Date of Alleged Crime
|Los Angeles County,
June 30, 1947
Madge Meredith was convicted and sentenced to prison for 5 years to life for
complicity in an assault of her former manager, Nicholas D. Gianaclis, and
his bodyguard, Verne V. Davis. Gianaclis and Davis reportedly were
beaten, kidnapped, and robbed by a group of men as they neared Meredith's
Hollywood Hills home.
Meredith's off-screen and legal name was Marjorie May Massow. In March 1951, the CA Assembly Interim Committee on Crime and Corrections
issued an official report concluding that Meredith had been framed. In
July 1951, Gov. Earl Warren commuted her sentence to time served.
Available news clips on the case suggest that Gianaclis framed Meredith to gain
ownership of her home. After her release Meredith got her home back
and Gianaclis, an immigrant, was denied U.S. citizenship by the Immigration
Service. (Google) (FJDB)
David Cooper, Michael McMahon,
and Patrick Murphy were convicted of murdering a Luton, England post office
clerk during an attempted robbery of the post office. An unusually
large amount of money was being held in the post office overnight. The
victim, Reginald Stevens, a sub-postmaster, had locked up the post office
and was shot to death in a nearby parking lot (car park) after he refused to
hand over his keys.
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Driskell was convicted of the murder of Perry Dean Harder. Harder,
age 29, was last seen outside his rooming house in a pickup truck. His
decomposed body was found three months later in a shallow grave just outside
Winnipeg near Brookside Boulevard and Logan Avenue on Sept. 30, 1990.
He had been shot three times in the chest. Driskell and Harder had
been involved in a chop shop operation which was raided in 1989. They
were jointly charged in a series of break-and-enters following the raid.
Driskell said he had nothing to do with the criminal activity. But
according to police Harder named him as an accomplice. Five days
before the preliminary hearing into those charges, Harder disappeared.
The Crown's theory was that Driskell had committed the murder in order to
prevent Harder from testifying against him.
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Dec 1979 (Southampton)
Robert Graham "Sean" Hodgson was convicted of the murder of Teresa de
Simone, 22. De Simone's partially clothed body had been found in the
back of her Ford Escort outside the Tom Tackle pub in Southampton where she
worked part-time as a barmaid. She had been strangled with her own
gold chain. Twelve months later, Hodgson, who had been in the area at
the time, confessed committing the murder to a prison chaplain, prison
warders, and police while serving a jail sentence for a separate crime.
Four other people had also confessed to the crime, but their confessions
were discounted by detectives. Hodgson later pleaded not guilty on the
grounds he was a pathological liar. Material recovered at the scene
belonged to a man of blood group A or AB. Hodgson shared this group,
although so did about one-third of the male population. However, in
2009, DNA tests of semen recovered from the scene showed that it did not
belong to Hodgson and his conviction was quashed. He was released
after serving 27 years of imprisonment and believed to be the victim of
Britain's "longest miscarriage of justice." (Telegraph)
|Baltimore City, MD
Nov 28, 1961
Nick Donald Bagley was convicted of the murder of Donald J.
Davis. Davis operated a retail meat store on Falls Road in Baltimore
City. Around 7 a.m. one morning, he was found in his store lying in a
pool of blood with a gunshot wound to his head. A revolver belonging
to Davis was on the floor close to and pointing toward the left side of his
head. He died four days later. The medical examiner reported
that his findings indicated a typical self-inflicted wound.
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Oct 9, 1993
Tammy Marquardt was convicted of
the murder of her 2-year-old son, Kenneth. Marquardt said she woke
from a nap to find Kenneth tangled in his bed sheets and when she freed him
he wasn't moving. However, a pathologist, Charles Smith, testified
that Kenneth had died from asphyxia after being smothered or strangled.
Smith's findings were subsequently rejected by six forensic experts,
including Newfoundland and Labrador's chief medical examiner, Dr. Simon
Avis, who said Kenneth, an epileptic, could have died from a seizure.
Another expert, Dr. Pekka Saukko, said Smith's conclusions in Marquardt's
case were "illogical and completely against scientific evidence based
reasoning." Marquardt had rejected a plea bargain that would have given
her a five-year sentence for manslaughter.
The Office of
the Chief Coroner for Ontario found that Smith made serious errors in 20 of
45 criminally suspicious deaths he investigated between 1991 and 2001.
Smith's findings led to homicide charges against parents and caregivers,
many of which were unwarranted. In early 2009, Marquardt was the last person included in a
review of of Smith's work still behind bars. She has maintained her
innocence and said she discovered her son struggling and tangled in a bed
sheet after he called out to her from a bedroom. Marquardt was
released on bail in Mar 2009 pending a decision by the Supreme Court of
Canada on whether her case will be reopened. (Toronto
|Scott County, MS
Jamie & Gladys Scott
Dec 24, 1993 (Hillsboro)
Jamie and Gladys Scott, sisters, were convicted of participating with three
males in the armed robbery of Johnny Ray Hayes and Mitchell Duckworth.
According to a prosecution witness, each participant earned $9
to $11 from the robbery. Both sisters were sentenced to two consecutive life terms
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July 28, 1984 (Burlington)
convicted of raping Jennifer Thompson in 1985. The crime occurred in
Thompson's apartment in Burlington, NC. The rape was almost
identical to another rape committed immediately after Thompson's rape, but the other victim,
Elizabeth Watson, had picked a different man out of a police
lineup. Cotton was also excluded as the source of blood found on the
door through which Watson's assailant entered. Later, the NC Supreme Court overturned Cotton's conviction
because the trial judge refused to allow exculpatory evidence from the
time in Central Prison, Cotton happened to meet a new inmate, Bobby Poole,
who closely resembled a composite drawing that Thompson had made of her
assailant. Poole also happened to be from Burlington and was serving
time for rape. Cotton confronted Poole about the Thompson and Watson
rapes, but Poole
denied he was the assailant. However, another inmate soon
reported that Poole had confessed to both rapes. Both Cotton and Poole
worked in the prison kitchen and looked so similar that people there were
mistaking the two by calling Cotton, "Poole."
In 1987, Cotton was retried for raping Thompson
and tried the first time for raping Watson. Watson had
belatedly decided that Cotton was her assailant. At the retrial,
the judge refused to allow evidence that an inmate had heard Poole confess
to the rapes. Poole's blood type matched the blood spot found in
Watson's case, but when Poole was called as a witness, he denied both rapes.
Thompson also told the jury, “Bobby Poole didn't rape me. Ronald Cotton
Cotton was convicted of both rapes,
but in 1995, DNA tests showed that
Poole had committed the Thompson rape. The biological material
preserved from the Watson rape was too degraded to test. However,
under questioning, Poole confessed to both rapes. The NC Governor subsequently pardoned Cotton. Cotton and
Thompson have since become friends. The two appeared on
a 60 Minutes episode about the case and on a consecutive episode about the fallibility of eyewitness
identification. They also have jointly authored a book entitled
|Stark County, OH
Apr 23, 1963
Robert K. Domer was sentenced to death for the murder of Howard Riddle.
Domer owned a Canton, OH mortgage company which was going through hard times due to an
economic downturn, and also because an employee had made loans that went bad
because he did not follow proper procedure. This employee then ran off with some of the
company's funds. Domer himself had illegally manipulated the company
funds to keep the company afloat. After auditors came to look at his
books, Domer faced disgrace and possible criminal charges.
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Apr 27, 1990
star of the 1972 Texas state championship high school football team, was
convicted of rape. In her initial description, the victim said she
could not describe her assailant other than giving his basic physical size
as he had placed a pillow over her head during the assault. She also noted
that her assailant was wearing some kind of cap, a gray T-shirt, and
dark-colored shorts. The victim later picked out Alejandro from a
police mug book.
At trial, forensic technician Fred Zain testified that
a DNA test
of the evidence conclusively matched Alejandro, when the test he referred to
was inconclusive. Two other tests were performed, one before trial,
and one after trial, which were exculpatory, but Zain failed to report the
results of these tests to anyone. Later it became known that Zain had
falsified results and lied about his credentials when he was employed as a
State police serologist in West Virginia. In 1994, after the results
of the exculpatory tests were made known, Alejandro was released. In 1995, Alejandro was awarded $250,000 by
Bexar County, at whose laboratory Zain had worked. (IP)
|San Diego County, CA
Jose Aguado Cervantes
Oct 22, 1999
(Federal Case) Jose Aguado Cervantes, a Mexican national and Tijuana resident, spent more than three months in a U.S. jail after
border agents stopped him on his entry into the U.S. and found 119 pounds
of marijuana hidden in the bumper of his car. Cervantes, 67, had bought
the car three months earlier at a U.S. auction. The car had been
seized four months prior to the auction in connection with its use in
smuggling illegal immigrants. "I put 100 percent of my trust in the American government," he said in
Spanish. "I never imagined they would sell me a car loaded with drugs."
Cervantes subsequently filed a civil suit against the U.S. based on
negligence, and the U.S. settled the suit for $275,000. (E&B)
v. USA) [2/09]
|Santa Clara County, CA
Roy Lopez Garcia
Nov 19, 1998 (Morgan Hill)
Roy Lopez Garcia was convicted of the murder of mental health therapist
Deborah Gregg. Garcia had feuded with Gregg after he bought 250 acres
of land adjoining her property and began to bulldoze the land. The two
were involved in civil disputes over their shared property boundary.
Gregg was found with two shotgun blasts to her head near the line separating
their properties on Armsby Lane in Morgan Hill. But there was a
shortage of physical evidence pointing to Garcia, who has maintained his
innocence. The guns in his home did not match the weapon used in the
killing. There was no eyewitness, fingerprints, or DNA match.
convicted after a prison informant, Timothy Flores Villalba, came forward
and claimed he heard Garcia implicate himself in the crime. Villalba was
serving a sentence for first-degree murder and defense attorneys argued he
came forward after he was notified he could be eligible for parole as soon
as 2003 if he improved his conduct.
Less than a year later, Villalba again came forward and stated that
another inmate, Glen "Buddy" Nickerson, had confessed his involvement in the
shooting murders for which he was convicted, just as the case against
Nickerson was unraveling. At a 2002 hearing, Villalba testified that
Nickerson told him long ago that he instigated the shootout as revenge.
But U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel found Villalba's testimony "entirely
without credibility," and overturned Nickerson's conviction.
Garcia's conviction was overturned in 2005 because the trial judge had
permitted the jury to visit the crime scene without Garcia or his attorney
being present. At retrial Garcia was acquitted of Gregg's murder even
though the prosecution again called Villalba as a witness. (Tainted
Nov 16, 1973 (East Mesa)
sentenced to death for allegedly setting a fire that killed his two daughters,
Linda Louise, 3 1/2, and Iona Marie, 2 1/2. The fire occurred in the
children's bedroom at the Knapp house located at 7435 East Capri in East
Mesa, AZ. Shortly before the coroner's inquest, Knapp's wife, Linda,
fled to Nebraska. Knapp was told that a fuel can found at the site of
the fire had no identifiable children's prints (thus ruling out accident),
but did contain numerous adult prints. During his interrogation, Knapp
confessed to setting the fire, but recanted within minutes and never wavered
in maintaining his innocence.
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|Lake County, CA
Balu & Loftus
Arvind Balu and Brendan Loftus were convicted of raping a teenager. Balu
was a UC Berkeley student. The "victim" did not tell anyone about the
alleged crime until nine months after her trip to the Konocti Harbor Resort
where she said it had occurred. She then gave implausible and
inconsistent accounts of the assault. She said that Balu had cut her
and drank her blood. After the victim's account was reported to
authorities against her will, she immediately destroyed pages of her diary
relating to her trip to the resort. Loftus was sentenced to five years
in prison, but was completely cleared of the charges within two years.
Balu served 8 years in prison, three of them in solitary confinement, before
he was cleared. (DP
(People v. Balu) [2/09]
Courtney Fred Rogers was sentenced to death for the murders of his parents.
In Oct. 1941 his 50-year-old father was rescued from a burning house, but
later died of smoke inhalation. Investigators found burning candles in
the house and determined that fires had been set in several rooms. The
death of Rogers Sr. was ruled a suicide. Eight months earlier, Rogers'
mother had died from the inhalation of chloroform. Her death had also
been ruled a suicide.
Four months after the death of his father, Rogers
was arrested for making a false $400 insurance claim. Police found
that the 24-year-old was heavily in debt and began to wonder if he had
killed his parents in order to collect on life insurance. Rogers,
however, received no insurance proceeds for the death of his mother,
although he did receive full ownership of the home he had jointly owned with
her. He received only $1000 for the death of his father plus $2300 for
damage to the house. Such proceeds were small compared to Rogers'
After 16 days of more-or-less continuous questioning by police, Rogers
confessed to the murders of his parents, a confession that he soon
retracted. Nevertheless, he was convicted of these alleged murders.
In 1943, the California Supreme Court unanimously threw out Rogers'
convictions. Evidence that his mother had committed suicide was clear
and convincing. The same was true in regard to the death of his
father. Neighbors had testified at how despondent Rogers Sr. was over
the death of his wife and how he often had spoken of taking his own life.
Neighbors also said he had spoken of his dread of being left alone, after
Rogers Jr., his only son, answered a draft call into the army. Rogers
Jr. was scheduled to report the day after the fatal fire. At retrial,
in the face of no evidence against Rogers, the retrial court dismissed
charges. (ISI) (Time)
|Hennepin County, MN
George B. Slyter
Mar 18, 1931 (Minneapolis)
convicted of robbery due to eyewitness identification. During the
early morning hours of Mar. 18, 1931 two intruders entered the garage of
Nelson Brothers at 500 S. 11th St. South in Minneapolis, and at gunpoint
forced the night man, Aaron Oxendale, open the cash register. The
robbery netted about $50.
later, Oxendale saw a man who he thought was one of the assailants pass the
garage. He called police, who watched for the man's return.
Slyter was arrested after he again passed the garage. Oxendale
identified him with certainty. Slyter said he had been at a St.
Patrick's Day party with his mother and sister. His sister and another
guest gave different versions of the party and of the personnel present,
though they said Slyter was there. The jury deliberated on the verdict
for several hours before convicting him. Because Slyter had a previous
conviction for attempted robbery, he was scheduled to be sentenced to 10 to
80 years in prison for the $50 robbery. But sentencing was deferred
for four days.
On the day of
sentencing, the state asked that Slyter's conviction be stricken from the
record and that he be freed due to new developments in the case. The
night previous, Oxendale and one of the Nelson brothers had been in the
garage when it was again robbed by the same assailant that Oxendale had
identified as Slyter. The judge granted the state's motion and Slyter
was freed. (CTI)
Oct 25, 1967 (Arcadia)
James Joseph Richardson, a farm
worker, was convicted of murdering his oldest child after all seven of his children
with the pesticide parathion. The children, six daughters and a son,
ranged in age from 2 to 8. Richardson was believed to have murdered
all seven, but for strategic reasons was only tried for the murder of one.
If he had been acquitted, he could have been tried successively for murders
of each of the others, giving the prosecution seven chances of a conviction.
Richardson was sentenced to death.
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|Forrest County, MS
May 1, 2001
Stephanie Stephens was convicted of the murder of her
59-year-old husband, Dr. David
Stephens. David was chief of surgery at Hattiesburg's Forrest General
Hospital. David appeared to have died in his sleep, while Stephanie
slept next to him. However, two drugs were found in his system, Etomidate, an anesthetic, and Atricurium, a drug used to relax muscles
during surgery for patients on life support. Without life support,
Atricurium is lethal as it will paralyze a person's heart and lungs.
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|Nassau County, NY
Daivery Taylor, a personal injury
attorney, was indicted on charges that he used "steerers" to sign up
accident victims and that he coached clients to fabricate injuries.
Following a two-week non-jury trial in 2005, Judge Jeffrey S. Brown
convicted Taylor and his Freeport, NY based firm, Silverman & Taylor, of
these charges. Taylor was subsequently disbarred due to these
convictions. The case became a symbol of the efforts of the
anti-insurance fraud campaign launched by NY Attorney General Eliot
Taylor's conviction, his lawyers argued to an appeals court, "It is
remarkable that for all of the years-long investigation ... and the
thousands of taped conversations, the prosecution had no solid evidence --
not a single patient, not a single medical record, not a single document --
that demonstrated Mr. Taylor's complicity in an alleged fraud." In
2008, the NY Appellate Division, 2nd Department agreed that Taylor's
convictions were based on insufficient evidence. It not only threw out
the convictions, but also dismissed the 32-count indictment against him.
(NY Law Journal)
|Sunflower County, MS
July 9, 1992
Johnson was convicted of breaking into a Sunflower apartment and raping a
young woman who lived there. The assailant did not leave enough semen
for police to determine his blood type, but the victim stated her assailant was "Boo
Rabbit," which was Johnson's nickname. She subsequently identified
Johnson in person and he was sentenced
to 55 years in prison. In Nov. 2007, DNA tests determined that Johnson
could not have been the rapist. He was freed in 2008 after test
results were run through the state's data bank and a match was found to the
DNA of the real rapist. (Delta
Democrat Times) [1/09]
Mar 8, 1886
Willie Sell was convicted of
murdering his parents, brother, and sister. In the early morning hours
of March 8, 1886, 16-year-old Willie banged on the door of a neighbor,
Robert Mendell, talking hysterically and incoherently. Mendell did not
understand Willie's story, but had caught the words, "blood, murder and
hatchet." Mendell accompanied Willie back to his family's two-room
house. On the floor lay the bodies of Willie's father, James W. Sell,
a schoolteacher and farmer, and Willie's mother, Susan. In the corner,
still in her bed, was Willie's teenage sister, Ina. Their skulls had
been beaten with a hatchet and their throats had been cut. The floor
was slick with blood. In an adjoining room, where Willie had been
sleeping, was the body of Willie's brother, Watta Sell, 19, who was killed
in the same manner as the other members of his family.
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Lloyd Eldon Miller Jr.
Nov 26, 1955 (Canton)
Lloyd Eldon Miller, Jr. was
convicted of the murder of 8-year-old Janice Elizabeth May.
May had been raped and severely beaten. She died in a
hospital less than two hours after she was found. Hours after the
murder, Miller, a Canton cab driver, illegally took his cab and
abandoned it outside of town. He then continued to travel by bus.
Putting two and two together, police concluded that Miller was fleeing after
assaulting the girl. Miller, however, said he left town because his
ex-wife was threatening to put him in jail for failure to pay child support.
After being held incommunicado for 52 hours and grilled relentlessly by
relays of policemen, Miller signed a police written confession. He had
been threatened with the death penalty if he refused to sign it, but received the death penalty anyway.
The confession was inconsistent with known facts of the crime. In the confession, Miller admitted that a pair of blood stained jockey
shorts was his. They were found a mile from the scene of the crime and
were alleged to be stained with the victim's blood.
After Miller's trial,
his landlady, who had not testified,
told his appellate lawyers that Miller had been asleep at home when the
crime occurred. In addition, it turned out that the jockey shorts were too
small for Miller, who regularly wore boxer shorts. The prosecutor, Blaine Ramsey, had led the jury to believe that the
stain on the jockey shorts was blood, but the stain turned out to be paint,
which the prosecutor knew because the state crime laboratory had so
reported. After Miller won a federal writ of habeas corpus, the prosecution
dropped all charges in 1971. A book was written about the case
entitled Scapegoat Justice by Willard J. Lassers. (CWC) (Until
You Are Dead...)
|Genesee County, MI
Sept 24, 1985
William J. "Wil" Hetherington was
convicted of raping his wife, Linda. Previous to the passage of a new
Michigan law, a husband could be convicted of assaulting his wife, but not
raping her, as consent to sex was viewed a part of the marriage contract.
The new rape law only applied to married couples who lived separately.
A divorce court had frozen all Hetherington's assets so he had no money to
hire a lawyer or make bond. Nevertheless, the criminal court ruled that he
was not indigent and refused to provide him with a lawyer. There was
no physical evidence. A pelvic examination of Linda at a hospital
three hours after the alleged offense showed no evidence of injury or forced
penetration. The examining doctor described the lack of evidence as
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|Jefferson County, AL
Anthony Ray Hinton
Anthony Ray Hinton was sentenced to death for the murders of two restaurant
managers. The victims were John Davidson, an assistant manager at a
Mrs. Winner's Chicken & Biscuits restaurant in Southside Birmingham and
Thomas Vason, an assistant manager at a Captain D's restaurant on First
Avenue North in Woodlawn. The managers were shot during robberies in
February and July 1985.
In a third robbery at Quincy's steakhouse in Bessemer, the manager, Sidney
Smotherman, was shot, but survived. Smotherman subsequently identified
Hinton as his assailant. Hinton was never charged for this
robbery, but he was convicted of the murders in the first two robberies because
the gun used in the third robbery was purportedly the same weapon as that
used in the first two robberies. Similar restaurant robberies occurred
in the area after Hinton's arrest.
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