Victims of the State

Pulaski County, AR

James Dean Walker

Apr 16, 1963

James Dean Walker was convicted of murdering Police Officer Jerrell Vaughn of North Little Rock. Walker and a companion, Russell Kumpe, were at a Little Rock nightclub with two women, one of whom was Linda Ford. Following an altercation at the club in which another patron was shot, Kumpe, Walker, and Ford left in Kumpe's Oldsmobile. Kumpe drove, while Walker sat in the passenger seat, with Ford sitting in the center. Police Officer Gene Barentine pursued and stopped the car and parked his vehicle behind it. Officer Vaughan arrived on the scene almost immediately thereafter, as did two cabdrivers.
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Union County, NJ 

Nathaniel Walker

Oct 19, 1974

Nathaniel Walker was convicted of kidnapping, rape and sodomy. He was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 50 years. The victim was accosted after she parked her car near her home in Elizabeth, NJ and was forced to drive to the parking lot of a housing project in Newark where she was assaulted. Four months later she picked Walker out of a police lineup. The victim had told police her assailant was in his mid-20s and did not wear glasses. Walker, however, was 33 and had worn glasses with thick lenses for many years. In 1986 Centurion Ministries convinced prosecutors to re-examine a semen sample taken from the victim 12 years earlier. Tests on the sample revealed the presence of B antigens indicating the assailant or the victim had blood type B or AB. Since the victim had blood type A, the antigens had to have come from the assailant. Since Walker also had blood type A, he could not be the assailant. Following the tests Walker's conviction was overturned and he was freed from imprisonment.  (NY Times) (CM)  [7/09]

Santa Clara County, CA

Rick Walker

Jan 10, 1991

Quedellis Ricardo “Rick” Walker was convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Lisa Hopewell. DNA found on cigarette butt at the scene of the crime was linked to another suspect, who eventually pleaded guilty to the murder. A co-defendant who falsely implicated Walker later wrote him a letter of apology. Walker was awarded $421,000 ($100/day) for 12 years of wrongful imprisonment. In 2007, Walker was awarded an additional $2.75 million from Santa Clara County.  (SF Chronicle)  [6/05]

 Cook County, IL

Earnest Wallace

June 17, 1916

Earnest Wallace was sentenced to death for the shooting murders of two men that occurred during the robbery of a saloon on the southwest corner of 27th and Federal Streets in Chicago. The victims were the proprietor, William Levin, and a customer, William Monroe. Wallace was convicted of the murders due to the eyewitness testimony of John Porter, Henry Flynn, and Martha Clark.

Porter was the only identifying witness who testified he was in the saloon at the time of the shooting. He first identified Wallace on the street while he [Porter] was in the custody of the police. Although the other saloon patrons lived in the neighborhood, Porter did not and claimed he was a first time visitor. The other patrons said the assailant was masked, but Porter testified the assailant was unmasked. At trial Porter was unable to recognize any of the other patrons as being present in the saloon at the time of the shooting. Porter also could not give an intelligible account of his actions or whereabouts after leaving the saloon.

The other two identifying witnesses gave testimony that was unlikely, and even if true, only identified Wallace as being in or near the saloon around the time of the shooting. Wallace testified that he was playing craps at a pool room on State Street at the time of the shooting and he had three other players corroborate his account of how he spent the evening of the shootings. Two years after Wallace's conviction, the Illinois Supreme Court vacated it on the grounds that the evidence against him was insufficient to convict.  (Appeal)  [12/08]

Greene County, GA 

Robert Wallace

May 16, 1979

Robert Wallace was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Thomas Rowry, a Union Point police officer. Wallace, who was drunk, had been in a scuffle over a gun with a different officer when the gun went off, killing the officer he was accused of murdering. The prosecution argued that Wallace intentionally shot the victim officer. Upon retrial in 1987, a jury acquitted Wallace.  (PC)  [7/05]

Dallas County, TX 

James Waller

Nov 2, 1982

James Waller was convicted of raping a 12-year-old boy, identified as Jay S.  Jay initially described his assailant as a black man, 5 foot 8 inches tall and weighing 150 lbs.  He said a red bandanna concealed his assailant's face. Later that day at a 7-Eleven, Jay heard his assailant's voice, and turned to see Waller. Waller is nearly 6 foot 4 inches tall and was heavy. Waller's family was the only black family living in Jay's apartment complex. At trial, Waller presented witnesses stating he was home at the time of the assault, but Waller was convicted anyway. Waller was paroled in 1993. DNA tests exonerated him of the crime in 2007, making him the 12th person in Dallas County to be exonerated by DNA tests.  (NY Times) (IP)  [2/07]

 Dallas County, TX

Gregory Wallis

Jan 6, 1988 (Irving)

Gregory Wallis was convicted of raping a woman after an informant noticed that he had a tattoo similar to one described by the victim as being on her assailant. The victim identified Wallis, but DNA tests exonerated him in 2006.  (IP)  [1/07]

Merla Walpole - See Rivera & Walpole

 New Brunswick, Canada

Erin Walsh

Aug 12, 1975 (St. John)

Erin Walsh was convicted of the second degree murder of Melvin Eugene “Chi Chi” Peters, an African Canadian. The crown alleged that Walsh's motive in the killing was racial animosity. They did not consider that he grew up in a housing project surrounded by African Canadians. Walsh claimed that Donald McMillan, David Walton, and Peters twice attempted to rob him of his money and drugs. He testified that after their first attempt, he managed to escape, and ran to some nearby CNR workers, begging them to call the police, which they did. When he then tried to make his way to his car to escape, the would-be robbers found him again. This time they forced him into the front, middle seat of his car at gunpoint. Walsh struggled for possession of the gun, but ultimately it ended up in the hands of McMillan, where it discharged and killed Peters. There was no evidence to corroborate Walsh's testimony. The crown had McMillan and Walton testify to a different story. Following Walsh's conviction, he spent the next twenty years in prison.

In 2003, Walsh wrote to the New Brunswick Provincial Archives and received the complete crown file of his case. In it were reports that were completely exculpatory of him and which supported his version of events: (1) Less than an hour after the fatal shooting, a St. John police officer heard one of the robbers, Walton, ask the other robber, McMillan, why he shot Peters. (2) A local store owner stated that the shells used in the gun were purchased one day before McMillan said they were purchased, when Walsh was a thousand miles away from St. John. (3) Seven witnesses signed statements attesting that Walsh ran away from McMillan, Walton, and Peters after they had attempted to rob him at gunpoint just prior to forcing him into the car. These witnesses supported Walsh's claim that he asked people to call the police just 10 minutes before Peters was shot. In Mar. 2008, after a Federal Justice and the NB Attorney General agreed that a miscarriage of justice had occurred, the Court of Appeals quashed Walsh's conviction.  (CBC) (Walsh v. NB)  [6/08]

 Australia (WA)

Walsham Three

Feb 28, 1998 (Stirling)

Salvatore (Sam) Fazzari, Jose Martinez, and Carlos Pereiras were convicted in 2006 of the murder of 21-year-old Phillip Walsham. The three allegedly pushed Walsham off of a pedestrian bridge that spanned a highway onramp. At approximately 2:12 a.m. on Feb. 28, 1998, Walsham had gotten off a train at Stirling station with two friends, Craig Betts and Spencer Toogood. Betts walked ahead of Toogood and Walsham. When Toogood realized that Walsham was not following, he went back to the station and found Walsham there. Walsham was heavily intoxicated and not feeling well. Toogood then set off to catch up with Betts.
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 Washington, DC

Ziang Sung Wan

Jan 29, 1919

Ziang Sung Wan, a Chinese NYU student, was convicted of the murder of Ben Sen Wu, an undersecretary of the Chinese Educational Mission. Wu was murdered along with two other members of the Mission, Dr. Theodore T. Wong and C. H. Hsie. Wan was sentenced to death. In 1926, Wan's conviction was vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court because the government failed to show that his confession to the crime was voluntary and the testimony of its own witnesses indicated the contrary. Jurors in two later trials refused to reconvict Wan and the indictment against him was dropped.  (Archives) (MOJ) (Wan v. U.S.) (NY Times)  [7/05]

Henry County, GA

Terry Lee Wanzer

July 3, 1973

Terry Lee Wanzer was convicted of rape and aggravated sodomy by Clayton County even though it was later determined that the crime actually occurred in Henry County. Wanzer was paroled in 1981 after 8 years of imprisonment. He was pardoned for innocence in 1991, and was awarded $100,000 by the State of Georgia in 1996.  (HR 973) (DGF) (74) (78)  [9/05]

 Suffolk County, MA

Joseph Ward


Joseph Ward, also known as Joseph Winston, was convicted of being a purse-snatcher's accomplice after being identified by eyewitnesses. The purse-snatcher had been arrested in flagrante but jumped bail. After the purse-snatcher was caught a few months later, he revealed his accomplice who resembled Ward. Ward was pardoned in 1896 on the grounds of mistaken identity.  (CIPM) (CTI)  [11/05]

Pontotoc County, OK 

Ward & Fontenot

Apr 28, 1984 (Ada)

Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot were convicted of murdering Denice Haraway. Haraway, 24, worked part-time at McAnally's convenience store. She was last seen leaving the store with a man who had his arm around her waist. The two appeared to be a pair of lovers. The store was found deserted with the cash register drawer opened and emptied. Haraway's purse and driver's license were found inside, and her car nearby.
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Billy Wardell - See Reynolds & Wardell

Kings County, NY

Collin Warner

Apr 10, 1980

Collin Warner was convicted of second-degree murder for the shooting death of Mario Hamilton, 16, outside Erasmus Hall High School in Flatbush. Hamilton was killed by a single bullet that struck him in the back of his neck. In 2001, Warner's co-defendant, Norman Simmonds, 15, confessed that he acted alone. Warner's conviction was vacated and he was released. The victim's brother, Martell Hamilton, said he fingered Warner under pressure from detectives and felt awful about it for years.  (Archives) (News Articles)  [6/05]

Monroe County, NY

Douglas Warney

Jan 3, 1996 (Rochester)

Police obtained a confession from mentally handicapped Douglas Warney to the stabbing death of William Beason, 63. No physical evidence linked Warney to the crime and the facts of the case contradicted his confession. A trail of blood found at the scene did not match the victim's blood type or Warney's blood type. It had to have come from a third person, presumably the killer. Warney was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. He was freed in 2006 after DNA tests exonerated him and implicated another New York inmate, Eldred Johnson, Jr. Johnson, already incarcerated for life, subsequently confessed to the crime.  (RDC) (IP)  [9/06]

McLennan County, TX 

Calvin Washington

Mar 2, 1986 (Waco)

Calvin E. Washington was convicted of rape. DNA tests later exonerated Washington and implicated a deceased man, Bennie Carrol. Carrol had committed suicide three years after admitting that he raped a neighbor of the victim.  (IP)  [10/05]

Culpeper County, VA 

Earl Washington, Jr.

June 4, 1982 (Culpeper)

Earl Washington, Jr., who has an IQ of 69, was arrested in 1983 on minor charges in Fauquier County, VA. After 2 days of questioning, police announced that he had confessed to 5 different crimes including the murder of Rebecca Lynn Williams. Of the five confessions, four were dismissed because of inconsistencies in the confessions and the inability of the victims to identify Washington. In the remaining confession, Washington said that he raped and killed Rebecca Lynn Williams.

Questioning revealed that Washington did not know the race of his victim, the address of the apartment where she was killed, or that he had raped her. Washington also testified that Ms. Williams had been short when in fact she was 5'8", that he had stabbed her two or three times when the victim showed thirty-eight stab wounds, and that there was no one else in the apartment when it was known that her two young children were with her. Washington said he kicked in her door, but her door was undamaged. Only on the fourth attempt at a rehearsed confession, did authorities accept Washington's statement and have it recorded in writing with Washington's signature. He only picked out the scene of the crime after being taken there three times in one afternoon by the police, who in the end had to help him pick out Williams' apartment.

At trial, the confession proved to be the prosecution's only evidence linking Washington to the crime. The defense failed to point out the inconsistencies of the prosecution's case, especially the results of the Commonwealth's own serological analysis of the seminal fluid found at the scene of the crime, which did not match Washington. It also failed to inform the jury of Washington's other false confessions. Washington was convicted and sentenced to death. He came within 9 days of execution when a New York law firm picked up his case pro bono.

In 1993, DNA tests exonerated Washington, but Virginia law barred the introduction of new evidence so he had no redress though the courts. In 2000, Gov. Gilmore granted Washington an absolute pardon. The case was featured on Frontline and is the subject of a book, An Expendable Man: The Near-Execution of Earl Washington, Jr.  (IP) (TD) (JP) (JD#1) (JD#2)  [5/05]

Middlesex County, MA 

Kenneth Waters

May 21, 1980 (Ayer)

Kenneth Waters was convicted of the murder of Katharina Brow. She was stabbed more than 30 times and her money and jewelry were taken. Two of Waters' ex-girlfriends testified that he had made a drunken confession to them. Another witness stated Waters tried to sell her the victim's ring and necklace soon after the crime. Co-workers of Waters stated that he had a knife similar to the one used in the attack. Types B and O blood were found at the scene. Brow had type B and Waters had type O, although 48% of the population have type O.

Although the perpetrator apparently bled at the crime scene, police examined Waters a few hours after the murder and found no injuries on him. Waters' defense indicated that a hair found on victim was neither the victim's nor Waters'. An ex-girlfriend witness later recanted her testimony. DNA tests exonerated Waters in 2001. A theatrical movie based on the case and entitled Conviction is due to be released in Oct. 2010.  (CIPM) (IP)  [6/05]

 Onslow County, NC

Leo Waters

Mar 31, 1981 (Jacksonville)

Leo Waters was convicted of raping a woman. DNA tests exonerated Waters in 2003 and implicated Joel Bill Caulk, a Massachusetts inmate. Waters was pardoned in 2005.  (IP)

Hancock County, IN 

Jerry Watkins

Nov 12, 1984

Jerry Watkins was convicted of the rape and fatal stabbing of his sister-in-law, 11-year-old Peggy Altes. DNA tests exonerated him in 2000.  (IP)  [7/05]

 England (Teesside CC)

Richard Alan Watkins

Dec 2007

“Richard Alan Watkins was wrongly convicted on July 2, 2010, of raping a 17-year-old boy during a Christmas party in December 2007. [Watkins' co-defendant, Kevin David Moore,] was acquitted of committing the rape, while the jury convicted Watkins of having ‘aided and abetted’ him as part of a ‘joint enterprise.’ [Moore's defense] was the sex was consensual and the jury agreed. The trial judge granted Watkins bail while appealing his conviction. In September 2010 Watkins' conviction was quashed on the basis that the there was no ‘sensible explanation’ for how the jury could have [convicted] him of aiding and abetting a rape that never happened. Because he was granted bail after his conviction, Watkins didn't serve any time in jail.” – FJDB