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Exonerations

This sampling of recent cases demonstrates both the potential for injustice and the difference that individuals can make in preventing it.

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

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National Registry of Exonerations

On a rain-drenched night in the summer of 1997, Sherwin Gibbons was shot dead, murdered as he sipped a beer in the vestibule of a building in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.  A suspect, Roger Logan, was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the murder.  Nearly 17 years later, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office took on the task of discovering what really happened in the vestibule -- because Roger Logan is innocent.

Randall Mills didn't rape that 12-year-old girl in March 1999.  It's a truth he bore for 11 years and three months in a Tennessee prison cell. Few believed him until DNA evidence in 2008 proved he didn't sexually assault a preteen neighbor. It was three more years before he was released from prison — and even then he still faced being tried on the charges all over again. But on April 4, 2014, in light of the DNA evidence and a wavering victim, prosecutors in Marshall County finally dropped all charges.

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 -- and to evidence of Mr. Howard's innocence that was deliberately concealed by DA Mike Nifong.

UPDATE - May 27, 2014:  In an opinion released today, North Carolina Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson overturned Darryl Howard’s conviction. Judge Hudson’s decision finds for the defense on every major claim. It’s a resounding repudiation of the way DA Mike Nifong handled Howard’s trial.  Read the opinion.

In 1998, a criminal dubbed "the Bronx rapist" terrorized the community.  The police sketch of him looked so much like Tyrone Hicks that his own parents turned him in.  A victim identified him, and Tyrone was convicted and served 10 years in prison.  Even after his release, he was determined to prove his innocence, and with the help of New York Law School’s Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic, he has done so.  DNA testing has demonstrated Tyrone is innocent.

Following a stunning admission of intentional abuse decades ago at the hands of prosecutors — including one who became a judge and then landed in federal prison for his role in a judicial corruption scandal that rocked the Jefferson Parish courthouse — Reginald Adams walked free on May 12, 2014, exonerated after 34 years behind bars on a murder rap.  Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro didn’t stop with a concession that Ronald Bodenheimer and another former prosecutor, Harold “Tookie” Gilbert Jr., deliberately hid a detailed police report in the case in two separate trials.  The legacy of former DA Harry Connick continues.

A timeworn phone bill from a Quality Inn in Orlando, Fla., turned out to be one of the most valuable pieces of paper Jonathan Fleming owns.  Mr. Fleming, 51, who was serving the 25th year of a sentence of 25 years to life after being found guilty of a 1989 murder in Brooklyn, NY was released on Tuesday after new evidence was uncovered in his case. The evidence included a receipt that established he was in Florida less than five hours before the killing.

Christopher L. Coleman, who was convicted of taking part in an armed home invasion and related crimes in Peoria in 1994, languished behind bars for more than 19 years until he was released on bond in November 2013 after the Illinois Supreme Court reversed his conviction and remanded his case for a retrial based on “compelling evidence of actual innocence.” In March 2014, the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s office dropped the charges.

Glenn Ford, of Shreveport, Louisiana, has been on death row since 1985 for the 1983 murder of a local jeweler.  The Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana's recently filed habeas petition cites new information that another man, Jake Robinson, committed the murder.  Robinson told an informant that he thought by now Ford would have been executed.

UPDATE:  March 11, 2014 -- Glenn Ford, sentenced to death for killing a man whose lawn he used to mow, was not even at the scene of the crime, according to new evidence used to free him from death row this week.  Freed after 30 years on Death Row.

Twenty years ago, a Baltimore, MD jury convicted Sabein of murdering his girlfriend.  Shortly after his conviction, another man confessed to carrying out the killing with a notorious hit man. Then two years ago, the victim's son, who witnessed the killing as a boy, came forward to say Burgess didn't do it. And the forensic evidence has been challenged as shaky.  At last, the evidence reached a tipping pointJ.  Judge Charles J. Peters ordered a new trial, and Assistant State's Attorney Antonio Gioia -- who refuses to acknowledge Sabein's innocence -- dropped all charges.


Anthony Yarbough and Sharrif Wilson, both of Brooklyn, NY,  were arrested in June 1992 in the slaying of Yarbough's 40-year-old mother, his 12-year-old sister and another 12-year-old girl in a Coney Island housing project.  They were freed after 21 years when DNA evidence from under Yarbough's mother's fingernails matched sperm from the 1999 unsolved rape and murder of Migdalia Ruiz of Brooklyn, which took place after they had been wrongly convicted.

The Neal Rankin murder case has confounded Akron, Ohio authorities for 17 years — and could be reopened through the science of DNA testing.  It took Akron police 15 months to make the first arrest in the Rankin case, and when it was announced in May 1994, the commander of the homicide unit told reporters: ''We had 45 suspects the first day.''  In fact, aggravated murder charges would be filed and dismissed against others before the final suspect, Dewey Amos Jones III, was convicted for the slaying of Rankin, a 71-year-old Goodyear retiree.  Now the case is returning to the Summit County justice system in the aftermath of a judge's order to conduct DNA testing — for the first time — on preserved samples of biological evidence from the crime scene.

UPDATE:  January 30, 2014 - Jones’ conviction was overturned in 2012 by Summit County Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands after testing of crime-scene evidence showed no match to Jones when compared with his DNA. But the attorney general’s office went ahead with plans to re-try Jones until it unexpectedly filed a motion to dismiss the murder charges.  An hour after the charges were dismissed, Mr. Jones was freed.

A New Haven, CT detective said he’d been framed. That didn’t help. The FBI concluded he’d been framed. That didn’t help. Finally, 21 years after his arrest for a spectacular double-murder he swore he never committed, Scott Lewis got to take his quest for freedom to a federal judge—and returned to jail with a glimmer of hope.

UPDATE:  January 11, 2014 - Federal District Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. has ruled the state committed a Brady violation by failing to disclose evidence that was favorable to Lewis and impeached the testimony of the key witness for the prosecution. He ordered that Lewis be released within 60 days unless the state declares its intention to retry him.

A Seattle, Washington area man spent his first Christmas in more than a decade with his family after the Innocence Project Northwest convinced King County prosecutors to take a new look at his conviction for robbery and burglary.  He had been convicted of viciously beating a man after the victim picked him out of a photo montage, despite the fact that Brandon looked nothing like the assailants the man had described.

It was a plot straight from Downton Abbey -- a wife dies from poison a week after writing a letter to her neighbor saying that if anything happened to her, her husband "would be [the] first suspect."  Like John Bates, Lord Grantham's valet, Mark Jensen of Kenosha, WI was convicted of murdering his wife, largely on the strength of the letter.  State appellate courts called the judge's admission of the letter "harmless error."  Federal Judge William Griesbach disagreed, and reversed Jensen's conviction.

After spending more than half of his life behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, Stanley Wrice of Chicago, IL was released December 11, 2013, after the Illinois Supreme Court overturned his case Tuesday, citing misconduct of Chicago police officers.  Stanley was tortured and forced to confess to a rape he did not commit by officers working under former Lt. Jon Burge.

Back in 2002, in Tampa, FL, Cheydrick's girlfriend's 14-year-old daughter told authorities -- in graphic detail -- of the nightmarish sexual assault she said Cheydrick perpetrated against her.  Although her story changed over time, neither prosecution nor defense thought it necessary to perform DNA tests on the evidence from the case.  Cheydrick was convicted and spent 9 years in prison, until post-conviction DNA tests showed the attack had never happened. 

On Monday, November 18, 2013, a Brooklyn Supreme Court jury needed just nine minutes to decide that Derrick Deacon was innocent of the crime that kept him behind bars for 24 years.  Chalk it up as another wrongful conviction coming out of the Kings County District Attorney's office. And as testimony from Deacon's appeal effort revealed, this one was dirty.

Sitting in the Texas prison where she's spent nearly half of her life, Elizabeth Ramirez is stunned by the words that could help exonerate her and three friends of the sexual assault of her two nieces, a crime she said she couldn't fathom let alone commit.  It never happened, one niece now says of the debauched, orgy-like nightmare that she and her older sister described to San Antonio police in 1994 when they were 7 and 9.  “I want my aunt and her friends out of prison,” Stephanie, 25, said by phone last week. “Whatever it takes to get them out I'm going to do. I can't live my life knowing that four women are sleeping in a cage because of me.”

UPDATE:  November 17, 2013 - Three of the four San Antonio women, now known as the “San Antonio Four,” could be released on bond by a judge Monday, November 18th. They have maintained their innocence since being accused in the bizarre assault of Ramirez's two young nieces nearly 20 years ago. Vasquez was released on parole last year.

In 1979, Brenda Anderson testified that a young man with whom she had gone to high school shot her elderly neighbor to death.  Thirty-four years later, Anderson's sister Sharon took the stand and said the account, which helped send the young man to prison, was a lie.  On November 7, 2013, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge sided with Sharon Anderson and threw out the conviction of Kash Delano Register, who maintained his innocence during more than three decades as inmate No. C11693.

For two years, police investigated the brutal 2001 Halloween night slaying of newspaper editor Kent Heitholt in Columbia, Mo. They had no viable suspects and the victim's family had come to terms this crime might never be solved.  But then police heard that a young man told a friend that he had dreamed he participated in the killing and also named an accomplice to the murder: his good friend, Ryan Ferguson. 

UPDATE:  11/12/13 - A Missouri appeals court has thrown out Ryan's conviction.  Missouri Attorney General declines to retry him, and Ryan is released after 10 years in prison.


Click HERE to visit Freed Ryan Ferguson.


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 was convicted again at retrial.
David Camm
David Camm
UPDATE - June 30, 2009 - David Camm's second conviction has been overturned.  Prosecutors say they intend to retry him.

UPDATE - October 30, 2013 -- David Camm's third trial has ended in a NOT GUILTY verdict.  His 13-year nightmare is over.  Now, at long last, he can grieve his family, and begin to rebuild his life.

Two Detroit area brothers who have been imprisoned for nearly 25 years have new hope of exoneration.  A man who says he never told police what he saw that night has come forward and is expected to testify that the killers were black. He knows this, he says, because he saw them up close.  And the Highers are white.

UPDATE:  September 25, 2013 - Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has dismissed the murder charges against the HIghers brothers, ending a saga of 25 years in prison and another year waiting and worrying that they might go back.

Carl Chatman, a Chicago homeless man in prison for raping a clerk at the Daley Center, will have his conviction set aside.  His lawyers argued on appeal that the alleged victim fabricated the assault in a scheme to sue the county.

David Flores was told not to testify. So he sat in silence in 1997 while prosecutors convinced a jury that he had murdered an innocent woman caught in a gang-related gunbattle during rush-hour traffic.  Now, Flores and his new attorney claim to have new evidence that he was not responsible for the shooting death of Phyllis Davis.  A national expert says the most powerful revelation uncovered by Flores' defense could set him free: A gang member told the FBI and Los Angeles police before Flores' trial that another man, Raphael Robinson, shot Davis.

When Flores was sentenced, jury foreman Samuel McCrorey said
he regretted the verdict: "I feel horrible that a young man is going to prison for life for a crime he didn't commit."  McCrorey was lambasted by the trial judge for his honesty.  Click HERE to read about the attack launched against Mr. McCrorey by Judge Richard Blane, II.

UPDATE - June 12, 2008: 
The Des Moines Police Department refuses to release records that could shed light on whether Rafael Robinson committed the murder for which David Flores is serving life without parole.  What are they hiding?

UPDATE - June 17, 2008:  It's official -- what the Des Moines Police Department has been hiding is exculpatory evidence they've kept away from David Flores since before Flores' trial.  But will the court find a way to deny him a retrial?

UPDATE - July 9, 2013:  Granted a new trial in 2009 and released on bond in 2012, David Flores and the State of Iowa have reached a plea agreement that allows him to remain free, permanently.  Unfortunately, his no contest plea means that shooting victim Phyllis Davis will never receive justice.

Four years ago, Victor Caminata of Cadillac, Michigan was convicted of arson and sentenced to 9 to 40 years in prison.  The evidence?  Char marks in the basement and his girlfriend's testimony that she had been about to break up with him.  Attorneys from the Michigan Innocence Project convinced both a judge and assistant attorneys general that the real cause of the fire was the cause originally determined by local firefighters:  a faulty chimney.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals revived an appeal by George A. Souliotes, convicted of setting a 1997 fire that killed a woman and her two children, even though his lawyers missed a legal deadline in filing it.  Souliotes' prosecution relied heavily on evidence that the fire was started with a flammable liquid and that its residues were found on Souliotes' shoes. A scientist years later showed that the substance on the shoes was different from what was found at the fire. That evidence proves Souliotes is innocent.

UPDATE - April 26, 2012:  On April 26, 2012, federal magistrate Michael Seng found that  Mr. Souliotes made a sufficient showing of actual innocence and recommended that the district court now consider his underlying constitutional claims raised in his federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Those claims had previously been dismissed by the district court as having been untimely filed.  It is now for the federal district court judge to decide whether to accept the findings and recommendations.  If he does, the matter should proceed to a hearing on Mr. Souliotes's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, juror misconduct and actual innocence.

UPDATE -  July 3, 2013:  Northern California Innocence Project client George Souliotes will soon be released from prison, after his attorneys from NCIP, Morrison & Foerster, LLP and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP successfully negotiated an agreement to secure his immediate freedom following 16 years of wrongful incarceration. Souliotes was wrongfully convicted of arson and triple murder in 2000 and sentenced to three life terms without parole. This agreement confirms his exoneration of arson and murder.

Two decades after Chicago resident Daniel Taylor was convicted of a double murder in spite of evidence that he was in a police lockup when the slaying took place, Cook County prosecutors have dropped all charges against him, bringing to a close one of the city’s more controversial cases.

For more than ten years, Chicago Tribune reporters Steve Mills and Maurice Possley have followed Daniel's case, and, convinced of his innocence, advocated on his behalf.  Click HERE for Steve Mills' 2012 story about Daniel.

Click HERE for their landmark 2002 series, which included Daniel Taylor's case.

UPDATE:  January 10, 2014 -- The Cook County State's Attorneys has dismissed charges against Daniel's co-defendant, Deon Patrick, and he has been released from prison.

After 8 years in prison for a rape another man committed, Uriah Courtney was cleared by DNA and freed from a life sentence.

After serving more than ten years in prison and being required to register as a sex offender, on June 7, 2013, Charles County Circuit Court vacated MAIP client Jerry Lee Jenkins’ 1986 rape conviction and dismissed the rape charges for which he had been convicted. DNA testing proved not only that Mr. Jenkins was innocent of the crime, but also that another man — a serial rapist in Virginia and Maryland — was the real perpetrator. The assistant state’s attorney conceded Mr. Jenkins did not commit this crime

In 1984, a rape victim's mistaken identification of Robert Nelson as her assailant resulted in a prison sentence of 58 years.  In 2012, DNA testing identified the rapist as Jerry Haley, and finally, in June, 2013, after another year in prison, Robert was freed and Jerry Haley was charged. 

Megan Winfrey
When her father was acquitted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2010 (below), Megan thought she would be released right away.  But it took another 2 1/2 years to gain her freedom, and the Lonestar State continues to stand tall against her bid for compensation.

Richard Winfrey Sr.
Mr. Winfrey, who was convicted of murder after three bloodhounds allegedly matched his scent to the victim, should be set free because the evidence against him was not legally sufficient, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled.  The court acquitted Richard Winfrey Sr., reversing his 2007 conviction in the murder of high school janitor Murray Burr in the small town of Coldspring, about 60 miles north of Houston.  Under the ruling, prosecutors will not be allowed to retry the case.

Oshkosh, WI detective Phil Charley can't remember who told him to destroy all the DNA evidence in a rape case in which the defendant had already been chosen.  It was 1991, Joe Paulus was DA and his best friend, Vince Biskupic, was Dep. DA.  Another 13 years would pass before Paulus went to prison for taking bribes to fix cases, and Biskupic pretended not to know him.  Joseph Frey was bagged for the rape and sentenced to 102 years.  Then a clerk found a scrap of bedsheet that Det. Charley missed, one thing led to another, and not only was Frey cleared, but the actual rapist (who died in 2008) was identified.

UPDATE:  July 12, 2013 -- All charges against Mr. Frey have been dismissed, and he is a free man.  Unfortunately, he has no income, no place to live, and serious health problems.  The maximum compensation available to him is $25,000, and it will take years for the state to weigh the merit of his application.  For now, he has moved into a homeless shelter.

Thanks to the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center, Andrew Johnson has become the first person in Wyoming to get a new trial because DNA excluded him as the man who raped a woman in 1989.  The victim's misidentification of Mr. Johnson is a classic alcohol-addled identification; she had been drinking with him and other friends earlier in the evening.  It turns out that the man who broke in several hours later and had sex with her was her fiance.  Prosecutors say they will retry Mr. Johnson.  Our bet is they will quiety fold their tents and dismiss the charges.

UPDATE: July 20, 2013 - The State of Wyoming has dismissed all charges against Mr. Johnson; he will not be retried.  The prosecutor, however, insists that does not mean Mr. Johnson is innocent.  Apparently this is another case where the culprit raped the victim with another man's sperm.

For over 40 years, Louis Taylor has languished in prison for a hotel fire in Tucson, Arizona that was almost certainly an accident.  He went into prison at 16, and comes out at 59 -- but only by pleading no contest to murder.

Back in 1990, police and prosecutors cooked up quite a murder charge against David Boyce of Newport News.  A little police perjury here, a jailhouse snitch ready to sell his mother for a deal there, a pinch of withheld exculpatory evidence, and voila! you've convicted an innocent man with no real evidence.  It helps, of course, that state judges, at all levels, acknowledged this mountain of evidence of egregious misconduct, but let the conviction stand.  At long, long last, it landed in the court of Judge James R. Spencer, who has ordered Mr. Boyce to be freed. 

UPDATE:  September 17, 2013 -- All charges against David Boyce have been dismissed by Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney Harvey L. Bryant, who determined there wasn't enough evidence to retry the case.

UPDATE:  May 30, 2014 -- David Boyce sues Newport News, VA, police for $25 Million.

Wisconsin State Journal Special Report:  Burning Questions
by Dee J. Hall
After Joey Awe’s Marquette County bar burned down in 2006, authorities immediately suspected the gregarious, disabled Gulf War veteran of arson.


In the wintry darkness in 1990 on a back street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a jewelry thief fleeing a botched robbery panicked and shot Hasidic Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger in the head.  The “Slain Rabbi” was front-page tabloid news.   Swaggering, cigar-chewing Detective Louis Scarcella soon arrested an unemployed printer named David Ranta.  Mr. Ranta was convicted in May 1991 and sentenced to 37.5 years in maximum-security prison.  He is almost certainly not guilty.  Now Brooklyn DA Charles J. Hynes, after a lengthy investigation that uncovered some of the most egregious police misconduct on record, is asking the courts to set Mr. Ranta free.

UPDATE: March 22, 2013 -- One day after being exonerated and released, Mr. Ranta suffered a heart attack.  He has undergone cardiac stent catheterization, and is expected to recover.

Nicole Harris of Chicago, Illinois was 23 and a recent college graduate who had just moved back to Chicago with her family when she was convicted of murder in the 2005 death of her 4-year-old son Jaquari Dancy. But Harris has long maintained that the confession that helped convict her was false and that Jaquari died accidentally.  Jaquari was found in the family's Northwest Side home with an elastic bedsheet cord wrapped around his neck. Her son Diante, then 5, told authorities at the time that he was alone with Jaquari when he saw him wrap the cord around his neck while playing, but the trial judge barred Diante from testifying.  But in the ruling overturning her guilty verdict, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges wrote that Diante's testimony "would have changed the entire tenor" of Harris' case and supported her claims that Jaquari's death was accidental and her confession false.

UPDATE:  June 17, 2013 -  Nicole will not be retried.  She is free, at last.

For the better part of  six years, Ronald Ross of Oakland, California was confined to a cell at Solano State Prison for a crime he never committed.  The victim of three false identifications that were sparked by a sloppy Oakland Police Department investigation, Ross was convicted on Nov. 8, 2006, of attempted murder and assault with a firearm in the shooting of a West Oakland man.  He was sentenced to prison for 25 years to life, knowing he was innocent, yet unable to prove he was the victim of a hasty investigation and an ineffective defense.  Now Ross will be freed after law students working for Santa Clara University Law School's Northern California Innocence Project and attorneys from the San Francisco law firm Keker & Van Nest uncovered multiple errors in Ross' case and enough evidence to prove his innocence.

A 58-year-old Texan, Randolph Arledge, walked free on February 11, 2013, after serving 29 years for a crime he didn't commit -- the repeated stabbing of a woman whose body was found on a dirt road in rural North Texas.  Like many wrongfully convicted inmates, Arledge was sent to prison with the help of "snitch" testimony. Two co-conspirators in an armed robbery testified at his trial that he had admitted to stabbing someone in Corsicana and that he had blood on his clothes and knife, according to the filing by Arledge's attorneys.

Former Akron, Ohio police captain Douglas Prade had served nearly 15 years of a life sentence after being convicted of the 1997 shooting death of his ex-wife, Dr. Margo S. Prade. But Summit County Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter ruled on January 29, 2013 that DNA test results exclude him as a suspect and he is “actually innocent of aggravated murder.” Hunter ordered that Prade be set free immediately.

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office agreed on January 23, 2013 to release William Lopez, who served 23 years in prison for murder, a week after a federal judge tossed out the man’s conviction, calling it “rotten from Day 1.”  After his release, Mr. Lopez crossed the bar to the courtroom’s gallery, wearing a prison jumpsuit, his only clothes, and hugged and kissed his wife. Down the line he went, embracing the brother who looks like him, then the lawyer who argued his case, and then the friend and advocate who was released after serving time for a murder he did not commit and who gave him hope.

Early in 2012, Eric Glisson, locked up more than 15 years for murder, wrote federal prosecutors in Manhattan telling them what he'd said all along and what authorities hear from inmates all the time: that he was wrongly convicted.  He also named members of a violent drug gang he suggested were the true killers. It was a shot in the dark. But it turns out he may be right.  Authorities and defense attorneys say the letter has become a catalyst for a possible reprieve for Glisson and four other people serving time for the 1995 slaying of a cab driver in the Bronx – a homicide all say they didn't commit.

On October 18, 2012, authorities "temporarily" vacated their convictions and released them with ankle bracelets.  If the DA's office finds evidence "absolving" them within 90 days, the convictions will be permanently vacated.  When that happens, we will move their story to Recent Cases.

UPDATE:  December 13, 2012:  It's official.  Eric and Cathy have finally been released.  Their wrongful convictions are what happen when the state relies on a crackhead who gets paid for his testimony.

Jonathan C. Montgomery went to prison solely on the word of a teenager who claimed the former Hampton, Virginia resident sexually assaulted her when she was 10 years old.  Alarms sounded from the courthouse to the governor's office this month when it was learned she lied. Of the questions raised by the tragic case, one of the most serious is how Montgomery was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Arizona State Clemency Board, the Arizona Justice Project, and family members fought for his release, alleging his wife, who worked for the Maricopa sheriff's department, had the means and the motive to pin the homicides on him. She has denied any wrongdoing. Macumber was allowed to plead no contest in the 1962 killings to which someone else, who later died, had confessed.

In 2002, Drayton Witt of Maricopa County, Arizona, was found guilty of shaking his infant son to death. In the intervening 12 years, doctors have learned that ongoing medical problems like Steven’s can account for the retinal and subdural bleeding they used to assume was caused by shaking, or by shaking and blows to the head.  More importantly, the Medical Examiner who testified against him changed his mind.  The Arizona Court of Appeals has tossed Drayton's conviction, and barred the state from retrying him. 

Lawrence Williams' exoneration was one in a string of troubled cases handled by the office of Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes, and the first felony case dealt with by a special unit that Mr. Hynes set up a year ago to root out miscarriages of justice.  Ironically, when Mr. Williams and his wife left the courthouse following his exoneration, they went to a nearby park to eat sandwiches and watch children play -- and were promptly issued a summons for being there without a child.

Michael Clancy, 38, of the Bronx, New York, spent more than 10 years in prison for a murder he says he did not commit.  He is among the lucky few wrongfully convicted individuals able to win their freedom, even though there was no physical evidence such as DNA to prove his innocence. His attorney, Ronald Kuby, said it was the open-mindedness of Bronx Supreme Court Justice Denis Boyle (See Profile) and Bronx Assistant District Attorney Gary Weil that brought Clancy's nightmare to an end.

John Grega
John Grega leaves court, almost free
In 1995, John Grega was convicted of raping and killing his wife, Christine, while the Long Island, NY couple and their 2-year-old son were vacationing in Vermont the previous year.  Mr. Grega was the first person in Vermont history sentenced to life in prison without parole.  His conviction was recently vacated, and a new trial has been ordered, because DNA belonging to another, unidentified man -- NOT Mr. Grega -- has been identified. 

The prosecutor still believes Vermont doesn't convict innocent people.  Read what DNA expert Michael Spence, Ph.D., who reviewed the evidence, says the DNA proves.  Then you decide:  Did Vermont convict an innocent man?

Andre Davis of Champaign County, Illinois was convicted of raping and killing a 3-year-old girl.  He had been behind bars 31 years, 10 months and 29 days, the longest any Illinois inmate has served before being exonerated by DNA testing.  Ironically, it was the victim's aunt who set his exoneration in motion.  Unfortunately, the prosecutor insists he is guilty -- even though the semen recovered from the child's body belonged to the state's witness. 

A false confession, with the details fed to him by police, was all it took to send Damon Thibodeaux to Louisiana's death row.  It's just that easy to convict -- and kill -- an innocent person.  Fifteen years later, thanks to the unusual cooperation between the prosecution and defense investigators, the absence of DNA spared Damon a lethal injection and released him to the arms of his family.

John Edward Smith of Los Angeles, CA is poised to be released from prison after serving 19 years for a murder he did not commit. Smith’s exoneration was pursued by Innocence Matters, a Torrance, Calif., public interest law firm. Attorney Deirdre O’Connor, who heads the group, said the sole witness whose testimony convicted Smith recently admitted he had lied at the trial. The witness was the shooting victim who survived. He said police told him to identify Smith as the shooter.

David Lee Wiggins of Ft. Worth, TX was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1989 the rape of a 14-year-old Fort Worth girl.  Although neither of the two fingerprints found at the scene matched his, the girl, whose face was covered during most of the attack, picked Wiggins out of a photo lineup and then a live lineup, saying he looked familiar.  But DNA testing earlier this month excluded Wiggins as the person who committed the crime. Tarrant County prosecutors said DNA evidence demonstrated his innocence.

Sedrick Courtney spent 16 years in prison knowing he did not commit the home invasion armed robbery and beating that put that put him there.  Faith kept him going.  Now he is fully, officially exonerated and free, after evidence that the Tulsa, Oklahoma police said had been destroyed was found, and DNA tests cleared him.

A Greensboro, NC man convicted of first-degree murder in 1995 was released from prison after a judge agreed with defense attorneys and a North Carolina assistant district attorney that he should be freed pending a new trial.  LaMonte Armstrong’s hearing, originally scheduled for September, was fast-tracked after police uncovered new evidence during a retest of physical evidence from the crime scene.

Frank O'Connell, who was convicted of murder in the Jan. 5, 1984 shooting death of 27-year-old Jay French of South Pasadena, California, has been freed and the charges against him dismissed.  The Court cited recent witness recantations and improprieties in O'Connell's original murder trial.

After spending 26 years in prison, David Gavitt is a free man.  Gavitt, now 53, was convicted in 1986 in the arson deaths of his wife and two daughters. He was serving three life sentences at Carson City Correctional Facility when lawyers and law students from the Michigan Innocence Clinic took on his case three years ago and filed a Motion for Relief from Judgment in 2011.  After extensive examination of trial records and the evidence, Ionia County Prosecutor Ron Schafer signed a stipulation and order, acknowledging that Gavitt was entitled to a new trial, that the prosecutor's office is not going to retry him, and that he should be released from prison.   Schafer said. “At best, we have a fire that is undetermined (in origin and cause).” Chief Circuit Court Judge Suzanne Hoseth-Kreeger ordered that Gavitt's charges be dismissed, and he was released from prison. 

After a quarter-century in prison for setting a fire that killed a Chicago woman and her five children, James Kluppelberg has been freed, as Cook County prosecutors unexpectedly dropped the case against him.  The friend who implicated Kluppelberg has admitted he had lied because he was facing his own criminal charges.  Defense attorneys also claimed prosecutors had failed to turn over information about a woman who had set a fire a block from the Lupercio home on the same night. That woman confessed to the other fire and told police she was too drunk to remember if she had set the Lupercio fire as well.

In 2003, Brian was a star football player at Long Beach (CA) Polytechnic High School, a top college football prospect with good chances of going into the NFL.  Then Wanetta Gibson accused him of rape.  He went to prison instead of college, and Wanetta's mother collected $1.5 million from the school district.  After Brian was released from prison, Wanetta "friended" him on Facebook, and admitted she made up the charge.  He has now been exonerated.

A federal inmate who has served 11 years on drug charges he says he didn't commit has convinced prosecutors to let him out of prison.  Elroy Phillips refused to accept his fate after being sentenced to 30 years on charges of selling drugs to an undercover cop. He conducted records searches, hired a private investigator, and dug up information on the dirty cop who testified against him. Federal prosecutors were finally convinced to dismiss charges against him.

After spending almost 18 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit, Robert Dewey walks free. And the real murderer seems to have been identified. The DNA testing that helped exonerate Dewey also led prosecutors to Douglas Thames, whose profile matches that of the semen sample from the crime. Mr. Thames is currently in prison for the 1989 rape and murder of Susan Doll, in Fort Collins, Colo. Prosecutors intend to charge Thames for the Taylor crime.

Jonathan Moore was convicted in 2002 of the murder of Shawn Miller, 20, of Montgomery, Illinois and the attempted murder of Leroy Starks, then 17. He was scheduled to get out of prison 2057.  But in April, 2011, police detectives John Munn and Darryl Moore (no relation) got a tip that the wrong man had been convicted, and new witnesses came forward.  The investigators pursued the leads and their work led to Jonathan's exoneration.

When Mike Hash was 15 years old, 74-year-old Thelma B. Scroggins was murdered in her Lignum, VA home.  In 2001, despite any physical evidence connecting him to the crime, Mike was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.  How did the State do it?  By withholding evidence of Mike's innocence and presenting witnesses the prosecutor knew were lying.  U.S. District Judge James C. Turk has reversed Mike's conviction and given the State 6 months to re-try or free him.

UPDATE: On August 20, 2012, the charges against Mike Hash were dismissed.  The Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney, who acted as special prosecutor since Mike's conviction was tossed, went out of his way to stress that this does not mean Mike is innocent.  This appears to be an attempt to thwart or delay Mike receiving any compensation for his long imprisonment.

In Dallas, TX in 1994, Richard Ray Miles was convicted of murder and attempted murder.  The only evidence against him was the testimony of the sole eyewitness, who was coerced into identifying him by both the investigating officer and the prosecutor.  Centurion Ministries uncovered the truth, which has set him free.

In 1978, a student at William & Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia, was raped.  She identified Bennett Barbour as her assailant.  Barbour had a solid alibi; he did not match the suspect's description; he was eliminated on the basis of simple blood type tests; he has brittle bone disease; and he did not have a gun.  He was convicted solely on the basis of the victim's identification.  In 2010, he was cleared by DNA, but Virginia authorities waited another 18 months to notify him.  He's dying, and hopes his name will be officially cleared before he passes away.

Related:

Virginia officials limit access to DNA test results.  Testing of DNA in hundreds of old rape and murder cases has excluded 76 convicts so far, but officials are only releasing results to prosecutors' offices -- many of whom take no further action.

UDATE:  May 25, 2012 - Bennett Barbour's Writ of Actual Innocence has been granted by the Virginia Supreme Court.

All along, Joe D'Ambrosio has said he is innocent.   But since he had no money, no visitors and scant education, insisting on his innocence seemed pointless, almost absurd.   Now, a Catholic priest who heard his story by accident and a veteran public defender who has heard every story in the book think D'Ambrosio is telling the truth, and a federal judge has issued the most sweeping discovery order handed down in a capital case by a judge in Ohio. 

UPDATE: 10/1/08 - In June, 2008, a federal appeals court agreed with the 2006 ruling of U.S. District Judge Kate O'Malley that D'Ambrosio is entitled to a new trial because prosecutors withheld several pieces of evidence that could have exonerated him.  Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason announced he will retry Joe in March, 2009.

UPDATE:  1/23/12 - U.S. Supreme Court has refused to consider the state's appeal against Joe D'Ambrosio. The ruling wipes D'Ambrosio's legal slate clean.  He is finally free.  D'Ambrosio wants the prosecutors to be charged with attempted murder.  He says the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office tried to kill him by withholding 10 pieces of evidence at his trial, evidence that could have led to a not-guilty verdict. Instead, D'Ambrosio sat on Ohio's death row for more than 20 years.

Juan Smith, of New Orleans, LA, was convicted of killing five people in 1995, when a group of men burst into a house in search of money and drugs. They ordered the occupants to lie down and opened fire.  Mr. Smith was the only person tried for the killings. He was convicted based solely on the eyewitness testimony of a survivor, Larry Boatner. Prosecutors presented no DNA, fingerprints, weapons or other physical evidence.  Mr. Boatner’s testimony proved sufficient, but it later emerged that an hour after the shootings, and again five days later, he was unable to identify any of the gunmen.  The U.S. Supreme Court has reversed Juan's conviction -- with the predictable "Judas goat" dissent from Justice Clarence Thomas.

Ricky Dale Wyatt, wearing a sharp suit and yellow tie, walked out of the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, Tx on January 4, 2012 after 31 years in prison -- the longest stint served in Texas before having a conviction vacated, according to his lawyer.  "Mr. Wyatt, it's been a long time, 31 years, but today is a good day for you," Judge John Creuzot said.

At a hearing on January 3, 2012 that left prosecutors speechless, Delaware Superior Court Judge John A. Parkins overturned the conviction and death sentence against Jermaine Marlow Wright for the 1991 slaying of liquor store clerk Phillip Seifert.  Judge Parkins said he knew that the decision was likely to cause the family of Mr. Seifer further anguish and frustration. "Nonetheless, the court stands as a guardian of the constitutional rights of every citizen, including those of the defendant," Parkins said, "and that is what this court has done today."

Kerry Porter's conviction for the murder of Tyrone Camp in Louisville, KY in 1994 rested on the tainted identification of an eyewitness, the highly suspect claims of a jailhouse snitch, and the tunnelvision of police investigators.  Now police and prosecutors are investigating whether they got the wrong man and whether Porter has been locked away for a crime he didn’t commit.

UPDATE:  12/19/11 - After serving 14 years behind bars for a murder he insisted he didn’t commit, a stunned Kerry Porter learned that he was exonerated and hours later was released from prison.  That came after Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Stengel agreed to clear Porter.“We have finally come to the conclusion that Kerry Porter did not commit the offense,” Stengel said at a news conference.

DNA tests on evidence from the 1992 rape and murder of 11-year-old Holly Staker in Waukegan, Illinois have excluded Juan Rivera, the man who authorities say confessed and is serving a life prison sentence for the crime.  Rivera wept when he heard the news.

UPDATE:  May 8, 2009 -  Juan was convicted of Holly Staker's rape and murder yet again, even though DNA excluded him.  Prosecutors cited Juan's confession, which Juan says was coerced, as proof of his guilt.  Rob Warden of the Center on Wrongful Convictions said:  "We are committed absolutely to Juan Rivera. We believe in his innocence and we are going to do everything we can to bring justice in this case."

UPDATE:  November 25, 2011 - A decision by the Illinois Court of Appeals is expected any day in Juan Rivera's appeal of his 2009 conviction for the rape and murder of Holly Staker.  Andrew Martin of the New York Times presents a comprehensive overview of the crimes (including those committed against Juan Rivera by police and prosecutors) and the insular legal community dubbed "The DNA Deniers."

UPDATE:  December 10, 2011 - The Illinois Court of Appeals has not only reversed Juan Rivera's conviction, it has barred prosecutors from trying him again.  A stinging rebuke to prosecutors, justice after a quarter century for Juan Rivera.

Another group of Chicago teenagers, forced to confess to the murder of a prostitute in 1994, has been cleared by DNA and -- grudgingly -- released.  Cook County DA Anita Alvarez, the prosecutor who focuses state resources on maintaining convictions and destroying those who dare present evidence of innocence -- vows to re-try them. 

Even before the five Chicago teenagers went to prison, DNA evidence failed to link them to the 1991 rape and murder of a 14-year-old Dixmoor girl. For the three who received the longest sentences, that scientific evidence fueled a lengthy effort to prove their innocence and obtain their freedom.  That day came on November 3, 2011, some seven months after new DNA tests connected a convicted rapist to the crime and suggested the teens — in spite of their confessions and, in two cases, guilty pleas — were innocent.

A Dallas man who spent 14 years in prison for doggedly refusing to admit he sexually assaulted his stepdaughter was set free on November 4, 2011 in a case that had been unraveling since the victim recanted and former prosecutors were accused of withholding evidence.  State District Judge Susan Hawk told Dale Lincoln Duke, 60, it was a "privilege" to release him, triggering applause and a standing ovation in a courtroom that included his parents.

Henry James said it felt like a miracle when the New Orleans Innocence Project lawyer called to tell him a judge had vacated his 1982 rape conviction and ordered him released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, where he was serving a life sentence with no parole.  He had been cleared by DNA, and finding the evidence after 30 years was another miracle.  The worst part?  James was excluded back in 1982 by rudimentary bodily fluid testing, but his trial lawyer failed to tell jurors about it.

Michael Morton of Georgetown, TX was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife, Christine, in August 1986. His attorneys are teaming up with the family of another murdered woman, Mildred McKinney, whose case remains unsolved, to file a federal lawsuit seeking DNA testing.  The DA, of course, is opposing their efforts.

UPDATE:  September 29, 2011 -- After successfully fighting Michael Morton's efforts to obtain DNA testing, police are investigating a third unsolved murder in Williamson County.  Has Morton been serving time for a serial killer?

UPDATE:  October 4, 2011 -- Michael Morton walked out of a Texas courthouse a free man after serving nearly 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  "I thank God this wasn't a capital case," he said. "That I only had life because it gave these saints here at the Innocence Projects time to do this."

UPDATE:  October 20, 2011 --
The former prosecutors who tried Michael Morton for murder in 1987 — District Judge Ken Anderson and Round Rock lawyer Mike Davis — didn't mind hiding exculpatory evidence or keeping a serial killer on the street to kill again.   Getting a conviction was their only goal.  Now that  Morton has been cleared, after a quarter century in prison, Anderson and Davis don't want to answer questions under oath about what they did to him.  Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies.

Seventeen years after he was set up by Los Angeles police and prosecutors and convicted of a murder he didn't commit, Obie Anthony is free.  Attorneys from the Northern California Innocence Project brought a state habeas petition, which was granted on the basis of the cumulative harm done by egregious prosecutorial misconduct.  And while Mr. Anthony sat in prison, the real killer got away with murder.

The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission has decided unanimously that a three-judge panel should review the cases of Kenneth Kagonyera and Robert Wilcoxson.  Both pled guilty to 2nd degree murder in the death of Walter Bowman of Fairview, NC, even though both maintained their innocence before and after their pleas.  DNA results have excluded both men.  Worse, convenience store surveillance tape that would have supported their alibis was taped over with footage from a soap opera while in the sheriff's department custody.

UPDATE:  September 22, 2011 -
Kenneth Kagonyera and Robert Wilcoxson walked free when a panel of judges ruled they didn't kill a man during a home invasion despite their guilty pleas a decade earlier.  They pled to avoid the death penalty.

West Memphis 3

DNA testing has freed another wrongly convicted man in Dallas County, Texas.  State District Judge Don Adams ordered that Johnny Pinchback be released after the district attorney’s office and the Innocence Project of Texas said DNA testing proves he is innocent.  Pinchback, 55, pleaded not guilty in 1984 but was convicted by a jury in the sexual assault of two teenage girls and sentenced 99 years in prison.

In 1995, Debra Brown of Logan, UT, was convicted of murdering her good friend and boss, Lael Brown.  It was a circumstantial case, mostly smoke and mirrors, and investigators and prosecutors concealed the fact there were other, better suspects.  With the involvement of the Rocky Mountain Innocence Project, Debra at last has real hope of proving her innocence.

UPDATE:  May 2, 2011 -
Judge Michael DiReda ruled: "The court now determines by clear and convincing evidence that (Debra Brown) did not engage in the conduct for which she was convicted and is, therefore, factually innocent of the aggravated murder of Lael Brown,." 

UPDATE:  July 12, 2013 - The Utah Supreme Court has upheld Judge DiReda's ruling. Debra Brown will remain free and is entitled to compensation for her wrongful imprisonment.

The Innocence Project of Florida says new DNA evidence on a key piece of evidence -- a gray shirt -- proves Derrick Williams was wrongfully convicted of a rape in Palmetto in 1993.  The case against him was based on eyewitness identification by the victim, which is wrong in 50% of such cases.  But prosecutors are hanging on, still trying to block exoneration efforts.

UPDATE:  April 4, 2011 - Derrick Williams has been released from prison. 
State Attorney Earl Moreland says he will not retry him, although he still believes Derrick is guilty.  ("I may not always be right, but I am never wrong.")

In 1992, Glenn Tinney of Mansfield, Ohio confessed to the county prosecutor that he had killed local store owner Ted White in 1988.  But reinvestigating in 2009, Mansfield police concluded Tinney is innocent.  They asked the Ohio Innocence Project to assist, and on March 25, 2011, Tinney was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.

After 20 years in prison, Franky Carillo of Los Angeles, CA has been exonerated and released from prison.  The  six witnesses who testified that he was the killer of Donald Sarpy, including the victim's son, have recanted.  All six have now admitted that they did not really see anything, and were influenced to make their identifications of Carrillo. In addition, two other men have confessed to the shooting, defense investigators said, and admitted that Carrillo was not involved.

After serving 20 years of a 35-year sentence for kidnapping, rape and robbery, Alvin Jardine, III of Maui became the first Hawaiian freed through the efforts of the Hawai'i Innocence Project.  Maintaining his innocence through three trials -- the first two with hung juries -- Mr. Jardine denied himself early parole because he refused to participate in a sex offender program that required him to admit guilt.  DNA proved what he said all along: he is innocent.

For 25 years, Thomas Haynesworth of Richmond, VA said he was not the man who raped a church day-care worker at knifepoint.  "Nobody ever listened to me," he complained.  They're listening now.  Thanks to the late Mary Jane Burton, a crime lab worker who kept small samples of DNA evidence in the files she worked on, Thomas has been excluded as the assailant, and the real rapist has been identified.

The foregoing news account was published on March 19, 2009.  As of February 2, 2011, Thomas Haynesworth was still in prison.  DNA proved him innocent of most of the rapes he was convicted of committing, and even one of which he was acquitted.  But there were two rapes with no physical evidence, nothing to test.  Finally, freedom is in sight.

UPDATE: March 18, 2011 - The Parole Board has voted to release Thomas Haynesworth on parole.  His actual innocence petition is still pending before the Virginia Court of Appeals.

UPDATE:  December 6, 2011 - The Virginia Court of Appeals has issued a Writ of Actual Innocence, officially exonerating Thomas Haynesworth.

In Zion, IL, on Mother's Day in 2005, 8-year-old Laura Hobbs and her friend, 9-year-old Krystal Tobias, disappeared while bike riding.  After searching all night, Jerry found them, stabbed to death.  There followed a marathon, 48-hour police interrogation, after which it was announced that Jerry had confessed.  It was a classic, coerced, false confession, but the media went with it.  Nancy Grace called him "a monster."  When the physical evidence -- DNA -- proved him innocent, the state took another 2 1/2 years to set him free and look for serial killer Jorge Torrez.

To the cheers of family and friends, Caramad Conley took his first steps as a free man outside San Francisco County Jail on January 12, 2011, after serving 18 years for a double-murder conviction that a judge ruled had been arrived at through perjured testimony.  San Francisco Superior Court Judge Marla Miller ruled that San Francisco police and prosecutors had failed to reveal to Conley's defense team before his 1994 trial that the city had paid thousands of dollars and provided the use of a house to the star prosecution witness, police informant Clifford Polk.

Angela Hackl was found in the woods outside Sauk City, WI in 1987. She had been shot and hanged by the neck from a tree branch with a chain, and a pile of brush was arranged beneath her body in a makeshift pyre.  A jury convicted Terry Vollbrecht, now 49, of killing Hackl in 1989.  But on January 10, 2011, Dodge County Circuit Judge Steven Bauer agreed the evidence could create doubt in jurors’ minds about Vollbrecht’s guilt and ordered a new trial.

A Texas man declared innocent on January 4, 2011 after 30 years in prison had at least two chances to make parole and be set free — if only he would admit he was a sex offender. But Cornelius Dupree Jr. refused to do so, doggedly maintaining his innocence in a 1979 rape and robbery, in the process serving more time for a crime he didn't commit than any other Texas inmate exonerated by DNA evidence.

Link:
Dallas Morning News - DNA Exonerations

Virginia LeFever, 59, of Newark, Ohio, who spent more than 20 years in prison for a murder she says she didn't commit was released after her conviction was overturned because a key prosecution witness admitted lying. She was sentenced to life in prison in 1990 on an aggravated murder charge, accused of killing her husband with poison.  Ms. LeFever has long maintained that William LeFever's 1988 death was a suicide by drug overdose, brought on by the couple's impending divorce.  The witness, James L. Ferguson, 64, a longtime Franklin County toxicologist, was sentenced to 30 days in jail for falsification earlier this summer. He had served as an expert witness during hundreds of trials while serving with the Franklin County coroner's office.

UPDATE: April 21, 2011 - Virginia LeFever will not be retried.

Bobby Ray Dixon, 53, of Hattiesburg, MS died of lung cancer on November 10, 2010.  He, Larry Ruffin and Phillip Bivens had been convicted of the 1979 rape and murder of Eva Gail Patterson.  DNA tests conducted earlier in 2010 cleared all three men, and implicated a convicted rapist, Andrew Harris.  Larry Ruffin died in 2002.

Justice was on trial last week in a small town in northwest Missouri.  For three days, a circuit judge was shown what happens when police officers give inaccurate testimony, prosecutors distort facts and a defense lawyer doesn't do his job.  The case concerned Dale Helmig, who is serving a life sentence without parole for the murder of his mother, Norma Helmig. Her body, weighted with a cinder block, was found in the flooded Osage River between Jefferson City and Linn on Aug. 1, 1993.  The lead prosecutor then was Kenny Hulshof of Columbia, who later became a U.S. representative and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2008. When Gov. Jay Nixon was state attorney general, Hulshof was Nixon's special prosecutor.  Hulshof would go around the state helping local prosecuting attorneys with difficult murder cases. He often got convictions. Since then, some have turned out to be tainted and were overturned.  Helmig's may be next.

UPDATE:  Nov 4, 2010 -- Dale Helmig wept as his attorney read him a judge's order reversing his conviction for the murder of his mother in 1993.

Students at the Texas Innocence Network have uncovered new evidence, never presented at trial, that death row inmate Anthony Graves was not involved in  the 1992 slaying of six people.   The students believe Graves would be acquitted if he were retried.  But this is Texas, the state has what it wants -- a conviction -- and despite grave prosecutorial misconduct, U. S. Magistrate Judge John Froeschner thinks Anthony should keep his appointment with the executioner.

UPDATE:  Anthony Graves' conviction and death sentence were vacated by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. 
The appeals court in its decision accused Burleson County prosecutors of misconduct, including failure to disclose statements that could have helped Graves' defense. His retrial has not yet been scheduled, but when it occurs, Joan E. Scroggins a Burleson County assistant district attorney, will not be on the case.  The state court trial judge has ordered her recused.  Prosecutor Off Case.

UPDATE:  On October 29, 2010, capital murder charges against Anthony Graves were dropped.  He spent 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Diane Jennings of the Dallas Morning News reported on November 1, 2010:  "A provocative idea is being batted around in the wake of the release of Anthony Graves from Death Row after a special prosecutor declared he was an innocent man, found guilty due to prosecutorial misconduct. The statute of limitations on prosecutorial misconduct has expired but according to the Bryan Eagle, some defense attorneys are suggesting the prosecutor be charged with attempted murder."

Matthew Norwood of HInds County, Mississippi spent more than a dozen years behind bars for a carjacking he did not commit.  On October 7, 2010, the 30-year-old man clutched the order issued by Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd tossing out Norwood's 1995 conviction.  "This is what I was looking for," said Norwood, who has been free since 2007 but not clear. "It's a blessing from God. In that prison, anything can happen."

Police in Richardson, Texas put a lot of effort into coercing a rape confession from deaf teenager Stephen Brodie back in 1990.  Maybe that's why they continue to insist they had the right guy, even though the physical evidence tied the crime -- and 15 other rapes in the area -- to Robert Waterfield.  Brodie spent 10 years in prison for the crime.  He brought a petition to establish his innocence, based on Waterfield's fingerprint on the window of the victim's bedroom.  Stephen Brodie was exonerated and freed on September 29, 2010.

A judge in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on September 16, 2010 freed Bobby Ray Dixon and Phillip Bivens, who spent three decades in prison before DNA evidence showed they didn't rape a woman and cut her throat in a grisly 1979 attack.  Larry Ruffin, who died in prison in 2002, has also been cleared.

Although a jury convicted Malenne Joseph of Orlando, Florida of criminal mischief (property damage) in June of 2010, the case against her has unraveled.  It turns out that Malenne had absolutely no connection to the crime or the victim, ever.  Authorities are now investigating the circumstances that led to her arrest in the first place.

After almost 15 years in prison for another man's crime, Cody has finally been released -- at least, until the Brown County DA (Green Bay) can figure out some way to sandbag him again.  His conviction was overturned by the state court of appeals "in the interest of justice."  County investigators used every improper inducement to get the victim of a robbery and stabbing -- who had a .22% BAC at the time -- to pick Cody out of a photo line up.  If he is retried, it will be interesting to see what they can possibly use as evidence a second time around.

UPDATE:  On January 12, 2011, the state supreme court declined the state's petition to review the reversal of Cody's conviction.  Brown County DA John Zakowski, predictably, says he'll soldier on and retry Cody -- damn the cost and the indecency of his actions.

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.

On July 30, 2010, it took a jury 20 minutes to decide Belmond Klemme, Iowa teacher Jodi Lynn Barrus' fate.  She was found not guilty of engaging in a pattern, practice or scheme of sexual exploitation of an 18-year-old male student.  The teen had a history of making up stories.

A Houston man who's spent the last 27 years imprisoned for a rape he didn't commit got one step closer to freedom on July 30, 210.  During a court hearing, a judge granted Michael Anthony Green a personal bond that will let him walk out of jail.  Green's pending release was made possible after the Harris County District Attorney's Office reopened his case and new DNA tests it commissioned showed he did not commit a 1983 rape of a woman who had been abducted.

Allen Porter, of Houston, Texas, was sentenced to life in prison for a June 18, 1990, rape and robbery in southwest Houston. He was identified as one of three men who kicked their way into a drug dealer's residence in search of money and drugs. They terrorized the apartment's four occupants, repeatedly raping two women.  Allen's nephew, Jimmy Hatton, and Perry Harrison told state District Judge Joan Campbell they committed the crime along with a third man. They said Porter was not at the crime scene.

Seventeen years ago, Alan G. Northrop and Larry W. Davis were led from a Clark County, Washington courtroom in shackles, convicted of brutally attacking and raping a woman in La Center.  On July 14, 2010, they walked out of the courtroom free men, smiling and hugging family members after a judge dismissed their charges, citing new DNA evidence showing they weren't at the scene and pointing to different assailants.

On July 6, North Carolina Superior Court Judge Charles P. Ginn ordered the release from Avery-Mitchell Correctional Center of Jonathan Scott Pierpoint, who served 17 years of a life sentence for a crime he did not commit.  Ginn's order overturned Pierpoint's 1992 conviction for first-degree sexual offense and dismissed the charges against him. Faculty and students in Duke Law School's Wrongful Convictions Clinic and its Innocence Project worked for two years to develop their claim that Pierpoint's conviction was the result of false testimony.

It took 26 years for Douglas Pacyon to clear his name after being convicted of a 1984 rape and serving almost seven years in prison for an attack he didn't commit.  And then it took all of three minutes on June 21, 2010 for the criminal-justice system to officially exonerate him.

In vacating a murder conviction and barring prosecutors from retrying the case, a federal judge in New York has lashed out at the Brooklyn district attorney's Office for failing to take responsibility for its prosecutors' alleged misconduct. At a contentious, 90-minute habeas corpus hearing on June 8, 2010, Eastern District Judge Dora L. Irizarry noted that petitioner Jabbar Collins, a renowned jailhouse attorney, had uncovered numerous documents while serving his 34-years-to-life sentence suggesting that prosecutors had withheld evidence, coerced witnesses and lied to the court and the jury.




William Avery, convicted in the 1998 strangulation of a Milwaukee prostitute has been released from custody after tests of DNA evidence linked another man to the killing, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said.  Mary Johnson, the mother of victim Maryetta Griffin, said authorities told her the DNA sample matches the profile of accused serial killer Walter E. Ellis.  Mr. Avery's conviction was based on jailhouse "snitch" testimony.  He had been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Tyrone Jones walked out into the hazy sunshine on the morning of May 25, 2010 and let out a deep breath on the steps of the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse, his shoulders light for the first time in a dozen years.  He had come to court prepared for trial on charges of conspiring to commit murder, only to be told he wouldn't be prosecuted. The case was dropped.  "It took all but 10 seconds to undo something that's been going on for 12 years," Jones said, still shocked.

A Charlotte, NC man wrongfully convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery is finally home after spending 12 years behind bars.  Shawn Massey, 37, was the victim of erroneous eyewitness identification, say researchers from Duke Law School, whose Wrongful Convictions Clinic and Innocence Project spent more than four years examining the case.

A Los Angeles man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison for a 1994 murder and attempted robbery in South Los Angeles is a free man today.  There was nothing simple about his exoneration.  First, he was identified as the shooter by the real killer, even though absolutely no other evidence connected him to the crime.  Then he was attacked in prison and killed another inmate in self-defense.  After he was exonerated of the 1994 charge and resolved the prison attack charge, prison officials framed him up on a false charge of possessing a razor blade.  DNA cleared him of that, and he was supposed to be released on April 6, 2010, but the prison refused to let him go, saying "protestors" were gathered at the bus station.  Those were his family, waiting to greet him.  Finally, a judge ordered that Reggie be released, and he was welcomed home by his family on May 16, 2010.

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."

Rochester, NY makes the news twice in one week, when the NY Court of Appeals threw out Mr. Richardson's conviction.  The trial judge should have caught this, but instead put his seal of approval on a coerced Alford plea by Rashjeem Richardson and sent him to prison for a knife attack someone else committed.  Rochester prosecutors said four witnesses identified Mr. Richardson, when only one did so, and she retracted the next day because she had been drunk when she fingered him.  When faced with a choice between a conviction and truth, prosecutors in Rochester choose a conviction.

A former Rochester, NY truck driver who spent nearly 19 years behind bars for a 1988 slaying he didn't commit walked free April 28, 2010 after DNA testing exonerated him and instead pointed to a man who strangled a 4-year-old girl in 1994.  This is yet another case in which police coerced a false confession from an innocent man.  They got a conviction, but they allowed the killer to kill again.

The Innocence Project Northwest is seeking — on the basis of DNA testing unavailable at the time of the crime — a new trial for two Orchards-area men convicted in 1993 of attacking a woman in La Center.  “New evidence has proven what the defendants have maintained for 17 years,” said John Pantazis, staff attorney for the Innocence Project Northwest Clinic in Seattle. “They are completely innocent.”

UPDATE: 
On April 21, 2010, Clark County Superior Court Judge Diane Woolard vacated the sentences of Alan G. Northrop and Larry W. Davis.

Two Connecticut men imprisoned for 16 years in a murder that a judge says they did not commit were ordered freed on Thursday.  Rockville Superior Court Judge Stanley Fuger said in a ruling that the two men were victims of "manifest injustice" when they were convicted of the 1993 killing of a New Haven store owner. The star witness against them has since recanted, and a private investigator hired by state public defenders concluded the men's DNA was not found on a cord used to tie the victim's hands.

In 2008, Waynesville, NC resident Donald “Pete” McCracken Jr., 40, was indicted on a charge of first-degree rape — a B1 felony that, at the time, carried a minimum sentence of 16 years in prison, with a maximum sentence of up to life without parole.  Almost 14 months later, the alleged victim recanted the accusation and the charge against McCracken was dismissed. He was declared innocent. But it cost him more than $100,000 and a “year of hell” to clear his name. Still, he fears his reputation may be tainted beyond repair.

He had proclaimed his innocence, to no avail, at his trial and sentencing and in his five years behind bars.  And when he was released from prison, Freddie Peacock, a churchgoing Rochester, N.Y., man with severe mental illness, persisted in what would become the defining mission of his difficult life: convince the world that he was not, in fact, guilty of rape.  At last, 28 years later, DNA has shown what Freddie said was true:  he is innocent.

In 1998, 17-year-old Jarrett Adams, an African American from the South Side of Chicago, was falsely accused and ultimately wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman.  He spent 8 years in prison before he was exonerated in 2007 with the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project.   Since his release, Jarrett has gone back to college and ultimately plans to attend law school so that he can become a criminal defense attorney. On December 23, 2009, Jarrett was inexplicably denied compensation for his wrongful conviction.  (A YouTube documentary by John Maki.)

On Thursday, January 14, 2010, Michael Tillman walked out of the Cook County Courthouse and headed straight for Mac Arthur's Restaurant, a soul food institution on Chicago's West Side.  After 23 years of being wrongfully incarcerated and facing a life behind bars, the barbeque ribs tasted particularly sweet.  "If it weren't for the publicity that was brought to the case in the early stages, being only a couple of years ago, by AlterNet… he might still be in prison now," Flint Taylor founding partner of the People's Law Office and co-counsel in Tillman's case, told AlterNet.

The State of Oregon's case against Scott Cannon for the execution-style murders of three people in 1998 rested on now-discredited bullet lead analysis and the testimony of the victims'  landlady, who told police Scott was the last person at the residence and the only one who could have committed the murders.  The landlady has been implicated in the killing of her husband and the murder of her boyfriend, and is serving a prison sentence in the latter shooting death.

UPDATE:  8/14/09--Salem, Oregon prosecutors have decided not to try to defend bullet lead analysis in Scott Cannon's case.  They have stipulated to reversal of his conviction.  Scott Cannon to get a retrial.

UPDATE:  12/18/09--Prosecutors have dropped all charges against Scott Cannon, admitting that the State destroyed the evidence in the case.  Note:  The State does not say what this evidence was, since the little there was in the first place has been discredited, and a reasonable person must suspect the authorities are lying to save face.  Meanwhile, Scott Cannon is Free.

Within days of one another, two innocent men who served, between them, 63 years in prison for crimes they did not commit, were exonerated by DNA and released. 

Mistaken eyewitness identification led to Jimmy's arrest and conviction in Lake Wales, Florida for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a young boy in 1974. 





Junk forensic science put Donald Gates in prison for the 1981 rape and murder of a Georgetown University co-ed in Washington, DC: an FBI lab analyst testified that hairs on the victim were Donald's.  DNA says the hairs belong to someone else.

A deeply apologetic judge officially has dropped all charges against an innocent man he sent to prison for rape.  "I want to convey to you my personal regret in having participated, though unknowingly, in the injustice committed to you," Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Richard Carruthers told William McCaffrey, calling the wrong conviction "a catastrophe both for [McCaffrey] and for the criminal justice system."  McCaffrey's accuser, Biurny Peguero, 27, took back her damning rape allegations in August, 2009 and confessed to perjury.

The Utah state prison gates opened for Harry Miller in 2007, but he continues to fight to clear his name of the aggravated robbery conviction that put him in prison in the first place.  It was a crime he was accused of committing in Salt Lake City less than two weeks after he had a stroke in Louisiana.  A recent decision by the Utah Court of Appeals may afford Miller the justice he believes has long eluded him.

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

UPDATE:  9/21/08 -- Murder victim's mother meets with Lebrew Jones.  "They've got the wrong man."

UPDATE:  11/20/11 -- Two years after being released on parole, his innocence claim forgotten by the State of New York, Lebrew Jones struggles to live in a Prison Without Bars.



Fernando has been in New York's infamous Sing Sing Prison since 1992, convicted in the fatal shooting of a teenager following a dispute on Union Square in New York City.  There was no forensic evidence, no fingerprints, no motive, no blood or DNA evidence linking Fernando to the crime.  He had a solid alibi and didn't know any of the people involved in the dispute.  His conviction rests on his identification by six eyewitnesses, four of whom viewed mugshots together and picked out Fernando by consensus.

UPDATE:  11/13/09 -- Friday the 13th was a lucky day for Fernando Bermudez. 
After 18 years in prison, he was found innocent of a murder he always said he did not commit.  “I find no credible evidence connects Fernando Bermudez to the homicide of Mr. Blount,” Justice John Cataldo of New York State Supreme Court wrote. “All of the people’s trial evidence has been discredited: the false testimony of Efraim Lopez and the recanted identifications of strangers. I find, by clear and convincing evidence, that Fernando Bermudez has demonstrated he is innocent of this crime.”  Found Actually Innocent.

Forest Shomberg, 41, is serving a 12-year prison term for a sexual assault in Madison, WI, a crime for which he has always professed innocence. At the heart of his appeal is the argument that the trial judge erred in disallowing testimony from an expert witness knowledgeable in the area of eyewitness identifications.  The victim agreed at trial with statements that she picked Shomberg because he was "the best of the six," even though "he very well could have not been the guy."  His fate now rests in the hands of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

UPDATE:  The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Shomberg's conviction.

UPDATE:  11/13/09 -- Friday the 13th was the luckiest day Forest Shomberg has had in a long time. 
Judge Patrick Fiedler cited new DNA evidence and newly developed scientific research on faulty eyewitness identification in overturning his own judgment of conviction in the 2002 case.  Shomberg left the courthouse a Free Man.

UPDATE:  11/10/11 -- Two days short of two years after Forest Shomberg was exonerated and abandoned by the State of Wisconsin, he was sentenced in federal court for possessing a gun that he bought to commit suicide.  But this may be his best hope yet, since Judge Barbara Crabb structured his sentence to meet his treatment needs.  A heck of a way to get help.

UPDATE:  8/16/13 -- Forest lost his fight against depression and hopelessness. 

In overturning Rafael Madrigal's conviction for a 2000 drive-by shooting in East Los Angeles, CA, a federal judge highlighted evidence indicating that Madrigal was innocent of the crime, and faulted Madrigal's defense attorney for failing to effectively assist him.  He was reportedly working at a Rancho Cucamonga factory at the time of the shooting, but his attorney failed to call enough witnesses during his trial to prove the alibi, the judge wrote.  While he was in prison, Rafael's father died and the family's home was foreclosed.  Donors in the Ontario, CA area have donated $4,500 so the family can rent a home and pay moving expenses.  The Los Angeles DA is still deciding whether to re-try him.

A 36-year-old Detroit, MI man, Dwayne Provience, jailed for the past eight years for a murder he says he did not commit, has been granted a new trial by a Wayne Circuit Court judge.  Dwayne Provience has been in prison since 2001, despite his consistent claims of innocence. Judge Timothy Kenny ordered a new trial, citing the prosecution's use of a less-than-credible witness.

Link:  A John Maki youtube Documentary: 
No DNA to Test: The Wrongful Conviction of Dwayne Provience

Several times over the 26 years he spent in prison for the 1977 murder of a 92-year-old woman, Dewey Bozella of Poughkeepsie, NY was dealt a potential get-out-of-jail card.  In multiple plea-bargain offers during his trial in 1990 and in four subsequent parole hearings, confessing and expressing remorse for the crime could have given him a chance to go free. He did not bite. “I could never admit to something I didn’t do,” said Mr. Bozella, 18 at the time of the crime, 50 now. “I realized that if I was going to die in prison because of saying I’m innocent, well that was what was going to happen.”  He said these things on October 28, 2009, outside the Dutchess County Courthouse, rain cascading down, finally a free man after a judge threw out his conviction.

Claude Alvin Simmons Jr., 54, and Christopher Shun Scott, 39, were each sentenced to life in prison for the April 7, 1997, shooting death of Alfonso Aguilar during a home-invasion robbery in Dallas, TX. Their convictions were based primarily on the eyewitness testimony of Aguilar's wife, Celia Escobedo, who was present in their Love Field area home when the killing occurred.  That identification was mistaken, said Mike Ware, head of the Dallas County District Attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit.  They are the latest DNA exonerees in the Dallas DA's review of suspect cases.

For 16 years, Edwin Chandler faithfully believed the day would come when everyone would know he wasn't the man who shot Brenda Whitfield in the head during a 1993 robbery at the Chevron station where she worked.  That day finally arrived on October 13, 2009, when Jefferson Circuit (Kentucky) Judge Fred Cowan vacated the manslaughter and robbery charges against Chandler after prosecutors and police announced they had convicted the wrong man.

September 2, 2009 was a big day for three men -- 2 in North Carolina, 1 in Florida -- who have spent, among them, 55 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.

Laboratory testing has shown that a Broward, Florida  man locked up since he was 15 for the rape and murder of a Miramar woman in 1983 is not the source of the DNA found on the victim's body.  Anthony Caravella, now 41, has spent 25 years, or more than half his life, in prison.

A 49-year-old man who has served more than 14 years of a life sentence for raping two teenage sisters was released after DNA tests determined that he wasn't the attacker.  Joseph Lamont Abbitt of Winston-Salem was convicted on June 22, 1995, of two counts of first-degree rape, one count of first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree kidnapping in connection with the 1991 sexual assaults of a 15-year-old girl and her 13-year-old sister.

A pioneering state commission was Gregory Taylor's only hope at a chance of dying a free man.  The eight members of the commission delivered that chance on Friday, voting unanimously that they believed there was sufficient evidence that Taylor was innocent of murdering a prostitute in 1991. They referred his case to a three-judge panel for further review.

UPDATE:  On February 17, 2010, Gregory Taylor made history.  He was found innocent by a
panel of three judges  appointed by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.  The judges gave Greg Taylor his life back.

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

UPDATE:  September 21, 2009:  The D.A. has decided not to retry Bruce.  Of course, the DA remains "confident in Mr. Lisker's original conviction," because they may not always be right, but they are never wrong.

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?

When Perry Bai was found stabbed to death in his Perry Township, Ohio home, police pursued a classic investigation.  They decided Bai's former roommate, Joseph Grossi, walked 17 miles to Bai's home and killed him.  Grossi, who suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was brought in for questioning, denied his medications and after hours of intense interrogation, he confessed.  Stark County Common Pleas Judge Charles E. Brown Jr. found their methods were just hunky-dory and the confession could be used against Grossi at trial.  But the crime lab found evidence implicating others, and a polygraph test cleared Grossi.  Looks like the cops in Stark County, Ohio will have to actually investigate this crime.

“You can take the handcuffs off,” Judge Richard Damiani said. And with that, Kenneth Ireland, a man who has been in jail for 21 years — and was supposed to spend decades more behind bars — walked away a free man.  DNA set him free.

Nine rounds of DNA testing have excluded Ernest Sonnier as the man who kidnapped and raped an Alief, Texas woman in 1986, and identified two convicted felons as the actual perpetrators.  His conviction was the result of faulty eyewitness identification and junk science by the Houston Police Crime Lab.

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.

After eight years and uncounted dashed hopes, DeShawn Reed and Marvin Reed walked out of custody into the free sunshine Friday morning after prosecutors decided not to retry them for a 2000 shooting that left a man paralyzed.  They were the victims of faulty eyewitness identification.

On Tuesday, July 07, 2009,  43-year-old Ronald Kitchen,  who confessed under extreme physical duress to a taking part in five murders 21 years ago, was exonerated and freed from prison.  The confession was extracted by Detective Michael Kill, who worked under Commander Jon Burge. Kitchen spent nine of his 21 years behind bars on death row.

Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen were convicted of sexually abusing young children in August of 1994.  Smith, a 37-year-old single mother with four children, was a bus driver for the Lorain, Ohio Head Start.  The prosecution charged that after delivering the children to school, she would sometimes keep three or four of them and take them to a mysterious location, where she and a man known to the children only as "Joseph" would commit various sexual acts with them, make them drink urine, and poke them with needles and sticks.  But an examination of the police investigation leaves many disturbing questions; questions about the children's testimony, questions about whether Smith and Allen even knew each other -- questions about whether, in fact, any crimes were committed at all.

UPDATE:  2/22/07 - Nancy Smith’s bid for freedom Tuesday was rejected for a number of reasons, including a parole board official’s opinion that she hadn’t served enough time after being convicted of molesting children while she was a Head Start bus driver in the 1990s.  They Want a Confession to Crimes She did not Commit

UPDATE:  2/4/09 - Investigator Martin Yant, who has helped to free 12 innocent people, has worked on Nancy Smith's case for 13 years.  He has obtained piles of evidence that prove her innocence of charges she molested four young children. That evidence can get Nancy a re-trial, or at least re-sentencing.  Shining Light on Abuse-Hysteria Conviction.

UPDATE:  2/4/09 - Nancy Smith freed on bond.

UPDATE:  6/24/09 - Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen Acquitted.

UPDATE:  12/11/09 - Merry Christmas, Nancy and Joseph.  The Ohio Attorney General has joined local prosecutors to challenge the acquittals of Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen. 
In court documents filed with the 9th District Court of Appeals, they claim that Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge didn’t have the authority to acquit them.  The State of Ohio wants Nancy and Joseph back in prison.  It's not about truth.  It has nothing to do with justice.  It's about winning, and maintaining every win at all costs.

UPDATE: 1/29/11 - Ohio Supreme Court reinstates Nancy Smith's conviction, orders her returned to prison.

Tim Kennedy walked away from jail in Colorado Springs, CO on May 29, 2009 after spending 14 years behind bars for what he maintains was a wrongful conviction in a 1991 execution-style shooting death of a Colorado Springs couple.  The DA, however, wants to put him right back in prison, despite his DNA exclusion.

Jerry Lee Evans joined a brotherhood of sorts on May 27, 2009 when he walked out of a courtroom after more than 22 years behind bars for a rape that DNA proves he did not commit.  Evans, 47, was the 20th man cleared by DNA evidence in Dallas County, Texas, which has had more exonerations than any other county in the nation since 2001 when the state began allowing post-conviction genetic testing.

Recently discovered DNA evidence proves that House did not rape Carolyn Muncey immediately before she was killed in 1985 in Union County, north of Knoxville, Tennessee.  Other evidence has surfaced that might show that House did not rape or kill Muncey.  While Tennessee's judiciary argues over how many jurors can dance on the head of a pin, Paul Gregory House remains on death row.

UPDATE - 5/12/09:  Charges dropped against former TN death row inmate

[pdf format - use Acrobat Reader]
Can we rely on forensic science as the arbiter of truth in the courtroom?  In his latest investigation for Seed Magazine, writer Simon Cooper exposes a case of corrupted science at the heart of our justice system -- and the forensic failures that put a man on Tennessee's death row. 


More than 16 years ago, 13-year-old Thaddeus Jimenez was arrested for a street gang murder on Chicago's Northwest Side, despite his claim of innocence.  A judge sentenced him as an adult to 50 years in prison, describing Jimenez as a "little punk, probably too young to shave, but old enough to commit a vicious murder.  But the youngest person wrongly convicted and then exonerated has been freed from prison. A man arrested in Indiana is suspected of the murder for which Jimenez was wrongly convicted.

After more than nine years locked up in prison, fighting to overturn his 1999 rape conviction, Sgt. Brian W. Foster finally won his freedom in February, 2009.  But the battle to restore his military rank, pay, career and life is just beginning.

After serving 25 years in prison for two rapes he has always denied committing, Joseph Fears, Jr. of Columbus, Ohio is finally being released.  He first began asking for DNA testing in 1995, but was opposed by prosecutors and denied by judges.  After the Columbus Dispatch included his story in its 2008 series, Test of Convictions, the state allowed the DNA testing, and Joseph was cleared.

Victor Burnette of Richmond, VA was released from prison in 1987, after serving 8 years for a rape he always said he did not commit.  DNA has demonstrated Victor is innocent.  So far, he has waited two years for Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine to act on his pardon application.  The Commonwealth's Attorney has no objection, but the rape victim remains convinced that Victor assaulted her.

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.

In 1985, Timothy Cole was a student in Lubbock when he was arrested and accused of being the Texas Tech rapist. A string of coeds had been raped, and the young African-American man from Fort Worth, who'd never been in trouble with the law before, was convicted largely on the eyewitness account of one rape victim.  The real rapist, Jerry Wayne Johnson, waited for the statute of limitations to toll in 1995 and began writing to the courts, confessing.  Judges and the prosecutor who obtained Timothy's conviction ignored him.  Finally, in 2007, Johnson's letter of confession reached Timothy's mother.  It was too late for Timothy.  He died in prison in 1999 from an asthma attack.

In 1985, when Robert Lee Stinson of Milwaukee was 21 years old, he was convicted of the murder of a 63-year-old woman who had been savagely beaten to death the previous year.  Robert's conviction was based on bite mark evidence that didn't even match--he had a tooth missing where the bite marks indicated a tooth, a fact that didn't bother the state's "experts" at all.  DNA evidence rules him out conclusively.

UPDATE:  7/27/09 - Milwaukee County
Assistant District Attorney Norman Gahn insists that Robert Stinson is guilty, but has decided not to re-try him.  Maybe Gahn is worried about the effects of the facts on a contemporary jury.

A state appellate court has ordered a new trial for Chaunte Dean Ott, a Milwaukee, WI man accused of murdering a South Milwaukee runaway in 1995.  Tests showed DNA found on the victim matched DNA discovered on two other slaying victims, raising the specter that a serial killer is still at large.  Police and prosecutors continue to insist they believe Chaunte is guilty, since they do not want to admit they not only got the wrong guy, they also kept the real killer on the streets to rape and murder at least two more women.

UPDATE - May 20,2009:  Okay, now the Milwaukee cops concede that there's a serial killer out there.  But the DA is determined to re-try Chaunte Ott, so the authorities are twisting themselves into pretzels to explain away the DNA evidence.  Ex-inmate's story of serial killer is no longer far-fetched.

UPDATE - June 5, 2009: In a hastily scheduled court proceeding, the Milwaukee County district attorney's office announced that it will not retry a man who was freed after serving 13 years in prison for the murder of a 16-year-old girl.

James S. Anderson of Los Angeles, CA has spent his last Christmas behind bars in the State of Washington. A state appeals court erased the 31-year-old's conviction for armed robbery, saying new evidence uncovered by a University of Washington Law School student corroborates what Anderson has always said: He was in California when a group of men hit a Tacoma grocery store in 2004.

Since he arrived on Texas’ Death Row in 1999, Michael Roy Toney, of Lake Worth, has proclaimed his innocence to anyone he thought might listen. Nine and a half years later, he has everyone’s attention.  The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has overturned Toney’s capital murder conviction because Tarrant County prosecutors withheld evidence favorable to his defense. Among the 14 documents were records that cast doubt on the testimony of two key witnesses against him.

In 1998, when teacher Jimmy Ates of Crestview, Florida was convicted -- 7 years after the crime -- of murdering his wife, the only evidence prosecutors had against him was the FBI test that concluded the lead in the bullets that killed Norma Ates matched the lead in bullets Jimmy owned.  The bullet lead test was discredited in 2005.  Now Jimmy's conviction has been reversed and he has been given a new trial.

It was bad enough when, in the mid-1990's, a shotgun blast tore away half of Ricardo's face.  He survived, badly disfigured.  But that ordeal was nothing compared with what happened in 2003 -- Ricardo was convicted of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy and sentenced to 40 years in prison.  While Ricardo was locked up, the assaults continued, but the authorities ignored his pleas of innocence.  Other inmates helped him obtain DNA testing that excluded Ricardo and identified the serial predator.

Audrey Edmunds, a former Waunakee, WI baby sitter imprisoned for nearly 10 years after being convicted in the shaken-baby death of a 7- month-old girl, is seeking a new trial, arguing that the scientific evidence used to convict her is no longer valid. "Since Audrey Edmunds' trial . . . a large body of new scientific evidence has emerged that supports her claim of innocence," according to a brief seeking a new trial for Edmunds filed by attorneys and law students for the Wisconsin Innocence Project.

UPDATE: 1/26/07 - In a two-day hearing, six physicians challenged the medical validity of the evidence that convicted Audrey Edmunds in 1996.  Among them was the forensic pathologist who testified against her at trial.  No Confidence in SBS Diagnosis

UPDATE: 2/22/07 -
Audrey Edmunds says life would have crushed her by now, if not for her faith in God -- and her belief that she will soon be reunited with her daughters.  The Human Toll of Flawed Science

UPDATE:  2/23/07 -
In tense, combative testimony, a medical witness for the state forcefully rejected recent studies that raise doubts about shaken baby syndrome.  The combative testimony of Dr. Betty Spivack reflects the divide among physicians in shaken-baby cases. One camp believes certain signs and symptoms are proof of abuse, while the other side argues that such indicators also can be seen in children who've been sick or had minor accidents.  Defending the Conviction

UPDATE: 2/24/07- One of the physicians who cared for Natalie Beard at University (now UW) Hospital in the final hours of her life testified Friday he's certain that the 7-month-old was shaken to death and that the injury occurred shortly before she came to the hospital. "She died from inflicted traumatic brain injury -- that is, she was shaken," said Dr. William Perloff, retired head of pediatric intensive care for the hospital. "In her case, there was evidence of her head hitting a surface."  But That's More Than Simply Shaking, Doctor ...

UPDATE: 2/29/07 - Dane County Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser has denied Audrey Edmunds a new trial.  What it came down to, Moeser said, was whether there was a "reasonable probability" that a new jury, hearing the evidence presented earlier this year and in 1996, would've reached a different verdict. He determined it would not.  Edmunds supporter Michelle Urso of Waunakee said she believes one thing is true: "There is no doubt in my mind that there is an innocent woman sitting in jail. Not a single doubt."  And the Innocent Woman with Stay in Prison.

UPDATE: 1/24/08: 
Twelve years after she was sent to prison on charges of shaking a baby to death, a former Waunakee day-care provider should get a new trial, a state appeals court has ruled.  New evidence in the case "shows that there has been a shift in mainstream medical opinion since Edmunds' trial as to the cause of the types of injuries Natalie (Beard) suffered," the three-judge panel unanimously ruled.  The Attorney General is mulling whether to appeal the ruling.

UPDATE:  The Attorney General decided not to appeal.  Audrey is finally a free woman.

Miguel Roman has been in prison in Connecticut since 1988 for the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Carmen Lopez.  He was convicted despite trial testimony from an FBI investigator that tests, even back in 1988, excluded Miguel as the killer.  Now DNA has not only excluded him, but has identified the real killer and tied him to two other rape/murders.  We may be premature to list Miguel among the freed, because he is still in prison, but we hope the Connecticut authorities will do the right thing -- finally.  This case is proof, once again, that when an innocent person is wrongly convicted, the real criminal is free to commit more crimes.

UPDATE:  Miguel's conviction was set aside, a new trial was ordered, and he was freed on December 19, 2008.

In 2006, authorities in Sunnyvale, CA realized that Mashelle Bullington was not the gun-toting burglar they thought when they locked her away for more than three years in prison in 1995.  But it was not until November of 2008, during a brief hearing, that her name was finally cleared.

Steven Barnes of Utica, NY was convicted of rape and second-degree murder in the strangling death of Kimberly Simon, a high school student, in 1985. At his trial, a crime lab analyst testified that impressions on Barnes' truck matched Ms. Simon's jeans, a conclusion that simply cannot be supported by science.  Tests concluded in mid-November, 2008 showed that Barnes' DNA matched none of four samples found on Kimberly Simon's body and clothing.  After almost 20 years in prison, Steven Barnes has been released from prison.

After 27 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, William Dillon of Viera, Florida has been freed on bail after DNA excluded him as the killer.  His retrial is scheduled for January, 2009.  His lawyer, Melissa Montle of the Florida Innocence Project, says she doesn't see how he can be retried.  "All they have is a fraud, an admitted perjurer, a snitch, and a half-blind eyewitness." 

Joe White, Thomas Winslow, Ada JoAnn Taylor, Kathy Gonzalez, Deb Sheldon and James Dean were convicted of murdering and raping 68-year-old Helen Wilson in 1985.  White and Winslow were convicted by juries; the other defendants were convinced by police investigators to plead guilty.  DNA tests obtained in White's and Winslow's bids for exoneration prove that none of the six defendants had anything to do with Mrs. Wilson's murder.  She was killed by Bruce Allen Smith, who acted alone.

Arthur Johnson of Sunflower, Mississippi is poised to become the first inmate freed by DNA exoneration in that state's history.  Johnson is serving a 55-year sentence for a 1992 rape conviction -- a rape that DNA tests show he did not commit.  His freedom, however, is no sure bet.  Mississippi has no legal procedures in place to deal with evidence preservation or post-conviction DNA testing.  One thing is certain, however: There are a lot more Arthur Johnsons in Mississippi's prisons.

UPDATE: 2/25/08 - Arthur Johnson was released on $25,000 bond and went home with his family for the first time in 15 years.  Although he has been excluded by DNA, the Sunflower County DA will re-try Johnson in July, 2008.

UPDATE: 10/15/08:  After Arthur Johnson's attorney, Emily Maw of the Cardozo Innocence Project, prevailed upon Mississippi authorities to run the rape kit DNA through the state's DNA bank, a match was found and the real rapist was identified.  Sunflower County authorities could no longer maintain the charade that Arthur Johnson was anything but innocent.  All charges against him have been dropped.  No word on whether these authorities will apologize to the woman who was raped by the real criminal while Arthur was wrongly imprisoned.

A New York state appellate panel has thrown out the convictions of Daivery Taylor, a Long Island personal injury attorney and his firm, Silverman & Taylor, finding that the state presented insufficient evidence that the defendants used "steerers" to sign up accident victims or that they coached clients to fabricate injuries.  The 2nd Department not only threw out the conviction but also dismissed the 32-count indictment.

Richard Diguglielmo
White Plains, NY

Erick Daniels of Durham, NC spent nearly a third of his 22 years behind bars for crimes a judge has now said he did not commit.  Daniels was 14 when he was charged with being one of two armed robbers who burst into the home of Ruth Brown, a police department employee, on Sept. 21, 2000, and stole her pocketbook containing $6,231 in cash.  Ms. Brown picked out his photo from a middle school year book.  Her identification was the only evidence against Erick.  Recently, another client of Erick's trial attorney confessed to the robbery and said Erick had no role in the crime.

While a 28-year-old woman was being raped at White Rock Lake in August 1981, Johnnie Earl Lindsey was at work, pressing pants at a commercial laundry business.  But Johnnie's rock-solid alibi, time clock punch cards that backed up his claim, were trumped when the victim picked him out of a photo lineup mailed to her by Dallas police.  Now DNA tests -- part of Dallas DA Craig Watkins' massive review of cases -- have made Johnnie the 19th Dallas defendant cleared in the program.

Darryl Burton of St. Louis, MO was convicted in 1985 of capital murder and armed criminal action -- although thre was no physical evidence connecting him to the crime -- and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years.  His conviction was overturned because the state's key witness lied about his own extensive criminal record.  The state will not retry Darryl, who has been released and returned to his family.

A man who spent nearly 20 years behind bars is walking free after new evidence showed that he was wrongfully convicted of murder in the 1988 shooting of a motorist in Southeast Washington, DC.  A judge ordered the release of Aaron Michael Howard this month after the prosecutor withdrew from the case in open court, saying he could no longer represent the government in trying to validate the jury's guilty verdict.

Charged with murder in Queens, NY in 1994, Kareem rejected a plea deal for 5 years in prison if he would plead guilty to manslaughter.  Kareem knew he was innocent, so he went to trial.  He was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.  His conviction was thrown out after Kareem's lawyers produced the taped confession of another man, and other witnesses recanted.  Kareem, who wants a new trial, has been freed on bond, which was posted by his pro bono investigator, Joseph O'Brien, a former FBI agent and author of bestselling mob book "Boss of Bosses."

During 18 years in prison, Robert McClendon of Columbus, Ohio has steadfastly denied the rape that put him there -- claims from a former drug dealer that few took seriously.  Now, he has a favorable DNA test.  The Ohio Innocence Project delivered the test results on July 22, 2008. The semen on the 10-year-old victim's underwear could not have come from McClendon.  But what happens next is unclear, and Robert is still in prison.

UPDATE:  August 11, 2008 -
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Charles Schneider, citing the DNA test, freed Robert McClendon.  Prosecutors are expected to drop the charges within the next few weeks.  Free at last!

Aquil K. Wiggins has spent nine years fighting what he says was a wrongful conviction in 1999 for a robbery and attempted carjacking outside a Hampton, VA Food Lion.  Now Wiggins, 31, may have an opening that his lawyer said could lead to the case being reopened — and possibly Wiggins' exoneration — before his scheduled release in 2012.

UPDATE: July 20, 2008 - Aquil wasn't officially exonerated, but he has been set free.  His original conviction was vacated, and Aquil entered an Alford plea to the original charges, which allows him to maintain his innocence but acknowledges the state could obtain another conviction against him.  He was then sentenced to time served and released.

Timothy Cole died in prison of an asthma attack, at the age of 38. He proclaimed his innocence until his final days. But he left this world a convicted rapist.  Cole's loved ones never believed he kidnapped a fellow Texas Tech student from a church parking lot and raped her. They began to get confirmation a year ago, when they received a letter from Jerry Johnson, a man serving life in prison for two rape convictions, who said he was the rapist.   DNA  tests confirm it.  Now Timothy's family wants his name cleared.

Robert Gonzales of Albuquerque, New Mexico, a mentally retarded man who falsely confessed to the slaying of an 11-year-old girl in 2005 has been released from jail after a national database matched DNA in the case to another man in custody for another crime.  His attorneys had long argued for his release, saying none of the more than 60 scientific tests of items seized as evidence connected him to the victim. 

DNA testing, two confessions and a polygraph test all show that Patrick Leondos Waller did not commit the robbery, kidnapping and rape for which he was blamed more than 15 years ago, Dallas county prosecutors and defense attorney Gary Udashen agree.   Patrick has been exonerated and released from prison, the 18th Dallas County, Texas convict cleared by DNA.  But one of the victims refuses to believe Patrick is innocent.  That's how deeply witnesses can come to believe their own faulty identifications.

In 1989, prosecutors in Prince Edward Island, Canada wedged Anthony Hanemaayer between a rock and a hard place, convincing him that despite his innocence, he needed to plead guilty to a rape he did not commit in order to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison.  He took the deal, spent 2 years in prison, and has endured the stigma of a rapist since then.  And when notorious rapist/killer Paul Bernardo confessed to police and prosecutors in 2006 that he, not Anthony, had committed the crime, they didn't bother to tell Anthony.  If defense counsel in another case hadn't stumbled on it, Anthony still wouldn't know.

Raymond, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, spent four months in jail based on information that turned out to be false.  In charging documents related to a burglary from earlier in 2008, county police Detective Tate, wrote in an application for arrest warrant that Raymond H. Jonassen's fingerprints matched a set discovered at the crime scene.  In fact, there was no match, and the county crime lab never indicated a match.  It took another two weeks to dismiss the charge against Raymond.  Neither the county police nor the chief prosecutor see a problem in what happened.

A 54-year-old upstate New York man serving a murder sentence will get a new trial after DNA testing cast doubt on his 13-year-old conviction.  Sammy Swift was sentenced in 1995 to 20 years to life in state prison for the murder of Stephen DeLuca, who died five months after being beaten and left unconscious in his Auburn home during a robbery in April 1994. 

Imagine this scenario: Your employer gives you a laptop computer that is a ticking time bomb full of child porn, and then you get fired, and then you get prosecuted as some kind of freak.  That's what happened to Massachusetts state employee Michael Fiola.  Now defense and prosecution computer experts agree that the laptop was running corrupted virus-protection software, and Fiola was hit by spammers and crackers bombarding its memory with images of incest and pre-teen porn not visible to the naked eye.

Since Fiola's employer, the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), provided him with the infected laptop in the first place, you'd expect an apology and an offer of reinstatement, right?  Wrong!  The DIA stands by the wrongs it has committed against Fiola.

DNA tests have exonerated Dean Cage, a South Side Chicago man who has served nearly 14 years in prison in the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl who was attacked in the fall of 1994 as she walked to school.  Dean, who is now 41, was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 40 years in prison despite his assertions that he was innocent and was home at the time of the attack. 

Madison County, Mississippi officials have dropped murder charges against Hattie Douglas in connection with the death of her son Kadarrius.  Initial test results showed that Douglas' son had an alcohol level of 0.4 percent when he died May 11, 2006. But an independent pathologist's report said tests came back with conflicting results. The independent pathologist ruled the child died of pneumonia.  A doctor prescribed an iron supplement for Kadarrius, which contained a small percentage of alcohol.

In 1995, Alan Beaman of Normal, IL was convicted of murdering his former girlfriend, Jennifer Lockmiller, in 1993.  The prosecutor, James Souk, didn't tell the jury about evidence that showed Alan was 140 miles away when Jennifer died, or that forensic evidence linked another man, not Alan, to the murder scene.  Thirteen years later, the Illinois Supreme Court has reversed Alan's conviction, calling the evidence against him "tenuous."  James Souk was rewarded for his misconduct in the usual way -- he's a judge now.  The current county prosecutor, Bill Yoder, says he is "saddened for the family of Jennifer Lockmiller."  Apparently Mr. Yoder thinks it is okay to let a killer go free, so long as somebody does the time.

UPDATE - June 26, 2008 - Alan has been released on bond.  County prosecutor Bill Yoder says he'll retry Alan, and that he’ll present evidence against Beaman and “argue the case like they did the first time this case was tried.”

UPDATE:  January 29, 2009 - Apparently when county prosecutor Yoder looked at the evidence withheld in 1995, and weighed it against the slim "evidence" used to get a conviction back then, he decided jurors were not likely to buy into it.  Charges dismissed.  No apology, of course.  Stay tuned for a well-deserved lawsuit.


After almost 26 years in prison, Walter Swift of Detroit, MI has been officially cleared of raping a pregnant mother who was surprised in her Indian Village home as she played with her infant child.  In a joint motion both the Innocence Project and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office asked Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Vera Massey Jones to set aside Swift’s conviction -- one based on what authorities now concede was a shaky identification.

For the past seven years, a photo of Guy Randolph has been posted at Boston, MA police stations, labeling him the most dangerous type of sex offender. Neighbors who knew of his criminal record and the 10 years he spent in prison insulted him when they saw him on the streets. Police ordered him away from schools and playgrounds if he walked too close.  But on May 1, 2008, in a hearing that took less than 10 minutes, a Suffolk Superior Court judge said the wrong man had been convicted. More than 17 years after he was first arrested in the sexual assault on a 6-year-old girl, Randolph was exonerated of all charges and declared innocent.

After nearly 15 years in prison, most of which were spent on death row, Levon Junior "Bo" Jones of Kenansville, NC is now a free man -- and saying he is innocent of the crime that put him there.  His release comes as states ramp up executions in the wake the U.S. Supreme Court decision approving lethal injection.

After serving 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, James Lee Woodward of Dallas, Texas has been exonerated by DNA and freed from prison.  James maintained his innocence throughout his time in prison. But seven letters to police and prosecutors, six writs with appeals courts and two requests for DNA testing went nowhere. Eventually, he was labeled an abuser of the system.  Without the DNA review program authorized by Dallas DA Craig Watkins and coordinated by the Cardozo Innocence Project, James would never have been released.

A judge has dismissed charges against Cynthia, who was convicted of killing her Marine husband with arsenic, after new tests showed no traces of poison.  Prosecutors who were preparing for a second trial found that previously untested samples of Marine Sgt. Todd Sommer's tissue showed no arsenic.  A recently retained government expert speculated that the earlier samples were contaminated, prosecutors wrote in a motion filed in San Diego Superior Court. The expert said he found the initial results "very puzzling" and "physiologically improbable."

What were you doing in May of 1985?  That's when Thomas McGowan of Dallas, Texas was misidentified by a rape victim as her assailant.  He was sentenced to life in prison.  On April 16, 2008, after being excluded as the rapist by DNA -- 23 years later -- Thomas' freedom was restored.  He is the 17th Dallas man to be exonerated by DNA since 2001. 

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.

The bologna and cheese sandwich that Glen Chapman savored on April 2, 2008 could have been his last meal.  Instead, it was his first as a free man after almost 14 years on death row.  Chapman, 40, was released from Central Prison on Wednesday after Catawba County, North Carolina District Attorney James Gaither Jr. dismissed murder charges against him.

Related: 
A day after Glen Edward Chapman was freed from prison, the State Bureau of Investigation agreed to review allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice against Dennis Rhoney. The former Hickory police detective led the 1992 double-murder investigation that resulted in Chapman's convictions.  Ex-Cop Who Led Discredited Case Probed

A Los Angeles judge on March 10, 2008 overturned the conviction of a man who has spent the last quarter-century in prison for a murder he insists he did not commit, concluding that the prosecution's star witness lied.  The ruling comes after the witness recently recanted his testimony and could lead to freedom for Willie Earl Green, a former chauffeur who was sentenced to 33 years to life in a 1983 execution-style slaying at a South Los Angeles crack house.  Los Angeles County prosecutors must decide whether to appeal the decision, retry Green or free him. Considering the judge's conclusion that the star witness was unreliable, prosecutors would probably have a difficult task if they chose to retry the case.

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.

UPDATE:  On June 18, 2014, Lynn DeJac Peters died of cancer.  She was 50 years old.

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.

The case that Rachel Jernigan robbed a Gilbert, AZ bank was based on eyewitness identification.  After she was arrested, the robberies continued. Before she was tried, FBI agents knew Rachel bore a striking resemblance to Juanita Rodriguez-Gallegos, who was arrested for a string of bank robberies in Gilbert and surrounding communities.  Did they notify either the prosecution or Rachel's defense attorneys?  Of course not.  Rachel served 7 years of a 14-year prison sentence for Rodriguez-Gallegos' crimes before the federal government admitted its error.


David Scott, 39, of Terre Haute, IN, had been serving a 50-year prison sentence for the 1984 murder of Loretta Keith, who was bludgeoned to death in her bed with a hydraulic jack. Authorities said that DNA testing not available in 1984 — including analysis of blood found on a nylon stocking at Keith’s home — cleared Scott.  Prosecutors said the DNA test results showed that Kevin Mark Weeks, 44, of LaGrange, Ky., was the person who killed Keith.

“This all happened so fast,” said Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt, who filed a joint petition with Scott for his release.  Not really.  Four months after Scott was convicted, Scott's public defender, Larry Wagner, presented evidence from Weeks' accomplice that Weeks killed Ms. Keith, and that Scott had nothing to do with it.  The Indiana courts, all the way up to and including the state supreme court, rejected the evidence, but the PD Investigator Always Knew Scott was Innocent.

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.

UPDATE:  September 9, 2008:  Prosecutors in Tim Masters case get public censure for their misconduct.  Both Terry Gilmore and Jolene Blair are judges now, and this isn't Gilmore's first censure for prosecutor misconduct.  Nonetheless, they are expected to be easily re-elected in 2010 -- assuming anyone runs against either of them -- because the public has such a short span of attention, and the voters don't really care.

UPDATE:  July 30, 2010:  Murder conviction was built on cop's lies
Lt. Jim Broderick, one of the lead investigators in the case against Masters, appeared before specially appointed Judge James Hartmann in a hearing that lasted about 12 minutes.  Broderick listened to the perjury charges against him but waived his right to hear a formal reading of the indictment. He did not enter a plea.  He is scheduled to be back in court for a status conference September 28, 2010.

Rickey Johnson of Leesville, LA spent 25 years in prison for a rape he did not commit.  His 2007 Christmas gift was being excluded by DNA, leading to his release.  How will he cope with a strange new world?  "I'll just take one day at a time. That's the way I learned it in prison; one day at a time. Wherever the Lord leads me, that's where I'll be."

Three times during his nearly 27 years in prison, Charles Chatman went before a parole board and refused to tell them what they wanted to hear: that he had raped a woman in his Dallas, TX neighborhood.  Chatman always maintained his innocence, and on January 3, 2008 a judge affirmed it. Chatman, 47, won his freedom after new DNA testing excluded him as the rapist, adding to Dallas County's nationally unmatched number of wrongfully convicted inmates.

Marty Tankleff
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



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.

John White confesses he's no angel.  But the Meriwether County, GA man always said he was innocent in the 1979 rape of a 74-year-old Manchester woman.  White, who was convicted of the rape and sentenced to life in prison, was released from the Macon State Prison in Oglethorpe, GA on December 10, 2007 after new DNA tests ruled him out as the rapist.

Two weeks after his release from prison in March 1991, Marcus Lyons arrived at the DuPage County Courthouse carrying a wooden cross.  As police tried to intervene, Lyons stepped onto a small platform attached to the bottom of the 8- by 6-foot crucifix, lifted a hammer and drove a nail into his foot.  It was a cry for help. Lyons had just served 3 years in prison for a rape he said he didn't commit.  "I needed someone to listen," he said in a recent interview.  A few years ago, someone finally did. A new attorney took his case, and in September, 2007, after DNA evidence from the 1987 crime proved his innocence, Lyons' conviction was dismissed by DuPage County State's Atty. Joseph Birkett -- the same prosecutor who tried the case.

A Durham, NC judge on October 8, 2007 dismissed murder and robbery charges first filed in 1993 against a mentally retarded defendant, ordering his release from a state hospital after 14 years in custody without a trial.  Floyd Brown, a 43-year-old Anson County man with an IQ of 50, was charged in the robbery and beating death of 80-year-old Katherine Lynch in 1993. He was found at the time to be incompetent to stand trial, and has remained in state custody at Dorothea Dix Hospital ever since as prosecutors refused to drop the case against him.

Few people listened when Ronald Gene Taylor declared himself innocent of a rape charge 14 years ago. But the Harris County District Attorney's Office finally agreed with him on October 3, 2007, acknowledging that the scandal-plagued Houston Police Department crime lab was responsible for sending yet another wrong person to prison.  The crime lab said there was no semen on a sheet taken from the rape scene.  New tests yielded the DNA profile of another man, a sex offender currently in prison, who looks very much like Taylor.

A slight cold drizzle fell from a colorless sky in St. Paul, MN. But after a decade behind bars, Sherman Townsend was ready to take any sky as long as he was free to walk beneath it.  "Oh, man!" exclaimed Townsend, tears in his eyes as he walked out of the Hennepin County jail a free man . Less than an hour before, a judge had commuted his 20-year sentence on a burglary conviction to the 10 years he'd already served.  He has maintained his innocence all along, and in a court hearing last week, another man - who'd been a key prosecution witness against Townsend - now said that he, not Townsend, committed the crime.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has overturned a 2001 solicitation for prostitution conviction that sent a Lutheran minister, Richard Kittilstad of Eau Claire, to jail after finding that key evidence - a taped conversation - had been altered by the alleged victims, male Panamanian students who wanted to stay in the United States.  Two different audio experts were able to see mechanical signs on the tape -- which purportedly recorded one conversation -- that five different tape recorders were used, and it had been dubbed, erased and spliced.

In 1982, a rape victim riveted a Dallas, Texas jury with her identification of Steven Phillips as her attacker.  She spoke at length about his "striking blue eyes."  So did the victims in 8 other sex crimes.  Phillips' eyes are green.  But when the jury convicted him anyway, Phillips pled guilty to the other crimes, which involved fondling.  Now Phillips is the first to benefit from Dallas DA Craig Watkins' joint initiative with the Cardozo Innocence Project, to identify and free the innocent.

UPDATE: August 6, 2008 - Steven Phillips has been officially exonerated of all the rapes he was wrongly convicted of committing back in 1982.  The GPS monitor attached to his ankle when he was paroled in the fall of 2007 has been removed, and Steven is free to come and go and live as he pleases.

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.

COMMENTARY:
Sometimes justice happens in spite of the justice system.  Sometimes it only happens when the people in the justice system get their noses rubbed in their messes.  On 9/11/07, Lancaster County District Attorney Donald R. Totaro did the right thing by freeing Charles T. "Ted" Dubbs from a 12- to 40-year prison term in two sexual attacks he probably did not commit. Dubbs was sentenced in May 2002.  Wilbur Cyrus Brown, a serial rapist who confessed to 13 other rapes, including one on the same jogging trail where Dubbs supposedly committed his crimes, confessed to those attacks in November.  But Totaro had to spin things to portray his office as a well-oiled machine that immediately turned to fix an honest error when it came to their attention. That’s not what happened.

In 2005, Claude McCollum was convicted of the rape and murder of Lansing (Michigan) Community College Prof. Carolyn Kronenberg in her classroom.  The conviction was based on what police termed a "confession" -- speculation whether McCollum could have committed the crime while sleepwalking -- and despite his exclusion by DNA.  Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III has reopened the case; he has been urged to test the same DNA that excluded McCollum against that of serial killer Matthew Macon.  Macon is linked to 5 recent murders similar to Prof. Kronenberg's, and another that occurred in 2004.

Now that evidence points to serial rapist/killer Matthew Macon as the man who brutally raped and murdered Lansing (Michigan) Community College Prof. Carolyn Kronenberg, experts are taking a careful look at what police and prosecutors called Claude McCollum's "confession" to that murder.  "It's shocking to me that this was enough to charge, and ultimately convict somebody," said Prof. Steve Drizin, one of the false confession experts who reviewed transcripts of the two-hour interview.  Read it for yourself.  Keep in mind that McCollum was excluded by DNA, and the state still called him a killer.  McCollum Police Interview Questioned.

UPDATE:  9/22/07 - Ingham County DA Stuart Dunnings, III has joined Claude McCollum's lawyer in asking the Michigan Court of Appeals to grant Claude a new trial.  According to the joint motion,
Lansing Community College Police turned over a videotape which apparently showed that Claude was somewhere else on campus at the time of Carolyn Kronenburg's murder.  Dunnings said if he knew in 2005 what he knows now, he would still prosecute Claude.  Why wasn't the videotape turned over before trial?

UPDATE:  9/24/07 - The Michigan Court of Appeals has granted Claude McCollum a new trial.

UPDATE:  10/16/07 - Claude McCollum released on bail.  State says he poses no danger to public.  Translation:  He's innocent.

UPDATE:  10/24/07 - Charges against McCollum dismissed


A defense lawyer was found ineffective because he failed to inquire into the effects of blood loss and heavy sedation on the memory of a robbery victim who identified a defendant 11 days after the crime, a federal appeals court has ruled.  The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the conviction of Derrick Bell, who is serving 12 1/2 to 25 years in prison for the robbery and shooting of Brentonol Moriah in Brooklyn in 1996.  Moriah, who suffered enormous blood loss from a single shot to the thigh, spent the next 11 days under heavy sedation and in a near-comatose state. He did not name Bell as his assailant at the scene of the crime, instead giving only a general description of "male black, wearing a lemon-colored shirt," even though he knew Bell from having shared space with him in a rooming house for more than a year.

Dwayne Allen Dail of Goldsboro, NC always said he was innocent. He always said he was not the man who raped a 12-year-old girl in September 1987.  He turned down a plea deal that would have put him on probation for 3 years because he knew he was innocent, and he refused to plead guilty to something he did not do.  But a jury believed the victim's eyewitness identification, tenuous and inconsistent as it was, and junk microscopic hair comparison testimony.  Now DNA has undone Dail's conviction, proving he was right all along--he is innocent, and now he is free.

UPDATE: 10/11/07 - NC Gov. Mike Easley has signed a pardon of innocence for Dwayne, clearing the way for him to receive compensation for the 18 years he spent in prison.


In the fall of 1995, a man wearing a nylon stocking over his face broke into the Yakima, Washington home of a young mother.  He taped a mask to the woman's face and raped her while her child screamed in the background.  Ted Bradford was convicted of the rape and served a 9-year sentence, but always said he was innocent.   DNA from the tape used on the mask excluded him and an appeals court has vacated his conviction.  Yakima deputy prosecutor Kevin Eilmes plans to retry Bradford.

Jeffrey Dake of Deerbrook, WI, who served nearly 10 years in prison for raping a teenage girl before a judge freed him because he didn't get a fair trial will not be tried again.  Dake was convicted of the sexual assault in 1997, a year after a 14-year-old girl told investigators that Dake, a friend of her family who stayed in her home occasionally, came home intoxicated and twice had sexual intercourse with her over a two-week period.  What the jury didn't know was that the girl's father had been charged with assaulting her two months before Dake's trial.

In December 2000, Henry Miller was at his sister's rural Louisiana home recovering from a stroke that left him partially paralyzed, barely able to speak and unfit for long travel.  Until recently, Utah prosecutors were convinced that despite the stroke, Miller had journeyed to Salt Lake City, where he stole a woman's purse at knifepoint in a convenience store parking lot. Miller spent 4 1/2 years behind bars before he was freed because of newly gathered evidence that supported his alibi.

Dan Lackey of Wampsville, NY spent 3 years in prison for a rape that may never have happened in the first place.  The strongest evidence against him was an unrecorded confession police claimed Lackey made.  But this was not a DNA exoneration.  Rather, Judge Biagio DiStefano vacated Lackey's conviction because his accuser's credibility came into question.  Just three months after Lackey was convicted, she filed a false claim of rape, was convicted of false reporting and did jail time herself.

After 22 years behind bars for horrific crimes he didn't commit, Byron Halsey of Plainfield, NJ walked out of jail on the fast track to freedom.  Halsey, 46, faced the death penalty after being convicted in 1988 of murdering Tyrone and Tina Urquhart, the children of his girlfriend, with whom he lived at a Plainfield rooming house.  The convictions were vacated after an advanced DNA test showed that a neighbor was responsible for the crimes.

July 9, 2007 - Byron Halsey will not be retried.  All charges against him have been dismissed.

A judge in Oklahoma City has dismissed murder charges against Curtis McCarty, who was sentenced to death three times in the 1982 slaying of a teenager -- convictions that were based largely on testimony from a police department chemist who was fired for fraud and misconduct in 2001.  Curtis was prosecuted by Oklahoma County DA Robert H. Macy, who sent 73 people to death row, more than any other prosecutor in the U.S.  Macy has publicly said that he believes executing an innocent person is a sacrifice worth making in order to keep the death penalty in the United States.

In 1998, Gilbert Amezquita was convicted of severely beating a woman whose family owned the Houston, TX plumbing company where he worked.  But in November 2006, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals suggested that the true attacker was Gilbert Guerrero and ordered that Amezquita be retried or set free.  In February 2007, Amezquita learned he would not be retried.  And in May 2007 comes more good news: the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has recommended he be granted a pardon on the basis of actual innocence.

We have followed their cases for years (see below).  Now both are finally free.

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


In April 2005, an Indianapolis, Indiana judge exonerated Harold Buntin of robbery and rape charges based on DNA test results, but the rest of the justice system didn't find out about the decision for two more years. Court officials found that a bailiff or clerk failed to properly enter and distribute the order clearing Buntin.  Instead, the order was sent to storage.  He spent an extra two years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. 

In 1981, Jerry Miller was pulled off the street in Chicago, IL and picked out of a line up by a rape victim.  At trial, Miller was convicted of rape, robbery, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated battery.  In 2007, he became the 200th person to be exonerated by DNA.  That same DNA matched the DNA of an offender in the FBI's Codis DNA database, which became operational in 1998.  That means the real criminal not only got away with the 1981 rape, but that he committed at least one more crime that put him into the Codis database.

The trend of prosecuting non-criminal conduct has spread from New York, where former U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani initiated it, to the heartland.  In Wisconsin, Georgia Thompson was a civil service employee when she was convicted of fraud, after being accused of steering a state travel contract to a firm whose top officials were major campaign contributors to Gov. Doyle. Never mind that she knew nothing about the campaign contributions and was just trying to save the state money.  In a stunning and extremely rare move, a 3-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals acquitted Thompson at the conclusion of oral arguments on April 5, 2007, and ordered her immediate release from prison.

Not a politically motivated prosecution?  Not a thinly veiled attempt by U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic to wound a sitting (Democrat) governor in the heat of an election?  If not, then why was Thompson repeatedly offered deals, even after she was convicted, if she would "talk about higher-ups."  Of course it was.  And an innocent woman was Caught in a Political Squeeze Play.

Anthony Capozzi of Buffalo, NY, an innocent man who has been in prison for almost 22 years after being wrongly convicted of two Delaware Park rapes, was exonerated March 29, 2007 by DNA evidence — evidence that had been stored in a cabinet at Erie County Medical Center for as long as he has been behind bars.  Capozzi, who resembled Altemio Sanchez, identified through the same DNA testing as the perpetrator of the attacks, had been convicted based on the testimony of the rape victims, who had picked him out of police lineups.

Analysis: The Wrongful Conviction of Anthony Capozzi: The Hindsight of DNA Technology
by William J. Morgan, Jr.

Antonio Beaver was convicted in 1997 in the carjacking of a woman near the St. Louis, MO Arch the year before. The robber, wielding a screwdriver, was stabbed during a struggle with the victim.  Blood inside her car was not Beaver's, according to recent DNA test results. Prosecutors said the sample had not been tested before trial because it was too small for the technology of the day.  Beaver's ordeal began when the carjacking victim described a man with a baseball cap and gap in his front teeth. Six days later, a St. Louis police officer noticed Beaver on the street and thought he fit the description. Beaver voluntarily participated in a line-up.  The victim picked him from among four men.

The Dallas County, TX district attorney's office has acknowledged that prosecutors illegally withheld evidence that might have saved a man from a 1983 rape conviction and 10 years in prison.  Newly discovered evidence amassed by attorneys for James Curtis Giles "strongly suggests" that he was misidentified as one of three men involved in the gang rape, prosecutors said.  They said his conviction should be overturned, but stopped short of declaring Mr. Giles innocent. Instead, they asked state District Judge Robert Francis for additional time to investigate Mr. Giles' claim that a man with a nearly identical name was the true rapist.

The case began on the evening of July 21, 1994. Police officers all over Queens, NY were looking for four Latino men suspected of snatching three cases of Tahitian black pearls from vendors returning to their hotel in Elmhurst from a gem show in Manhattan. The vendors estimated the jewels’ value at $1.5 million.  As they escaped, the thieves rushed at a man in his driveway, demanding his car. The man was an off-duty police officer, and he managed to shoot his service weapon, a 9-millimeter Glock, before he was knocked unconscious. He told detectives later that he thought he had hit a robber who was grabbing at the barrel of the gun. That same night, Napoleon Cardenas accidentally shot himself in the hand .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol that he had been showing to two visitors.  Witnesses who couldn't pick Napoleon out of a line up immediately after the incident decided they could identify him after days and even years had passed.  After 7 years in prison, Cardenas was able to prove his innocence with the bullet fragments in his hand -- from a .380-caliber pistol, not a 9-millimeter Glock.

Following a "trend" begun by former US Attorney (now a presidential hopeful) Rudy Giuliani, criminalizing non-criminal conduct, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Michael J. Garcia went after David Finnerty and 14 other NY Stock Exchange floor specialists for "interpositioning."  Interpositioning means that instead of matching pending buy and sell orders, the specialists repeatedly trade for their company's proprietary account, making a profit from the slight differences in pricing.  The government said Finnerty cheated customers out of $4.5 million.  Judge Denny Chin overturned a jury's guilty verdict, however, concluding that no one was defrauded of any money and that interpositioning is not a crime.

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.


Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan -- who presided over Timothy Atkins' murder trial 23 years ago -- overturned his conviction Thursday and ordered the Venice, CA man released immediately. Atkins, who is now 40, was still a teenager when he was convicted of killing Vincente Gonzalez on New Year's Day 1985.  The California Innocence Project, a law clinic at California Western School of Law in San Diego that seeks the release of the wrongfully convicted, was instrumental in securing his release after a key witness recanted her testimony that he confessed to the murder.

North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley has pardoned a Sanford man who spent more than five years in prison for a 1998 armed robbery in Goldsboro.  There was no physical evidence against Steve Snipes, only testimony that the masked robber of the convenience store sounded like Snipes trying to disguise his voice.  Snipes presented alibis and a witness who testified that a man named Terrance Wyatt was the robber. Wyatt was caught committing an identical robbery while Snipes was in prison.

DNA evidence has cleared an Atlanta, GA man who has served 21 years in prison after being convicted of raping and kidnapping a woman at a Sandy Springs apartment complex in 1985, the man's lawyers said on January 19, 2007.   Willie O. "Pete" Williams, who is now 44, was convicted largely on the eyewitness testimony of the rape victim and of another woman who was assaulted — though not raped — a few days later in the parking lot of another Roswell Road complex.

A 50-year-old Dallas man whose conviction of raping a boy in 1982 cost him nearly half his life in prison and on parole won a court ruling on January 17, 2007 declaring him innocent. He said he was not angry, “because the Lord has given me so much.”  The parolee, James Waller, was exonerated by DNA testing, the 12th person since 2001 whose conviction in Dallas County has been overturned long after the fact as a result of genetic evidence, lawyers said.

Over the years, it simply became known as "the Cumberland case."The cold-blooded murders of Michel Giroux and his pregnant common-law wife, Manon Bourdeau, in their Cumberland, Ontario (Canada), home on Jan. 16, 1990, ignited two of the longest criminal trials in Canadian history. Four men -- Richard Trudel, James Sauve, Robert Stewart and Richard Mallory -- were convicted of the slayings in two separate trials.  the charges against Trudel and Sauve were stayed.  Superior Court Justice Colin McKinnon said the case had been "ravaged over time" and the 16 years of delays -- due to adjournments, lack of proper disclosure, lost evidence and witnesses lying under oath -- called into question the integrity of the justice system.

The convictions of the remaining defendants in "the Cumberland case," Robert Stewart and Richard Mallory, have also been reversed.

UPDATE:  None of "the Cumberland case" defendants will be retried.  The Crown cites the age of the case and refuses to concede the innocence of the defendants. 

Visit Robert Stewart's website detailing the case at kangaroojustice.com.

Twenty-three times Matthew Fields told the Louisville detective interrogating him that he had nothing to do with an October 2005 break-in and sexual assault of a woman in her Parkridge Parkway home. But the detective told the 18-year-old that police could prove he did it. Midway through his two-hour interrogation, Fields told the police what they were waiting to hear -- he did it, although much of the information he gave them about the crime was wrong. For the next year, Fields sat in jail, awaiting trial.  But on January 10, 2007, prosecutors asked a Jefferson County judge to dismiss the case, because DNA tests on semen found at the woman's home didn't belong to Fields.

We may be jumping the gun, since a final decision must await further DNA tests on the remains of the real killer, but it appears that the persistence of Roy Brown of Auburn, NY will at last turn the key to his prison cell.  Jailed for a murder he did not commit, Brown unearthed statements withheld from the defense that implicated another man, Barry Bench, as the killer.  And DNA backs him up.

UPDATE: 
Defense lawyers for Roy Brown on January 22, 2007 revealed that in a conference call earlier today, District Attorney Jim Vargason agreed to join the motion to vacate Brown's conviction for the 1991 murder of social worker Sabina Kulakowski.

In light of DNA evidence, a Duval County, Florida judge has thrown out the guilty verdict against Chad Heins, who was convicted 10 years ago for the 1994 murder of his 20-year-old pregnant sister-in-law in Mayport.  State Attorney Harry Shorstein, who previously said the DNA evidence was not sufficient to overturn the verdict, said he has not decided whether to retry Heins.  Barry Scheck, director of the Innocence Project, the New York-based legal group that took Heins' case, met with Shorstein. Scheck said Shorstein is a "thoughtful, responsible prosecutor" and he's "hopeful" that Heins can be set free.

UPDATE:  11/20/07 - Almost a year since his conviction was reversed and a new trial granted,
lawyers for Chad Heins said that new state tests linking unidentified semen from his slain sister-in-law's bed to DNA from her fingernails cast further doubt on his guilt in the 1994 Mayport murder.   The retrial had been scheduled for Dec. 3 but was postponed indefinitely on 11/19/07 by Circuit Judge L. Page Haddock.  Another BIG step toward freedom.

UPDATE:  12/4/07 - Dec. 4, 2007 - Chad Heins has been released from jail after DA Shorstein drops murder and attempted sexual battery charges against him.  A Free Man After 13 Years.

Matt Livers of Murdoch, Nebraska, the latest false confessor to a murder, was set free after evidence that two other persons committed the crime surfaced.  The State's own expert agreed with the findings of the defense expert that Livers was mentally retarded, vulnerable to the tactics used by the police, and the confession was almost certainly false.  Still to be explained are findings in the car police said Matt drove the night of the murders.  Interestingly, no DNA is found in the car on first inspection. It is only on second inspection, using a wet swab, that the DNA is found, in the only area searched.

Marlon Pendleton of Chicago, Illinois says, "I always knew I was innocent," although the woman who picked him out of a line up was certain he was her assailant.  His repeated requests for DNA testing went unheeded while he served the first 10 years of his 100 year sentence for rape.  U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow heard his plea and ordered DNA testing.  The results absolutely exclude Marlon as the rapist.  The victim, however, remains convinced that she picked the right man. 

In April 1981, a Dallas woman was attacked and raped in her bedroom. When police showed her photographs of potential suspects two days later, she did not identify Fuller.  Several days later, police showed her a second group of photos. The photograph of Fuller was the only one that appeared in both arrays. Although the victim said her attacker did not have facial hair, and Fuller was pictured with a full beard, she identified him and he was arrested.  Twenty-five years later, Fuller has been exonerated by DNA.

Nine years after he was convicted of rape and burglary and 11 years after his arrest, DNA tests have cleared Allen Coco's name and record.  The 38-year-old Louisiana man had insisted since his arrest in 1995 that he was innocent. The 28-year-old victim had chosen his picture from a photo lineup.

If not for a chance inventory of DNA samples gathering dust in a Connecticut warehouse, Scott Fappiano might still be lifting weights in prison.  But after the samples were discovered by his lawyers, Mr. Fappiano finally had the evidence he had sought for half of his life. A New York State Supreme Court judge has vacated his conviction for the 1983 rape of a Brooklyn woman, after the tests showed he had not committed the crime for which he spent more than two decades in prison.  “It’s the easiest thing in the world to get into jail,” Mr. Fappiano said, “and the hardest thing in the world to get out.”

A man in prison since 1991 after being convicted of raping and killing a Peekskill High School classmate will go free now because a DNA match has linked another inmate to the crime.  Jeffrey Deskovic was 17 when a jury found him guilty of murder in the Nov. 15, 1989, death of Angela Correa. The jury knew then that DNA evidence did not match Deskovic, but jury members convicted him based on testimony from a Peekskill detective that Deskovic had confessed to the crime.

UPDATE:  The Report on the Conviction of Jeffrey Deskovic, prepared at the request of Westchester County (NY) DA Janet DiFiore, was released on July 2, 2007.  Click HERE to read the report.

Twelve-year-old J. Daniel Scruggs of Meriden, Connecticut was bullied so relentlessly at school that the Conn. Dept. of Children and Families, after inspecting his home, suggested his mother keep him out of school until a transfer could be arranged.  A few days later, the boy hanged himself in his closet.  Then the local prosecutor charged his grieving mother, Judith Scruggs, with keeping such a dirty house that it prompted the boy to commit suicide.  A jury agreed and convicted Scruggs of causing her child's suicide.  The Connecticut Supreme Court has overturned her conviction.

Think it can't happen to you?  Think only people who live on the edge, run with the wrong crowd, get into trouble can be charged with crimes they didn't commit?  And do you think the "system" will sort it out?  Think again.  Look at what happened to Lisa Hansen.  And she's lucky, because a year later, she was exonerated.  That's a rare good ending.

Kewaunee County, WI prosecutors dismissed murder charges against Beth LaBatte, 39, the woman who was once convicted — and imprisoned for 10 years — for the 1991 deaths of sisters Ceil and Ann Cadigan.  LaBatte's case was championed by the University of Wisconsin Law School's Innocence Project. The Innocence Project won motions to have evidence from the case re-analyzed using current DNA technology and planned to use those findings at trial.  Kewaunee County District Attorney Andrew Naze announced the state's decision to drop the charges as the case was gearing up to go to trial a second time.

UPDATE:  Beth LaBatte was killed in a car accident on September 2, 2007, just 13 months after she was exonerated and released from prison.

Johnny Briscoe of St. Louis, MO spent 23 years in prison for a rape and burglary he didn't commit, but he never gave up hope of proving his innocence.  Neither did investigators and attorneys retained by Centurion Ministries.  It took four searches to find the evidence that set him free: a cigarette butt from the scene with the real rapist's DNA on it.

Briscoe lost half of his life to a justice system that refused to see his innocence.  How he was convicted, how he was freed:  Trashing the Truth.

Stuart Gair, of Glasgow, Scotland, was convicted of stabbing a man to death in 1989 and sentenced to life in prison.  Gair had a solid alibi that placed him on the other side of the city at the time of the crime, but the jury believed an eyewitness who said he "studied" the killer's face.  What neither the jury nor Gair's attorneys knew was that the eyewitness had already admitted to police that he had made up most of his identification story.  Seventeen years later, Gair's conviction has finally been vacated.

UPDATE:  10/30/07 - Stuart Gair died in Edinburgh, Scotland after suffering a heart attack.  John McManus, a founder of the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation, said his death had been brought on by the stress of his ordeal.

Alan Newton, a former bank teller from the Bronx, has been released from prison after serving 22 years for a rape he did not commit -- a victim first of mistaken identification, then of a housekeeping problem of epic scope. For more than a decade, Mr. Newton, 44, pleaded in state and federal courts for DNA testing that was not available when he was tried, but Police Department officials said they could not find the physical evidence from the case. That evidence, a rape kit taken from a woman who was kidnapped and assaulted, was located only after a special request was made last year by a senior Bronx prosecutor to a police inspector.  The rape kit, it turned out, was in its original storage bin, ever since 1984.

A man imprisoned for more than 18 years for kidnapping and raping a woman was released after new forensic tests showed evidence from the crime did not match his DNA.  James Calvin Tillman, 44, told his family he wanted to take a quiet walk and watch the squirrels play for the first time since 1989, when he was convicted and sentenced to 45 years in prison.  Tillman was 26 when he was charged with abducting a woman as she got into her car near a Hartford restaurant, then beating and raping her at a nearby housing project.  The victim picked out Tillman from a series of photos and he was convicted.

Orlando came to the U.S. in 1980, part of the Mariel boat-lift.  In 1982, he was convicted of raping a Key West, FL woman, a crime he did not commit, and sentenced to 55 years in prison.  He escaped in 1985 and was captured 10 years later.  Three months later, he escaped again and stayed out for a year.  Now, DNA has proven Orlando innocent of the 1982 rape.  The judge has set him free.  The prosecutor has apologized.  And U.S. Immigration has thrown him into jail, intending to deport him because while he was on the run, he failed to register and properly pursue citizenship. 

New York State Supreme Court justice Thomas Van Strydonck has freed an AIDS-stricken man who has been imprisoned a decade for a murder prosecutors now say he did not commit.  Recent DNA testing showed that Douglas Warney, 44, is innocent of the 1996 slaying of civil rights activist William Beason, prosecutors acknowledged in state Supreme Court.  Warney was convicted in 1997 of the slaying. The case against him was largely based on a confession he gave in 1996. His lawyers contended that the admission was riddled with errors, and were the rambling of a man with an IQ of 68 who suffered from AIDS-related dementia.

Eighteen years after Drew Whitley was imprisoned for life in the 1988 murder of McDonald's night manager Noreen Malloy, prosecutors are prepared to free the former West Mifflin man after a second round of DNA tests indicated he was not responsible for the killing.

A judge threw out the conviction of a man after he spent five years in prison on charges of sodomizing his teenage daughter, who had claimed repressed memories of a childhood attack.  Judge Patricia Summe found that Timothy Smith might well have been acquitted if his lawyer had challenged a prosecution expert who had backed up Katie Smith's story.

Cedric Willis, 29, of Jackson was freed after spending 12 years locked up for a crime he didn't commit, a judge ruled.  Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie T. Green dismissed murder and armed robbery charges against Willis after District Attorney Faye Peterson made the motion.  "No one wants an innocent person in prison," Green said.

George Pitt always said the only thing he was guilty of was having bad friends, and that the only thing prosecutors put on trial was his lifestyle.  Now, 12 years after the New Brunswick (Canada) man, an admitted alcoholic, was condemned to life in prison for the rape and murder of his six-year-old stepdaughter, authorities have finally tested key evidence from the crime scene and have found none of it matches his DNA

After his amnesia cleared in prison, Christopher Bennett, of Stark County, Ohio, begged someone to test the blood on a van dashboard, sure it would prove he wasn't the driver in a fatal crash. The Ohio Innocence Project listened, and DNA tests, along with other evidence, convinced the Ohio Court of Appeals to unanimously reverse his conviction -- in spite of his guilty plea.

Alan Crotzer of Tampa, Florida stepped into the warm sunlight outside the courthouse and raised his arms to the sky, celebrating his freedom after more than 24 years behind bars for crimes he didn't commit.  A judge freed the 45-year-old Crotzer after DNA testing and other evidence convinced prosecutors he was not involved in the 1981 armed robbery and rapes that led to his 130-year prison sentence.

Don't thank the legal system for Clarence Elkins' exoneration.  The "system" failed him at every turn of an 8-year, nightmare saga.  Thank Elkins himself.  Elkins nabbed the cigarette butt discarded by another inmate, Earl Mann, and sent it to his lawyer.  Mann's DNA matched that of the person who raped and killed Elkins' mother-in-law and raped his niece.  Even then, Summit County prosecutors scraped the ground, looking for some way to keep Elkins in prison.  Only when the Attorney General and Governor became involved did the Summit County prosecutor decide to throw in the towel and free Elkins (but he is taking his time about charging the real killer).

A St. Louis, Missouri woman was viciously attacked and raped in her own home.  Stephen Judd was arrested and, inexplicably confessed, but DNA tests excluded him.  Then a cold hit matched the DNA of James Fujimoto, who had never been a suspect in the attack.  Kudos to St. Louis police and prosecutors who did not prosecute Judd anyway,  based on his false confession, and were rewarded by getting the right man.

On March 13, 1986, Pittsburgh, PA police came by Olivia Doswell's, to have a word with her son. There'd been a rape nearby, and, though Mr. Doswell bore no resemblance to the description given police, the victim and a witness picked him out of a photo array, triggering a cascade of injustice: an arrest, a conviction, and a 12- to 24-year sentence. But Doswell never strayed from his story of innocence. And on Aug. 1, 2005 he was freed - exonerated by DNA evidence.  Ironically, his honesty - the persistent claim of innocence - cost him more than guilt would have. He refused to confess to gain leniency or parole, and served at least six years more than he would have if he'd confessed. He also refused to harbor anger, adopting an attitude of such peace that he has become a model of forgiveness, his story broadcast worldwide.

Two Philadelphia, PA men who have served 18 years in prison for a 1987 homicide were granted unconditional freedom after the District Attorney's Office made a rare motion in court to nullify their convictions and drop charges against them.  The action was based on statements and polygraph examinations of a witness who exonerated the two men, and on related evidence.

It took a courtroom minute to end 15 months of limbo for Clyde A. Johnson 4th, a Philadelphia, PA social worker wrongly accused of a shooting that investigators now say could be linked to confessed serial killer Juan Covington.  Police arrested Johnson after he was picked out of a photo lineup by the victim. Unable to post $1 million bail, Johnson was detained at the city's Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.  When Covington confessed to three slayings, police took a second look at the case against Johnson. The Bryant shooting occurred around the corner from Covington's home. Bullets were tested and matched a gun owned by Covington.

Canadian William Mullins-Johnson, who spent more than a third of his life in prison for a rape and murder that may have never taken place, stepped into the sunshine on September 21, 2005, freed on bail from a 12-year "hell" while Ottawa decides whether he fell victim to another Canadian miscarriage of justice.  The 35-year-old Mullins-Johnson, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was convicted in 1994 of sodomizing and strangling his four-year-old niece Valin Johnson, who was found dead in her bed on the morning of June 27, 1993.  Two experts, including Ontario's chief pathologist, now say Valin was never sexually abused or strangled. They argue she in fact died of natural causes, possibly from choking on her own vomit caused by a chronic stomach ailment.

UPDATE:  10/15/07 - Mullins-Johnson officially found innocent.

George Rodriguez's Long Saga
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?"

UPDATE [Link]:  George Rodriguez released.

UPDATE
[Link] George Rodriguez will not be retried.

UPDATE - 3/2/11 -- The Harris County, TX District Attorney is requesting the full exoneration of George Rodriguez, based on additional DNA tests that completely exclude him and identify the true perpetrators:  Manuel Beltran and Isidro Yanez.

In December, 1991, Troy Hopkins of Richmond, VA was convicted of killing Curtis Kearney in July, 1990.  In 1992, another man confessed to the murder, and in 1994 the Virginia Court of Appeals reversed Troy's conviction.  His vindication didn't last long; the Virginia Supreme Court reinstated his conviction, and he spent 10 years in prison -- until he was released on parole -- for another man's crime.  Now Virginia Governor Mark Warner has pardoned Troy, saying, "I am convinced that Mr. Hopkins is innocent of the charges for which he was convicted".

For 26 years, the people of Miami, Florida believed the Bird Road Rapist was Luis Diaz, and that he had been caught and locked up.  The rapist was named after the location in the Miami area where the rapes occurred. The rapist used the same method with all of his victims: He attacked young women driving in the Bird Road-U.S. 1 area of Coral Gables. He would signal the women to pull over by flashing his headlights, then force them to have sex at gunpoint.  Diaz was convicted based on identifications made by eight victims, even though some of them initially described their attacker as being 6-feet tall, 200 pounds, and fluent in English.  Diaz is 5-foot-3, about 130 pounds and speaks little to no English. He also constantly smelled of onions because he worked as a fry cook - although none of the victims described their attacker having that odor.  Now DNA as excluded Diaz as the Bird Road Rapist, and he has been set free.

Alejandro Dominguez was 16 when he was charged with the September 1989 home invasion and rape in Waukegan. He was convicted in a 1990 trial, in large part because the victim identified him as her attacker. Dominguez insisted he was wrongly identified and was innocent. Sentenced to 9 years in state prison, he served more than 4 years, receiving time off for good behavior, before he was released in December 1993.  Even though he was free, Dominguez continued to try to prove his innocence. He persuaded lawyer Jed Stone to seek DNA testing on semen recovered from the victim.  The tests excluded Dominguez as a source of the semen, and they prompted Lake County prosecutors and Stone to ask a judge to vacate the convictions.

In a New Jersey case with striking similarities to those of Clarence Elkins of Ohio and Ralph Armstrong of Wisconsin, a Superior Court judge has thrown out Peterson's 1987 conviction for rape and murder and ordered a new trial.  Peterson has been excluded by DNA as the donor of hairs that the prosecution claimed "matched" his hairs and "proved" his guilt.

Ralph Armstrong [pdf format]
In the same week that a judge in Ohio decided that the DNA exclusion of Clarence Elkins as the source of sperm found in the murder victim's vagina and her granddaughter's underwear was not enough to overturn Elkins' rape and murder conviction, the Wisconsin Supreme Court stepped up to the plate and gave Ralph Armstrong his freedom in a strikingly similar case.  Armstrong gives all of us hope.

UPDATE - 4/13/07: 
Prosecutors retrying a 1980 murder charge against Ralph Armstrong  in Madison, WI cannot use the results of a DNA test on a key piece of evidence because the results were obtained in violation of a court order, a judge has ruled.  Dane County Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser said the state acted in "bad faith" when it went ahead with the testing without notifying the defense and, in the process, used up the material - in violation of the judge's order.  Bad Faith.

UPDATE - 4/25/08:  Now we know why the state violated a court order to test -- and use up -- key evidence.  The state, and specifically, Assistant DA John Norsetter, has known for 13 years that Ralph Armstrong's brother confessed to the crime of which Ralph was convicted. 
Norsetter, who retired from the office last year, allegedly not only failed to investigate or notify Armstrong’s defense attorneys of this confession, he subsequently ordered a test that destroyed evidence that could have established Steve Armstrong’s guilt.  Worse Than Bad Faith

UPDATE - 8/1/09:  Ralph Armstrong’s long wait for freedom, four years after his conviction for the 1980 rape and murder of a UW-Madison student was overturned, came closer to an end Friday after a judge dismissed the charges against him.  Reserve Judge Robert Kinney, of Rhinelander, said a Dane County prosecutor in 1995 should have told Armstrong’s attorneys about a reported confession to the murder of Charise Kamps by Armstrong’s brother. He also said a prosecutor-ordered test in 2006 caused the destruction of a semen stain on a piece of evidence that could have eliminated Armstrong as a suspect in Kamps’ murder.  Is it really almost over?

In October, 2004, Kevin Fox of Wilmington, Illinos was arrested following a 14-hour interrogation in which investigators said he confessed to molesting and murdering his 3-year-old daughter Riley in June of the same year.  The prosecutor, just days away from a hotly contested re-election bid that he ended up losing, vowed to seek the death penalty.  A sheriff's officer called the FBI Lab at Quantico, Virginia in November and told them to stop working on DNA evidence sent there for analysis.  Kevin's attorney convinced the new prosecutor to send the evidence to a private lab for testing, and the DNA test results "absolutely" exclude Kevin.  Charges that could have led to his execution have been dropped.  Riley's killer remains free.

UPDATE:  5/28/10 - Riley Fox's killer, identified by DNA as Scott Wayne Eby, has been charged with abducting the 3-year-old from her own bed, raping and murdering her.  After putting the Fox family through hell with the bogus charges against Kevin, then losing a $15.5 Million lawsuit for malicious prosecution, Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas has apologized to the Foxes.  Well, sort of.  He had a spokesman do it on his behalf.  So Little, So Late.

A former western Wisconsin police officer on trial for a second time in the murder of his ex-girlfriend was cleared on April 29, 2005 after a district attorney conceded he couldn't prove his guilt.  Eau Claire County District Attorney Rich White asked a judge to drop the first-degree intentional homicide charge against Evan Zimmerman, whose previous murder conviction was overturned on appeal.

What drove the case against Evan Zimmerman is the same phenomenon that drove the cases against Scott Hornoff, John Maloney and so many of the other innocent men and women -- those who have been cleared and those who languish in prison --  tunnel vision on the part of investigators and prosecutors.  Even when proven to be absolutely wrong, they cling to theories that keep dangerous criminals on the street and put us all at risk.

Getting out of prison didn't free Jennifer Hall. Friends call and ask her to go out, but she mostly stays home. She takes college courses — online so she does not have to leave the house. Hall, who lives in Shawnee,KS with her parents, was convicted in 2001 of starting a fire at Cass Medical Center in Harrisonville, where she worked as a respiratory therapist. But last year a judge threw out the verdict and wrote a ruling highly critical of Hall's first attorney. At a second trial, in February, a jury took three hours to decide the fire was caused by an electrical short in an old clock cord. By then Hall, now 24, had been paroled after serving one day short of 12 months.

Larry Souter, 53, of Grand Rapids, Michigan has been freed after serving 13 years of a 20 to 60 year prison sentence.  Souter was convicted in 1992 of killing Kristy Ringler, whose body was found in the middle of a road in 1979.  Authorities theorized Miss Ringler was hit in the head with a whiskey bottle.  New evidence indicates she was struck by a passing motor home.

The Colorado Supreme Court has reversed the felony murder conviction and life sentence of Lisl Auman, who was found guilty even though she was in custody when a companion shot and killed a police officer.

In May 1981, when Michael Williams was 16, a jury in Jonesboro, LA rejected his claim of innocence, deliberating for less than an hour before convicting him of the savage beating and sexual assault of his math tutor.  Nearly 24 years after his arrest, independent DNA tests by three laboratories, including the Louisiana state crime lab, show what Williams has long contended: He is not the man who committed the crime.

UPDATE: 10/30/07 -
Michael Williams was just a high-school sophomore when he was tried as an adult for the rape of his 22-year-old tutor. The woman's head was covered during the attack, but she testified that she recognized the teenager by his voice. Despite a lack of physical evidence, Mr. Williams was convicted and sentenced to life without parole.  When Mr. Williams was freed by DNA after 24 years in prison,  he had nowhere to go. The Innocence Project tracked down several of his siblings, but after 24 years, they barely knew him, and refused to take him.  A Stranger to His Family

Cook County, Illinois prosecutors have dropped murder charges against Dan Young, Jr. and Harold Hill, who have spent more than 12 years behind bars, after DNA test results undermined their confessions and testimony from a dentist who implicated the two through a bite mark and a hickey.

UPDATE:  After only 14 months of freedom, while his reparations check sat on the governor's desk awaiting signature, Dan Young was killed by a hit-and-run driver.  He died Short of His Dream .


The Ohio Parole Board has decided Gary Reece, a Cleveland-area man, has spent the last 25 years behind bars for a crime he may not have committed and voted unanimously for his release. His conviction was based entirely on the uncorroborated testimony of alleged victim Kimberly Croft.  Reporters and others who have been following the case have noticed that she has made very strange statements in public, to the point of suggesting a lack of sanity. For example, on one television news program, she claimed that Gary Reece actually killed her during the attack in question, but that 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarves' brought her back to life.

UPDATE:  On July 26, 2010, Gary Reece died of cancer.  He was 51 years old.  He was the best ambassador the Ohio Innocence Project could ask for, sharing his story to help raise money for the group.  Said Mark Godsey, director of the Ohio Innocence Project, "Gary Reece spent 25 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit and he never once complained."

Back in 1988, Texas Department of Public Safety serologist Glen Adams testified that Brandon Moon was among "15% of the population" who could have contributed semen in a 1987 rape.  Relying on that overstated testimony, an El Paso jury convicted Moon and he was sentenced to 75 years in prison.  It was another win for junk science.  In 2004, DNA cleared Brandon.

John Michael Harvey
After serving 12 years of a 40-year sentence for sexual assault of a child, Harvey has been found "actually innocent" by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and released from prison.

Click HERE to read about the prosecutorial misconduct that put him in prison and was given a free pass.

Since 1989, at least 200 inmates have been released from California prisons after courts found that they were unjustly convicted.  San Francisco Magazine did a detailed analysis of 30 cases from around the state to find out what went wrong, and what can be done to prevent future injustices.

Saying the autopsy report was wrong, Winchester, TN District Attorney Mike Taylor dismissed a murder charge against Margaret Mignano, accused of killing her severely disabled daughter with an overdose of medication.  The murder charge was based on the autopsy report of Dr. Charles Harlan of Nashville, a forensic pathologist who is defending his medical license against state charges of misdiagnosing causes of death in other cases and destroying evidence in criminal investigations.

In 1984, the body of Bruce's girlfriend, Sherry Fales Williams, was found next to an interstate exit in Utah.  Bruce was convicted of raping and murdering her, even though two defense witnesses testified he was with them in Stockton, CA.  After 19 years, DNA has shown what Bruce has insisted all along -- he is innocent.

Louis Greco died behind bars in 1995 from cancer and heart disease.  He suffered horribly, losing a leg to amputation because he was denied proper care for his diabetes.  Along with co-defendants Peter Limone and Joseph Salvati , Louis was framed for murder by the Boston FBI to protect their informant, mob hit man Steve "The Rifleman" Flemmi.  Nine years after Louis' death, the prosecutor has acknowledged he was an innocent man.

Sylvester's case is yet another example of how pressuring children to make false allegations leads to wrongful convictions.  In 1984, two young girls were molested by their cousin who was also a juvenile.  Their grandmother, thinking the cousin would be sent to prison, convinced the girls to accuse Sylvester Smith instead.  Now grown, the victims have recanted and are supported by the trial testimony of one of them -- she told the defense attorney her grandmother said to accuse Smith.

San Joaquin County, California Superior Court Judge Stephen Demetras ordered the release of 36-year-old Peter Rose after 10 years of incarceration.  Convicted of sexually assaulting a 13 year-old Lodi girl in 1994, Rose was sentenced to 27 years in prison.  With no history of violent crime or sexual assault, Rose has maintained his innocence from the beginning.  DNA testing has proved him right.  It has also shown the tragic results when police browbeat a child into accusing the person they have already decided is guilty.

In his second day of questioning by Los Angeles police detectives, David Allen Jones sealed his fate.  Although never admitting to murder, he repeatedly incriminated himself in the deaths of three prostitutes. By the time he got to describing what happened with the third woman, Mary Edwards, the story came easily.  On the strength of the incriminating statements, a jury convicted Jones of the three killings. But there was a problem: Jones did not kill them.  Eleven years later, DNA and other evidence exonerated Jones and a judge voided his conviction in the killings. He was freed in March, 2004.

Twenty-three years after he was convicted of murdering a Braintree, MA man in an ambush, Frederick Weichel has won a new trial because of newly discovered evidence and allegations that the case was tainted by James "Whitey" Bulger and the fugitive mobster's associates -- including the FBI.

More than 17 years after Ernest Willis went to death row for setting a house fire that consumed two sleeping women, West Texas prosecutors cited new suspects Monday.  Faulty wiring perhaps. Maybe a defective ceiling fan.  Finding little to no evidence of arson, the Fort Stockton district attorney said he would file a motion today that is expected to make Willis the first inmate to walk free from Texas' death row in seven years.

Read more about Ernest's case and the other six who walked free from Texas' death row:  Death Isn't Fair

Citing pervasive misconduct by prosecutors, a judge has reversed convictions against David Munchinski, imprisoned for nearly 20 years in a double murder case in Fayette County, PA.  Visiting Judge Barry Feudale accused three former Fayette County prosecutors -- two of whom are now judges -- of "seeking and maintaining convictions to the detriment of the search for the truth" in the case of a grisly murder of two men in a Laurel Mountains cabin in 1977.

But wait!  The State is appealing, claiming the judge was barred from reversing David's conviction on "procedural grounds".  The judge who reversed his conviction ordered David released on bail, but another court kept him behind bars, at the request of the Attorney General.   Misconduct as Usual

Click HERE to read Bill Moushey's 2002 "A Question of Innocence".

Kevin Coleman of West Palm Beach, Florida, who spent 13 years in prison for a murder he said he didn't commit was freed after a judge learned investigators suppressed evidence that indicated he wasn't guilty.  Circuit Judge Lucy Chernow Brown called the murder investigation ``shameful'' and said Coleman's conviction was " a stain on the record of this court."

Clarence Harrison of Decatur, GA, has spent 17 years in prison for rape, kidnapping and robbery.  The victim identified him from both a photo and live lineup.  He has become the 150th person proven innocent by DNA in the past ten years.

Lawrence Lloyd
Northland, New Zealand
Ever wonder if it's different in other parts of the world with legal systems that share the same origins as that in the US?  It's not.  When Kathy Sheffield was murdered in 1994, Lawrence knew he didn't do it, but he couldn't remember what happened, so he confessed.  He served 7 years in prison.  Now it turns out he's innocent.

Arthur Lee Whitfield spent part of his first hours of freedom standing up on the bus that carried him home. Whitfield was released from prison after DNA tests exonerated him of raping two women in Ghent, VA in August 1981.  He had served 22 years of a 63-year sentence.  Whitfield had little to say to the investigator who helped convict him, or to the two women who at trial said they were sure he was the man who had raped them.  “It would be nice for them to say they made a mistake,” he said. “It takes a big person to say they made a mistake.”

At the age of 18, following a grueling 17-hour interrogation, Harold Hall of Los Angeles, CA confessed to murdering two people.  His conviction was sealed with the fabricated testimony of professional "snitches".  It took 19 years, but Hall has finally been exonerated and released.  The real killer remains unknown and, presumably, at large, thanks to the quick-and-dirty work of LAPD.

On Jan. 25, 1995, Kenneth Conley was a young patrol officer from South Boston, MA dispatched to a shooting and foot chase.  Pursuing one of the shooting suspects on foot, Conley was so focused on his prey that he didn't see other Boston police officers beating an undercover officer.  When he testified to what he saw -- and didn't see -- the U.S. Attorney charged Conley with perjury.  His conviction was overturned twice after it was learned Asst. U.S. Attorney Theodore Merritt withheld from the defense evidence that his star witness actually couldn't remember where Conley was in relation to the location where the undercover officer was beaten.

Robert Carroll Coney was in prison when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He was in prison when the Beatles came to America, when men walked on the moon, when the war raged in Vietnam, when Communism fell, and when the Internet and cellphones were invented.   But after spending almost every day of the last 42 years behind bars, Mr. Coney, 76, walked out of the Angelina County jail in Lufkin.  A state district judge had found credence in Mr. Coney's longstanding claims that he had been beaten into pleading guilty, without a lawyer, to a $2,000 Safeway supermarket robbery that landed him a life sentence in 1962.  The judge further found a long-forgotten court order should have expunged those criminal charges as far back as 1973.

Update:  No Bars Can Keep Them Apart
The True Love Story of Robert and Shirley Coney

Ken Marsh spent 21 years in California prisons for a crime that never happened.  He was convicted in 1984 of murdering 2-year-old Kenneth Buell based on testimony of treating physicians -- with no independent corroboration -- who were seeking to protect themselves from malpractice claims.  His conviction was reversed without an evidentiary hearing based on insufficiency of the medical expert evidence.

Ken Marsh and his attorney, Tracy Emblem, have generously made available extensive forensic resources utilized in his case for the benefit of other innocent people facing similar charges.  Visit Free Ken Marsh

When a jailhouse snitch seeking a deal on charges against her accused Robert Louis Armstrong of a 1998 triple murder, Armstrong met willingly with Maricopa County investigators.  He knew he had been in Oregon when the murders occurred.  A cop put a clip on Armstrong's shirt that he said was a "sensitivity test" and declared Armstrong was lying.  Armstrong was charged with 3 counts of capital murder.  A determined Public Defender Investigator found Armstrong's bus ticket and the bogus case began to unravel.

In 1986, a masked man attempted to rape a young mother in Richmond, VA.  She was the first victim.  Kenneth McAlister looked a lot like the would-be rapist.  He was the second victim.  McAlister served 18 years in prison for a crime in which he had no part.  He was denied parole and pardon even though the detective who arrested him and the prosecutor who charged him went to bat for him, admitted their mistake and said they believe he is innocent.  He was released on mandatory parole. 

This Sharpes, FL case was a classic -- mistaken victim identification and perjured snitch testimony put him in prison for a 1981 rape.  He has been exonerated by DNA, and freed after 22 years.

Once condemned to die by lethal injection for the 1997 murder of a Bridge City, LA grocer, Ryan walked out of court a free man.  Prosecutors dropped all charges after DNA cleared Ryan and implicated another man.

During the 10 years he spent in prison for a rape he did not commit, Neil Miller of Boston, MA often thought about the man who should have been behind bars.  DNA exonerated Miller in 2000.  The same DNA has identified the real rapist, Lawrence Taylor.

The latest inmate to be released from an Illinois prison after DNA tests exonerated him filed his own petition to seek the DNA test even though he has limited ability to read and write.  Moreover, he was represented at his trial on rape charges 11 years ago by a lawyer who apparently was disbarred a short time later.

It began after reading THE PROBLEM OF FALSE CONFESSIONS IN THE POST-DNA WORLD by Steven Drizin and Richard Leo (North Carolina Law Review, March 2004, Vol. 82 No. 3). In their monograph they identified 125 false confessors of serious felonies who have now been found to be legally innocent. Robert Perske's search is only for persons with "intellectual disabilities" who have been exonerated. So far, 34 have been found and the number is climbing.  False Confessions

Police used ruses -- and drawn guns -- to get Afton Cain to confess to robbing a bank in a town she never heard of and implicate a woman -- Latosha Haliburton -- she had never met.  The case against them has fallen apart, but  the FBI agent, the cops and the prosecutor are satisfied with their conduct.  "I would do it all again," said the prosecutor.  That's the scariest part of this story.

Weldon Wayne Carr will not be retried for murder and arson in the death of his wife.  His conviction was originally overturned in 1997, when the Georgia Supreme Court cited the unreliability of evidence that a trained dog found a fire accelerant at the scene.  The Court also rebuked then-prosecutor Nancy Grace -- now host of Court TV's "Closing Arguments" -- of engaging in "inappropriate and, in some cases, illegal conduct in the course of the trial." 

Nathaniel Lewis did not rape a fellow University of Akron (Ohio) freshman.  It took his accuser's diary, a five-year prison stay and nearly two years of waiting for courts, but Lewis has at last been vindicated.

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.

A judge has tossed his 1974 murder conviction, finding the Boston police withheld evidence that the snitch who was their star witness was in prison when he said Adams confessed to him at his home.  The snitch was released from prison as reward for his perjury.  Boston prosecutors have let Adams sit despite the release order because they can't find the file.  He's the forgotten man.

Two Sex Abuse Witch Hunt Victims, Free at Last
Gerald Amirault's Freedom John Stoll

The Feds made two cases against former Chicago police officer Steve Manning, a murder in Illinois and a kidnapping in Missouri.  They based both on the perjured testimony of notorious snitches, and put Manning on Death Row for the Illinois murder.  Manning was cleared of the murder conviction in 2000, but was left to serve a life sentence in the Missouri kidnapping.  Now he has been cleared of that bogus conviction as well, and it appears the kidnapping never even happened .

Police and prosecutors in East Boston, MA were certain Billy Leyden killed and decapitated his brother Jackie in March, 2001.  Fixated on what they called "inconsistencies", they charged him with 1st degree murder.  Billy was released on bail but lost his job, and neighbors locked their doors when they saw him coming.  Then, in January, 2004, Eugene McCollom confessed to killing Jackie Leyden, and directed authorities to Jackie's head, buried on a beach in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  Indeed, the head found there is Jackie's, and charges against Billy are slated to be dismissed.  But so far only the Florida press is reporting this story.

Sentenced to die for the murder of a man he had never met, Alan Gell got a new trial when it was learned prosecutors withheld an audio tape of their star witness saying she had to "make up a story" about Jenkin's death.  At Gell's retrial, it took the jury only 2 1/2 hours to return its verdict:  Not Guilty

Read the Raleigh, NC News-Observer's riveting series on the framing of Alan Gell:   Who Killed Allen Ray Jenkins

A classic, this case has it all:  botched crime scene processing, forensic fraud by the FBI Lab, reliance on perjured testimony by jailhouse snitches, manipulation of a credulous media to slander the defendant and poison the jury pool, plus inciting hatred and a desire for revenge against the defendant among the victims' families that is so intense they cannot let it go even after the feds are forced to admit the defendant didn't do the crime.

Defense attorney Fred Heblich said,
"I think that people looking at this, if nothing else, that they should take heart in the operation of the system."  Truth in Justice respectfully disagrees.  People looking at this, if nothing else, should be very, very afraid of the operation of the system.

On Dec. 4, 2003 a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the State of California to release Thomas Lee Goldstein without bail after finding that 24 years ago prosecutors had denied him a fair trial. But California ignored the Court and has kept Goldstein in custody.  On January 30, 2004, the judges repeated their original order, putting in capital letters their directive for Goldstein's "IMMEDIATE RELEASE FROM CUSTODY."

Hours after a judge dismissed Thomas Lee Goldstein's 24-year-old murder conviction, Goldstein was right back where he started his long legal struggle: standing in a courtroom, entering a plea of innocent.  Superior Court Judge Arthur Jean granted a defense motion on February 2, 2004 to dismiss the conviction, but prosecutors refiled the case almost immediately.  Innocence is Irrelevant

UPDATE:  On April 2, 2004, Thomas Lee Goldstein was finally freed when LA Deputy DA Patrick Connolly admitted the state lacks sufficient evidence to retry him.  Justice Delayed 24 Years

In 1997 an assailant dropped his hat when he shot Boston police officer Gregory Gallagher in the buttocks.  Then the shooter burst into a nearby home, drank a glass of water and dropped his sweatshirt before fleeing.  Later Officer Gallagher identified Stephan Cowans as the assailant (although the woman whose home was invaded disagreed) and a crime lab technician said a fingerprint on the water glass was Stephan's.  Now DNA has trumped both.  DNA on the hat, the sweatshirt and the water glass are from the same person -- but not from Stephan .

UPDATE:  Two days after vowing to retry Stephan Cowans -- calling the fingerprint identification "compelling evidence" -- the Suffolk County District Attorney has admitted the print is not Stephan Cowans. Conviction Vacated

UPDATE:  10/26/07 - Stephan Cowans was found shot to death in his home. 

In a decision that sharply criticizes the actions of Pennsylvania parole officials, a federal appeals court has ordered the release of Louis Mickens-Thomas -- a 75-year-old Philadelphia man imprisoned since 1964 who for 40 years has insisted he is innocent of the murder of which he was convicted -- after finding that the board's latest explanations for denying his parole was a "thinly veiled excuse" that "leaves us with no doubt of its bad faith."

UPDATE:  January 21, 2011 -- Finally, seven years after the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that Louis Mickens-Thomas, an innocent man, be released "forthwith," he is actually going to leave prison.  Mr. Mickens-Thomas, now 82 years old, will live with a nephew.  The state's bad faith in this case is utterly disgusting.

Darryl Hunt
At Last -- Darryl Hunt has been Released!

Landmark Series (including updates) from the Winston-Salem, NC Journal

Murder, Race, Justice
The State of North Carolina v. Darryl Hunt

February 6, 2004:  Darryl Hunt officially exonerated
Unfortunately, police and prosecutors in Winston-Salem were so thorough in inciting hatred and a desire for revenge against Darryl Hunt in victim Deborah Sykes' family that her mother and step-father refuse to accept that another man raped and killed their daughter -- alone.

Since 1966, at least 20 people in Louisiana have been freed from prison because judges found they had been wrongfully convicted of murder or rape.  Louisiana is not the exception in this regard.  Rather, it is typical , and these 20 are just the tip of the iceberg.  Louisiana List

A couple who became fugitives in 1984 following accusations that they abused their 4-year-old daughter left jail feeling vindicated after prosecutors dropped the charges, but said their lives had been ruined.  Edward and Karri LaBois fled Minnesota with their daughter 19 years ago after the abuse accusation was made. They were arrested Nov. 10 when an informant tipped police that they were living in a Salt Lake City suburb.  Sex Abuse Witch Hunt Scam

The biggest "stars" converged on Adams County, PA in 1987 to convict Barry Laughman of murdering his elderly relative, Edna Laughman.  State Trooper Jack Holtz --who took $50,000 from author Joseph Wambaugh for information on the case against Jay Smith, framed for a murder he didn't commit-- got Barry, who is retarded, to "confess" by saying "yes" to whatever Holtz suggested.  Then crime lab chemist Janice Roadcap came up with the fanciful theory that antibiotics Edna was taking at the time of her death changed Barry's blood type from B to A, the killer's blood type.  Holtz and Roadcap were exposed as frauds while Barry remained in prison.

UPDATE:  Barry Laugman Released from Prison
For the first time in more than 16 years, Barry Laughman of Hanover, PA is surrounded by family and friends rather than bars, guards and other inmates.  The DNA that freed him was tracked down by investigative reporter Pete Shellem of the Harrisburg, PA Patriot News A Life Regained

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the State of Ohio to release or retry Wyman Castleberry because the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office and the Columbus Police Department hid evidence of Mr. Castleberry’s innocence.  Black Mark on Franklin County, Ohio

In Boston, MA, Shawn Drumgold walked out of jail after Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Rouse vacated his conviction, saying "justice was not done" at his 1989 trial and that the "system had failed."  15 Years for Someone Else's Crime

Congress is intensifying its probe into FBI misconduct, with the powerful House Judiciary Committee now planning its own national examination of the way FBI agents handle criminal informants.  Hopefully, they'll look at the case of Pasquale Barone, Jr.  His brother-in-law was forced to commit perjury, naming Barone the killer of his own best friend.  When notified in a police memo of the recantation, the US Attorney not only hid the memo from defense attorneys, he forged a new memo and forced the witness to lie under oath.  Barone is free, but Still Under a Cloud

Terry Harrington embarked on his new life on October 24, 2003, free after serving 25 years of a life sentence and always maintaining his innocence.  He is a Free Man .

After more than 20 years behind bars, Calvin Willis was set free Friday after DNA tests showed he did not rape a 10-year-old girl.  Louisiana does not compensate the wrongly convicted.  It's A Slap in the Face

Jimmy "Spunk" Williams, 32, was freed from prison after 10 years when a woman recanted testimony identifying him as the man who raped her when she was 12 years old. He agreed Monday to a $750,000 settlement. The state also will pay about $84,600 in fees to two lawyers.  Ohio's Largest Award for Wrongful Conviction

In a plot twist few involved could have imagined, the Baltimore County state's attorney's office now believes the killer in the 1984 slaying has been hiding behind bars since a month after the crime.  Kirk Bloodsworth was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. His sentence was overturned in 1987, but he was convicted again and given life without parole. After his pardon and release -- his was the first DNA exoneration in this country of someone who had been on death row -- a growing cadre of supporters urged Baltimore County prosecutors to use the same scientific technology to try to identify the true killer.  What Took So Long?

Thirteen years ago, when he was a homicide detective, San Francisco Police Chief Earl Sanders hid evidence the John Tennison and Antoine Goff were innocent of killing Roderick Shannon -- the real killer's confession.  Tennison and Goff went to prison; Sanders' duplicity helped take him to the top of the heap.  Now a federal judge has overturned those convictions and pinned the blame squarely where it belongs.   John Tennison and Antoine Goff

After 17 years in prison - most of it seeking DNA tests to prove his innocence - Lonnie Erby walked free on August 25th because genetic testing conclusively showed he had not committed two of the three rapes for which he was convicted.  His exoneration came despite strenuous opposition by Circuit Attorney Jenniver Joyce, who argued the DNA testing would cause unnecessary upheaval for victims and their families and unneeded expense.  All three victims picked him out of a line up.  Lonnie Erby

California's 2nd Appellate District Court has overturned Jose Salazar's murder conviction in the death of Adriana Krygoski.  That conviction was based on the testimony of LA Dep. Coroner James Ribe, who claimed that "shaken baby" injuries -- in this instance, intracranial bleeding -- could be accurately "timed" and therefore used to identify the assailant.  This "theory" has been discredited by medical science.  Web of Deceit

A divided Nevada Supreme Court has reversed the the murder convictions of Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish.  They had been found guilty of killing Las Vegas casino executive Ted Binion, despite the fact that medical experts testified Binion, a know heroin addict, died of an overdose of heroin, Xanax and Valium.  They will get a New Trial .

Thanks to the efforts of the Innocence Project New Orleans, Gregory Bright and Earl Truvia have been released after over 27 years in prison for a murder they did not commit.  They are Innocent Men .

In 1981, Eddie Lowery was a young soldier stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas.  Interrogated for hours, he finally confessed to raping a 74-year-old woman.  Eddie served 10 years of a sentence of 11 years to life and was released on parole.  Now, 21 years later, Eddie has been Cleared by DNA.

Kenneth Wyniemko of Mt. Clemons, Michigan served 9 years of a 60 year sentence for rape and robbery before he was cleared by DNA testing.  He  has been freed, at last.   Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga, moved to tears, declared,  " I want people to know this man is Absolutely Innocent ."

Christopher Conover , 48, of Towson, Maryland, spent 18 years behind bars for two murders.  He has been freed following DNA tests that prove two hairs found at the crime scene and used against him at trial weren't his after all.  

In 1984, a coerced false confession and perjured jailhouse snitch testimony sent Dennis Halstead, John Kogut and John Restivo to prison for 30 years for the rape and murder of a Long Island, NY teenager.  DNA tests in the early 1990's excluded them, but was rejected as "unreliable" by the court.  New DNA tests not only excluded them, but identified the assailant.  The state still won't admit they are innocent, but they have been Set Free .

In 1991, Rick Walker of Santa Clara County, CA was convicted of murder, thanks to an amoral trial prosecutor willing to trade truth for a deal with a liar and a near-vegetative defense attorney.  Thanks to a dogged defense attorney and an honest prosecutor, Rick has been freed and declared Factually Innocent .

Dana Holland, 35, was freed after a Cook County judge found him not guilty in a retrial on the 1993 attempted murder and armed robbery of a woman in Chicago.  Holland had been linked to that crime by a wallet found at the scene that had belonged to another woman, a rape victim. Holland was originally convicted of that rape, but DNA evidence exonerated him of it earlier this year. He had been sentenced to more than 100 years in prison for both crimes and served 10 years.   The victim of the attempted murder testified against Holland again at his retrial, identifying him in court. Eyewitnesses Rarely Concede Error

More than a quarter-century after they were sent to prison for one of the most sensational crimes of the 1970s, two Chicago men, Michael Evans and Paul Terry, walked free into the arms of tearful relatives and a dramatically different world after prosecutors agreed they should have a new trial. Prosecutors will retry them, although DNA has excluded them .

The past several years have been full of high legal drama for Glen "Buddy" Nickerson as he and his lawyers have relentlessly pursued his release from state prison for a double murder he said he never committed.  He finally got the freedom he'd been looking for when the Santa Clara district attorney's office announced it would not retry Nickerson for the 1984 slayings of two San Jose drug dealers.  Free after 19 Years

After 11 years in prison, DNA has cleared Michael Mercer of raping a 17-year-old girl.  The victim saw Mercer 2 months after she was attacked and identified him as her assailant.  She was certain, but she was wrong

In February, 2002, ten years after Timothy Brown and Keith King were sent to prison based on coerced confessions to the 1991 murder of a Broward County Sheriff's Deputy, another deputy confessed to the killing.  (See The Real Killer has Confessed )  The killer subsequently recanted, but even after Timothy Brown's confession was thrown out, the State of Florida refused to let him go.  Finally, 15 months later, an innocent man has been freed -- and a killer remains on the loose.  "I'm Finally Going Home"

Eighteen years after he was sent to death row for a 1984 murder, John Thompson of New Orleans, LA has been found not guilty by a second jury.  Now he is a Free Man  

The Missouri Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of death row inmate Joseph Amrine, who had claimed he was innocent of killing another prisoner 17 years ago.   The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, said Amrine had shown "clear and convincing evidence of actual innocence that undermines confidence" in his conviction.


In 1983, in Lowell, MA, two rape victims identified Dennis Maher as their assailant.  For 19 years, Dennis protested his innocence.  DNA tests have confirmed his innocence and he has been freed.   126th DNA Exoneration

Another Court Victory for Beverly Monroe

  No Retrial

A federal judge has thrown out a murder conviction against Timothy Brown, a retarded man, in the 1990 killing of a sheriff's deputy.   The ruling eliminated a confession the judge called "the only meaningful evidence" against Brown, who was 15 at the time of the killing, and had a mental age of 7 or 8.  The Real Killer has Confessed

Jonathon Kaled and Frank Kuecken
The Long Road Home
Coerced Confessions - A Close Call
- A Tragic Ending



In 1998, a rape victim identified Josiah Sutton as one of her assailants when she saw him on the street, and the Houston, Texas crime lab claimed DNA tests implicated him.  The crime lab has been shut down because of the poor quality of its work, and new DNA tests have excluded Josiah.   4 1/2 Years in Prison -- for Nothing

A 1981 Philadelphia, PA murder case is not unusual.  Two pair of men confessed to it.  The pair that didn't do it -- one spoke no English, the other has an IQ of 60 to 65 -- spent 20 years in prison for it.   Felix Rodriguez and Russell Weinberger

Two days after a fire broke out at Woodgrains Furniture in Albert Lea, MN, an insurance investigator removed an extension cord from the scene.  The female end of the cord was suspected to have caused the fire, but it disappeared.  Then owner Bryan Purdie was charged with arson and -- guess what -- insurance fraud.  But it was the insurance company that perpetrated the fraud, and after an exhaustive 26-month battle, the Arson Case has been Dismissed .

Over 21 years ago, a rape victim in Hampton Roads, VA saw Julius Ruffin on an elevator and insisted he was her attacker.  After two mistrials, he was convicted at a third trial and sentenced to five life terms.  Now he has been Cleared by DNA .  

When Diomedes Polonia was charged with robbery and attempted murder, he turned down a New York Legal Aid lawyer and paid $5,000 to a private attorney whose incompetence got Diomedes convicted.  Five years later, two young attorneys working pro bono have obtained his freedom.   You Don't Always Get What You Pay For

The Missouri Supreme Court has overturned the convictions of Danny Wolfe, sentenced to death for a double murder six years ago near the Lake of the Ozarks. ``This court's confidence in the fairness of the trial and the reliability of Wolfe's conviction is seriously undermined,'' Judge Richard Teitelman wrote for the state's highest court, which reversed the convictions and ordered a new trial.  Danny Wolfe

Rudolph Holton spent more than 16 years on Florida's death row for a crime he did not commit. On January 24, 2003, Mr. Holton became the 23rd Florida death row inmate to be exonerated since 1973, and the fourth Florida death row inmate exonerated in the last 25 months.   Another Death Row Inmate Exonerated

In Texas in 1997, facing a deadlocked jury, Wesley Ronald Tuley pleaded guilty rather sit for another trial and the possibility of life in prison if convicted.  Then his accuser recanted her allegations.  The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled that Innocence Supercedes Guilty Plea

Four Chicago Men Framed for Murder Exonerated
Omar Aguirre, Luis Ortiz, Duarte Santos and Robert Gayol


After a night out with his buddies, James Andros, III, a veteran police officer, the son of a police captain, calls 911 to say his young wife is dead. The medical examiner rules the death a homicide — asphyxia by suffocation — and the husband is charged with killing his wife, his childhood sweetheart. Facing a life sentence, he loses his job and his children, and finds himself vilified by neighbors and the news media. Brutal wife killer?  No.   Botched Autopsy.

Jeffrey Scott Hornoff Exonerated and Freed

In His Own Words : Scott Hornoff speaks out about his fellow officers, the media, prosecutors and more.

REINSTATED :  On 1/6/04, RI Superior Court Judge Joseph Rogers wrote, " An innocent man should not have spent six years in jail for a crime he did not commit, and an innocent man should not be burdened by a wrongful conviction."  With that, Judge Rogers ordered Scott reinstated to the Warwick RI Police Department, with back pay and benefits.

UPDATE:  Scott was reinstated (and resigned), but all the back pay went to attorney's fees and child support arrears that accumulated while he was in prison.

Scott's Autobiography:  WithPrejudice

Laurie Bembenek
Milwaukee, WI
Convicted of murdering her husband's ex-wife, cleared in the court of public opinion, Bambi is still running to prove her innocence once and for all.
Ray Krone
Phoenix, AZ
Henry Roberts (Dec'd.)
Baltimore, MD
Paul and Karen Stanley
Akron, OH
Gloria Killian
Sacramento, CA
Earl Washington
Prison is Now a Memory

February 7, 2004:  Lawyers representing Earl Washington in his lawsuit against the Culpeper, Virginia police who orchestrated his conviction for the brutal 1982 rape and murder of Rebecca Williams have gathered evidence "including the identity of the convicted rapist whose DNA was identified in the semen mixed with the victim's bodily fluids on the . . . blanket on which she was stabbed and sexually assaulted; his criminal history; circumstantial evidence of his motive and opportunity to commit this crime; and admissions by him".  Yet Virginia authorities have no intention of prosecuting Ms. Williams' killer, and have kept the evidence under seal to protect themselves.  Release of slaying-case decision is sought

Keith Longtin
Pr. George's Co., MD
Michael Piaskowski
Green Bay, WI
Anthony Hicks
Madison, Wis.
Terri Strickland
Tabor City, NC
Chris Boots & Eric Proctor
Eugene, OR
Jeffrey Miller
El Centro, CA
Derek Bentley
London, England
Gregory Wilburn
Philadelphia, Pa.
Richard Holland, Sr.
Windsor, Va.
Kirk Noble Bloodsworth
Baltimore Co., Md.
Jennifer Wilcox and Robert Aldridge
Montgomery County, Ohio
Anthony Porter
Chicago, Ill.
Anthony Gray
Pr. Frederick, Md.
Thomas Brewster
Shasta Co., CA
Paris Carriger
Phoenix, Az.
Michael Weber
Hammond, Ind.
Nicholas Delauri
Warsaw, Va.
Ralph Grounds
James City Co., Va.
Marlon Passley
Cambridge, Mass.
Wilbert Thomas
Huntington, WV
Calvin Johnson
Clayton Co., GA
Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz
Ada, Ok.
John Duval & Betty Townsend
Rochester, NY
Update on John Duval
John Thompson
New Orleans, LA
Ron Jones
Chicago, IL
Vincent Jenkins
Buffalo, NY
Ellen Reasonover
Dellwood, Mo.
Gilbert Peppin 
St. Paul, MN
Cheryl Amirault LeFave 
Cambridge, MA
  Nelson Galbraith
Palo Alto, CA
Wenatchee, WA Sex Abuse Cases
Bruce Godschalk
Montgomery Co., PA
Sheila Bryan
Omega, GA
Clyde Charles
Houma, LA
Anthony Faison and Charles Shepherd
New York, NY
Eddie Baker
Philadelphia, PA
Paul Camiolo
Montgomery Co., PA
Frank Bolduc and Frank Larkin
Boston, MA
Xavier Catron
Chicago, IL
Antowine Butts
Brooklyn, NY
Gary Gauger
Richmond, IL
  James Sosinski
Linden, NJ
Anthony Rizzo, Jr.
Alexandria, VA
Herman Atkins
Los Angeles, CA
Jason Barber
Gilmer, TX
Armand Villasana
Springfield, MO
Larry Youngblood
Pima Co., AZ
Anthony Robinson
Harris Co., TX
Carlos Lavernia
Austin, TX
Roy Criner
New Caney, Texas
Larry Monticolo
Harris Co., TX
Leonard "Powder" Brown
Oliver Springs, TN
Walter Smith
Columbus, OH
Joe Kennedy
Greensboro, NC
George Lindstadt
Suffolk Co., NY
A Wisconsin Grandfather
Christopher Ochoa
Austin, TX
Peter Limone
Boston, MA
Joseph Salvati
Boston, MA
Kenneth Waters
Cambridge, MA
James McCann
Vancouver, WA
Donald Paradis
Couer D'Alene, ID
Danny Brown
Toledo, OH
Gary Wayne Drinkard
Decatur, AL
Peter Reilly
Falls Village, CT
Glen Nickerson
San Jose, CA
Jerry Townsend
Miami, FL
Charles Fain
Boise, ID
Dennis Counterman
Lehigh Co., PA
Michael Green
Cleveland, OH
Kevin Wiggins
Baltimore, MD
Jeffrey David Cox
Richmond, VA
Randall Adams
Dallas, TX
Marvin Anderson
Hanover Co., VA
Richard Alexander
South Bend, IN
Michael Austin
Jessup, MD
Juan Melendez
Lakeland, FL
Patricia Carbone
Harrisburg, PA
William Kelly, Jr.
Steelton, PA
Clark Jerome McMillan
Memphis, TN
Eve Rudd
Cleveland, OH
Anthony Robinson
Houston, TX
  Dianne Tucker
Chatom, AL
Angelo Martinez
Queens, NY
Jesus Avila
Lynwood, CA
Larry Johnson
St. Louis, MO
Larry Osborne
Louisville, KY
Eddie Joe Lloyd
Detroit, MI
Jimmy Ray Bromgard
Billings, MT

  Michael Graham, Jr. and Albert Burrell
Michael Graham, Jr. ~ Adjusting to Freedom
  David Milgaard:  A Canadian Tragedy
  Thomas Sophonow, Ron Dalton and Randy Druken - More Canadian Tragedies
  
Freed from Florida's Death Row
Juan Ramos
Sonia Jacobs
Bradley Scott
Joseph Green Brown
Ernest Miller and William Jent
13 Other Fla. Death Row Survivors

 
Truth in Justice

 
 
 
 
 

























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