Victims of the State

Lake County, IL

Jerry Hobbs

May 8, 2005 (Zion)

Few cases have damaged Lake County’s credibility as much as the one against Jerry Hobbs. In the spring of 2005, Hobbs arrived in Lake County after a two-year stint in a Texas prison for chasing a rival for his girlfriend’s affections with a chain saw. His plan was to reconcile with the girlfriend, who was now living in Zion, Ill., and to become reacquainted with their three children.
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 Cook County, IL

Madison Hobley

Jan 6, 1987

A fire broke out in Madison Hobley's apartment building early in the morning, which killed his wife, infant son, and five other people. Hobley escaped wearing only underwear. Later in the day, detectives picked him up and tortured him in an attempt to extract a confession that he started the fire. When torture did not work, four detectives asserted that Hobley made a confession. No record of this confession existed. One detective claimed to have made notes but threw them away after something spilled on them.

The prosecution claimed that Hobley had bought $1 worth of gasoline, which he used to start the fire. They produced a gasoline can allegedly found at the fire scene, but a defense expert pointed out that it showed no exposure to the high heat of the fire, as its plastic cap was undamaged. After trial, the defense learned that a second gasoline can was found at the fire scene but police destroyed it after the defense issued a subpoena for it.

In addition, post-conviction affidavits of jurors stated that non-jurors intimidated some of them while they were sequestered at a hotel, and that they were prejudiced by the acts of the jury foreperson, a police officer, who believed Hobley was guilty. The affidavits also stated that jurors brought newspapers with articles about the case into the jury room and that they repeatedly violated the trial court's sequestration. In 2003, Gov. George Ryan granted Hobley a pardon based on innocence.  (CWC)  [9/05]

 England (Winchester CC)

Sean Hodgson

Dec 1979 (Southampton)

Robert Graham “Sean” Hodgson was convicted of the murder of Teresa de Simone, 22. De Simone's partially clothed body had been found in the back of her Ford Escort outside the Tom Tackle pub in Southampton where she worked part-time as a barmaid. She had been strangled with her own gold chain. Twelve months later, Hodgson, who had been in the area at the time, confessed committing the murder to a prison chaplain, prison warders, and police while serving a jail sentence for a separate crime. Four other people had also confessed to the crime, but their confessions were discounted by detectives. Hodgson later pleaded not guilty on the grounds he was a pathological liar. Material recovered at the scene belonged to a man of blood group A or AB. Hodgson shared this group, although so did about one-third of the male population. However, in 2009, DNA tests of semen recovered from the scene showed that it did not belong to Hodgson and his conviction was quashed. He was released after serving 27 years of imprisonment and believed to be the victim of Britain's “longest miscarriage of justice.”  (Telegraph)  [3/09]

Aroostook County, ME 

Edward Hodsdon


Edward A. Hodsdon was convicted of assault with intent to rape after being identified by the victim. Maine Governor Payne pardoned Hodsdon in 1952 after another man, Edward Kennison, confessed that he had committed the assault.  (Not Guilty) (News Article)  [10/05]

Richmond County, NY

Harry L. Hoffman

Mar 25, 1924

Harry L. Hoffman was convicted of the shooting/stabbing death of Maud A. Bauer on South Ave. in Chelsea, Staten Island. The victim was killed after her car had stalled and she had been lured into another auto. Following the murder, police closed off every exit from Staten Island including the Manhattan ferries to search for the killer. Hoffman was exonerated in 1929 at his fourth trial for the murder.  (Archives)  [1/07]

Union County, NC 

Johnathan Hoffman

Nov 27, 1995 (Marshville)

Johnathan Gregory Hoffman (aka Jonathan) was sentenced to death for the robbery and murder of jewelry store owner Danny Cook. Cook was shot to death during a robbery of his Marshville store by an assailant wearing a ski mask and carrying a sawed-off shotgun. At trial, the state’s star witness, Johnell Porter, testified that Hoffman made a a jailhouse confession to him. The prosecution hid evidence that Porter was receiving significant concessions for his testimony. Because of this withheld evidence Hoffman was granted a new trial in 2004. In 2006 Porter recanted his testimony and admitted it was false. In 2007 all charges against Hoffman were dropped.  (AE) (DW) (Appeals)  [10/09]

Queens County, NY

Louis Hoffner

Aug 8, 1940 (Jamaica)

Louis Hoffner was convicted of the shooting to death Peter Trifon, a bartender, during a restaurant holdup. At trial, a restaurant waiter identified him as the killer. However, the DA's office had withheld exculpatory evidence. When shown Hoffner's picture, a part owner of the restaurant flatly stated, “He's not the man.” Also, the waiter initially failed to identify Hoffner, and only identified him after a 10-minute chat with police. Hoffner was set free in 1952. He was awarded $112,291 in 1955 for 12 years of wrongful imprisonment.  (Time #1) (Time #2) [1/07]

Allen County, IN 

Virgil Hogan

Convicted 1958 (Ft. Wayne)

Virgil Hogan was convicted of an armed robbery committed in Fort Wayne. The conviction was due to eyewitness identification, but was set aside in 1962 after the actual culprit was discovered. The actual culprit looked so similar to Hogan that he was described as a double.  (The Innocents)  [6/09]

Kanawha County, WV

Larry Holdren

Dec 28, 1982

Larry David Holdren was convicted of the rape of Cheryl Martin-Schroeder. The victim was assaulted while she was jogging along Kanawha Boulevard in Charleston. DNA testing exonerated Holdren in 2000.  (Holdren v. Legursky) (Holdren v. State) (IP)  [10/05]

 Cook County, IL

Dana Holland

Feb 1993

Dana Holland was convicted of rape and attempted murder because of false witness ID and also because of false testimony by forensic analyst Pamela Fish that the recovered semen sample was too small to test for DNA. DNA tests exonerated Holland in 2003.  (CWC) (Chicago Tribune)  [7/05]

Norfolk, VA 

Kenneth Holland, Jr.

June 17, 1948

Kenneth Raymond Holland, Jr., a former police officer, was convicted of the murder of Charles Everett Utt. Utt was found three miles from his residence bludgeoned with a hatchet in the back seat of his automobile. Police determined that Utt was killed in a lane in the rear of his residence. Holland had been going out with Utt's wife. The relationship was known by her husband and had continued for years. Blood was found on clothes owned by Holland, but none of the blood was found to be of Utt's blood type. Holland maintained the blood came from a fight with a third party. A witness placed Holland at a beer tavern more than a mile from the the scene of the murder on the night of its occurrence. No other evidence of any significance was presented. On appeal in 1949, an appeals court overturned Holland's conviction after finding the evidence against him was insufficient to support it. In 1950 Holland was acquitted at retrial.  (Holland v. Com.) (MOJ)  [1/11]

Crystal Holliday - See Graham & Holliday

Creek County, OK

Jess Hollins

Dec 26, 1931

Jess Hollins, a black man, had consensual sex with a white woman. When her actions were found out, the woman claimed she was raped to protect her reputation. Hollins was convicted of rape and sentenced to death. He came within 30 hours of being executed, but he never was, and he died in prison in 1950.  (MOJ)

 Hillsborough County, FL

Rudolph Holton

June 23, 1986

Rudolph Holton was convicted of murdering Katrina Graddy and sentenced to death. The prosecution withheld evidence that (1) the victim had identified another man as having raped her 10 days before the murder, (2) hair belonging to the victim was incorrectly identified by an FBI crime lab technician as possibly belonging to Holton, and (3) a jailhouse snitch had lied about a statement Holton allegedly made to him. In upholding the reversal of Holton's conviction, Florida Supreme Court Justice Pariente said Holton's case was one of the strongest she had ever seen for a convicted person's innocence. Holton was cleared in 2003.  (FLCDP) (Oranous) (FLCC)  [7/05]

Nelson County, VA 

Edward Honaker

June 23, 1984

After a 19-year-old woman was raped on the Blue Ridge Parkway, another woman was raped 100 miles away, near Edward Honaker's house. The second woman said her attacker resembled Edward Honaker, her neighbor. Honaker, had an alibi in the second rape and was never charged, but a detective took his picture and he was identified by the first victim as the perpetrator of the first rape. A forensic expert claimed a definite hair match. The first rape perpetrator had left semen in his victim, but Honaker had had a vasectomy well in advance of the assault. He also had three alibi witnesses. Honaker was sentenced to 3 life terms plus 34 years. After he served 10 years, DNA tests exonerated him, and he was pardoned.  (IP) (CBJ) (CM)  [9/06]

Stephen James Hood - See Cox & Hood

Johnson County, TX 

Bobby Hopkins

July 31, 1993 (Grandview)

Bobby Ray Hopkins was convicted of the murders of Jennifer Weston, 19, and Sandy Marbut, 18. He was sentenced to death. The murders occurred at the victims' apartment at 601-B South First St. in Grandview, TX. On the night of the murders the victims threw a party at which 30 to 35 people attended.
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Richmond, VA

Troy Hopkins

July 21, 1990

Troy Hopkins was convicted of murdering Curtis Kearney, 37.  Kearney was shot at 4 a.m. on Afton Avenue, reportedly “a place where drugs are sold.” After trial, several witnesses said Hopkins had not killed Kearney, and in 1992, another man confessed to the crime.  The conviction was reversed on appeal, but then reinstated by a higher court.  In 2001, Hopkins was paroled.  Gov. Warner pardoned Hopkins in 2005.  (Times-Dispatch)

Franklin County, WA 

Geither Horn


“Police need not beat a prisoner to force a false confession out of him. Geither Horn had served twenty-four years for a murder he did not commit when he presented evidence in 1959 that he had confessed to the slaying of an itinerant farm hand in a Pasco, Washington, labor camp because three officers had taken him to an open grave and told him they were going to bury him alive unless he confessed. He was freed by a federal judge on a writ of habeas corpus. In 1963 the Washington legislature awarded Horn $6,000 for his false imprisonment to be paid at the rate of $250 a month. That same year an insurance company settled out of court a suit Horn had brought against the three officers involved. A newspaper in that state ran a curious headline over the story. It read: ‘Ex-convict Drops Suit Against Arresting Trio.’ The suit had been dropped because the insurance company paid the claim for false arrest.” - The Innocents  (News Article) (Jet)  [7/05]

Providence County, RI 

Scott Hornoff

Aug 11, 1989

Jeffrey Scott Hornoff, a Warwick Police Detective, was convicted of bludgeoning to death Victoria Cushman with a fire extinguisher and a porcelain jewelry box. Following the murder, Hornoff denied being anything other than friends with Cushman. Detectives knew otherwise and Hornoff soon admitted that he had two sexual encounters with her. Hornoff's alibi was that he was at a party with his wife and friends on the night of the murder. People at the party confirmed his presence. A grand jury considered the evidence, but did not indict him.

The Rhode Island State Patrol took over the investigation in 1991 and Hornoff was indicted in 1994. At trial in 1996, the prosecution dismissed his alibi, saying he slipped away from the party and returned without anyone noticing his absence. Hornoff's initial claim of only having been friends with Cushman was presented as evidence that he tried to cover-up the murder. Hornoff was sentenced to life in prison and, in 1999, the Rhode Island Supreme Court unanimously rejected his appeal.

Realistically, it was time for Hornoff to abandon hope. But then a miracle occurred. On Nov. 1, 2002, Todd Barry walked into the attorney general's office and confessed to murdering Cushman. Barry said he was consumed with guilt that an innocent man was serving time for a crime that he committed. Barry's confession revealed how the murder investigation had focused exclusively on Hornoff. Barry lived near Cushman, had dated her on and off, his name and number were near the front of her Rolodex, and he was known to her friends. Yet he was never questioned about the murder, either by the Warwick PD, or by the state police.

Hornoff was soon released and cleared of all charges. In 2006, Hornoff was awarded $600,000 plus $47,000 a year for life from the City of Warwick. He may also be awarded additional money from the Rhode Island State Patrol.  (American Justice) ( (JD) (TruthInJustice) (TIJ#2) (00) (04)  [7/07]

 Polk County, FL

Rodney Horstman

May 19, 1985 (Lakeland)

“Rodney Horstman was wrongly convicted of second-degree murder in [a] May 1985 rape and murder in Florida based on an FBI crime lab technician's testimony that there was [an] ‘almost non-existent’ probability that a pubic hair found on the victim did not originate from Horstman. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison. In 1988 the Florida Court of Appeal overturned his conviction based on insufficiency of the evidence, because a conviction cannot be based on expert hair analysis testimony, since ‘it is not 100% reliable.’” – FJDB  (Horstman v. State)

 Cook County, IL

House of Torture Victims

1973 - 1993

Lt. Jon Burge and his fellow detectives at the Area 2 & 3 Police Station on the Southside of Chicago tortured at least 60 persons between 1973 and 1993. The types of tortures used included Russian roulette, cigarette burns, electrical shocks, suffocation, radiators, telephone books, sticks, beatings, cattle prods, and threats. It took the specific case of Andrew Wilson in 1982 to finally bring the truth to light. Jon Burge and his detectives had gone overboard by leaving obvious signs of bruises all over Andrew Wilson's body. An OPS investigation led to the Goldston Report, which stated and confirmed a systematic pattern of torture and abuse by detectives under the supervision of Jon Burge. In 1993, Burge was allegedly fired and two detectives were suspended. However, Burge receives his full pension and benefits.

Those tortured include the Death Row 10: Madison Hobley, Leonard Kidd, Aaron Patterson, Andrew Maxwell, Stanley Howard, Derrick King, Ronald Kitchen, Reginald McHaffey, Leroy Orange, and Jerry McHaffey. Frank Bounds is an 11th death row inmate tortured but he is now deceased. Gov. Ryan has pardoned four of the Death Row 10.  (CCADP)  [9/05]

Union County, TN

Paul House

July 13, 1985

Paul House was sentenced to death for murdering his neighbor and friend Carolyn Muncey during an alleged attempted rape. Evidence showed that Muncey had semen of House's blood type on her, and House had blood of Muncey's blood type on a pair of his jeans. Later it was determined that the blood on House's jeans came from a missing autopsy vial and was spread on deliberately, presumably to frame him for the murder. In addition, DNA tests showed that the semen came from Muncey's husband. Witnesses have come forward who say that Muncey's husband confessed to accidentally killing her. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that House would not have been convicted had the DNA evidence been available and a federal judge overturned his conviction. House was released in July 2008 after an anonymous donor paid his $100,000 bail. Charges against him were dropped in May 2009.  (TruthInJustice)  [11/05]

Coffee County, TN 

Andy Houser

June 3, 2003

Andy Houser's son Ethan died suddenly while in his care. After the medical examiner, Dr. John Gerber, ruled that that Ethan died of “shaken baby syndrome,” police arrested Houser for Ethan's murder. Besides the police, Houser's in-laws and wife soon believed he was guilty. Houser's first child was born with a chromosome disorder and a hole in his heart, and died days after birth. His wife became pregnant again, but miscarried in the first trimester. Ethan, Houser's next child, appeared healthy for the first 9 weeks of his life. He then had three bouts of projectile vomiting, after which doctors could find nothing wrong with him. While in Houser's care, Ethan then stopped breathing. Houser resuscitated him using CPR, but Ethan stopped breathing again while Houser was driving him to the hospital. The hospital declared Ethan dead.

Houser's trial was delayed because the medical examiner died. The prosecution needed time for an assistant to examine the autopsy findings so that a witness could present medical testimony. In the meantime, Houser's defense found a defense expert, Dr. Ronald Uscinski, who was a skeptic of shaken baby syndrome and had testified in numerous shaken baby trials. Uscinski found nothing to indicate that Ethan was shaken. Instead he found that Ethan had suffered a series of strokes over time including possibly prior to birth, and that he had died from these. The medical examiner's assistant, Dr. Thomas Deering, then had second thoughts on the original autopsy findings and subsequently agreed with Uscinski. Deering then issued an amended autopsy report and the charges against Houser were dropped.  (Tennessean)  [3/07]

Elton Houston - See Brown & Houston

 Cook County, IL

Stanley Howard

May 20, 1984

Stanley Howard was sentenced to death for the murder of Oliver Ridgell. Ridgell was shot and killed as he and Tecora Mullen sat in Ridgell's car. The car was parked in front of an apartment building at 1343 W. 92nd St., around the corner from Mullen's home. Ridgell and Mullen both were married, but they had been having an affair for some time. Mullen told police she would be able to identify the killer, but after she looked at police books with photographs of suspects she was unable to say any of them resembled Ridgell's killer. She was also unable to help a police sketch artist draw a composite of the perpetrator.

Six months later, Howard, who had no known acquaintance with either Ridgell or Mullen, confessed to the murder after he said it was beaten out of him by Chicago Area Two detectives. Howard had been taken to hospitals before and after his confession. Medical records showed that he had new injuries including bruises on his left leg that matched his description of police mistreatment. Nevertheless the judge refused to bar his confession at trial.

According to Howard's confession, he fired three shots at Ridgell. Most tenants in the apartment buildings near the scene of the murder were still asleep when it occurred. Those that heard anything, heard only one shot. One tenant heard a man say, “I told you, I would get you.” Another heard a woman say, “Don't hurt him. Just take me home.” The tenants' statements were withheld at trial. In a lineup, Mullen tentatively identified Howard, saying he “looked like” Ridgell's killer. However, at trial Mullen was positive Howard was the killer. She also said that her lineup identification had been positive. In a later interview, when asked about her identification, Mullen said she was in an alcoholic haze in the years before and after the murder. “I drank a fifth of liquor every day for 10 years. I couldn't hardly remember anything.”

In 1991, the Illinois Supreme Court found that a trial error had occurred, but ruled it harmless because “the evidence of the defendant's guilt was overwhelming.” In 2003, Gov. Ryan disagreed and granted Howard a pardon based on innocence.  (CWC) (Chicago Tribune)  [8/08]

Franklin County, OH

Howard & James

Dec 21, 1976

Timothy Howard and Gary Lamar James were convicted of murdering bank guard Berne Davis, 74, while robbing the Ohio National Bank at 1433 E. Main St. bank in Columbus. The pair were initially sentenced to death. After spending 26 years in prison, these two boyhood friends were freed in 2003 after Centurion Ministries established their innocence. Hitherto suppressed police and FBI reports demonstrated that their convictions were based on perjured testimony manipulated by corrupt Columbus police officers including Detective Tom Jones Sr. A retired FBI agent who originally helped investigate the case with the Columbus Police was instrumental in assisting to free these men. In 2006, Howard was awarded $2.6 million for his wrongful imprisonment, but died in 2007, several days after suffering a heart attack. In 2007, James was awarded $1.5 million. He was awarded less than Howard because his legal fees were less and his lost wages were deemed to be less.  (CM) (JD#1) (JD#2)  [6/05]

Adams County, IL 

Everett Howell

Aug 20, 1928

Everett Howell was convicted of the robbery of the Exchange State Bank in Golden, IL. He was identified and convicted based on the testimony of eyewitnesses to the crime despite having numerous alibi witnesses who placed him seventy miles away at the time of the robbery. Within a year the real perpetrators were caught and convicted. In Jan. 1930 Howell's conviction was overturned and the state dropped charges against him.  (CTI)  [6/08]

Marshall County, WV

Frank & Norma Howell

Sept 5, 1929

Frank and Norma Howell were charged with the armed robbery of $67 from Jack Cotts's Esso gas station, located on Waynesburg Pike, about three miles east of Moundsville. The robbers were a tall slim man and a short stout woman, a description that fit the Howells. Despite presenting alibi evidence, Frank was convicted due to the eyewitness testimony of Jack Cotts. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Norma was acquitted at a separate trial, although the evidence against her appeared stronger than that against Frank. On leaving the courthouse following her acquittal, Norma was arrested for a robbery in Cadiz, Ohio, but was subsequently acquitted of that charge.

In 1931 Irene Crawford Schroeder and Walter Glenn Dague, two convicts awaiting execution in Pennsylvania, confessed to the robbery of Cotts's Esso station as well as the Cadiz, Ohio robbery. Frank Howell's prosecution attorney, his defense attorney, Jack Cotts, and others went to Pennsylvania to hear the confessions, which were recorded in a detailed affidavit. After the visit, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that Schroeder and Dague were guilty and that the Howells were innocent. Officials recommended the pardon of Frank Howell and WV Governor Conley granted it shortly thereafter.  (CTI)  [6/08]