Patriot-News asked:


4/7/06:   Patriot-News' Gladden series leads witness to come forward with important evidence he thought the police did not need.

2/17/07:  David Gladden was freed from a life in prison after authorities agreed evidence uncovered by a series of Patriot-News stories raised doubts about his guilt in the slaying of a woman.


Julie Rea
Lawrenceville, IL
Julie Rea calls her 10-year-old son Joel "the best kid in the world" — even though she was convicted of stabbing him to death.  "I am innocent and I've done everything I can to prove that to you."

UPDATESerial Killer Confesses to Joel's murder

UPDATEJulie's Conviction Thrown Out

UPDATEVerdict at Re-Trial -- NOT GUILTY

July 26, 2006 -  Verdict Reading

The Judge was notified that the jury had reached a verdict at 4:10 PM.

The proceedings started at 4:24.

Judge Vaughn requested that the court give the jury the respect it deserves and that no outburst of emotion will be tolerated. You would be removed from the courtroom.

The Jury Foreman passed the Verdict to the Judge. The Judge read:

NOT GUILTY!

Julie burst into tears and then fainted to the floor. Ron Safer half caught her and brought her to a sitting position. Mark Harper came to the front and comforted her, and eventually she was able to stand.

David Rands requested the jury be poled and one at a time they answered that their verdict given freely was Not Guilty.

The Judge thanked the jury and they were dismissed. He thanked the Lawyers on both sides, and complemented them on their professionalism.

Prosecutor Edwin Parkinson did not attend the Verdict reading

DNA taken from inside a ski mask worn by the killer of a Bridge City, LA grocer excluded Ryan Matthews and his co-defendant, Travis Hayes and implicated a man with no connection to either Ryan or Travis.  In June, 2004 Ryan was freed from death row.  But prosecutors are determined to keep Travis in prison for the rest of his life for a crime they know was committed by another man -- who remains free to continue killing.

UPDATE:  On 12/19/06, State District Judge Henry Sullivan overturned Travis' conviction.  Travis was released to the custody of his aunt.  He will be restricted to his aunt's house while the state decides whether or not to appeal Judge Sullivan's order.

UPDATE:  On 1/17/07, Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. announced he will not bring Travis Hayes to trial again, deciding there is not enough evidence to secure a conviction against the man who spent nearly 10 years behind bars before he was released.
Clarence Elkins
Children are the most suggestible of witnesses, particularly when the perpetrator of a ghastly, traumatic crime bears a strong physical resemblance to someone they know.  Clarence Elkins of Magnolia, Ohio was convicted of rape and murder four 4 years ago because his niece -- who was six years old at the time -- made just such an error.  She has now identified another man as her grandmother's killer, a man who bears a striking resemblance to her uncle.

UPDATE:  Judge Grants Request for Hearing on New DNA Evidence in Elkins Case
UPDATE:  Judge Rules DNA Exclusion Not Enough to Free Elkins
UPDATE:  Elkins Free, Focus Turns to Mann


Habeas Granted
Beverly Monroe
Powhatan, Virginia
Case Profile
Survivors' Story
  No Retrial

Earl Washinton
Culpeper, VA
Sonia Cacy
Fort Stockton, Texas
Jeffrey David Cox
Richmond, VA
Jeffrey Scott Hornoff
Warwick, RI

Aaron Patterson
Chicago, Illinois

Steven Crawford
Dauphin Co., PA

Michael McAlister
Richmond, VA

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