John A. Johnson was convicted of the kidnapping and murder of seven-year-old
Annie Lemberger. Annie had been presumably kidnapped from her home at 2 South
Francis St. in Madison. Her body was found three days later in Lake Manona with a
head wound. Since an autopsy found no water in her lungs, it was
assumed she died from the wound prior to being thrown into the lake.
Frank and Norma Howell were
charged with the armed robbery of $67 from Jack Cott's Esso gas station,
located on Waynesburg Pike, about three miles east of Moundsville.
The robbers were a tall slim man and a short stout woman, a description that
fit the Howells. Despite presenting alibi evidence, Frank was
convicted due to the eyewitness testimony of Jack Cott. He was
sentenced to 15 years in prison. Norma was acquitted at a separate
trial, although the evidence against her appeared stronger than that against
Frank. On leaving the courthouse following her acquittal, Norma was
arrested for a robbery in Cadiz, OH, but was subsequently acquitted of that
In 1931 Irene
Crawford Schroeder and Walter Glenn Dague, two convicts awaiting execution
in Pennsylvania, confessed to the robbery of Cott's Esso station as well as
the Cadiz, OH robbery. Frank Howell's prosecution attorney, his
defense attorney, Jack Cott, and others went to Pennsylvania to hear the
confessions, which were recorded in a detailed affidavit. After the
visit, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that Schroeder and Dague were
guilty and that the Howells were innocent. Officials recommended the
pardon of Frank Howell and WV Governor Conley granted it shortly thereafter.
Adams County, IL
Aug 20, 1928
Howell was convicted of the robbery of the Exchange State Bank in Golden,
IL. He was identified and convicted based on the testimony of
eyewitnesses to the crime despite having numerous alibi witnesses who placed
him seventy miles away at the time of the robbery. Within a year the
real perpetrators were caught and convicted. In Jan. 1930 Howell's
conviction was overturned and the state dropped charges against him. (CTI)
Jefferson County, MO
Hess & Craig
Jan 7, 1929
Walter Hess and Alvin Craig were convicted of the murder of Virgil Romine,
an attendant at a restaurant associated with the Artesian Park filling
station near St. Louis. After being shot and prior to his death,
Romine mistakenly claimed that his assailants were the same fellows who put
slugs in a restaurant slot machine some weeks before. Upon being
visited by the police, Hess and Craig readily admitted they were the ones
who had slugged the restaurant's slot machine. However, they denied
any knowledge of the murder. Attempts at trial to ban hearsay
testimony regarding what Romine said about his assailants were denied on
the grounds that Romine gave a dying declaration. A year after the
defendants' convictions the real perpetrators were identified and convicted.
Missouri Governor Caulfield then pardoned Hess and Craig on the grounds that
they were innocent. (CTI)
Aug 1, 1876 (Whaley Range)
William Habron was convicted of the murder of Constable Cock, a local
lawman. Habron was a patron of the Royal Oak, a pub near
Manchester that was on the constable's beat. Habron was frequently getting
into fights with other patrons, which Cock had to break up. After one
fight Cock threatened to arrest Habron the next time he got into a fight.
Habron replied, "It'll be a sorry day for you, the day you arrest me."
The next time Cock passed the pub and heard sounds of a fight, he entered
without waiting to be called and saw Habron and another patron in the midst
of a fight. Cock arrested Habron. However, Habron had actually been on
his best behavior. The other patron had interpreted Habron's
behavior as a sign of weakness and, inspired by liquor, decided that it was
a good time to pick a fight.
Greenwald was convicted of stealing blank money orders from a postal
substation in a Buffalo, NY drugstore and then cashing them for various
amounts at businesses in New York City. The perpetrator reportedly had
blond hair and blue eyes as did Greenwald. At trial multiple witnesses
identified Greenwald as the perpetrator. Following his conviction and
imprisonment, money orders stolen from the same drugstore continued
to be passed under similar circumstances, and the perpetrator, Richard
Barry, was eventually caught. Aside from having blond hair and blue
eyes, there was no material resemblance between Barry and Greenwald.
Following Barry's conviction, U.S. President Coolidge pardoned Greenwald.
Apr 5, 1922
On April 5, 1922, three men
robbed the First National Bank of Arcadia of $2,800 in cash plus $5,420 in
bonds and travelers' checks. The men exited the bank and piled into a car
driven by a fourth man, their getaway driver. Police soon located the robbers'
car. It had been stolen and the robbers had abandoned it to get into another
minutes of the robbery, police stopped a car occupied by Broulio Galindo,
Jose Hernandez, Salvador Mendival, and Faustino Rivera. Although police
found no loot in the car, they did find five guns and two canvas sacks. The
bank employees had stated that the robbers spoke perfect English, but none
of the men in the car could speak English. The men, all Mexicans, would tell
police that they were orange pickers and that the guns were for rabbit
employees who witnessed the robbery identified Galindo, Hernandez, and
Rivera as the robbers. Mendival was thought to be the getaway driver, and
was partially identified by a telephone company employee who was working
near the bank at the time of the robbery. Police found that Galindo and
Hernandez had been previously convicted of felonies. Rivera died in jail
prior to trial. At trial the defendants had to testify through an
interpreter. The prosecution could not explain how they spoke perfect
English during the robbery, nor did it attempt to explain what happened to
the loot. Galindo, Hernandez, and Mendival were convicted of robbing the
bank. However, they were all pardoned in 1924 after the actual
perpetrators were discovered. (CTI)
Adolph Beck was convicted of individually defrauding ten women out their jewelry,
mostly rings, using the same confidence scheme. The swindler had posed
as the Earl of Wilton and claimed to have a home in St. John's Wood.
Beck was identified by all ten women. In addition he was identified as
John Smith, a man who had been convicted of perpetrating a identical
confidence scheme in 1877. At trial Beck's defence wanted to
cross-examine the crown's handwriting expert to established that documents
submitted into evidence as having been in Beck's handwriting were actually
in the same hand as those attributed to Smith in 1877. In addition it
wanted to present testimony that Beck had been in South America in 1877 and
for several years thereafter. However, the judge prohibited this
defence. Legal rules prohibited the crown from mentioning a prior
conviction, so the judge apparently felt the defence should be prohibited as
Evidence later surfaced that Smith had been examined by a prison
doctor in 1879, who stated in his report that Smith had undergone
circumcision. Beck was examined and found to be uncircumcised.
The only effect of this new evidence was that Beck, who had been assigned
Smith's old prison number, was given a new prison number. Beck was
released from prison in 1901.
In 1904, Beck was again arrested for defrauding women using the same
confidence scheme. He was again convicted, but his sentencing was
deferred until further investigation could be made. During
this period, while stories of defrauded women were in the newspapers, a
pawnshop owner called police about a man pawning rings in his shop.
The man said his name was William Thomas and that he was innocent of any
wrongdoing. However, he was identified by several swindled women who
also identified rings in his possession as their property. Following
Thomas's conviction, he admitted that he was John Smith and that he was
responsible for the frauds for which Beck had twice been convicted.
Beck was soon pardoned and Parliament awarded him £5,000 for his wrongful
imprisonment. (CTI) [6/08]
Baltimore County, MD
May 12, 1936 (Reisterstown)
One evening two women spotted two men loitering near a darkened home in
their neighborhood. When the women questioned the loiterers, the men
gave evasive answers and drove away. After being notified, the police
stopped the loiterers' car. However, the men drew their guns and took
the officers' revolvers. Police later found the loiterers' abandoned
car near the home of Edward Chalk. Chalk was identified as one of the
men by the officers and by the two women who reported the men to the police.
While Chalk was in jail awaiting trial, Joseph C. Martin confessed to being
one of the loiterers who held up the officers and stated that Chalk had not
been his companion. Nevertheless, Chalk was brought to trial and
convicted. The judge, however, suspending sentence pending Chalk's
motion for a new trial. In the meantime, police found Martin's
accomplice and Chalk was released. (Not Guilty) [6/08]
Reynolds County, MO
Huett, a lawyer, was charged with the shooting murder of Raoul Hunter, a
sawmill worker. Along with Huett, Huett's wife and Lee Bowles, a
justice of the peace, had been present during the killing. At trial
Bowles testified that Huett killed Hunter without provocation because of a
long-standing political feud. The jury convicted Huett of manslaughter
and he was sentenced to five years of imprisonment. Seven months later
Bowles admitted he perjured himself because Hunter had been his friend and
"I hated Huett." Hunter had actually been gunning for Huett who shot
him in self-defense. Shortly after Bowles' admission, Huett was
released from prison. (Not Guilty) (News
Montgomery County, PA
Oct 23, 1986
Ernest H. Priovolos was convicted
in 1990 of the 1986 murder of his former neighbor and girlfriend, Cheryl
Succa. Succa, 21, was found dead with a broken neck under a stone
bridge in the 2400 block of Washington Lane in Huntingdon Valley.
Police originally classified her death as an accident. They said that
in the dark she probably stumbled down the bank of the creek. She may not
have seen the large rocks and she hit her head. However, after a
career prison informant named John Hall came forward, police ruled her death
a homicide. Hall is known to have provided testimony in an
extraordinary number of cases. In 1994-95 alone he snitched out
defendants in 5 murder cases.
Hall shared a prison cell with Priovolos in Bucks
County Prison who was there on a drug related charge. Hall testified that Priovolos bragged to him in the fall of
1988 that he knocked Succa over the bridge with a karate chop and took her
purse after becoming angry that she would not have sex with him. Edward
Bauman, another inmate and a reported follower of Hall, corroborated Hall's
testimony. At trial, a prosecution witness caused a mistrial by
that Priovolos had sexually assaulted her in 1985. No charges were
ever filed for the alleged assault. At his second trial, Priovolos was
convicted of third-degree murder and sentenced to 12 to 27 years of
imprisonment. The prosecution had sought the death penalty. (Google) (See also Walter Ogrod (Phila 1988), Michael Dirago (Bucks 1985))
McLean County, IL
Nov 5, 1983 (Bloomington)
David Hendricks was convicted of
murdering his wife, Susan, 30, and their three children, Becky, 9, Grace, 7,
and Benjy, 5. The murders occurred at 313 Carl Drive in Bloomington.
While traveling in Wisconsin, Hendricks called police to check on his
family. No one had answered the phone all weekend and he was worried.
When police and neighbors searched his home the next day, they found that
Hendricks' entire family had been hacked to death with an ax and butcher
knife. When Hendricks returned later that day, police questioned him
and checked his clothes and car for bloodstains. But the search was
inconclusive, and Hendricks' alibi of having left for Wisconsin around 11:30
p.m. on November 4, appeared solid.
While his wife
was at a baby shower, Hendricks said he taken his children out for a pizza
at about 7:30 p.m. on November 4. According to him, they then played in an
amusement area and returned home at 9:30 p.m. He said his wife returned at
10:45 p.m. and he left for his business trip shortly thereafter. But
after studying the children's bodies, medical examiners discovered an
apparent hole in Hendricks' story. Ordinarily, food leaves the stomach and
moves into the small intestine within two hours. However, in all three
children, vegetarian pizza toppings were still in their stomachs, which led
investigators to estimate their time of death sometime around 9:30 p.m.,
while Hendricks was still at home. Hendricks' defense attorney
hammered away at the only physical evidence against him, pointing out that
physical activity or trauma can affect the rate of digestion. However,
Hendricks was convicted of four counts of murder and sentenced to life in
conviction was later overturned because an appeals court found the
prosecution's argument of an alleged motive irrelevant and prejudicial. The
prosecution introduced evidence that Hendricks was a member of a
conservative religious group which shunned divorce and that he made passes
at female models he had hired for advertising purposes. At Hendricks'
1991 retrial the prosecution presented the testimony of Danny Wayne Stark, a
jailhouse informant, who said that Hendricks confessed to the slayings.
However, the defense presented three inmates who testified that Stark was
known as a liar. The retrial jury acquitted Hendricks. Jurors
said the prosecution had not proven its case. A book was written about
the case entitled Reasonable Doubt by Steve Vogel. (Google)
York County, PA
Kevin Brian Dowling
Oct 20, 1997
Kevin Brian Dowling was sentenced to death for the murder of 44-year-old Jennifer Lynn
Myers. Myers had been robbed at her frame shop and art gallery 14
months prior to her murder. At the time of the robbery, Dowling was
a General Manager for a restaurant company. To attend training he
had driven past the scene of the robbery 45 minutes before it occurred, and
again 15 minutes after it occurred. Myers said the assailant wore a
dark cap and aviator style sunglasses. Myers also said the assailant
was left-handed and had a military or police demeanor. The assailant
told her that he had just gotten out of prison and did not want to go back.
Dowling is right-handed, had no military or police training, had no prior
convictions, had never been imprisoned, and did not own any clothing that
matched the assailant's. He was also 10 years younger, 5 inches
taller, and 20 pounds heavier than Myers' description of her assailant.
However, he did have a pair of aviator style sunglasses at his home.
Denny Ross was tried in Akron for the murder of 18-year-old Hannah Hill.
Hill appeared to have been raped before she was severely beaten and then
strangled. Her body was found stuffed in the trunk of her Geo Prizm
six days after her death.
At jury trial deliberations, in Oct. 2000, a juror stated that an alternative suspect,
Brad O'Born, had
passed a lie detector test, and that therefore Ross had to be guilty.
He subsequently changed his position on Ross's guilt to agree with the group because
he had a problem at home and needed to finish his jury service that day.
The judge considered the evidence of the juror's misconduct and consulted
with the prosecution and the defense. The prosecution agreed to a
mistrial but the defense opposed it unless it was declared with prejudice,
which the judge refused to do. Knowing that the jury was likely to
acquit, the judge then declared a mistrial without prejudice. However, by the time of his ruling the jurors
had filled out verdict forms acquitting Ross of the three most serious
charges he was facing, including murder. A new judge then barred a
retrial on double jeopardy grounds. That decision was subsequently reversed
in late 2002 by a state appellate court. In 2005, a federal judge
reinstated the decision barring a retrial. However, in 2008, a federal
appeals court reversed his decision. Ross's attorneys plan to appeal to
the U.S. Supreme Court. The case
was featured on an American Justice episode entitled, Who Killed Hannah
Juniata County, PA
June 26, 1977
Emerson McCauley was convicted in 1989 of the 1977 murder of 21-year-old Devera
Frink. Frink had left her waitressing job at the Nittany Mall at 10
p.m. on June 25, 1977. She was then seen hitchhiking, a few miles
away, in State College at 11 p.m. She was last seen alive about 15
minutes later in Boalsburg, a short distance from her apartment. Some
time later, at 1:30 a.m., a motorist found her body more than 50 miles away
under the twin-span bridges of U.S. Route 322 at the Thompsontown exit.
She had been beaten, raped, and choked, but had been alive when she was thrown
off one the bridges. The bridge she was thrown off was 44 feet above where her body was found.
Glen (aka Glenn) Edward Chapman was sentenced to death for the murders of
Betty Jean Ramseur, 31, and Tenene Yvette Conley, 28. The bodies of
both victims were found in abandoned houses within two blocks of each other
in southeast Hickory.
DNA tests showed that Conley, a prostitute, had had sex with Chapman within
days of her death. A report by a forensic scientist later
showed that Conley likely died of a drug overdose, rather than by foul play.
Three witnesses told jurors Chapman confessed to killing or talked about
killing Ramseur. But two of those witnesses have since recanted, saying they
lied because they were afraid of police and prosecutors. The third witness
said she believes Chapman was joking when he told her he had killed Ramseur.
"If anyone asked me at trial, I would have testified that police pressured
me into testifying and that I did not believe Edward killed anyone."
In Nov. 2007, a judge overturned Chapman's convictions. The judge found
that: (1) The lead investigator, Detective Dennis Rhoney, withheld
information that a key witness in the Ramseur murder identified someone
other than Chapman. (2) Rhoney did not reveal that a jail inmate was
overheard admitting that he killed Ramseur. (3) Detectives never
reported that witnesses said Conley was seen alive with someone who had a
history of violence against her in the days after prosecutors said she died.
(4) Rhoney lied during his trial testimony against Chapman. (5)
Chapman was inadequately defended by his court-appointed attorneys.
Chapman's appeals attorneys had argued that his trial attorneys, Thomas
Portwood and Robert Adams, failed to interview several critical witnesses
and were "excessive users of alcohol."
also featured juror misconduct. According to affidavits signed by two
jurors, the jury discussed whether Chapman killed a 13-year-old Shelby girl
whose body was found the same summer as Ramseur's and Conley's.
Chapman was never charged in the girl's slaying, nor was that slaying
discussed in the trial. Also, one juror, Irene Freeman, slept through
essential testimony until the judge ordered her to wake up. In
April 2008 the state dropped charges against Chapman and he was released.
(DW) (News & Observer) (Google)
John & Coke Brite
Aug 30, 1936 (Horse Creek)
John and Coke Brite, brothers,
were convicted of the murders of deputy sheriffs Martin Lange and Joseph
Clarke, as well as the murder of Captain Fred Seaborn, a U.S. Navy officer.
The Brites, who were gold prospectors, returned to a cabin on their rented
land, where their parents stayed, and then headed out again. At nightfall
they set up camp on the land of a neighbor, B. F. Decker, and went to bed.
Two intruders then entered their camp, another neighbor, Charley Baker, and
his friend, Fred Seaborn. At trial, Baker alleged they were looking for a
strayed horse that Baker owned. It was later learned that Baker had been
using the cabin on the Brites' property for rent-free storage and had motive
to drive the Brites from their land. Baker and Seaborn picked a fight with
the Brites, which proved to be a mistake as the Brites made quick work of
them. Baker then went to a judge and talked him into issuing warrants
charging the Brites with assault.
Walsh was convicted of the second degree murder of Melvin Eugene "Chi Chi" Peters, an
African Canadian. The crown alleged that Walsh's motive in the killing
was racial animosity. They did not consider that he grew up in a
housing project surrounded by African Canadians. Walsh claimed that
Donald McMillan, David Walton, and Peters twice attempted to rob him of his
money and drugs. He testified that after their first attempt, he managed to
escape, and ran to some nearby CNR workers, begging them to call the
police, which they did. When he then tried to make his way to his car to
escape, the would-be robbers found him again. This time they forced
him into the front, middle seat of his car at gunpoint. Walsh struggled for possession of the gun,
it ended up in the hands of McMillan, where it discharged and killed Peters.
There was no evidence to corroborate Walsh's testimony. The crown had McMillan and Walton testify
to a different story.
Following Walsh's conviction, he spent the next twenty years in prison.
2003, Walsh wrote to the New Brunswick Provincial Archives and received the
complete crown file of his case. In it were reports that were completely
exculpatory of him and which supported his version of events: (1) Less
than an hour after the fatal shooting, a St. John police officer heard one
of the robbers, Walton, ask the other robber, McMillan, why he
shot Peters. (2) A local store owner stated that the shells used in the gun
were purchased one day before McMillan said they were purchased, when Walsh
was a thousand miles away from St. John. (3) Seven witnesses
signed statements attesting that Walsh ran
away from McMillan, Walton, and Peters after they had attempted to rob him
at gunpoint just prior to forcing him into the car. These witnesses
supported Walsh's claim that he asked people to call the police just
10 minutes before Peters was shot. In Mar. 2008, after a Federal
Justice and the NB Attorney General agreed that a miscarriage of justice had
occurred, the Court of Appeals quashed Walsh's conviction. (CBC) (Walsh
Buchanan County, VA
Mar 10, 1981 (Grundy)
Roger Coleman was convicted of the 1981 rape
and murder of his sister-in-law, Wanda McCoy. He was sentenced to death and
executed on May 20, 1992. Before this crime, Coleman was accused of
attempted rape in April 1977. He was convicted because the victim identified
him as the perpetrator despite his having a solid alibi provided by his high
school principal. In Jan. 1981, Coleman was suspected of masturbating in
front of two librarians at the public library, but maintained his innocence.
Charges against him were initially brought in connection with his later
murder charge, but apparently were only brought to prejudice the public
since they were later dropped.
convicted of rape and robbery in 1984. The victim was abducted by two
men from a shopping mall and later raped. One of the assailants called
the other "Dave." The assailants subsequently parked the victim's car
near a building at Newark Airport in which Shepard worked. The victim
identified Shepard as one of her assailants. DNA tests exonerated him in 1994.
(IP) (ABA) (CM) (CBJ)
July 17, 1978 (Yreka)
Patrick Eugene "Hooty" Croy was
sentenced to death for the murder of Bo Hittson, a Yreka police officer. A
weekend of partying led to an ill-fated shoot-out between police and a group
of Native Americans, including Croy. Croy was convicted of attempted
robbery, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, assault, and the
murder of the police officer.
California Supreme Court overturned most of Croy's convictions. The Court
found that the trial judge had read the wrong instructions to the jury,
allowing the jury to convict Croy of robbery even if he did not intend to
steal. Because the murder conviction was based on the theory that Croy had
intentionally committed a robbery that had caused the officer's death, the
murder conviction was reversed.
At retrial in
1990, Croy's defense presented evidence that Croy acted in self-defense
during the shoot-out, including evidence that Croy himself was shot twice
during the altercation, expert testimony regarding the antagonistic
relationship between law enforcement and local Native Americans at the time
of the crime, and that Officer Hittson had a blood alcohol level of .07 at
his time of death. Croy was acquitted of all charges for which he was tried,
based on self-defense. The trial court entered a finding that, if the
conspiracy and assault charges had been included in the retrial, Croy would
have been acquitted of them as well. Croy was resentenced on these charges
and was released on parole.
In 1997, Croy
violated parole and was given an indeterminate life sentence. In 2005,
Croy's original conspiracy and assault convictions were also overturned. The state
decided not to appeal and Croy was freed in Mar. 2005. He had served 19
years in prison, 7 of them on death row. (People
v. Croy) (Info)
McLean County, IL
Aug 25, 1993 (Normal)
Alan Beaman was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Lockmiller, an
ISU student. On Aug. 28, 1993, Lockmiller was found in her Normal apartment strangled by a
clock radio cord and stabbed in the chest with a pair of scissors. The
state established sexual jealousy as a possible motive for Beaman committing
the murder, but given the number of Lockmiller's boyfriends, the motive
appeared hardly unique to him. Beyond this possible motive, the state's
evidence was essentially non-existent. Even if the evidence, by
itself, were sufficient to convict, Beaman's alibi raises some measure of
doubt, as does the evidence against an alternative suspect.
court affirmed Beaman's conviction with one justice dissenting. The
dissenting justice found the evidence insufficient to prove guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt. In May 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned
Beaman's conviction, ruling that he should have been allowed to introduce
evidence of another viable suspect. The state had withheld much of
this evidence prior to trial. This suspect, identified as John Doe,
was a steroid using, physically abusive boyfriend of Lockmiller to whom she
owed money. The suspect had agreed to take a polygraph test but then
failed to take it because he would not follow the instructions of the
polygraphist. The Court also agreed that Beaman's lawyers never
properly investigated and presented evidence about his alibi. (State v. Beaman) (CWC) [6/08]
Suffolk County, MA
Guy Randolph was convicted of
sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl. The girl did not initially
recognize Randolph as her assailant. However, a few minutes later,
after talking to her aunt, she accused Randolph. During a grand jury
investigation, the girl described her assailant in ways that did not match
Randolph, including his clothing and height. There was also no
physical evidence connecting Randolph to the assault.
At his lawyer's
request, Randolph entered a Alford plea in which he did not have to admit
guilt in exchange for a time served sentence of 4 months plus 10 years of
probation. Randolph later failed to show up for an alcohol counseling
session, a condition of his probation. A judge then incarcerated him
for the remainder of the 10 years. Following Randolph's release, he
had to register as a sex offender. In 2008, after prosecutors said the
case against Randolph was so weak it should not have been pursued, a judge
exonerated Randolph of all charges and declared him innocent. (Boston
Cook County, IL
Nov 14, 1994
Cage was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. The
assault occurred on Nov. 14, 1994, in an alley in the rear basement
stairwell of a building in the 7000 block of South Wabash Avenue. The
victim gave a description of her assailant from which a computer-generated
composite sketch was made. After the sketch was publicized, police
received an anonymous tip that a man who worked at a certain meat packing
plant resembled the sketch. Cage worked at the plant, but had no
criminal record and did not closely resemble the sketch.
In 2004 Cage
filed a handwritten petition of habeas corpus in federal court. He asserted
he was innocent because the girl had contracted venereal diseases from her
assailant, and tests showed Cage did not have any venereal diseases. Cage's
petition was rejected. Nevertheless
he was arrested and identified by the victim in a live lineup. In
2008 DNA tests exonerated Cage of the crime. (CWC) (FJDB)
Cook County, IL
Jan 11, 1982 (South Side)
Alton Logan was convicted of murdering
Lloyd Wickliffe, a security guard, during the robbery of a McDonald's
restaurant at 11421 S. Halsted St. in Chicago. Another security guard,
Alvin Thompson, was wounded. The gunmen got no money, but stole the guards'
handguns. Police arrested Logan after a tip
and got three eyewitnesses to identify him. Logan, his mother, and brother
all would later testify that he was at home asleep when the murder occurred.
While investigating another man, Andrew Wilson, for the unrelated murders of
two policeman, police found the shotgun used in the McDonald's robbery.
Police never charged Wilson in the McDonald's robbery as there were only two
perpetrators in the robbery and they had already built a case against Logan
and a codefendant, Edgar Hope.
Hope later told
Wilson's attorneys, Dale Coventry and Jamie Kunz, that Logan had nothing to
do with the McDonald's shooting and that Wilson was the shooter. When
the attorneys asked their client if he was responsible for the McDonald's
shooting, Wilson said, "Yep, that was me." Wilson's attorneys thought
about speaking up to prevent Logan's conviction, but attorney-client
confidentiality prohibited them. Instead they signed an affidavit
regarding Wilson's confession and sealed it. Kunz said they prepared
the document “so that if we were ever able to speak up, no one could say we
were just making this up now.” They later obtained Wilson's permission
to reveal his confession following his death.
died in Nov. 2007, the attorneys came forward with Wilson's confession to the
crime. In April 2008, Logan's conviction was vacated and charges
against him were later dropped. Logan has served 26 years in prison.
(Chicago Tribune) (CWC) [5/08]
Duplin County, NC
Jones & Lamb
Levon "Bo" Jones and Larry Lamb
were convicted of the murder of Leamon Grady. Jones was sentenced to
death while Lamb was sentenced to life imprisonment. A federal judge
overturned Jones's conviction in 2006, declaring that the defense provided by
Jones's initial defense attorneys was so poor that they missed critical
evidence pointing to his innocence. The sole witness accusing Jones of the
murder, Lovely Lorden, later admitted in an affidavit that she "was
certain that Bo did not have anything to do with Mr. Grady's murder" and
that she did not know what happened the night Grady was murdered.
Jones's first trial lawyer never bothered to gather the many conflicting
statements of Lorden, let alone do the kind of investigation necessary in a
first degree murder case. It is possible Lorden would have admitted the
truth earlier had the case been investigated and had she been adequately
cross-examined. In May 2008, the prosecution dropped charges against
Jones, just days before his scheduled retrial. Jones was released the
codefendant, Larry Lamb, was also convicted due to the testimony of Lorden.
Lamb has always maintained his innocence and had turned down a plea offer of
a six-year sentence. Lamb plans to ask the newly formed North Carolina
Innocence Inquiry Commission to review his case. (ACLU) [5/08]
Dallas County, TX
Thomas Clifford McGowan Jr. was convicted of rape. The 19-year-old
victim picked his photo from a group of seven, some in color, others
black-and-white photocopies. When she tentatively picked McGowan's
picture, she said Detective Mike Corley, now the assistant chief, told her,
"I had to make a positive ID. I had to say yes or no."
McGowan was given two life sentences, one for rape, and the other for
burglary of the woman's apartment. In April
2008, after serving 23 years of imprisonment, DNA tests exonerated McGowan
and implicated another man, Kenneth Woodson.
Woodson, who admitted to the crime, could not be charged because the
five-year statute of limitations for the crime had expired. (Dallas Morning News) (FJDB) [5/08]
Macomb County, MI
Nov 11, 1996
Nathaniel Hatchett was sentenced to 25 to
40 years in prison for kidnapping and raping a 23-year-old Sterling Heights
woman. After accosting the victim in the parking lot of a Super Kmart
at 14 Mile and Van Dyke, a gunman forced her into her car, drove away, and
raped her. Hatchett was arrested three days later in the woman's 1990
Dodge Spirit. He admitted stealing the car and the victim identified
him as her assailant. Following a seven-hour interrogation in which
investigators promised Hatchett a deal, he confessed to the crime. DNA
tests, however, showed that the sperm left in the victim did not match him.
At Hatchett's bench trial, Judge George Steeh convicted him after ruling
that the lack of a DNA match could "hardly be found to represent a
reasonable doubt considering all of the evidence in the case."
after Prosecutor Eric Smith reinvestigated the case, apparently at the
request of the Innocence Project, he dismissed charges against Hatchett.
Hatchett walked free in April 2008. (Detroit Free Press) [5/08]
Los Angeles County, CA
Charles F. Persico
May 29, 1980
Persico was charged with the murder of Ann Pontrelli Smith, 41. Smith
was shot to death at the beauty shop that she owned in Highland Park.
LAPD detectives Neil Westbrook and Richard Crowe 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. Rather than face trial for murder, Persico pled guilty to
manslaughter. Persico served four years in prison and was paroled in
1984. A year after his got out of 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.
LAPD Officer William E. Leasure was later charged with conspiring with the
victim's husband, Arthur Gayle Smith, to murder her. In 1992, Persico
was awarded $4.8 million dollars in a lawsuit against detectives Westbrook
and Crowe. (Google)
Los Angeles County, CA
Aug 17, 1984
Titus Lee Brown, Jr. was convicted of the stabbing murder of Israel Guzman
Rangel. The murder occurred in a South-Central Los Angeles parking
lot. The chief prosecution witness was Ricardo Pimental Baldavinos.
Pimental testified that he saw Guzman being attacked by two men. Pimental
drew his unloaded gun and approached the assailants in an attempt to scare
them away. Presented with a series of photo lineups a few days later, he
identified Brown as the killer. However, Pimental's identification was weak:
The incident occurred at night; Pimental had never seen the assailant
before; he only saw the assailant briefly, though his estimates of time
varied from "a couple of seconds" to "five minutes"; he had been drinking
earlier in the evening; he could not recall whether the assailant had facial
hair; when first contacted by the police, Pimental denied any knowledge of
the incident; and Pimental failed to identify Brown's photo when presented
in a photo lineup at trial.
Clarence Von Williams was convicted of
raping at gunpoint a Bridge City woman and her teenage daughter. The
assailant wore a ski mask,
blindfolded his victims, and assaulted them in a dark room. Nevertheless the victims claimed to have caught
a glimpse of their assailant from underneath their blindfolds.
Following the assault, the adult victim's boyfriend convinced her that
assailant must be someone she knew because he took great steps to avoid
being seen by her. The victim called her friend Lois, who mentioned
that Von Williams, her boyfriend, had been out drinking till the wee hours
of the morning. The victim had met Von Williams just once, two weeks
before, at a two-hour dinner party. The victim then convinced herself
that Von Williams was her assailant. At trial, both the victim and her
children identified Von Williams as the assailant.
Two months after
Von Williams' conviction, another man, Jon Barry Simonis, known as the
"Ski-Mask Rapist," confessed to 77 crimes in 7 states, including the rapes
for which Von Williams was convicted. Simonis knew details about the
rapes that no one
outside the prosecutor's office knew. When shown a videotape of
Simonis's confession, the adult victim repeated, "no, no, no, no, no, no,"
refusing to admit that someone other than Von Williams had committed the
assaults. However, it seemed clear from the shocked expressions of her
teenage children that they recognized Simonis. After prosecutors saw
the videotape, they joined the defense in a Dec. 1981 motion to vacate Von Williams'
conviction and dismiss all charges. (Witness for the Defense) (Google)
Dallas County, TX
James Lee Woodard
Dec 29, 1980
James Lee Woodard was convicted of the
murder of Beverly Ann Jones, 21, a woman he had dated for 7 months.
Jones's stepfather said Woodard had come to their home in the early morning
of the day of her disappearance. Neighbors said they had heard the couple
fighting. Several days before Woodard's trial, authorities learned of
three other witnesses had seen Jones shortly before she died. The
witnesses, Ed Mosley, Theodore Blaylock and Eddie Woodard, told
investigators she had gotten into a car with several men at a 7-Eleven.
Mosley and Blaylock couldn't identify the men or their car. It was the last
time Jones was seen alive. This information was withheld from
Woodard's defense. Jones's body was found in the Trinity River bottoms
in south Dallas. She had been sexually assaulted.
In Dec. 2007,
DNA test results cleared Woodard. Jones's stepfather was re-interviewed
and recanted his trial testimony that Woodard had come to his house.
Woodard was set free in Apr. 2008, after serving 27 years in prison.
Woodard is the longest serving inmate in the United States to be
released as a result of DNA testing. (Google)
Dallas County, TX
Michael Anthony Woten
Apr 16, 1982 (Dallas)
Woten was convicted of the armed robbery of a Safeway supermarket at
Northwest Highway near Plano Road. The store was robbed of $5200.
Woten was sentenced to 55 years in prison. Five witnesses testified
that he was one of two men who had robbed that store and another grocery.
Woten, however, insisted he was hitchhiking from Dallas to St. Louis at the
time of the robbery. He said he had got a ride with a trucker he could
identify only as Don and as Kangaroo, the trucker's nickname on citizens'
band radio. An inmate Woten later met by chance, Russell Everett
Chamberlain, gave a statement that he committed the robbery with another
man. The Dallas Times Herald then launched a search for Kangaroo, and
found him. He turned out to be Don Fainter of Claycomo, MO. Fainter
told authorities that he did indeed give Woten a ride on the day of the
robbery. Gov. Clements pardoned Woten in Feb. 1990. Woten died
eight months later after his pickup truck went out of control and overturned
on a highway embankment. (NY
Dallas County, TX
Sept 20, 1979 (Garland)
Stephen Lynn Russell was convicted in 1980 of robbing a Long John Silvers
restaurant at 1425 Northwest Highway in Garland. Two women who rode in
the getaway car told prosecutors that another man, Robert Earl Wilkie, was
the robber. Wilkie later confessed in a court hearing. Wilkie could
not be charged with the crime as the five year statute of limitations had
since expired. Gov. Clements pardoned Russell in April 1990. (Google)
Dallas County, TX
Kimsey was convicted of the stun gun robbery of a Wells Fargo security guard
in front of a Garland Safeway store. Gov. Clements pardoned Kimsey in
May 1990 after a federal prisoner, James Clayton Garrett, confessed to the
William Marvin Lindley
1943 (Yuba City)
William Marvin Lindley was
sentenced to death for the murder of Jackie Marie Hamilton, a 13-year-old
girl. On the day of the crime, the victim had been swimming in the Yuba
River with other girls around her own age. Lindley, a redhead, operated a
boathouse on the banks of the river. After finishing her swimming, the
victim went to her house, changed her clothes, spoke to her father, and went
out again. She was found 20 minutes to a half-hour later in a dying
condition. She was able to sob out to her father that her assailant was
“that old red-headed liar in the boathouse, the old-red-headed liar.” She
later died without clarifying her statement.
L. C. "Cooper" Johnson and Bennie
Young were convicted of the murders of W. H. Barker, his wife, Loula Barker, and
a boy named Homer Turk, aged about 13. The murders occurred at the
Barker home on Corsicana Rd., seven miles southeast of Waco. Turk had gone over to the
Barkers to play dominoes. Dominoes were found on the table drawn and
separated into hands, as though the parties had been engaged in playing the
game. The body of Mr. Barker was found in the back yard near a woodpile,
shot through the head. The body of Mrs. Barker was found in the house, and
her head was cut to pieces by blows from an axe; Turk was also killed by
blows inflicted with an axe.
Young, who were described as "boys," were arrested for these murders and confessed to them while in police
custody. In Mar. 1923, another man, Roy Mitchell, was convicted of
murdering five people in five different proceedings, all in the same month.
In a sixth proceeding, Mitchell was convicted of murdering Loula Barker.
The convictions were due, at least in part, to coerced confessions.
The authorities expressed pride that they helped prevent a lynching.
Johnson died in prison a few days before Mitchell's hanging. In 1934
the Texas governor pardoned Young after being informed by the trial judge
and the prosecuting attorney that they did not believe Young was guilty.
Harris County, TX
Anthony Robinson, a black man, was
convicted of raping a white University of Houston student. He was picked up
because the victim said her assailant was a black man wearing a plaid shirt.
The victim, who was white, also said her assailant had a mustache, smelled
of cigarette smoke, had no money, and that he apologized to her, saying he
had just gotten out of prison and had not had sex in a long time. Robinson
had no mustache, did not smoke, had $169 on him, and had never been to
prison. The victim identified Robinson as her assailant when he was brought
to her and at trial. Robinson's fingerprints did not match those taken from
the crime scene
paroled after serving 10 years of his 27-year sentence. He then worked to
pay for his own DNA testing and hired a lawyer who had him officially
exonerated. Because he was a well thought of college graduate who served two
years in the Army, a state senator employed Robinson as the “poster child”
for a proposed Texas law to increase the compensation for the wrongly
convicted to $25,000 per year of incarceration. The law passed and Robinson
was awarded $250,000 under it. (IP) (Frontline)
Sept 16, 1998 (Springfield)
Armand Villasana was
convicted of the kidnapping and rape of Judith Ann Lummis. Lummis, who was white, had
described her assailant as a Hispanic in his early 20's. She identified Villasana from a photo
lineup that contained five white men and himself, the only Hispanic.
However, Villasana was 45 years old. Following conviction, DNA
tests produced the profile of an unknown male, results which exonerated
Villasana in 2000.
In 2005, the
unknown DNA profile was matched to a prisoner in the Ozark Correctional
Center. When interviewed the prisoner said that he was having an
affair with Lummis at the time of her alleged rape, and had sex with her the
very night she reported the rape. According to the prisoner, after
Lummis's husband questioned why she was late getting home, she made-up her
kidnapping and rape story on the spur of the moment so her husband wouldn't
find out she was cheating on him.
were initially unsuccessful at locating Lummis to confirm the story as she
was on probation and had skipped reporting. However, a background
check revealed that Lummis had made a nearly identical kidnapping report in
Aurora, Missouri against another man that was proven to be false prior to
his trial. After Lummis was arrested for violating her probation, she
confirmed in 2007 that her accusation against Villasana was a hoax.
Lummis cannot be prosecuted for perjury as the statute of limitations for it
had run out. (JD38
Joyce Ann Brown
May 6, 1980
sentenced to life in prison for the robbery and murder of Rubin Danziger, a Dallas fur-store
owner. The crime occurred in Danziger's store, Fine Furs By Rubin, in
Preston Center on Northwest Highway. After the getaway car used by the
two female robbers was discovered, police found a car rental agreement in it
signed by a Joyce Ann Brown. However, the car had been rented to a
different Joyce Ann Brown. Police and prosecutors discovered the
error before trial, but proceeded with the prosecution anyway. The
victim's wife, Ala, had identified Rene Michelle Taylor, as the robber who
shot her husband, and Brown as her accomplice. Taylor later revealed
that another woman, Lorraine Germany, was her accomplice. Germany
reportedly has a startling resemblance to Brown. Investigation also
showed that a jailhouse witness, Martha Jean Bruce,
had lied to convict Brown. Brown was featured on a 60 Minutes
episode and was freed
in Nov. 1989. (CM) (CWC) (Google)
Marshall & Spurlock
Feb 20, 1989
Marshall and Robert Spurlock were convicted of the murder of Lonnie Malone.
Malone's body was found on Feb. 21, 1989 in a concrete culvert on Bug Hollow
Road. He had died of multiple stab wounds. The state's theory
was that Marshall and Malone sold drugs for Spurlock. When Malone failed to pay
for the drugs that Spurlock furnished him, Spurlock decided to kill him. According to the state,
Marshall aided and abetted Spurlock in killing Malone. Marshall
supposedly found Malone, delivered him to Spurlock, and was present when
Spurlock killed Malone. In 1996, Marshall's and Spurlock's
convictions were vacated after the real killer confessed. (Tennessee
v. Marshall) [5/08]
San Francisco County,
John Henry Fry
Aug 3, 1958
Fry was accused of murdering his common law wife, Elvira Hay, 47. Hay
was found strangled to death in a hotel room bathtub at 493 Fourth Street in
San Francisco. The prosecution developed a strong circumstantial case
against him. Although Fry maintained his innocence, he pled
guilty to voluntary manslaughter for which he received a 1 to 10 year prison
sentence. Fry feared receiving a harsher sentence
if he were convicted of murder. Gov. Edmund Brown pardoned Fry in June 1959 after
a hotel cook named Richard Cooper confessed to the crime. The state legislature awarded Fry $3,000 for
7 months of wrongful imprisonment. (People
v. Cooper) (The Innocents)
Dauphin County, PA
Convicted 1961 (Harrisburg)
convicted of assaulting and robbing Herman M. Field at the café he owned on
Verbeke Street in Harrisburg. Comer was identified by two eyewitnesses
as one of Field's assailants. After four months in prison, a codefendant admitted
that Comer was not his accomplice, and he named his true accomplice. Comer's conviction was vacated and the charges were dismissed.
Times) (DHDB) [5/08]
Philadelphia County, PA
Mar 4, 1926 (Center City)
convicted of murdering a companion, Wilbert McQueen, during a 1926 gunfight
with two Philadelphia police officers. The gunfight occurred on 10th
Street north of Lombard St. Harris was exonerated and
released in 1947 after it was revealed that McQueen was killed by a bullet fired from
a police revolver. (Chester Times
v. Burke) [5/08]
Santiago Ventura Morales
July 13, 1986
Santiago Ventura Morales was
convicted of murdering Ramiro Lopez Fidel, a fellow farm worker. Fidel
had been stabbed twice in the chest and left to die in a strawberry field
near Sandy. The conviction was due to the prosecution's use of
fabricated evidence, including the use of a fake murder weapon. Only one
witness, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, testified that Morales was the
killer. The witness, Epifanio Bautista Lopez, initially testified that he
saw nothing, but changed his testimony after he was taken into the district
attorney's office during a recess. Under cross-examination, Lopez said
that he was afraid of what might happen to him if he did not testify the way
the prosecutor wanted him to testify.
after the trial, four jurors, Patricia Lee, Glorya Oppitz, David Ralls, and
Sherien Jaeger, told the defense co-counsel, Lane Borg, that they had
changed their minds about their jury votes and asked if they could do
anything about it. They were told that a verdict cannot be thrown out
simply because jurors change their minds. Three of these jurors formed
a support group for Morales. They visited him in jail, sent him money,
and wrote letters to the parole board asking for his release.
was hampered because Morales, a Mexican immigrant, did not speak English or
Spanish, but spoke Mixtec, an indigenous language. The judge assigned
him a Spanish interpreter. The interpreter tried to tell the judge
that he could not communicate with Morales, but the judge refused to accept
the idea that a Mexican defendant could not speak Spanish. Portland
Oregonian newspaper columnist Phil Stanford wrote many columns outlining
Morales's innocence. The Oregon Attorney General opposed Morales's
petition for relief on the grounds that his innocence was not a legal basis
to overturn his conviction and release him. Four years after Morales's
conviction, his lawyer established that another farm worker, Herminio Luna
Hernandez, was the actual killer and Morales was released. (NY
Oct 17, 1972 (Tulsa)
James Scott Bauhaus was
convicting of the murder of Jefferson Dee Hunt. According to the
state, the victim and his wife returned home and found Bauhaus in the
process of burglarizing their home. Bauhaus then shot and killed the victim.
The victim's wife positively identified Bauhaus. In addition, a bystander
outside the home identified Bauhaus as the individual running away from the
direction of the victim's home shortly after the crime.
that the testimony of the two eyewitnesses was procured by police
misconduct, and that blood and fingerprint evidence retrieved from the crime
scene could reveal the real killer if it was analyzed by modern forensic
technology. The state has refused to test this evidence and the courts have
refused to order such testing. A police sketch of the perpetrator does
not match Bauhaus.
Bruce Dallas Goodman
Goodman was convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Sherry Ann Fales
Williams. Williams, 21, was found sodomized, beaten to death and bound
near an I-15 exit north of Beaver. At his trial in 1984, two separate
witnesses testified for Goodman, saying he was with them in California the
night the murder happened. DNA tests later exonerated Goodman of the
crime. Goodman was released in Nov. 2004 after he served 19 years of
Mar 4, 1992
Beverly Anne Monroe was convicted of the murder of Roger Zygmunt Comte de la
Burdé, her wealthy lover. De la Burdé, 60, died at Windsor on his
220-acre estate. His body was found on a couch in his library with a
bullet in his head from his own revolver. Monroe had been his
companion for 12 years. In 2002, a federal judge overturned Monroe's
conviction due to the withholding of exculpatory evidence by the
prosecution. The judge also ruled that "The physical evidence
necessary to show whether [de la Burdé's] death was a murder or a suicide
was . . . either tainted or lost."
Monroe was subsequently released from prison. (TruthInJustice)
Providence County, RI
Feb 19, 1982 (Woonsocket)
Raymond D. "Beaver" Tempest, Jr. was convicted of the murder of Doreen
Picard. The murder occurred at 409 Providence Street in Woonsocket,
Rhode Island. Picard was a third floor resident of this address and
her brutally murdered body was found in the basement. A first floor
resident, Susan Laferte, was also found in the basement. She had also
been severely beaten, but had survived. Evidence seemed to indicate
that Laferte was the intended target of the attack which was interrupted by
Picard. Both victims had been beaten
by a 28-inch length of galvanized pipe.
year-old daughter, Nichole, had apparently witnessed the assaults. At
various times when Nichole was at social gatherings that included a man named
Donald Dagesse, Nichole made statements to the effect that Dagesse was the
man who "boomed" her "mama" or asked him if he was that bad man who "boomed
mama." Dagesse also made incriminating statements to different people.
Dagesse had an alibi, but there were eight different inconsistencies with
it. When asked in the hospital to identify her assailant, Laferte
repeatedly was able to write down the letters D, A, and a Y or a G. A
detective then recited several first names, but Laferte did not respond to
any of them. A nurse asked her if the assailant was Donald Dagesse and
Laferte nodded her head yes. She was asked two more times by the detective if
the name was Donald Dagesse and she nodded yes each time. Laferte
later had no memory of the assault or of being asked her assailant's name.
evidence against Dagesse, the investigation went nowhere from late 1983 to
1987. Beaver Tempest's brother, Gordon Tempest, was a Woonsocket
police officer and in 1987 he arrested Stanley Irza, the brother-in-law of
Captain Rodney Remblad, the chief of detectives. From Irza's arrest
apparently had it in for Beaver. Remblad would also use the case as a
stepping stone for his promotion to Woonsocket Chief of Police. In the
years that followed, the frame-up of Beaver Tempest
proceeded, with a complex tale of police convincing witnesses to lie,
police manipulation of the press, and police convincing more witnesses to lie when
the lies of previous witnesses were exposed. By 1992, Beaver Tempest
was arrested, tried, and convicted of the crime. He was
sentenced to 85 years in prison. His brother Gordon was convicted of
perjury for disagreeing at Beaver's trial with "facts" presented by false
Sept 3, 1971
convicted of murdering Ronald and Wanda Buck. The victims were killed
during a robbery in their home west of Sequim. Joseph Lalak, a friend
of Carothers, was caught with a pistol stolen from the victims
and with the murder weapon. Lalak implicated Carothers as the shooter
and made a deal to testify against him. Following Carothers' arrest,
police retrieved a sawed off shotgun and a rifle from his barn,
weapons that Lalak admitted owning. The prosecution claimed these
weapons were stolen from a gun shop by Carothers and Lalak. The
prosecution never attempted to prove this claim. The weapons sat before
Carothers' trial jury with no objections from defense attorneys.
nearly a dozen alibi witnesses testify that he was 125 miles away when the
Bucks were murdered. The judge informed the jury that the burden of
proof of the alibi was with Carothers even though that instruction had been
ruled unconstitutional in 1955. The judge also instructed the jury
that they could find him guilty of aiding and abetting and of being an
accomplice. However, Carothers was the only person indicted for the
murders, so it is not clear who Carothers could be aiding and abetting or
what he could be an accomplice to. The jury was even informed that Carothers did not need to be
at the scene of the murders to be found guilty. Carothers has
affidavits from several jurors indicating that the trial judge's illegal
instructions are what cinched their agreement to find Carothers guilty. (Justice: Denied)
Kanawha County, WV
1989 (Cross Lanes)
outside his father's house in Cross Lanes, WV, James E. Richardson, Jr. saw another house
on fire. He entered the burning house and carried 3-year-old Lindsay
Gilfilen to safety. Inside the house, police found the charred body of
Lindsay's mother, Kelli. She had been bound, raped, and beaten to
death. Richardson was arrested for the crime almost immediately.
At trial, Fred Zain, an analyst at the West Virginia State Police crime
laboratory, told the jury that Richardson's semen had been found on the
victim. Richardson was convicted. DNA tests later proved Zain wrong and Richardson's
conviction was vacated. The state did not retry Richardson and formally
dismissed all charges against him in 1999. (48
Feb 21, 1996 (Vanier)
Dimitre Dimitrov was convicted in 1999 of murdering his friend and landlord,
Hristo Veltchev, 37. Veltchev's body was found in a public parking
lot, stuffed in the trunk of his car. Evidence indicated that he had
been bludgeoned to death in the garage of his house. Dimitrov's
conviction was based on expert testimony that his feet matched
impressions found inside a pair of bloody boots at the victim's house.
The boots were found in a front hall closet in the house. The closet was used by
all the boarders of the house including Dimitrov. Apart from the
expert's testimony, there was no evidence Dimitrov owned or had worn the boots. A retrial was ordered in 2003 after a court
ruled that the
impression evidence was inadmissible to establish positive
identification unless it was accompanied by corroborating evidence. At retrial in 2004, DNA test results
were presented, which showed
that the blood on the boots belonged neither to the victim, nor to Dimitrov,
nor to anyone else known to have entered the house. Dimitrov was
acquitted. He had spent 4 1/2 years imprisoned. (JD30
Anthony Michael Green
May 29, 1988
convicted of raping a terminally ill nurse who was receiving treatments for
liver cancer. The crime occurred at the
Cleveland Clinic Center Hotel. The perpetrator had told the victim his
name was Tony. Green had worked at the hotel for a short time, but was
fired in March 1988 for getting into a fight with another employee.
Green's clinic ID badge was among a group of badges shown the victim.
The victim identified him at trial. The trial also featured faulty and
falsified forensics. DNA tests exonerated Green in 2001.
release, the Plain Dealer newspaper wrote an article series about Green's
ordeal. The real perpetrator, Rodney Rhines, who had become a
Christian and was living at the City Mission, happened to read the series.
He had not known that anyone had been convicted for his crime. After
reading the series, Rhines, feeling remorse, confessed to mission personnel that he had done
the crime and wanted to turn himself in. The Rev. Brent Reynolds
told him, "You won't be coming back out once you walk into that police
station." "Yes, I know," said Rhines. Rhines had once worked for
the Cleveland Clinic in the hotel kitchen. Even though the victim
identified Green, Green does not resemble Rhines. Rhines's skin and
eyes are darker and his face wider. Green was awarded $2.6 million in 2004 for 13 years of wrongful
Charles Munsey was
convicted of the murder of Shirley Weaver. Weaver, 66, was killed
during a robbery in her boyfriend's trailer near Wilkesboro. She had
been bludgeoned with a frying pan and a shotgun. Munsey was
convicted because of the testimony of Timothy Bryan Hall, a jailhouse informant.
Prior to trial, Munsey and his attorneys had seen Hall's name on a witness
list, but had no idea who he was. When Hall took the stand to testify,
Munsey turned to his counsel and said, "I've never seen the man before."
Hall testified that he talked to Munsey in late 1993 in the yard at Central
Prison. According to Hall, Munsey was wearing an orange jumpsuit and sitting on a picnic
table. Munsey told him he surprised Weaver in the house. She
slapped him and he crushed her skull with a rifle butt.
Hall said he had
no ulterior motive to testify against Munsey. "I found God a few years
ago, or a few months ago -- and I -- it's just the right thing to do. No
matter, no matter what happens to me, I still feel like in my heart I've
done the right thing." Munsey's lawyers poked some holes in Hall's
testimony; Central Prison had no orange jumpsuits or picnic tables.
However, they failed to win over the jury.
Munsey's ex-brother-in-law, Oid Michael Hawkins, confessed to the murder.
He also said he had taken a pistol from Weaver's home and placed it in
Munsey's home. In 1998, a judge
ordered Munsey's prosecutor, Randy Lyon, to turn over files he concealed
from Munsey. Six days later, after church services, Lyon went home and
hanged himself. His files showed that Hall had never been in Central
Prison. Despite the exonerating evidence, the new prosecutor, Tom
Horner, fought to
keep Munsey imprisoned. Munsey won a new trial but died in prison
before it could take place. (News & Observer)
Henry Lee Hunt
Sept 8, 1984
Henry Lee Hunt was
convicted of the murders of Jackie Ray Ransom and Larry Jones. Ransom
had married Dorothy Locklear while she was still married to Rogers
Locklear. Dorothy and Rogers then hired A. R. Barnes to kill Ransom so
Dorothy could collect on a $25,000 life insurance policy. The policy
paid a double indemnity for accidental death including homicide.
Barnes recruited his brother, Elwell Barnes to help in the murder.
Someone shot Ransom to death on Sept. 8, 1984 in the woods near a bar.
A week later, on Sept. 14, someone shot and killed a man named Larry Jones,
apparently because Jones was telling police what he knew about the Ransom
murder. Jones was implicating Rogers Locklear in the murder, but made
no mention of Hunt. Jones was buried in a shallow grave.
A. R. Barnes
confessed to the crimes. Subsequently, he recanted and blamed Hunt, who had a
criminal record and was in prison for a drug offense. Other witnesses also
pointed to Hunt, although their initial statements conflicted with each
other. According to two reconstruction experts, witness Jerome
Ratley's account of Jones's murder could not have happened the way that
Ratley told the jury at Hunt's trial. Prosecutors introduced a shovel into
evidence that they said Hunt used to bury Jones, but they did not tell the
jury that the soil on the shovel did not match the soil in which Jones had
consistently maintained his innocence and passed two lie detector tests
regarding the murders. While such tests do not prove Hunt's innocence, they
raise doubt about his guilt. Elwell Barnes signed an 1989 affidavit in
which he wrote that Hunt "has been convicted for a crime that A. R. Barnes,
Jerome Ratley, Roger Locklear and myself committed." The prosecution withheld evidence
and then "lost" field notes and other files that would have undermined the state's case.
In 2003, the state was refusing to allow lawyers to see the evidence that
was executed by lethal injection on Sept. 13, 2003. (Charlotte
News & Record) [5/08]
Gus Colin Langley
Sept 27, 1932 (Asheville)
Gus Colin Langley was
convicted of murdering Lonnie G. Russell during an Asheville gas station holdup.
Witnesses reported that the day before the murder they had seen a car with a
New Jersey license plate at the gas station. Five days later police
located a car with a New Jersey plate in Wilmington, NC, 320 miles away.
It was driven by Langley, who, although a native of Wilmington, had worked
as a house painter in Jersey City, NJ. Police could not locate any
other car with a New Jersey plate in the whole of North Carolina on the day
of the murder.
Aside from his
license plate, there was
no physical evidence against Langley. The prosecution's case relied on
informant testimony. Langley had alibi witnesses who could verify that
his car could not have been in Asheville the day before the murder, and
other witnesses who could verify that he was far from Asheville on the day
of the murder. Langley wrote letters to these witnesses, but the
letters went unanswered. Later investigation revealed that the
witnesses never received his letters. It seems doubtful that his
jailers ever mailed them. Langley's execution was stopped 25 minutes before its
scheduled time because of a technicality in the judge's order. Langley was
cleared in 1936 after it was proven that he was 400 miles away from the
location of the murder on the day it occurred. (ISI) [5/08]
Apr 10, 1985
convicted of the murder of Rudolph Marasco, 70. Marasco was killed
while leaving an Ozone Park bingo hall. Charles Rivera, a hit man,
confessed to the crime in 1989 when he entered the federal witness
protection plan. Rivera said he killed Marasco because the Richmond
Hill man would not move from a building that its owner wanted to sell.
The information about Rivera was turned over to Martinez's attorney, Jenny
Maiola, in 1991 but she never filed an appeal. Maiola was disbarred in
1995 after being indicted for stealing $300,000 from client escrow accounts.
Martinez was eventually exonerated in 2002. (Google) [4/08]
Paul Ford, Jr.
Feb 1994 (West Mifflin)
Paul Ford, Jr. was convicted of
murdering Maurice Price. Price, 25, was shot to death outside a Monview Heights
tenement in West Mifflin. The 410 lb. Price had gone there with $250 to buy
a quarter ounce of cocaine. Price could not find his regular dealer so he
asked people milling around if anyone else could make the sale.
descriptions of the assailant do not match Ford and the only evidence
against him is testimony from three admitted liars. Seven people, including
two jail guards, say that Joey Jones told them that he was the killer. Two
others gave descriptions of the killer that match Jones. However, on the
witness stand Jones fingered Ford. Nikela Carrington, a crack addict, told
police she watched Ford rob and kill Price. When asked where she was at the
time of the shooting, Carrington wavered, but eventually settled on saying
she was in her apartment. However, from her apartment a neighboring building
would have blocked her view. Nicole Bennett, a friend of Carrington's and a
fellow drug user, denied seeing the shooting for six days, then told police
she saw Ford pull the trigger. She later admitted conspiring with Carrington
to extort money from Ford by threatening to say that he did it.
street-level drug dealer, admitted being at the scene of the killing with
some associates but denied involvement in it. He believes he was targeted
because eight years previously his father had shot the lead investigator,
Detective Gary Tallent. Ford's attorney, Robert Garshak, did not call a
number of relevant witnesses at trial because he said the prosecution's case was so
weak that he did not need them. (JD31
p3) (PPU) [4/08]
Kings County, NY
July 1, 1999
convicted on federal charges of murdering Thomas Palazzotto.
Palazzotto was shot and killed on the corner of Columbia and Kane Streets in
the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Prosecutors argued DeAngelo
committed the murder to gain entrance into a racketeering enterprise. The conviction was later vacated
because a judge said he feared an innocent man had been convicted on
"patently incredible testimony." The judge said that prosecutors had
relied on "blatant, critical perjury by all of the key
witnesses." Charges against DeAngelo were dropped and he was
released in 2004. (NY
June 27, 1990
convicted of the murder of Felix Ayala. Ayala was shot to death in
front of 1520 Sheridan Avenue shortly after 1:00 a.m. on the morning of June
27, 1990. An earlier trial, conducted in 1991, ended in a mistrial
when the jurors were unable to agree on a verdict. A
witness, Frances Nunez Rosario, identified Lantigua as the shooter after
claiming she had been alone looking out her apartment window. Later she recanted saying she had been
preoccupied with a man in her apartment. The prosecutor refused to charge
Rosario with perjury, calling her false testimony an "honest mistake."
Lantigua was released in 1996 and awarded $1.3 million in 2004-05 for 6
years of wrongful imprisonment. (NY
Times) (Justice: Denied)
St. Clair County,
Aug 23, 1924 (Freeburg)
convicted of robbing the First National Bank in Freeburg, IL. Two female
bank employees identified him as one of the six men who robbed the bank.
Along with Flood, two of the actual robbers were convicted. Following
their conviction, the two confessed their part in the robbery, but stated
that Flood was not involved and that they did not even know him. Two
more of the actual robbers were then caught. They confessed and named
the remaining two men involved, neither of whom were Flood. The bank
employees who identified Flood admitted they could be mistaken, and a pardon
application was made for him. However, the Bankers Association
opposed the pardon until every one of the six robbers were caught and
convicted. Eventually this demand was met. Illinois Governor
Small pardoned Flood in Jan. 1926. (CTI) [4/08]
Fulton County, GA
Feb 22, 1900
(Federal Case) After receiving a letter he
considered obscene, the City Solicitor of Atlanta, Nash R. Broyles, turned
it over to Federal Authorities. The letter reflected pointedly on Broyles'
moral character. It was signed Grant Jackson, so a man named Grant Jackson
was arrested as well as William Broughton who was considered by authorities
to be a close friend of Jackson and of necessity involved in whatever
mischief Jackson might be involved. Broyles had sent both Jackson and
Broughton to jail at various times for a variety of misdemeanors. Both
Jackson and Broughton denied writing the letter or having any knowledge of
convicted of one count of murder after allegedly committing a double
homicide. On Mar. 12, 1966, Savin' Sam's, a mom-and-pop truck stop
between the towns of Fernley and Lovelock, was robbed. The operators,
Dean Briggs and his mother, Eva Briggs, were both fatally shot. After
being arrested for an outstanding traffic citation in his home state of
Indiana, Guyette, 20, was questioned about the double homicide in Nevada.
He admitted being in the area with his 17-year-old wife on a drive back from
California. His wife's stepfather had called Nevada authorities and
told them the two had been in the area. However, neither had been to
the location of the murders.
On the basis of
these statements, Guyette and his wife, Mary Lou, were extradited to Nevada.
The authorities made Mary Lou write letters to her husband, telling him to
confess so she could get out of jail. Guyette was denied legal
counsel. Eventually, Guyette did confess so Mary Lou could find
witnesses and help. Mary Lou did find witnesses and help, but Guyette
was convicted of murdering Dean Briggs. Witnesses placed Guyette and
his wife 197 miles away at the time of the murders. Guyette was released in
1972, officially on the technicality of being denied legal counsel. As
of 2008, Guyette is still fighting for official exoneration. (www.haroldguyette.com) (Google) [10/05]
Lawrence County, MO
Johnny Lee Wilson
Apr 13, 1986 (Aurora)
convicted of the murder of 79-year-old Pauline Martz. Martz had been
beaten up, tied, and then burned after her home was set on fire.
Wilson, a mentally retarded man, had confessed to the crime after a police
interrogation. In 1988, another man, Chris Brownfield, gave a
confession to the crime which provided details that corroborated his
involvement. Wilson was pardoned and released in 1995. (U.S.
Aug 13, 1976
Vincent James Landano was
convicted of the murder of Police Officer John Snow. On Aug. 13, 1976,
two gunmen robbed the Hi-Way Check Cashing Service in Kearny. One went
inside, while the other waited in a getaway car. As the robbery was in
progress, John Snow, a Newark police officer, arrived in his patrol car with
an attaché case containing $46,000 to be delivered to the business.
Before Snow could get out of his car, the outside gunman walked up to the
patrol car and shot Snow at point-blank range. The gunman then took
the attaché case and got into his car, while the the other gunman left the
check-cashing service with a cash drawer containing about $6,000. This
gunman put the drawer on the roof of the car and jumped into the back seat.
The car sped away leaving $6,000 fluttering in the air behind it.
A man arrested
for the crime, Allen Rollo, admitted being the inside gunman, and identified
Landano as his partner, the one who shot Snow. Centurion
Ministries discovered a hidden police report in which the only eyewitness to
the murder identified another man as the shooter. When the case was
retried, the jury deliberated for less than an hour and acquitted Landano in
1989. Jurors later celebrated with him at a victory party. (NY
Times) (CM) [4/08]
Aug 7, 1985
Eric Darnell Clemmons was
convicted of the murder of Henry Johnson, a fellow prisoner at the Missouri
State Penitentiary. Clemmons had been cellmates with Johnson, but was
moved to a different cell on July 1, 1985 after he accused Johnson of making
sexual advances towards him. There was no reported trouble between the
two following the move. This move occurred more than a month prior to
Johnson's murder. Prison guard Thomas Steigerwald testified that as he
was walking towards a group of inmates, he saw an inmate strike Johnson.
Johnson then ran past Steigerwald, at which point, Steigerwald realized that
Johnson had been stabbed. Steigerwald then pursued the inmate who
struck Johnson. This inmate turned out to be Clemmons.
Clemmons, Steigerwald did not witness the stabbing, but had merely seen
Johnson running into him after he had been stabbed by inmate Fred Bagby.
Several other inmates testified that Bagby had stabbed Johnson.
Following Johnson's stabbing, Bagby
himself was stabbed three months later and died
prior to trial. The State argued that the testimony of Clemmons'
witnesses should be discounted because it was easy for them to try to help
Clemmons by blaming someone who could not defend himself. Handling his own appeal, Clemmons discovered an internal DOC
memorandum that had been withheld from his defense in violation of Brady v.
Maryland. The memo related that minutes after Johnson's stabbing, an
inmate named Dwight Clark had told a guard captain that two men had
performed the stabbing. Clark thought one inmate was Fred Bagby, but
the other inmate he only knew by sight. On retrial in 2000, Clemmons was
acquitted. (Google) [4/08]
Mar 2001 (East Boston)
convicted of the decapitation murder of his brother, Jackie Leyden.
Billy went to Jackie's apartment on March 12, 2001, but his brother was not
around. A week later, on March 19, he went again, smelled a horrid
stench, and found Jackie's decapitated body under a bed. The body had
been decomposing for at least a week. Police fixated on
alleged inconsistencies in Billy's story and on fights Billy had with his
brother. They also found a piece of "fatty tissue" with Jackie's DNA
in Billy's car trunk. The DNA could be explained as Jackie often rode
in Billy's car, sometimes putting bags and dirty laundry in the trunk.
Billy was exonerated three years later, after a serial killer, Eugene
McCollom, confessed to
the murder and led police to a skull that was found in
a park near Ft. Lauderdale, FL. DNA tests confirmed the skull was
Jackie's. McCollum had known Jackie from
Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, but his motive for killing him is unclear. (Sun-Sentinel)
Aug 19, 1988
convicted of the shooting murder of 12-year-old Darlene Tiffany Moore.
Moore was caught in the crossfire of gang violence at the intersection of
Humboldt Avenue and Homestead Street in Roxbury. Drumgold was freed in
2003 after several prosecution witnesses told The Boston Globe
newspaper they'd been bullied by police into providing false testimony. The prosecutor, David E.
Meier, said the state would not apologize to Drumgold for his 14 years of
wrongful imprisonment. (TruthInJustice)
Sept 28, 1983 (Dorchester)
convicted of the armed robbery and felony murder of 32-year-old Colleen
Maxwell. Maxwell, a social worker, had been escorting Charles Bartick,
a retarded man with Down's syndrome, from a group home to the Ashmont MBTA
station. Near the Ashmont station, three men robbed Maxwell of her
purse. Maxwell then pursued the purse snatchers, but one of them shot
her a few blocks away. Santos was convicted because of Bartick's
extra-judicial identification of him as one of the purse snatchers.
His conviction was overturned in 1988 because of this identification
and because the trial judge refused to order a
competency evaluation of Bartick. On retrial, Santos was
Feb 4, 1980
Christian Amado was
convicted of the shooting murder of 28-year-old George Sneed. The
conviction was due to testimony that an eyewitness, Frederick
Johnson, had selected a photo of Amado, had identified the assailant as
"Bugsy," and had associated the name "Bugsy" with Amado.
When called to testify, Johnson readily answered a series of question on the
sequence of events leading up to the murder. However, his testimony
became evasive and confusing when asked about his previous identification of
Amado. The prosecutor had to repeatedly refresh Johnson's
"recollection of events," by showing him what purported to be a transcript
of statements he had given to police. Johnson appeared to deny
identifying Amado and claimed that he had selected Amado's picture because
it "looked familiar." The prosecutor never asked Johnson if Amado was
the killer. On cross-examination by defense counsel, Johnson denied that Amado
was the killer or was present at the scene of the killing. Three
detectives were called as witnesses and testified to Johnson's previous
identification of Amado.
According to Amado's attorney, "The eyewitness in the
case identified a photo that looked like Amado, but when he came into court
and saw my client he said he knew Amado wasn't the killer." In 1982, an appeals court ruled that the trial court
erred in presenting contrary testimony to prove identification. It
reversed Amado's conviction and directed a verdict of acquittal. (BUSL) (Com
Ella Mae Ellison
Nov 30, 1973
convicted of murder and armed robbery in 1974. The crime involved the
robbery of Suffolk Jewelers, a pawnshop on Washington St. in Roxbury.
During the robbery, Detective John Schroeder, an off-duty police officer,
entered the store and attempted to thwart the robbers. He was shot and
killed. The 1997 Boston Police Headquarters is on "One Schroeder
Plaza," named in honor of Schroeder and his brother Walter, also an officer,
who was killed responding to a bank alarm in 1970. In 1976, two key
witnesses recanted their testimony against Ellison and claimed she was innocent.
In 1978, an appeals court vacated her convictions because the prosecutor
withheld evidence that could have exonerated her. Ellison was
released in 1978. (BUSL)
June 6, 2004 (Wilmington)
Fox was charged with the murder of his 3-year-old daughter, Riley. Fox
had confessed to the crime after a grueling
interrogation that lasted more than 14 hours. Riley had fallen asleep
on the living room couch, but was missing from her house the next morning.
The front door was open. She may have opened it herself and gone
outside. There were no signs of forced entry. Riley was found
later that day, drowned in a creek four miles from her home. She had
been sexually assaulted. Her arms and mouth were bound with duct tape. Fox was released after
spending 8 months in jail. DNA tests failed to link him to the crime.
Fox and his wife were awarded $15.5 million from Will County in Dec. 2007.
The County plans to appeal the award. (Chicago
June 25, 1987 (Moon Lake)
sentenced to death for the murder of Rama Sharma. Sharma, 55, owned
the Moon Lake General Store and was found dead behind the store.
Following the murder, police received a tip that a car was seen driving
suspiciously around the crime scene vicinity in the early morning hours of
June 25, 1987, prior to the finding of the victim's body. The
description of the car, including a partial license plate number, seemed to
match that of a car driven by David Lowry. Lowry deflected the
investigation away from himself by implicating Derrick, who was then his
friend. At trial, five Pasco County detectives swore under oath that
Derrick confessed to the crime. There was no written, audio, or video
record of this "confession" or any interrogation notes written by any of the
five detectives. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office had a reputation
for corruption. Just two years earlier, St. Petersburg Times reporter
Lucy Morgan won a Pulitzer Prize for her series of articles documenting this
convicted in of the Christmas morning hammer slaying of 64-year-old William
Staga. The murder occurred in Staga's apartment at 1208 Daisy Ave. in
Long Beach. Venegas was arrested without probable case, and
subsequently police prepared a crime report falsely implicating him in the
murder. Venegas's conviction was overturned in Sept. 1974 and charges
were never refiled. Venegas was later awarded $1
million because his imprisonment was due in part to false testimony caused
by police misconduct. (ISI)
Jose Soto Martinez
1993 (Laguna Beach)
police interrogation, Jose Soto Martinez (aka Jaime Saille Higuera)
confessed to starting a fire that destroyed at least 365 homes and
businesses in Laguna Beach and caused an estimated $528 million in damages.
Less than a week later, prosecutors dismissed arson charges against Martinez after they found out that
he had been in El Cereso de Mazatlan prison in Mexico at
the time the fire was set. (Google) [4/08]
1989 (Newport Beach)
Thomas Read Merrill was
convicted of a double homicide committed during a robbery of the Newport
Coin Exchange. During the robbery, the owner, William D. King, 39, was
shot four times, but survived, while his wife, Renee Ratoon King, 38,
and a close friend, Clyde Oates, 45, were killed. In exchange for a
plea deal, Eric Jon Wick testified that Merrill participated with him in the
robbery and was the actual shooter. The coin shop owner said he was
two men, one white and one black. Wick was white and
Merrill was black. They were both Marines and former bunkmates at the
same Marine facility.
Prosecutors failed to inform Merrill that the coin shop owner had
emphatically excluded Merrill as the black robber. Merrill was acquitted at his third trial. He served 5 years of a life
without parole sentence. (Google) [4/08]
Feb 13, 1998
Steve E. Snipes was convicted of the armed robbery of Thomas Superette, a convenience store
near Sanford. After the robbery, two of the store clerks identified
the robber as Steve Snipes, a neighborhood man and regular customer of the
store. The robber wore a ski mask, and the clerks were not even sure
of his race. They said the robber sounded like Snipes would have
sounded if he had tried to change his voice. They also said the
robber's clothing looked like clothes Snipes sometimes wore.
Police arrested Snipes shortly
afterwards. They did not recover the stolen bank bag, money, weapon,
or a jacket like the one the robber was wearing 15 minutes earlier.
Snipes also had an alibi. However the clerks' testimony was sufficient
to convict. Snipes' trial attorney, Andre Barrett, was
subsequently disbarred after allegations of misappropriating $800,000 in
client funds. The trial prosecutor, Bill Huggins, was accused of
trying to get his girlfriend to kill his wife. A plea bargain sent him to
prison for obstruction of justice and embezzlement.
Since Snipes' imprisonment,
a witness had come forward who testified that another
man, Terrance Wyatt, was the robber. Wyatt was caught committing an identical robbery
while Snipes was in prison. In 2007, after Snipes served over 5
years of imprisonment, NC Governor Easley pardoned him. (News
& Observer) (AP) [4/08]
Los Angeles County, CA
Sleepy Lagoon 22
Aug 2, 1942
On Aug. 2, 1942, a teenager named
Jose Diaz was found murdered near the Sleepy Lagoon reservoir in southeast
Los Angeles. The reservoir was frequented by Chicanos (Mexican
Americans) who were excluded from public pools. As a result of
apparent prejudice and press hysteria, police arrested 600 Latinos in
connection with the murders. Twenty-two Latinos (mostly Chicanos) were indicted for the
murders and tried before an all white jury. The defendants were not
allowed to sit near or speak with their attorneys during trial.
Three of the
defendants were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in
prison; nine were convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to five
years-to-life, five were convicted of assault and released for time served,
and five were acquitted. In Oct. 1944, the Court of Appeal of the
State of California unanimously reversed the convictions, finding that there
was no evidence linking the defendants with the crime. (Wikipedia) (Google)
David Valdez, Jr. & Sr.
Dec 2, 1993
Valdez, Jr. and his father, Tito David Valdez, Sr., were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and
solicitation to commit murder. Valdez Jr. produced a Norwalk cable TV
show called "Hollywood Haze" featuring a freewheeling mixture of music
videos and interviews with partying teen-agers and rap musicians. Most
footage focused on teen-age girls dancing at underground parties and
Valdez had hired a 13-year-old
Pico Rivera girl who said she was 16. She said Valdez had brought her
to his Downey home and raped her in his room while his father and brother watched
television downstairs. After the girl brought rape charges against
Valdez, he and his father allegedly conspired to kill her. They
allegedly solicited someone to murder her. Evidence has surfaced that the wiretapped
tape conversation played to the jury was an edited, altered version.
Secondly, the jury was never told that the star witness for the prosecution, was a
paid FBI informant and had a prior criminal record. (Valdez's
Story) (Google) [4/08]
Adam Riojas, Jr.
Riojas, Jr. was
convicted of murdering Jose Rodarte in a drug related incident.
Rodarte was shot twice and his body dumped from a van on a street. Riojas
said he had loaned the van to two friends of his father, who had come by his
Oceanside apartment. His girlfriend testified he spent the entire day
of the murder with her in North County. Riojas had no criminal history
except for an arrest for vandalism in a high school prank of toilet-papering
a home. Riojas' father,
Adam Sr., told numerous people shortly before his death that he was the
killer, not his son. Adam Sr. had been involved in drugs and immigrant
smuggling. Adam Jr. was released on the second unanimous
recommendation of his parole board. (Gov. Davis vetoed the first
recommendation; but Gov. Schwarzenegger did not oppose the second). Riojas
served 13 years of 15 years to life sentence. (Google) [4/08]
1980 (Long Beach)
convicted of beating to death 76-year-old Harold Hansen. Hansen
was found dead on March 10, 1980 in the basement of his Long Beach fix-it
shop. The pockets of his clothing had been turned inside out.
The shop, which was located on the main floor of the building, had been
body, investigators found three chrome posts--a three-foot post, a
six-foot post, and a "turnstile" post--all of which constituted portions of
a disassembled turnstile unit. Hansen had purchased the turnstile at a
hardware store's going out-of-business sale, approximately four months prior
to his death. The investigators determined that the assailant used the
three-foot post to murder Hansen.
case against Mikes rested exclusively upon the fact that his fingerprints
were among those found on the posts that lay adjacent to the victim's body.
Mikes's counsel failed to present alibi witnesses. Mikes' conviction was vacated due
to insufficient evidence. His release was delayed four months
waiting for the DA's unsuccessful appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mikes served 7 years of a 25 years to life sentence. (Google) [4/08]
Dauphin County, PA
Sept 12, 1970
Crawford was convicted in 1974 of murdering his neighbor and best friend, John Eddie Mitchell.
Crawford was 14 and Mitchell was 13 at the time of the crime. Mitchell
left home to turn in money he collected from his paper
route. He was later bludgeoned to death. His
body was found the next day under a car in a detached garage belonging to Crawford's parents.
Crawford's family lived on the 2300 block of North Fifth Street in
Crawford's handprints were found on
the blood splashed car in the garage, but
state police chemist Janice Roadcap gave false testimony implying that
Crawford had the victim's blood on his hands when he left the prints. The
handprints were the only physical evidence linking him to the murder.
The trial judge called it the "linchpin" of the case. In Oct. 2001, a
defense investigator found a photocopy of Roadcap's original notes, which
exonerated Crawford. Crawford was granted a new trial based on the notes,
but the Commonwealth declined to retry him. Crawford was released
after serving 28 years of imprisonment. Roadcap was a chemist for the
state police from 1967 until her retirement in 1991, handling cases in 18
counties from the State Police crime lab in Harrisburg. (Google) (AIDWYC) [4/08]
Nov 7, 1974
Jerry Banks, a black man, was sentenced
to death for the murders of Marvin W. King and Melanie Ann Hartsfield, both
whites. King was a local band director and Hartsfield was a
19-year-old ex-pupil of his. While rabbit shooting in a wooded area,
near Stockbridge, GA, Banks came upon their
two dead bodies. He then hurried to a nearby road, flagged down a
motorist, and told the motorist to call the police.
witness statements from people who happened to be near the scene of the
murders when they occurred. At least one of these statements was from
a law enforcement officer. All witnesses reported they heard several
gunshots fired in rapid succession. Banks's gun - a broken,
single-action shotgun - could not have fired those shots. Police also
withheld the name of the motorist who backed up Banks's claim of finding the
bodies. In addition, they withheld the name of another suspect who
happened to be a law enforcement officer.
confiscated Banks' shotgun for test firings. Two shells found at the crime
scene did not match shells from Banks' gun. About a month later a third
shell was found at the crime scene that did match a shell from Banks' gun. Banks was subsequently convicted.
It was later
determined that the lead investigator in the case, Phillip S. Howard, had a
history of falsifying evidence. He had even “tampered with and manipulated
evidence involving [shotgun] shells” in another case. Howard said he found
the third shell the day before he took Banks' gun for test firings.
However, credible evidence indicated that the shell was found after the test
firings. It was believed that the third shell came from the test firings.
At the time of this finding, Banks was facing a third trial. The DA
decided to drop charges. Banks was released in 1980. (TWM)
Apr 23, 1996
Thirty-one-year-old Doris Faye
Lentz disappeared on Apri1 23, 1996 after telling a friend she was driving
from her Arlington, VA home to pick up her 4-year-old daughter, Julia, at
her ex-husband's home in Fort Washington, MD. Her ex-husband, Jay E.
Lentz was a naval intelligence officer. Doris was once an aide to
Senator James Sasser of Tennessee. Doris's blood spattered automobile
was found a week after her disappearance in southeast Washington, DC.
Federal prosecutors suspected Jay murdered her. They did not have sufficient
evidence to bring murder charges against him as there was no body, no
weapon, no eyewitnesses, and no crime scene.
Teng Xingshan was convicted of the murder of Shi Xiaorong. A chopped
up body identified as Shi's was found in Mayang County, Hunan Province in April 1987. Police settled on Teng as the guilty
party because he was a butcher and the dismemberment was "very
professionally" done. Teng soon confessed to the murder, allegedly after police beat
it out of him. However, he protested his innocence all the way to the
execution ground. Authorities alleged that Teng had sex with Shi and
killed her because he suspected she stole his money. Teng was executed by gunshot in
Teng's family had heard reports that Shi was alive in
neighboring Guizhou province as early as 1993, but it took years to verify
the reports and Teng's family lacked the funds and the courage to sue the
The case first received publicity in May 2005, when the family formally filed a
lawsuit with the Hunan Higher People's Court. News reports of another
Chinese murder victim turning up alive in March 2005 may have prompted the
decision. Shi denied ever meeting Teng and said she had been sold into
marriage to a man in eastern Shandong Province a month before the chopped up body was
found. Shi returned to her hometown in Guizhou Province in 1993. Teng was
exonerated in Jan. 2006. (UPI) [4/08]
Oct 25, 1982 (Ste. Foy)
convicted in 1991 of murdering his ex-girlfriend, 19-year-old France Alain.
Alain, a University of Laval student, was shot in the hip near the CHRC
radio station in Sainte-Foy. She died a short time later. Proulx
was a reporter at the station and had been working the night of the murder.
In 1986 the case file was closed as the coroner was unable to establish any
contact between Proulx and Alain on the night of the murder.
Subsequently, Proulx launched a
defamation suit against a radio station and a retired police investigator for comments they made
concerning his guilt. In 1991, in the midst of this suit, the suit
defendants advised the prosecution of a potential new witness. The
witness claimed that after seeing Proulx's photo in the newspaper, he
recognized Proulx's eyes as being the eyes of a bearded man he saw near the
crime scene on the night of the murder. The witness could not at first
formally identify Proulx. Nevertheless he identified Proulx at trial
and Proulx was convicted. In 1992, the Quebec Court of Appeal quashed
the conviction due to serious trial irregularities. It also noted that
the presented evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. The
court entered a verdict of acquittal.
Following his acquittal, Proulx
sued the Attorney General of Quebec for malicious prosecution and won a
judgment of $1.15 million. However, the judgment was reversed on
appeal. Proulx was awarded $1.6 million for his wrongful
(Canadian S.C. Opinions) [4/08]
June 19, 1990 (Toronto)
convicted in 1992 of murdering his 22-year-old girlfriend, Elizabeth Bain, even though her body
was never found. Bain was last seen Tuesday June 19, 1990 on the
University of Toronto's Scarborough Campus. Her car was found the
Friday, parked at an auto body shop near campus. Blood was pooled on
the floor in the back, suggesting she was murdered.
evidence connects Baltovich to the alleged murder. According to the
crown, Baltovich killed Bain by 7 p.m. on the day of her disappearance.
However, Baltovich was seen waiting to meet her outside a 9 p.m. class that
she took. The crown also argued that Baltovich drove Bain's car after
1 a.m. Friday morning to Lake Scugog, an hour's drive north of Toronto.
He then allegedly buried her body in the mud of the lake before returning to
Toronto by 6 a.m. However, Baltovich reportedly could not drive Bain's
car because it had a manual transmission.
Since Baltovich's conviction, his
lawyers have argued that
serial killer Paul Bernardo is a stronger suspect than Baltovich in Bain's
murder. At the time of Bain's disappearance, Bernardo was known as the
Scarborough rapist. An award winning book called No Claim to Mercy
by Derek Finkle was written about Baltovich's case in 1998. Following
a hearing in September 2004, the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered a new
trial, citing an unfair and unbalanced charge to jury during the first
trial. At retrial in 2008, the crown presented no evidence and urged
the jury to acquit Baltovich, which the jury promptly did.
The crown's sudden decision not to retry Baltovich was apparently prompted
by one of its witnesses. Four days before the retrial, the victim's
father, Rick Bain, told the crown that his daughter told him of an imminent
rendezvous with Baltovich on the day of her murder. Since the witness
had never mentioned this conversation before, he presumably was planning to perjure himself in an
effort to convict Baltovich. Disclosure rules forced the crown had to inform the defence of
the conversation. Even if the witness stuck to his previous testimony,
the defence could use his reported conversation to undermine his
Apr 17, 1983
Pedro Torres was
arrested for drinking beer in a Dallas convenience store. A computer
check showed that he was wanted for the murder of a Houston man. He
then was tried for that murder and convicted, reportedly because of eyewitness testimony.
However, Torres's arrest warrant was actually issued for a different Pedro
Torres. Torres's work records and and the other Pedro
Torres's roommate helped to overturn his conviction. Torres was
released in 1986 after 8 months of imprisonment. (Google) [4/08]
Jan 16, 1990 (Cumberland)
Robert Stewart, Richard Mallory, Richard Trudel, and James Sauvé were convicted of the murders of
Giroux and his 27-year-old pregnant common-law wife, Manon
Bourdeau. The victims were shot to death at their home on Queen Street
in the Ottawa suburb of Cumberland.
Stewart and Trudel were distribution-level drug dealers, while Mallory and
Sauvé were their enforcers. Giroux was a retail-level drug dealer.
According to the Crown, Giroux owed money to Stewart and Stewart ordered his
killing as an example to other drug dealers who owed him money.
convicted of sexually assaulting a 32-year-old woman and her 9-year-old
daughter. Brown, who is mentally retarded, confessed to the crime under the
pressure of police interrogation. He was released in 1997 after DNA tests exonerated him
and implicated a Florida inmate. NC Governor Hunt pardoned Brown in
Bexar County, TX
Aug 21, 1925
Anastacio Vargas was convicted of murdering
Louisa Garcia. Both Louisa and her husband, Gabrial Garcia, were beaten
by a pair of robbers on Aug 21, 1925. Louisa died from her injuries
days later. Gabrial identified Vargas as one of the assailants and
testified that Louisa also identified Vargas prior to her death.
Vargas had been an employee of the Garcias for some time prior to their
assaults. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. An appeals
court subsequently overturned Vargas's conviction. On retrial, Vargas
was again convicted, but this time he was sentenced to death.
A few hours
before Vargas's scheduled execution, a look-alike to Vargas confessed to the
crime. Vargas was pardoned and released in 1929. Thirty-five
years later, Vargas was awarded $20,000 by the state. (RCN)
William Mason Wellman
black man, was
convicted of the rape of Cora Sowers, a 67-year-old white woman.
Wellman was sentenced to death. After he was strapped into the
electric chair, N.C. Governor Broughton halted his execution, as word came
that another man confessed to the crime. It was later established that
Wellman was at work in Virginia, 350 miles away, at the time of the crime
and had signed a payroll receipt on the day of the murder. He was
granted a full pardon and released. (Google)
1925 (Castle Hayne)
After being imprisoned for an alleged attempted rape in 1925, 17-year-old
Junius Wilson was declared insane and sent to Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro,
a state mental facility. The attempted rape charge was then dropped.
In 1932, Wilson was castrated in accordance with state law for "mental
defectives and feebleminded inmates" accused of sex crimes. He
remained in state custody for 67 years. In 1991, he was found not to
be mentally ill, just deaf. In 1992, he was officially freed and
within two years he was given a
three-bedroom cottage to live in on the grounds of Cherry Hospital.
Wilson died in 2001. (Google)
Doves & Williams
Aug 5, 1922
Fred Dove, George Williams, and Willie Hardison were sentenced to death for
the murder of Cyrus Jones. Jones was shot on a highway about a mile
and a half from the town of Swansboro where he lived. The convictions of the first three were
based solely on the testimony of Hardison. On the morning of
his execution in 1923, Hardison admitted he had perjured
himself to implicate the other three under the coercive threats of
police. In 1928, the three men each received an unconditional pardon from
the N.C. governor. (News
Kendall & Vickers
Sept 25, 1906
and John Vickers were convicted of the murder of Lawrence Nelson, 25.
Nelson disappeared from his rooming house in Lenoir and was found dead 10 weeks
later. Kendall was Nelson's roommate and Vickers was Kendall's close
friend. Both men had not gone to work on the day that Nelson
trial, 15-year-old Omey Greer (aka Omah Grier) testified that the defendants
had given her money to lure Nelson to a location in the mountains that was
four to five miles from Lenoir. After luring Nelson, Greer said she
ran away, but heard a shot fired.
convictions, police arrested Sam Green and his cousin Omey Greer for the
murders. Both were acquitted by a jury at trial. In 1916
an investigation conducted by Governor Bickett found that despite his
acquittal, Green had murdered Nelson and framed Kendall and Vickers.
The Governor issued an unconditional pardon to the two men. Five years
later, Green had a coffin built for himself. When it was done, he
confessed he had murdered Nelson and then committed suicide.
Three decades after his pardon, Kendall complained in a letter to the state
governor that he was being slandered by Nelson's tombstone in Lenoir
cemetery which stated Nelson "was murdered and robbed by Hamp Kendall and
John Vickers on September 25, 1906." The governor referred the matter
to the Caldwell County board of commissioners, but they were unable to take
action as state law made it a misdemeanor to molest a tombstone.
However, in 1949, as a favor to Kendall, the state general assembly passed a
law making it illegal to erect or maintain a tombstone which charges anyone
with a crime. Nelson's tombstone was subsequently torn down. (Google)
Feb 19, 1931
Harry F. Cashin was convicted of the murder of Detective Christopher W.
Scheuing during the holdup of a speakeasy at 49 Lexington Avenue.
Cashin was sentenced to death. His conviction was due to the testimony
of Gladys Clayton, a woman of shady character. The prosecution
concealed from the defense a witness who said Cashin was not "the right
man." On appeal, Cashin's conviction was reversed. The charges
were dropped in 1933 when Clayton admitted that Cashin had nothing to do
with the murder. (ISI)
(NY Times) (Google) [4/08]
Raffaelo E. Morello, a
recent immigrant to the U.S., was
convicted of murdering his wife in 1918, after he admitted
through an interpreter that "she brought it on." In prison he learned
English and realized the interpreter mistranslated his Italian. Morello was
exonerated of the crime in 1926. (Google) [4/08]
Clark County, NV
Emma Jo Johnson
May 23, 1951 (Las Vegas)
Emma Jo Johnson was
convicted of the murder of her 72-year-old landlady, Jane Jones.
Jones died in early June 1951 after apparently falling ill following a May
23 fracas with Johnson over mail. Johnson was released in Jan. 1954 after mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner
(creator of Perry Mason) determined that Jones was not murdered as the
result of an asserted assault by Johnson, but instead died from a brain
tumor. (Google) [4/08]
Dec 14, 1955
Darrel F. Parker
was convicted of the strangulation murder of his 22-year-old wife, Nancy
Parker. The murder occurred at the Parkers' home in Lincoln's Antelope
Park. Parker, then 24, confessed to the crime under alleged coercion.
In the confession Parker said he strangled his wife after she refused to
have sex following breakfast. Parker's defense argued that the murder
had to have been committed by a sexual psychopath, while psychiatrists
testified that Parker was not a psychopath. Years later Parker's
conviction was overturned because a court found his confession was coerced.
He was released in 1972. In 1988, Wesley Peery, an early suspect in
the crime, died. His lawyer subsequently released his confession to
the crime. (Presumed Guilty) (Google) (Parker
Sept 28, 1994 (Fremont Hills)
George S. Revelle,
the CFO of Ozark Bank, was convicted of murdering his wife, Lisa, at their
home in Fremont Hills. Revelle told authorities that intruders broke
into their home and shot his wife in a bungled extortion attempt. He
was convicted because he had a
$500,000 life insurance policy on his wife and an old letter in which she
criticizes him for being materialistic.
Five months into
the investigation, the apparent murderers sent a confession letter to
police. They said they were fugitives living outside the U.S. They stated
George's stepbrother had originally approached them about kidnapping George
and forcing him to go to his bank so they could rob it. The letter writers
revealed the location of a pond where the murder weapon was found. The
prosecutor never investigated any of this evidence, except to test the stamp
on the letter envelope for Revelle's DNA.
conviction was overturned in Nov. 1997 because an appeal's court found that
his wife's note should not have been allowed as trial evidence. On
retrial in Dec. 1998, Revelle was acquitted. (Beyond the Yellow
Stephens County, OK
Jan 23, 1948 (Duncan)
E. L. “Lefty”
Fowler was convicted of the murder of Helen Beavers. Fowler was a Duncan
policeman and had been with her a short time before she was killed.
Following Beaver's murder, Fowler quit his job, failed to pick up his last
check, and engaged in conversation indicating that he was considering
suicide. He also began an excessive round of drinking.
Less than two months after Beavers' murder, Fowler was arrested in Waurika
and imprisoned for drunkenness in the Jefferson County Jail. Three Crime
Bureau Agents then fraudulently conspired to transport Fowler to Stephens
County for interrogation. They freed Fowler (by paying his fine) on
condition he drive a supposedly drunk cellmate, who was actually an agent,
to Stephens County. Once in Stephens County, Fowler was arrested on bogus
charges that were never filed. He was then denied access to a magistrate
and a lawyer, and interrogated under coercive conditions for 12 days.
Fowler eventually confessed to the murder of Beavers, but the County
Attorney thought the confession was inconsistent with the facts. Beavers
was then required to give another confession, which was signed at 5 a.m.,
apparently after an all night grilling. Even this confession was not
regarded as sufficient and Beavers had to give two more before authorities
In 1960, Fowler
was granted habeas corpus relief due to his coerced and illegal
interrogation. He presumably was released. (Argosy) [4/08]