Database: Complete List of Cases

Name & Exonerating Evidence


Year Released & State

Quotes from the source
(Book and/or newspaper articles as indicated)

Errors

Adams, Kenneth

DNA

1996



Illinois

Convicted of rape and robbery. Sentenced to 75 years.

The Observer 7/7/96 & 652 N.E. 2d 278: 1995 & Chicago Sun Times 3/5/99

"Charles McCraney, an uninvolved witness, was able to place Williams, Rainge and Adams at the crime scene"

"The case relied heavily on the evidence of 17-year-old Paula Grey, who could not read, write or tell the time and twice changed her mind."

"Police, desperate to make an arrest for the rape and murder of a white couple, coerced a main witness and failed to follow up key evidence."

"She said police had coerced her into falsely implicating her friends."

"The defendant [Jimerson] asserts that the State's primary witness, Paula Gray, was allowed to testify falsely at the defendant's trial that she had not been promised anything in exchange for her testimony against the defendant. The defendant argues that the State was required to correct this perjured testimony and that the failure to do so requires that the defendant be granted a new trial. We find that a new trial is warranted on this ground."

"The police had not followed up reports that goods stolen from the petrol station were being sold by Johnson and his brother. Nor had they sought out a witness who said he overheard them plan the robbery."

"In sworn interviews, both Ira Johnson and Robinson admitted that four of them - Johnson, his brother Dennis, who died of a drug overdose in 1993, Robinson and Rodriguez - had abducted and killed the couple. However, it was not until last February, when Robinson signed a confession, that police reopened the case, exhumed Schmal's body for DNA testing and confirmed that the semen found inside her could not have been from any of the convicted men."

"Four men wrongly convicted in a 1978 double murder in Ford Heights won a $ 36 million settlement from Cook County today, in what experts said was the largest damage award for police misconduct in the nation's history."

See Paula Gray

False Informant

Official Misconduct Police & Prosecution

Eyewitness Error

Adams, Randall

Likely Killer Found

Informants Discredited

1989



Texas

Convicted of murdering a police officer and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"The State was guilty of suppressing evidence favorable to the accused, deceiving the trial court during the applicant's trial and knowingly using perjured testimony."

"She had not picked Adams out of the line-up; indeed, she had first picked another man, and the police officer in charge of the line-up had had to identify Adams for her. . . . . robbery charges against her daughter pending at the time of the Adams trial, were dropped after Mrs. Miller's testimony."

"The judge also heard that witness Michael Randell had lied when he told the jury he was returning from a basketball game at the time he drove past the murder scene."

"Most importantly, Judge Baraka heard David Harris recant his testimony against Adams, essentially admitting sole responsibility for the killing."

"Harris's admission 'that Adams was not even in the car when Wood was shot amounted essentially to a confession.'"

"Grigson . . . still believes that Adams is guilty of murdering Wood, and that history will vindicate him when Adams kills again."

Eyewitness error

False informant

Evidence suppression

Police misconduct

Alejandro, Gilbert

DNA

1994



Texas

Convicted of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to 12 years.

San Antonio Express-News 10/23/94

"the victim reviewed another photo lineup. The lineup contained 11 photos. Among them was Gilbert Alejandro. The woman said Alejandro looked like the attacker but she wasn't certain. Interest in Alejandro increased several weeks later when the rape victim reviewed a sketch lineup made of six men. She said the sketch of Alejandro looked like the attacker."

"the rape victim peered at a lineup of five men through a one-way mirror at Uvalde City Jail. Pointing to Alejandro, she said: "That's him."

"the victim identified him at trial"

"a review of the DNA test results showed that he actually had been excluded as a suspect"

"Now Fred Zain is the one in trouble. Fired last year by the Bexar County Medical Examiner after irregularities were detected in his work - in Texas and in West Virginia - Zain's professional reputation is destroyed. He faces criminal charges, including perjury and evidence-fabricating in Uvalde County, Bexar County and West Virginia."

Eyewitness error

Expert Misconduct

Alexander, Richard

DNA

2001



Indiana

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 70 years.

Associated Press Dec 12, 2001 & South Bend Tribune Dec 23, 2001

"Alexander originally was charged with four rapes in South Bend, based solely on the testimony of victims and witnesses who had identified him."

"Alexander had been picked out a lineup by witnesses who said his voice and build were the same as the assailant. Yet Alexander also was identified by the victims in the case he was cleared of before trial."

"His photo was selected from a lineup by the victim of a home invasion in 1997, after Alexander was jailed. That fact was part of Alexander's trial defense."

"At least three similar attacks occurred after Alexander was arrested, authorities said. Then another man, Michael Murphy, recently confessed to one of the rapes for which Alexander was convicted. Murphy is in custody for several offenses, including burglary and child molesting."

"Alexander was finally cleared when a type of DNA test that was not available when he was convicted came back Saturday showing he could not have committed the Aug. 7, 1996 attack."

Eyewitness error

Anderson, Marvin

DNA

2001



Virginia

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 210 years.

Richmond Times Dispatch Dec 7, 2001 & NYTimes Dec 10, 2001

"Anderson, 37, was convicted of the 1982 rape by the victim's eyewitness testimony. He received a 210-year sentence and was paroled in 1997."

"Anderson, who is black, was 19 in March 1983 when he was convicted of the three-hour assault on a 27-year-old woman, who is white."

"The victim picked Anderson's photo out of a photo spread and picked him in a police lineup. According to Enzinna, Anderson's photo was obtained from his employer and was different from the other photos in the spread. Also, none of the men in the photo spread was used in the lineup in which the victim identified Anderson."

"The defense lawyers say the DNA test has strongly pointed to another suspect, now in state prison, who was identified at the time and came forward a year later with a confession that a judge discounted after Mr. Anderson's conviction."

Eyewitness error

Arroyo, Miguel

Actual Culprit Found

1966



New York

Convicted of manslaughter, but never sentenced

In Spite of Innocence

"the trial judge immediately set aside the verdict when Arroyo's defense counsel produced a series of eyewitnesses to testify that they saw another man kill the boy. In 1966 the other man was arrested and indicted for murder; key witnesses who had testified against Arroyo recanted their testimony."

Eyewitness error

Arroyo, Rogelio

Actual Culprit Found

1990



Illinois

"All 4 were convicted of a quadruple murder and sentenced to life."

In Spite of Innocence

"Defendants and some witnesses did not speak English."

"The actual killers, one of whom had admitted guilt, had fled to Mexico. Three witnesses who had not testified at trial but who could establish the defendants innocence were also found."

Sloppy Prosecution

Atkins, Herman

DNA

2000



California

Convicted of rape and robbery. Sentenced to 45 years.

LA Times 2/18/00 & 2/22/00

"Atkins was convicted on the basis of two eyewitness identifications and conventional blood testing. . . . Atkins is an African American, and the victim was a young white woman who was raped and robbed at gunpoint in April 1986 in a shoe store in Lake Elsinore."

"According to court records, Hall testified that Atkins was included in a population of only 4.4% of people who could have committed the rape, based on blood test analysis of semen on the victim's sweater and body."

"But Scheck and Neufeld said that Hall's findings were 'fraudulent,' and that in reality his tests did not narrow the range of suspects at all. Their charges reiterated conclusions rendered by forensic scientist Edward Blake of Richmond, Calif."

Eyewitness error

Expert misconduct

Austin, Michael

Solid Alibi Established

2001



Maryland

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Wash Post Dec 29, 2001

"A Baltimore man who spent 27 years in prison proclaiming his innocence was freed yesterday after his 1974 murder conviction was overturned by a judge who said he had received an unfair trial."

"'The evidence was incredibly weak in the first place. The one witness who identified Mr. Austin as the killer has been discredited and is now deceased.'"

"That witness was Jackie Robinson, a clerk at the grocery store where Kellam worked and was killed. In 1975, the prosecution portrayed Robinson to the jury as a clean-cut college student, but new evidence brought to light by Centurion Ministries, a Princeton, N.J.-based group that advocates for inmates, showed Robinson to be a drug dealer who dropped out of high school in the ninth grade, according to Byrnes's ruling. Robinson died in 1997 of a drug overdose."

"Centurion also contacted another eyewitness to Kellam's killing, Eric Komitzsky, who immediately after the shooting described a suspect who was a light-complexioned black male weighing 150 to 160 pounds. Austin is a muscular 6-foot-5, weighs more than 200 pounds and has a dark complexion. Komitzsky was never called to testify at Austin's trial and in July, he told the court that Austin was not a participant in the shooting."

"A timecard from the metal shop where Austin worked showed he had just punched out when the shooting occurred across town. But Austin's attorney, whom Byrnes called 'woefully unprepared,' never subpoenaed that evidence for trial."

"In addition, Byrnes found that prosecutors prejudicially linked Austin to an alleged co-conspirator in front of the jury despite the trial judge's commands not to. At the time, the alleged co-conspirator had not been put on trial, and all charges against him were eventually dropped."

Eyewitness error

Avila, Edward

Actual Culprit Found

1957



California

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 5 years to life.

The Innocents

"Bright had a picture in his pocket in connection with another case, and since this man was tall and lanky, he showed it to them. They promptly identified Edward Avila, twenty-nine, as the man with the gun."

"When the witnesses viewed Avila in a line-up, one witness still was certain, but the other was not sure."

Eyewitness error

Bailey, Robert

Solid Alibi Uncovered

1960



West Virginia

Convicted of first degree murder & sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"What was the evidence that changed the governor's mind? First and foremost, there was Bailey's alibi. At the very moment that according to some witnesses Bailey was committing the murder, the Charleston police were trying vainly to arrest him, miles away, for drunk driving."

"Numerous witnesses who knew Bailey attested to his being very drunk at the time and to being the driver of the car that careened madly down the roads, hotly pursued by the police. None of the few witnesses who identified him as the murderer knew him."

Eyewitness error

Barbera, J. Anthony

Actual Culprit Found

1931



New York

Convicted of robbery and released before sentenced.

Convicting the Innocent

"Not having seen the robber's face, they could not be very certain, so they had Barbera pull his cap down over his face, walk up and down, and speak. Thereupon he was identified by them as the man."

Eyewitness error

Bell, Craig

Actual Culprit Found

1987



Virginia

Convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years.

In Spite of Innocence

"He was convicted despite the failure of the police to identify mysterious fingerprints, clothing, and hair samples found at the scene. These were eventually traced to another man who confessed to the crime two months later."

Bennett, Louis W.

Actual Culprit Found

1960



Oklahoma

Convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 35 years.

In Spite of Innocence

"He pleaded guilty, though he knew he was innocent, because he feared he would get a death sentence if convicted. The police demanded the guilty plea after finding Bennett's fingerprints on the victim's door. Bennett had been drinking and had no recollection of his activities."

"Later he remembered he had painted the door for the victim, who had been a friend."

"A Texas prisoner, Leonard McClain, had confessed to the crime, and authorities had verified the confession."

False confession

Berdue, Thomas

Actual Culprit Found

1851



California

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Convicting the Innocent

Thomas Berdue was arrested and charged for crimes committed by James Stuart.

Berdue was "taken before Jansen, who was wavering between life and death, and he identified Berdue as his principle assailant."

"The witnesses now seemed confident, and said that they had no doubt that the prisoner was Jim Stuart. On a cross-examination they said, in a positive and unhesitating manner, that it was not possible that they could be mistaken in their opinion that the prisoner was Jim Stuart."

Later when the real James Stuart was found: "Mr. Jansen became convinced of his mistake in identification, though the resemblance between Berdue and Stuart was said to be close."

Eyewitness error

Berner, Mary

Actual Culprit Found

1929



Illinois

Convicted of forgery and released on probation awaiting a new trial.

Convicting the Innocent

"The cashier of the bank and an employee who had cashed the check went to Butler Brothers and picked Mary Berner out of a group of about forty girls. She was brought to the Illinois Bankers' Association office, and there the representatives of six department stores positively identified her as the girl who had cashed several checks."

After the real culprit confessed, "all of the persons who had identified Mary Berner, expect one, positively identified Emma Lutz."

Eyewitness error

Bertrand, Delphine

Actual Culprit Found

1946



Connecticut

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 10-15 years.

In Spite of Innocence

"Bertrand was convicted of manslaughter after a guilty plea and sentenced to 10-15 years. In 1946, after the actual killers (two men) confessed, the indictment against Bertrand was dismissed, and she was released."

False confession

Bilger, George

Actual Culprit Found

1939



Pennsylvania

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

The Innocents

"George Bilger, nineteen, had been committed to the Elwyn Training school, an institution for the feeble-minded. He was picked up in May 1937, and soon afterward police had their second confession."

"During the trial two witnesses identified him as the person who had held them up."

"Police later said that Howard [the actual culprit] had been armed with two guns and that one of them had been used in the murder of Patrolman Morrow."

"Bilger, who had been in prison for two years, was pardoned and transferred to a mental hospital."

False confession

Eyewitness error

Bloodsworth, Kirk

DNA

1993



Maryland

Convicted of murder and sexual assault and sentenced to death.

Wash Post 6/29/93 & Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"Bloodsworth, who lived nearby at the time, was arrested after a man told police he recognized Bloodsworth from a composite sketch of the suspect published in local newspapers. The sketch was based on reports by five witnesses, who placed Bloodsworth with the victim or in the Rosedale vicinity. Bloodsworth was arrested later in Cambridge on the Eastern Shore. Prosecutors said Bloodsworth told an acquaintance in Cambridge that he had "done something terrible" and could not return to Baltimore."

"An anonymous caller tipped police that Bloodsworth had been seen with the girl earlier in the day."

"In his first police interrogation, Bloodsworth mentioned a "bloody rock," even though no weapons were known of at the time."

"Testimony was given that a shoe impression found near the victim's body was made by a shoe that matched Bloodsworth's size."

Eyewitness error

Suspicious statements

Boggie, Clarence G.

Likely Killer Found

1948



Washington

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

The Court of Last Resort

"Not only did Convict X say that Boggie had confessed to him, later another Idaho convict claimed Boggie had confessed to him while in the Idaho penitentiary."

"Witnesses who had seem the murderer running away from the scene of the crime had identified Boggie as being the man."

Later it became clear that considerable evidence pointed to a different culprit, a man identified as John Doe.

"As Smith Troy, the attorney general, succinctly stated, 'The State now has a better case against John Doe than it ever had against Clarence Boggie'."

"Governor Wallgren finally granted Boggie a conditional pardon in December, 1948."

False informant

Eyewitness error

Boorn, Jesse

Victim Found Alive

1820



Vermont

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Convicting the Innocent

Russel Colvin disappeared in 1812. Seven years later the town's people became convinced that Jesse and Stephen Boorn had murdered Russel.

"Merrill told a colorful story. He said Jesse had confessed to him in jail that Stephen and Colvin had had a fight; that later Jesse struck Colvin but the blow did not kill him; that later jesse and Stephen, assisted by their father, Barney Boorn, carried Colvin, who was unconscious, to the old cellar, where Barney Boorn cut his throat."

False informant

Boorn, Stephen

Victim Found Alive

1820



Vermont

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Convicting the Innocent

See above

"Jesse Boorn charged his brother, Stephen, with the murder."

Jesse stated, "Stephen struck Colvin with a club and fractured his skull."

"Before the trial started in November . . . Stephen admitted his guilt and blamed Colvin for initiating the fatal quarrel."

False informant

False confession

Boots, Christopher

DNA

1994



Oregon

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Portland Oregonian 11/25/94 & 5/8/98

"Douglass Harcleroad, Horton's successor as district attorney, took up the case and got the pair indicted in 1986 based on statements made by acquaintances and jail inmates who said that Proctor and Boots had talked about the killing"

"Separate juries convicted Proctor in 1986 and Boots in 1987 an sentenced them to life in prison for Oliver's murder. But in 1994, an informant told police that Ricky Kuppens was the killer. A new investigation found the gun that was used to kill Oliver, and police used informants to tape Kuppens admitting he pulled the trigger."

"DNA testing that was not available at the time of the murder later supported Boots' claim that he was innocent"

False informant

Botts, Nancy

Actual Culprit Found

1936



Indiana

Convicted of forgery and sentenced to two to fourteen years.

Not Guilty & The Innocnets

"The two Kokomo merchants were certain that Nancy was the criminal. Nancy said that she had never been in Kokomo."

"The prosecution placed seven merchants on the stand. Each described the crime by when he had been victimized. Each testified that Nancy was the criminal."

"The police caught Mrs. Dorsett, the real criminal, in the act. She confessed."

Eyewitness error

Boyd, Payne

Fingerprint

1925



West Virginia

Convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life.

Convicting the Innocent

"The only issue was whether the prisoner before the court was Cleveland Boyd. Of the 26 witnesses introduced by the state, 24 testified on matters of identity and swore that they had know Cleveland Boyd in 1917. Eight of the 24 were positive in their identification of the prisoner . . . . Four of the 24 identification witnesses of the state believed that the prisoner was Cleveland Boyd, while the remaining 12 testified that he looked the same, but they were not sure enough of it to swear that he was Cleveland Boyd."

Eyewitness error

Bradford, Marcellius

DNA

2001



Illinois

Convicted of rape & murder and sentenced to 12 years.

Chicago Tribune May 2, 2001

"Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, Jan. 28--more than 15 hours after Bradford was brought to the station-- police said he confessed, implicating himself and Larry Ollins, as well as Larry's 14-year-old cousin, Calvin."

"He said he falsely implicated himself and the others because police beat him during his interrogation--a claim his family also made just after his arrest when they said they saw him bruised."

"'They handcuffed me to this ring.... Every time the door opened, it seemed like somebody [would] come in there and beat me, he said. I'm tired, sleepy, hungry, can't use the bathroom. They give me a can to use for the bathroom.'"

"Ultimately, Bradford said he agreed to testify against Larry Ollins in return for a reduced prison term."

"'I figured like this,' Bradford said. 'I was 17. If I go to trial, they're going to find me guilty. I'd rather take the 12 years and get out when I'm 23 than get convicted.'"

"'I am ready to go back to court and admit I lied,' he said. 'I am willing to go the whole nine yards. I think about this every day--and I will skateboard into hell.'"

False Confession

Bradley, Clarence L.

Likely Killers Found

1990



Texas

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Houston Chronicle 10/7/90 In Spite of Innocence

"Pickett [retired state district judge] reported to the appellate court that Brandley deserved a new trial, stating that ''the testimony at the evidentiary hearing unequivocally establishes that Gary Acreman and James Dexter Robinson are prime suspects and probably were responsible for the death of Cheryl Lee Fergeson."

"Brenda Medina, who was 16 and living with Robinson at the time of the slaying, testified in a 1986 post-conviction hearing in Montgomery County. She claimed Robinson had come home the night of Aug. 23, 1980, and told her that he had killed a girl at the school and that he'd hidden her body well. She testified he'd left for South Carolina, leaving behind blood-stained tennis shoes which she threw away."

"Sessum, 49, emerged as a key new witness for the defense in 1987, when he told defense-team investigators in a videotaped statement that he'd seen Acreman and Robinson abduct the girl."

"Then Icky Peace, too [as well as Acreman], admitted that he had perjured himself at trial."

"Brandley was hounded to Death Row by a racist team of police and prosecutors who refused to consider evidence that could have proven Brandley innocent."

False informants

Police & prosecutor misconduct

Bravo, Mark

DNA

1994



California

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 8 years

LA Times 1/16/94 & Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"A short, heavyset woman-a longtime patient at the institution-approached a guard and said she had been raped sometime that afternoon. In the course of being interviewed by hospital authorities, she named several people as her attacker. One assailant she named was an employee at the hospital, a supervisor, a man named Bravo."

"The strongest piece of evidence the prosecution seemed to have was blood on the blanket, a blood type found in only about 3% of the population. Bravo has that blood type."

"Chilstrom [Deputy Dist. Atty. ] took a tack that was not expected by the defense. She started to zero in on Bravo and paint him as a liar. She took what in other circumstances might have seemed like little things and made them examples of how Bravo had a pattern of lying."

Postconviction

"As time went by, though, several things happened. The woman who accused Bravo of rape recanted and named another man as her attacker."

Eyewitness error

Brison, Dale

DNA

1992



Pennsylvania

Convicted of rape, kidnapping & assault and sentenced to 18 to 42 years.

Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"There were two separate victim identifications of Brison near the victim's apartment building."

"A hair sample from the scene of the crime was consistent with Brison's."

"Brison's alibi, sleeping on the couch of his home, was corroborated only by his mother."

Eyewitness error

Hair analysis

Brown, Anthony S.

Informant Reversal

1986



Florida

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"The only evidence against Brown came from the testimony of a co-defendant, who was sentenced to life for his role in the crime."

"At retrial in 1986, the co-defendant admitted that his incrimination of Brown at the first trial had been perjured."

False informant

Brown, Bradford

Actual Culprit Found

1979



DC

Convicted of murder and sentence to 18 years to life.

Wash Post 8/23/79 & In Spite of Innocence

"Brown was convicted on Nov. 28, 1975, after a government witness identified him from photographs and in a lineup as the man who had shot Frazier."

"In testimony at Brown's trial, the witness said that the man who did the shooting that night had come to the door of the W Street house earlier and asked to see a man who lived there."

"In 1979 an informant came forward and told police that Brown had not been involved in the homicide. The informant implicated another man, who was arrested, pleaded guilty to manslaughter , and was convicted."

Eyewitness error

Brown, J. B.

Actual Culprit Found

1913



Florida

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Convicting the Innocent

"Jailer Hagan was standing on the jail porch, when he noticed a colored man come up to a crack in the fence and call for prisoner Crawford. Hagan said that it was J.B. Brown a former breakman on one of the Plant System trains and that he heard Brown say to Crawford, "keep your mouth shut and say nothing."

"Alonzo Mitchell, called the sheriff, and told him this story: Brown had just confessed to him that he and Jim Johnson plotted to kill Wesson for his money, and they had waylaid him the wood shack, where Brown had shot him with Johnson's pistol."

"Henry Davis, another cell mate in the prison, corroborated Mitchell's story and said that he had heard Brown confess."

Suspicious statements

False informant

Brown, Joseph G.

Informant Reversal

1987



Florida

Convicted of murder and sentence to death.

St. Peterburg Times 3/14/87

"The case against Brown - headed by then Assistant State Attorney Robert Bonanno, now Circuit Judge Bonanno - hinged on the testimony of one witness: Ronald J. Floyd, who testified to being an accomplice to Mrs. Barksdale's murder as he waited with a car across the street."

"Floyd testified that Brown and a mysterious person known only as 'Poochie' entered Mrs. Barksdale's shop. He said he heard gunfire and the next day heard Brown admit he had committed the murder. Floyd has never been prosecuted, and on the witness stand he denied that he had any promise of immunity from prosecutors for his cooperation."

"A federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled that Brown's prosecutor, now a circuit judge in Tampa, had 'knowingly used false testimony' during Brown's 1973 murder trial."

"Floyd has since recanted his testimony."

False informant

Prosecutor misconduct

Brown, Keith

DNA

1997



North

Carolina

Sentenced to 35 years after entering a no-contest plea.

Tallahassee Democrat 7/8/97 & 7/11/97

"A man exonerated of a rape conviction by DNA evidence from Florida was not coerced into the plea bargain that sent him to prison, prosecutors said."

"His defense lawyer, Robert Farris, said Brown was 'vulnerable and defenseless' at the time of his arrest and would have agreed to anything anyone asked him. Farris said Brown has been diagnosed as mildly retarded"

"'(Prosecutors) made him a real attractive (plea) offer based on his other crimes,' said Mandy Wettstein, of the FDLE's Public Information Office. Brown figured it was wiser to take a reduced sentence, rather than risk conviction for burglary and the related sexual offenses against three women."

"the DNA samples from the rapes Brown supposedly committed actually matched those of a Florida man"

False confession

Brown, Robert

Actual Culprit Found

1989



Illinois

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 35 years.

Chicago Sun-Times 10/28/92 & In Spite of Innocence

"In 1985, while the defendants' appeal was pending, Anthony Sumner, a former El Rukn gang member who was cooperating with a federal investigation of the street gang, told authorities . . . that Houston's brother and another man committed the slaying."

"Prosecutors only admitted such evidence existed in 1989 - three weeks after Houston's brother and another El Rukn [gang member] confessed to the slaying."

"One eyewitness identified Brown as a participant; two other eyewitnesses identified Houston"

Eyewitness error

Evidence withheld

Bullock, Ronnie

DNA

1994



Illinois

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 60 years.

Chicago Tribune 7/16/95

"Bullock, 39, is accusing two Chicago police officers of arresting him without cause, physically abusing him and his infant son and prompting two rape victims who never had seen him before to pick him out of a police lineup."

"The suit says charges against him stemmed from a composite sketch that police created with descriptions from the 9-year-old victim and from a 12-year-old girl who was raped a month later. Although the girls' descriptions differed, the girls worked with a police artist to develop the sketch, according to the lawsuit."

"Later, an officer who was unfamiliar with the cases saw a published copy of the sketch. The officer had arrested Bullock in 1977 on a rape charge. The officer believed that the sketch resembled Bullock."

Eyewitness error

Bundy, Harry D.



Actual Culprit Found

1958



Ohio

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

The Innocents &

In Spite of Innocence

"Bundy had helped police investigate four murders committed by a friend; when this 'friend' turned himself in to the authorities, he implicated Bundy in two of the murders."

"In a hearing for a new trial, it was asserted that the co-defendant was the actual killer and had implicated Bundy as his accomplice in an effort to have him executed, as revenge for Bundy having helped police investigate the other murders."

False Informant

Burrell, Albert R.

Informant Reversal

DNA

2001



Louisiana

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN) 1/1/01

"Sheriff Larry Averitt of Union Parish got a phone call from Burrell's ex-wife, Janet. She told authorities that she met him on a deserted road the night of the murder and found a wallet on the car seat; inside it, she said, was William Frost's identification but no money. She said Burrell took out his own wallet and counted 27 $100 bills and told her he had killed the Frosts."

"But now she has signed an affidavit saying she told the story so police would pick up Burrell and she'd get her son. 'What I told police was not true,' she states."

"Testifying at both men's trials was Wayne Brantley, a convict who said he overheard Graham and Burrell confess to the murders. Pincus and Lloyd said that twice before, in Florida, Brantley had said he overheard confessions in other cases."

There was some evidence that the killer may have cut himself, because blood was found at the scene, but a DNA analysis found that it was the Frosts' blood, not that of either of the two men accused of murder.

"Burrell is mentally handicapped"

"The attorney general's office concluded last week that there is 'a total lack of credible evidence' linking Burrell to the crime."

"In its ruling, the state attorney general's office cited recantations by witnesses and the withholding of key evidence by the prosecution."

False Informants

Prosecutorial Misconduct

Burrows, Joseph

Actual Culprit Found

1994



Illinois

Convicted of murder & robbery and sentenced to death.

Chicago Sun Times April 19, 1996 & Chicago Tribune Dec 9, 2001

"The Illinois Supreme Court Thursday affirmed what Joseph Burrows says his neighbors in Downstate Homer have yet to accept: His murder conviction was a mistake."

"The court's unanimous decision was forged by a woman's confession that she alone committed the murder but had pinned the blame on Burrows to escape the death penalty."

"Potter and Frye claimed Burrows joined them in a robbery attempt that went awry. When Dulin resisted, Burrows shot him in the head, Potter and Frye said at Burrows' two trials in 1989."

"Investigators had no physical evidence tying Burrows to the crime, and Burrows had alibi witnesses who said he was watching television with them in rural Potomac, about 35 miles from Dulin's house."

"Burrows settled for $100,000 after filing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Iroquois County."

False Informants

Burt, LaVale



Actual Culprit Found

1985



Illinois

Convicted of murder but vacated before sentencing.

In Spite of Innocence

"The conviction was based on his confession, which he retracted two days after it was given."

"When sentencing was pending, the grandmother of the victim contacted the judge and told him that she had discovered a gun, and that she believed her daughter and not Burt was the killer. Results of ballistics tests on the weapon showed she was correct."

False confession

Butler, A.B.



DNA

2000



Texas

Convicted of kidnapping & rape and sentenced to 99 years.

Dallas Morning News 1/8/00

"The victim, who is white, told police that a black man abducted her at knifepoint from a hotel parking lot"

"the victim picked Mr. Butler out of a lineup and identified his voice, court records show. That identification and Mr. Butler's lack of an alibi were the basis for conviction"

"the victim and her family submitted a statement to the Smith County district attorney's office, saying that she still believes the 1983 conviction was correct"

Eyewitness error

Butler, Louise

Victim Found Alive

1928



Alabama

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life

Convicting the Innocent

Louise's 12 year old daughter and 9 year old niece told an elaborate and detailed story about a murder committed by Louise and George Yelder.

"These stories seemed incredible to the sheriff, but the children appeared to be intelligent and did not vary their story in the least under his questioning."

"Louise was taken to jail to await a preliminary hearing. A few days later, while being questioned, she suddenly confessed that she had killed Topsy, and that she and George tied an old automobile casing to her body to be sure it would sink when thrown into the river."

Topsy was found to still be alive.

False Informant

False confession

Byrd, Kevin

DNA

1997



Texas

Convicted of rape and sentenced to life.

San Diego Union Tribune 9/14/97 & Houston Chronicle 10/9/97

"Police had been unable to crack the case until four months later, when the victim saw Byrd in a grocery store and told her husband she was looking at the man who had raped her"

"And despite some contention at the trial -- her initial police report quoted her as saying her assailant was white, while Byrd is black -- he was convicted of the crime."

After the pardon: "But in this case, he added, the witness, 'was wrong. Do I believe that she honestly believes she was right? Yes I do'."

Eyewitness error

Callace, Lennie

DNA

1992



New York

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 25 to 50 years.

LA Times 1/24/93

"the detectives snatched Callace at gunpoint outside a corner store in July, 1986. The woman picked him out of a line-up as the man who raped her."

"Eighteen months earlier, she had described the rapist as 5-foot-10 or taller, with reddish-blond afro-style hair, a full beard and a cross tattoo on his left hand. Callace is 5-foot-8, has straight blond hair and a goatee he's always kept tightly trimmed, and a tiny cross on his right hand."

"At the trial, the defense failed to mention that hair found on the woman's sweater was not Callace's . . . that another suspect was eliminated after revealing he was circumcised-Callace also is circumcised"

Eyewitness error

Ineffective Counsel

Calloway, Willie

Informant Reversal

Likely Culprit Found

1953



Michigan

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence.

"In 1953 two prison warders learned that a key witness had admitted giving false testimony against Calloway, under duress."

"[Another witness] recanted his incriminating statements."

"Two alibi witnesses came forward, as did yet another witness who admitted he was present when a friend of his did the killing."

False informants

Campbell, Bertram

Actual Culprit Found

1942



New York

Convicted of grand larceny and sentenced to 5 to 10 years.

The Innocents & Not Guilty

"There were mistaken eyewitnesses and dubious acts by private detectives employed by insurance companies who secretly painted wax-tipped ends on Campbell's abbreviated mustache before showing the photographs to bank tellers."

"The prosecutor then called five identification witnesses."

Later "Feldhausen and Gugelman agreed that Thiel, not Campbell, had passed the forged checks."

"Rinehart, on the other hand, said that he could not be sure that he had testified incorrectly at Campbell's trial."

"Wesley Irvine, the teller from the New York bank, asked to compare Thiel and Campbell, said that Thiel was the man whose forged checks he had cashed."

"'He was represented to me as a front man of a forgery ring,' Feldhausen said, ' and I was told that his conviction might lead to the clearing up of the rest of them.'"

"Both witnesses stated that they had been influenced by the volunteered information that Campbell had been using one-hundred-dollar bills in payment of his debts."

"'I and the other witnesses,' Irvine said, 'were given lots of time and opportunity to get the picture of Campbell with the painted-in mustache confused in our recollections with whatever image we retained of the actual criminal. As weeks went by, the more my mind pictured Campbell standing at the cashier's cage, the less I remembered the fleeting glimpses of the forger.'"

Eyewitness error

Police suggestions

Carmen, Jack A.

Solid Alibi

1977



Ohio

Convicted of rape & murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

"In no time at all, police said, he confessed"

"Carmen's IQ ranged somewhere between 43 and 55. Psychiatric testimony established that Carmen had an extremely faulty memory, could not always recognize his attorneys, asserted and then denied the very same things, and so on."

"Alibi witnesses gave unchallenged testimony on Carmen's behalf: at the time of the murder Carmen had indeed been inside the Volunteers of America Shelter, nowhere near the site of the crime."

False confession

Carter, Nathaniel

Actual Culprit Found

1985



New York

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years.

NY Times 3/15/84

"She said a black man she did not recognize had entered the back door of the house and threatened her. After the man had cut her hands with a knife, her story went, she ran out of the house for help, leaving Mrs. Herndon alone with the attacker."

"Officer Harrison made a threat, according to testimony he gave in court. He said he would arrest her for withholding evidence if the knife found in the house carried the fingerprints of anyone she knew."

"After an hour of questioning, she [Mrs. Cater] changed her story and said the killer was her husband."

Two years later:

"She [Mrs. Carter] brushed away tears and told the judge that she had stabbed her foster mother to death and had blamed it on her former husband, Mr. Carter."

False informant

Caruso, Philip

Actual Culprit Found

1939



New York

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to ten to twenty years.

Not Guilty

"they took him to police headquarters, where they placed him in the line-up with four other men. Caruso heard a man's voice say, "That's the boy. He had a gray suit and he wore a gray hat and the had a mole on his lip." "That's not a mole," Caruso called out. "It's a fever blister. I just got out of bed."

Later "Scaramellino testified that Gottlieb was the criminal he thought he had identified when he picked Caruso out of the line-up." "I was positive when I seen the right man," Scaramellino said. "Weren't you positive before?" Judge Brancato asked. "I was positive until I seen Gottlieb," the witness replied. "Until the last minute I still thought it was Caruso until I seen Gottlieb. Then that made me positive and I said so."

Eyewitness error

Police withheld evidence

Cashin, Harry F.

Informant Reversal

1933



New York

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

State v Cashin 182 N.E. 74 (1932)

The New York Court of Appeals ordered a new trial because, "it appears that the conviction of the defendant is sustained only by the testimony as to his identity of one witness of bad character, who on other occasions refused to identify the defendant and testified in Magistrates' Court that she did not know whether he was the man; that several others who were present at the time of the killing, including a police officer, were unable to identify him; that there was evidence which, if true, showed that the defendant had a good character and that the crime was committed by an entirely different appearing person, and a witness of the killing, present at the trial, but not called by the prosecution, swore in an affidavit, upon a motion for a new trial, that defendant was not the man who escaped"

Also in In Spite of Innocence.

"In 1933 charges were dropped when the eyewitness who had 'identified' Cashin admitted her testimony was false."

False informant

Castillo, Miguel

Solid Alibi Established

2001



Illinois

Convicted of Murder and sentenced to 48 years.

Chicago Tribune 1/19/01

"The conviction was based largely on the testimony of Chicago Police Officer Jose Zuniga, who said Castillo confessed to the killing. There was no written statement implicating Castillo. Castillo's lawyers cast doubt on the alleged confession, arguing that the police officer spoke very little Spanish and Castillo spoke very little English."

"Castillo's lawyers had presented new evidence--including affidavits from Dr. Robert Kirchner, former Cook County deputy medical examiner, and Richard Merritt, an entomologist at Michigan State University. Both concluded that Chinea was killed between May 7 and 9."

"Castillo was in Cook County Jail on a burglary charge from March 23, 1988, until May 11 when he posted bond."

False confession

Chalk, Edward

Actual Culprit Found

1936



Maryland

Convicted of robbery and awaiting sentencing.

Not Guilty

"After his arrest Chalk was identified in the flesh by those officers and by the two women who had originally notified the police. Chalk spent 5 months in jail awaiting trial, during which Joseph C. Martin confessed that he had driven the holdup car. Martin also stated that Chalk had not been his companion in the episode."

"The police finally turned up Martin's accomplice, and Chalk was released."

Eyewitness error

Chalmers, Terry

DNA

1995



New York

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 12 to 24 years.

Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science:

"The victim identified Chalmers from a police photo array. The victim identified Chalmers in two separate police lineups and in the courtroom."

Eyewitness error

Chambers, Leon

Actual Culprit Found

1973



Mississippi

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Chambers v. Mississippi 410 U.S. 284 (1973)

"Only one officer testified that he actually saw Chambers fire the shots."

"After [Chambers] was arrested for murder, another person (McDonald) made, but later repudiated, a written confession. On three separate occasions, each time to a different friend, McDonald orally admitted the killing."

"Sam Hardin, a lifelong friend of McDonald's, testified that he saw McDonald shoot Liberty. A second witness, one of Liberty's cousins, testified that he saw McDonald immediately after the shooting with a pistol in his hand."

"One witness testified . . . that he was looking at Chambers when the shooting began, and that he was sure that Chambers did not fire the shots."

Eyewitness error

Charles, Clyde A.

DNA

2000



Louisiana

Convicted of rape and sentenced to life.

New Orleans Time-Picayune 1/19/00

"a white Houma nurse told a passing deputy on a roadside that she had been raped by a clean-shaven African American man. Hours after she was picked up, a deputy arrested the fully bearded Charles walking along a country road, handcuffed him and drove him to the hospital, where the woman identified him as her assailant."

Eyewitness error

Charles, Earl

Solid Alibi Established

1978



Georgia

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"Mrs. Corcelius identified Charles as the gunman who had killed Max and Fred Rosenstein."

"The defense had never been told the Mrs. Rosenstein and Mrs. Corcelius had failed to identify Charles when they were shown photos of him in the days immediately following the murders."

"He [Nixon] claimed that while he and Charles were together in jail Charles had bragged about shooting two people."

"When one of the attorneys on Charles's defense team talked with Nixon again, he recanted his trial testimony, admitting that Detective Wade had coached him."

"Finally, in 1984, the city of Savannah agreed to pay $75,000 to Charles on Wade's behalf; in return, all further litigation would be dropped."

Eyewitness error

False informant

Police Misconduct

Clark, Ephraim R.

Actual Culprit Found

1962



Michigan

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

The Innocents

A young women "confessed that on the night of the Lipton murder she had accompanied three men to the store and waited outside in a car."

At the trial "the women told her story and would not change it during s severe cross examination. The drugstore clerk also identified the three men."

After the trial, "she admitted she had lied during the trial and said the police had made a deal with her, promising that if she would implicate the three men the charges against her would be handled in such a way that she would be 'put on the the streets'."

Gene Adams was arrested on robbery charges. When confronted with ballistics evidence, "Adams confessed to the drugstore murder and named his companions, one of whom later also admitted the crime."

Eyewitness error

False informant

Clements, H. A.

Actual Culprit Found

1929



Texas

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 5 years.

Convicting the Innocent

"Although the robbers were masked and had hats on, exposing but little more than their eyes, English informed his partner that he recognized the fires of the stick-up men as Clements."

Eyewitness error

Coakley, Marion

Blood Type

1987



New York

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 15 years.

Actual Innocence

"Rios, the brother-in-law witness who had the least opportunity to see the attacker . . . was the first to pick out a photo. 'This is the man'".

"A few hours later, when Irma was released from the hospital, she was shown twelve photographs. She, too, picked out the same picture."

"After Irma Lopez chose his picture, he was brought to the precinct for a lineup. Irma, Gabriel, and Jose all picked him as the fiend."

Eyewitness error

Coleman, Robert

Actual Culprit Found

1933



Georgia

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

"He had reported the crime to the police and was amazed to be arrested as the prime suspect. The evidence at his trial was wholly circumstantial. In 1932 the real Killer (then in prison for another crime) confessed"

Collins, Benjamin

Actual Culprit Found

1928



Massachusetts

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 3 years

Convicting the Innocent

"But as Collins happened to answer the general description of the thief, he was taken to the Somerville police station and helf for identification by the victims. Several of them came, and identified Collins as the man who had taken their purses. Collins was presented to each women separately, and each said he was the man."

"After Collins release, . . . three of the women still maintained Collins was the man who had stolen their bags; the other two thought they might be mistaken."

Eyewitness error

Comer, Willie

Actual Culprit Found

1962



Pennsylvania

Convicted robbery and sentenced to 2 to 4 years to life.

The Innocents

"Sentenced to 4 years after being identified by two witnesses as a participant in a caf robbery, he had served only four months when one of the actual robbers who had been convicted became conscience-stricken and named his accomplice so that an innocent man would not have to remain in prison."

Eyewitness error

Cook, Kerry

DNA

1999



Texas

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Houston Chronicle 9/12/99

"Cook was arrested on the basis of a single fingerprint found on the outside of a sliding glass door to Linda Edwards' apartment."

"Rudolph, who had first identified Mayfield as the man she had seen in Edwards' room, changed her identification to Cook. Eddie "Shyster" Jackson, a jail inmate, testified that Cook had admitted the killing to him. Years after that trial the forensics expert would admit that his testimony about Cook's fingerprint was false, coerced, he said, by the district attorney's office. The jail inmate would recant"

"It showed that the semen could not have been Cook's. It came from James Mayfield."

Eyewitness error

False informant

Expert misconduct

Cotton, Ronald

DNA

1995



North Carolina

Convicted of rape and sentenced to life.

Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"A photo identification was made by one of the victims."

"A police lineup identification was made by one of the victims."

"A flashlight in Cotton's home resembled the one used by the assailant."

"Rubber from Cotton's tennis shoe was consistent with rubber found at one of the crime scenes."

Eyewitness error

Cox, Jeffrey

Actual Culprit Found

2001



Virginia

Convicted murder & burglary and sentenced to life.

Richmond Times Dispatch Nov 15, 2001

"Cox, now 33, was convicted in 1991 after a one-day trial based on the testimony of two of Cooper's neighbors. They said Cox dragged Cooper from her apartment at 3 a.m. Her body, stabbed three times, was found later in a park."

"The witnesses were black; Cox, Madison and Hood are white."

"Hood was indicted in May, and sources familiar with the case said he has begun cooperating with authorities and provided information that exonerated Cox. Madison has not yet been charged."

Personal communication from the above author:

"Each of the two witnesses saw the perpetrator from a different vantage point, and they had no relation to each other. Each made an independent but tentative identification of Cox from a single sheet of paper with six photos. There was no in-person lineup, but each witness identified him at a preliminary hearing and at trial. There were reasons to doubt the identifications -- the witnesses were black and had never seen the white perpetrator before. Moreover, the abduction occurred about 3 a.m. in questionable lighting conditions, and the perpetrator was wearing a baseball cap, which would have further obscured his identity."

Eyewitness Error

Creamer, James

Actual Culprit Found

1975



Georgia

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"Their convictions in Cobb County Superior Court were based largely on the word of Deborah Ann Kidd, who testified under immunity. She claimed she had accompanied the men to the Matthews home."

But later in federal court, "Judge Charles A. Moye of the United States District Court declared that the prosecution had concealed from the defense transcripts of previous statements that Kidd had made to the police. These statements showed that she had produced a series of different versions of what had happened at the crime scene, of who really shot the victims, even of who was really there with her. At one point she went sot far as to 'confess' that she was the killer, rather than any of the men. None of this mass of inconsistent information by Kidd had been made available to the defense."

"Judge Moye . . . charged the prosecution with willful destruction of the taped testimony Kidd had given during sessions with a hypnotist arranged by the police."

"Debbie Kidd made a formal admission that she had lied in her original trial testimony."

Reversals were secured for all defendants in state court after, "Billy Birt . . . confessed that he and two friends . . . were the actual murderers."

False informant

Prosecutorial misconduct

Criner, Roy W.

DNA

2000



Texas

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 99 years.

Wash Post 8/16/00 & Houston Chronicle 11/26/00

"He was found guilty of rape in 1990 based largely on the varying testimony of three witnesses who said Criner had boasted of picking up a hitchhiker and forcing her to perform oral sex."

"His IQ barely topped 70, and he had difficulty reading and expressing himself. He was evaluated as borderline mentally retarded."

"'We told the sheriff's office over and over that Roy could not have had anything to do with the offense because of the road conditions leading in and out of the logging site and the amount of work done,' Tanya Pitts said in an affidavit. 'The police were not interested in what we had to say that might benefit Roy,' she said. 'They only wrote down what we said that was bad for Roy'."

"Hocker, the lead defense attorney, forced [Sheriff's Sgt. ] Sauls to admit to the jury that he had lied in his application for a search warrant of Criner's person."

"Dowler, 29, of New Caney, confirmed that she had argued with Mitchell West, who was then her boyfriend. She didn't remember how she got home, but a girlfriend confirmed the hitchhiking story."

Despite the new evidence the District Attorney's aren't convinced: "But neither McDougal nor Walker agrees. 'Just because he wasn't there on the cigarette and wasn't there on the sperm doesn't mean he wasn't there,' McDougal says. Walker says, 'We may not be able to prove it, but that doesn't mean he didn't do it. I prosecuted Roy Criner in good faith and believed him to be guilty."

False informants

Police Misconduct

Cromedy, McKinley

DNA

1999



New Jersey

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 50 years.

The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ) 12/15/99

"The victim viewed a photographic array that included Cromedy a few days after the rape but did not pick him out. Seven months later, while walking in New Brunswick, she saw Cromedy carrying a boom box and called police to report him as the rapist. He was arrested. The woman identified him as he stood alone on the other side of a one-way mirror."

"Cromedy is African-American. The victim of the rape at Rutgers is white"

"Fingerprints lifted from the scene did not match Cromedy's, and there was no hair or other fibers linking him to the rape"

Eyewitness error

Crutcher, Willie

Actual Culprit Found

Died in Prison



Alabama

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Convicting the Innocent

"At the trial, Ben Nobles, one of the men indicted for the murder, testified for the state that he had seen John Murchison shoot the deceased in the back. Nobles asserted that about midnight on the night of the murder he had gone tot eh schoolhouse grove, in which a game of craps was taking place, that he had there seen Jim Hudson, Willie Crutcher, John Murchison, and Cleo Staten, and that he had seen John Murchison fire the first shot at McClendon, in his back and Cleo Staten the second."

Later, "Otis McClendon, a nephew of the dead man, made a confession to his mother. He stated that the wife of the dead man had promised him, in return for his aid, forty acres of land, a pair of mules, and a home as long as she had one, and that they had shot McClendon as he entered his own home, that wife firing the first shot and he the second."

False informant

Cruz, Rolando

DNA

1995



Illinois

Convicted of kidnapping, rape & murder and sentenced to death.

Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"Several law enforcement officers testified that Cruz and Hernandez made incriminating statements."

"Several witnesses testified that Cruz and Hernandez admitted to having intimate knowledge of the crime."

"Cruz's alleged "dream visions" of the murder, though not tape recorded, were admitted into evidence on the basis of the testimony of sheriff's detectives."

[At the second trial] "a police officer admitted that he had lied under oath about the 'vision' statement, prompting the judge to immediately direct a verdict of not guilty"

False informants

Suspicious statements

Police Misconduct

Curbow, Samuel

Actual Culprit Found

1940



Texas

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 30 years.

The Innocents

"Since police had three possible suspects in a car theft, they notified Cherokee county officers to have the witnesses look the men over. The Pritchards identified Curbow and J. C. Strickland."

"The Pritchards identified him from the stand, and without any defense a jury quickly found him quilty and fixed his sentence at 30 years. The Texas Supreme Court later upheld the conviction."

Eighteen months later, "Halbert brought the Pritchards to Oklahoma, where they recognized two of the men as the actual robbers."

Eyewitness error

No defense lawyer appointed

Dabbs, Charles

DNA

1991



New York

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 12 to 20 years.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram 8/1/91 & Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"the victim had testified that she knew her attacker was Dabbs because of his missing front teeth, Micek told the judge, but Dabbs possessed all of his teeth at the time"

"The victim was able to identify Dabbs because they are distant cousins."

"The victim testified that the assailant wore a distinctive cap and had a distinctive laugh, which she stated were both similar to Dabbs'."

"ABO typing of a semen stain on the victim's pants showed the presence of the H and the B antigens; Dabbs is an O secretor whose body fluids contain the H antigen. This blood typing showed that Dabbs could not be excluded as a source of the semen."

"'Despite the results of the tests, she [the victim] is still adamant that Mr. Dabbs is the rapist,' Latino said. 'She said, "I know he did it; he knows he did it," and basically that's her position.'"

Eyewitness error

Dabney, Condy

Victim Found Alive

1927



Kentucky

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life

Convicting the Innocent

"She told the court that she saw Dabney hug the girl, who protested, and then strike her with a stick. Mary fell to the ground and the witness said she saw Dabney attack her."

"She said Condy took the body into the mine while she fled from the scene."

Mary was found alive and well in Cincinnati.

False Informant

Danziger, Richard

DNA

2001



Texas

Convicted of rape & murder and sentenced to life.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 1/17/01 & Wash Post 1/18/01

See Christopher Ochoa

"Ochoa testified against Danziger in a plea bargain that gave him a life sentence with possibility of parole instead of facing the death penalty. Danziger, now brain damaged from a prison beating, was convicted of rape at his trial and also received a life sentence."

"In the early 1990s, Danziger was assaulted by a fellow inmate and left permanently mentally disabled, authorities said. He is confined to a prison hospital."

False Informant

Davis, Gerald W.

DNA

1995



West Virginia

Convicted of kidnapping & sexual assault and sentenced to 14 to 35 years.

Charleston Gazette & Daily Mail 12/5/95 Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"During Davis' first trial, Zain testified Davis could not be excluded as a source of semen left on the underwear, a bed sheet and on Davis' underwear."

"The victim, appearing very shaken and frail, testified she went to Davis' Coal River Road home to do laundry and Davis dragged her into the bedroom and assaulted her."

"The victim knew Davis and identified him to police."

"The victim also made an in-court identification of Davis."

"A State police chemist testified that DNA tests could not exclude Davis as the source of the semen found on the victim's underpants."

"Police found a shoe and a jacket belonging to the victim in the Davis home."

"The Davises asserted an alibi that they did nothing while the victim washed clothes."

Eyewitness error

Expert Misconduct

Daye, Frederick

DNA

1994



California

Convicted of rape and sentenced to life.

Seattle Times 10/9/94 & San Diego Union & Tribune 12/11/94

"The victim identified one of her assailants as a black man with a gold cap on his left front tooth, and picked Daye out of a lineup. Daye has a silver cap on his right front tooth"

"He was identified by both the victim and a bystander"

"Daye gave a police officer a phony name, had a leaky alibi and a prison record"

"There was a progression in the victim's identification," he said. "In the photo lineup, she said, 'That looks like the guy'; in the physical lineup, she said, 'I think that's the one'. But then in front of the jury, she burst into tears and said, 'That's him! I'll never forget that face!' "

After the release, "The victim said on TV that she still thinks (Daye) did it."

Eyewitness error

Dedmond, Roger Z.

Actual Culprit Found

1968



South Carolina

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 18 years.

In Spite of Innocence

"At Dedmond's trial, a police officer testified that Dedmond had confessed to the murder. Dedmond, however, testified that he had no memory of where he was a the time of the crime. In 1968, three months after Dedmond began serving his sentence, he was released on bond when another man confessed to the homicide. This man, who also confessed to several other murders, was subsequently tried, convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Dedmond's wife."

False confession

DeMore, Louis

Actual Culprit Found

1934



Missouri

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life

The Innocents

"A sergeant entered the restaurant with a more detailed description of the wanted man, which he read aloud to the officers. DeMore, who as on his way out, paused to listen and then remarked that he answered the description. He promptly became the focal point of interest."

"The motorman promptly identified DeMore, but the three women passengers were uncertain. The prisoner was taken to the bedside of the dying patrolman. Siko nodded his head when he looked at Demore, and this was taken to be an identification."

"DeMore promptly confessed to the murder of the patrolman."

"On October 1, 1934, DeMore was pardoned and released from prison. Couch . . . was convicted of Patrolman Siko's murder."

False confession

Eyewitness error

Dotson, Gary

DNA

1989



Illinois

Convicted of kidnapping & rape and sentenced to 25 to 50 years.

LA Times 8/15/89 & Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"The victim identified Dotson from a police mug book."

"Dotson was identified by the victim from a police lineup."

"The State's expert serologist testified that the semen on the victim's undergarment came from a type B secretor and that the defendant was a type B secretor. (It was later reported that the State's serologist failed to disclose that the victim was also a type B secretor.)"

"Testimony was presented that a pubic hair removed from the victim's underwear was similar to the defendant's and dissimilar to the victim's."

"In 1985, Webb, who become a member of a fundamentalist Baptist church and who said she was haunted by guilt, said she had made up the story to cover up for a sexual encounter with a boyfriend."

Eyewitness error

Expert misconduct

Hair analysis

Dove, Frank

Actual Culprit Found

1928



North Carolina

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"A fourth defendant, on the morning of his execution in 1923, stated that these three men had nothing to do with the crime; his perjured testimony- apparently coerced had been the basis for their convictions."

"In 1928 . . . the three men received an absolute pardon from Governor Angus McLean and were released."

False informant

Dove, Fred

Actual Culprit Found

1928



North Carolina

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

See Frank Dove

False informant

Drake, Henry

Actual Culprit Found

1987



Georgia

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

LA Times 12/23/88

Henry Drake was convicted of the murder, largely due to Campbell's testimony. No physical evidence linked Drake to the murder and witnesses confirmed his alibi.

IN 1981 Campbell wrote in prison : "My name is William Campbell and I was a witness in the trial of Henry Arthur Drake for armed robbery and murder. I lied at his trial. I said Henry was the one who killed the barber, Mr. Eberhart, and that I tried to stop Henry from killing him. But what I said were lies. I was the one who killed Mr. Eberhart. Henry wasn't even there. He didn't have anything to do with it . . . . I lied about Henry because I thought Henry had done me dirty. I thought Henry had turned me in . . . ."

In 1987 the State Parole Board voted unanimously to release Drake.

False informant

Draper, Ayliff

Actual Culprit Found

1938



Arkansas

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"The chief evidence against him was the testimony of a co-defendant, Ray House."

"In 1936, a few hours before both defendants were scheduled to die in the electric chair, House admitted sole responsibility for the killing and directed the authorities to the murder weapon."

"In 1938 Governor Carl Bailey granted Draper a full pardon, and he was released."

False informant

Durham, Timothy

DNA

1997



Oklahoma

Convicted of first-degree rape, rape by instrumentation, forcible sodomy, burglary, attempted robbery & two counts of lewd molestation and sentenced to more than 3,000 years

Tulsa World 1/3/97 & 11/30/98

"Timothy Durham was convicted of rape based mostly on the 11-year-old victim's identification of her attacker"

"the identification was made by a traumatized child who at first 'wasn't sure,'"

"The girl was with her unmasked attacker for at least 30 minutes in 'broad daylight,' he said. She said she would 'never forget that face.'"

"authorities told the girl that Durham was a 'bad man who had been in prison before'"

"Hairs found at the crime scene matched Durham's in width, color, length and angular cut"

Eyewitness error

Hair analysis

Dwyer, Paul

Actual Culprit Found

1959



Maine

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

"Dwyer readily signed a confession to both murders."

"Because his stories were so extraordinary and his behavior in other ways aberrant, he was briefly transferred to a state mental institution."

"Once in prison, Dwyer changed his story yet again. He claimed that Deputy Carroll had murdered the two Littlefields and forced him to dispose of the bodies."

"The State's case against Carroll rested not only on Dwyer's testimony, but on convincing physical and other circumstantial evidence as well. The jury found him [Carroll] guilty of murder and sentenced him to prison."

False confession

Eaton, Roy

Actual Culprit Found

1956



Illinois

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 1 year to life.

The Innocents

"Eaton had no funds to bring his witnesses to Illinois, and law-enforcement officials brushed aside his story when three witnesses, eighteen months after the crime, identified him as one of the two hold-up men."

"After serving one year, Eaton was brought before the parole board that fixes the length of sentences. Instead of being a repentant sinner, he heatedly informed them that he was innocent; the board postponed any further consideration of his case for 15 years."

Eyewitness error

Ellison, Ella Mae

Informant Reversal

1978



Massachusetts

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

An off-duty police officer was shot and killed when he attempted to stop a robbery.

"In the course of plea-bargaining . . . two of the defendants Williams and Irving agreed to testify against the triggerman . . . and the women driver" [Ellison].

"In May 1976, Williams and Irving recanted their trial testimony, admitting there had been no fourth participant in the crime and that Ellison had no connection with their getaway car or the robbery."

"In July 1978, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts unanimously reversed Ellison's conviction."

False informant

Emery, Arthur

Actual Culprit Found

1954



Washington

Convicted robbery and sentenced to 5 to 20 years to life.

The Innocents

"Arthur Emery, nineteen, was standing on a street in downtown Seattle when a passing bus driver called to police and said he was the man who had held him up several days earlier."

Eyewitness error

Emmett, George

Actual Culprit Found

1975



Georgia

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

See James Creamer

False informant

Prosecutorial misconduct

Fain, Charles

DNA

2001



Idaho

Convicted rape & murder and sentenced to death.

New York Times Aug 24, 2001

"Mr. Fain was convicted of the Feb. 24, 1982, kidnapping, rape and murder of the girl, Daralyn Johnson, after a forensics expert from the FBI said microscopic examination the standard test at the time showed three hairs found on the victim's body were probably Mr. Fain's."

"Some of the most damning evidence against Mr. Fain was the testimony of two jailhouse informers. The men gave lurid details of what they said Mr. Fain had told them about what he had done to Daralyn."

"A state judge ordered the charges against him dismissed on the basis of DNA tests indicating that hairs found on the girl's body, which had been used to convict Mr. Fain, were not his."

False Informants

Hair Analysis

Faison, Anthony

Actual Culprit Found

2001



New York

Convicted of Murder and sentenced to 20 years to life.

NY Times 5/15/01

"Their conviction hinged on the testimony of a witness who later admitted she had lied to collect a $1,000 reward. On Friday, the police arrested the man they now say was responsible for the killing, Arlet Cheston. Mr. Cheston has confessed to the crime, the authorities said."

"The new evidence included an affidavit from a woman who said she had received a letter from an ex- boyfriend bragging about there being two men behind bars for a crime he had committed. The letter writer was Mr. Cheston."

"'No fingerprints connected Mr. Faison and Mr. Shepherd to the case,' Mr. Benson told the judge. 'But when we specifically compared Arlet Cheston's fingerprints to this case, two of fingerprints from his left hand matched the glass partition inside the cab.'"

False Informant

Fay, Floyd

Actual Culprit Found

1980



Ohio

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

"The police thought they had the crucial eyewitness identification they needed. And the eyewitness was none other than the victim himself."

"The results of both polygraphs were used against him."

"It is submitted that the Prosecuting Attorney's office, acting on information given to it by the Attorney of the Defendant, performed an investigation leading to substantial proof that Floyd Fay . . . did not perform the crime for with he was tried and convicted. The investigation . . . has led to proof that other individuals committed the crime and not Floyd Fay."

Eyewitness error

Erroneous Polygraph

Ferber, Neil

Actual Culprit Found

1986



Pennsylvania

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"When shown photographs of possible suspects, the woman picked out Ferber."

Jordan "said that Ferber had confessed to the killings while the two men were in jail."

Later: "Martorano was convicted of hiring Willard Moran to kill Bouras."

"Maran was convicted of the Bouras killing."

Eyewitness error

False informant

Fewell, Stanford E.

Solid Alibi Established

1959



Alabama

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years.

In Spite of Innocence

"After 13 days of continuous questioning, Fewell, in his third conflicting statement, confessed to the 1949 sex murder of his 9-year-old cousin. He repudiated this confession almost immediately."

"Subsequent investigation by the former city editor of the Birmingham News and the Court of last Resort led to four persons who confirmed Fewell's alibi. In 1959, after this new evidence was introduced, the Alabama Parole Board released Fewell."

False confession

Fisher, William

Exonerating Evidence Suppressed

1958



New York

Convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15-30 years.

NY Times 1/14/86

"On the night of the killing, Mr. Fisher has recalled, there was a brawl at the speak-easy, and Mr. Fisher was hit on the head, stabbed in the leg and carried out the back door. A short time later, he said, two men were killed by gunfire."

"Mr. Fisher was convicted of manslaughter in one of the killings, but later a prosecutor in the case admitted that there was no connection between the defendant and a pistol used as evidence against him."

"Judge Frank S. Rossetti said in the 11-page opinion handed down yesterday. 'The loss of freedom, to say the least, is painful to any person. That pain is all the more galling when accompanied by the realization that it was precipitated by the misconduct of a public official.'"

"A court awarded $750,000 in damages yesterday to a 74-year-old man who was wrongfully convicted of killing a man in a Manhattan speak-easy 53 years ago."

Prosecutorial misconduct

Flood, Floyd

Actual Culprit Found

1926



Illinois

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 10 years to life.

Convicting the Innocent

"At police headquarters, Flood was placed in the 'show-up cage'. . . . The police forced Flood to turn his coat collar up, put on a cap not his own and pull it down over his eyes, stretch his hand forward and say, 'stick 'em up.' The police had been informed that one of the bandits, so attired, had thus acted. Under these conditions the two women identified Flood as the bandit who had covered them during the robbery."

After the actual robbers were found, Susie and Emma Wolf "admitted the possibility of a mistake in their identifications."

Eyewitness error

Fooland, Gordon

DNA

1999



Canada

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 4 years.

Globe & Mail (Toronto Can.) 5/22/99

"The assault took place on Nov. 23, 1994, after both men ended a night of partying with the victim by falling asleep in her living room.

"Mr. Folland ended up being charged after the victim said she awoke that night to find a man having sexual intercourse with her. She said she couldn't feel any hair on the front of his forehead as she grasped at the assailant before he fled the darkened bedroom."

"Since Mr. Folland was balding and the friend was not, her observation formed crucial evidence."

"The fresh evidence showed that traces of semen on a set of male underwear in the complainant's bed belonged not to Mr. Folland, but to his friend."

Eyewitness error

Foster, James

Actual Culprit Found

1958



Georgia

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"Although Mrs. Drake's identification of Foster as her husband's killer was hardly the product of a properly conducted police line-up, the GBI agents were convinced by her reactions that they had their man."

"Camie Drake pointed across the court room at James Foster and uttered the damning words: 'He is the man that shot my husband.'"

"Brought into court directly from his jail cell, where he had met Foster a few weeks earlier, Dameron testified that Foster had boasted to him about the Drake murder."

"Rocky Rothschild, worn down by the combination of evidence against him and his own guilty conscience, had chosen Independence Day to sign a full confession."

Eyewitness error

False informant

Fowler, Walter

Solid Alibi Established

Died in prison



Illinois

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life

Justice in the Back Room

Questioned around the clock for six days. He was beaten threatened, refused access to friends or a lawyer.

"On the sixth day, with his left arm broken and his aching body covered with bruises ans welts, Pugh still denied his interrogators."

Taken to meet his friend "Fowler, who had confessed quickly, advised Pugh: 'Man, you'd better sign that confession 'cause these people are going to kill you.' At last Pugh's resistance crumbled. He, too, signed a piece of paper."

"At a hearing in 1955 the lawyer revealed that the prosecution in the 1936 trial had suppressed information that would have exonerated Pugh and Fowler. Two eyewitnesses had seen the killer, a white man, stab and chase his victim in the park. . . . there evidence had not been truned over to the defense at the trial."

"Pugh's conviction was set aside, and the Cook Country prosecutor decided against retrying him for murder."

False confession

Police misconduct

Prosecutorial misconduct

Frank, Leo

Actual Culprit Found

Lynched 1915



Georgia

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

NY Times 3/8/82 & LA Times 3/12/86

"The janitor accused Mr. Frank of the killing and said the defendant had paid him $200 to carry the body to the basement and burn it in the furnace."

"Although nothing in Mr. Frank's history indicated wrongdoing, no other evidence supported the janitor, and the prosecution acknowledged that Mr. Conley had told several other versions of his story, the community and the jury were quick to convict Mr. Frank."

"Leo Frank, a Jewish businessman whose lynching in 1915 became a rallying point for both the Ku Klux Klan and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, was given a posthumous pardon Tuesday for the murder he denied committing."

"The action came less than a year after the death of Alonzo Mann, who came forward in 1982 to say that, as a 14-year-old office boy in Frank's Atlanta pencil factory, he saw another man carrying the body of 13-year-old Mary Phagan."

"Mann said he did not speak out during Frank's trial because he feared the real murderer."

False informant

Frederick, Johnny

Actual Culprit Found

1973



Florida

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Keaton v. State 273 So. 2d 385 (1973)

"The State presented eyewitness identification of all three but had alleged confessions of only Keaton and Frederick."

"Keaton and Frederick were tried and convicted prior to any knowledge by the State of 'the Jacksonville Three.' Thus, there was no evidence presented in their trial to show the strong case which the State had against 'the Jacksonville Three,' and which tended to be exculpatory [ of Keaton and Frederick]"

"Fingerprints of each of 'the Jacksonville Three' were found at the scene on articles in the store (the scene of the crime) handled in the robbery."

"No fingerprints of any of 'the Quincy Five' [Keaton and Frederick] were found anywhere on the premises."

Eyewitness error

False confession

Fritz, Dennis

DNA

1999



Oklahoma

Convicted of rape & murder and sentenced to life.

Associated Press 4/15/99

"Prosecutors say the same DNA tests that cleared the pair identified a third man, a witness in both Fritz's and Williamson's trials, as a suspect in the case. That man, Glen Gore, 38, escaped from a state Department of Corrections work detail Wednesday."

"Gore testified he saw Williamson with Ms. Carter the night she died and was the only witness to connect them" [to the crime].

"Hair-comparison tests and testimony from jailhouse informants were introduced in both trials."

False informants

Hair analysis

Fry, John

Actual Culprit Found

1959



California

Convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 1 10 years.

People v. Cooper 349 P.2d 964 (1960)

"John Fry was convicted of manslaughter of Elvira and was serving a sentence in San Quentin State Prison in June, 1959, when defendant [Richard Cooper] killed Earlean and confessed to the two homicides. (Fry, who had been too drunk to remember the events of August 2 and 3, 1958, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter of Elvira. After defendant confessed, Fry was pardoned on June 19, 1959.)"

False confession

Gaines, Freddie

Actual Culprit Found

1985



Alabama

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years.

In Spite of Innocence

"In 1990 a man who closely resembled Gaines confessed to the murder, and in a 1991 hearing that lasted five minutes an Alabama circuit judge vacated Gaines's conviction."

Galindo, Broulio

Actual Culprit Found

1926



California

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 1 year to life.

Convicting the Innocent

"Dunham and Marshall Dessem, the customer who had entered the bank during the holdup, could identify only Rivera. Hatterscheid identified Revera and Galindo. Miss Mongomery was positive about Galindo, and Stover said he recognized Galindo and Hernandez. None of them identified Mendival, so it was supposed that he was the man who had stayed outside in the car."

"Cane said Mendival's complexion resembled that of the man he saw sitting in the Chevrolet."

Later the four bank robbers were found and convicted.

Eyewitness error

Gauger, Gary

Actual Culprit Found

1996



Illinois

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Chicago Sun Times Oct 5, 1996 & Christian Science Monitor Nov 16, 1998

"During a 21-hour interrogation, Gauger made statements that police took as a confession. Despite what looked like a lack of physical evidence, he was sentenced to die."

"In March, the Illinois Appellate Court threw out the 1993 convictions, saying the McHenry County Sheriff's Department had no evidence that warranted a 21-hour interrogation and ultimately his arrest. This week, the state's high court sided with that ruling by refusing to hear an appeal by state and local prosecutors."

"A federal wiretap caught two members of a biker gang bragging about committing the murders. Both are now headed to trial."

False Confession

Geter, Lenell

Actual Culprit Found

1984



Texas

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to life.

NY Times 3/22/84 & 10/14/84

"Many of Mr. Geter's co-workers testified at his trial. They said he could not have committed the mid-afternoon robbery in Balch Springs, 50 miles from his workplace in Greenville. But five witnesses picked Mr. Geter as the robber from a photo lineup."

"Mr. Wade today said that the new suspect in the case, Curtis Eugene Mason, was brought to Dallas and placed in live lineups on March 20 and 21. Four of the five witnesses in Mr. Geter's case identified him as the man who robbed the Balch Springs restaurant. The fifth witness picked a person who could not have had anything to do with the robbery."

"Curtis Eugene Mason, a suspect in a Dallas robbery for which Lenell Geter was wrongly convicted, has been sentenced to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to seven armed robberies."

Eyewitness error

Gilbert, John

Actual Culprit Found

1957



New York

Convicted of robbery and released before sentenced.

The Innocents

"A half hour after a gas station had been robbed in Brooklyn at 2:40 AM on September 29, 1956, a police radio car spotted three men answering the general description of the bandits seated at a drive-in restaurant about a mile from the scene."

"One of the officers returned with the robbery victim and he promptly identified two men, John Gilbert, twenty one, and Carmine Gotti, twenty two."

Eyewitness error

Gladish, Thomas

Actual Culprit Found

1975



New Mexico

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"Judy Weyer, a pert-time maid, said she recognized the bikers."

"Weyer progressively amplified her initial story into an eyewitness account of a murder that included sodomy, shooting, and the dumping of the victim's body in Albuquerque."

"Two other witnesses, a father and son, testified that they had seen the biker gang in Albuquerque on the day of the murder."

"In September 1975, sixteen months after the trial, a young drifter and former mental patient, Kerry R. Lee, walked into a South Carolina police station and confessed to the Albuquerque murder."

"The lurid tale she [Weyer] told, of torture by the homosexual biker terrorist, she herself later admitted was a complete fabrication developed with the complicity of the police."

False informant

Eyewitness error

Police misconduct

Goodwin, Paul

Exculpatory Evidence Suppressed

1969



Oklahoma

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Goodwin v. Page 296 F. 1205 (1969)

"Mr. Walter Billingsley, the attorney for the co-defendant Lindsey, made an investigation of the facts and during such investigation talked to a young woman who said she saw the shooting, which resulted in the death of the peace officer and that this young woman told him that Lindsey, the driver of the car, fired the shot that killed the officer; the prosecution knew of this witness."

"After the police officer was shot and killed, Horace "Buster" Lindsey, petitioner's co-defendant, surrendered himself and made a voluntary signed written statement to the authorities, upon the advice of his mother, that he shot and killed the officer, and again while he was being held in the State Penitentiary at McAlester for safe-keeping, he confessed to being the killer. Later this same person gave another written statement wherein he stated, among other things, that petitioner shot and killed the officer, and this is the statement . . . which was read to the jury by the Chief of Police of the City of Seminole during petitioner's trial, and the only statement of which the jury was informed."

"He was denied effective assistance of counsel in that he only saw the Court-appointed counsel five days before trial, and then only for a short period of time; that counsel did not subpoena witnesses; that counsel failed to make an opening statement; failed to ask for a continuance or change of venue; placed no evidence before the Court; and did not keep his promise to appeal the conviction."

Denied a fair trial

Ineffective Counsel

Gotti, Carmine

Actual Culprit Found

1957



New York

Convicted of robbery and released before sentenced.

The Innocents

See John Gilbert

Eyewitness error

Graham, Michael R.

Informant Reversal

DNA

2000



Louisiana

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

See Albert R. Burrell

False Informants

Gray, Anthony

DNA

1999



Maryland

Convicted of murder & rape and sentenced to life.

Wash Post 2/9/99

"Gray, 31, is of below-average intelligence. He confessed to a role in Pellicano's death."

"Paul M. Holland and Leonard A. Long, were arrested and questioned about the Pellicano murder. They implicated Gray. Holland told police that the three had smoked crack cocaine together before Gray and Long broke into Pellicano's home to burglarize it. Gray was arrested and told police that he was in the house while Long and Holland killed Pellicano, after she came home from the grocery store and surprised them. Gray later said he lied in his confession because police told him the other two men had implicated him in the murder."

"Anthony G. Fleming, pleaded guilty to killing Pellicano after his DNA was found to match DNA evidence taken from the victim's body."

"Gray said he pleaded guilty because 'they were trying to give me the death penalty for something I didn't do. . . . Why should I die for something I didn't do?'"

"Visiting Prince George's County Judge Graydon S. McKee III ruled in a hearing yesterday that Gray had received ineffective counsel from the attorney he had after he pleaded guilty."

False confession

False informants

Ineffective Counsel

Gray, David

DNA

1999



Missouri

Convicted of rape & attempted murder.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 6/25/99

"The victim, who was stabbed 33 times, identified Gray as her attacker and the same man who came to her house several days earlier to look at a motorcycle her son was trying to sell.

Gray's first trial ended with a hung jury. He was convicted in a second trial in which a former cellmate testified that Gray admitted the crime."

Eyewitness error

False informant

Gray, Paula

DNA

1996



Illinois

Convicted of murder, rape and robbery. Sentenced to 60 years.

Supreme Court of Illinois 652 N.E. 2d 278: 1995

"After questioning by Pastirik, Gray gave a second statement in which she implicated herself, Williams, Rainge, Adams, and, for the first time, the defendant [Jimerson]."

"The 1978 pre-sentence investigation report (PSI) prepared for Gray stated that, at age 6, her IQ was measured at 57, classifying her as mentally retarded. Gray was diagnosed as educable mentally handicapped (EMH) and placed in a special EMH classroom. In 1974, Gray's IQ was measured at 64. A 1974 psychological report attached to the PSI found Gray to be a 'timid, insecure and dependent' personality, who has 'difficulty interpreting stimuli correctly.' Gray's mother stated that Paula's 'mind comes and goes.' At age 17, Gray was unable to read, write or tell time."

False Confession

Gray, Russell

Actual Culprit Found

1990



Virginia



Convicted of murder and sentenced to 52 years.

In Spite of Innocence

"The defense attorney . . . demonstrated that the conviction had been based on erroneous eye witness identification by the State's chief witness. The eyewitness then identified another man, Michael Harvey; other witnesses, who had not testified at Grary's trial, agreed that Harvey was the gunman. Harvey finally confessed."

Eyewitness error

Greason, Samuel

Actual Culprit Found

1905



Pennsylvania

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"The victim's wife recanted her testimony against Greason in 1905"

"The victim's wife confessed to the murder herself and completely exonerated Greason."

False information

Green, Anthony

DNA

2001



Ohio

Convicted of rape & robbery and sentenced to 20 50 years.

State v. Green 585 N.E.2d 990; 1990 & The Plain Dealer Oct 19, 2001

"The rape victim, a nurse in her 30s from West Virginia, died a short time after identifying Green as her attacker."

"Appellant objects that the victim was shown two photo arrays, both of which included a photo of appellant. In the first all other photos shown were typical mug shots, while appellant's was a wallet-type photo, darker in tone and with surface scratching. In the second series appellant also appeared in a mug shot that included an information card indicating his physical description."

"The victim, upon viewing the second set of photographs, immediately recognized the appellant as her assailant."

"Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Anthony O. Calabrese Jr. apologized and threw out Green's 1988 conviction for rape yesterday because of DNA evidence that showed someone else committed the crime."

Eyewitness Error

Green, Edward

DNA

1990



DC

Convicted of rape & kidnapping , never sentenced.

Wash Post 2/16/90 & 3/20/9 Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"Two young women, assaulted one month apart near a footbridge at Hart Junior High School in Southeast Washington, identified Green as their assailant. Each was the sole witness against him, and in each case Green maintained that the government had the wrong man."

"His attorneys pointed out the darkness of the crime scene, the victim's blindfolding shortly after being accosted, and the allegedly suggestive manner in which detectives asked her to identify Green as her assailant."

"The second victim identified Green in a "show-up" on the street. The first victim identified Green from a photo array and a formal lineup."

Eyewitness error

Green, Kevin

DNA

1996



California

Convicted of assault and sentenced to 15 years to life.

LA Times 6/22/96 & 6/26/96

"Green's former wife identified him at trial as the man who beat her on the head with a tape measure."

"Dianna D'Aiello said her memory came back to her slowly after a month in a coma, often after something visual jogged her memory."

"Police in Costa Mesa and Tustin, however, discovered Green was innocent while investigating three unsolved attacks in their cities. Forensic scientists found common DNA samples in three cases and those samples matched that of Parker, whose DNA was entered in the state database after he confessed to raping a 13- year-old girl, authorities said."

"D'Aiello said she is still trying to reconcile her vivid memories of the September 1979 night of the attack on her with the stunning news that a serial killing suspect, Gerald Parker, has allegedly confessed to the bludgeoning. The attack left D'Aiello in a coma for a month"

Eyewitness error

Green, Nelson

Actual Culprit Found

1918



New York

Pleaded guilty to murder and sentenced to 20 years to life.

Convicting the Innocent

See Charles Stielow

False informant

Green, William S.

Actual Culprit Found

1957



Pennsylvania

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

The Innocents

"Two weeks later police received a tip that William S. Green, a Navy veteran, was the killer and were happy to find two excellent witnesses, not available the night of the murder, who positively identified Green."

"In 1957, after Green had served ten years, the man who had claimed he had been twenty-five feet away at the time of the shooting voluntarily appeared at the district attorney's office and admitted that he had perjured himself. He said the other witness, who claimed to be forty feet away, had paid him $100 for his false testimony. The other man was a homosexual who once had been beaten up by Green for making an indecent proposal, and he wanted revenge."

False informant



Greenwald, Irving

Actual Culprit Found

1924



New York

Convicted of passing forged money and sentenced to 7.5 years.

Convicting the Innocent

"Some of the clerks from the stores which had been imposed on were called to identify him as the man who had passed thr forged money orders. They identified him as the man."

His attorney "was told that the identification of Greenwald by the several clerks, the credit man, and the druggist, was positive and that they would all swear that Greenwald was the man who cashed the money orders that the case against Greenwald was 'cast-iron, brass-bound, copper riveted and airtight.'"

Later the real fogger was found.

"All save one of the witnesses now identified Barry as the man who had passed the money orders."

Eyewitness error

Greer, Richard W.

Actual Culprit Found

1975



New Mexico

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

See Thomas Gladish

False informant

Eyewitness error

Police misconduct

Gregory, William

DNA

2000



Kentucky

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 70 years.

Cincinnati Enquire 7/10/00 & Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) 7/6/00

"Both women failed to pick out Gregory when shown a series of photographs, although both later insisted he was their attacker."

"The next day, he was arrested. Mr. Gregory stood in a lineup, and a 20-year-old woman identified him as her assailant."

"A forensic expert testifies that a microscopic examination of Gregory's hair found it to be similar to the hairs found in the stocking."

"the younger victim also still believes Gregory is guilty but understands that the DNA evidence "leaves a huge hole in the case."

Eyewitness error

Hair analysis

Growden, Gerald

Actual Culprit Found

1932



Michigan

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence & Not Guilty

"His conviction had been based on erroneous eyewitness identification and the testimony of fellow inmates who claimed that Growden had confessed to the crime."

"In 1932 two other men confessed to the murder, all charges against Growden were dismissed and he was released."

Eyewitness error

False informant

Hacker, Larry

Actual Culprit Found

1975



Georgia

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

See James Creamer

False informant

Prosecutorial misconduct

Hall, Gordon C.

Actual Culprit Found

1981



California

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

"That night in a police line-up, Hall was identified by two of the victim's brothers, who had also been targets of the gunman."

"A major break came when the tow brothers recanted their trial testimony. They testified in writing and under oath . . . a man named Oscar Sanchez was the guilty one."

"Another eyewitness . . . identified Sanchez and a third man, Alfred Reyes, as the two who had fired the fatal shots."

"Other witnesses added to the weight of evidence mounting against Reyes and Sanchez."

California Supreme Court Judge Stanley Mosk said the new evidence from witnesses was "amply sufficient to undermine the entire case of the prosecution, because it eviscerates the key trial testimony against petitioner [Hall] and clearly implicates a different culprit."

Eyewitness error

Inadequate defense

Hall, Lindberg

Actual Culprit Found

1962



Michigan

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

See Ephraim R. Clark

Eyewitness error

False informant

Hamlin, Franklin

Actual Culprit Found

1954



California

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 5 years to life.

The Innocents

"Hamlin had been mistakenly identified as Kistler by three eyewitnesses in the robbery of a San Francisco jewelry shop."

"The storekeeper later was puzzled as to how he could have mistaken one man for the other."

Eyewitness error

Hammond, Ricky

DNA

1992



Connecticut

Convicted of kidnapping & sexual assault and sentenced to 25 years.

Hartford Courant 10/20/92 & Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"the jury in Hammond's case placed more credibility on the composed and detailed testimony of the victim, a 34-year-old Bristol woman who had never met Hammond. She accurately described Hammond and the contents of his messy Chevrolet Malibu, including the rips in a child's car seat in the back seat of the car and a watch hanging from the gearshift. Hammond habitually placed his watch there when he drove, acquaintances testified"

"The victim identified Hammond in a photo array.

The victim made an in-court identification of Hammond."

"Hammond's alibi was uncorroborated, and he also had altered several details of his alibi when originally interviewed."

"Forensic examination of hairs found in Hammond's car showed they were consistent with the victim's hair."

Eyewitness error

Hair analysis

Hampton, Mary Kay

Solid Alibi Established

1966



Louisiana

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

"Spencer vowed to get even. A guard reported he heard Spencer say, 'I'll get that bitch if it's the last think I do'. Spencer began his campaign of retaliation by confessing to murder after murder, implicating Hampton in each one."

"For six weeks Mary Kay was interrogated, and for six weeks she cried and denied any guilt. Then, forty-three days after she had been taken to Louisiana in custody, she finally cracked."

"Nothing implicated her in the murders except Spencer's vengeful accusations and her own ill-advised guilty pleas."

"Taken together, the accumulated evidence strongly argued that Spencer and Hampton had been hundreds of miles away, in Florida, within a few hours of the Louisiana crimes. They simply could not have committed either, let alone both, of the murders."

False informant

False confession

Hankins, Leonard

Actual Culprit Found

1951



Minnesota

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

The Innocents

"Several members of the gang had been staying at a rooming house; one gangster was seized there. Leonard Hankins was arrested when he walked into the place. Although one witness was positive he was not the man who had been stationed ouside the bank, several others thought there wa a resemblance and Honkins was found guilty"

"A Barber had supported his story that he was in St. Paul getting a haircut at the time of the robbery."

"The FBI captured Jess Doyle . . . he admitted the bank holdup . . .and named his companions. He said Hankins was innocent. Several other member of the gang caught later also said Hankins was not implicated."

In 1954 "the state legislature passed a bull granting him $300 month for life for his length unjustified imprisonment."

Eyewitness error

Harris. L.D.

Actual Culprit Found

1949



South Carolina

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death

Harris v. South Carolina 338U.S. 68 (1949)

The US Supreme Court wrote: "The use, at a trial for murder in a state court, of a confession obtained by protracted police interrogation violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, where the accused, an illiterate person, was interrogated on two days by at least five officers working in relays and relieving each other from time to time to permit respite from the stifling heat of the cubicle in which the interrogation was conducted, and on the third day by the chief of the state constabulary with half a dozen of his men for about an hour and by the local authorities for three and a half hours longer, and he did not confess until the sheriff threatened to arrest his mother for handling stolen property."

In spite of Innocence

"No retrial was held. In 1957 a man originally suspected of the murder was arrested for similar murders; he confessed to the murder for which Harris had been convicted."

False confession

Harris, William

DNA

1995



West Virginia

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 10 to 25 years.

Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"The victim identified Harris in a police lineup and made an in-court identification of him."

"Police serologist Fred Zain (see also Glen Woodall and Gerald Wayne Davis cases) testified that the genetic markers in the semen left by the assailant matched those of Harris and only 5.9 percent of the population."

Eyewitness error

Expert misconduct

Hernandez, Alejandro

DNA

1995



Illinois

Convicted of kidnapping, rape & murder and sentenced to death.

Chicago Sun-Times 12/10/95

"In Hernandez's case, one officer who claimed Hernandez made incriminating statements didn't document them for almost four years. Others said they never took notes, or claimed their notes were lost or destroyed."

"An anonymous caller told police Hernandez had mentioned knowing someone named "Ricky" who had admitted committing the murder."

"As he was being booked at the DuPage County Jail, deputies Thomas Bentcliff and Howard Keltner allegedly heard Hernandez say, 'I didn't hurt anybody. I just went there to do a burglary to get money for drugs.' But the deputies didn't document the report until almost four years later."

"At one point, he allegedly heard Hernandez say, 'All I did was hold that little girl down while they hit her head. . . . I feel like I am guilty, but all I did was hold that little girl down.' Bettilyon acknowledged he understood only part of the conversation because at times Marquez and Hernandez spoke in Spanish."

Suspicious statements

Police misconduct

Hernandez, Jose

Actual Culprit Found

1926



California

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 1 year to life.

Convicting the Innocent

See Broulio Galindo

Eyewitness error

Hicks, Anthony

DNA

1997



Wisconsin

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 19 years.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 4/24/97 & Wisconsin State Journal 5/28/96

"The stenographer had helped make copies of Yahnke's sketch and then started typing Markham's report on Hicks. She saw Hicks' driver's license picture and noticed his strong resemblance to the suspect. She also noticed that he and the victim both lived on Schroeder Road and that Hicks was on probation for the cocaine conviction."

"The next day, police put Hicks, who was cooperative, into a lineup with six other black men. The victim, after seeing Hicks and hearing him speak, said she was sure he was the man who had raped her. But she also said she hadn't noticed the prominent cleft in his chin before, and that his skin seemed lighter than she remembered."

"The lab indicated the hairs were consistent with those of Hicks."

Eyewitness error

Hair analysis

Hodsdon, Edward

Actual Culprit Found

1952



Maine

Convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to 15 years.

Not Guilty

"In 1946, in Presque Isle, Maine, the police arrested Edward A. Hodsdon on a charge of assault with intent to rape. Identified by the victim, Hodsdon went to trial."

"Six years later, in 1952, a man named Edward Kennison, arrested on another charge, confessed that he, not Hodsdon, had committed the assault for which Hodsdon had been convicted."

Eyewitness error

Hoffner, Louis

Solid Alibi Established

1952



New York

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

The Innocents

"At police headquarters Halkais looked through the picture file of men wearing thick glasses. He did not make a positive identification of Hoffner but said the photograph looked something like the man."

"Sotzing, Halkais, and a subway porter, who had seen a man rushing down the stairs shortly after the shooting, were called into the room. Sotzing did not identify Hoffner. . . . The subway porter also said the prisoner did not resemble the man he had seen at the subway station. Halkais looked at the four men in the line-up and left the room. He returned ten minutes later and asked to view Hoffner's left profile. He then identified the prisoner."

"The reporter dug away for years, finding additional witnesses and confirming episodes that established that Hoffner had been in Brooklyn at the time of the murder. In November, 1952, the prosecutor's office moved to set aside the conviction and Hoffner was released. . . . The court of Claims later awarded Hoffner $112,000 for his false imprisonment."

Eyewitness error

Holbrook, Ernest

Actual Culprit Found

1984



Ohio

Convicted of rape & murder and sentenced to life.

NY Times 4/16/84 & 5/5/84

"The prosecution relied largely on the testimony of Curtis Maynard, Mr. Holbrook's cousin, and Susan Sigler, an acquaintance. Mr. Maynard testified at both trials that in a night of drinking at Mrs. Sigler's house, Mr. Rucker told them that he and Mr. Holbrook had killed a little girl because she resisted their sexual advances. Mrs. Sigler told somewhat the same story."

"When Mr. Maynard was in jail on a theft charge, he was again visited by the detectives. His probation officer released him to their custody, and he provided more detail about the Harmon killing."

"The Wayne County prosecutor, Keith Shearer, said he had asked that the charges be dropped because of new evidence linking another man to the murder."

False informant

Holdren, Larry

DNA

2000



West Virginia

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 30 to 60 years.

Associated Press 1/11/00

"Investigators had shown the woman the Holdrens' photos in an array of suspect pictures, and she picked him out." "Besides being 27, Holdren did not fit the description because he wore his hair short; his barber testified at trial that he cut Holdren's hair every six weeks. But in court testimony, the woman said she was convinced Holdren was her rapist."

Eyewitness error

Holemon, Jeffrey

DNA

1999



Alabama

Convicted of rape and served 12 years. (specific sentence not described.)

Associated Press 1/26/99

Few other details provided.

Honaker, Edward W.

DNA

1994



Virginia

Convicted of rape and sentenced to three life terms plus 34 years.

Wash Post 10/22/94 & Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"Honaker was arrested in October 1984 after a police officer decided he bore an uncanny resemblance to a composite sketch of the burly man in camouflaged clothing who had raped a young woman along the Blue Ridge Parkway four months earlier."

"He was convicted largely on her identification - secretly enhanced by hypnosis, as it was later disclosed."

"The victim and her boyfriend picked Honaker out of a photo lineup."

"The victim made an in-court identification of Honaker."

"The truck that Honaker drove was similar to the one driven by the assailant."

"Police found camouflage fatigues in Honaker's house, similar to those worn by the assailant."

"Honaker's alibi, which was corroborated by his brother, sister-in-law, owner of his trailer park, and mother's housemate, was called a "put-up job" by the prosecution."

"A State laboratory forensic specialist testified that hair found on the woman's shorts 'was unlikely to match anyone' other than Honaker."

"Nearly 10 years to the day after Honaker was incarcerated, Gov. George Allen called to say that DNA tests had persuaded him to grant the 44-year-old carpenter-welder an absolute pardon."

"The victim . . . even now remains convinced that he is guilty."

Eyewitness error

Hair analysis

Houston, Elton

Actual Culprit Found

1989



Illinois

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 35 years.

See Robert Brown

Also in In Spite of Innocence

"One eyewitness identified Brown as a participant; two other eyewitnesses identified Houston"

Eyewitness error

Evidence withheld

Howell, Everett

Actual Culprit Found

1930



Illinois

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 1 year to life.

Convicting the Innocent

"Witnesses of the Golden robbery were brought to Peoria to determine whether Howell was one of the participants. Howell was positively identified by gasoline-station owner Gerdes and his companions, Woerman and Winke, and by Henry Schuster, as the man who had driven the Whippet. Cashier Janssen was positive that Howell was the one who held him up with the pistol."

Eyewitness error

Howell, Frank

Actual Culprit Found

1931



West Virginia

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 15 years.

Convicting the Innocent

"Mr. Cotts came to New Martinsville and positively identified them as the bandits."

"From the witness stand, he pointed to Howell and said, 'That is the man right there.' He testified that he had no trouble at all in identifying the defendant or his wife saying, 'I couldn't be mistaken.'"

Even after the actual criminals confessed, "there remained no doubt in anyone's mind, including Mr. Cott's, that Irene Schroeder and Glenn Dague were the guilty bandits and that the Howells were absolutely innocent."

Eyewitness error

Hudson, Jim

Actual Culprit Found

Died in Prison



Alabama

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Convicting the Innocent

See James Crutcher

False informant

Hughes, George

Actual Culprit Found

1931



Minnesota

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to life.

Convicting the Innocent

"The cashier, Lindquist, and customers, witnesses of the robbery, were called to St. Paul, where they identified Hughes."

Eyewitness error

Jackson, Sergeant

Actual Culprit Found

1974



California

Convicted of murder & robbery and sentenced to life.

Jackson v. San Diego, 175 Cal. Rptr. 395 (1981)

"Robert Hoke, a gas station attendant, was murdered and robbed on November 26, 1973. The police investigation and the subsequent arrest of Jackson turned on information received from a Victor Thomas, a police informant."

"Thomas' categorical identification of Jackson was at odds with the description of either assailant given by several witnesses at the scene after the incident and contrary to the statement of another witness who positively excluded Jackson as the robber from a photographic lineup."

"The wallet in Jackson's possession was later incorrectly identified by the victim's wife as belonging to her husband."

"During his incarceration, Clarence Blunt came forward and implicated himself in the murder of which Jackson had been convicted. Blunt was tried and convicted. Jackson was set free."

False informant

Jackson, William B.

Actual Culprit Found

1982



Ohio

Convicted of Rape and sentenced to 14 to 50 years.

NY Times 9/24/82 & ABA Journal March 1999

"William Bernard Jackson, who is not related to Dr. Jackson, had been imprisoned for nearly five years on conviction for two rapes that are now part of the indictment against the physician. William Jackson was sentenced to 14 to 50 years in the maximum security prison at Lucasville after two victims identified him in court as their assailant."

"Police found a list of the rape victims in the doctor's home, and witnesses against William B. Jackson acknowledged their mistake."

"Rep Vernon Sykes thought the state owed William Jackson, and it did pay, eventually awarding him $720,645."

Eyewitness error

Jacobs, Elmer

Actual Culprit Found

1928



California

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 15 years to life.

Convicting the Innocent

"The four victims attended the police department 'show-ups,' where arrested persons in groups of six were marched before victims of all sort of crimes for identification. Early in September, each of the taxi drivers identified on of the prisoners, Elmer P. Jacobs, as one of the taxi robbers."

"Each victim appeared as a witness and described the holdup, stating the Jacobs was one of the robbers."

After the real culprits were found, "Detective McCaleb then had the four men placed in the 'show-up' and called in again the victims of the robberies. This time the confessed robbers were all positively identified by the victims. It was clear to every one that their earlier identification of Jacobs had been erroneous."

Eyewitness error

James, Tyrone

Actually Culprit Found

1983



South Carolina

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

"Bother James and Peterson were convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, primarily on the testimony of a police officer who stated that he overheard them making incriminating statements while in custody after their arrest. Two months later, prompted by testimony from a previously silent witness that implicated four other men, the court ordered a new trial. Subsequently a grand jury dropped the charges against both James and Peterson."

"at least one of these men pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life."

Incriminating statements

Jean, Lesly

DNA

1991



North Carolina

Convicted of rape and sentenced to life.

Associated Press 1/26/01 & Jean v. Rice, 945 F.2d 82 (1991)

"Believing that Jean matched the description of Wilson's assailant, the two officials detained Jean and radioed for Shingleton to come view him. Shingleton arrived, and positively identified Jean as the person he had stopped, stating, 'that is the man'."

"The next day, July 27, 1982, Ms. Wilson viewed a photo line-up, which included Jean's picture. She could not identify any of the subjects as her rapist. Ms. Wilson, however, returned to the police station the next day because one of the pictures made her "feel sick." She again viewed the photos and selected Jean's photo, saying that his was the face that made her feel sick."

"On July 30, 1982, Captain Collins hypnotized Ms. Wilson to 'improve her memory of why [the] picture makes her sick'."

"Six weeks later, on September 17, 1982, the police had Wilson view a three man line-up . . . . After viewing the line-up, Wilson positively identified Jean as her attacker."

"the state did not inform defense counsel that the victim may have identified Jean's photograph, that the two key witnesses had been hypnotized, or that various records pertaining to hypnosis and identification procedures existed."

"Jean was released from prison in July 1991 after the appeals court ruling and the state decided not to prosecute again. That was before the DNA test results were available."

"DNA evidence was found in the Onslow County clerk's office and a Jan. 12 report said Jean was excluded as a possible rapist."

Eyewitness error

Prosecutorial misconduct

Jenkins, Bill

Actual Culprit Found

1975



Georgia

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

See James Creamer

False informant

Prosecutorial misconduct

Jenkins, Lonnie

Informant Reversal

1940



Michigan

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life

The Innocents

"A coroner's jury returned with a verdict that Mrs. Jenkins had taken her won life."

"Finally Betty began to talk, confirming what the detectives had thought. She said that she was the one who actually had written the suicide note."

"The girl also told of a flaming romance with Jenkins whenever they could be alone in the apartment and said that he told her many times that he would 'get rid' of his wife and marry her."

"During the trial the prosecution pounded home to the jury that it was impossible for Mrs. Jenkins to fall on her back if she had shot herself."

Later his daughter "consulted ballistics experts and learned from them that there were many authentic cases on record of suicides who had fallen on their backs."

"FBI handwriting experts had examined samples of Mrs. Jenkins' handwriting . . . and were certain that the note had been written by the dead woman."

"The final bit of evidence was an admission from Betty that her entire story had been a complete invention."

False informant

Jenkins, Vincent

DNA

1999



New York

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 20 years to life.

Associated Press 9/2/99

"His lawyer, Eleanor Jackson Piel, said improper police tactics prompted the victim to identify Jenkins as her attacker months after the rape. " "She said racism and pressure to solve the case were reasons police worked to convince the white victim that Jenkins, who is black, was her assailant. "

Eyewitness error

Jimerson, Verneal

DNA

1996



Illinois

Convicted of murder and rape. Sentenced to death.

See Kenneth Adams

False Informant

Official Misconduct

Eyewitness Error

Johnson, Calvin

DNA

1999



Georgia

Convicted of rape and sentenced to life.

Jet 7/5/99

"Four witnesses, including the White victim, identified Johnson as the rapist based on his build and the sound of his voice. None of the witnesses saw the attacker's face. An all White jury convicted him."

Eyewitness error

Johnson, Cooper

Actual Culprit Found

Died in Prison



Texas

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"Circumstantial evidence against them was weak and inconclusive, but both defendants originally confessed out of fear of lynching."

"In 1923 another man confessed to the murders, as well as to others."

"By then Johnson, still waiting for a death warrant, had died of natural causes. In 1934 Governor Miriam Ferguson granted a pardon to Young."

False confession

Johnson, Donnell

Likely Culprit Found

2000



Massachusetts

Convicted of murder as a juvenile and sentenced to 18 20 yrs.

Boston Globe July 11, 2000 & May 4, 2001

"It all began in 1994, when 9-year-old Jermaine Goffigan, playing outside on Halloween night, was killed in a gang-related shooting. Witnesses said one of the shooters was light-skinned and freckle-faced, and the young Johnson fit the description."

"The break finally came last summer. Ralph C. Martin III, the Suffolk County District Attorney who'd always said Johnson was a killer, began to reconsider his position when members of the Heath Street gang, seeking leniency after being arrested on federal drug charges, told investigators Johnson was innocent."

"Then, in late March, upon a motion from Martin, Juvenile Court Judge Paul D. Lewis vacated Johnson's murder conviction. Martin and the Boston police commissioner, Paul Evans, publicly apologized and said new evidence had led to the dramatic reversal of fortune."

"Martin admitted that Johnson was wrongly convicted by the mistaken testimony of eyewitnesses."

Eyewitness Error

Johnson, John

Actual Culprit Found

1922



Wisconsin

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Convicting the Innocent &

In Spite of Innocence

"A former mental patient, Johnson feared being lynched, and he confessed when he was told that a mob was about to break into his cell."

"In 1922 Johnson was released after the victim's father was shown to have committed the crime."

False confession

Johnson, Lawyer


Actual Culprit Found

1982



Massachusetts

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Commonwealth v. Johnson, 429 N.E.2d 726 (1982)

"The convictions of Johnson were obtained largely on the testimony of Kenneth Myers."

"The second trial judge found Myers's testimony on at least one occasion 'evasive.' Myers himself quite freely admitted that he had lied on various earlier occasions. Initially at least, he had named as one of his companions on the day of the murder a person (one Simpkins), promptly shown to have been then in prison. Myers, then an admitted heroin addict, also conceded that he identified Johnson as being present at the murder scene only after the police had indicated that they could 'get' Myers himself for the murder."

"newly discovered evidence, viz. the testimony of a then nineteen-year-old woman, Dawnielle Montiero (hereafter Dawnielle), who had not been a witness at either earlier trial, that she, when ten years old, had been an eyewitness to the killing on December 7, 1971. She testified that Johnson, whom she knew, was not present at the scene and that Myers, whom she also knew, himself had fired three shots at the victim."

False informant

Johnson, Richard

DNA

1995



Illinois

Convicted of raped and sentenced to 36 years.

Chicago Sun-Times 12/5/95 & Sate Journal-Register (Springfield, IL) 10/27/97

"The victim identified Johnson from police photographs, which were then used on the TV show 'America's Most Wanted.' After his arrest in Florida on Aug. 8, 1991, the victim identified Johnson in a lineup."

"Despite the woman's conflicting descriptions of her attacker, a judge convicted Johnson at a bench trial on the basis of her identification."

Eyewitness error

Jones, Joe

DNA

1992



Oklahoma

Convicted of rape, kidnapping & assault and sentenced to life.

Kansas City Star 3/13/93 & Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"Three eyewitnesses testified he kidnapped and raped a Topeka woman."

"They had witnessed the abduction, and when they spotted Jones, they called police and identified him as their friend's attacker. The friend later identified him as her assailant."

"The victim picked out a different man in a photo lineup but identified Jones when she saw him face-to-face."

Jones was a member of the same club and had actually been there the night of the incident.

The police found a pair of jeans that resembled those of the assailant in Jones' house.

Eyewitness error

Jones, Ronald

DNA

2000



Illinois

Convicted of murder and sexual assault and sentenced to death.

Chicago Tribune 7/9/97 11/27/97 & 2/8/00

"Chicago police said Jones had confessed, but Jones long held that detectives beat him into confessing."

"Police originally picked up Jones for questioning as a suspect in another rape case. He never was prosecuted for that rape and denies responsibility for it. But his alleged victim was allowed to testify against him in the murder trial to show modus operandi."

"The other main piece of evidence against Jones is a witness who says she saw him panhandling from the victim around the time police think the murder occurred."

"Jones' lawyers argue that the DNA testing now shows that his confession is bogus, and they insist that Jones, who has a low IQ, was coerced into admitting to the crime."

False confession

Eyewitness error

Jordan, William

Actual Culprit Found

1934



Alabama

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years.

Jordan v. State, 157 So. 485 (1934)

"There had been a woods fire extending up to the road traversed by defendant when his car ran over deceased at night. The stumps and trash were smoking so that, in the absence of a conflicting tendency, it was reasonable to believe defendant when he says he could not see well enough to tell whether a person's body was lying in the road."

"the only circumstance which might be said to need an explanation is that he ran his car over decedent, whether before or after he was dead is uncertain."

In Spite of Innocence

"After the conviction, the police continued their investigation, and another suspect confessed to the killing."

Kamacho, Daniel

Solid Alibi Established

1947



California

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

The Innocents

"Some four months later police received a tip that Daniel Kamacho might be the killer"

"He was placed in a line-up with several others of his general description, and this time Miss Rattenbury, without hesitation, pointed to him as the man. Not long after the identification Kamacho confessed to shooting Guiol."

"The three men returned to Los Angeles on May 2 and presented to the court documentary evidence that Kamacho, who had voluntarily confessed to the murder of Guiol, actually had been in the Juarez jail on the night of the murder."

Eyewitness error

False confession

Kassim, Ahmad

Actual Culprit Found

1966



New York

Convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 5-10 years.

In Spite of Innocence

"I 1965 the conviction was vacated on the ground that Kassim's confession was involuntary. The defendant was unfamiliar with the English language, and his 'supposed admissions . . . actually were the words of the District Attorney.' In addition, another person had confessed to the crime."

"In 1986 a New York court awarded Kassim $501,653."

False confession

Keaton, David R.

Actual Culprit Found

1973



Florida

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

See Johnny Frederick

Eyewitness error

False confession

Keine, Ronald B.

Actual Culprit Found

1975



New Mexico

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

See Thomas Gladish

False informant

Eyewitness error

Police misconduct

Kendall, Hamp

Actual Culprit Found

1917



North Carolina

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years.

The Innocents

"A group of witnesses came forward who said they had seen Nelson with Kendall and Vickers that day, walking toward the scene of the murder. Both men were convicted and given long terms."

"In 1917 an investigation was conducted by Governor Bickett, and he came to the conclusion that, despite the acquittal, Sam Green had murdered Nelson and had framed Kendall and Vickers. The governor issued an unconditional pardon to the two men. Five years later Green ordered a coffin built for himself and, when it was completed, confessed that he was the killer and committed suicide."

False informants

Klass, Louis

Actual Culprit Found

1931



Minnesota

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 30 years.

Convicting the Innocent

A detective went to the bank and "presented to the president (Lyle Hamlin) and the vice-president (C. A. Gilbert) a number of photographs for the purposes of identification. They selected one of the men who looked like the bandit who had stood guard at the door of the bank."

Later, in person, "both Mr. Hamlin and Mr. Gilbert identified him."

After the trial, a Mr. Devers confessed to the crime but later retracted his confession. "Mr. Hamlin, becoming increasingly disquieted over the matter, finally made a trip to Levenworth to interview Devers. When he saw him, Hamlin became convinced that Devers was the man who had stood guard at the door and that he had been utterly mistaken in his identification of Klass."

"Mr. Gilbert also appeared before the Board and stated that he feared that he, also, had been mistaken in his identification."

Eyewitness error

Kotler, Kerry

DNA

1992



New York

Convicted of rape, robbery & burglary and sentenced to 25 to 50 years.

Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"The victim identified Kotler from a group of 500 photographs."

"The victim's identified Kotler by sight and voice from a police lineup."

"County laboratory tests showed that Kotler had three non-DNA genetic markers (ABO, PGM, and GLO)that matched those of the semen stain left on the victim's underpants."

Eyewitness error

Kuykendall, Sceola

Actual Culprit Found

1962



Michigan

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

See Ephraim R. Clark

Eyewitness error

False informant

Langley, Gus Colin

Solid Alibi Established

1936



North Carolina

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

The Innocents

"An insurance agent had identified him [Langley] as the man he had spoken to in Asheville the day before the murder."

"The second important witness was the man who had been briefly in Langley's cell. He testified that Langley had admitted the murder to him."

Later "it had been established that Langley was not in Asheville on either the 26th or the 27th."

"North Carolina finally admitted that he was innocent and he was granted a full pardon."

Eyewitness error

False informant

Larkman, Edward

Actual Culprit Found

1933



New York

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Not Guilty

"Larkman was not placed in the police line-up. He was forced at police headquarters to stand alone under a bright light and to wear a pair of dark glasses, and was thus shown to an eyewitness to the crime, Dorothy Littleworth, who identified him."

"In April 1929, Anthony Kalkiewicz, a Buffalo gangster, arrested for another crime, confessed that Pierce had been murdered, not by Larkman, but by a gang of five men, of which he, Kalkiewicz, had been one."

Eyewitness error

Lavernia, Carlos

DNA

2000



Texas

Convicted of rape and sentenced 27 years.

Austin American-Statesman 10/11/00

"In August 1984, police showed five pictures to one Barton Creek rape victim . It was the third photo lineup shown to the woman since her June 1983 attack, and the first with Lavernia's picture, court records say. She picked him out, and her case went to trial. Prosecutors said another victim tentatively picked Lavernia from photos, then identified him later in a lineup."

"At Lavernia's trial, Ray questioned the fairness of the photos. spread's fairness. The victim acknowledged that Lavernia's picture was the only one of five pictures that 'anywhere near resembles' the description she gave police of her attacker."

"She can still picture the attack and initially doubted the test's accuracy. 'Maybe it wasn't him," she said, adding, 'I don't think I made a mistake'."

Eyewitness error

Leaster, Bobby Joe

Ballistics Test

1986



Massachusetts

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

LA Times 12/27/96

"She and another woman were in the Talbot Avenue Variety Store during the crime and both identified Leaster as Whiteside's killer. Leaster, who was arrested 90 minutes after the slaying, has maintained he is innocent."

"Leaster, 36, was freed last month after serving 15 years of a life sentence after a constable [Johnson] said that Leaster was not one of the two men he saw fleeing a Boston variety store after the 1970 slaying of Levi Whiteside during a holdup."

"But O'Meara said that Johnson's testimony was not a major factor in the decision to drop plans to press charges, citing the recent discovery of a weapon that could be tied to the killing. O'Meara said that a .22-caliber revolver was thrown from a car during a police chase 16 days after the killing. The gun was recovered but it was not linked to Whiteside's killing until the case was reopened as a result of Johnson's testimony. O'Meara said ballistics tests showed that a bullet taken from Whiteside's chest had been fired from the gun."

"O'Meara told the judge that Kathleen Whiteside, widow of the slain shopkeeper, was 'still 100% certain (Leaster) is the man who shot her husband'."

Eyewitness error

Lee, Hugh

Actual Culprit Found

1926



Georgia

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 5 years.

Convicting the Innocent

"Lee's photograph was sent to Priors for identification. Postmaster Fite could not identify the picture, but 14 year old Van Underwood did, and several others said that they had seen a stranger around the town about September 15 who looked like the photograph of Lee."

"After Barrett was arrested, the lad, Van Underwood, admitted his mistake in identifying Lee, but there was, in fact, a striking resemblances between lee and Barrett."

Eyewitness error

Lee, Wilbert

Actual Culprit Found

1975



Florida

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Buffalo News 7/14/98 & Atlanta Constitution Journal 5/1/98

"Within hours, deputies found them and arrested them. In jail, subsequent court proceedings revealed, they were beaten into making confessions. They were denied lawyers."

"In 1966, a white man in jail admitted to the Port St. Joe murders. Two weeks after those crimes, he committed an almost identical crime in Fort Lauderdale. He told his story to a polygraph operator, who told it to a Miami Herald newspaper reporter."

"More than 30 years after they were sentenced to death for the murders of two gas station attendants, the two men received $500,000 each from the state"

False confession

Lester, C. Elizabeth

Actual Culprit Found

1938



New Jersey

Convicted twice of forgery and served approximately 18 months.

The Innocents

See Clifford Shephard

Eyewitness error

Linscott, Steven

DNA

1992



Illinois

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years.

LA Times 9/18/94 & Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science

"Fourteen years ago, Steven Linscott told police a shocking story: He saw a man attack and kill someone. His account of the crime had one very unusual aspect-he said it was just a dream."

"A dream, though, that occurred the same night a neighbor was murdered."

"Some details he recounted were similar to the woman's death; others were not. The discrepancies didn't dissuade police. To them, this was no vision, no coincidence-this was a confession."

"The results of blood-typing tests that showed that the semen from the crime scene could have come from Linscott."

"The results of head and pubic hair analyses showed that hairs found at the scene were 'consistent' with Linscott's hair."

Suspicious Statements

Hair analysis

Lobaugh, Ralph

Actual Culprit Found

1977



Indiana

Convicted of three counts rape and murder and sentenced to death.

The Innocents &

In Spite of Innocence

"He had voluntarily confessed to the crimes and pleaded guilty, and an eyewitness implicated him at the trial."

"By 1950 another man had been convicted of the crimes and a third man, Franklin Crick, had confessed to the other tow crimes and been executed for them."

"In 1975 Governor Otis Bowen ordered an investigation that resulted in Lobaugh's release on parole in 1977."

"After two months of freedom, Lobaugh voluntarily returned to prison, telling officials that he could not relax on the outside."

False confession

Eyewitness error

Logan, Ronald J.

Actual Culprit Found

1959



Michigan

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to life.

The Innocents

"Russell promptly named Ronald J. Logan as the driver of the getaway car. Logan presented evidence that he had been asleep at the home of a relative at the time of the crime, and the other two participants in the armed robbery also testified that he had not taken part in it, but a jury was more impressed by Russell's testimony and Logan was sentenced to life imprisonment. Thirteen years later Russell finally admitted that he had framed Logan to get even with him because they had fought over a girl."

False informant



Long, James

Actual Culprit Found

1934



Illinois

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to one year to life.

Not Guilty

"The robberies had been witnesses by seven people, the employees of the two pharmacies. Summoned to headquarters and asked if Long and Wilch were the criminals, each of the seven said that they were."

"In June of 1934, Judge McKinley held a new hearing. The seven witnesses, who had testified for the state at Long's trial, testified again. Each stated that he had been mistaken at the trial: Brethauer, they now said, had been Wilch's accomplice. Brethauer testified that he had participated in the crime."

Eyewitness error

Long, Lee

Solid Alibi

2000



New York

Convicted of rape & robbery. Sentenced to 8 to 24 years.

N.Y. Times 6/29/00

"Based on a description that was broadcast over the police radio, an officer picked up Mr. Long on the street as he neared home. He was later identified by the victim, who said she was sure, when she saw his boots, that it was Mr. Long who had attacked her and stolen her jewelry."

"Mr. Long's girlfriend, Yvette McCormick, after he was taken into custody. She told the officer that Mr. Long had been with her in Brooklyn and then on the train home when the rape occurred."

"It was not until the investigation was reopened that the authorities uncovered the timing of the initial conversation with Ms. McCormick: before Mr. Long could have contacted her and concocted an alibi."

"Questions also arose in the new investigation about the victim's identification of Mr. Long, which was based mostly on clothing and the boots, which she later said she only "felt," and did not see."

"In reversing Mr. Long's conviction, Justice Joseph G. Golia of State Supreme Court in Queens said, The wrong man was convicted."

Eyewitness Error

Lucas, Jesse

Actual Culprit Found

1931



Illinois

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

"In 1931 the actual killer made a deathbed confession, and after further investigation a key witness at the original trial admitted that her testimony had been perjured because her life had been threatened. The only other witness again Lucas had been a prison inmate, who had perjured himself as a means of reducing his sentence for an unrelated crime."

False informant

Lyons, Ernest

Victim Found Alive

1912



Virginia

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 18 years.

Convicting the Innocent

Smith disappeared and later a badly decomposed body was found in the river. Lyons was convicted based on circumstantial evidence.

After the trial, when his attorney had filed a motion for a new trial "Lyons confessed that he had participated in the killing of Smith. The details of his confession, concerning the way the crime had been committed, were exactly as the Commonwealth's Attorney had alleged them at the trial."

Later, "Smith was found alive and in the best of health just across the state line in North Carolina. After much urging, Smith was induced to return to Suffolk, where he was produced before Judge McLemore and was identified by a large number of people who knew him."

False confession

Lytle, Alvernon

Actual Culprit Found

1932



Nebraska

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 12 to 15 years.

Not Guilty

"Five witnesses identified Lytle as the bandit who, on entering the bank, had threatened to blow it up with sticks of dynamite tied around his waist."

"In January 1932 the police arrested a bank robber who confessed to the crime for which Lytle had been convicted."

Eyewitness error

Mahan Dale & Mahan Ronnie

DNA

1997



Alabama

Convicted of rape & kidnapping and served 13 years (sentence unknown)

San Diego Union-Tribune 12/4/97 & Associated Press 12/19/97

"Police arrested the Mahans on Jan. 20, 1984, after receiving a tip from someone claiming to have heard members of the Mahan family discussing the rape in a tavern. The victim then picked both brothers from photographic lineups, saying that she could identify them because they occasionally raised their masks to the bridges of their noses while drinking and smoking. Their blood type matched the semen samples, and the victim said the younger man had a stutter, as does Dale Mahan."

"New tests conducted this week showed the semen apparently matched a man the woman had consensual sex with on the same day in 1983 she claims she was abducted and raped, according to prosecutors and defense attorneys. The woman originally said she had sex with her husband the day of the rape, but the DNA testing ruled out his semen as well as the Mahans'."

Eyewitness error

Malloy, Everett B.

Actual Culprit Found

1984



Texas

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 15 years.

In Spite of Innocence

"He was released two months later when an anonymous tip led police to a women who had witnessed the murder. Her information led to the filing of charges against the real killer and freedom for Malloy. The conviction had been based on erroneous eyewitness identification by four people."

Eyewitness error

Matera, Pietro

Actual Culprit Found

1960



New York

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"The real culprit's wife confessed on her deathbed in 1960 that she had 'fingered Matera to save her husband.' After having served 30 years in prison, Matera was released."

False informant

Mathis, Ovid

Actual Culprit Found

1938



Texas

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 30 years.

Not Guilty

"Since Mathis had accompanied Southerland on his June 6 trip, the police also brought him to headquarters. Clements identified him as the robber wearing overalls."

Hughes, the bookkeeper, agreed with Clements that Southerland and Mathis were the bank robbers. The farmer, Hunt was also sure."

"When the FBI agents arrived at the county jail where Chaplin was being held, he confessed to the first and second robberies of the Atlanta bank, insisting that Southerland and Mathis were innocent."

"Sterrett immediately recognized Chaplin as the men in the 1934 Atlanta robbery."

"Hunt, the farmer, said that Chaplin had been one of the bandits in the bank."

"Clements and Hughes, however, did not recognize Chaplin as one of the bank robbers. These witnesses still thought Southerland and Mathis the guilty men. For that reason the state did not release the prisoners."

"As one of Governor O'Daniel's first official acts, he granted Southerland and Mathis unconditional pardons."

Eyewitness error

Mattice, Ernest

Actual Culprit Found

1937



Colorado

Convicted of rape and sentenced to two life sentences.

Not Guilty

"The police decided to call the rape victims to headquarters to confront Mattice, on the theory that he might be one of the criminals in the cases still unsolved. Only one victim identified Mattice. Mrs. Cyckose immediately said: "that is the man."

"The prosecutor called Mrs. Cyckose to the stand. Pointing to Mattice, she said, "This is the man who did those things to me."

"Eventually Frank . . . admitted that he had raped Mrs. Cyckose."

"At police headquarters Mrs. Cyckose instantly picked Frank out of the line-up. "That is the man," she said, "I was mistaken before. He looked like Mattice but it was not Mattice, I know that now."

Eyewitness error

McDonald, Wilbur

Actual Culprit Found

1973



Illinois

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 100 to 150 years.

In Spite of Innocence

"The conviction was based on misleading circumstantial evidence. In 1973 was released from prison when another man confessed to the killing after having been arrested for a similar murder."

Circumstantial evidence

McIntosh, Walter

Actual Culprit Found

Died incarcerated



Georgia

Convicted of murder and sentenced confinement for life in a mental hospital.

In Spite of Innocence

"At first he denied any knowledge of the crimes; then he confessed and pleaded guilty but insane."

"In 1984 the niece and a friend both confessed their guilt and were convicted of manslaughter. McIntosh, however, had already died in confinement."

False confession

McKinney, Clarence LeRoy

Actual Culprit Found

1923



Ohio

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Convicting the Innocent

"One evening at the jail, a sheepskin coat and a toboggan cap were put on McKinney, the lights turned out, and Officer Adams flashed his light in the suspect's face, as he had done on the night of the shooting. From that moment forward, he was certain in his identification of McKinney as the smaller of the two burglars."

Later two men confessed to the murder and were convicted.

Eyewitness error

Mendival, Salvador

Actual Culprit Found

1926



California

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 1 year to life.

Convicting the Innocent

See Broulio Galindo

Eyewitness error

Metegrano, Pat

Actual Culprit Found

1942



Illinois

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to one year to life.

Not Guilty

"At the trial the state produced two eyewitnesses to the crimes, each of whom identified Metegrano."

Two months later "police turned up bandit the state's witnesses had mistaken for Metegrano a mistake difficult to explain, since the actual criminal was a blond, and Metrgrano a dark complexioned man."

Eyewitness error

Milgaard, David

DNA

1993



Canada

Convicted of rape & murder. Served 23 years.

Arizona Republic 5/23/99

"Their case against Milgaard was circumstantial - he had been placed in the same neighborhood."

"Police had a suspect in a local man with a long history of vicious sexual crimes. Instead, for reasons that today appear almost sinister, investigators focused on Milgaard, a 16-year-old possessed of a wild streak."

"Crucial files on suspects have vanished and evidence pointing away from Milgaard was ignored. Incredibly, the police seem to have similarly shrugged off tips about the murder weapon and a string of knife attacks against women that could not have been perpetrated by Milgaard."

Police Misconduct

Miller, Neil

DNA

2000



Massachusetts

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 10-25 years.

Boston Herald May 11, 2000

"Miller was sentenced to 10-25 years in state prison in December 1990 for the Aug. 24, 1989 rape of the Boylston Street woman, despite blood evidence that ruled him out as the attacker. The conviction was based on the victim's identification of Miller from two separate photo arrays."

"Miller is black while the victim is white."

Eyewitness Error

Miller, Robert

DNA

1998



Oklahoma

Convicted of rape & murder and sentenced to death.

Daily Oklahoman 1/23/98

"Prosecutors claimed in the 1988 trial that the semen was Miller's because it matched his blood type."

"Prosecutors believed Miller knew details about the crime only the killer would know. He told police the information came to him through dreams."

"In the (police) interview, you could tell Robert was of the mind, they could pose a question to him, not necessarily leading, but they could pose a question and Robert would figure out what they wanted, and they would pursue a line of questioning until Robert got close to it or got it right."

"The 8 1/2 -hour statement he gave police officers contained 112 inconsistencies in what he said about his dream vision and what we know happened," Isaacs [Miller's attorney] said.

DNA tests linked convicted rapist Ronnie C. Lott to the crimes.

Suspicious Statements

Mitchell, Marvin

DNA

1997



Massachusetts

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 9 to 25 years.

Patriot Ledger (Quincy Mass) 5/3/97

"A Polaroid picture was taken of him after he was taken into custody," said defense lawyer David Kelstin. "His victim picked the photo out as the person who did it, or as someone who looked like the person who did it, and then she testified in court that he was the assailant."

"Keltsin said the only other evidence at trial was the girl's statement that the man who raped her wore a pair of light, 'pinkish' pants. "

"Police said Mitchell confessed to wearing pink colored pants the day of the incident -- a claim Mitchell denied."

Eyewitness error

Moerer, Dorothy W.

Actual Culprit Found

1957



Kansas

Convicted of forgery and sentenced to an indeterminate time.

The Innocents

"Three of the shop owners and a customer, who happened to be the wife of the police chief of Coffeyville, all identified Mrs. Moerer as the women who had passed the checks."

"Her photograph was shown to the dress-store clerk, who promptly identified her , as did the manager of the auto store in Independence."

Eyewitness error

Morales, Santiago Ventura

Actual Culprit Found

1991



Oregon

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

LA Times 3/8/92 & NY Times 1/24/91 In Spite of Innocence

"An experienced investigator, Skipper figured he could pick out glimmers of guilt in just about any suspect. And Ventura glimmered. He refused to look Skipper in the eye. He trembled and turned pale. 'I was convinced without a doubt that he was guilty,' Skipper later told a reporter."

"Another migrant worker, Epifanio Bautista Lopez, initially testified that he saw nothing, but after a recess, during which he was taken into the district attorney's office, he testified that he saw Mr. Ventura stab Mr. Lopez."

"DeMuniz's investigator contacted the state's witnesses, and both quickly retracted their incrimination of Ventura, claiming their testimony had been coerced by police officers and the prosecution."

"Guzman recounted that before Ventura even arrived in the field he'd watched a man named Herminio Luna Hernandez chase Lopez into the darkness. According to Guzman, Luna returned alone and was quite candid about what had just happened. 'I killed him,' Luna told Guzman. Later that night, Luna vanished, abandoning his wife, child and mother-in-law."

"Investigation also uncovered evidence that another migrant worker, after returning to Mexico, had confessed to a shaman that he, not Morales, had killed the victim. This confession was confirmed by the man's aunt. In 1991 a circuit judge ordered Morales freed."

False informant

Morin, Guy

DNA

1995



Canada

Convicted of murder.

Maclean's 3/10/97 & Toronto Star 4/10/98

"Two snitches, 34-year-old Robert Dean May and a convicted pedophile who can only be identified as Mr. X because of a court order prohibiting publication of his name, testified at Morin's 1986 trial, saying that they had heard Morin confess to the Jessop murder."

"May, in fact, managed to have two charges dropped while receiving a lighter than expected sentence for assaulting a guard. As for the confession, May admitted at the inquiry that he had almost no recollection of what actually happened in the cell that night, but remains convinced he heard Morin admit his guilt. He also conceded that in July, 1994, he told several individuals that he had fabricated Morin's confession and perjured himself at both trials. But he was lying to those people, May testified."

"The prosecution's case centered on a series of supposedly matching microscopic hairs and fibers found on Morin's and Christine Jessop's belongings. McGuigan's prosecution team successfully argued in 1992 that this proved Christine was abducted in Morin's car."

False informants

Hair analysis

Moto, Vincent

DNA

1997



Pennsylvania

Convicted of rape. Sentence ?

Omaha World-Herald 11/27/97

'A woman who had been raped recently spotted Moto in his South Philadelphia neighborhood one day in 1986 and called police. She insisted he was her assailant."

Eyewitness error

Murchison, John

Actual Culprit Found

1926



Alabama

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Convicting the Innocent

See James Crutcher

False informant

Nedza, Joseph

Actual Culprit Found

1931



New York

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 35 years.

Convicting the Innocent

"Officer Dolphin took the pictures of Starowitz and Nedza to the hospital on Monday, the day following the attack, and Meyers identified them as his assailants."

"On Tuesday Brady and Starks were called to the police station, where they identified both prisoners. Nedza, during this interview, was dressed up I a gray topcoat and a cap, as it had been reported that the large bandit had been dressed at the gas stations. Mr. Armstrong, from the firm of Forsythe & Gale, also identified them as the men who had gone on the demonstration ride in the Oldsmobile with Mr. Martin. Nedza was taken to the hospital, where Meyers, from his sick bed, identified him in person."

Later, "Sherwood made a compete and detailed confession"

"Meyers was taken to Auburn, and he picked Sherwood out of a group of 20 convicts as the man with whom he had had the tussle over the gun."

Eyewitness error

Nelson, Bruce

DNA

1991



Pennsylvania

Convicted of murder & rape and sentenced to life.

USA Today 8/30/91 Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science:

The testimony of Terrence Moore named Nelson as the initiator of the crimes and as the murderer.

The statement by Nelson, "What did you tell them?" was entered into evidence as a confession.

"Nelson's freedom came after Assistant District Attorney Darrell Dugan told an Allegheny County judge that his witness, Terrence Moore, had forged a letter from Nelson about the 1981 slaying. Moore, 35, admitted writing it."

False informant

Suspicious Statements

Newsome, James

Fingerprints

1994



Illinois

Convicted of robbery & murder and sentenced to life.

Chicago Tribune Aug 9, 1995 & AP Oct 30, 2001

"Newsome was identified in a lineup by two witnesses as Cohen's killer. A third witness also picked Newsome out of a lineup, saying he literally bumped into Newsome near Cohen's store several minutes before the murder."

"During the trial, Newsome's girlfriend and her two sisters testified that Newsome was with them watching TV soap operas at the time of the murder."

"Newsome had persuaded the Cook County Circuit Court to order that the fingerprints taken from the Cohen crime scene be run through the Police Department's fingerprint computer system to see if they matched any of those on file."

"Newsome was freed from prison after fingerprints taken from the crime scene strongly indicated the murder was committed by Dennis Emerson, a Death Row inmate convicted of killing a young woman in 1979. Last month Gov. Jim Edgar pardoned Newsome for the crime and ordered his criminal record expunged."

"A federal court jury awarded $15 million Monday to a man who was sentenced to life in prison for a murder for which he was later pardoned."

"The same jury found Friday that two Chicago homicide detectives framed Newsome and coached witnesses. One of the witnesses, Anthony Rounds, became a key witness for Newsome. He testified that when he went to a police lineup, officers told him, "Pick No. 3," the position Newsome occupied."

Eyewitness Error

Official Misconduct

Ochoa, Christopher

DNA

Actual Culprit Found

2001



Texas

Convicted of rape & murder and sentenced to life.

Wash Post 1/18/01

See Richard Danziger

"Christopher Ochoa, 34, said he confessed to the rape-murder of an Austin woman 13 years ago after a homicide detective browbeat him for hours, threatening him with the death penalty. Ochoa pleaded guilty in return for a life sentence and implicated a supposed accomplice, Richard Danziger, who was convicted based on Ochoa's testimony."

"Ochoa, who spoke only briefly about his false testimony against Danziger, referred to the allegedly coercive police interrogation and apologized 'for not having the courage to stand up to the [threat of] the death penalty'."

"In a series of letters from 1996 to 1998, Marino -- who is a stranger to Ochoa and Danziger -- confessed to the killing in detail. Attorneys for the two innocent men have criticized officials who received the letters, including Bush, for not aggressively acting on the information."

False confession

Ollins, Calvin

DNA

2001



Illinois

Convicted of rape & murder and sentenced to life.

Chicago Tribune May 2, 2001 & Oct. 7, 2001

See Bradford, Marcellius

"Several hours after he was brought to the station, Calvin, a learning-disabled teen who had attended special classes, also confessed, police said."

"Calvin Ollins, described by defense witnesses and his lawyers as mentally retarded and having an IQ between 65 and 70, denied involvement at his trial."

"Ollins, who at trial was described by experts as borderline retarded, says his mother was not present when he signed a confession, and that he did so because the police promised him he could leave. 'I was told this is what you have to say and this is how you got to say it,' he said."

"In Calvin Ollins' trial, Fish was asked to describe the results of her tests on a vaginal swab from Roscetti. 'I came to the conclusion that the semen present on that vaginal swab could have come from Calvin Ollins,' she said."

"But according to Blake, that testimony was false because the state of testing was such that the only semen Fish could have identified came from a secretor and she knew that Calvin Ollins was a non-secretor."

False Confession

Expert Misconduct

Ollins, Larry

DNA

2001



Illinois

Convicted of rape & murder and sentenced to life.

Chicago Tribune May 2, 2001 & Oct. 7, 2001

See Bradford, Marcellius

"According to Blake's analysis, which was conducted at Zellner's request, Fish misrepresented her findings several times. Even when defense lawyers challenged her, trial transcripts show that Fish linked the defendants to the crime when the testing did not."

"Anthony Gilty said in an interview that he testified against Larry Ollins only after police threatened to charge him with the crime and then prosecutors offered him leniency on a pending burglary case. At trial, Gilty said that he bumped into Larry Ollins at a party and that Ollins admitted being involved in the murder."

"Retired Judge Christy Berkos, who presided over the trials, said he has no doubt that the men are guilty. At the time, Berkos called Saunders, Calvin and Larry Ollins 'less than human' and said their chances for rehabilitation were 'nil.' The teens were spared the death penalty because they were under 18."

False Informant

Expert Misconduct

Olson, Henry

Actual Culprit Found

1928



Illinois

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Convicting the Innocent

"About a week after the shooting, Henry Olson was added to the group, and Stoler at once identified him as the bandit who shot his son. Despite the mask, Stoler said that he could identify Henry by his high cheek bones, hollow cheeks, light hair, height, and general build."

Eyewitness error

Ortiz, Victor

DNA

1996



New York

Convicted of rape. Sentenced to 25 years.

Eyewitness ID by show-up procedure

Eyewitness Error

Parker, George

Actual Culprit Found

1986



New Jersey

Convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years.

NY Times 2/9/86 & In Spite of Innocence

"Mr. Parker confessed to the shooting."

"Mr. Parker recanted his confession at his trial."

"Mr. Parker said later he confessed because he loved Mrs. Pope's two children and thought she was pregnant with his child. Mr. Parker recanted his confession at his trial."

"George Parker . . . was found guilty of aggravated manslaughter in 1980 largely on the testimony of his friend, Patricia Pope, and her sister, Carol Hancock. Mrs. Pope was later convicted of murdering the woman and she and Miss Hancock were convicted of perjuring themselves at Mr. Parker's trial."

False confession

False informant

Passley, Marlon

Actual Culprit Found

1999



Massachusetts

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Boston Globe April 19, 1999 & Sept 14,2000 and Boston Herald March 13, 2001

"Three of the four Thompson brothers identified Passley from photos they were shown by police and, at trial, four witnesses identified him as the shooter. But seven of his friends and relatives testified on Passley's behalf, telling the court that Passley was in Wellesley at the graduation of a relative from an Upward Bound program that night."

"At the request of prosecutors who admitted that a man was wrongly imprisoned based on what has turned out to be good-faith mistaken eyewitness identification, a Superior Court judge yesterday threw out the first-degree murder conviction against Marlon Passley, who spent four years in jail for a killing he didn't commit."

"Passley's release occurred less than three months after the state's highest court affirmed his conviction and ruled that he should remain imprisoned for the rest of his life."

"A Roxbury man awaiting sentencing in connection with the shooting death of R & B star Bobby Brown's bodyguard was indicted yesterday for his part in another killing in which the original suspect was wrongly convicted."

Eyewitness Error

Pecho, Walter A.

Finger Prints

1960



Michigan

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 15-20 years.

The Innocents

"Pecho notified the police . . . that his wife had committed suicide, killing herself with a shotgun."

"A local pathologist, who performed the autopsy, disagreed that it was a suicide."

"Not long after the trial the defense lawyer learned that a police fingerprint expert had found a clear print of Mrs. Pecho's right ring finger just black of the trigger guard on the shotgun."

A different pathologist review the case and testified, "Mrs. Pecho's death was a 'classic suicide, a real textbook case. There isn't a shred of evidence to indicate murder'." "Governor Mennen Williams directed the state parole board to investigate the case. Several months later Governor Williams issued an unconditional pardon and said, 'this is a case of miscarriage of justice. I am convinced on the basis of the findings, conclusions and transcript of testimony presented to me by the parole board that in this case an innocent man was convicted'."

Prosecution Withheld Evidence

Pathologist error

Persico, Charles F.

Actual Culprit Found

1985



California

Pled guilty to manslaughter and sentenced to 5 years.

LA Times 9/24/92 & In Spite of Innocence

"LAPD detectives, . . . zeroed in on Persico after receiving an anonymous tip that he lived in the area and resembled a composite drawing of the murder suspect."

"two women who had been in the beauty shop -- Smith's mother and a customer -- identified him as the gunman."

"A year after he was released from prison, Persico was ushered into a meeting at the district attorney's office, secretly exonerated and released from parole. . . . Persico did not know how or why he was exonerated until Leasure was charged in the Smith killing."

Eyewitness error

Peterson, Winfred

Actually Culprit Found

1983



South Carolina

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

See Tyrone James

Incriminating statements

Pezzulich, Frank

Actual Culprit Found

1921



New York

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 8 to 16 years.

Convicting the Innocent

"Despite their protests, he forced the to return to the kitchen and there arrested them, upon the identification of Frank Zic, as two of the other robbers."

"according to Bohan [the Assistant District Attorney], three of the robbers' victims had identified them, though the other six were unable to do so. They were identified as the two robbers from whose faces the handkerchiefs had dropped."

Eyewitness error

Piano, Anthony

Actual Culprit Found

1937



Pennsylvania

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to two to four years.

Not Guilty

"Identified by the mailman, Fleet, Piano went to trial."

"When the police confronted Fleet with Pampana, the mailman immediately recognized Pampana as the boy he had thought was Piano."

Eyewitness error

Pierce, Jeffrey T.

DNA

2001



Oklahoma

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 65 years.

NY Times 5/8/01

"The case dates to May 8, 1985, when a woman was raped and assaulted inside her apartment by a man she described as having blond hair. Mr. Pierce, who has blond hair, was doing landscaping work in the complex and a police officer initially pointed him out to the victim from a short distance. The woman had only had glances of her attacker, but she told the officer that Mr. Pierce was not the rapist. But 10 months later, she identified him in a photo lineup."

"Ms. Gilchrist, who has declined to comment about the continuing investigations, provided the critical evidence to bolster that questionable identification. She testified in court that she had collected scalp hairs, pubic hairs and semen samples from inside the apartment and, after analyzing them under a microscope, had matched them to Mr. Pierce."

"Mr. Pierce's lawyers argued from the outset that Ms. Gilchrist had overstated the certainty with which hair comparisons could be used to identify a single person. Also, she violated a court order by failing to forward any of the hair evidence to a private laboratory hired by the defense, meaning that the defense could not fully analyze her work before trial. The evidence she did send leaked out of the package and could not be analyzed, defense lawyers said. The state appeals court said her action "absolutely violated the terms of a court order" but nonetheless upheld the conviction, saying Ms. Gilchrist's failure to turn over the evidence was not enough to overturn the conviction."

"The Pierce trial came not long before Ms. Gilchrist's work began coming under criticism from her peers, defense lawyers and judges. She was reprimanded by one professional organization and expelled from another. Despite the criticism, the local police and prosecutors never scrutinized her work."

"Last month, the preliminary results showed that the DNA taken from the rapist's hair did not match Mr. Pierce. In addition, an F.B.I. analysis of the hair samples contradicted Ms. Gilchrist's original hair testimony. In March, Ms. Gilchrist was placed on administrative leave."

Eyewitness Error

Expert Misconduct

Piszczek, Brian

DNA

1994



Ohio

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 15 to 25 years.

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH) 10/7/94 Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science:

"The victim identified Piszczek from a photo array 2 months after the incident."

"When she testified, the woman was adamant that Piszczek was the rapist. "

"But she also told police the rapist had worn a silver and turquoise earring. Authorities found no indication that Piszczek had ever worn an earring or had his ear pierced."

"'I'm still 100% sure it was him,' said the woman. 'I was there. I know. I don't care what those DNA tests say. There was nobody else.'"

Eyewitness error

Pitts, Freddie

Actual Culprit Found

1975



Florida

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

See Wilbert Lee

False confession

Porter, Anthony

Actual Culprit Found

1999



Illinois

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Chicago Tribune 2/2/99

"The case against Porter was built on the testimony of William Taylor, who told authorities he was in the park that night and had seen Porter fire the fatal shots."

"Taylor recanted his testimony in a Dec. 14 affidavit. He said he did not see Porter with a gun and did not see who shot the victims, but that police had coerced his testimony."

"Margaret Simon said Porter was not the killer. The gunman, she said, was her now-estranged husband, Alstory Simon, who was furious at Hillard [the victim] for skimming proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs."

"'In an independent affidavit signed in mid-January, Jackson recounted this middle-of-the-night arrival: 'Alstory took me aside and told me he had "taken care of" Jerry and Marilyn.'"

False informant

Powell, Hoyt

Actual Culprit Found

1975



Georgia

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

See James Creamer

False informant

Prosecutorial misconduct

Preston, James

Actual Culprit Found

1926



California

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 11 years to life.

Convicting the Innocent & Not Guilty

"When Preston was brought to her bedside she identified him as the man who had shot her, and saw in him the eyes of the robber which had narrowed so peculiarly when he looked as her. She also assured the police that Preston's voice, which was admittedly a peculiar one, was the same as the voice that had ordered her to 'stick 'em up'."

Eyewitness error

Proctor, Eric

DNA

1994



Oregon

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

See Christopher Boots

False informant

Pugh, Earl

Solid Alibi Established

1955



Illinois

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life

Justice in the Back Room

Questioned around the clock for six days. He was beaten threatened, refused access to friends or a lawyer.

"On the sixth day, with his left arm broken and his aching body covered with bruises and welts, Pugh still denied his interrogators."

Taken to meet his friend "Fowler, who had confessed quickly, advised Pugh: 'Man, you'd better sign that confession 'cause these people are going to kill you.' At last Pugh's resistance crumbled. He, too, signed a piece of paper."

"At a hearing in 1955 the lawyer revealed that the prosecution in the 1936 trial had suppressed information that would have exonerated Pugh and Fowler. Two eyewitnesses had seen the killer, a white man, stab and chase his victim in the park. . . . there evidence had not been turned over to the defense at the trial."

"Pugh's conviction was set aside, and the Cook Country prosecutor decided against retrying him for murder."

False confession

Police misconduct

Prosecutorial misconduct

Purvis, Will

Actual Culprit Found

1898



Mississippi

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Convicting the Innocent

"Jim Buckley, the state's key witness, testified that he and the Negro had witnessed the killing of his brother. When asked if he could name the man who killed his brother, he turned toward Purvis, and pointing his finger at him, said, 'Will Purvis, there, killed the man'."

Eyewitness error

Rainge, William

DNA

1996



Illinois

Convicted of murder and rape. Sentenced to life.

See Kenneth Adams

False Informant

Official Misconduct

Eyewitness Error

Reasonover, Ellen

Exonerating Evidence Suppressed

1999



Missouri

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

American Lawyer 8/3/00

"Reasonover contacted police to volunteer information about a murder and became the prime suspect. She was convicted based almost entirely on jail house informants."

"Two cellmates, each of whom bargained for leniency (and later misrepresented the deals they cut), claimed that Reasonover had confessed to them in separate conversations, one month apart."

Federal Judge "Hamilton ruled. Peppering her opinion with references to previous wrongful conviction cases involving prosecutorial misconduct, Hamilton focused on the withheld evidence, the informants' plea bargains, and the role of police and prosecutors in coaching witnesses and willfully ignoring false testimony. . . . The judge ordered Reasonover released and the conviction vacated. The state did not appeal."

False informant

Prosecutorial misconduct

Reynolds, Donald

DNA

1997



Illinois

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 55 years.

Chicago Tribune 11/18/97

See Billy Wardell

"Three days later, Chicago police detectives spotted Reynolds on the street and stopped to question him because he fit the description of one of the assailants, right down to the scratches."

"While the two women were being driven to a police station to help investigators prepare a composite sketch of their attackers, they saw Reynolds being questioned by the police detectives and identified him."

Eyewitness error

Reynolds, Melvin

Actual Culprit Found

1983



Missouri

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

"He spent 14 hours in the basement of the police headquarters as he was grilled anew."

"'I'll say so if you want me to.'"

"Once they had made this breakthrough in Reynold's resistance, the police were able to persuade the hapless young man to embellish his confession."

"Reynolds himself took the stand to retract his confession, explaining that he had falsely admitted to the crime because he was scared of what the police would do if he refused."

"Symptoms of mild mental retardation." "I.Q. of 75"

Later, "Charged with the murder of Eric Christgen, Hatcher simplified matters by pleading guilty in court."

The assistant prosecutor from Reynolds cases stated, "You can imagine the difficulty I had convincing myself that Melvin Reynolds didn't commit the crime. I was the one that prosecuted Reynolds . . . I was pretty reluctant to admit it."

False confession

Rivera, Antonia

Victim Found Alive

1975



California

Convicted of murder and but not sentenced.

In Spite of Innocence

"Convinced that they could not take adequate care of their daughter she was extremely ill they decided in desperation to abandon her, hoping that some generous family would take her in."

"Back in San Bernardino, rumors surfaced when people noticed Judy was missing."

"The 1965 abandonment of their daughter suddenly came back to haunt the parents in 1973, when the skeletal remains of a dead girl were found in a crude grave."

"The parents were found guilty of murder."

"In October 1975, Martin tracked down the girl who had been found in a gas station a decade earlier."



Roberts, Charles

Actual Culprit Found

1975



Georgia

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

See James Creamer

False informant

Prosecutorial misconduct

Robinson, Anthony

DNA

Paroled in 1997, pardoned in

2000



Texas

Convicted of rape and sentenced 27 years.

Houston Chronicle 9/30/00

"On the day of the attack, Robinson was visiting a friend at the school when campus police spotted him in a parking lot. He matched the description the victim had just given about her attacker. Robinson's attorney said his client's case was 'just one more frustrating example of the unreliability of eyewitness identifications'."

Eyewitness error

Robinson, Derrick

Actual Culprit Found

1991



Florida

Pled guilt to 2nd degree murder and sentenced to 7 years.

LA Time 2/17/91 & In Spite of Innocence

"While Robinson was awaiting trial, the eyewitness, Michael Waters, was arrested and accidentally placed in the same cell with Robinson. Waters quickly recanted his testimony. But soon after being reassigned to another cell he insisted again that Robinson was the killer."

"Robinson, who had been arrested on robbery and marijuana charges but never convicted, said he entered the plea because he was afraid if he went to trial he would be railroaded and find himself facing the electric chair."

"Robinson's release followed the emergence of two new witnesses to Ramsey's death who claimed Kevin Morley, a man awaiting trial for shooting a Miami Metro-Dade policeman, was the actual killer."

Eyewitness error

Rodriquez, Santos

Actual Culprit Found

1957



Massachusetts

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

"The conviction was based on a coerced confession and Rodriquez's lack of comprehension of English (he was semiliterate and had recently emigrated from Puerto Rico)."

"In 1957, after having served 39 months, he was released with a full pardon when another man pleaded guilty to the killing."

False confession

Ross, Johnny

Blood Type

1981



Louisiana

Convicted of rape and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"He confessed after being beaten by police. His trial lasted a few hours. No alibi witnesses were called to testify, and the eyewitness testimony including that of the victim was of dubious value."

"In 1980 the blood type of the sperm found in the victim was compared with Ross's, and it was established that the two were not the same."

Eyewitness Error

False Confession

Ruckeer, Herman

Actual Culprit Found

1984



Ohio

Convicted of rape & murder and sentenced to life.

NY Times 4/16/84

See Holbrook, Ernest

Since his conviction, the man he was accused of helping [Rucker] in the crime was acquitted by a jury and freed and a key witness against him recanted and was sent to prison for perjury.

False informant

Ruff, Wayne

Actual Culprit Found

1975



Georgia

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence

See James Creamer

False informant

Prosecutorial misconduct

Saecker, Fredric

DNA

1996



Wisconsin

Convicted of sexual assault & kidnapping and sentenced to 15 years.

St. Paul Pioneer Press 1/6/90 & 10/25/96

"Saecker, wearing a bloodstained shirt, was arrested near the victim's home. He gave inconsistent versions of his whereabouts the night of the assault and also made incriminating statements."

"The jury ruled Saecker, 46, was mentally ill at the time of the assault, but not insane." Saecker has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

"Five men who were inmates with Saecker in a cell block at the Winona County, Minn., jail said Saecker remarked about assaulting the 39-year-old woman after he read a criminal complaint filed by Buffalo County. "

"Two jailers in Buffalo County, to which Saecker was later extradited, also testified they heard Saecker make comments about the assault."

"The DNA results also contradicted the Wisconsin Crime Lab's microscopic identification of two pubic hairs as belonging to Saecker, the motion filed Wednesday said."

False informants

Hair analysis

Salazar, Ben

DNA

1997



Texas

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 30 years.

Austin American-Statesman 10/28/97

"The victim had seen Salazar's photo -- he had a prior indecent exposure conviction -- and said he was the attacker."

"The victim identified Salazar as her attacker, and his blood type was the same as that of the rapist."

Eyewitness error

Sanchez, Isauro

Actual Culprit Found

1990



Illinois

"All 4 were convicted of a quadruple murder and sentenced to life."

See Arroyo, Rogelio

Sloppy Prosecution

Saunders, Omar

DNA

2001



Illinois

Convicted of rape & murder and sentenced to life.

Chicago Tribune May 2, 2001, May 27, 2001 & July 29, 2001

See Bradford, Marcellius

"Sam Busch, 37, is now serving a life prison sentence in Alamo, Ga., after being convicted of a series of armed robberies and shootings in that state. Busch testified at Saunders' trial that before Saunders surrendered to police, he admitted taking part in the crime. Busch now says that testimony was untrue. 'What started out to be a chance at a reward ended up in testimony to convict an innocent man,' Busch told the Tribune. 'I was afraid that the detectives would put fake charges on me, so I cooperated.'"

"Roscetti, apparently mortally wounded, was carried back to her car and raped by Calvin Ollins and Saunders, Bradford testified."

"Thomas Allen, who represented Saunders at the trial and is now a Chicago alderman, called the case against Saunders 'one of the weakest from an evidentiary point of view' where prosecutors still achieved a guilty verdict."

False Informant

Expert Misconduct

Scruggs, Dwayne

DNA

1993



Indiana

Convicted and rape & robbery and sentenced to 40 years.

Indianapolis Star 12/18/93

"Scruggs became a suspect when the victim, who was assaulted after getting off a Metro bus in February 1986, picked his picture out of a group of photos."

"After the victim again identified him as her assailant, Scruggs found himself in the Marion County Jail charged with rape and robbery. He stayed in jail because he couldn't afford the $50,000 bond."

"Scruggs, a self-employed house painter, matched the general description of the rapist, who had worn a similar pair of boots that laced up the front and were splattered with paint."

Eyewitness error

Sgelirrach, Frank

Actual Culprit Found

1921



New York

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 8 to 16 years.

Convicting the Innocent

See Frank Pezzulich

Eyewitness error

Shaw, John

Actual Culprit Found

1961



Michigan

Convicted robbery and sentenced to 15 years.

The Innocents

"Shaw was identified by the victim."

Eyewitness error

Shea, Joseph Francis

Solid Alibi Established

1966



Florida

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

In Spite of Innocence & Justice in the Back Room

"His conviction was based entirely on his false confession, which he later said he gave because he had suicidal urges and wanted to die in the electric chair."

They "conducted an investigation and uncovered evidence that Shea had been on duty at the Air Force base, eighty miles from Miami, on the night of the murder."

"A key to his acquittal was the admission by a police detective that he had denied Shea access to counsel and had lied to him about having evidence against him in order to elicit the false confession."

"At the time he was subjected to police interrogation, Shea was depressed because of an unhappy love affair during a tour of duty in the Philippines. His mistress, refusing to marry him, had run off with their baby."

"In 1967 Shea received an indemnification of $45,000 from the state legislature."

False confession

Sheeler, Rudolph

Actual Culprit Found

1951



Pennsylvania

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Not Guilty & The Innocents

"There is ample proof that Sheeler was beaten for hours, some sessions lasting as long as two days, as police attempted to extract a confession."

"At his arraignment Sheeler was asked if he had volunteered any information to the officers. When he replied that he had not, police immediately requested a delay for more time to investigate the case. . . . Not long afterward police were able to announce that they had a signed confession."

"During the trial, several detectives testified that Sheeler had been identified by a reputable citizen whose name they did not want to reveal."

"It was 12 years later when ample proof of Sheeler's treatment at the hands of Philadelphia police was brought to the attention of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court."

"After his investigation Judge Levinthal informed the higher court that 'Sheeler's account of the Baxendal and Morrow crimes, both in his confession and in his self-incriminating testimony, was palpably false and inconsistent with facts known or available to police."

"The State Supreme Court set aside Sheeler's conviction on March 29, 1951, and ordered a new trial. When this was held on May 1, the prosecutor informed the court that there was not one shred of evidence' to connect Sheeler in any way with the murder of Patrolman Morrow."

The actual culprit. "Police later said that Howard had been armed with two guns and that one of them had been used in the murder of Patrolman Morrow."

False confession

False informant

Shephard, Clifford

Actual Culprit Found

1938



New Jersey

Convicted twice of forgery and served approximately 2 years.

The Innocents & Not Guilty

"As Shephard stepped out of the office, two men were standing in the corridor and one of them point to Shephard and yelled, 'that's the man'. Just then Mrs. Lester also came out, and the same man promptly called out that she was the woman."

"Three other merchants in that town had been fleeced the same day. They also identified Mrs. Lester and Shephard as the couple who had given them the checks."

"Within days merchants from many different areas in New Jersey also identified the bewildered pair."

"One of the storekeepers had brought his young child to court on sentencing day and, as Shephard was being led away, boastled loudly, 'I never forget a face'."

Eyewitness error

Shephard, David

DNA

1995



New Jersey

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 30 years.

Philadelphia Inquire 4/29/95

"Shephard was arrested several days after the rape at his job at Newark Airport after the woman's abandoned car and her purse were found near the building where he worked. The woman picked Shephard's photo from among photos of six black employees who fit his description and later pointed him out to police as he was picking up his paycheck. The woman subsequently identified him in court. "

"At the trial, Shephard took the stand in his own defense and testified that he had been at home watching his younger sister at the time of the rape. A friend testified that she had a lengthy phone conversation with Shephard at about 6 p.m. that Christmas Eve, about the time of the abduction. His mother also testified that her son was present when she returned home at about 6:45 p.m., about the time the crime was still being committed."

"'We are confident the right person was convicted of this crime,' said Michael Lapolla, the first assistant prosecutor."

Eyewitness error

Sheperd, Charles

Actual Culprit Found

2001



New York

Convicted of Murder and sentenced to 15 years to life.

See Anthony Faison

False Informant

Sisson, Robert

Actual Culprit Found

1924



DC

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 5 years.

Convicting the Innocent

"A third they recognized as a foreman at the station named Sisson, who though once friendly with Keeton, had later refused to speak to him."

Eyewitness error

Slyter, George B.

Actual Culprit Found

1931



Minnesota

Convicted of robbery and released before he was sentenced.

Convicting the Innocent

"Oxendale identified him with certainty, especially because of the dark circles under his eyes."

After being robbed a second time, Oxendale "called up Mr. Gleason, told him about the robbery, and said that he had made a mistake about Slyter, who was in jail, because the bandit with the dark circles under his eyes had just been around again."

Eyewitness error

Smith, Clarence

Actual Culprit Found

1975



New Mexico

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

See Thomas Gladish

False informant

Eyewitness error

Police misconduct

Smith, Frank Lee

DNA

2001

Died in Prison 2000



Florida

Convicted of rape & murder. Sentenced to death.

Miami Herald 3/1/01 & 5/5/01

"During the 1986 trial, Lowe was a key witness. She was the only person who had a good look at the man's face. On the stand, she said she was sure Smith was the man she saw that night."

"In 1989, Capital Collateral investigator Jeff Walsh showed Lowe a picture of Mosley. That was the man she saw that night, Lowe said. She confessed that she knew when she saw Smith in the courtroom at trial that he was not the person she had seen that night, but said nothing at the time."

"New DNA tests in December linked the murder to another man [Mosley] who had been in a state psychiatric hospital since the late 1980s."

"One of Broward County's top cops has been reassigned after the governor appointed special counsel to investigate accusations that he lied on the witness stand to help send an innocent man to Death Row."

"At issue is whether he lied when he testified that a photo lineup shown to a key witness included a photograph of a second man [Mosley] who could have committed the crime."

Eyewitness Error

Official Misconduct

Smith, Walter

DNA

1996



Ohio

Convicted of two rapes and sentenced to 78 to 190 years.

Columbus Dispatch 8/12/96

"There are three women from the Smith rape case - one who said she was attacked in 1984 and two attacked in 1985. All said Smith raped them in their North Side homes."

"All three women identified Smith in a police lineup, a practice that has been criticized as flawed by many and has since been discontinued by Columbus police."

"The lab has verified that the DNA of the rapist in the two 1985 cases is from the same man - but it's not Smith's."

Eyewitness error

Snodgrass, Jere

Actual Culprit Found

1940



Michigan

Convicted of passing forged checks and sentenced to 3 to14 years.

The Innocents & Not Guilty

"The druggist's brother had seen the forger. He said Snodgrass resembled the man. Snodgrass readily agreed to go to Blissfield to talk to the druggist, but instead of the matter being 'straightened out' as the trooper had mentioned, Snodgrass found himself in jail when the druggist made a positive identification."

"Five additional merchants from as many different towns appeared in court and identified Snodgrass as the man who had passed similar checks on them."

Eyewitness error

Snyder, Walter

DNA

1993



Virginia

Convicted of rape & burglary and sentenced to 45 years.

Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science:

"The victim identified Snyder as a person who lived across the street from her."

"The victim identified Snyder in a police station 'show-up.'"

"Police found red shorts in Snyder's house similar to those worn by the assailant."

"Standard blood typing showed Snyder and the assailant were type A secretors."

"Snyder's alibi, that he was at home sleeping during the time of the assault, was corroborated only by his mother."

Eyewitness error

Southerland, I. L.

Actual Culprit Found

1938



Texas

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 50 years.

Not Guilty

"There, on August 13, they chanced to see Southerland on the street. To Clements, Southerland looked like the bank robber who had worn the blue suit. Immediately Clements identified him."

See Ovid Mathis

Eyewitness error

Staten, Cleo

Actual Culprit Found

1926



Alabama

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Convicting the Innocent

See James Crutcher

False informant

Stielow, Charles

Actual Culprit Found

1918



New York

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Convicting the Innocent

"Two days later, April 23, in the county jail, in the presence of Sheriff Bartlett, Under-sheriff Porter, District Attorney Knickerbocker, and Detective Newton and Wilson, Stielow was said to have confessed that he and Nelson Green had committed the murder to get Phelps's money. Many of the statements were made after consultation with Detective Newton in the jail hall. A written statement, including the confession, was placed before Stielow, but he refused absolutely to sign it, saying that it was not true."

"Further evidence that the confession was not voluntary, and that Stielow had a very immature mind, was submitted to Justice George W. Cole at Buffalo on July 19, 1916, in support of another motion for a new trial."

False confession

Strickland, J. C.

Actual Culprit Found

1940



Texas

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 5 years.

The Innocents

See Samuel Curbow

Eyewitness error

No defense lawyer appointed

Sullivan, Maurice

Actual Culprit Found

1924



DC

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 7 years.

Convicting the Innocent

"This man he later recognized from a police photograph as Sullivan, one of those taking part in the September attack in front of his home."

Eyewitness error

Sullivan, Percy

Actual Culprit Found

1898



Indiana

Convicted of counterfeiting and sentenced to 4 years.

Convicting the Innocent

"Witnesses who in part had identified Sullivan by his photograph were brought from the several cities that had been the scene of the swindle. Some of these person did not recognize Sullivan. Others positively identified him as the one who had given them the counterfeit money especially Joseph Kunkler and sex other persons from Evansville."

Later after Tyler had been arrested : "Mr. Davidson went to Evansville, Vincennes, and Tarre Haute and saw most of the witnesses who had testified at Sullivan's trial. Without letting them know which as Sullivan's and which was Tyler's picture, he show them both photographs and asked them to point out the man who had passed the money. They all promptly pointed to Tyler's photograph and, confronted with the two photographs, they found little resemblance."

Eyewitness error

Sweeney, James

Actual Culprit Found

1928



New Jersey

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Convicting the Innocent

"Pictures of Sweeney were obtained and presented to the eyewitnesses, who positively identified Sweeney as a member of the gang."

"At the trial, one of the chief witnesses for the prosecution was Thomas Devoy, who testified that five minutes before the holdup took place, he passed the intersection and saw Sweeney standing on one corner."

"The other chief witness for the state was Samuel Traubman, who passed the scene of the crime in an automobile. He had identified Sweeney both from pictures and in person before the trial, and at the trial he testified that just before the holdup he saw Sweeney standing at the intersection with his hand under his coat in a suspicious manner."

Later the real criminals were arrested and it was shown that Devoy did not drive by the crime scene until AFTER the holdup.

Eyewitness error

False informant

Taff, Maurice

Actual Culprit Found

1932



Missouri

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to ten years.

Not Guilty

"At police headquarters Taff and Eiseman, placed in the line-up, were immediately identified by the two women."

"Eiseman confessed. But, although he stated that Taff did not participate in the holdup, he refused to name his accomplice. The police, therefore, interrogated Taff. But, since Taff was innocent, his confession proved more difficult to obtain. The police subjected him to forty hours of questioning, he later said, during which he had little food or sleep. With this point of view considerably distorted by excessive hunger and fatigue, Taff finally confessed."

"But Taff, repudiating his confession, pleaded not guilty."

Later, Eiseman names his accomplice as his 15 year old brother, Donald, and not Taff.

Eyewitness error

False confession

Thomas, Victor L.

DNA

2001



Texas

Convicted of rape & robbery. Sentenced to life.

Dallas Morning News 6/28/01

"The victim identified Mr. Thomas as the man who attacked her in October 1985. 'Basically, on the strength of that, he was convicted,' Ms. Hellstern said."

"The test he requested determined that he was not the man who raped a woman working at a Waxahachie convenience store during an armed robbery in 1985."

Eyewitness Error

Thornton, Lonzo

Actual Culprit Found

1928



Ohio

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 10 to 25 years.

Convicting the Innocent

"Louise Parkalab was called and, out of a group of suspects, picked Thornton as the one who had helped Ivory attack him."

Eyewitness error

Thorvik, Louis

Actual Culprit Found

1931



Minnesota

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to life.

Convicting the Innocent

"Witnesses from Almelund went to St. Paul and identified him as one of the robbers."

"At the trial Thorvik was identified by cashier Lindquist and a bank customer, Bloomquist. Another customer, Carl Wiberg, did not testify for either side. Thorvik was likewise identified by several townspeople who said they had seen the men as they walked through town."

Deputy sheriff Hammerstrom testified that he had gone to St. Paul and "got acquainted with Thorvik, who boasted of the part he had taken in the robbery, related where the gang later went, and stated that the loot had been hidden under a wire screen in a small swamp."

Eyewitness error

False informant

Titus, Steve

Actual Culprit Found

1981



Washington

Convicted of rape and awaiting sentencing.

Witness for the Defense

"'This one is the closest,' she said, her finger trembling slightly, poised just an inch above the Polaroid picture of Steve Titus. 'It has to be this one.'"

The prosecutor asked the victim to get a closer look at Titus. "Nancy Van Roper stepped out of the witness box, took a few steps toward the defense table, and then broke down, sobbing uncontrollably."

"Nancy Van Roper was brought into police headquarters for an in-person lineup. She looked through the one-way mirror at Danny Stone and began to cry. 'Oh, my God,' she said, sobbing. 'What have I done to Mr. Titus?'"

"Beck [formally with the FBI] went over the police reports and determined that they'd been altered. Titus's license plate numbers were inserted later, after the original police report was typed and signed by the victim."

"On December 17, 1985, Steve Titus's estate was awarded a $2.8 million settlement from the Port of Seattle."

Eyewitness error

Police misconduct

Toney, Steven

DNA

1996



Missouri

Convicted of rape & sodomy and sentenced to life.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 8/11/96

"The victim and another witness identified Toney, then 35, as the assailant. He was a convicted felon who had been out of prison for a little over a year. His only alibi was his grandmother, who swore that Toney was asleep at her house when the attack took place."

"The victim said her attacker was a short, stocky black man with a dark complexion. Other than being black, Toney fits no other part of that picture."

Eyewitness error

Torres, Pedro

Solid Alibi Established

1985



Texas

Convicted of Murder and sentenced to 75 years.

NY Times 4/28/85 & In Spite of Innocence

"Three witnesses identified him as the killer."

"The evidence presented at the new trial showed Mr. Torres had been on the job in Dallas when the murder was committed April 17, 1983, in Houston, 250 miles away, according to the judge. A new witness was also produced who was the roommate of the other Pedro Torres, the judge said, and it was established that it was this Torres being sought."

Eyewitness Error

Toth, Andrew

Actual Culprit Found

1911



Pennsylvania

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Convicting the Innocent

"Peter Mullen indicated Andy Toth, calling him Steve Toth, and stated that Toth was the man he had seen hitting Quinn over the head with a shovel at Furnance C. Mullen said that Toth had tried to strike him also, but that he had escaped."

Eyewitness error

Townsend, Jerry Frank

DNA

2001



Florida

Convicted of Murder & Rape and sentenced to life.

Associated Press June 15, 2001

"Jerry Frank Townsend, 49, was convicted of two murders and pleaded guilty to four others and a rape, confessing to all of the crimes."

"But DNA evidence later cleared him in two of those murders. That, in turn, cast doubt on his confessions in the other cases, and prosecutors asked that those convictions or guilty pleas be thrown out, too."

"Townsend's IQ is between 50 and 60 and he has the mental capacity of an 8-year-old."

"During taped confessions, police helped Townsend remember details and corrected him when his story was inconsistent."

False Confession



Tucker, Eugene

Actual Culprit Found

1958



Michigan

Convicted of forgery and sentenced to up to 14 years.

The Innocents

"He was placed in a line-up and the employees who had accepted checks were summoned. One made no identification, a second was uncertain, but the woman cashier at another store made positive identification."

Eyewitness error

Uchansky, Matthew

Actual Culprit Found

1940



New York

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to ten to thirty years.

Not Guilty

"Six other witnesses said that they were certain Amatsky was one of the gunmen. Three identified Uchansky."

"Amatsky admitted guilt. He also stated that Uchansky and Metz had not participated in the crime."

Later "Three of the state's witnesses at Uchansky's trial testified that they might have been mistaken: Probably the man they had thought was Uchansky was actually Kovarick."

Eyewitness error

Valletutti, John

Actual Culprit Found

1948



New York

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

The Innocents & In Spite of Innocence

"Valletutti testified that he had been beaten steadily for hours by detectives until he agreed to sigh a false confession. He testified that at the time of the murder he had been playing shuffleboard several miles from the scene. His story was supported by the owner of the place and a group of customers. Cronholm was brought down from prison and again testified that he had committed the robbery alone and that Valletutti had not been with him."

"None of the patrons at the bar could identify him; no one placed him with Cronholm that night, and on one placed him in the vicinity of the tavern."

"The admitted killer, convicted six months prior to Valletutti's trial, testified in Valletutti's defense that he had initially inculpated Valletuttis as his accomplice only to avoid further police beatings."

New York Court of Appeals. "It plainly appears that the defendant did somehow sustain substantial physical injuries while in close custody of public officials."

"Unless the confession was shown to have been, beyond doubt, a voluntary and reliable one, the conviction must fall."

False confession

False informant

Varela, Ignacio

Actual Culprit Found

1990



Illinois

"All 4 were convicted of a quadruple murder and sentenced to life."

See Arroyo, Rogelio

Sloppy Prosecution

Varela, Joaquin

Actual Culprit Found

1990



Illinois

"All 4 were convicted of a quadruple murder and sentenced to life."

See Arroyo, Rogelio

Sloppy Prosecution

Vasquez, David

DNA

1989



Virginia

Convicted of second-degree homicide & burglary and sentenced to 35 years.

Wash Post 7/16/89 & Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science:

"Wells testified at a preliminary hearing, she parked her car in front of Hamm's home and saw Vasquez walking along the sidewalk in front of the house."

"Another neighbor, a retired Army colonel, also told police he had seen Vasquez near Hamm's home two days after the murder, on the day police discovered Hamm's body."

"Friends and acquaintances say he reacts to the world like a young child and that he is easily flustered under pressure. He was described in court as having 'borderline retarded/low normal' intelligence."

"Vasquez began to incorporate into his responses these and other details Shelton and Carrig had supplied." (Shelton and Carrig are detectives)

For Example:

"Shelton: Okay, now tell us how it went, David . . . tell us how you did it.

Vasquez: . . . she told me to grab the knife and, and, stab her, that's all.

Carrig (raising his voice): David, no, David.

Vasquez: If it did happen, and I did it, and my fingerprints were on it . . . .

Carrig (slamming his hand on the table and yelling): You hung her!

Vasquez: What?

Carrig (shouting): You hung her!

Vasquez: Okay, so I hung her."

"Toward the end of that conversation, Vasquez inexplicably began to recount 'a horrible dream,' to use his words, that coincided almost identically with the facts of the case that he and the two detectives had discussed in Manassas."

"Hair found on Hamm's robe and on two blankets that exhibited 'the same visual and microscopic characteristics' as samples of Vasquez's pubic hair, according to a forensic report."

"DNA results. The Virginia State laboratory, Cellmark Diagnostics, and Lifecodes, Inc., performed DNA tests on the evidence from several rape/murders. All tests inculpated a man named Timothy Spencer as the assailant in rape-murders that were identical in modus operandi to the Vasquez incident."

Eyewitness error

False confession

Hair analysis

Vickers, John

Actual Culprit Found

1917



North Carolina

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years.

The Innocents

See Hamp Kendall

False informants

Vissasana, Armand

DNA

2000



Missouri

Convicted of rape & kidnapping but released before sentenced.

Associated Press 6/22/00

"Villasana became a suspect in the 1998 crime after a sheriff's deputy thought he resembled a sketch of the suspect. "

"At the trial, Villasana's roommate said that he bragged about having sex on the night of the rape. Witnesses also said Villasana owned a T-shirt like the one the victim said her attacker wore."

Suspicious statements

Von Williams, Clarence

Actual Culprit Found

1981



Texas

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 50 years.

Witness for the Defense

"She's convinced that Von Williams is the man who raped her and her daughter. 'I know what I saw in my mind,' she says over and over again."

"I think the major problem with her memory may have occurred in the retrieval stage. She had this dim, blurred memory of the rapist, with was just several hours old, and she had another memory, several weeks old, of Clarence Von Williams. There two memories may have gotten mixed up, shuffled together by stress and fear and the incessant questioning from her boyfriend to think, to come up with a name."

"Simonis confessed to 77 crimes in 7 different states including the rapes for which Clarence Von Williams was convicted."

"We bought them into the room and played the videotape [of Simonis confessing]. After a few minutes, the two teenage children looked at their mother. It was clear from the shocked expressions on their faces that they recognized this man. But the mother refused to look at them. She continued to stare at the man on the tape, and then slowly began to shake her head back and forth. 'No,' she said, her voice rising over the sound of the videotape, 'no, no, no, no, no.'"

"'Simonis confessed to details that only the rapist could have know, details that nobody outside the prosecutors' office knew anything about,' the attorney said. 'And yet the victim couldn't accept the fact that she had made a mistaken ID. She couldn't bring herself to admit that someone other than Von Williams might have committed this crime.'"

Eyewitness error

Walpole, Merla

Victim Found Alive

1975



California

Convicted of murder and but not sentenced.

In Spite of Innocence

Ex-wife of Antonio Rivera see A. Rivera



Ward, Joseph

Actual Culprit Found

1896



Massachusetts

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 5 years.

Convicting the Innocent

"May Ivers identified Ward as one of the men, as did Edith and Gertie Thompson and Ray Ross. Police Inspector Joseph H. Knox also identified him. Thomas Barry, L. A. Masury, and Frank Lewis, other officers called as witnesses, appear also to have identified Ward."

Eyewitness error

Wardell, Billy

DNA

1997



Illinois

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 55 years.

Chicago Tribune 11/18/97

See Donald Reynolds.

"About a month after the attack, the two victims were shown police mug shots and tentatively picked out the photograph of Wardell."

"Wardell was put in a lineup in which all members wore hooded sweatshirts and were asked to say a phrase'Are you trying to play dead?'--that had been spoken during the attack."

"The woman who was sexually assaulted could not make a positive identification, but the other victim picked out Wardell, saying: 'That is the man, yes, that is the man.'"

Eyewitness error

Warner, Collin

Actual Culprit Found

2001



New York

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 15 to life.

NY Times 1/25/01

"In the spring of 1980, Martell Hamilton, then 14, was shown a snapshot of a man named Collin Warner, who the police indicated was a suspect in the murder of Mr. Hamilton's brother. Grief stricken and exhausted, Mr. Hamilton said that he might have seen Mr. Warner before."

"Among the evidence before them are new statements from witnesses who say Mr. Warner was not at the scene of the shooting."

"After several hours, Thomas picked Mr. Warner's picture out of a mug book. 'I don't know why he did that,' Mr. Robedee said. 'My honest suspicion? He wanted to go home.' Later that night, a detective went to Martell's house with several photographs. The detective asked him several times if he recognized anyone in the pictures. Mr. Hamilton answered no, he said. Finally, he said, the detective pushed one of the pictures out of the line and said, 'What about this guy?' Mr. Hamilton said, 'To let him stop pressuring me, I said I might have seen him before.' The picture was of Mr. Warner."

"About a year ago, Mr. King brought the case to the attention of Mr. Robedee, who said he was struck by how Thomas Charlemagne had changed his story in several statements. There were also no corroborating witnesses or physical evidence presented, he said, and he has collected statements from two other men who were at the shooting who say that Mr. Simmonds acted alone."

"After being contacted by Mr. Warner's lawyer, Norman Simmonds, who was convicted with Mr. Warner and was paroled after serving nine years in prison, came forward to help exonerate Mr. Warner with a startling statement: he, not Mr. Warner, was the true killer."

Eyewitness Error

Washington, Calvin Edward

DNA

2001



Texas

Convicted of rape & murder. Sentenced to life.

Court of Appeals of Texas 822 S.W. 2d 110; 1991 & Houston Chronicle 7/7/01

"The State produced evidence that Mrs. White died of blunt-force injuries and asphyxia by smothering or strangulation, that she had been sexually assaulted, that Appellant [Washington] and Williams were together and in possession of her car on the morning of March 2, that Appellant sold items of property belonging to Mrs. White on the night of the murder, that Appellant told witnesses he had committed the burglary, that bite marks were on the body, and that Appellant was overheard saying that the bite marks were left as a 'trace mark'."

After the trial, the defense discovered that exculpatory evidence in the prosecutions procession had not been disclosed to them. But the Court of Appeals of Texas ruled, "From our review of the record, we do not believe that the disclosure of further information of the nature described by Appellant would have created a reasonable doubt about his guilt that did not otherwise exist or would have affected the outcome of the trial."

"A test of a blood-stained shirt found in Washington's home proved that none of the blood was from the victim. Furthermore, fluids taken from the victim were not those of Washington, the testing showed. Instead, they came from a second suspect, now deceased, officials said. Bennie Carroll of Waco committed suicide in 1990, three years after admitting he raped an elderly neighbor of White's two months before White's slaying."

False Informant

Evidence Withheld

Washington, Earl

DNA

2000



Virginia

Convicted of rape & murder and sentenced to death.

Virginian-Pilot & Ledger-Star (Norfolk, VA) 6/26/94

"Described in court papers as a farmhand with an IQ of 69, Washington confessed to the June 1982 rape and murder of 19-year-old Rebecca Williams."

"Before he confessed to Williams' murder, Washington also confessed to three other rapes, all of which he did not commit."

"In a 1991 federal appeals court decision, a three-judge panel said the confession resulting from a two-day interrogation contained "numerous factual errors," including the victim's race, her injury and the location of her apartment. The judges noted Washington was 'easily led' by police."

False confession

Waters, Kenneth

DNA

2001



Massachusetts

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

Boston Globe 3/16/01

"But everything seemed to go wrong for Waters during his trial. Two former girlfriends - including the mother of his baby daughter - testified that he had admitted to the crime. A third witness told the court that he had sold her a ring she had given to Brow years before, according to court documents. That witness said Waters had hated Brow since he'd been sent to reform school for breaking into her house. Blood found in Brow's trailer, which was believed to be her killer's, was tested with the technology of the day and determined to be the same blood type as Waters's."

False Informants

Watkins, Jerry E.

DNA

2000



Indiana

Convicted of murder. Sentenced to 60 years.

Supreme Court of Indiana 528 N.E. 2d 456; 1988 & Evansville Courier & Press 8/7/01

"On November 17, 1984, the nude body of the 11-year-old victim in this case was found in a partially wooded area in Hancock County. She last had been seen in the vicinity of her home on November 12, 1984. In June of 1985, appellant was charged in Marion County with the child molestation in September of 1984 of the victim in this case. A plea of guilty was entered to that charge and sentence was rendered accordingly. While confined to a holding cell behind the court, pursuant to the Marion County molestation case, appellant allegedly told Dennis Ackeret, who was being sentenced on an unrelated crime, that he had killed the girl for whose molestation he had just been sentenced. Ackeret testified that appellant told him he slit the girl's throat and left her for dead in some bushes in Hancock County."

"During the course of the trial, appellant called Paul David Frazzitta as a witness to testify that he was incarcerated with Dennis Ackeret, who had testified against appellant. Frazzitta described a conversation with Ackeret and another inmate in which Ackeret described a scheme for being released from jail. The plan was to find an unsolved crime, have a confederate research the newspaper coverage, and then use the information to convince the police that the schemer had knowledge of the crime."

In the his 1988 appeal Watkins "submitted the affidavits of Bruce E. Jones and Paul E. Rork, which stated that Ackeret had told them he lied in testimony given at appellant's trial and the information he furnished had been given to him by a detective."

"Last year, a federal judge ordered Watkins released from Pendleton Correctional Facility on the basis of DNA evidence which also implicated McCormick in the death."

"McCormick has been charged with the murder and rape of 11-year-old Margaret 'Peggy Sue' Altes"

False Informant

Webb, Mark

DNA

2001



Texas

Convicted of Rape and sentenced to 30 years.

Dallas Morning News Dec 16, 2001 & AP Dec 15, 2001

"At Mr. Webb's 1987 trial, defense attorneys had called witnesses including his mother and his boss on a construction job to testify that he had been at work at the time of the offense. But the victim identified Mr. Webb in court."

"The victim in Webb's case had been brutally assaulted and had seen her attacker. Webb's attorney Scott Brown said Webb's extensive arrest record was probably the reason he became a suspect."

"Initial tests on semen stains from the victim's clothing indicated that Mr. Webb 'could not be excluded as a suspect'."

"But new, more discriminating tests conducted a few weeks ago at the Texas Department of Public Safety office in Garland conclusively eliminated him as a suspect."

Eyewitness Error

Similar Blood Type

Webb, Thomas

DNA

1996



Oklahoma

Convicted of rape. Served 13 years.

Daily Oklahoman 5/25/96

"The woman had picked out Webb in a photo lineup as her attacker."

[An expert] "testified at his second trial . . . that his hairs were 'microscopically similar' to those found in the victim's apartment."

"The investigator's report states that Webb admitted raping the woman and threatening her with a knife. Armed with that confession, the Parole Board voted not to reconsider him again for three years."

Eyewitness error

False confession

Hair analysis

Webb, Troy

DNA

1996



Virginia

Convicted of rape & robbery and sentenced to 47 years.

Richmond Times-Dispatch 10/18/96

"The rape-robbery victim identified Webb from the lineup as her attacker. Serology tests of the semen -- the most sophisticated tests available at the time -- did not point to Webb but did not rule him out, either."

"At Webb's trial in 1989, the victim again identified Webb as the man who had attacked her."

Eyewitness error

Wilkinson, Robert

Actual Culprit Found

1976



Pennsylvania

Convicted of Murder and released before sentencing.

In Spite of Innocence

"An investigation by the Philadelphia Inquire indicated that Wilkinson's confession had been coerced, and that at least seven other people had been beaten, threatened, or otherwise coerced by the police into making false statements. One witness admitted he had lied at the trial, and another man confessed and pleaded guilty to the firebombing before the mildly retarded Wilkinson was freed."

"The convictions of several Philadelphia police officers for civil rights violations arising from their "brutal and unlawful" mistreatment of Wilkinson were sustained on appeal. Wilkinson was later awarded damages of $325,000."

False Confession

False Informant

Police Misconduct

Williams, Dennis

DNA

1996



Illinois

Convicted of murder and rape. Sentenced to death.

See Kenneth Adams

False Informant

Official Misconduct

Eyewitness Error

Williams, George

Actual Culprit Found

1928



North Carolina

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

See Frank Dove

False informant

Williams, Jimmy "Spunk"

Informant Reversal

2001



Ohio

Convicted of rape. Sentenced to life.

Plain Dealer 2/15/01 & 3/2/01

"Williams was released from prison Feb. 14, when Summit County Common Pleas Judge Patricia A. Cosgrove overturned the conviction. Cosgrove based her decision on the testimony of the alleged victim, who came forward Feb. 12 and said she was not sure that Williams was the man who raped her when she was 12."

"She said she kept her eyes closed during the attack and did not see the man's face. She said she picked Williams' photograph from mug shots because he was the only young, thin black man among them. In 1991, she told a jury that the rapist had left sucker marks on her neck."

"She was 12 at the time of the alleged attack. She told her parents she had been raped after they confronted her about sucker marks on her neck. She and a childhood girlfriend testified Monday that they had been experimenting with sexual activity and the girlfriend, who was also 12, made the sucker marks."

"At the trial, doctors who examined the 12-year-old could not say that a rape had occurred. There was no semen or other biological material to test for DNA. Doctors could say only that the 12-year-old was not a virgin."

False Informant

Williams, Joe Sidney

DNA

Released 1993

Exonerated 2001



Texas

Convicted of rape and murder Sentenced to life.

Court of Appeals of Texas 838 S.W. 2d 952 1992 & Houston Cronicle 7/7/01

See Calvin Edward Washington

"Washington, 45, and Joe Sidney Williams were sentenced to life prison terms in December 1987."

"Eight of Williams's "friends" and fellow inmates testified, all of whom had prior felony convictions and/or charges pending. One, Waymon Dotson, testified that Williams had implicated himself in Mrs. White's death, but on cross-examination admitted that he had given a written statement in which he stated that Williams had told him that he did not kill her."

"Williams was freed in 1993 after an appeals court said testimony in his case was improperly admitted. The case was not retried after prosecutors said there was not sufficient credible evidence against him."

"Williams was there Thursday when Washington was freed."

False Informant

Williamson, Ron

DNA

1999



Oklahoma

Convicted of rape & murder and sentenced to death.

NY Daily News 5/2/99 & Associated Press 4/15/99

"Serious mental problems put him in a hospital more than once. A few women complained that he pestered them. When a young waitress in a bar he frequented was gruesomely murdered, he was the natural fall guy."

"Hair-comparison tests and testimony from jailhouse informants were introduced in both trials. A dream about the murder that Williamson recounted for investigators helped persuade jurors to sentence him to death."

"Glen Gore testified he saw Williamson with Ms. Carter the night she died and was the only witness to connect them. "He gave testimony that deflected attention away from himself and to these two individuals," Scheck said."

"Prosecutors say the same DNA tests that cleared the pair identified a third man, a witness in both Fritz's and Williamson's trials, as a suspect in the case. . . Glen Gore."

False informants

Suspicious statements

Hair analysis

Willis, James

Actual Culprit Found

1927



California

Convicted of robbery & assault with in tent to kill and sentenced to 5 years to life.

Convicting the Innocent

"Willis fitted the description well, and while young Richardson would not identify him, the victims Winstead and Jones did."

Later the real culprit was found. "As soon as Richardson saw Bohac he immediately identified him, and so did Winstead and Jones. The latter two freely admitted that their earlier identification of Willis was wrong."

Eyewitness error

Willis, John

DNA

1999



Illinois

Convicted of rape and sentenced to 100 years.

Chicago Sun-times 2/24/99 & 2/25/99

"Convicted of a second assault, also in 1990, based on eyewitness testimony. There was no physical evidence in that case."

"Three forensic science experts who examined Fish's notes concluded that semen found on a victim did not come from Willis. But Fish testified at the trial that the lab results were 'inconclusive.' The lab notes were never turned over to Willis' attorneys, who by law are entitled to any evidence that could support a suspect's claim of innocence."

"The DNA tests implicate another man, Dennis Magruder, as the culprit."

Eyewitness error

Expert misconduct

Wilson, Johnny Lee

Actual Culprit Found

1995



Missouri

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 9/30/95

"Police focused their suspicion on Wilson because another man named Gary Wall had told them Wilson said he murdered Martz."

"After three sessions with police, he confessed to the murder."

"But in 1988, Chris Brownfield, a career criminal serving a life sentence in a Kansas prison said he and another man who was not Wilson had murdered Martz."

"Gary Wall, the man who first brought police attention to Wilson, was not to be believed and has since recanted his story."

"Because Wilson was mentally retarded, he couldn't resist police pressure to confess."

False confession

False informant

Wood, Sidney

Actual Culprit Found

1925



California

Convicted of robbery and sentenced to 5 years to life.

Convicting the Innocent

"At the police station, however, Wood was identified by both the motorman and the conductor of the interurban car as the man who stood on the rear platform and directed the holdup."

"A witness appeared who had been a passenger on the car and positively identified Wood as one of the bandits, and at the second trial several other passengers confirmed this identification. They based it on a similarity in the eyes, the lower part of the forehead, and the upper part of the nose, these features being all that was visible behind the mask worn by the man on the rear platform."

Eyewitness error

Woodall, Glenn

DNA

1991



West Virginia

Convicted or rape, kidnapping & robbery and sentence to life plus.

Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science:

"A State police chemist testified that Woodall's blood secretions matched secretions in a semen sample from the evidence."

"A comparison of body and beard hair from the defendant was consistent with hair recovered from a victim's car."

"Partial visual identification of the defendant was made by one of the victims."

"One victim identified clothing that matched clothing found in the defendant's house."

"Both victims testified that the assailant was not circumcised, in common with the defendant."

"A distinctive smell about the assailant was noted by both victims and also was found at the defendant's workplace."

Eyewitness error

Hair analysis

Yelder, George

Victim Found Alive

1928



Alabama

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life

Convicting the Innocent

See Louise Butler

False Informant

Young, Bennie

Actual Culprit Found

1934



Texas

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In Spite of Innocence

"Circumstantial evidence against them was weak and inconclusive, but both defendants originally confessed out of fear of lynching."

"In 1923 another man confessed to the murders, as well as to others."

"By then Johnson, still waiting for a death warrant, had died of natural causes. In 1934 Governor Miriam Ferguson granted a pardon to Young."

False confession

Youngblood, Larry

DNA

2000



Arizona

Convicted of sexual assault, child molestation and kidnapping and sentenced to 10 years.

Wash Post 9/7/00 & Arizona Republic 8/13/00

"Never mind that Youngblood fit the description provided by the victim, or that the traumatized child also identified Youngblood in court as the perpetrator."

"DNA extracted from dried semen on the swab showed that Youngblood, 47, did not molest the 10-year-old boy who identified him as his attacker in 1983."

"The Tucson police have graciously conceded that it was 'unfortunate' Youngblood spent so much time incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit, but they say they did what they thought was right at the time."

Eyewitness error

Zambinao, Luigi

Actual Culprit Found

1909



New Jersey

Convicted of counterfeiting and sentenced to 6 years.

Convicting the Innocent

"In his confession, [Manfra] implicated Luigi Zambino."

"One whom he identified as Manfra, purchased a quart of whiskey and paid for it with the counterfeit money. Wyatt identified Zambion as Manfra's companion."

"Wyatt on the stand positively identified Manfra and Zambion."

"A guilt offender, Manfra, choose to name as his accomplice a man whom he knew and who resembled a brother whom he was trying to shield."

Eyewitness error

False informant