Victims of the State


She Xianglin

Convicted 1994

After having an argument with him, She Xianglin's wife, Zhang Zaiyu, went missing. Several weeks later police found the body of an unidentified woman in a local pond. Police interrogated Xianglin for 10 days, during which he was also tortured. Xianglin confessed to murdering his wife and was sentenced to death. His sentence was later reduced to 15 years imprisonment, after a higher court in the province (Hubei) overturned the verdict due to lack of evidence. Several of Xianglin's family members were also jailed for advocating his innocence or claiming that they saw Zhang alive after the authorities alleged she was dead. In March 2005, Zhang turned up alive and had merely run away from her marriage. She had remarried in a remote village in eastern Shandong province, unaware of the fate of her former husband. Xianglin was released. One of the officers who allegedly took part in Xianglin's torture hanged himself when authorities began an investigation into the incident. Xianglin and several family members were awarded 450,000 Yuan ($55,500) for wrongs committed against them.  (FJDB)  [12/06]


Teng Xingshan

Apr 1987

Teng Xingshan was convicted of the murder of Shi Xiaorong. A chopped up body identified as Shi's was found in Mayang County, Hunan Province in April 1987. Police settled on Teng as the guilty party because he was a butcher and the dismemberment was “very professionally” done. Teng soon confessed to the murder, allegedly after police beat it out of him. However, he protested his innocence all the way to the execution ground. Authorities alleged that Teng had sex with Shi and killed her because he suspected she stole his money. Teng was executed by gunshot in Jan. 1989.

Teng's family had heard reports that Shi was alive in neighboring Guizhou province as early as 1993, but it took years to verify the reports and Teng's family lacked the funds and the courage to sue the government. The case first received publicity in May 2005, when the family formally filed a lawsuit with the Hunan Higher People's Court. News reports of another Chinese murder victim turning up alive in March 2005 may have prompted the decision. Shi denied ever meeting Teng and said she had been sold into marriage to a man in eastern Shandong Province a month before the chopped up body was found. Shi returned to her hometown in Guizhou Province in 1993. Teng was posthumously exonerated in Jan. 2006.  (UPI)  [4/08]

Delaware County, PA

Nick Yarris

Dec 16, 1981

Nicholas J. Yarris was sentenced to death for the murder of Linda Mae Craig. Four days after the murder, Yarris was arrested miles away from the crime scene after an altercation with a Chester policeman during a traffic stop. Yarris was high on methamphetamine at the time of his arrest and forced to go through withdrawal “cold turkey.” Desperate to get out, Yarris tried to obtain special treatment from police by claiming a former associate he thought was dead had kidnapped, raped, and killed Linda Mae Craig, a murder victim he read about in the newspaper. The former associate was a drug dealer who Yarris thought had overdosed. Yarris's plan went awry when the associate was located still alive with an airtight alibi – his brother had overdosed.

Police told other inmates that Yarris was a snitch. Inmates then regularly beat and tortured Yarris for days. In order to escape the beatings, he suggested to police that he may have participated in the crime, but was not the murderer. The beatings stopped, and police charged Yarris with murder. A fellow inmate, Charles Cataleno, began giving false information about Yarris in exchange for conjugal visits and a sentencing deal. This inmate later testified against Yarris at trial. Yarris's alleged motive was that he was angry with his ex-girlfriend, and the victim allegedly looked like her. Tests on the semen left by the killer indicated the presence of B+ antigens, suggesting that the killer's blood type was B+. Yarris shared this blood type along with 15% of the population. However the victim's husband also had a B+ blood type. During the investigation, he stated that he had sexual intercourse his wife the night before her murder. When it became clear that Yarris was a suspect, the husband claimed to have worn a condom that night, even though he and his wife were incapable of having children. The prosecution failed to do other tests on the semen which might have eliminated Yarris as a suspect.

Yarris was the first American to request DNA testing which he did in Mar. 1988. He faced years of obstruction from the prosecution and the courts, but eventually in 2004 became the 140th American convict to be exonerated by DNA tests. Yarris currently resides in the UK and has authored a 2008 book there entitled Seven Days to Live.  (IP) (Post-Gazette) (Justice: Denied) (DPI)  [9/05]

George Yelder - See Butler & Yelder

Sacon Youk - See Lex Street Innocents

Bennie Young - See Johnson & Young

 Cook County, IL

Young, Hill, & Williams

Oct 14, 1990

Dan Young, Jr. and Harold Hill were convicted of killing Kathy Morgan, 39, whose body was found by firefighters sent to extinguish a blaze. Peter Williams was also charged but charges were dropped after police learned Williams was in jail at the time of the murder. Hill who was 16 was first arrested on unrelated charges. Chicago detectives Kenneth Boudreau and John Halloran obtained a confession from him saying that he, Young, and Williams all took part in the crime. Young, who has a 56 IQ, was arrested and confessed after he says police beat him. Williams was the last to be arrested. He gave the most detailed confession, but he later said he was handcuffed to a radiator for hours and urinated on himself because he was not allowed to use a bathroom. The conviction and charges against Young and Hill were dropped in 2005 after bite mark trial testimony was discredited and DNA tests failed to implicate the two.  [9/05]

Pima County, AZ

Larry Youngblood

Oct 29, 1983

Larry Youngblood was convicted of abducting 10-year-old David L. from a church carnival and repeatedly sodomizing him. David said his assailant had a disfigured eye. Youngblood fit this description and the traumatized child identified Youngblood in court as the perpetrator. Youngblood lived alone, had a history of mental illness, and had had previous run-ins with the law.

Youngblood appealed his conviction because the state had collected semen samples left by the assailant both in and on the victim, but had failed to perform tests on the samples to determine the blood type of assailant. It had also failed to refrigerate the samples so that tests could be performed at a later date. Such tests might have completely exonerated Youngblood. The Arizona Court of Appeals agreed with Youngblood that he had been denied due process and overturned his conviction. The state appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court which reinstated Youngblood's conviction in 1988. This decision was later recognized as an important precedent which limited the rights of criminal defendants.

In 1998, Youngblood was paroled from prison, but was reincarcerated the following year for failing to register his new address as required by sex offender laws. However, by this time, advances in DNA testing technology allowed DNA tests to be performed on the degraded semen samples. In 2000, Youngblood was exonerated of the crime after such tests were performed. In 2001, the DNA profile obtained from the tests was found to match a Texas inmate, Walter Cruise, who was subsequently convicted of the crime.  (IP) (JD) (Arizona v. Youngblood) (86) (89)  [8/09]

 Orange County, FL

Alan Yurko

Nov 24, 1997

Alan Yurko's 10-week-old son, Alan Jr., was killed by an adverse reaction to a vaccination and by subsequent iatrogenic complications in the hospital. Medical conditions mimic shaken-baby syndrome and Yurko was convicted of his son's murder and aggravated child abuse. The medical examiner who testified at his trial did not check child's medical history and issued an autopsy report that was riddled with mistakes. He later admitted these mistakes in court. In 2004, following a four-day evidentiary hearing, Yurko's first degree murder conviction was overturned. That same day he pled no contest to the manslaughter death of his son and was sentenced to time served.  (Free Yurko) (Orlando Weekly) (JD)  [11/05]

U.S. Federal Case (NJ) 

Luigi Zambino

Dec 8, 1905

Luigi Zambino was convicted of counterfeiting after a man named Frank Manfra identified him as his accomplice in order to shield his own brother. Zambino was sentenced to 6 years in prison, but in Nov. 1909, U.S. President Taft granted Zambino a full pardon.  (CTI)

 Orange County, FL

Tommy Zeigler

Dec 24, 1975

William Thomas Zeigler Jr. was sentenced to death for the murders of four people in his furniture store. The store was located at 1010 S. Dillard St. in Winter Garden, FL. The victims were Zeigler's wife, Eunice, her parents, Perry and Virginia Edwards, and a black customer, Charlie Mays. Zeigler, himself, was critically shot.
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Los Angeles County, CA

Zepeda & Diaz

Convicted 1997

LAPD officer Rafael Perez admitted during a corruption investigation that he framed William Zepeda and Argelia Diaz, because he neither saw them selling any drugs, nor did he obtain their permission to search their apartment. The convictions were overturned in 2000.  [7/05]

Eau Claire County, WI 

Evan Zimmerman

Feb 26, 2000

Evan Zimmerman, a former Augusta, WI police officer, was convicted of murdering his former girlfriend, Kathleen Thompson. Thompson had had a violent fight with her husband just hours after their wedding. Following the fight, both were taken to the Eau Claire County Jail. Thompson was last seen walking away from the jail at 3 a.m. and later was found strangled on a Eau Claire street. Her husband was never considered a suspect as he was in jail at the time of her murder. Zimmerman's conviction was based on allegedly inconsistent statements he gave to Eau Claire police about his whereabouts around the time of the murder. None of Zimmerman's interrogations were taped.

Zimmerman's son, Shannon, said the alleged inconsistencies were due to his father being in an alcoholic haze at the time of the crime and during subsequent police interviews. He said the case against his father consisted of “out-of-context statements, misleading statements and very, very shaky facts.” With the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Zimmerman's conviction was overturned. At retrial in April 2005, the prosecution's case did not proceed well, and in mid-trial the prosecutor asked the judge to throw out the case, saying he lacked the evidence to show “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Zimmerman had killed his former girlfriend. The judge agreed and acquitted Zimmerman. Zimmerman had served 3 1/2 years in prison for the crime.  (Wisconsin State Journal)  [1/08]

New York County, NY 

Isidore Zimmerman

Apr 10, 1937

Isidore Zimmerman was sentenced to death for the shooting murder of a police detective, Michael Foley, during an armed robbery of the Boulevard Restaurant at 144 Second Ave. A gang of six, dubbed the “East Side Boys” by the press, had robbed the restaurant. Zimmerman was not present at the robbery, but was convicted for allegedly supplying the gun used in the murder. He was cleared in 1962 after it was revealed that a government witness perjured himself when he testified that Zimmerman provided the gun. Zimmerman was awarded $1 million for 24 years of wrongful imprisonment.


Zhao Zuohai

June 1997

Zhao Zuohai was convicted of murdering his neighbor Zhao Zhenshang. In June 1997, the two Zhaos, both about 45, had a hatchet fight in their hometown of Zhaolou village in Zhecheng County, Shangqiu City Prefecture, Henan Province, China. Four months later Zhenshang's nephew reported to police that his uncle was missing. In May 1999, after a headless body was found in a village well, Zuohai was arrested for the murder of Zhenshang and detained without trial for three years.
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