Date of Alleged Crime
|Nueces County, TX
Carlos De Luna
Feb 4, 1983 (Corpus Christi)
Carlos De Luna was sentenced to
death for the murder of a convenience store and gas station clerk named Wanda
Lopez, 24, was stabbed at a Sigmor gas station on South Padre Island Drive in
Corpus Christi. Her blood splattered on the store walls, the cash register, and the floor.
Forty minutes after the murder, police found De Luna hiding under a pick-up
truck on a side street a few hundred yards from the station. He had taken off
his shirt and shoes. But there was no blood on his face or pants. And
when his shirt and shoes were found, no blood was on them either.
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Edmary & Masembe
Edward Edmary and his cousin Fred Masembe were sentenced to death for
the alleged 1981 murder of George William Wandyaka, a neighbor in Masaka, Uganda.
Mpagi thought he saw Wandyaka standing at the back of the court during his
trial. A few years later, further sightings were made of Wandyaka in
Jinja, Uganda. Masembe died in 1985. In 1989, authorities in
Masaka confirmed that Wandyaka was alive, and informed the attorney general,
though Mpagi remained on death row for a further 11 years. It
transpired that Wandyaka's parents had a grudge against Mpagi's parents, and
had staged the murder to hurt them. A doctor had received a bribe to
testify that he had carried out a post-mortem on the alleged victim's body.
Mpagi was pardoned in 2000. Wandyaka died of natural causes in 2002
before Mpagi had the chance to meet him. (Guardian)
|King County, WA
Rafay & Burns
July 12, 1994 (Bellevue)
Atif Rafay and Glen Sebastian Burns were convicted of the murders of Rafay's
father, Dr. Tariq Rafay, his mother, Sultana, and his sister, Basma.
The victims were bludgeoned in their home in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue,
WA. The walls, floor, and ceiling of Dr. Tariq's bedroom were covered in blood,
bone, teeth, and tissue. In addition, tremendous amounts of blood were tracked
throughout the property. Rafray and Burns, then both 18, reported the murders when
they returned to Rafray's home at 2 a.m. following an evening out.
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|Columbia County, OR
Sept 3, 1911
John Arthur Pender was convicted of the murder of Mrs. Daisy Wehrman and her
four-year-old son, Harold. The murders happened at a rural hamlet
known as Schnitzerville, which was five or six miles west of Scappoose, OR.
Suspicion may have been placed on Pender by a neighbor, G. H. Sierkes, who had
disputes with Pender and whose wife had reported the murders. Evidence
indicated the Sierkes family had a good idea who the actual culprit was.
The jury at Pender's first trial could not agree on a verdict, but he was convicted at his
second trial. The evidence against him consisted of speculation about how he could have committed the
murder. Pender was initially sentenced to death.
The Sierkes had a son,
John G. H. Sierkes, age 20 at the time of the murders, who was a mental
defective with homicidal tendencies. He had made attempts to kill his
father and different members of his family when he was thwarted or angry.
John Sierkes later confessed to the murders, then repudiated his confession
after his family threatened to disown him. He then reconfessed and
there is much evidence to indicate that he did, in fact, commit the murders. Oregon Governor Olcott pardoned Pender in
Some Men Kill or Murder Mysteries Revealed) (MOJIPCC) [8/09]
Mar 9, 1997
Govinda Mainali, a Nepalese
migrant worker, was convicted of the rape and murder of a Tokyo woman.
The victim, though a prostitute by night, was a respected
economist for the Tokyo Electric Power Co. Although Mainali initially
denied knowing the victim, he later admitted to investigators that he twice
paid her to have sex with him. Mainali said he had not seen the victim
for days prior to her murder. There were no witnesses to dispute his
statement. A condom found at the scene of the crime contained Mainali's semen. After reviewing an expert's analysis of the semen,
the trial judge ruled that the semen found was too old to have been produced
on the day of the murder. The judge then stated there was no evidence of Mainali's guilt and acquitted him.
Mainali's acquittal, he was held in detention for over eight
months while prosecutors sought a court more receptive to their case. In
Dec. 2000, the Tokyo High Court reversed Mainali's acquittal and sentenced
him to life in prison. The presiding judge, Toshio Takaki, was the same
judge who had granted the prosecution's request to keep Mainali imprisoned
pending appeal. After a few brief hearings that introduced no new
evidence, he wrote that the record from the Mainali's first trial left no
doubt of his guilt. (Japan
|Yamhill County, OR
Oct 8, 1915
William Branson was convicted of
the murder of William Booth. It was alleged that Branson, 23, was
improperly intimate with Mrs. Anna Booth, 32, the victim's wife.
Branson had been seen on numerous occasions some months before the murder
talking to Mrs. Booth as she stood on the front porch of her house in
Willamina while he was on the sidewalk outside of her yard. There were
several witnesses who claimed they saw Branson and Mrs. Booth going in the
direction of the murder location separately (not together) before the time
of the murder.
The victim was
killed with .38 caliber gun and Branson had borrowed a .38 caliber gun from
his uncle for a fishing trip two months before the murder. Branson
said the gun later went missing from his house along with some jewelry.
Witnesses testified the killer wore a black or dark blue jersey with a black
hat, while evidence indicated Branson wore a red sweater and no hat on the
day of the murder. The soil near the victim's body showed the killer
wore hob-nailed shoes while Branson reportedly wore smooth shoes.
In May 1917,
another man, William Riggin, gave a confession to the crime, a confession
that was later fully corroborated. In 1920, Oregon Governor Olcott granted
Branson an unconditional pardon. (Why
Some Men Kill or Murder Mysteries Revealed) (MOJIPCC) [8/09]
|Jefferson County, OR
David Lee Simmons
David Lee Simmons was charged with four counts of felony third-degree rape
and two counts of felony sodomy for having consensual sex with his girlfriend dating
back to Sept. 2005 when he was 17 and she was 14. Under a plea deal, Simmons pled guilty to
two counts of the charges rather than risk many years in prison if convicted by a jury
on all counts. He served 30 days in jail.
However, James Greer, the foreman of the grand jury that was asked to indict
Simmons, happened to read a newspaper account of the plea deal. Since
the grand jury specifically declined to indict Simmons, Greer was shocked
and he confronted prosecutor Steven Leriche, who in turn contacted Simmons's
defense attorney. The prosecutor may have mistakenly failed to read
Simmons's paperwork and thought he was indicted. However, since the
refusal to indict individuals are rare events which receive notice, some
observers do not believe it likely the prosecutor made this mistake.
Instead they believe he simply proceeded as though Simmons was indicted.
Simmons's defense attorney failed to catch this error. In Oct. 2006,
Simmons's convictions were vacated. (Popehat) (FJDB) [8/09]
Ljube Velevski was convicted of murdering his wife, Snezana,
his daughter, Zaklina, age 6, and his twin
babies, Daniela and Dijana, age 3 months. The throats of
all the deceased had been cut. At trial, Velevski's defence argued
that Snezana had killed her three children, then herself. The killings
occurred in a three bedroom suburban house in Berkeley, Wollongong, New
South Wales. Velevski's parents lived with Velevski and his family at
the time of the killings.
by Clicking Here
Nov 21, 2006
Eric Volz, an American citizen, was convicted of the rape and murder of his
Nicaraguan ex-girlfriend, Doris Jiménez. Jiménez had been found tied
and strangled in the clothing store she owned in San Juan del Sur. Evidence
established that Jiménez had been murdered between 11:45 a.m. and 1 p.m. on
Nov. 21, 2006.
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Oct 29, 1983
Larry Youngblood was convicted of
abducting 10-year-old David L. from a church carnival and repeatedly
sodomizing him. David said his assailant had a disfigured eye.
Youngblood fit this description and the traumatized child identified
Youngblood in court as the perpetrator. Youngblood lived alone, had a
history of mental illness, and had had previous run-ins with the law.
appealed his conviction because the state had collected semen samples left
by the assailant both in and on the victim, but had failed to perform tests
on the samples to determine the blood type of assailant. It had also
failed to refrigerate the samples so that tests could be performed at a
later date. Such tests might have completely exonerated Youngblood.
The Arizona Court of Appeals agreed with Youngblood that he had been denied
due process and overturned his conviction. The state appealed the
decision to the U.S. Supreme Court which reinstated Youngblood's conviction
in 1988. This decision was later recognized as an important precedent
which limited the rights of criminal defendants.
Youngblood was paroled from prison, but was reincarcerated the following
year for failing to register his new address as required by sex offender
laws. However, by this time, advances in DNA testing technology
allowed DNA tests to be performed on the degraded semen samples. In
2000, Youngblood was exonerated of the crime after such tests were
performed. In 2001, the DNA profile obtained from the tests was found
to match a Texas inmate, Walter Cruise, who was subsequently convicted of
the crime. (IP)
v. Youngblood) [8/09]
|El Paso County, CO
Nov 20, 2004
Todd Newmiller was convicted of murdering 22-year-old Anthony Madril.
On the night of Madril's death a dispute arose between two groups of young men at
a Colorado Springs nightclub. The club management forced one group to leave
while the other left shortly thereafter. Two vehicles carrying these
men subsequently stopped a short distance away on Conrad St. near Terminal Ave. The first vehicle, a pickup truck, was driven by Charles
Schwartz, with Chisum Lopez on the passenger side and Anthony Madril in the middle.
The second vehicle, a Jeep, contained
Todd Newmiller, his brother Joel, Mike Lee, Jason Melick, and Brad Orgill. The
dispute had primarily been between Madril and Orgill.
by Clicking Here
|San Diego County, CA
Feb 18, 2002
Cynthia Sommer was convicted of murdering her husband,
23-year-old Todd Sommer. She was alleged to have poisoned him with
arsenic. Todd was a U.S. Marine Corps sergeant and
died in February 2002 after collapsing at the couple's apartment at Marine
Corps Air Station Miramar. A pathologist first suggested that Todd's
death was due to a heart attack. Months later, an examination of
Todd's organs found large amounts of arsenic in his liver and kidneys.
At trial in Jan. 2007 there was a lack of evidence that Cynthia bought any arsenic or
poisoned Todd. Since the science of arsenic poisoning was fuzzy,
defense experts were prepared to argue that Todd died of the effects
of the now-banned weight loss pill Ephedra, or a prescription drug taken for
diarrhea, or a rare, undiagnosed condition.
Cynthia's mother testified
that, in the days after Todd's death, Cynthia curled into a fetal position
on her bed and wept. Cynthia got a tattoo with her husband's name,
birth date, date of death and the Latin words Semper Fidelis, or "always
faithful," the Marine Corps motto.
prosecution rebuttal witnesses testified that Cynthia used her husband's
life insurance money to have her breasts enlarged, have sex with three Marines,
hold raucous parties, and perform in a thong and wet T-shirt contest at a
Tijuana bar, flashing her breasts.
In Dec. 2007, Cynthia's conviction was overturned due to ineffective
assistance of counsel. After the prosecution performed new tests on
tissue samples taken from Todd's body, experts could find no evidence of
arsenic. Because of the new evidence, the prosecution dropped charges
against Cynthia in April 2008 and she was released from prison. She
had been imprisoned for more than two years. (www.freecynthia.com)
Jan 24, 1986
convicted of the stabbing murder of a fellow inmate at the Drumheller
Penitentiary. Following McArthur's conviction he met
four witnesses in regard to the stabbing while serving time at the Edmonton
Institution. They informed him of what they knew about the stabbing,
explaining their earlier denial of knowledge to Drumheller investigators was
because they did not want to get involved. These witnesses supported
McArthur's contention that he killed the deceased in self-defence.
Three of these witnesses saw the deceased, armed with a knife, go to
McArthur's cell shortly before the stabbing incident. Based on this
new evidence, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned his conviction.
Since McArthur had already served the minimum time for his conviction and
the crown did not wish to retry him, the Court also ordered his acquittal. (R.
v. McArthur) [8/09]
June 23, 1991
Omar Raddad was convicted of the murder of Ghislaine Marchal. Marchal,
65, was a wealthy widow who lived alone in the affluent village of Mougins,
near Cannes on the French Riviera. One morning when Marchal was
relaxing by her pool, her neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Koster, called over the
fence and invited her to lunch at 1 p.m. Marchal readily accepted.
She later telephoned a friend at 11:48 a.m. At
1:30 p.m., when Marchal had not shown up at the Kosters for lunch, Mrs. Koster telephoned
Marchal, but there was no answer.
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|San Juan, Puerto Rico
Sept 23, 2005
Jonathan Roman Rivera was convicted of the murder of Adam Anhang.
Anhang was a wealthy real-estate investor, an online gambling executive, and
a native of Winnipeg, Canada. He was stabbed and beaten to death along the cobblestone streets of Old
San Juan as he and his wife walked from the Pink Slip restaurant to their car.
His wife, Aurea Vazquez Rijos, was wounded in the assault.
identified Roman as the assailant, although Vazquez disagreed.
Roman was sentenced to 105 years in prison. Following Roman's
conviction, FBI investigators determined that Vasquez had offered another
man, Alex Pabon Colon, $3 million to kill her husband. The FBI
believed that Pabon had agreed to the offer and that he carried out the
murder for hire. Reportedly, Roman and Pabon could easily be mistaken
for one another, so it is believed that Roman was a victim of mistaken
identity. Roman was released from prison in June 2008 after having
spent 8 months imprisoned. Charges against him were dropped 3 months
|Broward County, FL
Apr 19, 1994 (Ft. Lauderdale)
Herman Lindsey was convicted in
2006 of the 1994 murder of Joanne Mazollo. Mazollo was shot to death
during a robbery of the Big Dollar pawnshop in which she worked. The evidence against Lindsey
consisted of testimony which merely raised suspicions about him.
piece of evidence was the testimony of Mark Simms, who
reportedly had a jailhouse conversation with Lindsey about a month after the
crime, long before Lindsey was charged in the Mazollo murder. Simms
told Lindsey he had been involved in a robbery in which someone was shot but
not killed. Lindsey then told Simms that he should have killed the
person he shot because this person had seen his face. Lindsey also told Simms
that he had to do that once. Simms said he had no idea at the time
what robbery or murder Lindsey might have been talking about. Lindsey
was sentenced to death.
In July 2009 the Florida Supreme Court
overturned Lindsey's conviction after finding that the evidence used against
insufficient to convict. The Court also ordered Lindsey's
v. Florida) (Miami
|Brevard County, FL
Aug 17, 1981
William Dillon was convicted of the murder of James Dvorak. Dvorak was found
murdered at Canova Beach. He had been beaten to death and left in a
wooded area, an apparent homosexual meeting place near the beach. A
motorist, John Parker, had picked up a hitchhiker near the
scene of the crime and drove him to a tavern three miles away. Along
the way, Parker stopped his truck and performed oral sex on the hitchhiker.
After dropping off the hitchhiker, Parker found that his passenger had left behind a bloody yellow
which he disposed of in a trash can near a grocery store. After he saw a news story about the murder, he called police, and police
recovered the T-shirt.
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|Charleston County, SC
Keith Renard Bradley was convicted of murdering Miriam Leeks and sentenced
to life in prison. Leeks, a
37-year-old homeless woman, was found bludgeoned to death in a wooded area off of Willtown Road in Adams Run, SC. Her body was wrapped in garbage bags
and sheets. Bradley's conviction was due to the testimony of two
incentivized witnesses which contradicted testimony of the witness who reported the
murder and who had no known incentive for coming forward. All the
other evidence in the case was exculpatory of Bradley.
Read More by Clicking Here
July 8, 1997
sailors Danial Williams, Joseph Dick, Jr., and Derek Tice were all convicted
of the brutal rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko. Michelle was the
newlywed wife of a Navy signalman. All confessed to the crime
after hours of police interrogation. However, their confessions were
inconsistent with each other and with the facts of the crime. Another man, Eric Wilson, also
confessed and was convicted of rape charges only and released in 2005. A
fifth man, Omar Ballard, a convicted rapist, confessed to the crime in a
letter to a friend.
Two weeks before
the murder, Ballard had attacked a woman with a baseball bat in the same
apartment complex as that of the murder. He had sought refuge in
Bosko's apartment right after the attack when a group of residents sought to
apprehend him. Police were able to match his DNA to the semen left at
the Bosko murder scene. Ballard initially told police in an audiotaped statement
that he acted alone, but at the behest of detectives, he testified to
participating in the crime with the other four at their trials. No physical
evidence linked the four to the crimes. Ballard has since reaffirmed his
The Norfolk Four
petitioned to be pardoned. They were joined in their request by 13
jurors from two of the trials, a dozen former judges and prosecutors, four
former Virginia attorneys general, and 30 former FBI agents.
best-selling author John Grisham announced that he planned to write a
screenplay about the case. A few weeks later, in Aug. 2009, Virginia
Governor Kaine announced that he would free, but not pardon the three
members of the Norfolk Four who were still imprisoned. The three will
remain on supervised parole for at least 10 years and, along with Wilson,
will have to register as sex offenders. A book
was written about the case entitled The Wrong Guys by Tom Wells and
Richard Leo. (www.norfolkfour.com) (Virginian
|Delaware County, PA
H. Beatty Chadwick
In July 1994 a
court ordered H. Beatty Chadwick to deposit $2.5 million into a court bank account for use
in his divorce settlement. Chadwick contended that he did not have the
money. In 1990 he had invested in a limited partnership called Maison
Blanche run from the British territory of Gibraltar. The partnership
invested in European real estate. Chadwick said the investment made
him liable for $2.75 million if the Maison Blanche partners ever issued a
capital call. Chadwick says a capital call came in January 1993, two
months after his wife filed for divorce.
Forensic accountants traced a $2.502 million transfer of funds from Chadwick
to the partnership in Gibraltar. They said some of the money briefly
returned to accounts in the United States before going to Luxembourg and
Panama. However, accountants could produce no proof that any part of
the $2.5 million
still belonged to Chadwick. In April 1995 Chadwick was imprisoned on a civil contempt
charge to coerce him into producing the missing funds.
more than a decade of imprisonment, Chadwick's attorney noted that if
Chadwick had been convicted of stealing the money, he could have completed
the maximum seven-year sentence years ago. The attorney also compared
the "missing" money to Saddam Hussein's "missing" weapons of mass
destruction. In July 2009 a judge freed Chadwick after Chadwick had
been imprisoned for more than 14 years. The judge noted that
Chadwick's incarceration had lost its coercive effect. He added he
agreed with previous court rulings that Chadwick "had the ability to comply
with the court order ... but that he had willfully refused to do so."
insisted that he was unable to pay the money and said the law should be
written so people in his situation can have a jury decide if they are
capable of complying with court orders. He said there also ought to be time
limits on jailing people for contempt, adding that there is an 18-month
limit in the federal courts for refusing to testify before a grand jury.
"There's no question about whether they're able to do it -- everybody's able
to testify. But in my case, of course, there's a question: Was I
able?" he said. (CJA)
Dec 13, 2005 (Bedford)
Amilton Nicolas Bento (aka Nico),
a Portuguese immigrant, was convicted of the murder of his 26-year-old
Polish girlfriend, Kamila Garsztka. The alleged crime occurred in Bedford, England
in or near the River Great Ouse. A CCTV security camera caught Garsztka
walking alone on the embankment of the river toward Priory Lake which adjoined the river. Garsztka's
coat, scarf, and shoes were found by the river bank about an hour later.
Bento reported Garsztka missing and pestered police to step up their search
for her and keep him informed. He told police Garsztka had left her
handbag in his apartment, which police later retrieved. Seven weeks
after she went missing, canoeists found her body floating in Priory Lake.
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|Lee County, NC
Donald Edward Sweat
Feb 23, 2007 (Sanford)
Donald Edward Sweat was convicted
of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. He was
sentenced to 93 to 121 months of imprisonment. Sweat's alleged victim, John
Hunter, was assaulted between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. near his mailbox at the
intersection of Cletus Hall and Buchanan Farm Roads in Sanford, NC.
The assailant struck John several times in the face, breaking a cheekbone
and his jawbone. John's brother, Joe Hunter, had driven John to the
mailbox and told the assailant to stop, but the assailant threatened to kill
him if he did not get back in his car. The assailant then threatened
to kill John and slashed his arm with a knife, cutting the sleeve of his coat
and requiring him to get nine stitches on his arm. The assailant left
the scene and the Hunters drove 1 1/2 miles to John's house where they
called the police at 9:08 p.m.
Sweat lived with
his aunt, Vonnie Hall, across a five acre lot from John Hunter's
mailbox. Between 8:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Hall pulled into her
driveway behind a car driven by Sweat's friend in which Sweat was a
passenger. She reprimanded Sweat and his friend because out on the
road they had been driving closely behind her with their bright lights on.
According to Hall, Sweat “started acting crazy” and argued with his friend
about having his high beams on. Sweat went outside and Hall watched
him walk down the road in a direction away from the intersection with the
mailboxes. Sweat came back to the house and said, “I can't satisfy nobody. I
hurt everybody I see.” He began giving his things to his aunt such
as a watch and jewelry he was wearing and items in his pockets, including
his wallet and a fold-up razor blade. Hall stated he used the blade to
cut dogs' ears. Sweat went outside and began yelling, then asked his
friend to take him to jail. The two men left. Magistrate
Randy Carter testified that Sweat came to his office and
stated that he “wanted to turn himself in, that he had hurt somebody, and he
needed to be locked up.” Carter called the Sheriff's office and police
soon charged Sweat with assaulting John Hunter.
neither John Hunter nor Joe Hunter could not identify Sweat as the assailant they
saw. The only description they had given of the assailant was that he was a
man or a boy. Sweat's defense asked for a directed verdict of acquittal
due to insufficient evidence, but it was refused. On appeal in April
2009, the North Carolina
Court of Appeals agreed with Sweat that the evidence was insufficient and reversed his conviction.
(State v. Sweat) [7/09]
|Aiken County, SC
L. D. Harris
Apr 28, 1946
L. D. Harris was convicted of murdering Edward L. Bennett and his wife.
The victims were killed at the country store and filling station they owned
near the city of Aiken. Bennett's last words were "A big negro shot me
and robbed me." Harris, a slightly built Negro, came under suspicion
some months after the murders following reports that he had a pistol and
left for Nashville, TN shortly after the murders. Following his arrest
Harris was placed in a small cubicle during stifling heat, and police
officers working in relays questioned him continuously for more than 48 hours.
One officer reportedly struck Harris with force, although the officer
claimed he merely laid a hand on Harris's shoulder. Eventually officers
threatened to arrest Harris's mother for having stolen property. Harris
then took up the officers' offer and confessed in order to prevent his
During the whole interrogation, Harris, an illiterate,
was not told of his right to request a lawyer, his right to request a
preliminary hearing, or his right to remain silent. He was not warned
that what he said might be used against him and was denied the benefit of
consultation with friends and family. He also had no contact with
disinterested third parties. At trial the judge instructed the jury
that there was no evidence against Harris that would support a conviction if
they found that his confession was not voluntary.
In 1949 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Harris's conviction, ruling that
the circumstances of his interrogation made his confession involuntary.
In 1957 a man originally suspected of the Bennett murders was arrested for
similar murders. He confessed to the Bennett murders and convinced
authorities that his confession was genuine. (Harris v. South
Carolina) (ISI) [7/09]
|Queens County, NY
Aug 23, 1953
Paul A. Pfeffer was convicted of murdering 22-year-old seaman Edward S.
Bates. Bates was found beaten to death in his car which was parked in
a Rockaway Beach waterfront lot. Bates initially confessed to the
crime, but then repudiated it, saying his confession was the product of
coercion. Following Pfeffer's conviction, another man, John Francis
Roche, confessed to the Bates murder as well as to a number of other
killings. Pfeffer was granted a retrial after passing a series of
lie-detector tests. He was subsequently indicted for manslaughter in
the killing of Bates, but the indictment was dismissed prior to trial.
(MOJIPCC) (NY Times) [7/09]
|Kings County, NY
Oct 11, 1945
John Valletutti was sentenced to death for the murder of Pfc. Leo Conlon, a
30-year-old disabled paratrooper who was home on leave. The murder
occurred during an attempted robbery of a bar and grill at 5011 Avenue L in
Brooklyn. After another man, William Cronholm, was arrested for the
crime, he first said he committed the robbery alone, but later said he committed the robbery with two others.
Cronholm said he implicated others solely to stop lengthy police
questioning. He said he had only recently met his two accomplices. He did not
know the name of the getaway driver, and the guy who accompanied him into
the bar he only knew as "Johnny." At his trial Cronholm went back to
his original story of committing the robbery alone.
investigated Cronholm's background and found out that he knew a John
Valletutti, 19, who had once been arrested for car theft. Thirty hours
after taking Valletutti into custody, police had their second confession to
Valletutti maintained that he only confessed after he had been brutally
assaulted by police. No independent evidence
connected Valletutti to the crime. Cronholm testified in Valletutti's
he committed the robbery alone. Alibi witnesses testified that
Valletti was playing shuffleboard several miles from the scene. After convicting Valletutti, the
jury recommended mercy, but the trial judge sentenced him to death.
Prosecutor James McGough later said that while the jury was deliberating, he
had offered Valletutti the opportunity to plead guilty to second-degree
manslaughter, a charge that carried a maximum sentence of 15 years.
Valletutti declined the offer, insisting he was innocent.
Valletutti's conviction was reversed by the NY Court of Appeals which found
that his confession was of doubtful reliability due to the evidence of the wounds
he received while in police custody and to the lack of other evidence implicating him
in the crime. Charges against Valletutti were subsequently dropped and
he was released from imprisonment in 1948. (NY Times) (The
Semi-Major Update to PA -
Philadelphia - Robert Wilkinson 1975
|Kings County, NY
Samuel Tito Williams
Apr 20, 1947
Samuel Tito Williams was
sentenced to death for the murder of 15-year-old Selma Graff. Graff
was fatally bludgeoned by an intruder about 2 a.m. in the bedroom of her
home. She lived at 143 East 96th St. in the East Flatbush section of
Brooklyn. Graff's 9-year-old brother, Donald Graff, shared her room
and struggled with the intruder before being clubbed into unconsciousness.
Donald described the intruder as a 5'5" white man who simpered or giggled.
The murder touched off one of New York City's biggest manhunts.
after the murder, police arrested 18-year-old Williams for a series of
alleged burglaries. He reportedly was inclined to giggle. After
police questioning, Williams confessed to the Graff murder and identified a
flashlight found at the scene as his own. However, Williams was not a
5'5" white man, but a 6' tall black man. Following Williams'
confession, eight police officers involved with the case received rewards in
the form of promotions, added pay, and certificates of commendation.
Eleven officers on the case were awarded $50 government bonds during
an eight-course banquet sponsored by the Pitkin Avenue Merchants Association.
At trial the
victim's brother identified the killer as a white man, but later said he
"was all mixed up." Williams testified that his confession was
obtained under duress. He said detectives had was beaten him with "a
blackjack, a rubber hose, and a club," and that they also burned him with
"lighted cigarettes and cigars." The jury convicted Williams of murder with
a recommendation of mercy. However, trial judge Louis Goldstein
imposed a death sentence. Governor Dewey later commuted Williams'
death sentence to life in prison. In 1963 the U.S. Court of Appeals
vacated Williams' conviction after ruling that his confession was coerced.
In 1973 New York City awarded Williams $120,000 for his false arrest and
the malicious prosecution he suffered. (NY Times) [7/09]
Oct 19, 1974
convicted of kidnapping, rape and sodomy. He was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 50 years.
The victim was accosted after she parked her car near her home in Elizabeth,
and was forced to drive to the parking lot of a housing project in Newark
where she was assaulted. Four months later she picked Walker out of a
police lineup. The victim had told police her assailant was in his
mid-20s and did not wear glasses. Walker, however, was 33 and had worn
glasses with thick lenses for many years. In 1986 Centurion Ministries convinced prosecutors to re-examine
a semen sample taken from the victim 12 years earlier. Tests on the
sample revealed the presence of B antigens indicating the assailant or the
victim had blood type B or AB. Since the victim had blood type A, the
antigens had to have come from the assailant. Since Walker also had
blood type A, he could not be the assailant. Following the tests
Walker's conviction was overturned and he was freed from imprisonment.
(NY Times) (CM) [7/09]
July 16, 1967 (Plainfield)
In the midst
of a five-day race riot, a white Plainfield patrolman, John V. Gleason, Jr., 39, shot
and wounded a black youth who allegedly had attacked him with a hammer. He was
surrounded by an angry mob of blacks and was beaten, stomped, and shot to
death with his own service revolver. Of 12 defendants put on trial, two
were convicted including George Merritt. The case against Merritt
rested solely on the testimony of one witness, Donald Frazier. Frazier
testified that Merritt assaulted Gleason with a meat cleaver, but the wounds
on Gleason were not indicative that such a weapon was used on him, nor was
this weapon found. Merritt's conviction was reversed in 1972 and
1976, but he was reconvicted after each reversal. Following Merritt's
third conviction, a pretrial police interview with Frazier surfaced that was
completely at odds with his trial testimony. The prosecutor had
withheld this document from Merritt's defense. Because of this
document, Merritt's conviction was again reversed in 1980, but this time charges against
him were dropped. (NY Times)
Mar 26, 1980 (Howell Twp)
convicted of aggravated manslaughter for the shooting death of Donna Lynn
Smith, 25. Smith's body was found in Allaire State Park in Howell
Township. Smith had gone to the park with Parker, Pamela Pope, Carol
Hancock, and James Covington. Hancock was Pope's sister, while
Covington was Parker's brother. According to an appellate court, Pope,
then age 29, believed that Smith had broken her nephew's arm and she wanted
Parker to beat Smith. However, Pope took Parker's gun and shot Smith
twice, killing her.
Parker at first
confessed to the crime, but he recanted it at trial saying he confessed
because he loved Pope's two children and thought Pope was pregnant with his
child. Pope and Hancock denied being at park at the time of the
shooting. Covington did not witness the shooting because he was asleep
in the car at the time. Parker was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Pope was later
convicted of Smith's murder as well as committing perjury at Parker's trial.
Hancock was also convicted of perjury. Parker's conviction was
overturned in 1986 and he was freed on bail. It is doubtful that he
will be retried as the state essentially conceded that his confession was
false. (NY Times) (MOJIPCC)
Robert Lee Kidd
Dec 13, 1954
convicted in 1960 of the 1954 murder of Albert Clarke, 71, an antique shop
owner. The murder occurred in Clarke's shop at 171 Valencia St. in San
Francisco. The prosecution alleged Kidd killed the victim with the
victim's own sword. Kidd's defense was prevented from informing the
jury that the coroner determined that the victim could not have been killed
with this sword. Subsequent investigation showed that police had
photographic evidence in their files indicating the victim was beaten to
death with a revolver. No evidence connected this revolver to Kidd.
In addition the jury was falsely led to believe that a three-page document
produced by a police witness was Kidd's rap sheet, implying Kidd had a long
series of prior arrests.
Kidd was sentenced to death.
At retrial in 1962, Kidd was acquitted because presented evidence showed
that Clarke was alive several hours after the time Kidd
allegedly murdered him. This evidence had been withheld by the
prosecutor at Kidd's first trial. (MOJIPCC) [7/09]
Gordon Robert Hall
25, 1978 (Duarte)
convicted of murdering Jesse Manuel Ortiz, 27. The victim died after a
gunman in a passing car fired several shots at him and his two
half-brothers. A few blocks away from the incident, police found what
they thought was the gunman's car. After they surrounded the area,
which was the locus of a party, they found Hall hiding in some bushes.
Hall, 16, said he was at the party all night and that he hid because his
attendance at the party violated his probation for involvement in a graffiti
painting incident. The victim's half-brothers, Victor and Daniel Lara,
identified Hall as the killer.
conviction, the victim's brothers recanted their testimony. Instead
they claimed a man named Oscar Sanchez was the killer. Hall's
defense also discovered a new eyewitness who identified Sanchez and another
man, Alfred Reyes, as the killers. Reyes admitted being at the
party but denied any involvement in the crime. Instead he implicated
Sanchez as the driver of the passing car. Other witnesses also
implicated Sanchez and/or Reyes, but none implicated Hall. Additional
witnesses confirmed Hall's alibi.
In Dec. 1981, an
appeals court overturned Hall's conviction. Two months later, charges
against Hall were dropped and he was released. (ISI)
(LA Times) [7/09]
Dec 1952 (Seattle)
F. Emery was
convicted of robbing bus driver Charles D. Taulbee of $105. The
conviction was based on eyewitness identification of the victim who happened
to see Emery on a downtown Seattle street.
After Emery served 9 months of imprisonment, another man, Eugene Albert
Gough, confessed to Denver authorities that he had robbed the bus driver and
even revealed where he hid the bus driver's money changer. Gov. Arthur Langlie pardoned
Emery in Jan. 1954. Emery was later awarded $13,000 by the state legislature
for his wrongful imprisonment. (News
Article) (The Innocents) [7/09]
May 22, 1952 (El Paso)
convicted of the armed robbery of an El Paso drug store due to eyewitness
identification. Following Massey's conviction, police in Iowa arrested
William G. Karston for the murder of a farmer. Among the many crimes
Karston confessed to was the drug store robbery for which Massey was
convicted. It was subsequently proved that Massey was working in New
Mexico at the time of the drug store robbery. Texas Governor Allan
Shivers subsequently pardoned Massey in Nov. 1954. Massey served 22
months of imprisonment. (The
(News Article) [7/09]
Convicted 1951 (Greenville)
convicted of armed robbery in Nov. 1951 due to mistaken eyewitness
identification. He was tried without a lawyer and had no funds to
prove that he had been in another state at the time of the crime. In May 1959, Governor Price Daniel pardoned White after
the actual culprit confessed. (The
Curbow & Strickland
and J. C. Strickland were convicted of robbing Mr. and Mrs. Ben Pritchard at
their gas station in Bullard, TX. The Pritchards
identified the two as the men who robbed them. Following the
defendants' convictions it was determined that robbery suspects in Oklahoma
admitted robbing a gas station in Texas. The suspects did not know the
name of the town in which the gas station was located, only that it was
somewhere near Jackson. When the Pritchards were brought to Oklahoma,
they identified the suspects as the robbers. Governor Lee O'Daniels
subsequently pardoned Curbow and Strickland in April 1940. (The
Kendall & Vickers
Sept 25, 1906
and John Vickers were convicted of the murder of Lawrence Nelson, 25.
Nelson disappeared from his rooming house in Lenoir and was found dead 10 weeks
later. Kendall was Nelson's roommate and Vickers was Kendall's close
friend. Both men had not gone to work on the day that Nelson
trial, 15-year-old Omey Greer (aka Omah Grier) testified that the defendants
had given her money to lure Nelson to a location in the mountains that was
four to five miles from Lenoir. After luring Nelson, Greer said she
ran away, but heard a shot fired.
convictions, police arrested Sam Green and his cousin Omey Greer for the
murders. Both were later acquitted by a jury at trial. In 1916
an investigation conducted by Governor Bickett found that despite his
acquittal, Green had murdered Nelson and framed Kendall and Vickers.
The governor issued an unconditional pardon to the two men. Five years
later, Green had a coffin built for himself. When it was done, he
confessed he had murdered Nelson and then committed suicide. (Google)
|Allegheny County, PA
Mar 1937 (Pittsburgh)
convicted of participating in the robbery of a retired mailman named George
Fleet. Piano was convicted after being identified by Fleet.
Months later Fleet identified another man, Charles Pampana, as the assailant
he thought was Piano. Piano was released from prison and exonerated
after serving 7 months of imprisonment. (Not
|Philadelphia County, PA
Feb 17, 1950
convicted of the armed robbery of a Philadelphia check-cashing service.
The check-cashing attendant, John Mitchell, was robbed of $800. Police
later arrested George Clark and Joseph Farro for the crime. Under
police pressure Clark named Smith as an alleged lookout man for the crime.
Clark testified against Smith while Farro remained silent. Smith was
freed from imprisonment in July 1963 after both Clark and Farro admitted
that Smith did not participate in the crime. (The
|Philadelphia County, PA
William S. Green
convicted of murdering a night watchman. The watchman had found that a
rear door to a theater had been forced open. He entered the theater
and apprehended an intruder. He then took the intruder to a police
call box. When the watchman turned to make a call, the intruder
snatched his gun and fatally shot him. The watchman had an elderly
friend who watched from some distance away.
Two weeks later,
two witnesses came forward who placed themselves within forty feet of the
call box at the time of the shooting. They identified Green, a Navy
veteran, as the killer. The watchman's friend could only say that
Green looked something like the killer. At trial in Jan. 1947, Green's
defense presented several witnesses who were in the area at the time of the
shooting and who testified that Green did not resemble the killer.
In 1957, after
Green had served 10 years of imprisonment, one of the two identifying
witnesses came forward and admitted he did not see Green at the scene of the
murder. He said the other identifying witness paid him $100 to give
false testimony. This second witness was a homosexual who had once
been beaten up by Green after propositioning him. The district
attorney investigated the claim of the recanting witness and satisfied
himself that it was true. Green was subsequently pardoned. (The
|Stark County, OH
Nov 23, 1956
Harry Dale Bundy was convicted of murdering
Reynold P. Amodio during a holdup of the County Line Market north of
Uniontown. Amodio was the store manager. A clerk, Paul E. Cain, was also
killed. In Feb. 1957, a few months after the crime, Bundy's
friend and former co-worker, Russell T. McCoy, visited him when he was working the night shift at
a Zanesville plant. McCoy asked Bundy for a loan and told him he had
just murdered the people he lived with. Bundy did not believe McCoy's
story and told him to go home. McCoy, age 22, then threatened Bundy,
age 39, with a gun
and told him not to repeat what he heard.
Read More by
|Union County, NM
Francisco Garcia was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for killing a man
in a saloon. According to N.M. Supreme Court, "Francisco Garcia, one
of the defendants, became engaged in an altercation with the deceased,
whereupon deceased shot Garcia and he fell to the floor, and remained there,
unconscious, during the whole of the remainder of the difficulty.
Cipriano Garcia, his brother, was at the time at the back end of the saloon
where the difficulty occurred, and took no part in the same up to this time.
Upon hearing the shot and seeing his brother fall to the floor, he rushed to
his rescue, encountered the deceased, and killed him. No proof of
concerted action on the part of the brothers is shown." The Court
found that Francisco was not entitled to relief from his conviction because
his counsel failed to ask the trial judge to instruct the jury to acquit his
client. Nevertheless, at a rehearing the Court used its discretion to
overturn Francisco's conviction "because the evidence conclusively
establishes his innocence." Charges against Francisco were
subsequently dropped. (State v.
Garcia) (MOJIPCC) [7/09]
|Los Angeles County,
E. Williams, also known as Bob, was was convicted of the murders of Matt Manestar
and Ralph Burgess. Manestar, 56, was the owner of the
Rose Motel located at 1345 West Pacific Coast Highway in Harbor City.
He was killed on the night of Jan. 22-23, 1956. Williams confessed to
this murder while in a northern California juvenile correction camp.
He figured his confession would allow him to contact his girlfriend as it
would force his transfer to police custody in southern California for
questioning. He was anxious to contact her because he believed
she was about
to marry someone else. He also figured that he could not be convicted
of murdering Manestar as he was incarcerated at the correction camp when the
murder occurred. Unfortunately Williams figured wrong.
Two years later, in an effort to free himself
by proving that an innocent person could be convicted of murder due to a
false confession, Williams decided to confess to another murder that occurred while
he was in the correction camp. In a Long Beach newspaper Williams
found a story about the unsolved murder of Ralph Burgess. Burgess, a
salesman, was murdered on Nov. 20, 1955 at McKinney's furniture store at 2430 East Pacific Coast Highway in
Long Beach. While five fellow inmates watched him, Williams wrote out
a confession to this murder using details from the newspaper. Williams
was proven right more than he had hoped. When put on trial for the
murder, he was convicted again. He was not allowed to refute his
confession by calling his fellow inmates as witnesses.
later, in 1975, Williams was paroled from prison. He began working on
establishing his innocence. Eventually, in a San Pedro police records
room, he found a letter from a correction camp supervisor camp stating he
had been in custody at the time of Manestar's murder. This letter had
been withheld from Williams' defense at trial. In 1978, a judge
released Williams from his life parole, effectively ending his sentence.
Article) (ISI) [7/09]
|Los Angeles County,
Dec 22, 1956
Edward Echarria Avila was
convicted of charges relating to the robbery and shooting of used car dealer
Sam Bravero at his car lot in East Los Angeles. Two
eyewitnesses to the crime had been shown 30 mug shots of possible assailants
but failed to identify anyone. A detective then showed them a single
photo of Avila that he had with him in relation to another case. The
witnesses both identified Avila.
However, after viewing Avila in a lineup, only one of these witnesses was still sure
Avila was the assailant. When detectives questioned Avila, they
doubted his guilt because of the way he answered their questions.
Nevertheless, Avila was convicted due to the witness identification.
later, the detectives thought another man, Delbert Wilson, might be
responsible for the crime. Wilson had been arrested several days before
Avila. After detectives matched a fingerprint found in Bravero's car
to a print of Wilson's thumb, Wilson confessed to the crime. Wilson
also told police that he had coincidentally been held in the same jail cell as Avila
and knew that Avila was being charged with a crime he himself had committed.
Wilson said he remained quiet as he had enough troubles of his
own. In Sept. 1957 Avila was granted an unconditional pardon.
(The Innocents) [7/09]
|Los Angeles County, CA
O. J. Simpson
June 12, 1994 (Brentwood)
Orenthal James "O.J." Simpson was
found civilly liable for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson,
35, and Ronald Lyle Goldman, 25. He had earlier been acquitted
of the murders in criminal court, but he is perceived by many
as guilty despite his
acquittal. The victims, who were white, were found outside Nicole's home at 875 S. Bundy
Drive in Brentwood, CA. O.J.,
who was black, was a Heisman trophy winner, a Hollywood movie actor,
a network TV football commentator, and
was known for the TV commercials he made for the Hertz Rental Car Agency. He was the most famous American ever charged with
murder. O.J.'s criminal trial was dubbed the "trial of the century,"
although that designation had previously been used to describe the 1935
trial of the alleged Lindbergh baby killer.
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|Los Angeles County, CA
Mar 11, 1946
Kamacho was convicted of the murder of Deputy Sheriff Fred T.
Guiol. Guiol had attended a movie with a friend, Miss Pearl Rattenbury,
and had driven her to her home at 1117 Elden Ave. Before Rattenbury
could step out of the car, a young man armed with a gun wrenched open the
car door and demanded the occupants hand over their money. When Guiol reached for his gun, the young man shot Guiol
dead and then ran off.
by Clicking Here
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