Victims of the State

James Dean - See Nebraska Six

Kings County, NY

Angel DeAngelo

July 1, 1999

(Federal Case)  Angel M. DeAngelo was convicted on federal charges of murdering Thomas Palazzotto. Palazzotto was shot and killed on the corner of Columbia and Kane Streets in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Prosecutors argued DeAngelo committed the murder to gain entrance into a racketeering enterprise. The conviction was later vacated because a judge said he feared an innocent man had been convicted on “patently incredible testimony.” The judge said that prosecutors had relied on “blatant, critical perjury by all of the key witnesses.” Charges against DeAngelo were dropped and he was released in 2004.  (NY Times)  [4/08]

Sagadahoc County, ME 

Dennis Dechaine

July 7, 1988 (Bowdoin)

Dennis Dechaine was convicted of the abduction, sexual torture, and murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry. The book Human Sacrifice by James P. Moore, a former ATF agent-in-charge for Maine and New Hampshire, contends that the evidence shows that Dechaine could not have committed the crime.

Dechaine's pickup truck was found parked 450 feet from Cherry's body. Rope from the truck apparently had been used to bind the girl. Dechaine's bandana had gagged her. In addition, two documents bearing Dechaine's name had been discovered in the driveway of the house where Cherry was babysitting before she was killed.

Dechaine has summarized his case as follows: “An unidentified man/men took four items from an unattended truck and used those items to kill Sarah Cherry and shift responsibility to the owner of the truck, Dennis Dechaine.”

At trial, the medical examiner, Ronald Roy, estimated that Cherry had died 30 to 36 hours before he examined the victim's body at 2 p.m. on July 8, 1988. The longest estimate, based on the presence of rigor mortis, would have put the time of death at 2 a.m., July 7. However, according to police evidence, Dechaine emerged from the woods before 8:45 p.m. on July 6, when a motorist stopped to pick him up, after which time he has a solid alibi.

Moore said, when he first began looking at the case in 1992, “I was going to prove that all the criticisms [of law enforcement] were unfounded. It just didn't work out that way.” Some have disputed the timing of Cherry's death, citing ambiguity in the medical examiner's testimony. However, according to Moore, “Every pathologist interviewed, and every forensic pathology textbook agrees that, in this situation and circumstances, rigor mortis would last a maximum of 36 hours.”

Evidence which could have identified Cherry's real killer was destroyed by the state. This evidence included a hair found on the victim's arm, a hair found on the rope binding victim's wrists, and mystery fingerprints on the door of the house from which Cherry was abducted. The state attempted to hide DNA test results of blood found under the victim's fingernails. These results showed the blood belonged to an unknown male. Further testing has ruled out male family members, police officers, or medical examiner office personnel who could have inadvertently contaminated the evidence. Dechaine is serving a life without parole sentence.  (Boston Globe) (Trial and Error)  [7/05]

 Brevard County, FL

Wilton Dedge

Dec 8, 1981 (Sharpes)

Wilton Dedge was convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl and sentenced to life plus 30 years. The victim identified Dedge in court, but she originally told police that her assailant was 6 feet tall, weighed 200 lbs. and had a receding hairline. Dedge is 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighed 125 lbs., and still has a full head of hair. In addition, a prison informant testified that Dedge had confessed to the crime. In exchange for his testimony, the informant got a 120-year reduction in his sentence and his wife got a truck that was confiscated by the state. The conviction was also based on microscopic hair analysis, and scent identification by a dog that performed a scent lineup. Six defense witnesses testified that Dedge, an auto mechanic, was working at a garage nearly 45 minutes away at the time of the crime. DNA tests exonerated Dedge in 2004. In Dec. 2005, the Florida legislature awarded Dedge $2 million for 22 years of wrongful imprisonment.  (IP) (JD)  [10/05]

Union County, SC

Roger Dedmond

Mar 1967 (Gaffney)

Roger Dedmond was convicted of murdering his wife, Lucille, because of a police officer's testimony that he confessed. Three months after his sentencing another man, Lee Roy Martin, confessed to the murder and led police to the personal belongings of all his victims including Lucille's car keys. Martin was known as the “Gaffney Strangler” after having been charged in the strangulation deaths of three other Gaffney women. Dedmond was subsequently released.  [10/05]

McLennan County, TX 

Muneer Deeb

July 14, 1982 (Waco)

Muneer Deeb, a convenience store owner, had allegedly hired three men to kill a female employee on whom he had a $20,000 accident policy. However, Deeb had such policies on all his employees as a hedge against worker compensation claims. The prosecution alleged that the three men then mistakenly killed a woman who was not an employee. The murdered woman did not seem to be the victim of a contractual killing as she was raped and tortured, as were two of her friends. None of his three alleged co-conspirators testified against Deeb even though they were charged with capital murder like Deeb and were in a position to negotiate for a reduced sentence. One trial witness testified that Deeb had acknowledged he would receive insurance money if one of his employees ever was murdered. Deeb was convicted and sentenced to death.

Deeb's conviction was overturned because the judge allowed a jailhouse informant to give hearsay testimony about statements allegedly made by one of Deeb's alleged co-conspirators. This informant described a murder for hire scheme in detail. Deeb was acquitted at retrial in 1993.  (CWC)

 Suffolk County, MA

Deegan Four

Mar 12, 1965

Peter Limone, Joseph Salvati, Henry Tameleo, and Louis Greco were convicted in 1968 of the murder of Edward Deegan. At trial, the main witness against the four was Joseph Barboza, a hit man, who later admitted that he had fabricated much of his testimony. All except Salvati were sentenced to die but were spared when Massachusetts abolished the death penalty in 1974. Tameleo and Greco died in prison in 1985 and 1995.

Salvati was released in 1997 after the Governor commuted his sentence. Limone was released in 2001 after released FBI documents showed that informants had told the FBI before the murder that Barboza and another man would soon kill Deegan, and the FBI was also told after the murder that the same two men committed it. The FBI also knew that at the time of Deegan's murder, Greco and his wife were watching a movie at a theater in Miami, Florida.

Deegan was a small time thief. At the time of Deegan's killing, Tameleo and Limone were reputed leaders of the New England mob, while Greco and Salvati had minor criminal records. FBI agents Dennis Condon and H. Paul Rico not only withheld evidence of Barboza's fabricated testimony, but also told state prosecutors who were handling the Deegan murder investigation that they had checked out Barboza's story and it was true. Barboza was the first person ever accepted into the federal witness protection program. He was relocated to California, where he was involved in at least two more murders.

Agent Rico was arrested in 2003 on murder and conspiracy charges in the 1981 killing of Roger Wheeler, a former World Jai Alai owner. In 2004, he died in an Oklahoma prison while awaiting trial. John Connolly, Rico's replacement at the Boston FBI office, faces trial in Sept. 2007 for the 1982 murder of a former World Jai Alai president. In July 2007, Salvati, Limone, and the estates of Tameleo and Greco were awarded a combined total of $101.75 million, the largest wrongful conviction award in U.S. history.  (CIPM) (CIPM-G) (FJDB)  [7/07]

Chester County, PA

Wade Evan Deemer

Aug 24, 2002

Wade Evan Deemer hanged himself in a West Chester police station after being arrested for a rape he did not commit. He did not have his bipolar medication with him. DNA testing conducted after his death excluded him as the rapist.  (FJDB)  [7/05]

Erie County, NY

Lynn DeJac

Feb 14, 1993

Lynn M. DeJac was convicted in 1994 of the strangulation murder of her 13-year-old daughter, Crystallynn M. Girard. A family friend testified that DeJac confessed to the crime. The friend was facing a possible life sentence on a forgery indictment. DeJac has always maintained that her former boyfriend, Dennis Donohue, must have killed Crystallynn. A judge called that proposition a “red herring.” On the day of her sentencing, she told reporters, through her sister, that she knew one day that it would become clear that Donohue was a serial killer.

In 2007, Donohue was charged with the Sept. 1993 strangulation murder of Joan Giambra, a South Buffalo woman. Donohue also became a “person of interest” in the murder of Crystallynn, as well as in the 1975 strangulation murder of a woman, Carol Reed. After tests found Donohue's DNA in Crystallynn's body and bed, DeJac's conviction was overturned. While the prosecution was planning to retry DeJac, its forensic experts discovered that Crystallynn had not, in fact, been strangled, but had died of “acute cocaine intoxication.” Because of the new evidence, prosecutors dropped charges against DeJac in Feb. 2008.  (The Buffalo News) (FJDB)  [10/07]

Essex County, NJ 

Jorge De Los Santos

Jan 10, 1975

Jorge “Chiefie” De Los Santos was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Robert Thomas, a Newark used-car salesman. Former U.S. District Court Judge Frederick B. Lacey said testimony from a jailhouse witness “reeked of perjury,” and the prosecutor knew it. Centurion Ministries uncovered new evidence that freed De Los Santos in July 1983. De Los Santos was the first individual aided by Centurion Ministries, an organization that has helped to free over 30 individuals.  (CM)  [5/05]

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 Jean Lopez. 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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Pedro Barrios Delvillar - See Trujillo & Delvillar


John Demjanjuk

1942 - 1943

“John Demjanjuk was wrongly convicted in 1988 of being Ivan the Terrible, a sadistic guard at the Treblinka death camp during WWII. Demjanjuk's conviction was based on the testimony of multiple Treblinka survivors. He was sentenced to death. While Demjanjuk was appealing, his lawyers were provided evidence in Soviet archives that he was never at Treblinka, and that Ivan the Terrible was a man named Ivan Marchenko, older and darker-haired than Demjanjuk, and scarred on one cheek. Based on the new evidence that Demjanjuk was wrongly identified, in 1993 the Israeli Supreme Court reversed Demjanjuk's conviction, vacated his death sentence, and ordered his release. Demjanjuk had been extradited from the U.S. in 1986 and was released after being wrongly imprisoned for 7 years.” – FJDB

St. Louis City, MO 

Louis DeMore

Apr 29, 1934

Louis DeMore joked to police on the street that he fit the description of a wanted killer and he was arrested. In May 1934, DeMore confessed and pleaded guilty to the murder of Patrolman Albert Siko to escape the death sentence that police threatened him with if he went to trial. Gov. Park pardoned DeMore in Oct. 1934 after police caught another man, George Couch, who was found with Siko's revolver and confessed to being the real killer.  (The Innocents)  [10/05]

 Bradford County, FL

Bennie Demps

Sept 6, 1976

Bennie Eddie Demps was sentenced to death for the murder of Alfred Sturgis inside Florida State Prison. At trial, inmate Larry Hathaway testified that he reported seeing James Jackson stab Sturgis with a shank, while Demps held down Sturgis and Harry Mungin acted as lookout. Demps, Sturgis, and Hathaway were all convicted murderers. Two prison guards, A.V. Rhoden and Hershel Wilson testified that Sturgis named Demps as one of his three assailants. Demps had previously been sentenced to death for a double homicide, but his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1972 when the U.S. Supreme Court declared capital punishment unconstitutional because it was carried out in an arbitrary manner. Demps claimed prison officials framed him for the Sturgis killing because he had escaped his earlier death sentence.

Before trial, Hathaway told an attorney for a prisoners rights group that he did not witness the Sturgis murder. After the trial, three inmates came forward to say that Hathaway was nowhere near the scene of the stabbing. In 1994, Hathaway told a defense investigator that he had lied at trial. Seven months after the Sturgis killing, inmate Leroy Colbroth was murdered. Several inmates swore in depositions that Colbroth was killed because he had stabbed Sturgis. Other inmates later said that they saw Colbroth kill Sturgis or that he admitted killing him. This information was withheld from Demps' lawyers. Some of these inmates were willing to help Demps, but did not, stating in sworn affidavits that prison officials either threatened them with retribution if they testified or offered incentives, such as transfers or shorter sentences, for refusing.

Gerald Kogan, the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, later stated that he had “grave doubts about Demps,” even though he did not vote to give Demps a new trial. Demps was executed by lethal injection on June 7, 2000.  (Chicago Tribune) (Justice: Denied) (81) (84) (10/87) (11/87) (89) (98) (6/5/00) (6/7/00)  [8/08]

Philadelphia County, PA

Jimmy Dennis

Oct 22, 1991

Jimmy A. Dennis was sentenced to death for the 1991 murder of Chedell Williams, 17. Williams and her friend Zahra Howard were attacked in broad daylight at the Fern Rock Train Station. Williams was shot and her earrings stolen. There was no physical evidence against Dennis. Eyewitnesses said the shooter was a dark complexioned black male between 5'10" and 6' tall, who weighed approximately 200 lbs. In contrast, Dennis has a much lighter skin complexion, is only 5'4" tall, and weighed only 125 lbs. Three individuals support his alibi. A witness, Charles Thompson, who testified he saw Dennis with a gun on the night of the murder later recanted citing police coercion. Eyewitnesses describe three men involved in the murder, but Dennis was the only man ever charged.  (JD#1) (JD#2) (  [11/05]

 Orange County, CA

William DePalma

Nov 28, 1967 (Buena Park)

(Federal Case)  William DePalma was convicted of on charges of being the sole gunman who robbed the Mercury Savings and Loan in Buena Park, CA. Following the crime, Sergeant James David Bakken, an Identification Officer for the Buena Park Police, identified a partial fingerprint purportedly lifted from the bank counter as the fingerprint of DePalma. A local warrant was issued, but it was subsequently dismissed and the case was tried in U.S. District Court.

At trial, Sergeant Bakken testified as a government witness. An FBI latent print examiner also testified, but only in regard to whether the lifted fingerprint matched DePalma's fingerprint. He gave no testimony on the source of the found fingerprint. DePalma was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Some time later, presumably years, Sergeant Bakken was indicted in a completely separate matter for perjury and for manufacturing evidence. Since DePalma had been persistent in his claims of innocence, authorities re-examined the partial fingerprint in his case. They concluded that the partial fingerprint was not lifted from a bank counter, but from a photocopy of DePalma's fingerprint. DePalma's conviction was vacated in Feb. 1974. DePalma later sued the City of Buena Vista and in Aug. 1975 accepted “a sizeable settlement.”  (Source) (The Fingerprint That Lied)  [12/07]

 Pasco County, FL

Jason Derrick

June 25, 1987 (Moon Lake)

Samuel Jason Derrick was sentenced to death for the murder of Rama Sharma. Sharma, 55, owned the Moon Lake General Store and was found dead behind the store. Following the murder, police received a tip that a car was seen driving suspiciously around the crime scene vicinity in the early morning hours of June 25, 1987, prior to the finding of the victim's body. The description of the car, including a partial license plate number, seemed to match that of a car driven by David Lowry. Lowry deflected the investigation away from himself by implicating Derrick, who was then his friend. At trial, five Pasco County detectives swore under oath that Derrick confessed to the crime. There was no written, audio, or video record of this “confession” or any interrogation notes written by any of the five detectives. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office had a reputation for corruption. Just two years earlier, St. Petersburg Times reporter Lucy Morgan won a Pulitzer Prize for her series of articles documenting this corruption.
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Westchester County, NY

Jeffrey Deskovic

Nov 15, 1989 (Peekskill)

Jeffrey Mark Deskovic was convicted of murdering 15-year-old Angela Correa, a high school classmate. Police focused on 16-year-old Deskovic as the murderer because he seemed unusually distraught over the killing. Although Deskovic was not a close friend of Correa, he explained Correa had been one of the few students that had been nice to him, even helping him with algebra. After several hours of police questioning and after being promised he would go home after admitting to the killing, Deskovic confessed to the crime. DNA extracted from semen found in Correa's body did not match Deskovic's, but prosecutors said it was because Correa had had consensual sex with another man before being assaulted. In 2006, the DNA from the crime was matched to another inmate, Steven Cunningham, who is serving a life term for another murder. Deskovic's conviction was overturned and he was released.  (Journal News) (IP) (  [12/06]

Los Angeles County, CA

Daisy DeVoe


Daisy DeVoe was actress Clara Bow's manager. At the time, Clara Bow was the most popular film star in the world. As part of a power struggle with Clara's boyfriend and future husband, allegations were made against Daisy that she had stolen money from Clara. Grilled for 27 hours straight by the police, she refused to sign a confession, exclaiming: “I haven't done anything!” Indicted on 35 counts of grand theft, her trial began on Jan. 13, 1931. No proof was presented that she mishandled Clara's finances, and after 3 days of deliberations, she was acquitted of 34 counts and found guilty of one count. Daisy could not have been guilty of that count because it involved an $825 check signed by Clara that was used to pay her income taxes. After being sentenced to 18 months in prison, Daisy confronted her prosecutors, Burn Fitts and David Clark by telling them: “You two are railroading me, and you'll both come to a bad end because of it.” Four months after her conviction, DA Clark was charged with a double murder, and in 1973 DA Fitts committed suicide. DeVoe's case is written about in Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild by David Stenn (2000).  (Justice: Denied)  [7/05]

Clay County, MO 

Clarence Dexter, Jr.

Nov 18, 1990 (KC North)

Clarence Dexter, Jr. was convicted of murdering his wife of 22 years, Carol. Police overlooked evidence that the murder occurred in the course of a botched robbery and decided that Dexter must have committed the crime. Dexter's trial lawyer, who was in poor health and under federal investigation for tax fraud, failed to challenge blood evidence presented at trial. The conviction was overturned in 1997 because of prosecutorial misconduct. The defense then had the blood evidence carefully examined and showed that the conclusions presented at trial were completely wrong. The state's blood expert admitted that his previous findings overstated the case against Dexter. On the eve of Dexter's retrial in 1999, the prosecution dismissed the charges and Dexter was freed.  [9/05]