Victims of the State

Southampton County, VA

Vernon Joe

Mar 23, 1975 (Capron)

Vernon Joe was convicted of helping two other inmates, Tony Edward Lewis and Michael Cross, murder prison guard Ronald Albert Barnes during an attempted escape at the Southampton Correctional Center in Capron. Joe's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Two witnesses against him at trial, inmate Robert D. Saunders, Jr. and prison guard Alfred L. Lynch, have signed sworn affidavits stating that he had nothing to do with the murder. Previously, his two co-defendants, also convicted of the murder, signed sworn statements saying he was innocent.  (Virginian-Pilot)  [3/05]

Contra Costa County, CA

Albert Johnson

1991-92 (San Pablo)

Albert Johnson was convicted of two rapes. DNA tests exonerated him of one rape, but the DA insisted he was guilty of the other rape in which the biological evidence was destroyed. Johnson was victimized by eyewitness error, police lying about Johnson's background to influence eyewitness testimony, and ineffective assistance of counsel. Johnson served 11 years of 39-year sentence.  (IP)  [6/05]

Washington Parish, LA 

Anthony Johnson

Oct 18, 1984 (Bogalusa)

“In 1986, Anthony Johnson was wrongfully convicted of the 1984 stabbing [murder] and sexual assault of his girlfriend Angela [Bond.] His conviction came as a result of police withholding key information, now-discredited forensic testimony and an alleged statement by Mr. Johnson. ... DNA testing on fingernail scrapings taken from the victim's body showed that a serial killer known to police at the time of Mr. Johnson's trial was the real perpetrator. ... Anthony Johnson was released in 2007, soon after the DNA test results came back, but successive appeals by the State meant he was not fully exonerated until September, 2010; 26 years after his arrest.” – IPNO

Sunflower County, MS 

Arthur Johnson

July 9, 1992

Arthur Johnson was convicted of breaking into a Sunflower apartment and raping a young woman who lived there. The assailant did not leave enough semen for police to determine his blood type, but the victim stated her assailant was “Boo Rabbit,” which was Johnson's nickname. She subsequently identified Johnson in person and he was sentenced to 55 years in prison. In Nov. 2007, DNA tests determined that Johnson could not have been the rapist. He was freed in 2008 after test results were run through the state's data bank and a match was found to the DNA of the real rapist.  (Delta Democrat Times)  [1/09]

Clayton County, GA 

Calvin Johnson

Mar 9, 1983

Calvin Crawford Johnson, Jr. was convicted of rape and burglary and sentenced to life imprisonment. DNA tests exonerated him in 1999. Johnson serves on the Boards of the Innocence Project and the Georgia Innocence Project and has co-written Exit to Freedom, a book about his ordeals.  (IP)  [5/05]

Philadelphia County, PA

Clyde Johnson

Apr 26, 2004 (Logan)

Clyde A. Johnson IV was charged with the attempted murder of William Bryant, 33. Johnson allegedly had fired five shots at Bryant as Bryant walked in the 1100 block of West Ruscomb St. Bryant identified Johnson in a photo lineup. In July 2005, another man, Juan Covington, confessed to three slayings. Since the Bryant shooting occurred around the corner from Covington's home, police took another look at the case against Johnson. Bullets fired at Bryant were tested and matched a gun owned by Covington. Johnson was released on July 29, 2005 without having to post bail. Because of the ballistics evidence and Johnson's strong alibi, charges were dropped on Oct. 7.  (Inquirer)  [7/05]

 Suffolk County, MA

Donnell Johnson

Oct 31, 1994 (Roxbury)

Donnell Johnson, then 16, was convicted of murdering Jermaine Goffigan, 9, as Goffigan was counting his trick-or-treat candy Halloween night. Johnson was cleared in 1999 after new witnesses came forward in a federal probe. Gang members apparently shot Goffigan when they were firing bullets at a rival gang member. Two gang members were indicted for the murder in 2001.  (CIPM)  [10/05]

Chattanooga County, TN

Ed Johnson

Jan 23, 1906

Ed Johnson, a black man, was sentenced to death for the rape of a 21-year-old white woman. The victim, Nevada Taylor, was assaulted near Forest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga. Johnson appealed his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds that he had not been accorded due process of law. The Supreme Court accepted his case and issued a stay of execution. The county sheriff and judge did nothing to diffuse local outrage at what was viewed as Supreme Court meddling. On Mar. 19, 1906, within hours of telegrams announcing the stay, a large mob seized Johnson from the Chattanooga County Jail and lynched him on the Walnut Street bridge. Sheriff Joseph Shipp and other officials were subsequently tried and convicted by the U.S. Supreme Court of criminal contempt. The proceedings were the only criminal trial ever held by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2000, Johnson's conviction was posthumously vacated.  (Famous Trials) (FJDB)  [10/08]

Clark County, NV 

Emma Jo Johnson

May 23, 1951 (Las Vegas)

Emma Jo Johnson was convicted of the murder of her 72-year-old landlady, Jane Jones. Jones died in early June 1951 after apparently falling ill following a May 23 fracas with Johnson over mail. Johnson was released in Jan. 1954 after mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner (creator of Perry Mason) determined that Jones was not murdered as the result of an asserted assault by Johnson, but instead died from a brain tumor.  (Archives)  [4/08]

Dane County, WI 

John Johnson

Sept 6, 1911 (Madison)

John A. Johnson was convicted of the kidnapping and murder of seven-year-old Annie Lemberger. Annie had been presumably kidnapped from her home at 2 South Francis St. in Madison. Her body was found three days later in Lake Manona with a head wound. Since an autopsy found no water in her lungs, it was assumed she died from the wound prior to being thrown into the lake.
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Joseph Johnson, Jr. - See Giles, Giles, & Johnson

Bexar County, TX 

Kia Johnson

Oct 29, 1993 (Balcones Hts)

Kia Levoy Johnson was sentenced to death for the shooting murder of William Matthew Rains. Rains, a store clerk, was shot during a 2:45 a.m. robbery of a Stop 'N Go convenience store at 3309 Hillcrest Dr. in Balcones Heights, Texas. The assailant was unable to open the cash register and took it with him. The details of the crime were captured on video by a store security camera.
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McLennan County, TX 

Johnson & Young

Feb 11, 1922

L. C. “Cooper” Johnson and Bennie Young were convicted of the murders of W. H. Barker, his wife, Loula Barker, and a boy named Homer Turk, aged about 13. The murders occurred at the Barker home on Corsicana Rd., seven miles southeast of Waco. Turk had gone over to the Barkers to play dominoes. Dominoes were found on the table drawn and separated into hands, as though the parties had been engaged in playing the game. The body of Mr. Barker was found in the back yard near a woodpile, shot through the head. The body of Mrs. Barker was found in the house, and her head was cut to pieces by blows from an axe; Turk was also killed by blows inflicted with an axe.

Johnson and Young, who were described as “boys,” were arrested for these murders and confessed to them while in police custody. In Mar. 1923, another man, Roy Mitchell, was convicted of murdering five people in five different proceedings, all in the same month. In a sixth proceeding, Mitchell was convicted of murdering Loula Barker. The convictions were due, at least in part, to coerced confessions. The authorities expressed pride that they helped prevent a lynching.

Johnson died in prison a few days before Mitchell's hanging. In 1934 the Texas governor pardoned Young after being informed by the trial judge and the prosecuting attorney that they did not believe Young was guilty.  (ISI) (FWH)  [5/08]

St. Louis City, MO 

Larry Johnson

Jan 31, 1984

Larry Johnson was convicted of raping and sodomizing a St. Louis University student. The victim described her assailant as clean-shaven, but Johnson had a mustache. Post-conviction defense actions beginning in 1996 by the Innocence Project faced years of intense resistance from the Circuit Attorney and others who would not even verify the existence of biological evidence. In 2002, the IP eventually got a court to order DNA evidence testing from the state crime laboratory. The order specified that the lab was to give results simultaneously to the Innocence Project and the Circuit Attorney. The Associated Press first notified the IP and told them that the Circuit Attorney had scheduled a press conference that day to announce that DNA testing exonerated Larry Johnson. Johnson served 18 years of a life-plus-15-years sentence.  (IP)  [7/05]

 Suffolk County, MA

Lawyer Johnson

Dec 17, 1971 (Roxbury)

Lawyer Johnson was convicted of the shooting murder of James Christian, 30, and sentenced to death. Another suspect in the murder, Kenneth Myers, claimed to have witnessed the shooting, and identified the photograph of the perpetrator. When the police told Myers that person he identified was in prison at the time of the shooting, Myers changed his story and told police that Johnson was the murderer. Myers told police that he himself had picked up the victim's gun after the victim was shot, and he took police to the place where he had hidden the gun. Myers claimed that he was with his girlfriend when he witnessed the murder, but he refused to divulge her name.

On appeal, the court granted Johnson a new trial, ruling that Myers should have been forced to divulge the name of other witnesses who were at the scene of the crime. At the new trial, Myers' girlfriend did not corroborate his account and a new witness testified that he saw Myers flee from the scene, but never saw Johnson. The jury however convicted Johnson again—this time of second-degree murder. This conviction was upheld on appeal.

Several years later, a 19-year-old woman named Dawnielle Montiero came forward and reported that she had witnessed the murder and that Myers was the killer. She said Johnson was not there that day. This witness had informed the police at the time of the murder about what she saw, but the police said that because she was only nine years old, her information was not important. Based on this new evidence, Johnson was granted yet another new trial. This time around, the prosecution dropped all charges and Johnson was released in 1982. In 1983, both houses of the Massachusetts legislature approved a bill providing $75,000 compensation to Johnson, but no final action was ever taken on this measure.  (CIPM)  [7/05]

Oklahoma County, OK 

Malcolm Rent Johnson

Oct 27, 1981 (OK City)

Malcolm Rent Johnson was convicted of the murder of Ura Alma Thompson, 76, based on testimony by police chemist Joyce Gilchrist that semen found at murder scene matched Johnson's. Johnson was sentenced to death and executed by lethal injection on Jan. 6, 2000. Later it was determined that no semen was found at the scene, Gilchrist had performed no tests, and that her testimony was completely fabricated.  (NY Times) (AP)

Louisa County, VA 

Mike Johnson

Dec 3, 1997 (Louisa)

(Federal Case)  Coleman Leake Johnson, Jr., also known as Mike, was convicted of the bombing murder of his ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Tammy Lynn Baker. Four months after the murder, two other bombings occurred within 30 minutes of each other in the same area of Louisa as the one that killed Baker. These bombings injured three people. There was no known connection between any of the bombings.

At the time of Baker's death, she was pregnant with an unborn child. Although she was not certain who the father was, post-mortem tests determined the father was Johnson. It was then alleged that Johnson killed Baker because he wanted to avoid paying child support. However, Johnson lived 140 miles away in Newport News and had an airtight alibi. Baker had moved to Louisa after she became pregnant and Johnson said he was not even aware of where she lived. He also had no criminal history.

Senior Special Agent David M. Riley, of the Virginia State Police, was assigned to investigate the case. Riley had previously built a murder case against another Virginian, Beverly Monroe, who was eventually freed from her wrongful conviction. In regard to that case a federal judge found that “the tactics engaged in by Riley were deceitful, manipulative and inappropriate.” In regard to Riley's work in building a case against Johnson, state authorities thought the evidence against him was so weak that they declined to prosecute.

Nevertheless, a federal prosecutor brought charges against Johnson with this same weak evidence along with solicited testimony, most of it from convicted felons. Witnesses testified in exchange for plea deals and a stake in a $36,000 reward offered in response to the bombings. Johnson was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. He currently resides at the top federal prison in Florence, CO.  (TruthInJustice) (News Article)  [11/09]

 Cook County, IL

Richard Johnson

Sept 20, 1990

Richard Johnson was convicted of rape and robbery. He was identified from police photos and featured on America's Most Wanted. The victim was a graduate student at the University of Chicago. Prior to trial, tests showed that the semen recovered from a victim belonged to a man who had a different blood type than Johnson's. However, Johnson's public defender did not bring up this evidence at trial. In 1996, after DNA tests reconfirmed that Johnson was not the assailant, his conviction was vacated and charges were dismissed.  (CWC) (IP) (CM)  [4/09]

Sabine Parish, LA 

Rickey Johnson

July 12, 1982

Rickey Johnson was convicted of raping a woman on July 12, 1982 at an apartment complex in Many, LA. He was convicted solely on the victim's identification. She was unable to describe any distinguishing marks that Johnson had, including his gold front tooth, despite her testimony of looking at her assailant's face during the entire four hours he was in her bedroom.

In 2001, a close friend and fellow inmate, Calvin Willis, told Johnson to contact the Innocence Project to help exonerate him of his wrongful conviction. Johnson watched Willis walk out of prison after being exonerated by DNA evidence in 2003. In Jan. 2008, Johnson was also exonerated after DNA tests showed that another man, John Carnell McNeal, had committed the rape. McNeal had been convicted in 1984 of raping another woman on April 30, 1983 at the same apartment complex.  (Shreveport Times)  [3/08]

Allegheny County, PA

Terrell Johnson

July 21, 1994 (Pittsburgh)

Terrell Johnson was convicted of murdering Verna Robinson, a police informant. Robinson was willing to implicate a member of the Hazelwood Mob in a drive-by shooting. She was the first person ever placed in the Pittsburgh Police Witness Protection Program. She later refused protection because she did not have money to pay the rent and utilities on the apartment police found for her. She moved back to her mother's house in the heart of Hazelwood Mob territory, where she was killed.

Johnson's conviction was due to the testimony of Dolly McBryde, an alleged eyewitness to Robinson's murder. McBryde was a crack cocaine addict and her criminal offenses included fraud, theft, prostituting her children, and using them to steal. While under police protection she was caught shoplifting at a drug store and stealing furnishings from a safe-house hotel.

Initially, McBryde said she witnessed the murder by hiding in bushes in front of the house at which it occurred. However, after she realized her view would have been obstructed from that spot, she changed her testimony and stated she witnessed the murder from a second location. However, the property owner said McBryde could not have been at the second location, as the gate to it was locked, and the owner had lost the key to the gate 10 years prior to the murder.

McBryde testified she heard one shot, then another as much as two minutes later. She said the victim did not fall to the ground until after the second shot. Other witnesses said the shots were simultaneous and a forensic expert said either one of them would felled the victim immediately. McBryde's name does not appear on any initial police reports about the murder. McBryde came forward two and a half weeks afterwards, when she was caught shoplifting and arrested on several outstanding warrants, most of them theft-related.

Besides Johnson, two other men were charged with Robinson's murder. Unlike Johnson, these other men could afford better lawyers who were successfully able to attack McBryde's eyewitness account. Both men were acquitted after Johnson was found guilty.  (Innocence Institute)  [10/07]

Hocking County, OH

Dale Johnston

Oct 4, 1982 (Logan)

Dale Johnston was sentenced to death for the murders of his stepdaughter, Annette Cooper Johnston, 18, and her fiancé, Todd Shultz, 19. The two were reported missing on Oct. 4, 1982. Ten days later their torsos were found in the Hocking River. Body parts were later found buried in a cornfield. The conviction was due to hypnotically induced testimony and alleged boot print forensics. The prosecutor contended that the victims had been killed in Johnston's home and that their bodies were later discarded in the cornfield eleven miles away. After Johnston's conviction was vacated, it became known that the prosecution had withheld knowledge of four independent witnesses who had seen the couple shortly before their murder and had heard gunshots near the cornfield. Johnston could prove he was home at the time the shots were fired. Johnston was released in 1990 and charges against him were dropped.  (CWC)  [7/05]

Los Angeles County, CA

David Allen Jones


On second day of interrogation, David Allen Jones who has IQ of 60 to 73, was apparently ready to confess to the murders of three prostitutes about which he was questioned. However, investigators apparently did not want the mentally challenged suspect to confess as such a confession would look coerced. Instead, they had him make incriminating statements about the deaths while permitting him to deny murdering anyone. On the interview tape, detectives correct Jones when he wrongly remembers what he is supposed to say. On the strength of such incriminating statements, a jury convicted him of the murders of Tammie Christmas, Debra Williams, and Mary Edwards.

Other detectives investigating serial killer, Chester Dewayne Turner, thought Turner might be responsible for Jones's alleged murders and had DNA tests performed which implicated Turner in two of the murders. The evidence in the third murder had been destroyed, but detectives felt that Jones was innocent and that Turner was the likely suspect. Detectives helped to obtain Jones's release.  (IP) (Justice: Denied)  [6/05]

Snohomish County, WA 

Jerry Jones, Jr.

Dec 3, 1988 (Bothell)

Jerry Jones, Jr. was convicted of murdering his wife, Lee. An intruder had entered his home and stabbed his wife at least 36 times. Jones intercepted the intruder before he ran off, and in trying to take away the intruder's knife, Jones cut tendons in his hand. Following the attack Jones behaved strangely, having gone into shock. He gave 911 dispatchers his old address where he lived for 5 years. The prosecution portrayed such behavior as suspicious. A neighborhood boy is an alternate suspect, who lied about his alibi and whose statements and later criminal record fully justify his being regarded as a suspect. Jones's daughters fully support their father's innocence in the murder of their mother. Jones's conviction was overturned twice, but he acted as his own attorney at his third trial and was reconvicted.  (Justice: Denied) (48 Hours)  [11/05]

Shawnee County, KS 

Joe Jones

Aug 24, 1985 (Topeka)

Joe C. Jones was convicted of rape. The victim identified another man as her rapist when presented with a photo array but identified Jones in person. Jones and the victim were of different races and were at the same nightclub on the night of the attack. The prosecution presented a pair of jeans found at Jones's house that were similar to those worn by the rapist. An employee of a store testified that Jones was in the store at the time of the attack, and was wearing different clothing than the rapist allegedly wore. Jones was barred from using his sexual orientation as a defense. DNA tests exonerated Jones in 1992.  (IP) (CBJ)  [10/05]

Duplin County, NC 

Jones & Lamb


Levon “Bo” Jones and Larry Lamb were convicted of the murder of Leamon Grady. Jones was sentenced to death while Lamb was sentenced to life imprisonment. A federal judge overturned Jones's conviction in 2006, declaring that the defense provided by Jones's initial defense attorneys was so poor that they missed critical evidence pointing to his innocence. The sole witness accusing Jones of the murder, Lovely Lorden, later admitted in an affidavit that she “was certain that Bo did not have anything to do with Mr. Grady's murder” and that she did not know what happened the night Grady was murdered. Jones's first trial lawyer never bothered to gather the many conflicting statements of Lorden, let alone do the kind of investigation necessary in a first degree murder case. It is possible Lorden would have admitted the truth earlier had the case been investigated and had she been adequately cross-examined. In May 2008, the prosecution dropped charges against Jones, just days before his scheduled retrial. Jones was released the next day.

Jones's codefendant, Larry Lamb, was also convicted due to the testimony of Lorden. Lamb has always maintained his innocence and had turned down a plea offer of a six-year sentence. Lamb plans to ask the newly formed North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission to review his case.  (ACLU)  [5/08]

 Duval County, FL

Leo Jones

May 23, 1981

Leo Jones, a black man, was convicted of the sniper killing of white police officer Thomas Szafranski, 28, and sentenced to death. The main witness against Jones later recanted. Two key officers in the case had left the Jacksonville Police Department under a cloud, and allegations that one of them beat Jones before he supposedly confessed had gained credence.

A retired police officer, Cleveland Smith, came forward and said Officer Lynwood Mundy had bragged that he beat Jones after his arrest. Smith, who described Mundy as an “enforcer,” testified that he once watched Mundy get a confession from a suspect by squeezing the suspect's genitals in a vise grip. He said Mundy unabashedly described beating Jones. Smith waited until his 1997 retirement to come forward because he wanted to secure his pension.

More than a dozen people had implicated another man as the killer, saying they either saw him carrying a rifle as he ran from the crime scene or heard him brag he had shot the officer. Even Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw, who formerly headed a division of the state attorney's office, wrote that Jones's case had become “a horse of a different color.” Newly discovered evidence, Shaw wrote, “casts serious doubt on Jones's guilt.” Shaw and one other judge voted to grant Jones a new trial. But a five-judge majority ruled against Jones. Jones was executed one week later in the electric chair on March 24, 1998.  (Chicago Tribune)  [11/05]

 Dallas County, TX

Morris Jones

Convicted 1998

Morris S. Jones was convicted in 1998 of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. After claiming that newly discovered evidence established that he was actually innocent, an appeals court vacated his conviction in 2001.  (Justice: Denied)  [2/07]

Grady County, OK

Richard Jones

Jan 23, 1983

Richard Neal Jones was convicted of murdering Charles Keene. Keene was abducted from his home in Amber and murdered near Chickasha. Jones maintained that he was passed out while his three co-defendants beat up Keene, shot him, and threw his weighted body into the Washita River. Keene had apparently been abusing his ex-wife who was the sister of two of the defendants. The trial court allowed into evidence incriminating post-offense statements by Jones's co-defendants, none of whom testified at Jones' trial. An appeals court granted him a retrial, holding that the jury was prejudiced by the admission of hearsay testimony and inflammatory photographs. It also held that the case was not one in which Jones's guilt was “overwhelming” and that Jones's involvement was disputed by the evidence. Jones was acquitted on retrial in 1988.  (Archives)  [10/05]

Tarrant County, TX 

Richard Jones

Feb 19, 1986 (Fort Worth)

Richard Wayne Jones was convicted of the abduction and murder of Tammy Livingston. Around 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 19, 1986 witnesses Ruthie Amato and her two daughters watched as Livingston was abducted from a Michael's store parking lot in Hurst, Texas. Between 9:20 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. the same night, a witness named Robert Speights heard screams coming from a field at 4600 Randol Mill Road in Fort Worth. At 11:20 p.m. a fire was reported in the field. When police responded they found Livingston's body. She had been stabbed 19 times.
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 Cook County, IL

Ronald Jones

Mar 10, 1985

Ronald Jones was convicted of the rape and murder of Debra Smith. Smith had been abducted from the street and forced into an abandoned hotel at 6724 S. Stoney Island Ave. Jones confessed to the crimes after a lengthy interrogation during which police beat him. According to Jones, Detective Steven Hood struck him in the head three or four times with a black object about six inches long before Detective John Markham said, “Don't hit him like this because he will bruise,” and proceeded to punch Jones repeatedly in the stomach. At trial, a witness also identified him. Jones was convicted and sentenced to death. DNA tests exonerated him after eight years of imprisonment.  (IP) (CWC)  [1/06]

Fresno County, CA

Troy Lee Jones

Dec 22, 1981 (Fresno)

Troy Lee Jones was convicted of murdering Carolyn Grayson and sentenced to death due to his attorney's ineffective assistance of counsel. The case against him was entirely circumstantial. Jones's conviction was overturned in 1996. A court noted his lawyer failed to seek pretrial investigative funds, conduct an adequate pretrial investigation, interview possible exculpatory witnesses, or obtain a relevant police report. The lawyer also elicited damaging testimony against his client during cross-examination of a witness. The prosecution dropped charges, and Jones was released in 1996.  [9/05]

Geneva County, AL

William Jordan

Convicted 1934

William Jordan was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment. He ran over a person he knew in his car at night. There had been a fire in the woods nearby and Jordan said he could not see well enough to tell whether a person’s body was lying in the road. He spent the night at the deceased's home apparently unaware of his death. When Jordan found out the next day about the death of the deceased, he telephoned the deceased's employer and went with him to the scene. He was wholly cooperative with the sheriff and told him about running over what he thought was a pole or chunk in the road.

Jordan's relations with the deceased were friendly and intimate. There was no motive given for any hostile act towards the deceased. There was no evidence of strong drink affecting any of the participants in that night’s occurrence. The deceased had left footprints in the burned woods and no other footprints were found. He had been shot and it could not be determined whether he was dead before or after Jordan ran over his body. After Jordan's conviction another person confessed to the crime. The state supreme court vacated Jordan's conviction for insufficient evidence; charges against him were subsequently dropped.  (Jordan v. State) (MOJ)  [12/10]

 Orange County, FL

Malenne Joseph

Dec 2007 (Conway)

A home contractor hired a black woman with an accent to paint a home in Conway, an unincorporated suburb of Orlando, FL. When the contractor failed to pay her, she reacted by going through the house and splashing it with paint, causing thousands of dollars in damage. The contractor later told Orlando police Detective Jose Varela that he knew the woman as “Marlene,” and he gave him her cell phone number. Varela dialed it and got a woman who answered to “Marlene” and who confessed to the crime but would not come down to the police station.

Varela found out from the woman who owned the damaged house that she had seen a black man driving a truck slowly in the neighborhood. This behavior raised her suspicions enough to write down the tag number. Varela traced the tag number to a man with a last name of Joseph. He then went fishing through the motor vehicle records for a black woman named “Marlene,” who might be a relative of the truck owner. He came up with a Malenne Joseph. He got a photocopy of her driver's license picture and showed it to the owner of the house and her sister. Both identified Malenne as the painter who worked at the house.

Malenne, a Haitian woman, had an accent like that ascribed to the painter. She was brought to trial in June 2010. Although she said she was not a painter and had never met any of the people who accused her, she was identified in court as the perpetrator. Over defense objections, Detective Varela testified that she confessed to the crime over the phone. Malenne was convicted of felony criminal mischief and sent to jail.

When new lawyers took over her case they found out the cell phone number Varela had dialed belonged to a woman named “Merline” whose last name was not Joseph. Like their client, the woman was Haitian and shared some facial similarities with her. The lawyers also found work records which showed Malenne was working elsewhere on two of the days she supposedly was painting. When they informed the contractor that their client was 5'2" tall, he said he knew she could not be the painter as he was 5'6" and remembered the painter as being slightly taller than himself, about 5'7". He signed an affidavit reversing his trial identification. Malenne was released from jail after being incarcerated for 77 days. A motion was filed to overturn her conviction. Prosecutors decided not to charge the other “Marlene” with the crime as the statute of limitations for it had run out.  (Orlando Sentinel) (TIJ)  [12/10]

 Bay County, FL

Ronald Joseph, Jr.

May 10, 2006 (Panama City)

“Ronald Joseph, Jr. was wrongly convicted in 2007 for leaving the scene of an accident, when after hitting a man he drove to a store to call 911 for help. During his trial the prosecution claimed that neither the tape of his emergency call for help nor a witness at the store could be located. The judge declared a mistrial. Ronald Joseph was retried, again without the prosecution producing the evidence he had called for help, and he was convicted. Joseph was sentenced to five years in prison. On July 30, 2008 Florida's First District Court of Appeals overturned Joseph's conviction and ordered his release because the judge shouldn't have declared a mistrial in the first trial, and because jeopardy had attached, it had violated his right against double jeopardy for him to have been tried twice.” – FJDB  (News Herald)

Allegheny County, PA

Troy Joseph

May 24, 1997 (Pittsburgh)

Troy Joseph was convicted of murdering his sister's boyfriend, Richard Pearson. Joseph claimed he was having an argument with Pearson, a known drug dealer, when a masked gunman interrupted them. Joseph managed to escape, but the gunman shot Pearson. No murder weapon was ever found. During an interrogation, Detective Richard McDonald got 18-year-old Joseph to sign some notes allegedly to verify when they were taken. Joseph's signatures were later used in court to suggest he signed a confession.

While in prison, Joseph met another inmate, Jacques Maynor, who had witnessed the murder. At the time of the murder he had told police that he witnessed Joseph run from his sister's apartment, and then watched a masked man gun down Pearson. Prosecutors were required to turn over to the defense all exculpatory evidence, and had withheld this report at Joseph's trial. As of 2006, the issue is being appealed.  (Post-Gazette)  [3/07]