Victims of the State

28 Cases

Philadelphia County, PA

Frank Harris

Mar 4, 1926 (Center City)

Frank Harris was convicted of murdering a companion, Wilbert McQueen, during a 1926 gunfight with two Philadelphia police officers. The gunfight occurred on 10th Street north of Lombard Street. Harris was exonerated and released in 1947 after it was revealed that McQueen was killed by a bullet fired from a police revolver.  (News Article) (Harris v. Burke)  [5/08]

Philadelphia County, PA

Bilger & Sheeler

Nov 23, 1936

Philadelphia patrolman James T. Morrow was murdered while tracking down a suspected robber who had been terrorizing the northeast section of the city. Police, in efforts to solve the murder, arrested and extracted confessions from three different men over a several year period. Two of the men were convicted and sentenced to life in prison before being exonerated.
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Philadelphia County, PA

William S. Green

Nov 4, 1946

William S. Green was convicted of murdering a night watchman named Blount. Blount had found that a rear door to the Standard Theater at 1126 South Street had been forced open. He entered the theater and apprehended an intruder. He then took the intruder to a police call box. When Blount turned to make a call, the intruder snatched his gun and fatally shot him. The watchman had an elderly friend named Lonnie Caldwell who watched from some distance away.

Two weeks later, two witnesses, James Hargett and Alonzo Suggs, came forward who placed themselves within forty feet of the call box at the time of the shooting. They identified Green, a Navy veteran, as the killer. Caldwell could only say that Green looked something like the killer. At trial in Jan. 1947, Green's defense presented several witnesses who were in the area at the time of the shooting and who testified that Green did not resemble the killer.

In 1957, after Green had served 10 years of imprisonment, Hargett came forward and admitted he did not see Green at the scene of the murder. He said the other witness, Suggs, paid him $100 to give false testimony. Suggs was a homosexual who had once been beaten up by Green after propositioning him. The district attorney investigated Hargett's claim and satisfied himself that it was true. Green was subsequently pardoned.  (The Innocents) (48) (57)  [7/09]

Philadelphia County, PA

Joseph Smith

Feb 17, 1950

Joseph Smith was convicted of the armed robbery of a Philadelphia check-cashing service. The check-cashing attendant, John Mitchell, was robbed of $800. Police later arrested George Clark and Joseph Farro for the crime. Under police pressure Clark named Smith as an alleged lookout man for the crime. Clark testified against Smith while Farro remained silent. Smith was freed from imprisonment in July 1963 after both Clark and Farro admitted that Smith did not participate in the crime.  (The Innocents)  [7/09]

Philadelphia County, PA

Antoniewicz & Others

May 21, 1952

Joseph Antoniewicz, William A. Hallowell, and Edward H. Parks, all juveniles, were convicted of felony murder after the victim they allegedly assaulted and robbed of $15, died nine days after the robbery. The victim, Harry Thompson, was 54-years-old. The juveniles all were sentenced to life imprisonment. The convictions of the three were vacated in 1968 after the Philadelphia medical examiner testified that Thompson “died as a result of coronary heart disease which was not caused, contributed to, or aggravated by the assault.”  (News Article) (ISI)  [9/07]

Philadelphia County, PA

Lou Mickens Thomas

Sept 27, 1964

Louis Mickens Thomas was convicted of the rape and murder of a 12-year-old Edith Connor. His conviction was based solely on the testimony of criminalist Agnes Mallatratt who worked at the Philadelphia crime lab. Mallatratt testified to finding microscopic wax and bristle particles on the body similar to particles found in Lou's home. The body was found in a debris-strewn alley behind and three houses down from Lou's shoe repair shop at 1109 N. 40th St. The particles which were created in shoe repair work could presumably have blown down the alley from the shop. No tests were done to prove otherwise.

Mallatratt testified that she was a graduate of Temple University; had done postgraduate work in zoology, biology, and botany; and that she was a hematologist. Following trial, in 1967, she admitted she had not even graduated junior high school. At Lou's retrial in 1969, Mallattrat's retired supervisor vouched for the veracity of her work, but neither of Lou's two juries knew that the person who collected and analyzed the evidence was a serial perjurer and a professional fraud.

In 1995 on his last day in office, Governor Casey reviewed 25 petitions but granted only Lou's petition for clemency. Incoming Governor Tom Ridge had vowed never to release a lifer and refused to honor the granted clemency. Nine years went by before a federal judge reversed the usurpation of Lou's constitutional right to clemency and ordered his immediate release.

Clemency is not a pardon but is the equivalent of parole. After Lou's release, the parole board wanted Lou to admit to his crime and attend sex offender therapy. For 40 years, Lou has insisted that he is innocent. When Lou refused to admit that he was a sex offender, the Parole Board violated him for being a “denier,” and threw the 76-year-old man back in prison. Outraged by the Parole Board's conduct, a Federal Court ordered his release the next day.  (Inquirer) (CM) (TruthInJustice)  [5/05]

Philadelphia County, PA

Edward Ryder

Aug 17, 1973

Edward Martin Ryder, Jr. was convicted of the murder of Samuel Molten, a fellow inmate in Holmesburg Prison. Molten had been fatally stabbed. Centurion Ministries' investigation found an eyewitness, who identified the real killers. Ryder was granted executive clemency by Gov. Robert P. Casey and freed in Sept. 1993. After his release, Ryder's conviction was vacated in 1996 because of prosecutorial misconduct.  (CM) (76) (80)  [5/05]

Philadelphia County, PA

Edward Baker

Dec 20, 1973

Edward Baker spent 26 years in prison for the robbery and murder of 75-year-old Steven Gibbons. The murder occurred during a robbery of Gibbons' home in the 1200 block of South 24th Street. Prodded by a Centurion Ministries investigation, the state's star witness, Donahue Wise, remorsefully told a judge in 1996 that he was the real killer and that he had falsely incriminated the then 17-year-old Baker to avoid a life sentence. A new trial seemed imminent. However, the district attorney eventually decided not to retry the case after Centurion Ministries uncovered 11 witnesses who provided alibi testimony for Baker. Baker was freed in Dec. 1999.  (CM) (City Paper)  [5/05]

Philadelphia County, PA

Robert Wilkinson

Oct 5, 1975

Robert Wilkinson, a mildly retarded man, was convicted in 1976 of the arson murders of five people. At 3:25 a.m. on Oct 5, 1975 someone used a Molotov cocktail to firebomb the home of Radamas Santiago. The Santiagos, who lived at 4419 North 4th Street, were then asleep in their home. Radamas and one of his sons, Carlos, survived. Radamas's wife, three of his children, and Luis Caracini, a guest in the house, perished in the fire. At the time of the firebombing, 14-year-old Nelson Garcia, a friend of the Santiagos, was sleeping on their front porch. His hair aflame, Garcia fled from the house, looking for a fire alarm. Garcia saw Robert Wilkinson in an automobile stopped near the Santiago home. Because Wilkinson was the first person he saw, Garcia assumed that Wilkinson had thrown the firebomb. He accused Wilkinson, who police then arrested. Garcia later elaborated that he had seen Wilkinson throw a bottle with a burning cloth onto the Santiago porch.
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Philadelphia County, PA

Matthew Connor

Aug 21, 1978

Matthew Connor (aka Connors) was convicted of the rape and ice pick murder of 11-year-old Corinthia Fields.  Fields was found, covered with 196 puncture wounds, on the landing of a stairwell below the 18th floor of the Fairhill public housing project, in the 2400 block of North 11th Street. Centurion Ministries' investigation convinced the district attorney's office to reopen the case. The district attorney discovered that the police had hidden reports proving that the original trial testimony against Connor was false. Evidence indicated that the victim was killed by her half-brother.  Connor was freed in Mar. 1990.  (CM)  [5/05]

Philadelphia County, PA

Kenneth Granger

Oct 1980

Kenneth Granger was convicted of murder for the shooting death of Edward Harris, a North Philadelphia taproom cook. Three eyewitnesses, including an off-duty Philadelphia police officer, testified against Granger and he was sentenced in 1982 to life imprisonment. In 2008, Granger's daughter persuaded a public defender, Karl Schwartz, to take his case. As Schwartz reviewed the case documents, he was puzzled why another eyewitness, a barmaid, was never called to testify by the prosecution. Schwartz asked Common Pleas Court Judge Earl W. Trent Jr., who was presiding over Granger's appeal, to grant him access to to the homicide detectives' case file. In an unusual move, the judge approved the request.

Within this file Schwartz found that the off-duty officer had failed to identify Granger in a photo spread – an important piece of information that could have been used to discredit the officer's critical testimony. Prosecutors then turned over from their own file the photos showing that the barmaid had identified someone else in a photo array – more information that could have helped the defense. In addition, the defense learned that the off-duty officer had problems of his own. He had been suspended for 30 days for an off-duty shooting at a liquor store and later became a suspect in another shooting.

With such information likely to come out in a new trial, the District Attorney's Office offered a deal to Granger – plead guilty to third-degree murder and be released with no parole. But Granger refused to plead guilty. So, after more negotiation, prosecutors agreed that if he would plead nolo contendere or “no contest,” meaning that he was not contesting the charges but not admitting guilt, he could get out of prison. Granger accepted the offer and was released in July 2010 after 28 years of imprisonment.  (Phila. Inquirer) (Wash. A.A.)  [07/10]

Philadelphia County, PA

George Booker

Jan 20, 1981

George Booker was convicted of the robbery and murder of Paul Lehman. Lehman worked a lottery stand at the corner of Germantown and Lehigh Aves. The robbery netted $14,000 in state lottery receipts. A year after the murder, a witness, Eric Murphy, appeared of his own volition and fingered two suspects. “Two of the males I knew from before.” “One of the males was Michael Sanford, and the other male was a guy named Spud.” Spud turned out to be Tyrone Payne. “The third guy,” continues Murphy's statement, “I did not know but he was a tall black guy. He had on a black leather jacket.” Police took a second statement from Murphy 24 hours later in which he identified the first two men from photos and referred to the third man as “the other guy.” Yet in a third statement 12 hours later, Murphy suddenly “knew” the third man for he identified Booker from a series of photos and said, “That's Junie, I saw him wrestling with the lottery man.”

In 2001, a female friend of Booker located Murphy and he readily recanted his testimony. Booker petitioned for a new trial and at the court hearing, Murphy said he identified Booker because police told him to. He said police had told him that failing to identify Booker would free Sanford and Payne. Sanford had threatened Murphy after the shooting, warning him not to snitch. Murphy thought he could best assure his own safety by turning him in. Detectives may have fixated on Booker as the third man because as a juvenile he had been arrested with Payne. The judge denied Booker's motion for a new trial, but Murphy was arrested for perjury as the prosecutor had threatened during cross-examination. Murphy served 14 months of imprisonment on the charge. The Innocence Project is reviewing Booker's case.  (Phila. Weekly)  [7/07]

Philadelphia County, PA

Rodriguez & Weinberger

Jan 15, 1981 (Kensington)

Felix Rodriguez and Russell Weinberger were convicted of the murder of Dr. Clarence M. Langley, an optometrist. Langley, 63, was beaten and strangled in his office at 2520 Kensington Ave. His pockets had been pulled inside out and his credit cards were scattered on the floor. Both Rodriguez and Weinberger confessed to the crime after being interrogated by Detective Frank Suminski. Rodriguez, a 9th grade dropout, who did not speak English or understand the questions he was asked, signed a confession after a translator told him he could then go home. Three days later Suminski got a confession from Weinberger who has an IQ of 60 to 65. Both men spent 20 years in prison before two other men confessed to the crime. The judge who heard the new evidence said there was no doubt that the two new men were involved in the crime.  (Phila. Inquirer)  [11/05]

Philadelphia County, PA

Neil Ferber

May 27, 1981

Neil Ferber was sentenced to death for the murder of reputed mobster Chelsais “Steve” Bouras (aka Booras) and companion Jeanette Curro at Meletis Restaurant, near Eighth and Bainbridge Sts. Their dining mates were mobster Raymond “Long John” Martorano and disc jockey Jerry Blavat. Years after the conviction, evidence emerged that police had fed information to a jailhouse informant and that the police had created a false composite sketch designed specifically to match Ferber. The police had also manipulated witnesses to secure identifications of Ferber, and the prosecution had suborned perjury when it allowed the jailhouse informant to deny that he was receiving consideration for his testimony. Ferber was imprisoned for four years. A judge characterized the police handling of Ferber's case as a “Kafkaesque nightmare” and said that Ferber's 1982 criminal trial was a “malevolent charade.” Ferber received a $1.9 million award after a jury found that homicide detective Daniel Rosenstein and police sketch artist Dominic Frontino framed him.  (CWC) (TWM)  [7/05]

Philadelphia County, PA

Daniel Dougherty

Aug 24, 1985

In 2000, Daniel J. Dougherty was convicted of starting a 1985 fire at his Carver St. house that killed his two sons, Danny Jr., 4, and John, 3. He was sentenced to death. Thirteen years after the fire, Dougherty's ex-wife called police and said he used gasoline to start the fire. Despite the fact that no traces of gasoline or accelerant were found during the fire investigation, the fire marshal, John J. Quinn, changed his original story to match that of Dougherty's ex-wife. On the day of Dougherty's arrest, his ex-wife left a message on his sister's answering machine stating, “I know he didn't do this. I still love him.” The tape then mysteriously disappeared after being given to his court-appointed attorney. However, paperwork surfaced that documented the tape.

By this time, two prison informants claimed that Dougherty confessed to them that he started the fire. The fire marshal then changed his story again so as to not so closely match the discredited testimony of Dougherty's ex-wife. Dougherty's ex-wife was not used at trial. At trial, the fire marshal testified that there were three separate sources of ignition, a classic indicator of arson according to old school fire investigation techniques.

Three arson experts using modern techniques have since reviewed the case and dispute the alleged separate sources of ignition. They found the original investigation to be so flawed that it was impossible to tell whether the fire was arson. One of them, John J. Lentini, estimated that nationally between 100 and 200 people might be “doing hard time” for arsons that were not arsons. As of 2007, Dougherty is appealing his conviction.  (DeathRowUSA) (News Article) (04) (09)  [3/07]

Philadelphia County, PA

Vincent Moto

Dec 2, 1985

“Walking home from a local mini-mart, just after midnight on December 2, 1985, the victim in this case was approached by two men driving a Chevrolet Caprice. The passenger, later identified by the victim as Vincent Moto, got out of the Caprice, pulled a gun on the victim, and forced her into the car. The two men sped off to another location, where they proceeded to simultaneously sexually assault the victim. Before pushing her out of the car half-naked, the two assailants robbed the victim of her money, glasses, and gold chain.”

“In May of 1986, the victim saw Vincent Moto walking on a Philadelphia street with a woman and a young child. Though five months had passed since the incident, the victim was convinced that Moto was one of her two attackers. In response to her request for help, George Upshur detained Moto until the police arrived. Moto was arrested and charged with multiple felonies. Despite the alibi testimony of Moto’s parents, who testified that their son was at their home on the evening of the criminal incidents, Moto was convicted. The prosecution’s case hinged almost entirely on the strength of the victim’s eyewitness testimony. Moto was sentenced to a term of twelve to twenty-four years. He served nearly nine years of his sentence before being released in July 1996, when PCR based DNA testing on material taken from the victim’s underwear eliminated Moto as the source of the spermatozoa.” – John T. Rago  (IP)

Philadelphia County, PA

Raymond Carter

Sept 18, 1986

Raymond Carter was convicted of the murder of Robert “Puppet” Harris and sentenced to life in prison. For months following the murder, authorities could find no leads in the case until police officer Thomas Ryan located an eyewitness against Carter. In 1995, it was disclosed in court hearings that Ryan had paid the witness, whom he was also allegedly dated, $500 for her testimony. By Jan. 1997, Carter's conviction was overturned and charges against him were dropped. Ryan pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge and was sentenced to 10 months of imprisonment.  (Jet)  [1/07]

Philadelphia County, PA

Domenech & Seranno

May 29, 1987 (Kensington)

Alfredo Domenech and Ivan Seranno were convicting of the shooting murder of Juan “Junior” Martinez. The case against them was largely based on testimony from a prostitute who contradicted a medical examiner's report. In 2002, a new witness came forward who was present when Martinez was shot and testified that the convicted pair were not present. In 2005, the District Attorney's office made a motion to nullify their convictions and drop charges against them. The pair were released in Nov. 2006.  (Phila. Inquirer)  [12/05]

Philadelphia County, PA

Harold Wilson

Apr 10, 1988

Harold C. Wilson was convicted of the ax murders of Dorothy Sewell, 64, her nephew, Tyrone Mason, 33, and Mason's girlfriend, Cynthia Goines, 40. The murders occurred in the 1500 block of South Stillman St. in South Philadelphia. Wilson received three death sentences. Wilson was retried in 2003, but the trial resulted in a mistrial. At his third trial in 2005, DNA evidence was presented for the first time. Tests revealed that blood found at the crime scene came from a person other than Wilson or the three victims. The jury deadlocked three times, but then came back with a unanimous verdict. According to Wilson, one could discern from their faces the three jurors who held out. “It was some students on the jury that was studying, was going to a college for DNA.” The jury's verdict was “not guilty” on all charges.

One of the reasons Wilson got a new trial is because a court found that the prosecutor at his first trial, Jack Mahon, had used racial bias to eliminate black jurors. Mahon had made a training video on jury selection in which he advised prosecutors to keep poor blacks off juries. He also said, “You don't want smart people, because smart people will analyze the hell out of your case. They have a higher standard. They hold you up to a higher standard. They hold the courts up to a higher standard, because they are intelligent people. They take those words ‘reasonable doubt,’ and they actually try to think about them. And you don't want those people. Bad luck with teachers, bad luck with social workers, bad luck with – intelligent doctors are bad. I always feel doctors are bad, too.”  (DemocracyNow) (Mahon Video)

Philadelphia County, PA

Walter Ogrod

July 12, 1988

Walter Ogrod was sentenced to death for the 1988 murder of four-year-old Barbara Jean Horn. The murder occurred near her house at 7245 Rutland Street, close to Cottman Avenue. Four witnesses had seen a man carrying a TV box in which Horn's body was found. One of the witnesses, David Schectman, told police he'd interacted with the box carrying man for 11 minutes on St. Vincent St.
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Philadelphia County, PA

Jose Pagan

1990 - 1991

Jose Pagan was convicted of two separate double homicides committed 12 days apart. In July 1992 he was convicted of the second-degree murders of Luis Bermudez, 20, and Ivelisse Gonzales, 21. The two were murdered inside Bermudez's apartment in the 400 block of West Dauphin St. on Dec. 30, 1990. In Dec. 1992 Pagan was convicted of the first-degree murders of Pablo Padilla, Sr., 59, and Pablo Padilla, Jr., 31. The Padillas were murdered inside their home at 4741 North 3rd St. on Jan. 11, 1991. Pagan was sentenced to death for these murders. On April 1, 1991, Police Officer Julio Aponte reported that Pagan had confessed to the four murders ten days earlier. Aponte later helped to convict Pagan by testifying to this alleged confession.
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Philadelphia County, PA

Jimmy Dennis

Oct 22, 1991

Jimmy A. Dennis was sentenced to death for the 1991 murder of Chedell Williams, 17. Williams and her friend Zahra Howard were attacked in broad daylight at the Fern Rock Train Station. Williams was shot and her earrings stolen. There was no physical evidence against Dennis. Eyewitnesses said the shooter was a dark complexioned black male between 5'10" and 6' tall, who weighed approximately 200 lbs. In contrast, Dennis has a much lighter skin complexion, is only 5'4" tall, and weighed only 125 lbs. Three individuals support his alibi. A witness, Charles Thompson, who testified he saw Dennis with a gun on the night of the murder later recanted citing police coercion. Eyewitnesses describe three men involved in the murder, but Dennis was the only man ever charged.  (JD#1) (JD#2) (  [11/05]

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]

Philadelphia County, PA

Fred Thomas

Dec 21, 1993

Frederick A. Thomas was convicted of the murder of William “Skip” Moyer Jr., a Federal Express truck driver. Thomas was sentenced to death. Moyer was shot in the face at 9th and Clearfield Streets in a drug-infested neighborhood often referred to as “The Badlands.”

A male caller phoned police three days after the murder to say that he worked for Federal Express and he “had heard that Moyer had been opening packages that he was to deliver” and “that whenever Moyer delivered to a certain address in North Philly, he knew drugs were being sent to the address because it was always the same address.” The caller alleged that Moyer “had taken some weed and recently ‘ripped off’ a kilo of cocaine.” According to the coroner's report, Moyer had cocaine and methamphetamine in his system at the time of the killing.

A witness to the shooting, Maria Fielding, who died in 1999, gave a statement to police the morning after Moyer's murder, in which she described three male assailants, none being Thomas. The DA's office failed to bring her into court for the two Thomas trials, even though at one point she was in the same building for charges on an unrelated matter. Although two bench warrants were issued for Fielding around the time of the first two trials, they apparently were not lodged for her. Prosecutors at the time maintained she had left the area and could not be found.

No physical evidence linked Thomas to the crime, but he was convicted based on the testimony of two men, Willie Green and Charles Rowe, who were “found” by Detective James Ryan, a police officer who was not assigned to the district or the case. These men testified that they were on the other side of the street and saw Thomas walk around Moyer's truck after they heard a gunshot. Another witness, whose mother lives on the street on which the murder occurred, corroborated Fielding's version of events. Detective Ryan has since been convicted of shaking down drug dealers and making illegal armed detentions. In another murder case, he paid a witness $500 to provide false testimony against a defendant. In May 2002, a judge overturned Thomas's conviction. In Oct. 2002, Thomas died on PA Death Row, before a retrial could take place.  (City Paper)  [1/07]

Philadelphia County, PA

John Miller

Oct 8, 1996

On October 8, 1996, Anthony G. Mullen was murdered in a parking lot near Amtrak 30th Street Station where he worked as an attendant. Police had no witnesses, no leads, no idea who committed the crime. Not until February 1997, that is, when David Williams was arrested on suspicion of having committed a string of armed robberies. Williams asked to speak with a homicide detective he knew, saying that he had information about the Mullen murder and who committed it. Williams told police that John Miller, who had no prior criminal history, had confessed to him to having killed Mullen.  Williams then provided detectives with convincing details about the crime. Based on the information provided by Williams, detectives interviewed 17-year-old Mike Arnold, who corroborated certain parts of Williams’ story by saying that he saw Mr. Miller pick up a gun on the street days before the murder.

On June 24, 1997, John Miller was arrested for the parking lot murder of Anthony Mullen. Called by the Commonwealth to testify at the preliminary hearing and trial, Williams recanted his statement to police, saying that Miller had never, in fact, confessed to him. Nonetheless, police were allowed to read into evidence Williams’ statement. That out of court statement and Arnold’s testimony—with no corroborating physical evidence of guilt—was all of the evidence that convicted John Miller of second degree murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on December 15, 1998.

Both witnesses have since come forward to say that their testimony at trial was false. Not surprisingly, David Williams now admits that he knew about the murder because he is the one who committed it. Moreover, after speaking with Pennsylvania Innocence Project investigators, Mike Arnold signed an affidavit stating that he lied when he testified against Miller and that his story about the gun was false. On July 18, 2011, Williams gave staff members from The Pennsylvania Innocence Project a detailed statement in which he confessed that he tried to rob Mullen and then shot him, although not intentionally. In his statement, Williams acknowledged that, by confessing to killing Mullen, he could be subjecting himself to the death penalty or life imprisonment, but he was making the statement nevertheless because he was consumed with guilt for falsely implicating Miller in this crime. – Quoted from PA Innocence Project  (Innocence Institute)

Philadelphia County, PA

Lex Street Innocents

Dec 28, 2000

On Dec. 28, 2000, four men clad in black ski masks entered a row house at 816 N. Lex St. and forced its ten inhabitants to lay face down on the floor of the home. The men then released a spray of gunfire that killed seven, ages 15 to 54, and injured three. The killings, the deadliest mass murder in Philadelphia history, became known as the Lex Street Massacre. Police arrested Jermel Lewis, 25, Hezekiah Thomas, 25, Sacon Youk, 22, and Quiante Perrin, 21, in connection to the killings. Following his arrest Lewis confessed to the crime due to “a combination of misinformation [and] coercion.” Lewis may also have been on drugs that day, making him more vulnerable.

Yvette Long, a surviving victim, initially told police she could not identify any of the assailants. However, after sessions with a psychiatrist, she testified that she recovered her memory of the night and named Youk and Perrin as shooters and identified Thomas by a nickname. Another man, Shihean Black, repeatedly confessed to the crime, but police dismissed his confessions. Originally police believed that the murders were committed as part of a dispute over drug territory. However, Black's story was that a drug dealer who lived at the house had ruined the clutch on Black's car, and that the murders were committed in retaliation. Another individual corroborated Black's story, and charges were dropped against the four men after they spent 18 months in prison. The four men later sued the city and won a $1.9 million settlement for wrongful incarceration. Another four men, including Black, later pleaded guilty to the homicides. A book was written about the case entitled The Lex Street Massacre by Antonne M. Jones. [7/05]

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]

Philadelphia County, PA

Roland Fuller

Dec 14, 2004

Roland Fuller's cousin, Marquise Roberts, 24, was a soldier and did not wish to return to duty in Iraq as some of his friends had been killed there. According to Fuller's lawyer, Fuller fell sway to Roberts “very strong emotional appeal” and shot Roberts in the leg. The gunshot wound would presumably prevent Roberts from having to return to Iraq. Fuller was sentenced to 15 to 30 months for aggravated assault despite having the consent and even the encouragement of his alleged victim. Although the motive for the shooting was to safeguard Roberts' life, the prosecutor told the judge that Fuller put Roberts' life at risk.  (News Article)  [9/05]