Date of Alleged Crime
Roy Burnett was convicted of
raping a 20-year-old student nurse. The alleged victim said Burnett
had followed her home from a bus, dragged her into the woods and threatened
her with a knife before raping her. Burnett was jailed for life and
his applications for parole were consistently denied because he refused
to admit guilt. In 1998 the same woman made another rape complaint,
but gave inconsistent accounts of being attacked by two men in a car.
The complaint damaged the woman's credibility and caused police to
re-examine her previous complaint against Burnett.
of evidence against Burnett revealed many inconsistencies in the woman's
accounts. Scratch marks on her body, shown in photographs taken of her at
the time, were, according to fresh expert testimony, "typical of
self-inflicted injury." A judge later added that the absence of
other injuries, which would have been expected if she had been attacked in
the way she claimed, was "surprising to the point of incredulity." The woman's
current boyfriend, with whom she has just had a child, described her as
"attention seeking." Burnett was released from jail after being
cleared by the Court of Appeal. Scotland Yard is considering whether
to file perjury charges against the woman. (Innocent)
June 18, 1988
Edward Owen Browning was convicted of the murder
of Marie Wilks, a 22-year-old who was seven months pregnant. Wilks'
car had broken down on the eastbound M50 carriageway near Bushley, Hereford
and Worcester. She had used an
emergency phone on the side of the road to summon help, but was
abducted and stabbed shortly thereafter. The phone was left dangling
from its cord and blood was found nearby. Two days later her body was
found three miles away down an embankment on the eastbound carriageway.
Her throat had been cut. She also had a broken jaw from being hit or
kicked on the left side of her head.
identified as the perpetrator by witnesses after a composite sketch was
made. In 1994, Browning was released from jail after an appeals court
found that his conviction was unsafe. Judges ruled that the jurors
might have changed their mind if they had known of police evidence about the
murderer's car that was not disclosed at the trial.
Peter Clarke, an
off-duty West Mercia officer, was filmed four days before Browning's arrest.
He described the murderer's car as a silver-grey nonmetallic non-hatchback Renault car, with
chrome bumpers and the registration number C856 HFK. Browning's car
was a hatchback Renault, with plastic bumpers, and the registration number
C754 VAD. Police had also failed to disclose two earlier statements
from Clarke as well as one by another witness. These statements described what
the witnesses saw
on the M50. Browning was later awarded an undisclosed sum, believed to
be in excess of £600,000. (BBC)
|Noxubee County, MS
Brooks was convicted of the rape and murder of his ex-girlfriend's daughter,
three-year-old Courtney Smith. Courtney was abducted at night from her
Brooksville home and her body was found in a nearby pond two days later.
Brooks' conviction was based on the the forensic testimony of the medical
examiner, Dr. Steven Hayne, and forensic bite-mark testimony given by Dr. Michael West.
West testified that Brooks' two top teeth matched alleged bite marks on
Courtney's wrist. Forensic evidence indicated the alleged marks were
made post-mortem, as they were not accompanied by internal bleeding.
Since Courtney's cause of death was drowning, it was unlikely the marks were
human bite marks, as the perpetrator would have had to bite Courtney after
she drowned. Dr. Hayne, however, disputed that the marks were
In 2008, Justin Albert Johnson, a
local man who was an initial suspect in the murder, confessed to the crime
after DNA tests implicated him in the murder of another three-year-old girl.
Another man from the same town named Kennedy Brewer had been convicted of that
murder using almost identical testimony that alleged bite marks on the
victim matched Brewer's two top teeth. In his confession, Johnson
adamantly denied that he bit either girl. Along with Brewer, Brooks
was subsequently exonerated. (MIP)
|Noxubee County, MS
May 3, 1992 (Brooksville)
Kennedy Brewer was sentenced to death for
the rape and murder of three-year-old
Christine Jackson, the daughter of his live-in girlfriend. Christine had been taken from her home in the early
morning hours and found dumped in a creek. An intruder could have entered
the home through a broken window. Brewer was the boyfriend of Gloria
Jackson, the victim's mother. Christine had been sleeping on a makeshift
pallet of sofa cushions at the foot of the couple's bed. In the morning,
the couple discovered that Christine was gone. Two other children were
present in the home.
Read More by
|Kootenai County, ID
June 21, 1980 (Post Falls)
Donald Manuel Paradis was sentenced to death for the murder of 19-year-old
Kimberly Anne Palmer. Paradis was a leader of the Gypsy Jokers
motorcycle gang. Prior to the murder he allowed a number of people to use his
home in Spokane, WA. On June 21, 1980, Palmer was strangled to death
in his home and her boyfriend, Scott Currier, was beaten to death.
Paradis was not home at the time of the crime. The victims' killers
have since been established, and both the killers and other witnesses made
it clear that Paradis had nothing to do with the killings.
came home and found the bodies, he feared he would be accused of the
murders. So he and two other men wrapped the bodies in sleeping bags
and put them in a car. He then drove the bodies across the state line
and dumped them in Post Falls, Idaho.
Paradis was tried in Washington for the murder of Currier, but was
acquitted. William Brady, the pathologist who performed an autopsy on
Palmer, fostered the impression that Palmer had been killed in Idaho.
Brady's improbable theory became the basis for Idaho authorities to
prosecute Paradis for the murder of Palmer. Brady was later fired from
his job as a medical examiner in nearby Oregon. An investigation showed that
he had used state facilities to perform private autopsies, had sold human
tissue for profit, and had saved human blood collected during autopsies
for use in his garden.
At trial, Paradis's court-appointed lawyer was William Brown. Brown
had never studied criminal law, never tried a felony case, and never tried a
case before a jury. He was also working as a police officer in Coeur
D'Alene at the same time he was representing Paradis at his Coeur D'Alene
trial. Some of the prosecution witnesses were Brown's fellow police
officers. Brown's defense of Paradis lasted three hours.
In 1996, Idaho Governor Batt commuted Paradis's
death sentence to life without parole.
In April 2001, a federal judge vacated Paradis's conviction because
prosecutors withheld potentially exculpatory evidence. Prosecutors
then dropped charges against Paradis after he pled guilty to moving a corpse.
He was sentenced to five years in prison and released for time served as he had
already served 21 years. (NY
|Greene County, AR
Aug 18, 1990 (Paragould)
Denver Wayne Mitchell, Jr. was convicted of murder
for fending off a sexual solicitation. In Aug. 1990, while working
in Amarillo, TX, Mitchell received a letter from his father asking him to
come home to West Frankfort, IL. On Aug. 17, Mitchell hitched a ride
near Amarillo in a truck driven by a 74-year-old man named Willard. The two made
it to Paragould, AR where they stopped for the night. Willard told
Mitchell he could spend the night in the truck and that he, Willard, would
take him to Highway 55 in the morning. The two also stopped at a bar,
drank alcohol, and purchased some beer to go. Willard then drove the
truck to an area where they could camp out.
Read More by Clicking Here
Clark & Schmieder
May 17, 1998 (Auburn)
Mark Clark and
Jeff Schmieder were convicted of raping Regina Birindelli. Birindelli
originally claimed that three men had raped her, but prosecutors had to drop
charges against the third man after he produced evidence that he was in jail
at the time of the alleged rape. At trial, Birindelli claimed the two
handcuffed her and videotaped themselves raping her orally and anally at
Clark's mobile home in Auburn. Birindelli changed parts of her story
three times while testifying. The jurors were also told about the
third man that Birindelli originally claimed had also assaulted her.
No handcuffs, videotape, or other physical evidence was ever found
supporting her story. Clark and Schmieder had alibis for their
whereabouts at the time of the alleged crime. Clark even had proof that he
was in traffic court in Auburn.
The two were
convicted anyway, though they managed to raise enough doubt among four
jurors that they prolonged jury deliberations to five days. One of
these doubting jurors who ultimately voted guilty said, "The one thing was
that we couldn't for the life of us figure out [was] why she would get on
the stand and crucify those two guys if it wasn't true." That question
is still a mystery although Birindelli's work as a police informant may have
something to do with the answer.
Prior to sentencing, Clark's wife,
Jill, investigated the case and found out from Birindelli's ex-boyfriend
that Birindelli had been in the Auburn, WA jail at the time of the alleged
rape. Even though Clark and Schmeider were exonerated, King County
deputy prosecutor Dave Ryan refused to acknowledge their innocence. He
said that perjury charges will not be filed against Birindelli because she
might be telling the truth about being assaulted, and just confused about the
date it occurred. However events Birindelli recounted on the days
before and after her "assault" were verified by other people, and both Clark
and Schmieder have alibis for those days. Both men spent all their
money fighting the false charges and had their mobile homes repossessed.
|Montgomery County, OH
Aldridge & Wilcox
Robert Aldridge and Jennifer Wilcox were convicted of child abuse.
After an investigation by Ohio Observer editor Martin Yant, it was
discovered that exculpatory evidence was not turned over to the pair's
defense attorneys at the time of their trial. This included medical
reports that none of the children allegedly molested showed any signs of
sexual abuse. In addition Yant obtained recantations by three of the
six child witnesses who said they were coerced into giving false testimony
against the two. The witnesses, John, Jason, and Justin Chronopoulos,
said they did not even know who Aldridge and Wilcox were until the two were
pointed out to them in the courtroom. Subsequent to the investigation,
Aldridge's and Wilcox's convictions were vacated in 1996 after they served
11 years of imprisonment. (Ohio
|Montgomery County, MD
Maouloud Baby was convicted of raping an 18-year-old Montgomery College
student, identified as J. L. The alleged victim had consented to intercourse with Baby, but told
him that he needed to stop if she said so. During intercourse, J. L. requested the intercourse stop because of the pain it was causing
her. However, she said he continued for "five or so seconds" more.
Baby, who was a 16-year-old high school student at the time of the incident,
said he stopped immediately. Baby was tried as an adult. His first trial resulted in a hung
jury, but he was convicted at a retrial in 2004. At the end of Baby's retrial, the judge defined rape
for the jury as "the unlawful intercourse with
another by force, or threat of force, and without consent." He then had
decide whether Baby committed rape. On appeal in 2006, the Maryland
Court of Appeals overturned Baby's conviction on the basis that under
Maryland law a man cannot be convicted of rape once a consensual sex act has
commenced. (Maryland v. Baby) [9/08]
|Otsega County, MI
Dec 1986 (Gaylord)
Five men were convicted of charges related to the murder of 31-year-old oil
field worker Jerry Tobias. It was argued by some that Tobias
overdosed on drugs, went to sleep in the bed of a pickup, and froze to death
without waking up. The truck where Tobias's body was found was parked
by a butcher shop owned by Laurie Moore.
Read More by
|Santa Clara County, CA
Auguste & Hendricks
Nov 2, 1997
Damon Auguste and Kamani
Hendricks were convicted of raping and sodomizing a 15-year-old girl
identified only as Monique. Evidence indicated the two had had sex
with her, but the defendants said it was consensual and she told them she
was 17. Auguste was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Hendricks, who
had prior convictions for domestic abuse and discharging a firearm, was
sentenced to 37 years.
defense investigation revealed that Monique had lied to the jury about her
experience with alcohol, about the impact the assault had on her social
life, about having to take off two months from work after the assault,
and about her workplace making special accommodations because of the
psychological impact of the assault. The investigation located three
witnesses who said Monique admitted to them she falsified the sexual assault
charges. One of them, Stephen Smith, testified Monique fabricated the
charges because she had stayed past her curfew and had previously been
kicked out of her parents' house for getting into trouble.
On appeal in
2004, a judge overturned the defendants' convictions finding that Deputy DA
Benjamin Field had improperly withheld exculpatory evidence when he failed
to turn over the DNA notes. The judge noted that Field had overstated other
evidence, referring to the girl's underwear as ''blood-soaked'' when blood
was not even visible. Most importantly, the judge concluded that Monique had
repeatedly lied to the jury -- and that these lies offered strong reason to
doubt her accusation of Auguste and Hendricks. Charges against the two
were dropped in exchange for plea agreements to having sex with a minor.
Asbury & McKie
Jan 8, 1997 (Kilmarnock)
David Asbury was convicted of
murdering 51-year-old Marion Ross and stealing a biscuit tin from her
containing £1800. The victim's ribs were crushed and she was stabbed
in the eye with scissors. The scissors were left embedded in her throat.
There were no signs of forced entry, but police discovered that some
builders, including Asbury, had had access to her home the previous year.
During a search of Asbury's apartment, Detective Shirley McKie found a
biscuit tin in his bedroom containing £1800. Asbury maintained the tin
and the money were his. However the Scottish Fingerprint Service, a
division of the Scottish Criminal Records Office (SCRO), found Ross's
fingerprint on it. Since the tin provided a possible motive of theft
for the murder, police believed the tin had belonged to the victim. At
Asbury's trial for murder, expert witnesses from the SCRO testified that a
fingerprint found on the tin was that of Ross.
Read More by
Sirfraze Ahmed was convicted of
robbery. Three masked men stole more than £30,000 from Neil
Bateman outside his home in Bodenham, England. Bateman had organized a
classic car show in Derbyshire that weekend. In Feb. 2006 two
brothers, Khalid and Mohammed Khan, pled guilty to the robbery. The
two denied being at the scene of the robbery, but admitted supplying items
used in the robbery. Although the brothers did not implicate Ahmed, he
was also charged in the robbery. Four of his fingerprints were found
on a black plastic bag left at the crime scene after it had been worn as a
mask by one of the robbers.
At his Oct. 2006
trial, Ahmed testified he was almost 50 miles away in Birmingham.
Several witnesses corroborated Ahmed's alibi. He said he knew the Khan
brothers, and had helped Khalid fix cars at the house the brothers shared.
Ahmed said that they would put plastic bags on the seat of a car to prevent
oil stains, and that is how his fingerprints could have gotten on the bag
found at the crime scene. In June 2007 the Court of Appeals
quashed his conviction on the basis there was insufficient evidence that he
was involved in the robbery. (Hereford
Times) (Hereford Times
|Honolulu County, HI
July 17, 2001
Aiwohi was convicted in 2004 of manslaughter in the death of her son,
Treyson, who died two days after being born. His cause of
death was ruled to be methamphetamine poisoning. Aiwohi was charged
with manslaughter based on her methamphetamine use during pregnancy. She
pleaded no contest on the condition she could appeal her conviction, and she
was sentenced to 10 years probation. In 2005 the Hawaii Supreme Court
overturned her conviction, ruling that she could not have committed
manslaughter as it requires behavior against a person that is related to
that person's death. Since her alleged behavior occurred prior to her
son's birth, and since a fetus is not legally a person, she could not be guilty of
v. Aiwohi) (Star
|Los Angeles County, CA
Willie Earl Green
Aug 9, 1983
Willie Earl Green was convicted of fatally shooting 25-year-old Denise “Dee
Dee” Walker in a South Los Angeles crack house. The conviction was based on the testimony of a single
eyewitness, Willie Finley. After Centurion Ministries accepted Green's case,
Finley admitted in 2004 that he was high on crack cocaine at the time of
the murder and did not know who committed the crime, but he was pressured by
police into identifying Green. (FJDB) (LA
|Hamilton County, TN
Jerry & Mike Brock
2001 - 2003
(Federal Case) Brothers Jerry and Mike
Brock were convicted of conspiring to extort money from the Sessions Court of
Hamilton County, Tennessee. The two had allegedly paid a deputy clerk,
to remove the names of bail jumpers from the court computer system. The
brothers purportedly did this so they would not have the money they put up
for bail forfeited to the court. Both brothers were sentenced to 21
months in prison.
On appeal, the
federal Sixth Circuit Court vacated the brothers' convictions. It
ruled that the brothers could not be guilty of conspiring to extort money,
since, at best, they were trying to keep their own money and a person cannot
extort money from himself. (FJDB) (Chattanoogan)
|Collin County, TX
Sept 5, 1993 (Plano)
Michael Blair was sentenced to death in 1994 for the molestation and murder
of 7-year-old Ashley Estell. Ashley was abducted from a playground in
Plano's Carpenter Park while her parents, nearby, watched her brother play
in a soccer tournament. No witnesses had seen Blair and Ashley
together even though Blair reportedly looked like an unpleasant troll and
would have stood out in the crowded upper-middle-class park. According
to a forensic physician, Ashley was killed several hours after her abduction
and her body was kept at room temperature until nightfall when it was
dumped. Blair drove a hatchback and lived with two roommates, so it
seemed unlikely he could have stored a body for several hours.
conviction was based on hair evidence. Blair was a previously convicted sex offender,
and the assumption that he murdered Ashley inspired legislation called
“Ashley's Laws,” which require sex offenders to register with local law
enforcement when they are released from prison and which require public
notification when offenders move into a community. In 2006, Collin County reopened the case,
assigning it to its cold case squad. Investigation identified another
man, identified as Suspect 4, who could have committed the crime.
Suspect 4 died in the late 1990's. After DNA tests of the hair
evidence showed that it belonged to neither Blair nor the victim, his conviction was overturned in 2008. The County is
expected to drop charges against Blair. (DMN) (FJDB)
|Hinds County, MS
May 26, 1992
Roland Anderson was convicted of burglary in the attempted kidnapping and
shooting of Dorothy Brister. Brister was a bail bondsman and a
confidential informant for the Jackson Police Department and the Drug
Enforcement Agency. The day before she was to testify against a
suspected drug dealer, an individual posing as a police officer arrived at
her home. The imposter informed her he was taking her into protective
custody. Although Brister was suspicious, the imposter eventually
coerced her into her rental car outside; when Brister attempted to flee, the
imposter shot her once in the neck. Brister's live-in boyfriend witnessed
the attack and attempted, unsuccessfully, to apprehend the assailant.
Brister remains partially paralyzed in her left hand as a result of the
showed Brister several photographs, she was unable to identify her attacker.
Three years later while posting a bond, Brister overheard the voices of
three men and suspected that one was the perpetrator. When she looked up,
she recognized Anderson as her assailant. Brister and
her daughter, Fredrika, identified Anderson in a photo line-up prior to
trial; investigators did not ask her boyfriend to identify Anderson.
Anderson's first trial resulted in a hung jury, but on retrial he was convicted of
aggravated assault, impersonating a police officer, and burglary with intent
to kidnap. The first two convictions were dismissed post-trial because
they were barred by the statute of limitations.
While serving his 15 year sentence,
Anderson met Brister's boyfriend, Arthur Gray, in prison. Gray saw the shooter and told Anderson it was
not him. He later signed an affidavit reiterating his observation. In 2001, a federal court overturned Anderson's conviction.
He was released on bond in 2004 and charges against him were dropped in
v. Johnson) (FJDB)
|Allegheny County, PA
Nov 16, 1958 (Brackenridge)
Jerry Pacek was convicted of the
murder of 53-year-old Lillian Stevick. Pacek, then age 13, found her
body in the back yard of 929 Sixth Ave. in Brackenridge during the early
morning hours of Nov. 17, 1958. She had been raped and assaulted with
19 blows to the head. She died the
following day. The day after Brackenridge's
death, police questioned Pacek for 17 hours during which Pacek gave several
confessions to the murder, saying he used a different weapon each time.
Following his trial, Pacek served 10 years of a 10 to 20 year sentence.
In 1990, Jim
Fisher, a former FBI agent, became interested in the case. He called
Pacek up one night and said, "You don't know me, but I think I can prove you
didn't kill Mrs. Stevick and I'd like to try and get you a pardon."
There was substantial evidence that Pacek could not have committed the
crime, including three alibi witnesses. The case was reopened by
In 1958, up to
1,500 people lined Morgan Street to gawk at Pacek as police forced him to
re-enact the murder in a humiliating public spectacle. District
Attorney Colville said in a 1991 Inside Edition TV report, "If I
tried that in today's court, I'd be thrown out the front door."
In 1991, Governor Casey pardoned Pacek. In 2004, Pacek died of
cancer at age 59. (Fisher
|Ada County, ID
Jan 12, 2003 (Meridian)
Donna Kay Thorngren was convicted of the murder of her 42-year-old husband,
Curtis Thorngren. Curt was found shot to death in a bathroom in
their home. Two months before the murder, Curt's life insurance,
payable to Donna, had been increased to a payout of $320,000. The
change was effective as of Jan 1, 2003, 11 days before Curt's murder. However, at Hewlett-Packard, Curt's place of employment,
all employees were
given the opportunity to increase their policies with new benefits effective
the same date.
by Clicking Here
|Bradford County, FL
Sept 6, 1976
Bennie Eddie Demps was sentenced to
death for the murder of Alfred Sturgis inside Florida State Prison. At trial, inmate Larry Hathaway testified
that he reported seeing James Jackson stab Sturgis with a shank, while Demps
held down Sturgis and Harry Mungin acted as lookout. Demps, Sturgis,
and Hathaway were all convicted murderers. Two prison
guards, A.V. Rhoden and Hershel Wilson testified that Sturgis named Demps as
one of his three assailants. Demps had previously been sentenced to
death for a double homicide, but his death sentence was commuted to life
imprisonment in 1972 when the U.S. Supreme Court declared capital punishment
unconstitutional because it was carried out in an arbitrary manner.
Demps claimed prison officials framed him for the Sturgis killing because he
had escaped his earlier death sentence.
Before trial, Hathaway told an attorney for
a prisoners rights group that he did not witness the Sturgis murder. After
the trial, three inmates came forward to say that Hathaway was nowhere near
the scene of the stabbing. In 1994, Hathaway told a defense
investigator that he had lied at trial. Seven months after the
Sturgis killing, inmate Leroy Colbroth was murdered. Several inmates
swore in depositions that Colbroth was killed because he had stabbed
Sturgis. Other inmates later said that they saw Colbroth kill Sturgis or
that he admitted killing him. This information was withheld from
Demps' lawyers. Some of these inmates were willing to help Demps, but
did not, stating in sworn affidavits that prison officials either threatened
them with retribution if they testified or offered incentives, such as
transfers or shorter sentences, for refusing.
the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, later stated that he had
"grave doubts about Kemps," even though he did not vote to give Demps a new
trial. Demps was executed by lethal injection on June 7, 2000.
Tribune) (JD12) [8/08]
|Dallas County, TX
Billy Conn Gardner
May 16, 1983
Billy Conn Gardner was sentenced
to death for the murder of Thelma Row, 64, a cafeteria supervisor at Lake
Highlands High School in Dallas. Row was shot during a robbery of the
school's cafeteria and died 11 days later of her injuries. Prior to
the robbery, Row's
co-worker, Paula Sanders, told her husband, Melvin, that several thousand
dollars in daily cafeteria receipts were processed in a back room at the
school. After prosecutors threatened to bring charges against Melvin,
Melvin claimed that he invited Gardner to participate in the robbery.
According to Melvin, Gardner was the robber while he, Melvin, was the
getaway driver. In exchange for his testimony Melvin received complete
immunity from prosecution for the murder and probation for pending forgery
and firearms charges. The state also agreed not to prosecute Paula Sanders.
had worn a stocking mask. Paula, who was in the cafeteria at the time
of the robbery said that she could not provide a description of the
assailant, because her back was turned. However, before Row died, she
described the assailant as having a "bony face ... and a two-inch goatee."
Paula had known Gardner. The state was unable to produce a single
witness who recalled ever seeing Gardner with a goatee. Two other
witnesses to the shooting, Carolyn Sims and Lester Matthews, the school
custodian, stated the assailant had reddish-blond hair. However,
Gardner had black hair. Matthews nevertheless positively identified
Gardner as the shooter even though he said he had only seen the shooter for
three or four seconds, and did not actually identify him until his third
police interview, three months after the crime.
that she was unaware of the robbery plans, but failed to mention that she
received several phone calls only minutes before the robbery, and
that according to Sims, she appeared "nervous and upset" after taking these
calls. Gardner's lawyer never interviewed Paula and only met with his
client once, for fifteen minutes, prior to jury selection. Sims was
never deposed until years after the trial. Gardner was executed by lethal
injection Feb. 16, 1995. (Atlantic) (NY
|Hale County, TX
Nov 9, 1986 (Hale Center)
David Wayne Stoker was sentenced
to death for the murder of David Mannrique (Manrique), a clerk at an Allsup's
convenience store in Hale Center, Texas. Mannrique was shot three times
and robbed of $96.81. No physical evidence placed Stoker at the store
or established that he owned the gun that killed the victim. Five months
after the crime, Carey Todd told
police that Stoker had confessed to him and had given him the murder
weapon, which Todd then gave them. At trial, Todd denied
under oath that the prosecution gave him any incentives to testify against
Stoker. However, Todd had felony drug and weapons charges against him
dropped later that same day. He possibly faced being charged with Mannrique's murder had he not been willing to finger someone else.
Ronnie and Debbie Thompson also testified that Stoker had confessed the
murder to them.
later recanted his testimony. Thompson said he had signed the statement
written by his wife, Debbie Thompson, without reading it because she claimed
Stoker had raped her, a claim he later found to be false. He claimed
prosecutors threatened to try him for perjury if his trial testimony
differed from his affidavit. During Stoker's trial, his wife left him
to move in with Todd. Both she and Todd then each received half of a
$1000 Crime Stoppers reward for naming Stoker. Police Chief Richard Cordell
had testified there was no local Crime Stoppers, but later admitted he
was one of the group's founders.
claimed that a shell casing found in Stoker's car linked him to the murder
weapon. However, Stoker did not own the car until months after the murder.
A federal appellate judge concluded that Todd was just as likely the
murderer. It would appear, however, that Todd is more likely the
murderer, as the only reliable
evidence in the case is that Todd possessed the murder weapon and knew that
it was used in the murder. Stoker was executed on June 16, 1997. (CPIT)
May 20, 1984 (South Side)
sentenced to death for the murder of Oliver Ridgell. Ridgell was shot
and killed as he and Tecora Mullen sat in Ridgell's car. The car was parked
in front of an apartment building at 1343 W. 92nd St., around the corner
from Mullen's home. Ridgell and Mullen both were married, but they had
been having an affair for some time. Mullen told police she would be
able to identify the killer, but after she looked at police books with
photographs of suspects she was unable to say any of them resembled
Ridgell's killer. She was also unable to help a police sketch artist draw a
composite of the perpetrator.
later, Howard, who had no known acquaintance with either Ridgell or Mullen,
confessed to the murder after he said it was beaten out of him by Chicago Area Two
detectives. Howard had been taken to hospitals before and after his
confession. Medical records showed that he had new injuries including
bruises on his left leg that matched his description of police mistreatment.
Nevertheless the judge refused to bar his confession at trial.
Howard's confession, he fired three shots at Ridgell. Most tenants in
the apartment buildings near the scene of the murder were still asleep when
it occurred. Those that heard anything, heard only one shot. One
tenant heard a man say, "I told you, I would get you."
Another heard a woman say, "Don't hurt him. Just take me home." The
tenants' statements were withheld at trial. In a lineup, Mullen
tentatively identified Howard, saying he "looked like" Ridgell's killer.
However, at trial Mullen was positive Howard was the killer. She also
said that her lineup identification had been positive. In a later
interview, when asked about her identification, Mullen said she was in an
alcoholic haze in the years before and after the murder. "I drank a
fifth of liquor every day for 10 years. I couldn't hardly remember
In 1991, the
Illinois Supreme Court found that a trial error had occurred, but ruled it
harmless because "the evidence of the defendant's guilt was overwhelming."
In 2003, Gov. Ryan disagreed and granted Howard a pardon based on innocence. (CWC) (Chicago
|Bossier Parish, LA
July 9, 1980 (Bossier City)
Alvin R. Moore Jr. was sentenced to death for the murder of JoAnn Wilson,
23, the wife of
a former co-worker. Wilson called police and said, "Somebody
stabbed me." After police officer Bill Fields arrived on the scene, he
asked her who stabbed her and she reportedly told him, "Elvin did it."
Fields later thought the victim meant "Alvin." Moore, who is
black, was having an affair with Wilson, who was white. Moore was
arrested with a drop of blood on his pants. Tests showed the blood was
Type O, the same as Wilson's, but shared by about 45% of the population.
Moore had a different blood type. A stereo and a plastic jug
containing pennies from Wilson's home were found in Moore's car.
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|Sebastian County, AR
Nov 26, 1980 (Ft. Smith)
Wilburn L. Henderson was
sentenced to death for the murder of Willa Dean O'Neal. The murder
occurred during an alleged robbery of $41 at a Ft. Smith furniture store
that the victim owned with her husband. In the store police found a
yellow piece of paper containing two phone numbers that had been given to
Henderson by a real estate agent. Henderson conceded that the paper
was his and that he must have dropped when he was in the store days before
the murder. Under police interrogation Henderson had given a statement
that he had just happened to have been in the store when another man
committed the crime. He later recanted the statement saying he only
made it because he feared police would harm him. According to the
prosecution, Henderson had obtained a gun from a pawnshop and then pawned it
back just after the murder. However, ballistics tests on the gun were
inconclusive that it was the murder weapon.
by Clicking Here
|Montgomery County, PA
Dec 6, 1946 (Pottstown)
Wentzel was convicted in 1947 of the strangulation murder of Mrs. Miriam
Green, a 29-year-old divorcee. Green was last seen entering her apartment at
358 Chestnut St. in Pottstown on
the early evening of Friday, Dec. 6, 1946. Green's mother said her daughter
had planned to visit her that Friday, but she did not visit, nor did she
call to say why. Green did not report for work Saturday morning, nor did
she call in sick. The thermostat for her apartment building was located in
her apartment. She had diligently taken care of resetting the thermostat
after the furnace went off, but had not that weekend. Because of the cold,
neighbors had knocked on her door several times during the weekend, but had
gotten no response. Finally, on Monday afternoon, Dec. 9, neighbors entered
her apartment and found her dead.
by Clicking Here
|Elkhart County, IN
Parish & Cooper
Oct 29, 1996 (Elkhart)
Christopher Parish and Keith
Cooper were charged with robbery and attempted murder. Two intruders
allegedly shot and robbed Michael Kershner in apartment F on the third floor
of an apartment building located at 729 Monroe Street in Elkhart.
At the time of the shooting five other people were reportedly in the apartment with Kershner. However,
despite testimony that Kershner bled profusely in the car which took him to
the hospital, investigating
officers found no evidence the apartment was the scene of a crime.
Cooper, identified as the alleged shooter, was acquitted of the attempted
murder, but convicted of the robbery and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Parish was convicted of both charges and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
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May 23, 1984 (Gulfport)
George Allen Lewis was convicted
of the rape and murder of a 36-year-old neighbor, Karen Gregory. Gregory
lived at the corner of 27 Ave. and Upton St. in Gulfport, FL. Around 1 a.m.
on May 23, 1984, more than a dozen of Gregory's neighbors heard a loud
piercing scream. Most paid little attention, but on the morning of the 24th
Gregory was found raped and brutally murdered. When interviewed later,
Lewis said that upon hearing the scream he walked towards Gregory's house to
investigate, but turned around after he failed to see anything suspicious.
Lewis was a firefighter and a neighborhood crime watch volunteer. He had a
crime watch sign in his yard. Lewis had a sterling reputation and was
friends with the case investigator, Detective Larry Tosi.
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|Cayuga County, NY
Thomas & Gene
July 24, 1976 (Auburn)
Sammy Thomas and his brother Willie Gene, both blacks, were convicted of
murder of George Sedor. Sedor was shot six times in his car in the
parking lot of the Sunset
Restaurant on N. Division St. in Auburn. He was a co-owner of the
restaurant. A key prosecution witness, Steven Wejko, testified he
supplied the brothers with weapons and that they admitted killing
Sedor. Wejko got a plea deal for his testimony. Sedor's brother had
told police that the killers were white. However, police and prosecutors
conspired to keep this information from coming out in the original trial.
The truth only came out at Gene's retrial in May 1980. Gene was
acquitted, and charges were then dropped against his brother. The
prosecutor in the case, Peter Corning, was never punished for his conduct in
the trial. He later became a judge. (RW)
|Cook County, IL
Nov 16, 1992 (Chicago)
Daniel Taylor was convicted of
the murders of Jeffrey Lassiter and Sharon Haugabook. The victims were
residents of a second-floor apartment at 910 W. Agatite Ave. Under
police interrogation, the then 17-year-old Taylor confessed to the crime.
According to the confession, Taylor and three fellow gang members entered
the victims' apartment to rob them while four additional gang members waited
outside as lookouts.
Taylor was to be formally charged with the murders, he protested that he
could not have committed the crimes because he had been in police custody
when they occurred. When police checked their records, they found that
Taylor was arrested at 6:45 p.m. on the night of the murders. The
murders occurred at 8:43 p.m. A copy of Taylor's bond slip showed he
was not released from the Town Hall District lockup until 10 p.m.
police still charged Taylor with the murders. To corroborate his
confession, they found a witness, Adrian Grimes, a drug dealer and a rival
gang member, who, at trial, testified that he saw Taylor at 7:30 p.m. in
Clarendon Park. Two police officers, Michael Berti and Sean Glinski,
also testified that they saw Taylor at 9:30 p.m. when they emerged from an
apartment half a block from the murder scene. The jury chose to
believe Taylor's confession over police records. Taylor was sentenced
to life in prison.
Taylor's conviction, Grimes said he lied at the request of detectives and to
receive leniency on a narcotics charge. The officers who said they saw
Taylor at 9:30 p.m. testified they dropped him off at a DCFS shelter at 10
p.m. However DCFS records show that he did not arrive there until 3
a.m. In addition, four months before the officers' report, a judge had
ordered Officer Berti off the witness stand in an unrelated case and stated,
"I don't believe a thing he says. He goes down in my book as a liar."
seven of his fellow gang members were charged with the murders. No
physical evidence connected any of them to the crime. While in
police custody all seven confessed to the crime and each said Taylor was
with them. Four of them were convicted of the crime, one was
acquitted, and charges against the other two were dropped after their
confessions were thrown out. (Chicago
June 24, 1918
Frank Ewing, a
black man, was convicted of raping a 25-year-old white woman after being
brought to the victim and identified by her. The victim, A. F., was
raped at her home on Stokes Lane, west of Hillsboro Pike, a few miles south
of Nashville. A police officer testified that Ewing confessed to
the crime. However, Ewing had a strong alibi that he was working 25
miles away at the time of the crime. The alibi was supported by
multiple witnesses, none of whom had known Ewing long or had a plausible
reason to lie. The alibi was also supported by written records.
however, Ewing's white employer, J. M. Summers, was his only alibi witness, and on the day of his testimony he had misplaced records of
Ewing's employment. The rape had occurred on a Monday. Without
his records, Summers mistakenly remembered that Ewing had left his
employment after the rape at the end of the week. Ewing had actually
left Summers employment on Wednesday. The prosecutor was able to bring
out that Ewing had been working elsewhere at the end of the week and that
Summers' statement was wrong. On appeal, further alibi evidence was
submitted including the written records, but appeals courts declined to
reverse Ewing's conviction. Ewing was executed in the electric chair on May
(Wrongly Convicted: Perspectives on Failed Justice) [7/08]
June 9, 1959
Steven Murray Truscott was
sentenced to death for the murder of his 12-year-old schoolmate, Lynn
Harper. Harper disappeared near RCAF Clinton, an air force station, a
few miles south of Clinton, Ontario. Truscott and Harper were 7th
grade classmates at the same school. On the early evening of June 9,
1959, Truscott, then 14, gave Harper a ride on the crossbar of his bicycle
from the vicinity of the school and the two traveled north along Country Road.
Truscott maintained that he dropped her off unharmed at the intersection of
Country Road and Highway 8. He said she told him she had squabbled with her
parents and planned to hitch a ride somewhere. He said that after
dropping her off
he looked back and saw that a vehicle
had stopped and that Harper was in the process of entering it.
Harper's father reported her missing at 11:20 that evening.
Two days later
Harper was found in a wooded lot off of Country Road. She had been
raped and murdered. Within hours Truscott was arrested and charged
with Harper's murder. At trial, all evidence against him was
circumstantial and centered on placing Harper's death within a narrow time
frame which implicated him. A pathologist testified that Harper died
between 7:00 and 7:45 p.m. – an extremely precise determination even by
today's forensic standards. Years later, the pathologist would amend his testimony
and place Harper's death within a 12-hour time frame. Truscott was
convicted and sentenced to hang, but four months later his sentence was
commuted to life imprisonment. In 1966, Isabel LeBourdais rekindled
interest in the case by publishing The Trial of Steven Truscott in
which she argued that Truscott had been convicted of a crime he did not
commit. In 1969, Truscott was released on parole and in 1974 the
National Parole Board released him from the terms and conditions of his
In 2000 interest
in the case was again revived after a documentary on Truscott appeared on
CBC's The Fifth Estate. Subsequently, journalist Julian Scher
published a book on him entitled Until You Are Dead. Both of these sources suggested that
significant evidence in favour of Truscott had been ignored at his trial.
In 2001, lawyers filed an appeal to have the case reopened. In 2007,
the Ontario Court of Appeal acquitted Truscott, and in 2008, Truscott was
awarded $6.5 million for his wrongful conviction and imprisonment. (CBC)
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