Victims of the State

Wayne County, MI 

Charles Lee Clark

Nov 23, 1937 (Hamtramck)

“On November 23, 1937, three men held up a clothing store in Hamtramck. The owner was shot and killed. The owner’s daughter, who was 21 years old at the time, went to the assistance of her father and was slugged with a revolver by one of the robbers. Charles Clark was later identified by the girl in a lineup as the man who shot her father. One of the other defendants implicated Clark in an initial statement, but he and two others said at the trial later that Clark had no part in it. Clark’s landlady testified that he was home all that day. Nevertheless, Clark was convicted primarily on the identification testimony of the young woman and was sentenced to life imprisonment.”

“Clark tried for a new trial several times over the 30 years imprisonment, but it was denied each time. Partly because Clark was an exemplary prisoner he was offered parole by the prison authorities and later was offered a pardon and commutation of sentence, but he turned these down because acceptance of such terms would have been a tacit admission of guilt. At one point in a quest for a new trial he was offered the opportunity to plead to a lesser charge, the sentence of which would have freed him immediately. Again he refused.”

“Finally in 1968 the case was assigned to the Legal Aid & Defenders Association of Detroit. The attorneys researched early transcripts and discovered that the victim’s daughter, the sole identifying witness, had originally said that she could not identify Clark as one of the bandits. In an affidavit in support of the motion for a new trial the witness revealed that after she said she could not identify the defendant, the Hamtramck detectives had pointed Clark out as the guilty man before the lineup. Clark was granted a new trial in 1968 and the case was dismissed on motion of the prosecutor.” – P v A

In 1972 the Michigan legislature awarded Clark $10,000 for his 30 years of wrongful imprisonment.  (MOJ)  [1/11]

King County, WA 

Clark & Schmieder

May 17, 1998 (Auburn)

Mark Clark and Jeff Schmieder were convicted of raping Regina Birindelli. Birindelli originally claimed that three men had raped her, but prosecutors had to drop charges against the third man after he produced evidence that he was in jail at the time of the alleged rape. At trial, Birindelli claimed the two handcuffed her and videotaped themselves raping her orally and anally at Clark's mobile home in Auburn. Birindelli changed parts of her story three times while testifying. The jurors were also told about the third man that Birindelli originally claimed had also assaulted her. No handcuffs, videotape, or other physical evidence was ever found supporting her story. Clark and Schmieder had alibis for their whereabouts at the time of the alleged crime. Clark even had proof that he was in traffic court in Auburn.

The two were convicted anyway, though they managed to raise enough doubt among four jurors that they prolonged jury deliberations to five days. One of these doubting jurors who ultimately voted guilty said, “The one thing was that we couldn't for the life of us figure out [was] why she would get on the stand and crucify those two guys if it wasn't true.” That question is still a mystery although Birindelli's work as a police informant may have something to do with the answer.

Prior to sentencing, Clark's wife, Jill, investigated the case and found out from Birindelli's ex-boyfriend that Birindelli had been in the Auburn, WA jail at the time of the alleged rape. Even though Clark and Schmeider were exonerated, King County deputy prosecutor Dave Ryan refused to acknowledge their innocence. He said that perjury charges will not be filed against Birindelli because she might be telling the truth about being assaulted, and just confused about the date it occurred. However events Birindelli recounted on the days before and after her “assault” were verified by other people, and both Clark and Schmieder have alibis for those days. Both men spent all their money fighting the false charges and had their mobile homes repossessed.  (Justice: Denied)  [9/08]

DeKalb County, GA 

Robert Clark

July 30, 1981 (East Atlanta)

Robert Clark was convicted of kidnapping, rape, and armed robbery. Clark did not match the victim's initial description of her assailant, but she identified him eventually after submitting to suggestive police identification procedures. DNA tests exonerated Clark in 2005.  (IP)  [12/05]

Robert Clark - See Lipton Three

 England (Winchester CC)

Sally Clark

Dec 1996, Jan 1998

“Sally Clark was wrongly convicted of killing two of her young children 13 months apart. Her conviction was based on the testimony of a medical ‘expert’ that it is virtually impossible that two babies in one family would die of natural causes, and on the perjured testimony of the government's forensic scientist that she smothered the children. The first baby, Christopher, died at 11 weeks of age in Dec. 1996, and the second child, Harry, died at 8 weeks of age in Jan. 1998.”

“In 2002 it was discovered that the prosecution concealed a medical report that indicated there is identifiable physical evidence the second child died of natural causes, and it was the concealment of that report that led to the death of the first child being changed from natural causes to smothering, and the death of the second child being attributed first to shaking, and then to smothering. It was learned by Sally Clark's husband, Stephen, after the trial that at least 50 families in the UK every year suffer the death of a second child after the previous death of a child, and Manchester University researchers discovered in 2001 that there is a ‘crib death’ gene (SIDS). A common denominator in both of the deaths is they both occurred shortly after the babies received vaccinations.”

“Clark's convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeals on January 29, 2003 ... Clark died of an apparent heart attack [in] 2007, at the age of 42.” – FJDB

H. A. Clements - Shannon & Clements

Greene County, MO 

Eric Clemmons

Aug 7, 1985

Eric Darnell Clemmons was convicted of the murder of Henry Johnson, a fellow prisoner at the Missouri State Penitentiary. Clemmons had been cellmates with Johnson, but was moved to a different cell on July 1, 1985 after he accused Johnson of making sexual advances towards him. There was no reported trouble between the two following the move. This move occurred more than a month prior to Johnson's murder. Prison guard Thomas Steigerwald testified that as he was walking towards a group of inmates, he saw an inmate strike Johnson. Johnson then ran past Steigerwald, at which point, Steigerwald realized that Johnson had been stabbed. Steigerwald then pursued the inmate who struck Johnson. This inmate turned out to be Clemmons.

According to Clemmons, Steigerwald did not witness the stabbing, but had merely seen Johnson running into him after he had been stabbed by inmate Fred Bagby. Several other inmates testified that Bagby had stabbed Johnson. Following Johnson's stabbing, Bagby himself was stabbed three months later and died prior to trial. The State argued that the testimony of Clemmons' witnesses should be discounted because it was easy for them to try to help Clemmons by blaming someone who could not defend himself. Handling his own appeal, Clemmons discovered an internal DOC memorandum that had been withheld from his defense in violation of Brady v. Maryland. The memo related that minutes after Johnson's stabbing, an inmate named Dwight Clark had told a guard captain that two men had performed the stabbing. Clark thought one inmate was Fred Bagby, but the other inmate he only knew by sight. On retrial in 2000, Clemmons was acquitted.  (Archives)  [4/08]

Alfred Cleveland - See New York Boys

Arthur Cleveland - See Boone & Cleveland

 Broward County, FL

Christopher Clugston

Oct 25, 1981 (Hallandale)

Christopher Clugston was convicted of the murder of Bryce Waldman. After a woman named Kathy Menut was thrown out of a Hallandale bar named the Agora Ballroom, her husband, Theodore Menut, and her friend, Clugston, allegedly returned in a green station wagon. As the car cruised through the parking lot, Clugston reportedly opened fire with a .30-.30 rifle, killing Waldman, a 19-year-old University of Miami student was working at the bar as a part-time bouncer. No physical evidence linked Clugston to the crime. His first two trials ended in hung juries, but he was convicted at his third trial.

In 1986, the Menuts recanted their testimony that Clugston had participated in the crime. Theodore Menut had previously had refused at some point to testify against Clugston, apparently after he was also convicted of the murder. Kathy Menut told authorities that they framed Clugston to help the actual gunman. In addition, a new witness surfaced to say that Clugston was not the man she saw in the car just before the shooting. And a composite portrait drawn at the time of the crime was withheld from Clugston's defense at trial. It showed a man with long hair and a mustache, unlike the clean-shaven Clugston.

In July 1994, Florida Governor Lawton Chiles commuted the Clugston's life sentence to time served on the condition that he leave Florida and never return. Clugston hails from Bethesda, MD. Clugston, however, left prison with a death sentence. He contracted AIDS from being raped repeatedly while incarcerated. He was only 22-years-old when he went to prison. While Clugston was more than happy to leave Florida, the condition that he not return relieved Florida of responsibility for providing years of expensive treatment for Clugston's condition. Following his release, Clugston sought a new trial to clear his name, but it was denied.  (Archives) (SP Times) (CNN)  [4/09]

Bronx County, NY

Marion Coakley

Oct 14, 1983

Marion Coakley was convicted of raping Olga Delgado. The crime occurred in Delgado's room at the Bronx Park Motel. Delgado, her boyfriend, Gabriel Vargas, and Delgado's brother-in-law, Jorge Rios each independently described the rapist as a dark complexioned black male with a Jamaican accent, about 26-28 years old, with a short “afro” haircut. Rios identified Coakley from a photo lineup and got the other two to agree that he was the perpetrator.

Coakley was 28 years old. However, he was light complexioned and had no Jamaican accent. He had no “afro” haircut when arrested two days later. Coakley maintained that he had been at a Bible study meeting at the time of the crime and eight witnesses confirmed his alibi. Coakley also demanded, took, and passed a polygraph test. At trial, the jury was forced to resolve a difficult dilemma – eyewitnesses against alibi witnesses. The jury convicted Coakley. Coakley's post-conviction counsel then gathered serological tests and other new evidence. Twenty-five months after the trial, this evidence convinced a court to set aside the conviction. The DA then agreed to dismiss the charges.  (When Justice Fails) (News Articles)  [1/07]

 Cook County, IL

Cobb & Tillis

Nov 13, 1977

Perry Cobb and Darby Tillis (aka Darby Williams) were sentenced to death for the murders of Melvin Kanter and Charles Gucciona. The murders occurred during a robbery of the victims' hot dog stand. The prosecution's key witness was a woman named Phyllis Santini, who claimed that she had driven the getaway car for the two men. The defense argued that Santini and her boyfriend, Johnny Brown, had committed the crimes, and that she was framing Cobb and Tillis. The first trial ended in a hung jury, as did a second trial.

At the third trial, a witness who had earlier testified that he could not identify the defendants as the men he saw, suddenly changed his story and now claimed that he saw Cobb and Tillis enter the store. This third trial in 1979 ended in convictions and death sentences. Judge Thomas J. Maloney presided over the three trials and has since been convicted of taking bribes to fix murder cases. He was accused of being tough on defendants like Cobb and Tillis who did not offer bribes. Maloney refused to allow two defense witnesses to testify. The two claimed Santini had admitted committing the murders with Brown. The two also said she expected a reward for her testimony against Cobb and Tillis. (She was in fact paid $1200.) The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the convictions based on limitations that were put on the defense's ability to argue that Santini and her boyfriend were the true culprits.

While the parties were preparing for a fourth trial, Michael Falconer, a recent law school graduate, happened to read an account of the case in Chicago Lawyer. Falconer recognized Santini's name because he had worked with her in a factory before going to law school. At that time, Santini had confided in him that she and her boyfriend had committed a double homicide and that she was working with prosecutors in return for a deal that would keep her from being charged. Falconer, who had then become a Lake County prosecutor, testified about this conversation at the fourth trial, which again ended in a hung jury. Finally, at a fifth trial in 1987, both Cobb and Tillis were acquitted of all charges.  (CWC1) (CWC2) (JP) (PC)  [12/06]

Jefferson County, AL

James Bo Cochran

Nov 4, 1976

James Bo Cochran was convicted of murdering Stephen Ganey, the assistant manager of a grocery store. The conviction occurred at Cochran's second trial, as his first trial ended in a mistrial. This conviction was overturned and Cochran was again convicted at his third trial in 1982. This second conviction was also overturned and Cochran was tried for a fourth time in 1997. At the fourth trial, defense counsel pointed out to jurors that there were no eyewitnesses to the murder and that it would have been impossible for Cochran to move the victim's body under a trailer in a nearby mobile home park while being chased by police. The jury at the fourth trial acquitted Cochran of all charges. Cochran's case is featured in the documentary film “Death in Dixie.”  (DRE)  [3/06]

Wabash County, IL 

John Cochran

Oct 16, 1888

On Oct. 16, 1888 John Buchenberger, a businessman from Evansville, Indiana, was found unconscious with a gunshot to the head. His revolver, with one empty shell chamber, was found by his side. Buchenberger had bought the revolver the day before his shooting. He died three days after the shooting without regaining consciousness.

In November, John Cochran, a local man, whom Buchenberger had met, was tried for Buchenberger's murder. At trial, Charles Reese, a horse thief, testified that Cochran admitted to the murder. The jury found Cochran guilty and he was sentenced to life in prison. However, unknown to the defense, Buchenberger's wife in Evansville received a letter from her husband four days after the shooting. In it Buchenberger stated, “he was about to part from the world of mortals to dwell with his heavenly father.” The wife eventually made the contents of this suicide letter known. Because of the letter, Illinois Governor Fifer pardoned Cochran in August 1890.  (CWC)  [9/07]

Calcasieu Parish, LA 

Allen Coco

May 25, 1995

Allen Coco was convicted of rape and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Police assisted the victim in creating a composite sketch of her assailant, which she found unsatisfactory. Yet nearly a month after the attack, she used the faulty composite to identify Coco. There were discrepancies in the victim's initial identification. She described her assailant as wearing a short-sleeved shirt, but failed to notice any tattoos on him. Coco had tattoos covering both arms. She claimed to have gotten hold of her rapist's knife and stabbed him in the buttocks, but Coco did not have any stab wound there or any place else. Blood found at the scene from the apparent stab wound did match Coco's blood type as well as that of 6% of the black population. DNA tests exonerated Coco in 2006.  (IP) (IPNO)

Christopher Cole - See Nieskins & Cole

Lubbock County, TX

Timothy Cole

Mar 24, 1985

Timothy Brian Cole was convicted of raping Michele Mallin, a 20-year-old Texas Tech sophomore. Mallin testified that she was kidnapped at knifepoint from the parking lot of St. John's United Methodist church about 10 p.m., driven in her own car to the city's eastern outskirts, raped and robbed. She said her assailant smoked and identified Cole as her assailant, although as an asthmatic, he did not smoke. In 1995, after the statute of limitations for the crime expired, a Texas inmate, Jerry Wayne Johnson, submitted a written confession to the crime. Johnson's confession was ignored, and Cole never learned of it. Cole was denied parole on his 25-year sentence by refusing to admit any involvement in the crime. He died of asthma related causes while still serving his sentence in 1999. In 2008, DNA tests showed that Johnson, not Cole, was the real rapist. In 2009, Cole was posthumously exonerated.  (LAJ1) (LAJ2)  [5/09]

Cameron County, TX 

Paul Colella

Sept 12, 1991

Paul Richard Colella was accused of murdering David Taylor and Michael Lavexphere. It was alleged that he murdered them because he wrongly believed they had raped his wife. At trial, the prosecution argued that deaths occurred at 2 a.m., because Colella was known to be 240 miles away at 6 a.m. However, death certificates that were not turned over at the time of trial, place the time of death for both men at 6 a.m. There were other case discrepancies. Colella was sentenced to death, but later escaped death row by agreeing to plead to two non-capital counts of murder and accept a 20-year sentence. Colella still maintains his innocence.  (Houston Chronicle)  [5/05]

Buchanan County, VA 

Roger Coleman

Mar 10, 1981 (Grundy)

Roger Coleman was convicted of the 1981 rape and murder of his sister-in-law, Wanda McCoy. He was sentenced to death and executed on May 20, 1992. Before this crime, Coleman was accused of attempted rape in April 1977. He was convicted because the victim identified him as the perpetrator despite his having a solid alibi provided by his high school principal. In Jan. 1981, Coleman was suspected of masturbating in front of two librarians at the public library, but maintained his innocence. Charges against him were initially brought in connection with his later murder charge, but apparently were only brought to prejudice the public since they were later dropped.
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 New Haven County, CT

William B. Coleman

2002 (Waterbury)

William B. Coleman was convicted of raping his wife. His wife made the allegation after Coleman filed for sole custody of their children, and the wife had hired a divorce lawyer. Coleman's lawyers argued that his wife made the rape allegation as a ploy to gain sole custody of their two children. The conviction was based solely on wife's testimony. Coleman was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, sentence to be suspended after he serves 8 years.  (TruthInJustice)  [7/05]

Pima County, AZ

Melvin B. Coley

Mar 13, 1986

Melvin B. Coley was convicted of conspiracy to murder Carl Martin. The conviction was due to the testimony of dubious informants who were not involved in Martin's murder. A police informant, Homer Payne, placed Coley in the middle of the conspiracy because of an alleged phone conversation he had with him. Payne has multiple felony convictions. Payne kept a journal in which he portrayed Coley as a black militant terrorist and alleged Coley had ties to Libyan leader Khadafy and other militant leaders around the world. At the end of Coley's trial, a judge sealed the journal apparently because it also implicated a U.S. Senator, a county judge, and countless Italian attorneys as participants in illegal activities. A businessman who had given Payne a job upon his release from prison said Payne was “the most accomplished liar he had ever met.” Coley has affidavits from the three acknowledged participants in Martin's murder that he had nothing to do with it.  (Source)  [11/07]

Middlesex County, MA 

Benjamin Collins

1928 (Sommerville)

Benjamin Collins was arrested and imprisoned on Sept. 1, 1928 for a series of handbag snatches in Sommerville. Collins was employed, had no criminal record, and the investigating officer doubted his guilt. However, he was convicted on Oct. 23 after being positively identified by five victims. In the week following the conviction, another handbag snatch occurred and the perpetrator, George Hill was caught. In his home were found stolen items from the other handbag snatches. Collins's conviction was nol prossed on Oct. 30, and he was released.  (CIPM) (CTI)  [10/05]