Confessions Coerced by Beatings/Torture

26 Cases

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AL - Monroe - Brian Baldwin 1977

AR - Pulaski - Barry Lee Fairchild 1983

FL - Duval - Leo Jones 1981

FL - Gulf - Lee & Pitts 1963

FL - Leon - David Keaton 1970

IL - Cook - Fowler & Pugh 1936

IL - Cook - House of Torture Victims 1973-93

IL - Cook - Leroy Orange 1984

IL - Cook - Stanley Howard 1984

LA - Orleans - Johnny Ross 1975

MO - Cole - Missouri State Seven 1954

NY - Bronx - Joseph Barbato 1929

NY - Bronx - Arthur Barber 1965

NY - Bronx - Alberto Ramos 1984

NY - Monroe - Betty Tyson 1973

NY - Kings - John Valletutti 1945

NY - Kings - Samuel Tito Williams 1947

PA - Philadelphia - Rudolph Sheeler 1936

PA - Philadelphia - Robert Wilkinson 1975

SC - Sumter - William Pierce 1970

TX - Angelina - Robert Carroll Coney 1962

Spain - Valero & Sánchez 1910

Libya - Libyan HIV Six 1998

China - She Xianglin C1994

China - Zhao Zuohai 1997

Japan - Tatsuhiro & Keiko 1995




Date of Alleged Crime


Monroe County, AL Brian Baldwin Mar 14, 1977

Brian Keith Baldwin, a black male, was executed for the torture and murder of 16-year-old Naomi Rolon, a white female.  On Mar 12, 1977, Baldwin, 18, and Edward Dean Horsley, 19, escaped from a youth detention center in North Carolina.  Within hours of their escape, the two hitched a ride with Rolon in Hudson, NC, and drove to Alabama.  Presumably Rolon went to Alabama involuntarily as her original plan was just to drive across town.  Baldwin got out in Alabama and stole an El Camino pickup truck, while Horsley drove off with Rolon.  The two males may have planned to release Rolon and drive away in a car Rolon could not identify.  Rolon was subsequently found murdered, and a day afterwards, Horsley and Baldwin were captured by police.

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Pulaski County, AR Barry Lee Fairchild Feb 26, 1983

Barry Lee Fairchild was convicted of the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a 22-year-old Marjorie “Greta” Mason.  Mason was a white Air Force nurse and a former homecoming queen.  Six days after the murder and after the media had reported many details of the crime, the police received a tip from an unnamed informant, a man described in police files as inaccurate about half the time, with a tendency to exaggerate.  He named Barry Lee Fairchild as one of the culprits.

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Duval County, FL Leo Jones May 23, 1981

Leo Jones, a black man, was convicted of the sniper killing of white police officer Thomas Szafranski, 28, and sentenced to death.  The main witness against Jones later recanted.  Two key officers in the case had left the Jacksonville Police Department under a cloud, and allegations that one of them beat Jones before he supposedly confessed had gained credence.

A retired police officer, Cleveland Smith, came forward and said Officer Lynwood Mundy had bragged that he beat Jones after his arrest.  Smith, who described Mundy as an “enforcer,” testified that he once watched Mundy get a confession from a suspect by squeezing the suspect's genitals in a vise grip.  He said Mundy unabashedly described beating Jones.  Smith waited until his 1997 retirement to come forward because he wanted to secure his pension.

More than a dozen people had implicated another man as the killer, saying they either saw him carrying a rifle as he ran from the crime scene or heard him brag he had shot the officer.  Even Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw, who formerly headed a division of the state attorney's office, wrote that Jones's case had become “a horse of a different color.”  Newly discovered evidence, Shaw wrote, “casts serious doubt on Jones's guilt.”  Shaw and one other judge voted to grant Jones a new trial.  But a five-judge majority ruled against Jones.  Jones was executed one week later in the electric chair on March 24, 1998.  (DPI)  [11/05]


Gulf County, FL Lee & Pitts Aug 1, 1963 (Port St. Joe)

Wilbert Lee and Freddie Pitts, both blacks, were convicted of the robbery and murders of two white gas station attendants.  While no physical evidence linked them to the deaths, the prosecution used their own confessions, which were beaten out of them, and they also used the testimony of an alleged eyewitness.  The defendants also suffered from having incompetent defense counsel.

A few weeks after they were sentenced to death, a white man, Curtis “Boo” Adams Jr., was arrested for killing a Fort Lauderdale gas station attendant during a robbery.  Adams subsequently confessed to the murders for which Lee and Pitts were convicted.  When he learned of this confession, the local sheriff, Byrd Parker, wanted nothing to do with it, saying, “I already got two niggers waiting for the chair in Raiford for those murders.”  A polygraph examiner who had heard Adams confess took the matter to the press, and soon a new trial was ordered, at which Lee and Pitts were again convicted.

Some time after the second conviction, the alleged eyewitness recanted her testimony and the state attorney general admitted that the state had unlawfully suppressed evidence.  The defendants were released in 1975 when they received a full pardon from Governor Askew, who stated he was “sufficiently convinced that they were innocent.”  The ordeal of Lee and Pitts is detailed in the book Invitation to a Lynching by Gene Miller.  In 1998, the Florida Legislature awarded the defendants $500,000 each in compensation.  (FLCC) (Time)  [7/05]


Leon County, FL Quincy Five Sept 18, 1970 (Tallahassee)

After Khomas Revels, an off-duty deputy sheriff, was murdered during a robbery of Luke's Grocery store, Tallahassee police charged five black men from Quincy, Florida with the crime.  One of these men, David Keaton, was an 18-year-old star football player with plans to enter the ministry.  Although he had an alibi, Keaton was held in custody for more than a week.  During that time he maintained he had been threatened, lied to, and beaten until he confessed.  He believed that despite his confession, no jury would convict him when they heard his alibi.  He was wrong.  At trial his coerced confession was buttressed by the false testimony of five eyewitnesses.  Keaton was convicted and sentenced to death.  In his confession Keaton implicated Johnnie Frederick, who was “clean as a whistle,” in the belief that a judge and jury would see that his confession was false.  Frederick was convicted as well and sentenced to life in prison.

David Charles Smith and two other Quincy defendants still awaited trial.  In the meantime, a witness arose, Benjamin Franklin Pye, who knew the actual men who committed the crime.  The men were from Jacksonville, not Quincy, though Pye knew only their street names.  But he knew the motel where they had stayed, the dates, and the rental car they drove.  He was with them when they cased Luke's to rob it later.  Pye gave this information to his attorney, who in turn relayed it to Smith's attorney, Will Varn.  Varn was a former U.S. attorney, and he was able to get funds from the judge to hire an investigator who came up with names to fit Pye's story.  The names also fit the crime scene fingerprints that had not matched any of the Quincy Five.  The three Jacksonville men were tried and convicted.

Despite the new evidence, the state continued to insist the Quincy Five were guilty as well.  When Smith came to trial, five white eyewitnesses swore he was guilty.  But Varn had the conflicting fingerprints and convictions, Pye's testimony, and a good alibi for Smith.  An all-white jury acquitted him.  The Florida Supreme Court took note and ordered new trials for Keaton and Frederick.  The prosecution soon dropped charges against Keaton and Frederick, as well as against the remaining two Quincy defendants.  Keaton and Frederick were released in 1973.  In 1974 Tallahassee writer Jeffrey Lickson published a 142-page book about the case entitled David Charles: The Story of the Quincy Five.  (SP Times) (TWM) (FLCC) (SPT1) (SPT2) (OSB) (Papers)  [3/07]


Cook County, IL Fowler & Pugh Sept 5, 1936
Walter Fowler and Heywood Pugh (aka Earl Howard Pugh) were convicted in 1937 of the murder of William J. Haag, a Railway Express Agency driver.  Haag was stabbed to death on South State Street in Chicago during an apparent robbery.  At trial both men testified that their confessions to the crime were beaten out of them.  Fowler was sentenced to 99 years in prison and Pugh was sentenced to life imprisonment.  Fowler died in 1948.  In 1953, the police detective, George Miller, who had obtained Fowler's and Pugh's confessions, inadvertently allowed an attorney working for Pugh to see a manila folder containing statements from two eyewitnesses to Haag's murder.  These eyewitnesses identified another man, Eddie Leison, as Haag's killer.  Because of this evidence, Pugh was exonerated and released.  In 1955, the Illinois legislature awarded Pugh $51,000 for his wrongful imprisonment.  (CWC)  [9/07]


Cook County, IL House of Torture Victims 1973 - 1993

Lt. Jon Burge and his fellow detectives at the Area 2 & 3 Police Station on the Southside of Chicago tortured at least 60 persons between 1973 and 1993.  The types of tortures used included Russian roulette, cigarette burns, electrical shocks, suffocation, radiators, telephone books, sticks, beatings, cattle prods, and threats.  It took the specific case of Andrew Wilson in 1982 to finally bring the truth to light.  Jon Burge and his detectives had gone overboard by leaving obvious signs of bruises all over Andrew Wilson's body.  An OPS investigation led to the Goldston Report, which stated and confirmed a systematic pattern of torture and abuse by detectives under the supervision of Jon Burge.  In 1993, Burge was allegedly fired and two detectives were suspended.  However, Burge receives his full pension and benefits.

Those tortured include the Death Row 10:  Madison Hobley, Leonard Kidd, Aaron Patterson, Andrew Maxwell, Stanley Howard, Derrick King, Ronald Kitchen, Reginald McHaffey, Leroy Orange, and Jerry McHaffey.  Frank Bounds is an 11th death row inmate tortured but he is now deceased.  Gov. Ryan has pardoned four of the Death Row 10.  (CCADP)  [9/05]


Cook County, IL Leroy Orange Jan 11, 1984
Leroy Orange was sentenced to death for the murder of Renee Coleman, 27, Michelle Jointer, 30, Ricardo Pedro, 25, and Coleman's 10-year-old son, Tony.  Orange confessed to the crimes after being subjected to beatings, suffocation, and electroshock by Lt. John Burge and other officers at the Chicago Area Two police station.  Orange subsequently told everyone he came in contact with that he had been tortured:  his cellmate, a physician, relatives and friends who visited him, his public defender, and the arraignment judge.  Orange's half brother, Leonard Kidd, implicated Orange in the murders while being tortured at Area 2.  However, Kidd testified for Orange against his attorney's advice admitting that he alone committed the murders without Orange's participation or knowledge.  Governor Ryan pardoned Orange on Jan. 10, 2003.  (CWC)  [8/05]


Cook County, IL Stanley Howard May 20, 1984 (South Side)

Stanley Howard was sentenced to death for the murder of Oliver Ridgell.  Ridgell was shot and killed as he and Tecora Mullen sat in Ridgell's car. The car was parked in front of an apartment building at 1343 W. 92nd St., around the corner from Mullen's home.  Ridgell and Mullen both were married, but they had been having an affair for some time.  Mullen told police she would be able to identify the killer, but after she looked at police books with photographs of suspects she was unable to say any of them resembled Ridgell's killer. She was also unable to help a police sketch artist draw a composite of the perpetrator.

Six months later, Howard, who had no known acquaintance with either Ridgell or Mullen, confessed to the murder after he said it was beaten out of him by Chicago Area Two detectives.  Howard had been taken to hospitals before and after his confession.  Medical records showed that he had new injuries including bruises on his left leg that matched his description of police mistreatment.  Nevertheless the judge refused to bar his confession at trial.

According to Howard's confession, he fired three shots at Ridgell.  Most tenants in the apartment buildings near the scene of the murder were still asleep when it occurred.  Those that heard anything, heard only one shot.  One tenant heard a man say,  “I told you, I would get you.”  Another heard a woman say, “Don't hurt him. Just take me home.”  The tenants' statements were withheld at trial.  In a lineup, Mullen tentatively identified Howard, saying he “looked like” Ridgell's killer.  However, at trial Mullen was positive Howard was the killer.  She also said that her lineup identification had been positive.  In a later interview, when asked about her identification, Mullen said she was in an alcoholic haze in the years before and after the murder.  “I drank a fifth of liquor every day for 10 years. I couldn't hardly remember anything.”

In 1991, the Illinois Supreme Court found that a trial error had occurred, but ruled it harmless because “the evidence of the defendant's guilt was overwhelming.”  In 2003, Gov. Ryan disagreed and granted Howard a pardon based on innocence.  (CWC) (Chicago Tribune) [8/08]


Orleans Parish, LA Johnny Ross July 1974
Johnny Ross, a 16-year-old black juvenile, was convicted at a three hour trial and sentenced to death for the rape of a white woman.  The trial consisted of the prosecution's claim that Ross had signed a confession after the victim had identified him.  Ross maintained that he had signed a blank piece of paper after his interrogators beat him.  On appeal, his death sentence was commuted to a term of years.  Years later tests revealed that the rapist's semen did not match Ross's blood type.  Based on this new evidence, the New Orleans DA agreed to drop charges and Ross was released from prison in 1981.  (DPIC)  [7/05]


Cole County, MO Missouri State Seven Sept 22, 1954 (Jefferson City)
During a prison riot at Missouri State Penitentiary, the prison's most notorious stool pigeon, Walter Lee Donnell, was murdered by one or more inmates.  Donnell had testified against many members of a St. Louis armed robbery clique including Irv Thomas.  These obvious suspects were not even questioned about Donnell's death.  Instead, the leaders of the riot were tortured into confessing to the murder.  When a smaller riot occurred in October, its leader was also tortured into confessing.  The prison authorities wanted to send a message:  “Cause trouble and you will be forced to confess too.”  All seven were convicted of the murder, but a look at the evidence gives little reason to believe the confessions.  The real killer, Irv Thomas, had his sister release his confession to the killing upon his death in 1981.  (CrimeMagazine)  [9/05]


Bronx County, NY Joseph Barbato Sept 15, 1929
Joseph Barbato was sentenced to death for the murder of Mrs. Julia Musso Quintieri.  The victim was found by her six-year-old son, Joseph, upon his return home from Sunday church.  Quintieri was reported as being Barbato's common-law wife.  Police said Quintieri, 25, had roomed one time at Barbato's lodging house at 3215 Fifth Ave. but had moved to 2403 Cambreleng Ave. in the Bronx where she was strangled after rejecting Barbato's advances.  Barbato contended his confession to the crime was coerced, a contention that police denied.  However, the Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in 1930 due to evidence that his body was covered with bruises and his eyes were blackened.  Charges against Barbato were subsequently dropped.  (NY Times) (MJ)  [9/05]


Bronx County, NY Arthur Barber 1965
Arthur Barber was convicted of the murder of Elijah Williams, a neighborhood numbers runner, and was sentenced to life in prison.  In 1975, nearly ten years after Barber's arrest, a federal judge released Barber on the ground that police obtained his confession to the crime with severe beatings and “a pattern of lawlessness that shocks the conscience.”  Police denied beating Barber, but the judge said the “brutal treatment” was supported by medical reports, court documents, and witnesses.  The judge also found that police had arrested Barber without probable cause, questioned him for an extended period before arraignment, refused to allow him to call a lawyer, failed to advise him of his right to remain silent, and searched an apartment for the murder weapon without a warrant.  (NY Times) (Innocent)  [1/10]


Bronx County, NY Bronx Five 1984
In 1984, five men were arrested and subsequently convicted for sexually abusing 20 toddlers at three New York City funded day care centers in the Bronx.  All the convictions were overturned on appeal.  Police investigations used techniques on children to produce false testimony and implanted memories.  One defendant, Alberto Ramos, was convicted in 1984 after police used torture to extract a confession.  He was cleared in 1992.  He later filed a lawsuit and was awarded $5 million in 2003.  In 1986, Rev. Nathaniel O'Grady was also convicted of child abuse.  At his trial, one of the child witnesses apparently had not been coached enough and he identified the judge as his abuser.  O'Grady's conviction was overturned on appeal in 1996.  Albert Algarin, Franklin Beauchamp, and Jesus Torres, were also convicted of child abuse in 1986.  Their convictions were overturned on appeal.  (Gauntlet) (Religious Tolerance) (FJDB)  [11/07]


Kings County, NY John Valletutti Oct 11, 1945

John Valletutti was sentenced to death for the murder of Pfc. Leo Conlon, a 30-year-old disabled paratrooper who was home on leave.  The murder occurred during an attempted robbery of a bar and grill at 5011 Avenue L in Brooklyn.  After another man, William Cronholm, was arrested for the crime, he first said he committed the robbery alone, but later said he committed the robbery with two others.  Cronholm said he implicated others solely to stop lengthy police questioning.  He said he had only recently met his two accomplices.  He did not know the name of the getaway driver, and the guy who accompanied him into the bar he only knew as “Johnny.”  At his trial Cronholm went back to his original story of committing the robbery alone.

Police investigated Cronholm's background and found out that he knew a John Valletutti, 19, who had once been arrested for car theft.  Thirty hours after taking Valletutti into custody, police had their second confession to the crime.  Valletutti maintained that he only confessed after he had been brutally assaulted by police.  No independent evidence connected Valletutti to the crime.  Cronholm testified in Valletutti's defense that he committed the robbery alone.  Alibi witnesses testified that Valletti was playing shuffleboard several miles from the scene.  After convicting Valletutti, the jury recommended mercy, but the trial judge sentenced him to death.  Prosecutor James McGough later said that while the jury was deliberating, he had offered Valletutti the opportunity to plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter, a charge that carried a maximum sentence of 15 years.  Valletutti declined the offer, insisting he was innocent.

Valletutti's conviction was reversed by the NY Court of Appeals which found that his confession was of doubtful reliability due to the evidence of the wounds he received while in police custody and to the lack of other evidence implicating him in the crime.  Charges against Valletutti were subsequently dropped and he was released from imprisonment in 1948.  (NY Times) (The Innocents)  [7/09]


Kings County, NY Samuel Tito Williams Apr 20, 1947

Samuel Tito Williams was sentenced to death for the murder of 15-year-old Selma Graff.  Graff was fatally bludgeoned by an intruder about 2 a.m. in the bedroom of her home.  She lived at 143 East 96th St. in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn.  Graff's 9-year-old brother, Donald Graff, shared her room and struggled with the intruder before being clubbed into unconsciousness.  Donald described the intruder as a 5'5" white man who simpered or giggled.  The murder touched off one of New York City's biggest manhunts.

Five months after the murder, police arrested 18-year-old Williams for a series of alleged burglaries.  He reportedly was inclined to giggle.  After police questioning, Williams confessed to the Graff murder and identified a flashlight found at the scene as his own.  However, Williams was not a 5'5" white man, but a 6' tall black man.  Following Williams' confession, eight police officers involved with the case received rewards in the form of promotions, added pay, and certificates of commendation.  Eleven officers on the case were awarded $50 government bonds during an eight-course banquet sponsored by the Pitkin Avenue Merchants Association.

At trial the victim's brother identified the killer as a white man, but later said he “was all mixed up.”  Williams testified that his confession was obtained under duress.  He said detectives had was beaten him with “a blackjack, a rubber hose, and a club,” and that they also burned him with “lighted cigarettes and cigars.” The jury convicted Williams of murder with a recommendation of mercy.  However, trial judge Louis Goldstein imposed a death sentence.  Governor Dewey later commuted Williams' death sentence to life in prison.  In 1963 the U.S. Court of Appeals vacated Williams' conviction after ruling that his confession was coerced.  In 1973 New York City awarded Williams $120,000 for his false arrest and the malicious prosecution he suffered.  (NY Times)  [7/09]


Monroe County, NY Tyson & Duval May 25, 1973
Betty Tyson and John Duval, both blacks, were convicted by an all white jury of murdering Timothy Haworth, 52-year-old white businessman from Philadelphia.  Tyson confessed after being handcuffed to a chair and beaten and kicked by police for 12 hours.  A Rochester reporter found a jail counselor who reported her 1973 beating to his superiors the day after it occurred.  No physical evidence linked Tyson to the crime, and her car tires were different than the killer's tire tracks.  One of two teenage witnesses said police put a gun to his head and said they would kill him if he did not testify against her.  Both witnesses were held as material witnesses in jail for seven months until her trial and threatened with being charged with murder if they did not perjure themselves.  The detective who handled her case was convicted in 1980 of faking evidence in another case.  Tyson and Duval were released in 1998 and 1999.  Tyson was awarded $1.25 million.  (FJDB) (Justice: Denied)


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 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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Sumter County, SC William Pierce Dec 1970

William “Junior” Pierce was convicted of raping and murdering Margaret “Peg” Cuttino, 13, the daughter of a state senator.  Cuttino was reported missing on Dec. 18 and her body was found on Dec. 30.  Pierce, who had an IQ that “barely broke 70” and who was a known serial confessor, confessed to this murder apparently after being tortured by Sheriff “Red” Carter.  A document supports Pierce's contention that his confession was coerced by physical abuse consisting of burns, bruises, and cuts to his “privates.”

In order to convict Pierce the prosecution theorized that Cuttino was murdered on Dec. 18, but when her body was found, the sperm evidence was not much degraded and this evidence implied that she was not killed before Dec. 25.  Public disagreement with the verdict arose starting with an uncalled witness who allegedly saw Cuttino on the afternoon of Dec. 19.  The county coroner joined the opposition.  Because of new evidence that arose following the conviction, it is highly likely that Pierce would be acquitted if he could get a retrial, but getting a retrial because of new evidence is very difficult under South Carolina law.  New technology raised the possibility of DNA testing, but the authorities contend Hurricane Hugo destroyed the biological evidence in 1989.

Pierce is not a glamorous defendant, having been convicted, after confessing, of three murders in Georgia, perhaps because of techniques similar to those used by Sheriff Carter.  Public opposition to the verdict seems surprising since an acquittal would do little to free Pierce, but physical evidence that Cuttino was killed much later than Dec. 18 seems compelling and such a finding would exonerate Pierce.  (CrimeLibrary)  [9/05]


Angelina County, TX Robert Carroll Coney Mar 7, 1962

Robert Carroll Coney was convicted of robbing a Safeway supermarket of $2,000.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment.  Police tortured Coney into confessing by crushing his fingers between the bars of his holding cell.  Judge David Wilson wrote that the former Angelina County sheriff, Leon Jones, and his deputies “were known for obtaining confessions by physical force.” One of his tactics, he wrote, “was to get a prisoner's fingers on either side of a jail cell bar and squeeze those fingers until a prisoner confessed.”  The lawyer who was called in to oversee Coney's predetermined guilty plea stated, “That sheriff was the most terrible sheriff we ever had.”  Coney was imprisoned for 42 years before his conviction was vacated in Aug. 2004.  Four of his fingers are still deformed.  (NY Times) (Google)


Spain Valero & Sánchez Aug 21, 1910

On Aug. 21, 1910, in the small town of Osa de la Vega, in the province of Cuenca, José María Grimaldos, known as “Shorty,” was seen for the last time.  He was on a road to the nearby village of Tresjuncos.  His family feared foul play and reported his disappearance to the Civil Guard (police).  During the investigation the family and others expressed their suspicions that two shepherds, Gregorio Valero and León Sánchez had killed him for his money.  This investigation was closed in Sept. 1911 without any indictments.

In 1913 a new judge by the name of Isasa arrived.  Influenced by the local boss and right-wing politician, the judge reopened the case. The two suspects were arrested by the Civil Guard and, under torture, they confessed they killed Grimaldos, cut his body up, and fed it to pigs.  The “fiscal” (DA) asked for the death penalty.  The case took its time in the court system, but on May 25, 1918 a popular jury convicted the defendants of murder.  They both were sentenced to 18 years in prison.  Both were released on account of a general pardon on Feb. 20, 1924 after serving eleven years of imprisonment.

Two years later, the priest of Tresjuncos received a letter from the pastor of Mira, a town about 100 miles distant, requesting the birth certificate of Grimaldos so that the same could marry.  The priest had been one of the strongest supporters of the guilt of Valero and Sánchez and decided not to respond.  Time passes and Grimaldos, impatient at the lack of a response, traveled to Tresjuncos and marched straight into the village.  Grimaldos' presence in the village caused a sensation.  Some thought they were seeing a ghost and the local judge had him arrested.  However, it became apparent that Grimaldos was who he appeared to be.

With much legal difficulty, the case against Valero and Sanchez was reopened and, after much delay, their convictions were overturned.  In 1979, a movie entitled El crimen de Cuenca (The Crime of Cuenca) was made based on the case.  The movie was initially banned in Spain because the torture scenes in it are depicted in great detail and crudity.  However, in 1981, the movie was allowed to be shown in Spain and became a box office success.  (ECDC) (PE) (EC) (Wiki) (PM)  [11/07]


Libya Libyan HIV Six 1998

“A Palestinian doctor and five Bulgarian nurses, who were doing aid work in Libya [were] accused of deliberately infecting 438 children with AIDS HIV-tainted blood at the El-Fatih Children's Hospital in Benghazi, Libya's second city.  They were arrested in February 1999, and protested their innocence.  Thirteen other Bulgarian medical workers arrested at the same time were eventually released.  The six co-defendants confessed to infecting the children, but they all retracted [their confessions], claiming they had been physically tortured into making them.  They were charged with murder with a lethal substance among other lesser charges.  Their trial began on February 7, 2000 in the People's Court, and two years later, in February 2002, the court declared it did not have jurisdiction to try them on the murder charge, and their case was transferred to the criminal court system.  Their second trial began on July 8, 2003.  They were convicted of the murder charges and on May 6, 2004 were sentenced to death by firing squad.”

“In the face of widespread international condemnation of the fairness of the trial, in December 2005 their appeal was successful and a retrial was ordered.  Their third trial began in May 2006.  The six co-defendants were again convicted of the same charges in December 2006, and again sentenced to death.  Their convictions and sentences were upheld by Libya's Supreme Court on July 11, 2007.  Six days later Libya's High Judicial Council commuted the sentences to life in prison, reportedly after European Union countries agreed to compensate Libya approximately $1 million for each of the 438 children. Libya agreed to transfer the six to Bulgaria to serve their sentences, including the Palestinian doctor who was granted Bulgarian citizenship a month earlier on June 19, 2007.  After arriving in the capital of Sophia on July 24, 2007, Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov granted the six full pardons on the basis of their innocence of the crimes.  Six weeks later, on August 10, 2007, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libya's leader Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, admitted that the confessions by the six were extracted through torture with electric shocks and threats against the safety of their families.” – FJDB


China 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]


China Zhao Zuohai June 1997

Zhao Zuohai was convicted of murdering his neighbor Zhao Zhenshang.  In June 1997, the two Zhou's, 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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Japan Tatsuhiro & Keiko July 22, 1995 (Osaka)

Shimada Tatsuhiro and his common law wife, Aoki Keiko, were both sentenced to life imprisonment for the arson murder of Keiko's daughter.  On the day of the alleged crime, Tatsuhiro filled the gas tank of his van before returning to his home in the Higashi-Sumiyoshi ward of Osaka.  Ten minutes later he smelled smoke and noticed a small fire in the garage under his van.  Tatsuhiro searched for a fire extinguisher, but the fire quickly grew and spread.  Keiko's daughter died in the fire after being overcome by smoke in a first floor bathroom.  Keiko had 15 million yen life insurance policies on both her children.  Life insurance on children was not uncommon, but 5 million yen and 10 million yen policies were more typical.  The couple had no financial difficulties at the time of the blaze.

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