Victims of the State

Eddy County, NM 

Terry Seaton

May 19, 1971 (Carlsbad)

Terry W. Seaton was convicted murdering a Carlsbad baker. The baker was castrated, and cooking oil was poured over him before his body was burned. Seaton was prosecuted even though he passed a polygraph test. Another man had confessed to the murder, and the key witness against Seaton had failed a polygraph test, but this evidence was withheld from Seaton's defense at trial. There was also evidence that Seaton had burglarized a men's clothing store in Clovis and could not have traveled to Carlsbad in time for the murder. Seaton was released in 1979 after this newly acquired and presented evidence cast strong doubt on his guilt. He was awarded $118,000 in 1983 for his wrongful arrest plus another $217,500 in fees for his attorneys.  (AJ) (73) (74) (MOJ)  [2/10]

Entire State of MT 

Sedition Act 79


In the midst of World War I, Montana passed a sedition act which banned speech and writings considered unpatriotic including those that criticized the war effort. The act carried penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment and a $20,000 fine. Montana's legislature also created a Council of Defense. Among the Council's edicts was the banning of books about Germany and publicly speaking German. During the act's existence, 79 people were convicted of violating it. Individuals were convicted for expressing support for Germany, refusing to buy Liberty War Bonds, and criticizing the U.S.'s entry into the European war. Of those convicted, 41 served an average of 19 months imprisonment, 3 escaped punishment, while the rest paid only fines. In 2005, a book about the act was published. One individual was pardoned in 1921, and in 2006, Governor Schweitzer posthumously pardoned the other 78.  (JD)  [12/06]

 San Bernardino County, CA

Jimmy Segura

Mar 26, 1978

Jimmy Segura was framed for the murder of 21-year-old David Leon by homicide detective Randy Bliss. Leon was the son of homicide detective Angel Leon.  (JD)  [6/05]

Neosho County, KS 

Willie Sell

Mar 8, 1886

Willie Sell was convicted of murdering his parents, brother, and sister. In the early morning hours of March 8, 1886, 16-year-old Willie banged on the door of a neighbor, Robert Mendell, talking hysterically and incoherently. Mendell did not understand Willie's story, but had caught the words, “blood, murder and hatchet.” Mendell accompanied Willie back to his family's two-room house. On the floor lay the bodies of Willie's father, James W. Sell, a schoolteacher and farmer, and Willie's mother, Susan. In the corner, still in her bed, was Willie's teenage sister, Ina. Their skulls had been beaten with a hatchet and their throats had been cut. The floor was slick with blood. In an adjoining room, where Willie had been sleeping, was the body of Willie's brother, Watta Sell, 19, who was killed in the same manner as the other members of his family.
Read More by Clicking Here

Ivan Seranno - See Domenech & Seranno

Frank Sgelirrach - See Pezzulich & Sgelirrach

Howard Shaffer - See Duval Three

Navarro County, TX 

Shannon & Clements

Mar 15, 1925 (Currie)

Earl Shannon and H. A. Clements were convicted of the robbery of a Currie grocery store. Two armed men had robbed the store, which was owned by partners Phipps and English. English, who was present during the robbery, identified one of the masked and hatted robbers as Clements. Clements ran a shop about two miles away with his partner Shannon. After Phipps found circumstantial evidence that implicated Shannon, English identified the robbers' lookout man as Shannon.

Just before Shannon's trial, Phipps told Shannon's attorney that English could not identify any of the persons who robbed the store except Clements. The trial judge would not permit Shannon's attorney to testify to Phipps's statement. Shannon's conviction was later overturned for that reason. He was never retried.

While in prison, Clements met another inmate, Blackie Davis, who confessed to the grocery store robbery and signed a deposition to that effect. The Governor was unconvinced by Davis's admission, and refused to pardon Clements. However, a sixty-day furlough was granted to enable Clements to locate the accomplices implicated by Davis's confession. On his furlough, Clements found one of the accomplices. Backed by an application endorsed by the district judge, the prosecutor, and all the jurors, the Texas Governor pardoned Clements in May 1929.  (CTI)  [11/07]

Angelina County, TX 

Desiree Shaw

Aug 11, 1996  (Diboll)

Desiree Ann Weaver Shaw was convicted of the shooting murder of her husband, Royce Shaw.  (IIPPI)

Fairbanks, AK

John J. Shaw

Convicted 1973, 80, 81

John L. Shaw was convicted in 1973 of aiding in the theft of merchandise from a store. Another man had stolen 17 pairs of pants from a men's store where both he and Shaw worked as janitors. That wrongful conviction led to Shaw being separately convicted of two other crimes: Failing to Appear for Sentencing in 1980, and for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm in 1981. He was imprisoned separately for all three convictions.

Shaw's public defender, David Backstrom, had a conflict of interest by also representing Shaw's codefendant, who freely admitted his guilt, but who also insisted Shaw had nothing to do with the thefts. The codefendant was prevented from testifying by Backstrom. Backstrom also prevented several witnesses for Shaw from testifying because by exonerating Shaw they would be implicating the attorney's other client, Shaw's codefendant.  (83) (84) (91) (93)  [7/05]

Dade County, FL 

Joseph Shea

Feb 23, 1959 (Miami)

Joseph F. Shea was convicted of murder after confessing to committing one. The victim, Mary Meslener, 23, was a National Airlines clerk and was found on a canal bank three miles from Miami International Airport. She had been shot once in the head. More than two months after the murder, Shea, 20, an airman in the U.S. Air Force, waved a bloody shirt at his sergeant in West Palm Beach and vaguely insisted that he had done “something bad.” Because Shea had been trying to fake a medical discharge, the sergeant was skeptical. However, the incident brought Shea to the attention of police.
Read More by Clicking Here

Rudolph Sheeler - See Bilger & Sheeler

Douglas County, NE 

Jeremy Sheets

Sept 23, 1992

Jeremy C. Sheets was convicted in 1997 of the murder of 17-year-old Kenyatta Bush. His alleged accomplice, Adam Barnett, confessed to the crime and implicated Sheets in exchange for a plea deal. Barnett later recanted his confession and committed suicide prior to Sheets's trial. Barnett's taped confession was the key evidence used against Sheets at trial. In 2000, the Nebraska Supreme Court overturned the conviction because it deemed Barnett's confession “highly suspect,” “inherently unreliable,” and hence inadmissible without the opportunity for Sheets to cross-examine Barnett. Prosecutors dropped charges against Sheets after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their appeal.  (State v. Sheets)  [9/05]

Deb Shelden - See Nebraska Six

Middlesex County, NJ 

Shephard & Lester

Convicted 1935 & 1936

Clifford Shephard and C. Elizabeth Lester were both convicted twice of forgery after being identified as passers of bad checks. Shephard was arrested a third time for forgery, but the grand jury refused to indict, because he had been behind bars at the time of the crime. Shephard was pardoned in 1950 and Lester was pardoned in 1951 after the actual culprits confessed. Shephard was later awarded $15,000 for 27 months of wrongful imprisonment.  (The Innocents) (Time)

Union County, NJ 

David Shephard

Dec 24, 1983

David Shephard was convicted of rape and robbery in 1984. The victim was abducted by two men from a shopping mall and later raped. One of the assailants called the other “Dave.” The assailants subsequently parked the victim's car near a building at Newark Airport in which Shephard worked. The victim identified Shephard as one of her assailants. DNA tests exonerated him in 1994.  (IP) (ABA) (CBJ)  [6/08]

Charles Shepherd - See Faison & Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd - See Groveland Three

Frank, Earl, & Bryan Sheppard - See Kansas City Five

Cuyahoga County, OH 

Dr. Sam Sheppard

July 4, 1954

After an intruder entered his home, and brutally murdered his wife, Marilyn, Dr. Sam Sheppard was accused and convicted of the crime. The Sheppard home was in Bay Village on the shore of Lake Erie. Sheppard had an affair some months before and this was portrayed as a motive. Sheppard had some wounds from the real assailant but the prosecution claimed these were self-inflicted. Sheppard described the assailant as a bushy haired man and other witnesses claimed to have seen him. Although its creator denied it, the 1963 TV series, The Fugitive, was widely thought to be based on this case, due to obvious similarities.

Sheppard's defense was not allowed access to forensic evidence prior to trial. When examined after trial, it found that Marilyn had apparently bitten her assailant as one of her teeth was broken outward, and that the killer must have been splattered with blood as the bedroom walls were all splattered except for a spot that was shielded by the assailant's body. Apart from a small spot, Sheppard had no blood on him, nor any bite marks. Backswing blood spatter indicated the assailant swung his weapon with his left hand, while Sheppard was right-handed. Appeals based on this new evidence were denied. Eventually a young lawyer named F. Lee Bailey got interested in the case, took it to the U.S. Supreme Court, and had the conviction overturned. Sheppard was acquitted on retrial in 1966, but died at age 46 in 1970. DNA tests in the 1990's revealed the assailant was a mentally ill man who had once worked at the Sheppard home.  (American Justice)  [9/05]

 Cook County, IL

Steve Shore

Aug 10, 1982

Steve Shore was convicted of the murder of Garrison Hester, an off-duty security guard. Hester was shot on Drexel Avenue in Chicago. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the conviction by a two to one vote, but the dissenting justice, R. Eugene Pincham, called the prosecution case “ludicrous, farfetched, unreasonable, and unworthy of belief.” Additional exculpatory evidence became known in the early 1990's because of a federal investigation into the El Rukn street gang. Shore got an evidentiary hearing and was allowed to take the depositions of the El Rukn witnesses. After the discovery process was complete, the prosecution agreed to drop charges and free Shore, but only if he accepted an Alford plea, which was an acceptance of charges for time served. Shore accepted the offer and was freed in 1996.  (CWC) (People v. Shore) (Shore v. Warden)  [12/05]

Gage County, NE 

Robert Mead Shumway

Sept 3, 1907

Robert Mead Shumway, a farmhand, was convicted of murdering Sarah Martin, his employer's wife. The murder occurred near Adams, Nebraska. The conviction was based on circumstantial evidence. Shumway was sentenced to death. The one holdout juror for acquittal, who finally caved in, committed suicide before Shumway's execution from the grief of believing he had sent an innocent man to his death. Shumway was hanged in Lincoln at the Nebraska State Prison on Mar. 5, 1909. In 1910, Shumway's employer, Jacob Martin, confessed on his deathbed that he had murdered his wife.  [10/05]

 Levy County, FL

Cecil & James Simmons

June 15, 1990

Cecil Cameron Simmons and his brother James Grover Simmons were convicted of the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Kristi Hedden. Hedden, 19, disappeared from her disabled car just inside the Florida State Line on Interstate 75. Her body was dumped into the Waccasassa River outside Bronson. The convictions were based on the testimony of a local mentally retarded man named James Leonard Burney who claimed to have participated, but was never arrested or charged. No physical evidence linked the brothers to the crime, and over 25 alibi witnesses attest that the brothers were in Georgia at the time of the crime.  (CCADP) (News Article)  [11/05]

 Dallas County, TX

Simmons & Scott

Apr 7, 1997

Claude Simmons and Chris Scott were convicted of the robbery and murder of 41-year-old Alfonso Aguilar. Their convictions were based primarily on the eyewitness testimony of Aguilar's wife, Celia Escobedo, who was present in their Love Field area home when the killing occurred. The two were exonerated in 2009 after another man confessed to the crime.  (Dallas Morning News)  [12/10]

Jefferson County, OR

David Lee Simmons

Sept 2005

David Lee Simmons was charged with four counts of felony third-degree rape and two counts of felony sodomy for having consensual sex with his girlfriend dating back to Sept. 2005 when he was 17 and she was 14. Under a plea deal, Simmons pled guilty to two counts of the charges rather than risk many years in prison if convicted by a jury on all counts. He served 30 days in jail.

However, James Greer, the foreman of the grand jury that was asked to indict Simmons, happened to read a newspaper account of the plea deal. Since the grand jury specifically declined to indict Simmons, Greer was shocked and he confronted prosecutor Steven Leriche, who in turn contacted Simmons's defense attorney. The prosecutor may have mistakenly failed to read Simmons's paperwork and thought he was indicted. However, since the refusal to indict individuals are rare events which receive notice, some observers do not believe it likely the prosecutor made this mistake. Instead they believe he simply proceeded as though Simmons was indicted. Simmons's defense attorney failed to catch this error. In Oct. 2006, Simmons's convictions were vacated.  (Popehat) (FJDB)  [8/09]

Cambria County, PA

Ernest Simmons

May 5, 1992 (Johnstown)

Ernest Simmons was convicted of the robbery and brutal murder of 80-year-old Anna Knaze. He was sentenced to death. Detective Richard Rok recruited Simmon's girlfriend, LaCherie Pletcher, to secretly tape record Simmons, but on tape Simmons denied killing Knaze 19 times. This tape evidence was hidden from the defense. A key witness, Margaret Cobaugh, admitted she gave false testimony against Simmons while under pressure from Detective Rok. As of 2004, Detective Rok is in federal prison for kicking a handcuffed suspect in the face, breaking his nose, and then stepping on his groin.  (Post-Gazette) (Innocence Institute)  [12/05]


Richard Simmons

June 1985 (Lübbecke)

“Richard Simmons was wrongly convicted as a British soldier stationed in Germany of the 1985 rape and murder of [Sabine Rosenbohm, an 18-year-old German.] After 8 years of imprisonment a German judge ordered his release when it was proven that his DNA didn't match that of the murderer/rapist. Simmons had been convicted because his blood, like half the men in Germany, was the same type as the murderer, and the case against him was otherwise circumstantial.” – FJDB

Avoyelles Parish, LA 

Vincent Simmons

May 9, 1977

Vincent Alfred Simmons, Jr. was sentenced to 100 years in prison for two counts of attempted aggravated rape of two 14-year-old white twin sisters.  (IIPPI)

Los Angeles County, CA

O. J. Simpson

June 12, 1994 (Brentwood)

Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson was found civilly liable for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, and Ronald Lyle Goldman, 25. He had earlier been acquitted of the murders in criminal court, but he is perceived by many as guilty despite his acquittal. The victims, who were white, were found outside Nicole's home at 875 S. Bundy Drive in Brentwood, CA. O.J., who was black, was a Heisman trophy winner, a Hollywood movie actor, a network TV football commentator, and was known for the TV commercials he made for the Hertz Rental Car Agency. He was the most famous American ever charged with murder. O.J.'s criminal trial was dubbed the “Trial of the Century,” although that designation had previously been used to describe the 1935 trial of the alleged Lindbergh baby killer.
Read More by Clicking Here

King County, WA 

Michael Lee Sipin

Mar 6, 2000

Michael Lee Sipin was an occupant of a BMW Z3 sports car that crashed into a tree and threw both occupants from the car. Sipin suffered brain damage while the other occupant, David Taylor, was killed. Sipin, who had a blood alcohol level of .11, maintained that he was the passenger, not the driver. The prosecution used a computer program named PC-Crash to simulate the crash and it convinced jurors to convict Sipin of vehicular homicide. Sipin's conviction was overturned on appeal in 2005. The appeals judge faulted the state's PC-Crash expert witness for not accounting for multiple impacts in the crash and the changing dimensions and angles inside the vehicle.  (Appeals)  [7/05]

 Washington, DC

Sisson & Sullivan

Sept 20, 1922

Robert W. Sisson and Maurice J. Sullivan were convicted along with Earle D. Dean of assaulting James R. Keeton and Judson L. Powers. Keeton and Powers worked as electricians for the Pullman Company at Union Station. They had applied for membership in the electrician's union, but before they could be admitted a strike broke out and practically all union men walked out. Keeton and Powers, however, continued to work.

One night about midnight as the two were nearing their rooming house on Brentwood Road, NE, they were attacked by a group of seven or eight men. Both were beaten severely, especially Keeton. The two identified Sisson, Sullivan, and Dean as men who were among their assailants. Some time after the three's convictions, Dean named seven men and said that they and himself were the men who had assaulted Keeton and Powers and that Sisson and Sullivan had had nothing to do with it. All seven men pleaded guilty, but got off much more lightly in the matter of sentences than had Sisson and Sullivan. On July 12, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge pardoned Sisson and Sullivan, who had spent over a year and a half in the Lorton reformatory.  (CTI)  [11/10]

Ector County, TX 

John Skelton

Apr 24, 1982

John Clifford Skelton was sentenced to death for the murder of a 46-year-old former employee, Joe Lee Neal. Neal's truck was rigged with dynamite and exploded near the intersection of of Grandview Avenue and Brentwood Drive in Odessa, TX. The explosion, triggered by Neal putting the truck into reverse, propelled Neal's body out of the truck, ripped off his left wrist and hand as well as both legs. Medical testimony indicated that Neal bled to death. The prosecution argued that Skelton had a motive to kill Neal, had made various threats against him, and had access to explosive materials. However, Skelton had a strong alibi. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction after finding “no evidence which connects [Skelton] with the actual setting of the bomb, nor is there any evidence showing that he solicited, encouraged, directed, aided, or attempted to aid another to place the bomb.” Skelton was released in 1990.  (PC)  [7/05]

Gray County, TX 

Hank Skinner

Dec 31, 1993 (Pampa)

Henry Watkins Skinner, also known as Hank, was convicted of bludgeoning to death his live-in girlfriend, Twila Busby, and stabbing to death her two sons, Randy Busby and Scooter Caler. Hank was sentenced to death. The murders occurred at 801 East Campbell Ave. in Pampa. Hank, then 31, had been drinking earlier in the evening and passed out after taking codeine to which he was severely allergic. A friend, Howard Mitchell, arrived to take Hank and Twila to a New Year's Eve Party at 9:30 p.m., but he could not rouse Hank.
Read More by Clicking Here