Victims of the State

Macomb County, MI 

Louis Abraham Nasir

May 1965 (Warren)

“Louis Nasir was once arrested for commission of a crime as the result of mistaken identification. Although no charges were brought his picture was taken and found its way into the ‘mug book.’ Several years later in May of 1965, a bandit wearing wraparound sunglasses and a straw hat held up a credit union in Warren and escaped with almost $5,000.00. There were three witnesses, the manager, an employee named Dimples Anderson and a credit union customer. On the afternoon of the robbery the manager and Dimples were unable to select anyone from a mug book and were unable to select anyone from a lineup in which Louis Nasir was not present. The day after the robbery the manager and the employee picked Nasir from a mug book and also picked him in a one-man ‘show-up’ from behind a one-way glass. On the following Monday all three witnesses picked Nasir from a lineup that did not appear unfair in itself from the record, absent any prior suggestion in the one-man photo show-up or any suggestion that may have occurred in the use of photographs.”

“Nasir was tried for robbery and the sole issue was identification. Despite the testimony of six witnesses who said they saw Nasir at work the day of the robbery, the jury believed the identification testimony of the credit union manager, Dimples Anderson and the customer and returned a verdict of guilty. Nasir was sentenced to serve 7 to 20 years in prison.”

“The court-appointed attorney who was to prosecute the appeal was convinced of Nasir’s innocence and enlisted the aid of the two detectives who helped convict Nasir. Working together, the three men found the man who confessed to being an accomplice to the crime. The real robber, who resembled Nasir, had been shot to death in February, 1966. A friend of the dead man, who was serving time in Jackson, corroborated the story by revealing that the crime had been admitted to him before the death of the real culprit.*”

“An hour after Nasir took lie detector tests he was freed on bond pending a new trial and the charges were dismissed on motion of the prosecutor. Nasir had spent 375 days in prison.” – P v A
*The credit union customer turned out to be involved in the robbery and admitted his perjured testimony. However, this witness had no impact or contact with the other two witnesses who made their ‘positive’ and unshakable identifications 3 times before the customer was even available to view a lineup.

Gage County, NE 

Nebraska Six

Feb 5, 1985 (Beatrice)

Six people were convicted of charges related to the murder of sixty-eight-year-old Helen Wilson. The victim had been raped, beaten, and strangled. The six defendants were Thomas Winslow, Joseph White, Ada Joanna Taylor, Kathy Gonzalez, Deb Shelden, and James Dean. The initial investigation into Wilson's murder went cold but it was revived in 1987 when a former Beatrice police officer, Bert Searcey, came forward with confidential informants. The informants said Taylor, a former Beatrice resident, admitted involvement in the murder.

Searcey took over the investigation after being hired by the Gage County Sheriff's office. Searcy focused on Taylor, White, and a group of friends who drank and took drugs together. The theory behind the case was that White and Taylor wanted to rob Wilson and that her rape and murder just happened. The theory left questions: (1) How could six people could fit into Wilson's tiny apartment without anyone seeing or hearing them? (2) Who would bring five witnesses to a sexual assault? (3) If robbery was the motive, why was Wilson's purse filled with $1300 left untouched on a kitchen stool?

Except for White, all confessed to the crime after reportedly coercive interrogation techniques. The techniques included the use of a psychiatrist to tell the defendants that they had repressed memories of the crime. There was also evidence that the police spoon fed details of the crimes to the defendants. Several defendants were threatened with the death penalty, including Taylor who was told that she would be the first woman to be executed by the State of Nebraska if she did not confess and cooperate. Taylor, Shelden, and Dean pled guilty to the crime while Gonzalez entered a no-contest plea. Gonzalez, Shelden, and Dean were released from prison in 1994.

In 2008, DNA tests were performed which exonerated all of the Nebraska Six and led to the release of Winslow, White, and Taylor from prison. The tests indicated Bruce Allen Smith of Oklahoma had committed Wilson's rape and murder. Smith died of AIDS in 1992. The Nebraska Attorney General's Office is, as of this writing, helping the Nebraska Six to obtain pardons. The DNA exonerations, the first in Nebraska, were the largest mass DNA-based exonerations, surpassing the 2002 mass DNA exonerations of five individuals convicted of raping a jogger in New York City's Central Park.  (Bluhm) (State v. White)  [11/08]

Onondaga County, NY

Joseph Nedza

Dec 7, 1930

Joseph Nedza was convicted of committing an attempted robbery in East Syracuse, NY and two robberies of gas stations on East Genesee Street leading into the city of Syracuse. During the attempted robbery a hotel proprietor was shot. Victims identified Nedza as as one of the two robbers because he was shown to victims along with Vincent Starowitz, one of the actual robbers. Eventually, due to the work of Nedza's defense attorney, another man, Albert Sherwood was identified as the second robber, whom victims also identified. Sherwood bore practically no resemblance to Nedza. Although Nedza was sentenced to 35 years of imprisonment, he served only three months before he was exonerated and released.  (CTI)  [11/10]

Allegheny County, PA

Bruce Nelson

Aug 3, 1981 (Oakland)

Bruce Nelson was sentenced to a life term for the rape and murder of 53-year-old Corrine Donovan. The victim was found strangled in an Oakland parking garage. The actual perpetrator, Terrence Moore, escaped a possible death sentence by accusing Nelson. Following the conviction Moore admitted framing Nelson by forging a letter in which Nelson confessed to the crime. DNA tests exonerated Nelson in 1991.  (IP) (CBJ)  [8/05]

Chatham County, GA

Gary Nelson

Feb 19, 1978 (Savannah)

Gary X. Nelson was convicted and sentenced to death for the rape, sodomy, and murder of 6-year-old Valerie Armstrong. A witness who at first described the perpetrator as “bald and thin,” identified Nelson as the perpetrator even though her description does not fit him. The prosecution presented evidence tracing the murder weapon to Nelson, but it was later found that there was no evidence. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation expert traced hair found on the victim to Nelson and said that only 120 men in the country could have been the source of the hair. However, the defense found out later that only the FBI had examined the hair and it had concluded that the sample was not suitable for any significant comparison purposes.

Other evidence pointed to a suspect named Al, who had a history of child molestation and who was working in the area where the victim was last seen. The victim had even told her friend that she was going to get some money from “Uncle Al.” Nelson's conviction was overturned and he was set free in 1991.  (PC) (DPIC)  [7/05]

St. Clair County, IL 

Terry Nelson

July 9, 1988 (Centreville)

Terry Lee Nelson was convicted of the execution style murder of reputed drug dealer Marvin Butler. Butler was shot outside of Bill's Continental Club, a tavern in the 6800 block of Old Missouri Avenue in Centreville. Nelson's conviction rested on the testimony of three informants who claimed that Nelson confessed to them while they were imprisoned with him. An appeals court overturned the conviction after it ruled that the testimony of one of the informants had been inconsistent and that another had recanted. The State's Attorney office dropped all charges in 1998. One of Nelson's key supporters was Sheriff Mearl J. Justus, who had steadfastly maintained that Nelson was innocent.  (CWC)  [1/06]

Cumberland County, PA

Willie Nesmith

May 1982

Although his first trial resulted in a hung jury, on retrial Willie Nesmith was convicted of raping a Dickinson College student. The 19-year-old victim who was beaten during the assault did not identify Nesmith at his trials, but several other witnesses placed him at the scene of the crime. Nesmith was on the Dickinson campus at the time, undergoing training for the Golden Gloves amateur boxing program. He was paroled in 1992, but was later incarcerated for violating his parole. He was released from prison in 2000 after DNA tests exonerated him of the crime.  (IP) (Gettysburg Times)  [7/05]

Macomb County, MI 

New Baltimore Three

Oct 21, 2000

Jonathan Kaled, 18, Matthew Daniels, 16, and Frank Kuecken, 19, were charged with murdering Justin Mello, and with armed robbery and with conspiracy to commit murder. Mello was a teenager who was found shot dead in Mancino's Pizza and Grinders in New Baltimore, after a robbery. Mello's murder shocked the New Baltimore community, which had not had a fatal shooting in 30 years. Kaled and Kuecken initially confessed to the crimes, but later recanted, claiming that the police coerced them. Other individuals claimed that the three suspects had been present at a party miles away from New Baltimore at the time of the crime. In light of the suspects' confessions, police did not take these alibi witnesses seriously and threatened them with obstruction of justice charges if they persisted in providing alibis.
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Lorain County, OH

New York Boys

Aug 7, 1992

Lenworth Edwards, Alfred Cleveland, and Benson Davis are natives of New York and were convicted of murdering Marsha Blakely and Floyd Epps solely because of the testimony of William McAuther Avery Jr., a convicted perjurer. All are serving life sentences.  (Justice: Denied) (NYB)  [5/05]

 El Paso County, CO

Todd Newmiller

Nov 20, 2004

Todd Newmiller was convicted of murdering 22-year-old Anthony Madril. On the night of Madril's death a dispute arose between two groups of young men at a Colorado Springs nightclub. The club management forced one group to leave while the other left shortly thereafter. Two vehicles carrying these men subsequently stopped a short distance away on Conrad St. near Terminal Ave. The first vehicle, a pickup truck, was driven by Charles Schwartz, with Chisum Lopez on the passenger side and Anthony Madril in the middle. The second vehicle, a Jeep, contained Todd Newmiller, his brother Joel, Mike Lee, Jason Melick, and Brad Orgill. The dispute had primarily been between Madril and Orgill.
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 Cook County, IL

James Newsome

Oct 30, 1979

James Newsome was convicted of the murder of Edward “Mickey” Cohen, 72, during a robbery of Cohen's grocery store. The store was located at 8911 S. Loomis St. in Chicago. After two eyewitnesses had picked photographs of someone else out of a mug book, police put Newsome into a lineup. He was then informed that he had been identified. Newsome was tried and convicted of murder and armed robbery based on these witnesses and a third eyewitness. In 1989, Newsome obtained a court order requiring the Chicago Police Department to run unidentified fingerprints from the murder scene through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System. The check was run, and the officer in charge falsely reported that the search found no prints matching anyone else. It was not until five years later that police admitted that prints were found to match those of Dennis Emerson, who by then was on death row for another murder. Newsome was freed in 1994 and Gov. Edgar granted him a pardon based on innocence in 1995. In 2003, Newsome was awarded $15 million for 15 years of wrongful incarceration.  (CWC)  [6/05]

Bronx County, NY

Alan Newton

June 23, 1984

Alan Newton was convicted of rape after being identified by the victim. He put in motions in 1994, 1997, and 1998 to have the biological evidence tested for DNA. He was denied those motions because police said the evidence could not be found. In 2005, an Innocence Project lawyer asked a prosecutor for help. The evidence was found in its original storage bin from 1984. DNA tests exonerated Newton.  (NY Times) (IP)  [9/06]

Harris County, TX 

Frances Newton

Apr 7, 1987

Frances Elaine Newton was sentenced to death for the of murders of her husband and two children. The husband, Adrian Newton, was found shot to death in the family's apartment along with the couple's two children, Alton, 7, and Farrah, 1. The apartment was located at 6126 West Mount Houston Road, Houston, Texas. Less than a month before the murders, Frances purchased a $50,000 life insurance policy on Adrian and forged his name to complete the deal. She also purchased a separate $50,000 policy on Farrah. At the time of the murders both Frances and Adrian were seeing other people.
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Alameda County, CA

Huey P. Newton

Oct 28, 1967

Before any evidence was heard, many Americans believed that Huey P. Newton, co-founder and “minister of defense” of the Black Panther Party, had murdered a police officer in cold blood. Others were equally certain that the charge was a trumped-up attempt to crush the militant Black Panther Party.
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Santa Clara County, CA

Glen Nickerson, Jr.

Sept 15, 1984

Glen “Buddy” Nickerson Jr. was convicted of murdering two San Jose drug dealers, John Evans and Mickie King, and the attempted murder of another person during an armed robbery. One witness originally told police the murder suspect weighed between 190 and 200 lbs, but Nickerson weighed 425 lbs. Several years later, witness Brian Tripp, who became a deputy sheriff in Colusa County, realized he identified the wrong man. In light of his law enforcement experience, he remembered how investigators subtly cajoled him into picking out a suspect they had in mind rather than the person he saw. “I remember questions such as, ‘Couldn't he have been larger?’ or ‘Are you sure he wasn't a heavier-set man?’ and I think I began to doubt myself.”

One of the true killers was identified through DNA of blood left at scene and another who was serving a life without parole sentence came forward. They both testified that Nickerson had nothing to do with the killings. Nickerson was freed after serving 19 years of a life without parole sentence.  (SF Chronicle)  [9/05]

Multnomah County, OR

Nieskins & Cole

1991 (Portland)

In 1995, police extracted confessions from Rick Nieskins and Christopher Cole to the 1991 murder of John Sewell. Both men were charged with homicide, and both spent thirteen months in jail awaiting trial—even though two other men had been convicted of Sewell's murder in 1991 and had always maintained that they acted alone. Prosecutors eventually dropped charges against Nieskins after records showed that he could not have committed the crime because he was at a homeless shelter in Seattle at the time of the killing. Once they acknowledged Nieskins' false confession, prosecutors admitted that Cole also could not have been involved in the crime and dropped charges against him.  (CFC)  [9/05]

Philadelphia County, PA

William Nieves

Dec 22, 1992

William Nieves was sentenced to death for the murder of Eric McAiley. McAiley was shot outside his home on York Road near Hunting Park Ave. The eyewitness who testified against Nieves originally said that two thin black men murdered McAiley. She later claimed a husky Hispanic murdered McAiley. Nieves was Hispanic, but could not be considered husky. In 1997, the trial judge granted Nieves a retrial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. The prosecutor contested the judge's decision and three more years passed before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld Nieves's right to a new trial. As the defense prepared for a new trial, it became evident why the prosecutor had fought hard to prevent it. The prosecutor had withheld critical evidence that aided Nieves in his basic defense of misidentification. This evidence included a statement by the boyfriend of the victim's sister. He testified at Nieves's retrial that he told detectives investigating the case that they had the wrong man. Detectives then told him his information was of no use and they escorted him out. The retrial jury acquitted Nieves and he was released in 2000.  (CPADP) (CWC) (TWM)  [3/07]


Nigerian Robbery Trio

Sept 12, 1981

“Danladi Abdullahi, Sumaila Sokoto and Umoru Usufu were wrongly convicted in 1981 of conspiring to rob, and robbing with an offensive weapon, a woman of N200.00 on September 12, 1981. The three men were sentenced to 21 years imprisonment for the conspiracy and to death by hanging for the robbery. After they had completed the prison sentences, the three were awaiting the death sentence when on April 23, 2003, a Lagos lawyer, Mr. Sylvia Ogwemoh brought an appeal on behalf of Usufu to the Court of Appeal challenging the verdict on six grounds of appeal together with three issues for determination. The Ct of Appeals ruled that contradictions in the victim's extra-judicial statement to the police and her oral evidence at the defendant's trial had rendered her oral evidence unreliable. The Court also ruled as a matter of law (based on Nigerian precedents) that the five witness statements that the prosecution had concealed from the defense were exculpatory. In conclusion, in December 2006 the Court quashed Usuf's conviction and sentence and ordered that a judgment of acquittal be entered. Since his two co-defendants were convicted on the same evidence, the same order was entered for them.” – FJDB

Portage County, OH

Tyrone Noling

Apr 5, 1990 (Atwater Twp)

Tyrone Noling was sentenced to death for the murders of Bearnhardt and Cora Hartig, both 81. Noling was involved in the robberies of two other elderly couples, so he might appear a suspect. However, Noling, 18, was an amateur robber, who had fled from a robbery “like a scared rabbit” when his gun accidentally discharged into a victim's hardwood floor. The robberies occurred in Noling's neighborhood while the Hartig murders occurred in a secluded area 15 miles away. No physical evidence connects Noling. In addition, nothing was stolen from the Hartig's even though the victims had wallets and rings on them.

Following the murders, the Hartig killer rifled through their documents as though he was looking for something. Some documents were thrown on top of a shell casing. The night before the murders, Bearnhardt Hartig told his doctor friend he planned to confront an insurance agent friend who had defaulted on a $10,000 loan that Hartig had given him. Records of the loan were missing from Hartig's house.

The prosecution secured agreements for three alleged accomplices to testify against Noling, although one jumped ship at trial. The testimony of the alleged accomplices disagreed with each other, known facts, and their earlier statements. There were hundreds of discrepancies, both trivial and critical. Noling also suffered from incompetent counsel.

Investigator Ron Craig and the now-disgraced prosecutor David Norris were also involved in the disputed convictions of Bob Gondor and Randy Resh. A public defender investigator of both cases commented, “I thought something like that could only happen once. I was wrong.”  ( (Cleveland Scene)  [12/06]

Norfolk, VA

Norfolk Four

July 8, 1997

U.S. Navy sailors Danial Williams, Joseph Dick, Jr., and Derek Tice were all convicted of the brutal rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko. Michelle was the newlywed wife of a Navy signalman. All confessed to the crime after hours of police interrogation. However, their confessions were inconsistent with each other and with the facts of the crime. Another man, Eric Wilson, also confessed and was convicted of rape charges only and released in 2005. A fifth man, Omar Ballard, a convicted rapist, confessed to the crime in a letter to a friend.

Two weeks before the murder, Ballard had attacked a woman with a baseball bat in the same apartment complex as that of the murder. He had sought refuge in Bosko's apartment right after the attack when a group of residents sought to apprehend him. Police were able to match his DNA to the semen left at the Bosko murder scene. Ballard initially told police in an audiotaped statement that he acted alone, but at the behest of detectives, he testified to participating in the crime with the other four at their trials. No physical evidence linked the four to the crimes. Ballard has since reaffirmed his original story.

The Norfolk Four petitioned to be pardoned. They were joined in their request by 13 jurors from two of the trials, a dozen former judges and prosecutors, four former Virginia attorneys general, and 30 former FBI agents.

In 2009 best-selling author John Grisham announced that he planned to write a screenplay about the case. A few weeks later, in Aug. 2009, Virginia Governor Kaine announced that he would free, but not pardon the three members of the Norfolk Four who were still imprisoned. The three will remain on supervised parole for at least 10 years and, along with Wilson, will have to register as sex offenders. A book was written about the case entitled The Wrong Guys by Tom Wells and Richard Leo.  ( (Virginian Pilot)  [8/09]

Clark County, WA 

Northrop & Davis

Jan 11, 1993

Alan G. Northrop and Larry W. Davis were convicted of brutally assaulting and raping a woman in La Center, WA. The victim, a 36-year-old housekeeper cleaning a home, had identified Northrop and Davis as her assailants, though she was unsure of one of her identifications and initially didn't identify the other man in a photo lay down. She had been blindfolded during the assault and only got a glimpse of her assailants. In 2010, the two were exonerated of the crime after DNA evidence from the victim's fingernails and pubic hair was found to match two unknown men. Davis had completed his 17-year prison sentence in Jan. 2010, but Northrup was released in July 2010 when a judge vacated both men's convictions.  (Columbian)  [12/10]

Monterey County, CA

Lorenzo Nuñez

Nov 16, 1994 (Salinas)

“A jury convicted Lorenzo Nuñez of murder for supplying rifles used in a gruesome slaying, even though scant evidence showed Nuñez knew of the assailants’ intent. The 6th District Court of Appeal upheld the conviction, but a federal judge overturned it because the jury was shown a videotape in which police lied to Nuñez about the strength of the evidence.”
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Mark Nunez - See Buddhist Temple Innocents