Tag: wrongful conviction

DNA Testing Clears Colorado Man After Serving 18 Years

Robert Dewey, a Colorado inmate sentenced to life without parole for murder, left jail today a free man after serving 18 years of his sentence. DNA testing, using a technology not available at the time of his conviction, proved he was innocent.

Dewey is the 290th person to be exonerated nationwide on the basis of DNA evidence proving factual innocence -- meaning someone else committed the crime.

"I find that Mr. Dewey is factually innocent of the crimes of which he was accused of in this case," the judge said, noting Dewey had spent more the 6,000 days behind bars. "Mr. Dewey is now again a free man."


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DNA Exonerates LA Inmate Henry James: Freed After 30 Years

Henry James was convicted of aggravated rape in Louisiana in 1982 and sentenced to life without parole. Today, the court vacated his conviction after DNA testing proved he was not the perpetrator. He served 1 month less than 30 years, the longest time served by any DNA exoneree in Louisiana.

James was convicted based in large part on a faulty cross-racial eyewitness identification. He had three alibi witnesses at trial: his father, his boss and a neighbor. The jury convicted anyway.

His stepfather confirmed that he had been asleep at the time of the crime. (James’ mother had passed away, and he lived with his stepfather. James slept in the same bed as his stepfather.) Another witness testified that he saw the defendant walking to work and gave him a ride the rest of the way, and his boss testified that he arrived at work at 6:48 AM. However, James’ lawyer failed to inform the jury about the serological testing that excluded James as a suspect.

Although DNA had been collected at the crime scene, it wasn't tested at the time of trial. By the time James was able to get the Innocence Project on board, it had been lost. Last year, a lab worker came across the slide while looking for DNA evidence in another case. [More...]

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NY Jury Awards $18.5 Million to Wrongfully Convicted Man

Alan Newton served 22 years for a rape he didn't commit. For years, New York police kept insisting there was no DNA to test. The Innocence Project took up his case and got a DA to find the evidence the police insisted didn't exist:

The rape kit, it turned out, was in its original storage bin from 1984, Barrel No. 22, in the same police warehouse that the authorities said they had searched at least three times since Mr. Newton first asked in 1994.

The DNA cleared Newton and he was released from prison in 2006. A New York jury yesterday awarded him $18.5 million in damages.

The Innocent Project said in 2006 that Newton could have been cleared in 1994, and that 17 other inmates face the same dilemma.

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Supeme Court Won't Decide Prosecutorial Misconduct Immunity Case

Terry Harrington and Curtis W. McGhee Jr. were wrongfully convicted of murder in Iowa and served 25 years. The Iowa Supreme Court vacated their convictions, saying the prosecutors failed to disclose exculpatory evidence of an alternative suspect.

The men then sued in federal court, also alleging the prosecutors had procured false testimony against them. They won on that claim, and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding a prosecutor’s procurement of false testimony “violates a [criminal defendant’s] substantive due process rights.” The Supreme Court agreed to decide the case and heard oral arguments. The case was Pottawattamie County v. McGhee, 08-1065.

Now, a settlement has been reached. Harrington and McGhee will get $12 million, and the Supreme Court has dismissed the case, meaning no ruling will be forthcoming on whether prosecutors can claim personal immunity for such misdeeds. [More...]

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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...]

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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...]

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LIFE was his sentence, life is what he got back

LIFE was his sentence, life is what he got back

by Kirsten D. Levingston

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Will LIFE imitate art or tell it like it is?

Will LIFE imitate art or tell it like it is?

by Kirsten D. Levingston

What happens when a cop is wrongly convicted of murder, serves a dozen years in prison, is freed by DNA, and returns to the very department responsible for the miscarriage of justice against him?  We'll find out this Wednesday at 10p. when NBC premieres its new crime drama, LIFE.  

The show's protagonist is LAPD police officer Charlie Crews, convicted of a triple murder he claims he did not commit.  Sentenced to a life term at a maximum security prison Crews loses his job, family, and friends before a DNA test proves his innocence.  

How does LIFE's compelling narrative stack up to the reality of today's justice system?  While art imitates life in some surprising ways, there are some differences that deserve our attention.

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