Home / Innocence Cases

Johnny Depp Helping Free the Memphis Three

(Apologies for the intrusive plea from CBS to allow its ads. If I find a better link I'll swap it out).

Johnny Depp is going to bat for the Memphis 3. Great cause, I hope the publicity that he can bring to the case does some good. [More...]

(16 comments, 174 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Tim Masters Gets $4.1 Million for Wrongful Conviction

Larimer County, Colorado has agreed to pay Tim Masters $4.1 million for the ten years he spent in prison, wrongfully accused and convicted of murder.

Masters was 15 when Fort Collins, Colorado, police began investigating him in the murder of 37-year-old Peggy Hettrick, who was found murdered and sexually mutilated in a field near Masters' family home. He was convicted largely on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of an expert witness who said he fit the profile of a sexual predator.

Two prosecutors, Terrence Gilmore and Jolene Blair, were found to have withheld exculpatory evidence. Both are now judges, and opposed the settlement, saying they didn't have a chance to defend themselves. [More...]

(16 comments, 253 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Longest Held Wrongfully Convicted Man Goes Home

Bump and Update: Bain was freed from prison today and officially cleared of the crime.

James Bain has been imprisoned for a rape and murder he did not commit for 35 years. Of the 245 inmates cleared and freed by DNA testing, he has been in jail the longest. He is 54 years old, and has been imprisoned since age 19.

Today, he should be going home.

At the hearing Thursday in Bartow, Florida, the state is expected to agree to Bain's release while the final aspects of its investigation are completed. After the initial DNA test, state investigators collected more DNA from Bain and from the victim in the case for further testing. Another hearing will be held, probably after the new year, which would formally vacate his conviction.

..."It's an indication that while all the 'i's' have not been dotted yet, there appears to be a sufficient likelihood of where this is going," said the spokesman, Chip Thullbery. "We don't think it's appropriate for Mr. Bain to spend any more time in prison."

Mr. Bain's family is ready for his return. They have a house, car, and even pajamas waiting for him. And now he will start to rebuild his life. [More...]

(43 comments, 511 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

DNA Frees Man After 28 Years for Rape and Murder

Donald Gates was convicted of rape and murder in 1981. After 28 years, DNA testing has exonerated him. A judge ordered him released today. Formal hearings to clear Gates will follow. The judge also criticized the Government for relying on an FBI analyst whose findings contributed to Gates' conviction:

Senior Judge Fred B. Ugast angrily criticized government officials who relied heavily on the testimony of an FBI analyst during Gates's trial. The analyst incorrectly linked Gates to two hairs from an African American male, found on the body of white college student Catherine Schilling, who was slain in 1981.

That FBI analyst, Michael P. Malone, was discredited in a 1997 review by the Justice Department along with 13 other analysts for making false reports and inaccurate tests.

What is the 58 year old getting?

He'll be given a bus ticket to Ohio, where he's from, winter clothes and $75.

(10 comments) Permalink :: Comments

Man Freed After 4 Years, Victim Admits False Rape Report

Biurny Peguero claimed three men kidnapped and raped her. She swore to it under oath at the grand jury and at the trial of William McCaffrey, a construction worker. He was convicted and sentenced to 20 years. He went to prison. Four years later, McCaffrey was officially cleared today.

How did it happen? His attorney was able to get new DNA tests on bite marks on Peguero's arms. The reports at the time of the trial were inconclusive. The new testing showed the bites didn't come from McCaffrey but from two women who had fought with Peguero.

Peguero later confessed to a priest and then to the DA's office that she made the whole thing up. She wanted people to feel sorry for her.

She claimed she was raped because she wanted her friends "to feel badly" for her, and then was afraid to back down from her story as the case continued, prosecutors said in court filings this fall. She thought McCaffrey ultimately would be acquitted because of a lack of other evidence, prosecutors said.


(21 comments, 427 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

NY Judge Clears Man After 18 Years, Cites Innocence

Fernando Bermudez cried as the Judge vacated his murder conviction today, after serving 18 years in prison. There will be no retrial, his case was dismissed.

Bermudez ''has demonstrated his actual innocence,'' state Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo said. ''This court wishes to express its profound regret over the past 18 years. I hope for you a better future.''

He was not freed immediately due to a pending 27 month federal sentence on drug charges. How was he convicted? Faulty eyewitness evidence and another participant in the fight in which the victim was killed got immunity for pinning it on Bermudez. [More...]

(16 comments, 559 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Court Frees NY Man After 26 Years : "Compelling Innocence" Case

Dewey Bozella was convicted twice of a brutal murder. He served 26 years. His conviction was overturned yesterday and he was immediately freed. DNA evidence did not play a role. What convicted him:

The prosecution relied almost entirely on the testimony of two men with criminal histories, both of whom repeatedly changed their stories and both of whom got favorable treatment in their own cases in exchange for their testimony.

What freed him: A retired police officer who had saved his file, "who said it was the only one he kept after retirement, figuring that the conviction was so problematic lawyers might want it someday." In the file was evidence the prosecution had failed to turn over to the defense. [More...]

(8 comments, 427 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Dog Scent Lineup Gets Wrong Guy, Junk Science?

In Texas, police used a dog scent lineup to get the perp in a murder case. The dogs got it wrong.

According to the dogs, the perp was one of the cops. He was under suspicion for five months. Then, DNA revealed the real murderer who pleaded guilty.

The Innocence Project of Texas calls the practice "junk science that's being used by prosecutors and judges to convict people." The nonprofit group... wants state governments to ban the use of dog-scent lineups. It says an unknown number of people have been wrongly accused or convicted from the dog-scent lineups.


(21 comments, 226 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Colorado DA's To Use Grants to For DNA Testing of Possible Wrongful Convictions

Some welcome news to report on DNA testing in innocence claims:

Funded by a $1.2 million federal grant and using the latest DNA technology, Colorado prosecutors hope to review as many as 5,000 rape, murder and manslaughter convictions in the next 18 months to determine whether any inmates currently in Colorado prisons were unjustly convicted.

....Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said they, along with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and law students, will conduct a "systematic review" of cases where defendants may have been unjustly convicted, using DNA testing as a critical component in the review.


(3 comments, 296 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

NC: DNA Frees Another Wrongly Convicted Inmate

Joseph Abbitt, age 49, was sentenced to two life terms for murder and rape. He served 14 years.

Today, he leaves prison a free man, as DNA saved by the Winston-Salem police department but only re-tested recently, has proven he was not the culprit.

A joint motion to vacate the convictions against Abbitt filed by the Forsyth County District Attorney's Office and the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence is scheduled to be heard at noon today by Judge A. Moses Massey in Forsyth Superior Court.


(3 comments, 189 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Appeals Court Upholds $101.7 Million Verdict Against FBI

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld an award of $101.7 million against the FBI for framing four men in a gangland slaying. One man served 33 years in prison, another 29 years and the other two died in prison. The verdict was initially entered by U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner following a 22 day bench trial.

Judge Gertner found the FBI not only withheld exculpatory evidence, it continued to hide it for decades after the trial. The award is to the families of Peter J. Limone, Joseph Salvati, Louis Greco, and Henry Tameleo. The appeals court wrote (opinion here):

“But when we take into account the severe emotional trauma inflicted upon the scapegoats...we cannot say with any firm conviction that those awards are grossly disproportionate to the injuries sustained.’’

(10 comments) Permalink :: Comments

Bruce Lisker Conviction Overturned

Bump and Update: The judge has decided to order Lisker released on bond pending the DA's decision on whether to retry him.


Original Post Sunday 8/9/09

In 2005, the LA Times published a 15 page online report on the conviction of Bruce Lisker. Lisker, at age 17 was charged with killing his mother. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. I wrote about it here and TChris wrote about it in 2008 here.


(2 comments, 192 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

<< Previous 12 Next 12 >>