Date of Alleged Crime
Aug 9, 1967 (Ottawa)
Romeo Phillion was convicted of the murder of Leopold Roy.
Roy, 48, was stabbed to death on Aug. 9, 1967 at the Churchill Court
Apartments located at 275 Friel St. in Ottawa. Roy worked for the
Ottawa Fire Department and was also superintendent of the apartments.
The killer had some claim to have acted in self-defence as Roy had assaulted
him merely because his behavior was suspicious.
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|Polk County, FL
Jeffrey Streeter was convicted of a crime for which he was never arrested.
Streeter went to the local courthouse in Bartow, FL on July 15, 1980 to pick up his brother who was due
to be sentenced to probation on a robbery charge. Also at the
courthouse was an attorney named Warren Dawson. Dawson represented
defendant Lee Marvin Anderson who was being tried that day on misdemeanor
charges of assault, battery, and resisting arrest without violence.
Dawson did not believe that witnesses against Anderson had any independent
recollection of who Anderson was. To prove his point, Dawson asked
Streeter to do him a favor and to sit at the defendant's table during the
trial where the defendant usually sits. Streeter agreed and sat in the
defendant's chair. Anderson, the defendant, meanwhile sat in the
spectator's section of the courtroom.
After the non-jury bench trial
began, three prosecution witnesses identified 19-year-old Streeter as the
person who committed Anderson's alleged offenses. According to the
testimony, the assailant was angry that Francis Garell's car was parked too
close to his and knocked Garrell down. Streeter subsequently testified
he was not Lee Marvin Anderson. He even showed the judge his driver's
license. Dawson told the judge that Streeter was not the defendant,
and called the real defendant, Anderson, to the front of the courtroom and
Anderson identified himself. According to Dawson, the judge would not
even listen, he would not even hear from Anderson.
The judge, Edward Threadgill, Jr., dismissed the assault and resisting
arrest charges against Streeter because the presented testimony did not
support them. However, he convicted Streeter of battery and sent him
to jail. Streeter was subsequently released from custody after
spending 18 hours in jail. His conviction was dismissed two weeks
Streeter and Anderson were both black. In regard to his
identification, Garrell, 67, said that there were few blacks in Johnstown,
PA where he worked before retiring to Florida. "Since he was sitting
at the defense table, I just assumed that was the man. So did everyone
else. If they had the real man up there I couldn't be certain I could
identify him. It happened three months ago and it was getting dusk."
(Newspaper Accounts) [12/08]
|Mobile County, AL
Apr 12, 2001 (Mobile)
Donnie Mays was convicted of the murder of his wife Kaye. On the day
of Kaye's death,
Donnie, who worked for American General Auto Finance, received a phone call from
telling him that someone had forged his signature on expense
reports. Kaye subsequently admitted she had forged Donnie's signature.
Not knowing the severity of the wrongdoing or that Kaye had actually stolen
money from his employer, Donnie suggested they call his boss, Jim
both Donnie and Kaye were close to. However, Kaye decided it would be
best to wait until the following morning.
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Aug 22, 1988 (Niagara Falls)
Peter Frumusa was convicted of murdering Richard and Annie Wilson,
a married couple. The
victims were found dead in their beds and died as a result of blows to their
heads. No murder weapon was found. There was no evidence of forced
entry to their house, or of robbery or vandalism. Since the man's
wallet and money were found close to his body, robbery appeared not to be a
motive and the killings were thought to be executions.
by Clicking Here
|Cook County, IL
June 17, 1916 (Chicago)
Earnest Wallace was sentenced to
death for the shooting murders of two men that occurred during the robbery
of a saloon on the southwest corner of Twenty-Seventh and Federal streets in
Chicago. The victims were the proprietor, William Levin, and a
customer, William Monroe. Wallace was convicted of the murders due to
the eyewitness testimony of John Porter, Henry Flynn, and Martha Clark.
Porter was the
only identifying witness who testified he was in the saloon at the time of
the shooting. He first identified Wallace on the street while he
[Porter] was in the custody of the police. Although the other saloon
patrons lived in the neighborhood, Porter did not and claimed he was a first
time visitor. The other patrons said the assailant was masked, but
Porter testified the assailant was unmasked. At trial Porter was
unable to recognize any of the other patrons as being present in the saloon
at the time of the shooting. Porter also could not give an
intelligible account of his actions or whereabouts after leaving the saloon.
The other two
identifying witnesses gave testimony that was unlikely, and even if true,
only identified Wallace as being in or near the saloon around the time of
the shooting. Wallace testified that he was playing craps at a pool
room on State Street at the time of the shooting and he had three other
players corroborate his account of how he spent the evening of the
shootings. Two years after Wallace's conviction, the Illinois Supreme
Court vacated it on the grounds that the evidence against him
was insufficient to convict. (People v. Wallace)
|Johnson County, IA
Mar 13, 1973 (Iowa City)
James W. Hall was convicted of the strangulation murder of Sarah Ann Ottens
in a coeducational dormitory at the University of Iowa. Ottens, 21,
was a UI nursing student who hailed from Morrison, IL while Hall, 20, was a
former UI football player who hailed from Toledo, OH. The murder
occurred during spring break. Hall's conviction was overturned in late
1983 due to the withholding of evidence by the prosecution. Charges
against Hall were subsequently dropped. Years later Hall was convicted
of the Mar. 20, 1992 strangulation murder of 31-year-old Susan Hajek.
This murder occurred in Cedar Rapids, IA. (Google)
|Allen County, IN
Ralph Woodrow Lobaugh was
sentenced to death for the murders of three women. Within an 18-month
period of time, four women were abducted and killed in the Fort Wayne area:
Wilhelmina Haaga, 38, on Feb. 2, 1944, Anna Kuzeff, 20, on May 22, 1944,
Phyllis Conine, 17, on Aug. 6, 1944, and Dorothea Howard, 36, on Mar. 6, 1945.
The murders of these women were all committed during inclement weather.
They were possibly the work of a single serial killer dubbed "The Killer in
the Rain." There were some differences between the first three
murders and Howard's murder, suggesting a different killer had murdered
by Clicking Here
|Pulaski County, AR
James Dean Walker
Apr 16, 1963
James Dean Walker was convicted
of murdering Police Officer Jerrell Vaughn of North Little Rock. Walker and a
companion, Russell Kumpe, were at a Little Rock nightclub with two women, one
of whom was Linda Ford. Following an altercation at the club in which
another patron was shot, Kumpe, Walker, and Ford left in Kumpe's Oldsmobile.
Kumpe drove, while Walker sat in the passenger seat, with Ford sitting
in the center. Police Officer Gene Barentine pursued and stopped the
car and parked his vehicle behind it. Officer Vaughan arrived
on the scene almost immediately thereafter, as did two cabdrivers.
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Nov 2, 1974
Bradford Brown was convicted of the shooting murder of Rodney Frazier.
The crime happened at 1601 W. Street. SE A witness, Margaret Holton,
saw the killer and would later testify that it was Brown. "I am sure
of this guy's face," said Holton. "I will never forget that face."
Holton lived with Frazier's father and other witnesses from the Frazier
neighborhood corroborated her identification. Later investigation by
Washington Police Detective Robert Kanjian determined that another man,
Richard Harris, had committed the crime. Brown was released and
cleared of the conviction in 1979. (Victoria
(TX) Advocate 12-26-79) [11/08]
|Orange County, CA
Jan 20, 1994
Earl Henry Rhoney IV was convicted of the murder of 46-year-old Patricia Lea Pratt.
beaten and strangled during a burglary at her home in the upscale Turtle Rock
Irvine, CA. Rhoney had committed a burglary with six other teenagers
about a mile from the Pratt residence more than a week prior to the murder.
He was arrested for it two weeks after the murder. Eight months later, police followed Rhoney with a bloodhound upon Rhoney's
release from juvenile hall for the prior burglary. Police had given
the bloodhound, named Duchess, material extracted from Pratt's sweatshirt to sniff and
videotaped the dog allegedly tracking the scent of Pratt's killer. The
scent material was removed from the sweatshirt using a Dustbuster type
device that was called a Scent Machine. This device was patented by
the dog's handler, Larry Harris.
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|Huerfano County, CO
June 22, 1937 (Walsenburg)
Loren Hamby was convicted of the murder of George T. Carnes. Carnes
was killed during a holdup at his filling station located at the corner of
First and Walsen in Walsenburg. Hamby claimed he was listening to a
broadcast of the Louis-Braddock heavyweight fight at the time of the holdup.
Following conviction, Hamby began a life sentence in 1939. Some time
later, Professor Leonarde Keeler was brought in from Chicago with his
invention, the modern-day lie detector. He found Hamby was telling the
truth. The chief prosecution witness then repudiated his testimony.
In April 1946, Governor John Vivian pardoned Hamby and he was released.
In 1947 the Colorado Legislature awarded Hamby $10,000 for his wrongful
imprisonment. (Evening Independent) (Carnes
|Gage County, NE
Feb 5, 1985 (Beatrice)
Six people were convicted of
charges related to the murder of sixty-eight-year-old Helen Wilson.
The victim had been raped, beaten, and strangled. The six defendants
were Thomas Winslow, Joseph White, Ada Joanna Taylor, Kathy Gonzalez, Deb
Shelden, and James Dean. The initial investigation into Wilson's
murder went cold but it was revived in 1987 when a former Beatrice police
officer, Bert Searcey, came forward with confidential informants. The
informants said Taylor, a former Beatrice resident, admitted involvement in
over the investigation after being hired by the Gage County Sheriff's
office. Searcy focused on Taylor, White, and a group of
friends who drank and took drugs together. The theory behind the case
was that White and Taylor wanted to rob Wilson and that her rape and murder
just happened. The theory left questions: (1) How could six
people could fit into Wilson's tiny apartment without anyone seeing or
hearing them? (2) Who would bring five witnesses to a sexual assault?
(3) If robbery was the motive, why was Wilson's purse filled with $1300 left
untouched on a kitchen stool?
White, all confessed to the crime after reportedly coercive interrogation
techniques. The techniques included the use of a psychiatrist to tell
the defendants that they had repressed memories of the crime. There was also
evidence that the police spoon fed details of the crimes to the defendants.
Several defendants were threatened with the death penalty, including Taylor
who was told that she would be the first woman to be executed by the State
of Nebraska if she did not confess and cooperate. Taylor, Shelden, and
Dean pled guilty to the crime while Gonzalez entered a no-contest plea.
Gonzalez, Shelden, and Dean were released from prison in 1994.
In 2008, DNA
tests were performed which exonerated all of the Nebraska Six and led to the
release of Winslow, White, and Taylor from prison. The tests
indicated Bruce Allen Smith of Oklahoma had committed Wilson's rape and murder.
Smith died of AIDS in 1992. The Nebraska Attorney General's Office is,
as of this writing, helping the Nebraska Six to obtain pardons. The
DNA exonerations, the first in Nebraska, were the largest mass DNA-based
exonerations, surpassing the 2002 mass DNA exonerations of five individuals
convicted of raping a jogger in New York City's Central Park. (Bluhm)
v. White) [11/08]
|Milwaukee County, WI
Convicted 2008 (Milwaukee)
David Sanders, a Franciscan Brother and schoolteacher, was convicted
in 2008 of
molesting an altar boy more than 20 years earlier. The victim who knew
his molester as "Brother David," picked Sanders out of a photo array and
remembered him as the man who taught him First Communion rites at St.
Vincent's parish. The victim also said he visited his molester in
Delaware. Sanders 1980s address was in the address book of the victim's family. At trial Sanders' defense argued that Sanders had never
administered the victim's First Communion nor, as far as anyone could prove,
had ever been to Delaware. Sanders had worked at a number of Milwaukee area
parishes as a music teacher, but never at St. Vincent's.
conviction, the victim's grandmother found a letter written by a different
"Brother David," named David Nickerson, which implicated that man in the assault. When
confronted, Nickerson admitted he molested the victim. Sanders was
subsequently exonerated after 5 months of
imprisonment. Authorities were debating whether to charge Nickerson,
in part, because the victim is far from an ideal witness. In 2008 the
victim was 30 years old and was himself in prison for molesting a child. (WIP)
|Jefferson County, AL
Sept 24, 1992
Louis Griffin was sentenced to
death for the gunshot murder of Christopher Lynn Davis. Following
Davis's death, two men were indicted for the murder, Anthony Embry and
Falanda Miles, based on eyewitness testimony and other evidence. Embry
pleaded guilty to the crime and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment
while Miles was tried and acquitted of the charge. The Davis case was
In April 1996,
Griffin pleaded guilty in New York City to federal RICO law (racketeering)
violations. Griffin was the "security man" for the 142nd Street Lynch
Mob Crew. The Crew supplied illegal drugs to various parts of the country,
including Alabama. As part of his plea Griffin entered into an
allocation that he had participated in the Alabama murder of Davis. As
a result of this allocation, Alabama authorities exonerated Embry of Davis's
murder and initiated proceedings against Griffin.
Griffin stated that he lied in federal court. However, he was barred
from presenting any evidence that after the initial police investigation,
the state believed that Embry and Miles committed the murder, or that Embry
entered into a valid plea agreement admitting to the murder. This
evidence was excluded because it was hearsay. On appeal in 2000, the
Alabama Supreme Court reversed Griffin's conviction due to the excluded
evidence. In 2001, Griffin was acquitted at retrial. (Griffin
v. Alabama) (Alabama's
|Orange County, FL
Dec 24, 1975 (Winter Garden)
William Thomas Zeigler
Jr. was sentenced to death for the murders of four people in his furniture
store. The store was located at 1010 S. Dillard St. in Winter Garden,
FL. The victims were Zeigler's wife, Eunice, her parents, Perry and
Virginia Edwards, and a black customer, Charlie Mays. Zeigler,
himself, was critically shot.
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Mar 12, 1981
convicted of rape. Clyde and his brother Marlo Charles had been out
drinking together at a bar. The brothers then went their separate ways
hitchhiking. The victim, a 26-year-old, was subsequently raped after
her car had a flat tire on the same road as the bar. The victim initially told police that her assailant was
clean-shaven, but she identified the fully bearded Clyde as her assailant
when police brought him to her several hours after the assault. Police
had found Clyde hitchhiking an hour before the assault and had ordered him
off the road. Marlo bore a strong resemblance to Clyde and was dressed
similar to him on the night of the assault, but the victim maintained that
Clyde was her assailant. At trial, Marlo testified in his brother's
defense, but was not asked by either the prosecution or the defense if he
was the rapist. However, Clyde's defense attorney filed an affidavit
stating he believed Marlo was the rapist. Clyde began requesting DNA
tests in the early 1990's but prosecutors blocked these requests for years.
In 1999, DNA tests exonerated Clyde and implicated Marlo. (IP) (Frontline) (JD12)
|Warren County, OH
Apr 23, 1994
Jack L. Frederick was convicted of rape, kidnapping, assault, and domestic
violence against Jackie Dawson, an ex-girlfriend. The lack of physical
evidence and the evidence of trial witness perjury not only creates
reasonable doubt, but also makes likely Frederick's claim that Dawson
fabricated the charges in order to retaliate against him for leaving her and
failing to share with her half of his $1200 disability check. (JD10)
|Greer County, OK
Jan 21, 1988 (Granite)
Troy Hickey was convicted of murdering inmate Richard Allen Payne at the
Oklahoma State Reformatory at Granite. Payne's cellmate, Bobby Petkoff,
who was serving a life sentence for murdering his brother, first told
authorities that he had found Payne lying on the floor, bleeding, when he
returned to his cell. Later, Petkoff changed his story and claimed
that inmate Steve Ness stabbed Payne while another inmate, whom he did not
know, held him at knifepoint. When shown a photo lineup, Petkoff
picked out the unknown accomplice. However, Petkoff was later walked
past Hickey and changed his identification of the unknown accomplice to
Hickey. This identification was illegal because it was a "showup
testified against Hickey, including Petkoff. All were given deals for
their testimony, but the existence of the deals were hidden at trial.
Hickey later found out that Petkoff was originally a
prime suspect in the murder. He also found that Petkoff had been
covered in blood at the time of the stabbing. It would seem likely
that if Hickey had held him down, Hickey would have been covered in blood as
well, but he had no blood on any of his clothing or on anything that he
owned. In 1996, Ness signed an affidavit stating that he murdered
Payne and that Hickey was not with him at the time. The affidavit also
stated that Ness hardly knew Hickey at the time of the crime, and that
Hickey's conviction was due to mistaken identity by inmate witnesses, after
weeks of pressure and coercion by state authorities. (JD10)
Paul William Scott
Dec 6, 1978 (Boca Raton)
Paul William Scott was sentenced to death for the murder of James Alessi,
a Boca Raton florist. Scott had accompanied a friend, Rick Kondian, to
Alessi's home where they smoked some pot. Unknown to the two, Alessi
had laced it with PCP, a dangerous hallucinogen. Scott laid down in
another room. Meanwhile, Alessi, a 6'2" homosexual, tried to force
himself sexually on Kondian. Kondian screamed for Scott's help, and
with his aid managed to subdue Alessi. Scott then left. Kondian
left, but returned three and a half-hours later to rob Alessi, and killed
him with a champagne bottle during the robbery.
Kondian cut his
hand badly with the cork wire from the bottle, and while he afterwards threw
the bottle in the woods, a circle of blood from the bottle was left at the
murder scene. At Scott's trial, the prosecution withheld this blood
evidence. Two witnesses to the murder have also come forward to
exonerate Scott. A book was written about the case entitled A
Circle of Blood by Bob Pauley. (FYI)
June 29, 1952
Edward Frank Kanieski was convicted of murdering tavern owner Clara Bates.
Bates, 76, was found strangled and bludgeoned to death in her living
quarters at her bar in Wisconsin Rapids. Kanieski,
then 33, was one of two men who found Bates two days after she was last seen
had been been an irregular customer at her bar. He had once told Bates a
false story about being an aviator. When Bates expressed interest in
going to Iowa some months in the future, Kanieski had offered to fly her
there. Later he had a fall outside a funeral home, for which his head was bandaged.
Using the bandage as evidence, he told Bates he had a plane accident and
could no longer take her. Kanieski initially lied about being at
Bates's bar the night of her murder. While Kanieski was there, she left
other patrons to speak with him for about 15 minutes. Kanieski left
before closing. Bates subsequently closed her bar early for some
unspecified reason, possibly because she planned to meet with her murderer.
Exiting patrons reportedly saw Kanieski's car by
the side of the road and he admitted he was parked by the side of the road.
by Clicking Here
|Dallas County, TX
Aug 25, 1981
Johnnie Earl Lindsey was
convicted of rape. The 28-year-old victim was riding her bike around White Rock
Lake about 11 a.m. when she saw a shirtless man in his 20s standing on
the path in a wooded area. As she tried to ride past him, the man
grabbed the handlebars of her bike and knocked her off. He said he had
a knife and threatened to stab her if she did not do as he said. After
being sexually assaulted, the woman managed to get away and ran for help.
A year after the
assault, when the victim was living in San Antonio, Dallas police mailed her
a six-person photo lineup. Only two of the men in the lineup were
shirtless and Lindsey was one of them. The victim subsequently
identified Lindsey as her assailant. At trial Lindsey had an alibi,
time clock punch cards that showed that he was working in a commercial
laundry at the time of the assault. Nevertheless, the jury chose to
believe the victim. Lindsey was repeatedly denied parole because he
would not admit to the offense. According to his attorney, Michelle
Moore, "It's been almost 26 years. I can't believe he didn't just admit to
the assault so he could be released." In 2008, DNA tests exonerated
Lindsey, and he was released. In 2009, Governor Perry officially
pardoned him. (DMN) [10/08]
|Fresno County, CA
July 22, 1976 (Fowler)
Bernard Vindiola was convicted of the shooting murder of Thomas J. McCoy, a security guard at
the Peek-a-Boo Bar in Fowler, CA. At the time of the shooting, Bernard, his brother, Eddie Vindiola, several
sisters and some friends were at the bar. Christina Vindiola got into
a fight with her sisters, Rosie and Elena, and with Eddie's girlfriend,
Martina Rocha. McCoy attempted to intervene and stop the fight. In the
process he was shot three times, and later died as a result.
After the shooting, Christina Vindiola remained at the bar. She told a
number of people that her brother, Eddie, had a gun and had shot the
security guard. She would later testify that she made those initial
statements because she was angry
with Eddie. She stated that she did not know whether Eddie had a
gun or had shot the victim.
At Bernard's trial, his defense was
that Eddie had shot the victim. Bernard's girlfriend was
not involved in the fight or with the security guard, but Eddie's girlfriend
was. Only one witness, Vaughn Donabedian, claimed to have seen Bernard
shoot McCoy. His testimony was questionable for several reasons:
(1) The lighting condition in the bar was dark, and it was crowded with 75
to 85 people. (2) Shortly after the shooting, Donabedian said the
assailant was 5 feet 10 inches tall and in his late 20's or early 30's.
Eddie was 5 feet 9 inches tall and 28 years old. Bernard, however, was
6 feet 1 inch and 21 years old. (3) Donabedian was positive that the
killer had gotten in the back seat of a car just before it drove away.
However, there was testimony that Eddie, who was unable to drive, got in the
back seat, whereas Bernard was in the front seat driving. (4) The day
after the shooting, Donabedian was shown a group of photographs, including
Bernard's, but could not identify any of them as the assailant. (5)
Donabedian was shown a physical lineup three days later and identified
someone other than Bernard as the killer. He later claimed at trial that
Bernard had been in that lineup, which was incorrect.
In 1979, a state appeals court overturned Bernard's conviction
because the defense was prohibited from introducing Eddie's prior conviction
of auto theft to impeach his testimony. The court also cited other
reasons and noted in its opinion the
weight of evidence was in favor of Bernard. It is not known if
Bernard was retried, but the Northwestern Law School website lists him
as an exonerated person. (People v. Vindiola) [10/08]
|Erie County, NY
Aug 12, 1925 (Buffalo)
Edward Larkman was convicted of the robbery and murder of Ward
J. Pierce, the
paymaster of the Art Metal Shop plant in Buffalo, NY. Dorothy Littleworth,
an eyewitness to the crime, said the killer wore dark glasses.
After police forced Larkman to put on dark glasses, Littleworth identified Larkman
as the killer. The identification was performed without any lineup. Littleworth had said she had seen
the killer's profile for only three seconds and his face for only two.
At trial, the jury asked for information on how Littleworth had identified
Larkman, but they were not told. The jury convicted Larkman after
43 hours of deliberation. Larkman was sentenced to death.
The court of
appeals affirmed Larkman's conviction, without issuing a majority opinion.
However, two judges issued a minority dissent because they felt that Larkman's identification had not
been established beyond a reasonable doubt. In Jan. 1927, shortly before Larkman's
scheduled execution, Governor Alfred E. Smith commuted Larkman's
sentence to life imprisonment, as was customary when there was dissent
on the court of appeals.
In April 1929, Anthony Kalkiewicz, a Buffalo
gangster, confessed to participating in the murder of Pierce with four other
men, none of them Larkman. Larkman was subsequently denied a new trial
because the new evidence was not presented within a year of his first trial.
However, in April 1933, Governor Lehman unconditionally pardoned Larkman,
mainly because of the identification method used by the police. (Not
|Saginaw County, MI
Oct 25, 1919
Alexander Ripan was convicted of the murder of Luca Tirpula, a prosperous
farmer. The crime occurred near Saginaw, MI. Ripan was convicted because his revolver had been fired
recently, and a bullet taken from Tirpula's body dropped easily through the
barrel of the gun. In 1929, after serving ten years of imprisonment,
Ripan escaped prison, but was rearrested six years later. The
prosecutor, Crane, who had brought Ripan to trial was by then not satisfied
with his conviction and worked to get Ripan a new trial. In 1939, at
Ripan's new trial, an expert testified that in light of recent discoveries
in ballistics, the evidence that convicted him now exonerated him: A
bullet fired from a revolver could not afterwards be reinserted into the
same gun except with great difficulty. The trial judge subsequently
dismissed the murder indictment against Ripan. (Not
|Huron County, MI
Dr. Robert MacGregor
Aug 4, 1911
Dr. Robert MacGregor was
convicted of the murder of 20-year-old Scyrel Sparling. Circumstances surrounding Scyrel's death in 1911 were
unfortunate. His father had died in 1908 and two of his brothers died in 1910
and 1911. Arsenic was reportedly found in Scyrel's body. The arsenic finding,
if true, may have been due to medicines he had taken.
MacGregor's alleged motive in the killing was that his modest doctor fees
could be paid from Scyrel's life insurance proceeds.
Governor Ferris received an appeal on MacGregor's behalf, he had the case
reinvestigated. The results of the reinvestigation were not made
public, so it is not known what facts it established. Nevertheless, in
1916, the Governor issued MacGregor a full and unconditional pardon.
The Governor took the unusual step of having MacGregor brought to the state
capital at Lansing where he handed him the pardon personally. In his
statement the Governor said, "I am firmly convinced that Dr. MacGregor is
absolutely innocent of the crime for which he was convicted." (CTI) (The
Sparling Murders) (People
Garvey, Lesher, & Rohan
Nov 1, 1927
Harvey Lesher, and Phil Rohan were convicted of murder in 1928. The victim
was A. R. Miles who was found fatally injured in the drug store that he
owned at 2729 West Jefferson Street. Following the men's convictions,
the trial witnesses who identified them were discredited. A new
investigation raised serious doubts about allegations that Miles was tied up when he
was found and that money was taken from his cash register. This
evidence led to a conviction on the part of investigators that quite likely
there had been no murder or robbery, but that Miles had suffered a fainting
spell and in falling received his injuries. California Governor Young
pardoned the three men in 1930. (CTI)
|Polk County, GA
Hugh C. Lee
Sept 15, 1923
Hugh C. Lee was convicted of robbing a post office in Priors, Georgia of 165
blank money orders. His conviction was due to identifying witnesses.
Another man, Will Barrett, later gave a detailed confession to the crime.
Following Barrett's conviction, U.S. President Coolidge pardoned Lee in
|New York County, NY
Dec 10, 1910
Oscar Krueger was convicted of sending an obscene letter based in part on
handwriting analysis. Following his conviction and his letters of protest
to various officials, an Assistant United States Attorney reinvestigated the
case and concluded Kreuger was innocent. Based on the attorney's
recommendations, U.S. President Taft pardoned Kreuger and he was released
after serving nearly a year of imprisonment. (CTI)
|Whitfield County, GA
Convicted 1997 (Dalton)
Wayne Cservak was
convicted of molesting his girlfriend's 13-year-old-son. The boy
testified that Cservak had molested him night after night for almost two
weeks. He said the sexual assaults happened regularly between 3 and 4 a.m.
as he slept on the living room sofa. One juror, Jim Thomas, thought
the boy's testimony seemed contrived. The boy stated he was sleeping
on the sofa because he thought there were ghosts in his room. Then he said
he was in the living room because his mother had rented out his room
for a week to a cousin. Testimony revealed that investigators had
already caught the boy in one lie. The boy's attitude also gave Thomas
pause. When asked why he didn't immediately report the allegations,
the boy wisecracked, "Go figure." In contrast to the boy's testimony,
Thomas felt that Cservak's testimony was real and believable.
believing Cservak innocent, Thomas was eventually browbeaten into convicting
him after eight grueling hours of jury deliberation. Thomas spoke at
Cservak's sentencing hearing and his testimony helped convince the judge to
give Cservak only 10 years out of a possible 100-year sentence. Then Thomas
spent thousands of dollars hiring an attorney to appeal Cservak's case.
During the appeal process, the boy recanted his story and told
prosecutors that he had lied. Apparently, the boy's mother and Cservak were
talking about marrying and the boy did not like that idea. Cservak was
incarcerated for close to a year. (JD01)
Apr 30, 1944 (Cuthbert)
Lena Baker, a black woman, was
convicted of murdering Ernest B. Knight, a white grist mill owner.
After Knight hired Baker to care for him while he nursed a broken leg, a
sexual relationship developed between the two. Following Baker's
attempts to break off the relationship, Knight found her and forced her to
go with him. Baker managed to escape, but Knight found her again and
locked her in a gristmill. Later, according to Baker, during a tussle
between the two over a gun, the gun went off killing Knight.
In 1998 while
the director of a prisoner's rights group, John Cole Vodicka, was visiting
the Randolph County Courthouse, the Court Clerk asked him if he wanted to
look into Baker's case. The clerk gave him the court file, which included
the 10-page trial transcript. Vodicka later came into contact with a
great-nephew of Baker, and in 2003 helped in the filing of a pardon
application for her with the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Vodicka expressed confidence that "almost any lawyer could have pled Lena
Baker not guilty by reason of self-defense.” The Board of Pardons and
Paroles apparently agreed with him and granted Baker a
posthumous pardon on Aug. 30, 2005. (JD29
|Racine County, WI
Dec 15, 1917 (Racine)
George E. Hamilton, alias Eli J. Long, was convicted in
1918 of the murder of Edward
B. Warner. Warner was shot during a robbery of the Standard Oil
Station that he managed on the corner of Seventh and Main Sts. in Racine,
WI. A 14-year-old boy named Mervil Peil, who was on the sidewalk of the
street opposite the oil station, saw the apparent murderer as he ran from
the oil station to the sidewalk in front of the station, then north until he
disappeared. The boy picked out Hamilton as "the man who resembled him
most" from about a half dozen other men at the police station that evening.
The identification was not positive, the boy asserting that "his
(Hamilton's) height was about the same, and his dress, and the build of the
man." Peil repeated his statements at trial, as did police officers Yanne and Harms
whose hearsay accounts presumably served to corroborate Peil's testimony in
the eyes of the jury.
by Clicking Here
|Jefferson Parish, LA
Sept 27, 1986 (Kenner)
Douglas A. DiLosa was convicted of the murder of his wife, Glinda.
When police arrived at DiLosa's condominium following a 911 call from his
son, they found DiLosa tied up on the living room floor. His wife was
found bound and strangled on a bed. DiLosa said he was awakened about
3:30 a.m. to noises downstairs. When he investigated, he discovered two
black male intruders. The intruders him beat him unconscious.
When he recovered from his unconsciousness, he found himself bound and the
house in shambles. He called out to his son and instructed him to dial
911. The crime occurred at Apartment 7-C, Chardonnay Village
Condominiums, 1500 West Esplanade Ave. in Kenner, LA.
In time, DiLosa
was arrested for Glinda's murder based on an alleged lack of evidence
supporting his version of events. Investigators also discovered a
possible motive. DiLosa was out of work, his unemployment benefits
were about to run out, a large payment was near due on the condo, and his
wife's life was insured for a substantial sum. At trial the
prosecution focused on the lack of evidence that any other perpetrator
besides DiLosa committed the crime. During his closing argument, the
prosecutor told the jury, "There was not one, not one shred of black hair
found in that residence." And he also stated, "Did you hear any
evidence about any other houses that were hit that night?"
was evidence supporting DiLosa's version of events, but it was withheld from
the defense: (1) Hair of a non-Caucasian type was found on the rope
around Glinda's neck and on the bed where her body was discovered. (2)
Fingerprints were found in the condo that could not be positively
identified. (3) An attempted break-in occurred at a nearby condo.
(4) A taxi driver had seen a car occupied by two black men exit the condo
complex at 5:45 a.m. The taxi driver said the car's driver looked
"tense," faced straight ahead while gripping the steering wheel, and was
driving very slowly.
In 2002, the
federal 5th Circuit Court overturned DiLosa's conviction due to the
withholding of evidence. It is not known if DiLosa was retried, but a
reference source lists DiLosa as having been exonerated in 2003. (DiLosa
v. Cain) [10/08]
June 20, 1994 (Dunedin)
David Cullen Bain was convicted of murdering his mother Margaret, 50,
his father Robin, 58, sisters Arawa, 19, and Laniet, 18, and brother
Stephen, 14. All had died from .22 gunshot wounds to their heads.
The murders occurred at 65 Every Street, Anderson's Bay, Dunedin.
Twenty-two-year-old David was arrested four days after making a frantic 111 call from the family
home. Police responding to the emergency found him huddled in the house
babbling incoherently. At trial, David's defense argued that his
father Robin killed the family then himself while David was out doing his
early morning paper run. David has consistently maintained his
against Robin appears to be greater than that against David, but since none
of it is especially strong, one can assume that the evidence against both is
evenly divided. Depending on the
weight one puts on various pieces of evidence, it is possible to believe
either one of them is the likely perpetrator. However, reasonable doubt
attaches to David because a plausible case can always be made that Robin is the
perpetrator. The motive evidence is stronger against Robin.
evidence shows the perpetrator had fought with Stephen, and Robin had six
recent abrasions on his hands. These abrasions were alleged to be due
to Robin's replacement of spouting at the family home.
After exhausting his appeals in New
Zealand, David appealed to England's Privy Counsel, and in 2007 it
quashed his conviction as a miscarriage of justice, based on new evidence
that the Crown reportedly disputes. David was subsequently released on bail
by the Christchurch High Court. Two 1997 books were published on the
Bain case, the pro-defense David and Goliath by Joe Karam, and the
pro-prosecution The Mask of Sanity by James McNeish. (NZCity)
|Adams County, WI
Kenny Ray Reichhoff
Dec 11, 1974 (Friendship)
Kenny Ray Reichhoff was convicted
in 1975 of the murders of Marvin Collins and Ervin
Schilling. He was sentenced to life in prison. Nineteen-year-old
Reichhoff worked for Collins at his chainsaw shop and lived in a rented
trailer next door. Prosecutors contended that Reichhoff shot Collins
to settle an argument that occurred four days earlier and that he shot
Schilling, a customer, to silence a witness. Police found Reichhoff's .22
caliber pistol, which they said was the murder weapon, under Reichhoff's
The state crime laboratory found eight latent fingerprints in the
chainsaw shop that did not match Reichhoff or the victims. The
prosecution contended that Reichhoff entered the shop by the rear door when
he killed the two, but testimony established that it was barred and
padlocked. Police confiscated another gun that belonged to Claude
Hayes, Collin's father-in-law, but never tested it to see if it matched the
spent shell casings. They also did not consider that Collin's wife may
have been the intended target of the attack. Instead of opening the
shop as usual, she went to the hospital to pick up her son. Reichhoff
had no dispute with her and probably did not know that she was not there. Cracks in the case were enough for Reichhoff's to get a new trial.
In Oct 1977, a retrial jury acquitted Reichhoff. (101 Wisconsin Unsolved
|Baltimore County, MD
Cornell Avery Estes
Cornell Avery Estes was 15 when he was sentenced in 1979 to life in prison
for stabbing a woman to death on Security Boulevard. Less than a year after
Estes's conviction, somebody else confessed to the murder and Estes was
released. In 1984, Estes was awarded $16,500 for his wrongful
Roger Beardmore was convicted in 1998 of pedophile rape after being accused
by an 11-year-old girl. At the time of the alleged offense, Beardmore
was living at a farmhouse 15 miles from Stoke-on-Trent. The girl told
her mother that between the ages of three and six she had been raped and
interfered with when visiting Beardmore's farm. Three years later the
girl admitted that she made the whole thing up to gain the attention of her
mother. She said, "I have put a man in prison for no reason."
The girl now says she never wants to see her mother again. She
expressed the wish to right a wrong which had been keeping her awake, crying
at night. Following the girl's admission, Beardmore's conviction was
quashed and he was released from prison. (Innocent)
June 2000 (Schiedam)
Cees Borsboom was convicted of
raping and murdering Nienke Kleiss, a 10-year-old girl. He was also
convicted of the attempted murder of Kleiss's 11-year-old male friend named
Maikel. After being severely beaten, Maikel survived by pretending to
be dead. Borsboom came across the victims and reported the crime to
police on his cellphone. After being arrested for these crimes,
Borsboom confessed his responsibility for them to police officers, to a
prosecutor, and to the investigative judge. After a while, Borsboom
withdrew his confession, claiming it was coerced by the police.
confession was given in vague terms, without providing specific information
and without his defense lawyer being present. Peter R. de Vries, a
Dutch TV journalist, thought the case was fishy and did some investigation.
He found that Borsboom did not fit the description given by Maikel, nor did
Maikel recognize Borsboom. De Vries also found that Borsboom did not
have time to commit the crime, especially since there was a second witness
on the scene right when he called 112 (the Dutch equivalent to 911).
In 2004, another
man, Wik Haalmeijer, who got caught for two other child molestation crimes,
confessed to the crimes for which Borsboom was convicted. Further
investigation revealed that the DA and the National Forensic Institute had
known all along that Borsboom did not commit the crime. They had performed
DNA tests which excluded Borsboom as the perpetrator, but had withheld the test
results from Borsboom' defense. This DNA evidence was
matched to Haalmeijer following his confession. Borsboom was exonerated and released in
2005. He was also awarded $706,000 for his wrongful conviction and
p23) (VDG) (Utrecht Law
|Chattanooga County, TN
Jan 23, 1906
Ed Johnson, a black man, was sentenced to death for the rape of a 21-year-old white woman.
The victim, Nevada Taylor, was assaulted near Forest Hills Cemetery in
Chattanooga. Johnson appealed his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court
on the grounds that he had not been accorded due process of law. The
Supreme Court accepted his case and issued a stay of execution. The
county sheriff and judge did nothing to diffuse local outrage at
what was viewed as Supreme Court meddling. On Mar. 19, 1906, within
hours of telegrams announcing the stay, a large
mob seized Johnson from the Chattanooga County Jail and lynched him on the
Walnut Street bridge. Sheriff Joseph Shipp and other officials were
subsequently tried and convicted by the U.S. Supreme Court of criminal
contempt. The proceedings were the only criminal trial ever held by
the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2000,
Johnson's conviction was posthumously vacated. (Famous
Rivera & Calderón
Jan 24, 2002 (Ensenada)
Francisco Rivera Agredano and his
brother-in-law, Alfonso Calderón León were convicted of drug trafficking after 37 pounds of marijuana
was found in the door of a Nissan Pathfinder SUV that Rivera was driving.
Calderón was a passenger. The two were stopped at a checkpoint near
Ensenada, which is more than 70 miles from the U.S. Border. Rivera, a
Tijuana printer, had bought the
car four months before for $2,600 at a U.S. government auction in San
Ysidro, CA. It had previously been seized when 59 pounds of
marijuana was found inside its gasoline tank.
crossed the U.S.-Mexican border five times without incident after he bought
the car. Under Mexican law the two men were presumed guilty. They were convicted after a Mexican judge rejected their claim that U.S.
customs did not thoroughly search the car. The two were sentenced to five
years in prison. The U.S., not only ignored their pleas for help, but
fought to keep exonerating evidence from their attorneys. After a year
in prison, the convictions of the two were vacated after Rivera's lawyer was
able to convince a Mexicali appeals court that the moldy marijuana found
inside the Pathfinder was too old to be of resale value.
Rivera was later
awarded $551,000 in a suit against the U.S. government, and may get an
additional sum for costs incurred by his U.S. lawyers. Calderón could
not sue because because of a U.S. Supreme Court precedent barring lawsuits
against the federal government for incidents arising outside the U.S.
U.S. District Judge Emily Hewitt ruled that she did not know how customs
missed the contraband, but she rejected the claim advanced by Rivera's
lawyers that the Customs Service does not thoroughly search vehicles because
doing so could cause damage them and decrease their resale value. In legal
documents, U.S. attorneys said the government did nothing wrong and that the
onus is on the buyers to make sure the cars are drug free. According
to Teresa Trucchi, attorney for Rivera and Calderón, "I don't think 'as is'
to the normal consumer means, 'If I buy it and it's stuffed full of drugs
that I'm unaware of and I get arrested, that's my problem.'" (SD
|Pinellas County, FL
Jan 13, 2002 (St. Petersburg)
Raymond Andrew Baugh was convicted in 2002 of the capital
sexual battery of a 7-year-old girl, identified as C. P. Baugh lived
with Rachel, the girl's mother. C. P. said he molested her behind a
locked bedroom door. She subsequently told investigators that Baugh had
molested her 12 previous times. There was no physical evidence supporting
the molestation. A month later, C. P. told her mother that she had lied.
She said she was mad at Baugh and wanted to get him in trouble, but not
too much trouble. She claimed she initially maintained her story about
Baugh because she was afraid of what her mother might do if she found out
that she, C. P., had lied. At trial, C. P. testified there was never
any molestation. However, the prosecution presented the girl's
previous statements that she had given. Baugh
was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The 2nd District Court
of Appeal subsequently upheld Baugh's conviction, based on prosecution claims that
the girl's original accusation was more believable than her recantation.
However, in 2007 the Florida Supreme Court quashed Baugh's conviction on
the grounds that such claims were simply inadequate to support a conviction.
v. Florida) (SP
|Cumberland County, NC
Lee Wayne Hunt
Mar 7, 1984 (Eastover)
Lee Wayne Hunt was convicted of
the murders of Roland "Tadpole" Matthews Jr. and his wife, Lisa K. Matthews.
Both were shot execution-style, their throats slit, in their home on a dirt
road near Fayetteville. Prosecutors argued that the murders were
punishment for an alleged theft of marijuana by Roland from Hunt's drug
ring. Hunt was an admitted marijuana dealer. A codefendant,
Jerry Dale Cashwell, was also convicted.
Read More by
Jan 13, 1994
Ryan James was convicted of the murder of his
39-year-old wife, Sandra James.
Sandra died from drinking a glass of orange juice that contained a fatal dose of immobilon, a horse tranquilizer.
Ryan, a veterinarian, had access to the drug. He also been having an
affair with another woman, Catherine Crooks. The lovers had left their
spouses to live together, but the cost of running two homes drove Ryan back
to his wife.
would have allowed Ryan to start a new life with Catherine on the proceeds
of a £180,000 life insurance policy. Besides these proceeds,
£143,000 in debts were wiped out by Sandra's death. At trial, Ryan's
defense argued that Sandra had committed suicide, but made it look like
murder. However, the crown argued that it was murder made to look like
a suicide. Ryan was sentenced to life in prison. His trial
Justice Anthony Hidden, told him he was "the most evil, selfish, and
criminally callous man" he had ever sentenced.
While in prison
Ryan married Catherine, who never believed he killed his wife. While
going through her new husband's belongings, Catherine found a handwritten
note stuffed inside one of Ryan's professional journals. It was in
Sandra's handwriting and said, "Ryan, I leave you absolutely nothing but
this note - if you find it in time, Sam." Sam was Sandra's pet name.
Because the note indicated suicidal intent, Ryan's conviction was quashed in
1998 and he was released from prison. There was some additional
evidence that Sandra was depressed. She had taken anti-depressants in
the 1970s. At the time of Sandra's death there were puncture wounds
in her foot. It was alleged that she had experimented with the
immobilon drug by injecting it into her foot, then injecting herself with
the antidote shortly thereafter. (Innocent)
|Broward County, FL
Nov 22, 2003 (Tamarac)
was convicted of the murder of 81-year-old Charles Bertheas. Bertheas,
a French national, rented a room inside Burkell's home at 9107 NW 72 Court,
in Tamarac, FL. Burkell told investigators he discovered Bertheas
lying on the floor inside his room and called 911. Tamarac Fire Rescue
responded to the scene and determined Bertheas was dead. Bertheas had
been bludgeoned with repeated blows to the head, but no weapon was ever
identified or found. His
death was ruled a homicide due to blunt trauma. Bertheas was found on
a Sunday afternoon. It was determined that he died approximately 18 hours before,
placing his murder on the previous night. Bertheas was last seen
around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday evening.
remodeled his house to provide lodging to Bertheas. Bertheas had given
Burkell his power of attorney. Burkell had cashed a $10,000 check
drawn on Bertheas's bank account on the day before his death. Burkell had
dined with Bertheas just hours before his death, but there was no hint of
friction between the two. Burkell was also a beneficiary of the
Bertheas's will, an estate worth nearly $300,000.
wife, and his adult daughter were home the night of Bertheas's murder,
although his wife had left for a brief period to visit a friend.
Bertheas's room had two sets of sliding glass doors, none of which were
locked. Other doors leading into the family room of the house were also
unlocked. At least 12 latent fingerprints found at the scene could not
be matched to Burkell or any member of his family.
(barefoot) footprint belonging to Burkell was found in Bertheas's room.
The state presented it as evidence, but presented no evidence that this print was left at the time of the
murder. Nor did the state eliminate the possibility that it was left
when Burkell found
the body. Burkell had told police he thought he was wearing sandals when he discovered the body. The state also
found specks of blood belonging to both Burkell and Bertheas in the floor
mat and in the sink in Bertheas's bathroom. No evidence was presented
regarding the age of these specks. No
other evidence was presented by the State.
In 2007, the
Florida Court of Appeals vacated Burkell's conviction on the basis of
insufficient evidence and ordered his acquittal. It ruled that that
the state had not proven Burkell guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because "The
State's evidence in this case did not eliminate every plausible theory of
innocence." (BSO) (Burkell
v. Florida) [10/08]
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