Victims of the State

7 Cases

Map of Counties

U.S. Cases




Date of Alleged Crime


Franklin County, KY Herman May, Jr. 1988 (Frankfort)
Herman May, Jr. was accused of raping a woman in 1988.  He was set free in 2002 after DNA tests excluded him as the rapist.  [6/05]


Harlan County, KY Condy Dabney Aug 23, 1925 (Coxton)

Condy Dabney was convicted of murdering Mary Vickery, 14, and sentenced to life imprisonment.  Vickery had disappeared on Aug. 23, 1925.  A month later a girl's body was found nearby in an abandoned mine shaft.  After Mary's father had posted a $500 reward for information, a woman named Marie Jackson came forward and claimed to have witnessed Dabney murder Vickery.

The prosecution's case against Dabney was weak.  The found body was too decayed to be dead only a month and witnesses disputed Jackson's whereabouts on the day of the alleged murder.  Still Dabney was convicted.  Twelve months after Dabney's conviction, a police officer in Williamsburg, KY, 85 miles away, happened to notice the name Mary Vickery on a hotel register.  Because the name seemed familiar, he spoke with her and realized that she was the person Dabney was convicted of murdering.  Mary said she ran away because she was not getting along with her stepmother.  Dabney was released and Jackson was convicted of perjury.  The found body was never identified.  (CWC) (CTI)  [10/05]


Jefferson County, KY William Gregory 1992
William Gregory was convicted of raping one woman and attempting to rape a second woman.  Neither of the women identified him as the rapist when they were shown his photograph, but both later insisted that he was the rapist.  A police forensic "expert" testified that Gregory's hair was "similar" to the assailant's hair found in a stocking cap.  Gregory served 7 years of a 70-year sentence before being DNA tests exonerated him.  (IP)  [10/05]


Jefferson County, KY Troy Rufra  
Troy Rufra, an American Express financial advisor, was charged with robbing three supermarket bank branches in St. Matthews plus another one in Clark County, IN.  A teller at one of the supermarkets saw Rufra shopping there and identified him as the man who robbed her three weeks before.  Rufra had left the supermarket by the time police arrived, but was identified by the debit card he used to make a purchase.  Tellers at other bank branches then identified Rufra using suggestive one-on-one identifications.  After a fifth robbery occurred, Rufra presented an airtight alibi, and police concluded he was innocent of all the robberies.  (Louisville CJ)  [11/05]


Jefferson County, KY Matthew Fields Oct 2005
Eighteen-year-old Matthew Fields confessed under police interrogation to a home break-in and a sexual assault.  After spending a year in jail awaiting trial, DNA tests exonerated him.  (Louisville CJ)


Kenton County, KY Timothy Smith Charged 2000 (Covington)
Timothy Smith was convicted of sodomy after his teenage daughter, Katie, claimed repressed memories of abuse.  His other daughters had denied such abuse.  In 2006, his conviction was overturned because of failure of his counsel to challenge the prosecution expert who backed up Katie's story.  The expert had obtained a doctorate in an unaccredited online school.  Katie Smith died in 2005 after attacking Sarah Brady, who was 9-months pregnant, with a knife.  Brady managed to grab the knife and turned it on Smith.  Police concluded Brady acted in self-defense.  (AP News)  [9/06]


Whitley County, KY Larry Osborne Dec 14, 1997

Larry Osborne was convicted of murdering Sam Davenport, 82, and his wife Lillian, 76.  He was sentenced to death.  The victims were hit over the head and their house was set on fire.  They died of smoke inhalation.  Osborne, 17, and his friend, Joe Reid, 15, said they heard breaking glass from the Davenport home when they passed it while riding a motorbike on the night of the murders.  Osborne phoned his mother, who in turn phoned the police.  When the police arrived at the scene, the house was in flames.

After repeated interrogations, police got 15-year-old Reid to state that Osborne committed the murders while he waited outside.  In a police videotape of Reid's statements, Reid is seen asking "Is this going to get me out of all this stuff?"  Reid also stated that after Osborne set fire to the house, he left it through the back door.  However the back door had a dead bolt lock, with a double key.  It is not believed that anyone one went through it that night.

Before Reid could testify at Osborne's trial, he drowned while swimming in Jellico, Tennessee.  His death was ruled accidental.  At Osborne's trial, the prosecutor read Reid's statement.  The defense objected, but the judge overruled the objection.  On appeal, the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned Osborne's conviction.  Reid's testimony was ruled inadmissible because a dead witness cannot be cross-examined.  Osborne was acquitted at retrial after spending three years on death row.  (Louisville CJ) (TWM) (JD13)