Victims of the State

Lancaster County, NE 

Gregory Gabel

July 25, 1995 (Lincoln)

Gregory Gabel, a mentally ill Lincoln man, was jailed for two years, charged with the murder of UNL student Martina McMenamin. Gabel was released in July 1998 after DNA testing showed a single blond hair clutched in the victim's hand was not Gabel's. Gabel always maintained his innocence.  [6/05]

Jefferson County, AL

Freddie Lee Gaines

Nov 9, 1973 (Birmingham)

Freddie Lee Gaines was charged with killing Johnnie Lee Swanson and Mary Ann Wright at an illegal shot house in Birmingham. Gaines was acquitted of killing Wright, but convicted of killing Swanson. Gaines was sentenced to 30 years in prison, but was released in 1985. In 1990, Larry Dennis Cohen, a Florida man, confessed to the killings, and in 1996 the Alabama Legislature passed a bill to pay Gaines $1 million over 10 years as compensation for the time he wrongly served in prison. Gaines was the second person to be compensated by the state. The state had previously compensated one of the Scottsboro Boys defendants who was convicted in 1931.  (AP) (CWC)  [3/06]


Stuart Gair

Apr 11, 1989 (Glasgow)

Stuart Gair was convicted by a majority verdict of the murder of 45-year-old Peter Smith. Smith was the victim of a knife attack on North Court Lane in the Glasgow city center. He later died from his injuries. During trial, a witness, Brian Morrison, identified Gair and a co-defendant, now apparently deceased, as the perpetrators. However, the prosecution withheld from the defense four statements that Morrison gave which undermined his credibility. On appeal in 2006, the senior judge said that the “statements showed that Morrison was prepared to tell lies, to fantasise, and to change his account when it suited him.” Morrison told the appeals court, “All the details I gave were given to me. I saw nothing at all.” Gair's conviction was subsequently quashed.  (The Herald)

Broulio Galindo - See Arcadia Innocents

Franz Gallus - See Gawenda & Gallus

Ronnie Gamboa - See Miranda Five

Union County, NM 

Francisco Garcia

Convicted 1913

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) (MOJ)  [7/09]

Bronx County, NY

Jose Garcia

July 16, 1991

Jose Garcia was convicted of the murder of a friend named Cesar Vasquez. Three gunmen shot Vasquez to death in a courtyard on Bailey Avenue. Prosecutors at Garcia's 1993 trial claimed Vasquez and Garcia were linked to a drug gang battling for turf with rivals. However, they failed to show proof of Garcia's alleged motive. Their case rested on the testimony of one witness who claimed she saw the shooting.

Garcia was in the Dominican Republic at the time of the shooting and did not return to the U.S. until 17 days later. At trial, Garcia's lawyer presented almost nothing of his alibi. In Dec. 2006, after Garcia had served 15 years of imprisonment, a judge overturned his conviction. The judge credited Garcia with a strong alibi, including documents that appeared to show that he was arrested in the Dominican Republic for traveling with false documents a day before the murder. Garcia was released from imprisonment in Feb. 2007 after prosecutors declined to retry him.  [10/07]

Santa Clara County, CA

Roy Lopez Garcia

Nov 19, 1998 (Morgan Hill)

Roy Lopez Garcia was convicted of the murder of mental health therapist Deborah Gregg. Garcia had feuded with Gregg after he bought 250 acres of land adjoining her property and began to bulldoze the land. The two were involved in civil disputes over their shared property boundary. Gregg was found with two shotgun blasts to her head near the line separating their properties on Armsby Lane in Morgan Hill. But there was a shortage of physical evidence pointing to Garcia, who has maintained his innocence. The guns in his home did not match the weapon used in the killing. There was no eyewitness, fingerprints, or DNA match.

Garcia was convicted after a prison informant, Timothy Flores Villalba, came forward and claimed he heard Garcia implicate himself in the crime. Villalba was serving a sentence for first-degree murder and defense attorneys argued he came forward after he was notified he could be eligible for parole as soon as 2003 if he improved his conduct.

Less than a year later, Villalba again came forward and stated that another inmate, Glen “Buddy” Nickerson, had confessed his involvement in the shooting murders for which he was convicted, just as the case against Nickerson was unraveling. At a 2002 hearing, Villalba testified that Nickerson told him long ago that he instigated the shootout as revenge. But U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel found Villalba's testimony “entirely without credibility,” and overturned Nickerson's conviction.

Garcia's conviction was overturned in 2005 because the trial judge had permitted the jury to visit the crime scene without Garcia or his attorney being present. At retrial Garcia was acquitted of Gregg's murder even though the prosecution again called Villalba as a witness.  (Tainted Trials) (Mercury News)  [2/09]

Dallas County, TX 

Billy Conn Gardner

May 16, 1983

Billy Conn Gardner was sentenced to death for the murder of Thelma Row, 64, a cafeteria supervisor at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas. Row was shot during a robbery of the school's cafeteria and died 11 days later of her injuries. Prior to the robbery, Row's co-worker, Paula Sanders, told her husband Melvin that several thousand dollars in daily cafeteria receipts were processed in a back room at the school. After prosecutors threatened to bring charges against Melvin, Melvin claimed that he invited Gardner to participate in the robbery. According to Melvin, Gardner was the robber while he, Melvin, was the getaway driver. In exchange for his testimony Melvin received complete immunity from prosecution for the murder and probation for pending forgery and firearms charges. The state also agreed not to prosecute Paula Sanders.

The assailant had worn a stocking mask. Paula, who was in the cafeteria at the time of the robbery said that she could not provide a description of the assailant, because her back was turned. However, before Row died, she described the assailant as having a “bony face ... and a two-inch goatee.” Paula had known Gardner. The state was unable to produce a single witness who recalled ever seeing Gardner with a goatee. Two other witnesses to the shooting, Carolyn Sims and Lester Matthews, the school custodian, stated the assailant had reddish-blond hair. However, Gardner had black hair. Matthews nevertheless positively identified Gardner as the shooter even though he said he had only seen the shooter for three or four seconds and did not actually identify him until his third police interview, three months after the crime.

Paula testified that she was unaware of the robbery plans but failed to mention that she received several phone calls only minutes before the robbery, and that according to Sims, she appeared “nervous and upset” after taking these calls. Gardner's lawyer never interviewed Paula and only met with his client once, for fifteen minutes, prior to jury selection. Sims was never deposed until years after the trial. Gardner was executed by lethal injection on Feb. 16, 1995.  (Atlantic) (NY Times)  [8/08]

Kitsap County, WA

Terrence Gardner

Mar 5, 1992 (Bremerton)

Terrence Gardner was convicted of felony murder for the stabbing death of Michael Osborne that occurred during a robbery at his apartment in Bremerton. Gov. Locke granted Gardner executive clemency in 2003 after he had been imprisoned for over 10 years. Gardner exhibited exemplary conduct while imprisoned, is a Navy veteran with no prior convictions, and always maintained his innocence.  (Seattle PI)  [10/05]

Hutchinson County, TX 

Ronnie Mark Gariepy

Oct 5, 1991

Ronnie Mark Gariepy pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his 13-year-old stepdaughter after authorities persuaded him that he might have committed the crime during an alcoholic blackout. The alleged victim recanted her allegation 18 months after he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. After Gariepy was paroled in 1999, Gov. George W. Bush granted him a pardon based on innocence.  (CWC)  [7/05]

Johnston County, NC 

Terence Garner

Aug 25, 1997

Terence Garner, a juvenile, was convicted of robbery and attempted murder (shooting a woman, Alice Wise, in the face). Garner was arrested after an accomplice to the crime informed police that the shooter was named Terrance. Garner did not look like the real perpetrator, but was identified anyway by Wise and her boss. Two accomplices with plea deals testified that Garner was the shooter. Later a third accomplice testified that they did not even know Garner. Garner was cleared in 2002.  (NCAFJ) (Frontline) (American Justice) [5/05]

Elkhart County, IN 

Edgar Garrett

1995 (Goshen)

“Police in Goshen, Indiana persuaded Edgar Garrett that he killed his daughter, Michelle, who had mysteriously disappeared. During fourteen hours of interrogation, Edgar Garrett gave an increasingly detailed confession describing how he murdered his daughter, whose body had not yet been found. No independent evidence linked him to the crime or corroborated his confession. At the same time, his post-admission narrative contradicted all the major facts in the case. Edgar Garrett confessed to walking into a park with his daughter through new-fallen snow, bludgeoning her with an axe handle at a river's edge, and dumping her body in the river. However, the police officer who arrived first at the crime scene did not see footprints in the snow-covered field at the entry to the park but, instead, saw tire tracks entering the park, bloody drag marks leading from the tire tracks to the river's edge, and a single set of footprints going to and returning from the river. Obviously, someone had unloaded Michelle Garrett's body from a vehicle and dragged it to the river, but Edgar Garrett did not own a car and no evidence was ever developed that he had access to one that day. Michelle Garrett's coat was recovered from the river separately from her body and had no punctures, suggesting that she had been killed indoors and transported to the river bank.”

“Edgar Garrett's confession regurgitated the theory the police held at the time of the interrogation: that his daughter had been clubbed to death. Weeks later, when Michelle Garrett's body was recovered, police learned that she had been stabbed thirty-four times; that her body showed no evidence of significant head trauma; and that the axe handle Edgar Garrett confessed to club her with showed no traces of her hair or blood. At trial, the jury acquitted Edgar Garrett.”  – Leo & Ofshe

Potter County, TX 

Johnny Frank Garrett

Oct 31, 1981 (Amarillo)

Johnny Frank Garrett was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of 76-year-old Sister Tadea Benz, a Roman Catholic nun. Benz had been found dead in her room at St. Francis Convent, 4301 N.E. 18th Ave. in Amarillo, TX. The DA's office and the police linked the crime to the rape and murder of another woman, Narnie Box Bryson, in the same neighborhood four months earlier. They claimed there were too many similarities between the two crimes for them to be coincidental.
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 Cook County, IL

Sammie Garrett

Nov 9, 1969

Sammie Garrett, a black man, was convicted of murdering his 28-year-old white girlfriend, Karen Thompson. Thompson had been in a “highly emotional state” and left a purported suicide note. Two police officers testified at Garrett's trial that, given the length of the shotgun and the location of the wound, it would have been impossible for Thompson to have shot herself. Since there was only one bullet hole on the exterior of her head, they assumed it was an entrance wound. However, five years later Thompson's remains were reexamined and the examination disclosed an entrance wound in the roof of her mouth that the original pathologist had overlooked. The Illinois Supreme Court overturned Garrett's conviction in 1975 and the State's Attorney dropped charges.  (CWC) (Appeal)  [1/06]

Mike Garvey - See Lesher, Garvey, & Rohan

McHenry County, IL 

Gary Gauger

Apr 8, 1993

Gary Gauger was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his parents, Morris and Ruth Gauger. Gauger's parents ran a farm, operated a motorcycle shop, and sold imported rugs. At trial, detectives claimed that during interrogation when they told Gauger that he killed his parents, Gauger said he must have killed them during a blackout because he knew nothing about it. They then claimed that Gauger told them he really did commit the crime. However, the only details ascribed to Gauger ended up being flatly inconsistent with the facts of the crime. Gauger said they had him speculate about the crime after falsely telling him that he failed a polygraph exam and that blood drenched clothes were found in his room. The prosecution also presented testimony from a jailhouse informant, Raymond Wagner.

An appeals court overturned the conviction because it found that Gauger was arrested without probable cause and this fact made the entire interrogation unconstitutional. Without the confession, Gauger was not retried, but prosecutor Gary Pack continued to affirm his guilt. Pack's affirmations stopped after the ATF had uncovered wiretap evidence that two members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang had committed the murders. (They were later indicted for them.) Wagner reportedly is willing to admit his testimony was fabricated if he is paid for an interview. Gauger was freed in 1996. He later co-wrote a book about his ordeal entitled In Spite of the System.  (CWC) (JP) (  [7/05]


Gawenda & Gallus

1882 (Radgoszcz)

Johann Gawenda was convicted of the murder of his 16-year-old stepdaughter, Katharina Sroka, also known as Katie. Katie's mother died in 1867, leaving her two-year-old daughter an estate consisting of three acres of fields and a cottage. Katie's father, Ignatz Sroka, managed the estate following the death of his wife. He subsequently married Marie Gallus. This marriage did not last long, as Ignatz was convicted of murder and died in prison in 1875. His widow Marie then married Johann Gawenda, who took over the administration of the estate for the still underage Katie and at the same time pledged to provide for her maintenance and upbringing. Gawenda neglected these obligations in a most unscrupulous manner, as he monopolized the land and treated its owner so badly that she had to work as a maid and also to depend on charity.
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Robert Gayol - See Miranda Five

 Australia (SA)

Raymond Geesing

Jan 4-5, 1983

Raymond John Geesing was convicted of the abduction and murder of 10-year-old Louise Bell. Bell was last seen at 10 p.m. on Jan 4, 1983 in the bedroom of her family home at 5 Meadow Way in Hackham West, an Adelaide suburb. She was discovered missing the next morning and her body has never been found. Geesing was convicted of the crime in 1983 due to the testimony of four prison informants who alleged he had confessed to them. One informant later retracted his original statement and the testimony of another informant was declared inadmissible. In 1985 an appeals court overturned Geesing's conviction after ruling that the prison informants were unreliable and untrustworthy witnesses. The court also ordered that there be no retrial. Geesing was released after serving 17 months of a life sentence.  (JD33)  [11/09]

Bertie County, NC 

Alan Gell

Apr 1995 (Aulander)

James Alan Gell was convicted in 1998 of the robbery and murder of Allen Ray Jenkins, a 56-year-old retired truck driver. Gell was sentenced to death. The prosecution argued that the murder occurred around April 3 when other evidence indicated that it occurred closer to April 14, when Gell was out of state. Two girls, Crystal Morris, 15, and Shanna Hall, 16, were the state's only witnesses against Gell. The prosecution concealed witness statements of 17 people who saw the victim alive days after the only day Gell could have committed the murder. In addition, the prosecution withheld an audiotape of one of its witnesses, saying she had to “make up a story.” On retrial in 2004, a jury acquitted Gell of all charges.  (CNO) (RCNH) (RCNH #2)  [9/05]

Willie Gene - See Thomas & Gene

 San Diego County, CA

David Genzler

Apr 18, 1996 (Ocean Beach)

David Genzler was convicted of the murder of Dusty Harless, 25. In college, Harless was an AAU National Wrestling Champion. He worked as a wakeboard (surfboard) salesman, and was a world-class wakeboarder. He was apparently very popular as hundreds showed up at his funeral. After midnight one Saturday night, Harless walked with his girlfriend, Sky Flanders, to a nearby liquor store with the intention of hailing a cab. Because it was raining, Flanders ran up ahead to get out of the rain. Genzler was driving by and stopped his car to ask if she needed a ride or, according to some, made a lewd comment. He was not aware that she was with Harless. Harless went around to the driver's side of the car to talk to Genzler and an altercation ensued. Harless ended up with a four-inch stab wound that cut his aorta, the massive artery that carries blood from the heart. He soon bled to death. Genzler drove off.
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 Dallas County, TX

Lenell Geter

Aug 23, 1982

Lenell Geter, a black engineer, spent his lunch hour reading books and feeding ducks in the park. His lunch hour activities were so suspicious that he attracted the attention of a local busybody who reported him to the police. Because of this report, Geter's photo was passed around as a possible crime suspect in the local town (Greenville) and in other towns. Geter was convicted of robbing $615 from a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in Balch Springs. Five eyewitnesses testified that he was the robber. Geter's coworkers testified that he could not have committed an afternoon robbery 50 miles away in Balch Springs, because he was at work in Greenville. Geter was nevertheless convicted by a jury and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Geter's mostly white co-workers were outraged and they raised money for him and helped to garner press attention for his case including a 60 Minutes segment. The actual robber was eventually captured and confessed to seven armed robberies, including the Balch Springs robbery.  [7/05]

U.S. Federal Case (GA) 

GFI Five


David Cawthon and four codefendants sold financial instruments for Global Financial Investments (GFI). Unknown to the defendants, GFI's financial soundness was backed by phony documents. Virgil Womack, who turned out to be a major con man, ran the company. After Womack split with much of the company's assets, the five were convicted of numerous financial crimes in federal court. There is evidence that they acted to protect investors. However at trial, the judge acted as a second prosecutor. He refused to allow two key witnesses to testify, one because he was another judge. He also barred defense arguments regarding the defendants' innocent state of mind.  (JD) (Fraud Digest) (ANG)  [12/06]