Victims of the State

Forsyth County, NC 

Joseph Abbitt

May 2, 1991

“Joseph Lamont Abbitt was wrongly convicted on June 22, 1995, of two counts of first-degree rape, one count of first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree kidnapping in the 1991 sexual assaults of a 16-year-old girl and her 13-year-old sister in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Abbitt was convicted based on the eyewitness testimony of the two girls, and he was sentenced to life in prison. In 2009 DNA testing unavailable at the time of his trial excluded him as the girls' assailant. Abbitt filed a motion for a new trial based on the new forensic evidence. On September 2, 2009 Abbitt's conviction was vacated by a Forsyth Superior Court judge and he was released later that day. Arrested in 1991, Abbitt was jailed four years awaiting trial, and spent another 14 year in prison, for a total of 18 years of incarceration. Abbitt was the seventh convicted man in North Carolina exonerated by DNA evidence.” – FJDB

Middlesex County, MA 

Stearns Kimball Abbott

Jan 17, 1880

Stearns Kimball Abbott was sentenced to death for the murder of Maria L. Crue. The victim was shot to death in her farm home near Groton, MA. A sleigh belonging to 16-year-old Jennie Carr was identified as being present at Crue's home on the day of the murder. Carr said she had stopped to visit Mrs. Crue but had left when a man appeared at the door and said she was away. Other witnesses recalled seeing a stranger with a scruffy beard and a mustache in the vicinity. This stranger had stopped at a furniture factory not far from the Crue home, asked for a job, and given his name as Stearns Kimball Abbott. He was a 40-year-old transient from Cambridgeport who had been in and out of prison for for burglary, horse theft, and forgery.

When Abbott was brought to trial, Carr identified him as the man she saw at the victim's house. Abbott was convicted after his lawyers failed to locate any witnesses who could have established that he had boarded a Boston-bound train at Littleton more than an hour before the victim was last seen alive. Abbott's appeal was denied in Feb. 1881, and his hanging was scheduled for the following April. Soon after the appeal denial, a young factory girl in Lowell claimed that Carr had acknowledged that she had falsely accused Abbott. A few weeks later, that girl's body was found in the Charles River, turning public opinion, according to the Boston Daily Globe, “strong against the verdict” in Abbott's case.

Shortly before Abbott's scheduled hanging, Massachusetts Governor Long granted a reprieve until June and appointed a council to reinvestigate the case. After being called to testify, Carr initially denied rumors that she had been intimate with the victim's husband, Joseph Crue, and that she had given birth to a child. However, after a physician who attended the delivery of her child testified, Carr acknowledged that she and the victim's husband had been romantically involved at the time of the murder, and that she had given birth to his child. Following this hearing, Governor Long refused to declare Abbott innocent, but commuted his sentence to life imprisonment. However, in 1911, more than thirty-one years after Abbott's arrest, Massachusetts Governor Foss granted Abbott a complete pardon and ordered his release from custody.  (CWC)  [4/09]

Yusef Abdullahi - See Cardiff Three

Jarrett M. Adams - See Whitewater Three

Kenneth Adams - See Ford Heights Four

 Suffolk County, MA

Laurence Adams

Nov 27, 1972

Laurence Adams was convicted of robbing and beating to death MBTA transit worker James C. Corry during a robbery of cash boxes in the Essex Street subway station. Adams was sentenced to death but the sentence was reduced to life imprisonment in 1974 after the state's death penalty statute was ruled unconstitutional. One witness against Adams recanted before her death. Adams' defense also discovered that a key witness was incarcerated at the time he claimed he heard Adams confess in a Dorchester home to the murder. In 1980, Adam's lawyers uncovered concealed statements made to the police of a witness who identified two men other than Adams as the murderers. Adam's conviction was overturned in 2004 and he was released on bail.  (Boston Globe) (Seacoast)  [10/05]

Dallas County, TX 

Randall Dale Adams

Nov 28, 1976

Randall Dale Adams was sentenced to death for the murder of police officer Robert Wood. Evidence in the case pointed to David Ray Harris. However, Harris was for some reason an unsatisfactory suspect to police. Police may not have wished to charge him because he was 16-years-old and under Texas law could not be sentenced to death. At Adams' trial, Harris named Adams as the shooter, and Harris was soon back on the streets. A prosecution psychologist, Dr. James Grigson, told Adam's jury that Adams would remain an ongoing menace if kept alive. Grigson was known as Dr. Death, after having testified in more than 100 trials that resulted in death sentences.

In 1985, a young filmmaker, Errol Morris, came to Dallas to work on a documentary about Grigson. When he met Adams, Morris thought he was an unlikely killer and decided to take a closer look. Morris soon discovered that Harris had been compiling a criminal record of some magnitude. Morris discovered other problems with several witnesses who testified at Adams' trial. Because of such evidence, Adams was granted a hearing for a retrial. At the hearing in 1989, David Harris admitted that he was the killer. An appeals court overturned Adams' conviction, holding that prosecutor Douglas D. Mulder withheld a statement a witness gave to the police that cast doubt on her credibility and allowed her to give perjured testimony. Further, the court found that after Adams' attorney discovered the statement late in Adams' trial, Mulder falsely told the court that he did not know the witness's whereabouts. Adams' conviction was overturned and the prosecution dropped charges. His case is profiled in the documentary The Thin Blue Line.  (CWC)  [1/06]

U.S. Federal Case (CA) 

Richard J. Adamson


Richard J. Adamson was convicted of wire fraud and money laundering. He was judicially exonerated in 2002.  (FJDB) (U.S. v. Adamson)  [7/05]

Baltimore City, MD 

Rodney Addison

Oct 1996

Rodney Addison was convicted of the shooting murder of Lewis Jackson. In 2005, Addison's conviction was overturned after exculpatory evidence was discovered that was withheld from the defense. Three witnesses had made statements prior to trial, which contradicted the testimony of the state's sole witness. The state decided to drop charges and Addison was released.  (JD)  [12/06]

Omar Aguirre - See Miranda Five

 England (Worcester CC)

Sirfraze Ahmed

Apr 2004

Sirfraze Ahmed was convicted of robbery. Three masked men stole more than £30,000 from Neil Bateman outside his home in Bodenham, England. Bateman had organized a classic car show in Derbyshire that weekend. In Feb. 2006 two brothers, Khalid and Mohammed Khan, pled guilty to the robbery. The two denied being at the scene of the robbery, but admitted supplying items used in the robbery. Although the brothers did not implicate Ahmed, he was also charged in the robbery. Four of his fingerprints were found on a black plastic bag left at the crime scene after it had been worn as a mask by one of the robbers.

At his Oct. 2006 trial, Ahmed testified he was almost 50 miles away in Birmingham. Several witnesses corroborated Ahmed's alibi. He said he knew the Khan brothers, and had helped Khalid fix cars at the house the brothers shared. Ahmed said that they would put plastic bags on the seat of a car to prevent oil stains, and that is how his fingerprints could have gotten on the bag found at the crime scene. In June 2007 the Court of Appeals quashed his conviction on the basis there was insufficient evidence that he was involved in the robbery.  (Hereford Times) (HT #2)  [9/08]

Honolulu County, HI 

Tayshea Aiwohi

July 17, 2001

Tayshea Aiwohi was convicted in 2004 of manslaughter in the death of her son, Treyson, who died two days after being born. His cause of death was ruled to be methamphetamine poisoning. Aiwohi was charged with manslaughter based on her methamphetamine use during pregnancy. She pleaded no contest on the condition she could appeal her conviction, and she was sentenced to 10 years probation. In 2005 the Hawaii Supreme Court overturned her conviction, ruling that she could not have committed manslaughter as it requires behavior against a person that is related to that person's death. Since her alleged behavior occurred prior to her son's birth, and since a fetus is not legally a person, she could not be guilty of the crime.  (State v. Aiwohi) (Star Bulletin)  [9/08]

Bernalillo County, NM 

Albuquerque Four

Feb 8, 1974

Thomas Gladish, Richard Greer, Ronald Keine, and Clarence Smith were members of the Vagos motorcycle gang in Los Angeles, CA. They were all convicted and sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of William Velten, Jr., a University of New Mexico student. Velten was allegedly killed on Feb. 8, 1974 and his body was found on Feb 13 in the Manzano foothills east of Four Hills. The prosecution's key witness was a motel maid named Judith Weyer, who claimed that she witnessed the crime. The four men were in Los Angeles at the time of the murder. About six months after their convictions, Weyer admitted that her testimony was fabricated and said she had been coached and pressured by the police and prosecutors. Nonetheless, the trial court refused to order a new trial. Several months later, the men were granted a new trial after another man, Kerry Rodney Lee, confessed to having committed the murder. Based on this confession and evidence corroborating it, charges against the four were dropped and they were released in 1976. The men were aided by the Detroit News, which spent $75,000 to help establish their innocence.  [7/05]

Montgomery County, OH 

Aldridge & Wilcox

Convicted 1985

Robert Aldridge and Jennifer Wilcox were convicted of child abuse. After an investigation by Ohio Observer editor Martin Yant, it was discovered that exculpatory evidence was not turned over to the pair's defense attorneys at the time of their trial. This included medical reports that none of the children allegedly molested showed any signs of sexual abuse. In addition Yant obtained recantations by three of the six child witnesses who said they were coerced into giving false testimony against the two. The witnesses, John, Jason, and Justin Chronopoulos, said they did not even know who Aldridge and Wilcox were until the two were pointed out to them in the courtroom. Subsequent to the investigation, Aldridge's and Wilcox's convictions were vacated in 1996 after they served 11 years of imprisonment.  (Ohio Observer)  [9/08]

Uvalde County, TX

Gilbert Alejandro

Apr 27, 1990

Gilbert Alejandro, 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) (CWC) (CBJ)  [2/09]

Santa Clara County, CA

Daniel Aleman

Apr 12, 1994 (San Jose)

“Daniel Aleman was convicted of carjacking after a judge promised to review evidence of the crime that surfaced during a closed-door juvenile hearing and then said the evidence didn’t help Aleman’s case. The 6th District Court of Appeal reversed the conviction after discovering the judge could not have reviewed the hearing transcript because it did not exist.”
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Panola County, MS 

John Randall Alexander

July 15, 1987

“John Randall Alexander was wrongly convicted in 1989 of the July 15, 1987 death of a man who was run over by a car as he was walking along a two-lane highway in Panola County, Mississippi. Alexander was convicted based on the testimony of three people, including a husband and wife, that he had confessed. [He] was sentenced to life in prison. In June 1992 the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Alexander's conviction. Five years after [his] trial the woman admitted she lied and perjured herself because her abusive husband wanted her to testify against Alexander. She provided Alexander with an Affidavit that he relied on to file a state writ of habeas corpus. Based on the new evidence of the woman's recantation that also cast doubt on her husband's testimony, Alexander's conviction was overturned in June 1995 and he was granted a new trial. The prosecution did not act until 15 years after his release, when in March 2010 the murder charge was dropped and his indictment dismissed with prejudice, which means it cannot be refiled.” – FJDB

St. Joseph County, IN 

Richard Alexander

Summer 1996

While investigating a sexual assault, police determined the perpetrator left the crime scene on a bicycle. Richard Alexander happened to ride by the crime scene later on a bicycle and was stopped. He was arrested in connection with four sexual assaults in the South Bend area, but was tried for only three, because DNA tests on the fourth assault exonerated him despite the fact that both the victim and her fiancé were certain that Alexander was the perpetrator.

After his arrest, the assaults continued even though Alexander was imprisoned. In one of these later assaults, his photograph was accidentally placed in the photo lineup showed to the victim, and she identified him as the perpetrator. Of the three tried assaults, Alexander was convicted of two. In 2001, a man named Michael Murphy confessed to committing one of the assaults for which Alexander was convicted, providing details that could only be known to the perpetrator. An advanced DNA test was then performed which exonerated Alexander and implicated Murphy.

In light of this exonerating evidence, prosecutors came to believe that Alexander did not commit the second assault for which he was convicted. The modus operandi of the second assault was so similar to the assault for which another man, Mark Williams, was convicted that prosecutors thought that the same person must have committed both assaults. A prosecuting attorney joined with Alexander's appellate attorney in filing a joint motion to have his convictions vacated. Alexander was officially cleared of all charges and released after serving more than 5 years in prison.  (IP)  [6/05]

Albert Algarin - See Bronx Five

Paul Alister - See Ananda Marga Trio

Hamilton County, OH

Dante Allen

June 6, 2005

Along with a codefendant, teenager Dante Allen was convicted of charges related to the boarding a Cincinnati Metro bus, waving a gun at passengers and demanding to know if any of the passengers were from Bond Hill in Cincinnati, or knew anything about the murder of Eugene Lampkin that same day. Allen's co-defendant testified that Allen was not on the bus with him, but the bus driver and a passenger identified Allen. Prior to sentencing, another teenager confessed to perpetrating the crime with Allen's codefendant. Allen was released. Allen's codefendant was sentenced to 18 years in prison for scaring bus passengers, a sentence Allen would likely have received.  (JD)  [9/07]

Joseph Allen - See Smith & Allen