Sunday, 29 April 2007

Too often, justice is denied

April 28, 2007

Too often, justice is denied

A campus rape brought police detectives to my door three times during my
junior year at Marquette University. They quizzed me about my whereabouts
during the time of the crime.

By the third visit, I found myself annoyed and alarmed. Annoyed because I
matched the description of the suspect only in skin color. Alarmed because
the police were nonetheless persisting.

The case of Jerry Miller - the nation's 200th convicted defendant proved
innocent by DNA testing - got me to thinking about a big what-if: Suppose
the MU rapist had more closely resembled me. Among other details, he was
much shorter.

When Chicago police came knocking at Miller's door in 1981, the former Army
cook had the bad luck of resembling a composite drawing of the man had had
committed a brutal rape.

There was one difference: The drawing showed only a few days' growth of
facial hair, whereas Miller, arrested within three days of the incident,
sported a fully developed goatee. But that gave the authorities little

A jury found him guilty, and he spent 24 years behind bars. Paroled last
year, he suffered the additional humiliation of having to register as a sex

Thanks to the New York-based Innocence Project, DNA evidence formally
acquitted him of the crime last week and pointed to another man, Robert
Weeks, a prison inmate with a long record, including rape. He is currently
facing charges for two additional rapes, but, on account of the statute of
limitations, he won't stand trial for the assault for which Miller lost a
quarter-century of his life.

The Innocence Project has shone a light on the fallibility of the criminal
justice system. Two hundred defendants deemed guilty beyond a reasonable
doubt by juries were in fact innocent beyond a reasonable doubt.

Wisconsin juries wrongly convicted three defendants, all of sexual assault:
Fredric Saeker, who was sentenced in 1990 to 15 years in Buffalo County and
exonerated in 1996; Anthony Hicks, who was sentenced in 1991 to 20 years in
Madison and exonerated in 1997; and, yes, Steven Avery, who was convicted in
1985 for a crime in Manitowoc County and cleared in 2003. Of course, Avery
proved a poor poster child for wrongful convictions. A jury has convicted
him in the 2005 murder of photographer Teresa Halbach.

Reached in Cincinnati, where he was attending a conference for defense
lawyers, attorney Barry Scheck said he helped start the Innocence Project 15
years ago precisely to tap the potential of DNA evidence to scientifically
certify that some convicted people are innocent.

He notes that DNA applies only to 10% of criminal cases - the ones where
semen or blood or other bodily fluids are left at crime scenes.

"What about the 90% of cases?" he asks. The 10% sampling shows that a
certain share of the rest involves putting innocent people in the slammer.

As elsewhere, race plays a nasty role in wrongful convictions. The Innocence
Projects points out that, while 29% of people in prison for rape are black,
64% of those wrongfully convicted of that crime are black.

What's more, only a sliver (an eighth) of sexual assaults cross racial
lines. Yet, most (two-thirds of) black men exonerated through DNA evidence
were wrongfully convicted of raping white women.

The Miller case fit that mold. And, in retrospect, the MU rape case had that

Where were you? the cops wanted to know.

In my apartment studying. Oh, wait, I did take a break and went to Grebes
for refreshments.

Did you see anybody along the way who could vouch for you?

The Innocence Project deflated our overblown faith in the criminal justice

It has also prompted second thoughts about capital punishment. You can't
bring executed defendants found to have been innocent back from the dead.


Source : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Gregory Stanford is a Journal Sentinel
editorial writer and columnist. His e-mail address is

Third man in 1988 slaying is officially free

Third man in 1988 slaying is officially free

Portage prosecutor won't seek retrial
Saturday, April 28, 2007
James Ewinger
Plain Dealer Reporter

Freedom was just outside Bob Gondor's garage door Friday morning but it wasn't official -- or even known to him -- until a friend found two obscure Latin words on a Portage County Web site.

The words were "nolle prosequi," which meant the Portage County prosecutor was not willing to go ahead with his retrial for a 1988 homicide.

A jury already decided the same case in favor of co-defendant Randy Resh a week earlier.

No authorities called to tell Gondor that his 16-year ordeal was over, and he still had to go to county authorities in Ravenna to have his house-arrest ankle monitor removed.

Until Prosecutor Vic Vigluicci filed his formal motion Friday morning, Gondor was still at risk of another trial and another conviction, even though a jury already had acquitted Resh.

And until then, Gondor could not drive, could not leave the small five-acre Mantua farm where he grew up, could not even contemplate when or where or how he would spend the rest of his life.

Resh and Gondor were convicted in 1990 for the 1988 slaying of Connie Nardi, whose body was found in a Geauga County pond. Both men were freed on bond in January after the Ohio Supreme Court ordered new trials.

The evidence against them was not physical. There were no tire tracks, fingerprints, bloodstains or DNA.

There was only the word of Troy Busta, a proven liar who pleaded guilty to Nardi's slaying to save himself from a death sentence. He testified in Resh's trial earlier this month.

In a Friday interview, Vigluicci said nothing of the men's innocence.

He said only that Gondor had already served about as much time as a new conviction would have merited, and also that it was unlikely that prospective jurors had not heard about last week's acquittal.

Cleveland attorneys Mark Marein and Steve Bradley, part of the defense team for both men, were less circumspect.

As friends and family began to rally around the men in Gondor's garage, Marein described them as innocent victims whose prosecution should tell the public "that it could happen to anybody."

As he spoke, English and Hungarian flowed together in the garage where Gondor spent most of this year, cleaning it, working on his late father's car, rebuilding a work bench - anything to relieve stress and create a diversion.

The Hungarian belonged to a large part of Gondor's clan, a portion of the Hungarians who have lived in the area for years, said Patty Vechery, a friend.

The car, a Porsche 944, stood as one of many reminders of what Gondor lost. He could not drive it or even seek a driver's license until he was freed Friday. And Gondor's father, who bought the flood-damaged car at an auction, died while his son was in prison.

Next to it stood a 1975 Norton 850, a ferociously fast motorcycle that carries an opaque layer of dust from 16 idle years.

Gondor said he intended to put that back on the road, too.

But first, before he would entertain any thoughts of that, or even sip his first celebratory beer of the day, he and brother Jim drove to their dad's grave for a 15-minute visit.

Gondor brushed off questions about suing the state for their wrongful convictions and imprisonment.

"I'll tell you what I told people in prison when they asked me that," Gondor said: "I'll take the second step out of prison after I take the first step."

Clarence Elkins already has taken both of those steps and was in the garage Friday to inaugurate their restored freedom. He was freed in 2005 after serving around seven years - less than half the time Gondor and Resh served - for rapes and a murder he didn't commit.

Elkins won more than $1 million from the state.

His advice to Gondor and Resh: "Slow and easy. Try not to get too overwhelmed."

Gondor observed that at least he and Resh got to ease into freedom a little at a time, while Elkins went directly from prison to the shock of total freedom.

Even when Gondor went to get the ankle monitor removed, Resh had to drive him..

Vechery is eager for Gondor to get his license, too. "He's a terrible back-seat driver," she half-joked, speculating that that might be a "prison thing, you know, you don't have control of everything."

© 2007 The Plain Dealer

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Bill to pay wrongly accused advances

Article published Apr 18, 2007

Bill to pay wrongly accused advances

TALLAHASSEE -- After hearing from a man who spent more than 24 years in prison for crimes he didn't commit, a Florida House council approved a plan today to pay wrongly convicted people $50,000 a year for time spent in prison.

The bill (HB 125) by Rep. Priscilla Taylor, D-Riviera Beach, would also give exonerated inmates free college tuition to get started on their lives. The House Safety and Security Council unanimously approved it.

Alan Crotzer, who was freed last year from a 130-year prison sentence, told the council there is no way to make up for the 24 years, six months and 13 days he spent in prison. DNA tests proved that Crotzer, 46, could not have been involved in a kidnapping and rape for which he was convicted in 1981.

The bill is also up for a committee hearing Thursday in the Florida Senate.

Crotzer is seeking $1.25 million for the years he spent in prison. He has a special claims bill pending but said he would rather see the state pass Taylor's bill to provide a formal state policy for compensating prisoners whose "actual innocence" is proved scientifically.

At the end of 2005, Wilton Dedge got $2 million and an apology from lawmakers trying to make up for the state's errors that put the innocent man behind bars for 22 years.

The Brevard County man was compensated for his lost liberty after DNA evidence cleared him. He was released in August 2004.

Dallas County Exonerations

Dallas County Exonerations

Lisa Falkenberg has a column in today's Houston Chronicle, "At least Dallas County gives 2nd chance."

What's wrong with the justice system in Dallas? Is it really that much worse than ours?

Harris County had tainted evidence and sloppy record-keeping from a leaky police crime lab. Both counties have shared reputations for what critics call a "conviction-at all-costs" mentality. And Harris, the so-called death penalty capital of the world, is a lot more populous.

So, assuming Harris has its fair share of bad lawyers, overzealous cops and mistaken eyewitnesses, why aren't we seeing the same parade of exonerations?

The main answer is simple: Dallas is a pack rat, keeping evidence dating back to the 1980s in catalogued freezers of a county-run lab; Harris County is not.

It's not that Dallas' policy was born of benevolent foresight: It likely was intended to aid prosecutors in fighting appeals.

But enter Craig Watkins, the new Democratic district attorney hell-bent on airing his Republican predecessors' sins and busting out the innocent, and you've got a recipe for long-awaited justice.

The reference below is to Harris County DA Chuck Rosenthal. And:

I admire Rosenthal's compassion for victims; he says he decided long ago that if alleged rape victims braved stigma to come forward, he would stand by them until evidence proved otherwise.

Why not the same compassion for victims of incompetent counsel and mistaken eyewitnesses?

Rosenthal should follow Watkins' example in Dallas: Throw open his doors to the innocence attorneys and allow them to test whatever evidence exists in disputed cases. He has nothing to lose, except his pride, but much to gain. For every innocent person in prison, there is a murderer or rapist who escaped justice.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Ex-prosecutor, freed inmates call for end to Pa. death penalty


Ex-prosecutor, freed inmates call for end to Pa. death penalty

20 people who have been exonerated after being sent to death row are
planning to be at the Liberty Bell tomorrow. They're calling for a
moratorium on capital punishment in Pennsylvania.

One is Ray Krone, a 50-year-old York County man who spent ten years in an
Arizona prison, including 3 on death row. Eventually, D-N-A evidence
showed that the wasn't the one who killed a bartender at a tavern where he
often played darts back when he was a Phoenix postal worker. Only 3
inmates have been executed in Pennsylvania since the U-S Supreme Court
reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

(source: Associated Press)

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Wrongfully convicted man sues Boston police

April 12, 2007


Wrongfully convicted man sues Boston police

Says detectives withheld evidence

By Jonathan Saltzman, Boston Globe

One of the last men sentenced to death in Massachusetts, who served 30 years
in prison before a judge threw out his conviction in 2004, filed a civil
rights lawsuit yesterday against Boston police in federal court.

Laurence M. Adams's lawsuit, the latest in a series of civil rights claims
filed against the city by men wrongly convicted of violent crimes, alleges
that three Boston police officers violated the plaintiff's constitutional
rights by withholding exculpatory evidence in the 1972 fatal beating of an
MBTA porter during a robbery.

The evidence included reports of other people who bragged about being
involved in the slaying and a statement from a witness who said that two
brothers committed the crime.

"At the time of his release from prison, Mr. Adams was over 50 years old,
and he had spent two thirds of his life, over 30 years, in prison for a
crime he did not commit," the 22-page complaint says.

The complaint alleges that the withholding of exculpatory evidence was part
of a pattern of misconduct by Boston detectives that resulted in numerous
wrongful convictions in recent years. Adams was the ninth person since 1997
to successfully challenge a conviction in Suffolk County.

His suit was filed three weeks after Anthony Powell, who served 12 1/2 years
for a rape he did not commit, filed a similar suit against the Boston police
in federal court.

A Boston police spokeswoman declined to comment yesterday and referred
inquiries to Mayor Thomas M. Menino. A spokeswoman for the mayor said the
city does not comment on pending litigation.

Adams, who lives in Plymouth, was sentenced to death in 1974 after a Suffolk
jury found him guilty of murder in the slaying of James C. Corry at the
Essex Street subway station. Adams was sentenced to death, but the Supreme
Judicial Court later ruled the state's death penalty statute

Adams told the Globe in 2004 that during the 30 years he spent behind bars
-- 21 of them in MCI-Cedar Junction, the last nine in MCI-Norfolk -- his
faith in God and in himself kept alive the hope that he would not die in
prison, even after the SJC upheld his conviction in 1978.

After years of legal efforts by his lawyer, John J. Barter, Superior Court
Judge Robert A. Mulligan ruled in April 2004 that Boston police had evidence
that would have cast doubt on Adams's guilt and ordered a new trial.

In one police report, the key prosecution witness, Wyatt Moore, told
investigators that he learned information about the slaying while
incarcerated in Billerica with one of two brothers now believed responsible
for Corry's slaying. Another report showed that Moore was incarcerated on
Deer Island when Adams allegedly confessed to him in Dorchester.

Mulligan also pointed out that Suffolk prosecutors cut deals with Moore --
who was facing long prison terms for weapons charges, among other crimes --
as well as with his sister but never told the defense or the jury that the
two would benefit from testifying against Adams.

After Mulligan threw out the conviction, prosecutors dropped the charges
against Adams.


Source : Boston Globe

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Freed man closer to state payment


Freed man closer to state payment

A wrongfully convicted man took a step toward receiving compensation from the state Senate, but the House is sounding reluctant.

The soft-spoken man took just 18 seconds to tell state senators the story of how the state robbed him of a quarter-century of his life:

``My name is Alan Crotzer. I was wrongly convicted in 1981. I spent 24 years, six months, 13 days and four hours wrongly convicted for a crime I did not do. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to come up here and speak to you. I thank you for hearing this bill. I ask for your support and compensation. I know time is of the essence.''

Crotzer, 46, didn't need to say anything else Tuesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which quickly approved a bill to compensate him and any other ex-convict $50,000 for every year they spent in prison for crimes they didn't do. Crotzer's compensation: nearly $1.25 million.

In a rare move just after the vote, the committee's chairman, Miami Republican Sen. Alex Villalobos, called Crotzer to the dais, and whispered a few words into his ear: ``The state of Florida is sorry.''

Crotzer, who hasn't heard such an apology in the year since he was released from prison on the strength of DNA evidence showing he didn't commit two Tampa rapes, left the committee room and wept.

''It means the world to me,'' he said. ``No one has actually offered a real apology to me like that before.''

It's unclear if Crotzer will receive such treatment from the other side of the legislative chamber, the House of Representatives. House members stalled consideration of the bill until one of the strongest voices in Florida government intervened: Gov. Charlie Crist.

Now the bill will be heard next week by the House Safety and Security Council.

''That's a no-brainer,'' Crist said Tuesday. ``It's absolutely the right thing to do. I can't imagine the despair and the difficulty that someone would go through who is wrongfully accused, has to serve time in jail and then gets out and doesn't have that society try to repay them in a responsible way. You can never get those years back.''

Crist got involved at the urging of a letter written by Wilton Dedge, who spent 22 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit. Dedge was awarded $2 million in compensation by the Legislature in late 2005.

Dedge was the fourth Floridian freed by DNA evidence, followed by Crotzer and most recently by Miami's Orlando Bosquete.

Sen. Carey Baker, a Eustis Republican, voted for the bill but said he was concerned it could make the state provide compensation to ''lifelong criminals [with] a rap sheet of 20 to 30 cases.'' But Crotzer's long-ago conviction for stealing beer shouldn't be enough to deny him compensation for the faulty rape conviction, Baker said.

By contrast, Dedge never had a prior conviction. Another difference: Crotzer is black; Dedge is white.

Lawmakers say they're colorblind on the compensation issue, but they struggle to explain why Dedge was worthy of a near-unanimous vote for more compensation than Crotzer, though he spent two fewer years in prison.

''Truthfully, I don't know how to make [sense of] the difference in the adjustment. That's not my deal. There are higher authorities in this state that make those decisions,'' said Rep. Charlie Dean, an Inverness Republican who chairs the House security council.

House Majority Whip Ellyn Bogdanoff, a Fort Lauderdale Republican, said she'd like to see a more ''standardized'' way of compensating wrongfully convicted people.

''I'd like to come up with something a little bit more comprehensive than simply saying money does it,'' she said. ``Sometimes when we have a situation we throw money at it, but that's not necessarily what they need.''

Crotzer's supporters worry that talk of uniformity in wrongful-conviction cases is a sign House leaders will offer him more free education classes, but not the money he needs to rebuild a life shattered by the regimentation of prison -- the license-plate making, the lights-out, the ''evil'' of the institution, the lack of freedom.

''It's hard for people to understand what we go through. It's frustrating,'' Dedge told The Miami Herald.

He said Crotzer probably broke down Tuesday because ``he's still in shock. You live that nightmare for more than 20 years and you can't turn off all that emotion with a switch.''

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Ex-inmates urge reforms to aid wrongly convicted

April 10, 2007

Ex-inmates urge reforms to aid wrongly convicted

By JIM VERTUNO Associated Press

AUSTIN - Each had been wrongly convicted and sentenced to prison, spending a
total of nearly 50 years behind bars for rapes and a murder the courts now
say they did not commit.

On Tuesday, James Giles, Brandon Moon, James Waller and Christopher Ochoa
urged lawmakers to pass a group of bills designed to help avoid similar
cases, investigate them when they happen, and boost the compensation the
state pays when the wrongly convicted are finally set free.

"Our stories are the tip of the iceberg," said Moon, who spent 17 years in
prison on a rape conviction before he was exonerated by DNA evidence. "There
are a lot of people in prison for crimes they didn't commit."

Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, is pushing a package of bills to help the
wrongly convicted. They include:

_ Creating a state Innocence Commission to examine cases where the innocent
have been convicted to find out why.

_ Boost compensation for wrongful imprisonment from $25,000 to $50,000 per
year incarcerated and remove the $500,000 cap. Death row inmates later freed
would receive $100,000 per year.

_ Create a panel to study how to better use eyewitness testimony as
evidence, which can often be unreliable.

_ Require electronic recording of police interrogations.

Texas leads the nation with 27 DNA exonerations, one more than Illinois,
according to Innocence Project, a New York-based legal center that
specializes in overturning wrongful convictions. There have been 198
exonerations nationwide.

"We are powered by the moral witnesses of these men," said Barry Scheck, the
co-director of the Innocence Project.

Giles is the latest. On Monday, a Dallas County prosecutor and a judge
recommended he be exonerated after serving 10 years in prison and 14 years
on parole - during which he had to register as a sex offender - for a rape
he did not commit.

Giles supports the boost in compensation for the wrongly convicted. He held
up the blue sex offender registry card he carries in his wallet to show that
even though he's been out of prison, he sometimes struggled to find a job
and has shouldered the burden of his conviction long enough.

"It's something a person can never get back," Giles said. "Humiliation.


Waller said he was convicted of rape based on an eyewitness account that put
the perpetrator at about 5-feet, 8-inches tall. Waller stands 6-4. He spent
10 years in prison and another 14 trying to clear his name.

"Me being misidentified cost me 25 years of my life," Waller said.

Ochoa was wrongly convicted of murder in 1988 after he gave police a
confession he says was coerced during his interrogation. Exonerated 12 years
later by DNA evidence, he is now a lawyer.

Texas, with its reputation as a law-and-order state, should take the lead in
finding ways to avoid more wrongful convictions.

"It would be wonderful if my state would take the lead," Ochoa said.


Source : Associated Press

Hunt to speak at campus rally

Hunt to speak at campus rally

By: Amy Eagleburger, Senior Writer

After serving nearly 20 years for a crime he did not commit, Darryl Hunt, exonerated in 2004, has now become a key advocate for a death penalty moratorium in North Carolina.

Today he will share his story with UNC students at an anti-death penalty rally. Hunt last spoke at the University in 2004, and a documentary about his ordeal was aired on campus last October.

The rally is sponsored by the Newman Catholic Student Center Parish, N.C. State University Catholic Campus Ministry and the criminal justice action and awareness committee of the Campus Y.

Organizers are hoping to capitalize on the de facto moratorium created by Gov. Mike Easley as the state attempts to deal with the recent N.C. Medical Board decision banning physicians from supervising lethal injections.

"We're really trying to raise awareness at this time, especially if the state decides to go ahead through lethal injections without the physician there," said William Smith, social justice coordinator for the Newman Center.

The rally will feature three other anti-death penalty advocates, including Mark Rabil, Hunt's attorney.

Smith said organizers were thrilled when Hunt agreed to speak. "It's a whole different experience when you hear from someone who has experience firsthand."

Along with the rally, Scott Langley, former N.C. state death penalty abolition coordinator for Amnesty International, will be presenting his photography project on the death penalty.

His slide-show presentation, to be given Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Gardner 103, features eight years of images, covering conditions in Texas, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Indiana.

"I show scenes of the warden moving the gurney into the death room, and I show photos of where the witnesses view the executions, where the families of the prisoners are able to visit the death row inmates for the last time," Langley said.

Support for a moratorium is not universal, and Mel Chilton, executive director of the N.C. Victims' Assistance Network, said the organization still stands behind its 2003 anti-moratorium resolution to the N.C. General Assembly.

"We are constantly talking to people and lobbying at the legislature," Chilton said. "All the rallying and conversation is not going to change the fact that we are waiting for the courts and the legislature to make a decision."

Currently the legislature is considering bills in the Senate and House. Both attempt to prevent physicians who assist with executions from being penalized.

Along with speakers, the rally will provide laptops so students can write to their representatives, urging support for a moratorium.

"If we get a couple hundred that would be great," Smith said.

Contact the State & National Editor at

Conviction vacated for man wrongly imprisoned for 10 years

Conviction vacated for man wrongly imprisoned for 10 years

By Rodney Foo
Mercury News
San Jose Mercury News Article
Launched:04/05/2007 11:39:40 AM PDT

In less than a minute in court this morning, a case that once unjustly kept Kenneth Wayne Foley in prison for 10 years was overturned, wiped clean from the books.

Foley, 38, had been wrongly convicted of breaking into a truck and received a 25 years to life sentence on a third strike. He was released from prison last year after new evidence - a confession by the actual burglar - coupled with the help of his defense attorney, Steve Nakano, the Northern California Innocence Project, and a decision by the District Attorney's Office to re-investigate the case led prosecutors to believe Foley was really innocent.

The final episode in the saga was played out today before Superior Court Judge Ray Cunningham who granted a writ of habeas corpus, filed by the Northern California Innocence Projects, that vacated the conviction.

"Mr. Foley, you are discharged of this matter," Cunningham said. "Good luck to you."

With that, Foley walked out the court doors, no longer haunted by the decade-old conviction.

Asked what he thought as the judge overturned the case, Foley replied: "That it's finally over ... I got my fresh start and now I'll be OK."

The re-examination of his case came in the aftermath of the Mercury News series, "Tainted Trials, Stolen Justice," which examined questionable conduct by prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges which led to wrongful convictions.

In 1995, Foley was accused of burglarizing a truck parked at a Campbell lot. Robert Buck, the owner of the truck, came out with a gun to stop the crime, confronting the burglar, who was also accompanied by a woman.

Buck identified Foley as the burglar. But at trial, Luke Gaumond testified he was the actual burglar. Jurors convicted Foley after prosecutor Charles Slone told them he was physically sickened" by the lies told by the defense and that a "fraud is being perpetrated" on the jury to save Foley from a long sentence.

The judge found Slone had crossed the line into misconduct at times during final arguments but the Foley was subsequently convicted.

As years passed, a persistent Gaumond contacted Nakano asking what could be done to free Foley. After the publication of the Mercury News series, Nakano called then-Chief Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu, who then assigned Deputy District Attorney David Angel to re-examine the case. Angel's work cast doubt on the conviction, leading then-District Attorney George Kennedy and Judge James Emerson to write the state Department of Corrections, recommending that Foley be resentenced.

Foley, who by then had been in four state prisons, was released last year and today had the burglary conviction overturned.

"Mr. Foley spent a long time in prison," Angel said, "but there is hope and satisfaction in that the system eventually was able to bring the truth to light."

Contact Rodney Foo at or (408) 920-5258.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Give justice a chance

April 9, 2007


Give justice a chance

By Abby Burns, The Stanford Daily, Op-Ed

William Blackstone said of the justice system that it would be "[b]etter
that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." Yet many
people do suffer: since 1973, over 230 innocent individuals in the United
States have been wrongfully convicted of crimes for which they were
subsequently cleared - proof that our criminal justice system is far from
perfect. What this says to me is that there are flaws in our criminal
justice system that need to be - and, perhaps more importantly, can be -

Nick Yarris can tell you about flaws in the system. Yarris spent 22 years on
Pennsylvania's death row for the murder of Linda Mae Craig.

During his trial, detectives manipulated witnesses into falsely identifying Yarris and

prosecutors attempted to destroy evidence that could be used to prove
Yarris' innocence. After his conviction, Yarris would spend fifteen years
appealing for DNA evidence to be tested - the same DNA evidence that would
finally and conclusively prove his innocence in 2003.

Common sense would say that this would be the end of Yarris' ordeal - common
sense would be too much to hope for with the Delaware County District
Attorney's Office. Yarris was released eight months later "nolle prosequi" -
meaning that the DA's office could arrest and retry him on this same charge
at a later date. Further, despite actually being innocent of this crime,
Yarris is still subject to the "three strikes law:" if he is ever convicted
of another crime, he will be put away for life - despite that he was
innocent of those felonies that would qualify him for life in prison in the
first place.

Yarris' story demonstrates not only how our criminal justice system is
flawed, but, more powerfully, suggests solutions for how to improve it:

(1)Efficiently test DNA evidence. Yarris spent over a decade on death row
after technology existed that could prove his innocence. Especially for a
death row case, let there be no doubt about the guilt or innocence of the

(2)Improve post-release compensation for exonerees. Exonerees receive less
help than a post-release guilty inmate, who likely receives assistance with
job training, psychological counseling, and other reintegration services.
Currently, a few prisons give "gate money," ranging from $10 to $200, to
exonerees for immediate needs and nothing more.

(3)Automatically expunge the criminal records of released defendants. It can
be years before an exoneree's criminal record is finally cleared - years in
which the record prevents the innocent individual from securing gainful

Yarris is just one man, but his story is important to us all. We will all -
in some way - be touched by the criminal justice system. Whether as a
defendant ourselves, as a family member or friend of someone who is arrested
for a crime, as a criminal lawyer, or as a jury member, we all have a stake
in the improvement of our criminal justice system. But don't take our word
for this - let Nick Yarris tell you about his story and the importance of
fixing our criminal justice system. Stanford Beyond Bars has invited him to
speak at Cubberley Auditorium tomorrow at7 p.m.


Source : The Stanford Daily, Op-Ed (Abby Burns writes on behalf of the
Stanford Beyond Bars Executive Board. Stanford Beyond Bars is an
undergraduate student organization dedicated to directly addressing issues
related to incarceration and the criminal justice system.)

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Why is it so hard to say 'I'm sorry'?

April 7, 2007 (2 articles)


Why is it so hard to say 'I'm sorry'?

Roger Chesley, The Virginian-Pilot

He can't get back the years he's lost in prison, but former death row inmate
Earl Washington Jr. will receive nearly $2 million from the state in a
tentative settlement agreement. After the mildly retarded man falsely
confessed to a 1982 rape-slaying, he came within days of being executed.

Here's something Washington hasn't gotten: an official apology from Virginia
for trying to kill him. It wasn't part of the civil lawsuit. However,
attorneys for Washington, 46, have sought to amend an earlier pardon by
then-Gov. Gilmore to make it clear that Washington was totally innocent of
the crime. DNA evidence exonerated him and implicated another man.

What about the fact that Washington, as he approached his execution date,
could hear the electric chair being tested, and could see the prison lights
dim? Too bad. "He still has nightmares from time to time," attorney Bob Hall
told me.

"We don't have any right to insist on an apology," Hall added. "It would be
a nice act on the part" of the state.

Indeed it would. Yet that reluctance to publicly express remorse has come up
in several high-profile incidents of late.

The General Assembly this year passed a resolution acknowledging "profound
regret" for the enslavement of African Americans and the exploitation of
Native Americans, and to "call for reconciliation among all Virginians."
Pretty tame stuff, given the oppressive conditions that blacks and American
Indians faced in the commonwealth. Mind you, this resolution is symbolic,
and comes nearly 150 years after slavery ended. Nor does it mention, even
tangentially, the issue of reparations.

Yet Del. Frank Hargrove of Hanover caused a firestorm when he stated that
"black citizens should get over" slavery, an astounding view given the
legacy of that peculiar institution. How many other people feel as he does?
In an obvious face-saving gesture, Hargrove later proposed a resolution,
which passed the House, establishing the third Saturday in June as a day to
celebrate the end of slavery.

Speaking of apologies, the North Carolina Senate on Thursday unanimously
approved a measure expressing "profound contrition" for that state

s role in promoting slavery and legalized segregation.

Overseas, the Japanese prime minister recently caught flak for his faux
apologies about that nation's practice of forcing women to work as sex
slaves during World War II. Shinzo Abe used the term "comfort women," a
despicable euphemism that belies the involuntary nature faced by as many as
200,000 wartime women, most from Korea and China.

Why is it so difficult to just come out and say, I'm sorry?

Because it's painful, says Howard Zehr, co-director of the Center for
Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg.
"You have to name something in the past you don't want to think about."

Certainly, in my view, the longer it takes to give an apology probably
lessens its value. In Earl Washington's case, it would perhaps mean
something more because he's still alive. But do such public mea culpas even
make a difference?

They can, Zehr said in an interview. But they must be part of a process that
includes naming the harm, expressing sincere regret and committing to
avoiding the specific bad acts in the future.

Zehr also said such statements of contrition can make a difference on scales
much smaller than the state or national level. For example, he works with
crime victims and their offenders, and apologies often provide a measure of
healing. "It's amazing sometimes what an apology means to victims," he told
me in an interview. "It's not everything. But it's incredible when somebody
takes responsibility and genuinely apologizes."

Is it mere window dressing? Possibly.

"There may not be anything tangible," Zehr conceded. "But... there's often a

"It means a great deal a lot of times, to both the victim and offender."

Which got me to thinking: Do I really care, a century and a half later, that
the commonwealth has apologized for slavery, even though it ended in 1865,
and even though race relations have progressed dramatically from their
troubled past?



Source : The Virginian-Pilot (Roger Chesley is associate editor of The
Pilot's editorial page. Reach him at (757) 446-2329 or at other opinions)

Friday, 6 April 2007

Another Dallas County Exoneration in the Wings

Another Dallas County Exoneration in the Wings

The Dallas Morning News reports that James Curtis Giles will have a hearing on Monday where he is expected to be exonerated. The News has, "Rape victim is for exoneration."

The victim of a 1982 gang rape has told the Dallas County district attorney's office that she supports efforts to clear a man she helped convict because new evidence causes her to doubt that he was one of her attackers.

At an exoneration hearing Monday, prosecutors will present a recent affidavit taken from the victim. They'll also present an affidavit from her former husband, who identified another man with a similar name as one of her attackers.

Based on the affidavits, prosecutors said they'll join a request by attorneys for James Curtis Giles to have state District Judge Robert Francis find him innocent of the savage sexual assault that sent him to prison for a decade.

His would be the 13th DNA-related exoneration recorded in Dallas County since a state law was adopted in 2001 granting convicted people the right to petition for genetic testing. No other county in the nation has had as many exonerations.

District Attorney Craig Watkins is expected to be in court to offer an apology to Mr. Giles – the third case in which he has done so since taking office in January. He has made the correction of wrongful convictions a priority.

More on earlier exonerations is here.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

My friend, Herman Atkins, freed from a California prison after serving 12 years

Please Distribute Widely to Folks in LA Area:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

My friend, Herman Atkins, freed from a California prison after serving 12 years when DNA evidence proved he was innocent of rape and robbery, needs your help during his civil trial this month.

Starting Tuesday April 10, Herman is asking for you to come and sit-in on the proceedings in Downtown Los Angeles to help him fill the courtroom with supporters of justice. (see details below)

He is requesting that you please e-mail everyone you know that is ‘interested in civil rights demanding justice for rape survivors and those convicted of sexual assault crimes they did not commit.’

Renowned criminal/civil-rights attorney Peter Neufeld, best known as a cofounder, with Barry Scheck, of the Innocence Project, is representing Herman. With Scheck and Jim Dwyer, Neufeld co-authored Actual Innocence.

In 2000, Herman worked together with rape survivors representing the Rainbow Sisters Project to help pass two laws regarding DNA evidence in California. The first law was inspired by his case makes it easier for inmates to obtain DNA tests post-conviction and the second extends the statute-of-limitations on rape where DNA testing can point to a suspect.

Join us by attending Herman’s civil trial, to help bring the public’s attention to the misconduct by police and prosecutors that continues to send innocent people to prison. Show the court, the police, and Riverside County (where he was convicted) that the people are watching!

Best, Karen Pomer
Co-Founder, Rainbow Sisters Project
For Survivors of Sexual Assault


Herman Atkins' Civil Trial

WHEN: Tuesday, April 10 at 1 p.m., Wednesday, April 11, Tuesday – Friday, April 17-20, and Tuesday- Thursday, April 24-26, from
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

WHERE: US District Court
312 N. Spring St, Room 3, (courtroom of Judge Pregerson)
Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90012

ABOUT HERMAN ATKINS: After 12 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Herman Atkins was proven factually innocent by post conviction DNA testing in February of 2000. He had been sentenced to 45 years and 8 months for the rape, oral copulation, and robbery of a white woman in 1988 in Riverside. He never received compensation for more than a decade of his life taken from him.

Now, Herman’s 7 year, uphill battle to be compensated by Riverside County comes to head. The case is now scheduled for trial in Los Angeles starting April 10th.

Herman and his attorneys, Peter Neufeld and Deborah Cornwall from Cochran Neufeld & Scheck law firm, claim that Herman’s civil rights was seriously violated by Dan Miller, then a Riverside detective who lied, manufactured evidence, coerced witnesses, fabricated a witness testimony, and produced fraudulent photo line ups in order to obtain a conviction. Dan Miller now works for the FBI “terrorism unit.”

Rather than compensate Herman, Riverside County has spent millions of dollar fighting this case. Riverside County has done nothing to correct the mistakes that happened in Herman’s case or to prevent wrongful convictions. Nor has Riverside, the FBI or Department of Justice investigated the conduct of Dan Miller who may still be sending innocent people to prison.

While fighting for compensation, Herman has managed to obtain two degrees in the field of psychology. He is currently working towards his master’s degree in Fresno, California. Herman and his wife Machara have founded the LIFE foundation (Life intervention for Exonerees) which donates funds to the exonerate and family upon the release of a newly exonerated person.

Herman Atkins is also the chairperson for the Council of the Wrongfully Convicted of California, and he works closely with advocacy groups that promote human rights issues such as the abolishment of the death penalty. His story was featured in the acclaimed 2006 documentary ‘After Innocence.”


Los Angeles Times

July 10, 2006

DNA Proof May Not Go to Jury

By Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer July 10, 2006

An unusual wrinkle has developed in the case of a man who was exonerated by DNA testing after serving 12 years in prison for a rape and robbery he did not commit.

Although the Riverside County district attorney declared Herman Atkins innocent six years ago, the county wants to prevent the jury hearing his wrongful conviction lawsuit from learning about the evidence that cleared him.

Atkins, now 40, was accused of raping a woman during a 1986 robbery in a Lake Elsinore shoe store. DNA tests not available during Atkins' 1988 trial were later requested by the defense, and they eliminated him as a source of semen on the victim's sweater. The FBI lab confirmed the results.

The rapist was never caught.As soon as Riverside County Dist. Atty. Grover Trask II learned in early 2000 of the DNA findings, he filed court papers saying Atkins should be freed immediately.

DNA tests had eliminated Atkins "as a possible source of [the] semen … and thus, [he] was not her assailant," Trask's motion said.

"The case underscores how profoundly advances in science and technology have affected criminal justice," he said.Atkins filed suit, claiming that a Riverside detective had fabricated evidence and misrepresented proof in court.

Facing a July 18 trial date in Los Angeles federal court, private lawyers representing Riverside County have argued that innocence does not matter. The sole issue is whether Atkins' rights were violated, they say.

They are also challenging the reliability of the DNA tests. If the county were able to cast doubt on Atkins' innocence, that could have a significant impact on the trial.

In a court declaration filed recently, Riverside's attorney, Christopher D. Lockwood, wrote, referring to the DNA sample, "I am aware of multiple reasons to question the chain of custody. I have never seen any evidence to show that the DNA testing was done properly or that DNA evidence is always 100% conclusive."

Atkins' attorneys sharply disagree with the county's position."The prejudice to Atkins would be immeasurable if the jury did not hear conclusive evidence that he is innocent," Atkins' attorneys Peter Neufeld, Deborah Cornwall and Cameron Stewart said in court papers.

A hearing on the issue is set for Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson.Both Lockwood and Atkins' lawyers declined to comment beyond what was in their court papers.

Earlier in the civil case, Riverside sheriff's Det. Danny C. Miller, a key investigator in the rape case, said in a signed pleading that Atkins' innocence had been established by the DNA tests.

But Lockwood has told the court that Miller is unwilling to file an admission that Atkins had been cleared, although he has offered no evidence to refute the FBI tests, according to papers filed by Atkins' attorneys.

While keeping out the DNA results, the county's lawyers also want to introduce evidence that the rape victim and two witnesses identified Atkins during his trial.

Atkins' attorneys counter that it would be absurd to allow Riverside's lawyers to introduce eyewitness testimony that has been refuted by DNA tests, particularly if the defense is not allowed to present the DNA results.

"In light of the uncontested DNA results, this ID testimony can no longer be considered reliable, or even probative, evidence of Atkins' guilt," they wrote in a recent motion. "Human memory is fallible. DNA testing, when replicated by two laboratories and where there is no evidence of contamination, is not. Miller's mere innuendo cannot change this irrefutable fact."

Their brief emphasizes that 78% of the first 130 DNA exonerations in the U.S. involved mistaken eyewitness identifications.Edward T. Blake, director of Forensic Science Associates in Richmond, Calif., and a nationally known expert, did the initial DNA testing in this case.

He became apoplectic when asked about Lockwood's questioning of the DNA evidence.

"The fully documented and illustrated scientific reports in the Atkins case are a matter of public record and certainly available to Mr. Lockwood," Blake said.

"There never has been any issue in the Atkins case with regard to evidence 'chain of custody' issues, nor has there ever been any issue with regard to the scientific rigor of the analysis that exonerated Mr. Atkins.

"Lockwood's statement is "an insult to everyone in the criminal justice system" who participated in Atkins' release, including defense lawyers, Blake's lab, the FBI lab, Trask and the judge who freed Atkins, Blake said in a telephone interview.

"Do you think that just because a guy in prison and a defense lawyer say he's innocent that everyone falls over backward and says 'OK. We will open the prison doors.' You must be kidding," Blake said.He said that when a convicted inmate is seeking release from prison, he has to meet a very high standard.

"If Herman Atkins had not met that burden of proof, he would not be a free man today," Blake said.

Legal experts said it was highly unusual for a lawyer to attempt to negate DNA results in a case like this one.Locke Bowman, legal director of the MacArthur Justice Center in Chicago, has worked on several civil suits following wrongful convictions.

He said there are "precious few legal authorities" on the issue of whether a jury is entitled to hear about the actual innocence of an exonerated inmate.In one recent case, U.S. District Judge Paul Plunkett in Chicago issued a strong ruling in favor of bringing evidence of innocence before a jury, Bowman noted.

After spending 15 years of a life sentence in prison for murder during a store robbery, James Newsome was cleared after new technology showed that fingerprints left in the store by the killer did not match his.

Jim Edgar, then the governor of Illinois, pardoned Newsome and declared him innocent.Newsome filed a damages case against Chicago asserting, among other points, that detectives rigged a lineup against him. Lawyers for the city asserted that the issue of innocence was irrelevant.

Plunkett disagreed, saying that excluding the evidence of innocence would have been "highly prejudicial."

"It would have invited jurors to draw the impermissible inference that he was actually guilty and thus absolve defendants of any misconduct," the judge said.

Chicago lawyer Phil Beck, who represented Newsome in the civil suit, said in a phone interview, "The case would not have had nearly the appeal on the damages side if it were a situation that he was wrongfully convicted because the police did not read him his Miranda rights and it was an open question whether he did it.

"I argued that it's 100 times worse to be in prison if you are innocent because the mental anguish you go through is much worse," Beck said. The jury awarded Newsome $15 million, a verdict that was upheld on appeal.

Atkins lives in Fresno, where he is pursuing a graduate degree in psychology. He and his wife, Machara Hogue, have set up a small foundation to help others who have been exonerated obtain basic necessities when they get out of prison.


Monday, 2 April 2007

Morgan's free man

April 2, 2007


Morgan's free man

Coming to a Ritzy near you soon: Morgan Lewis & Bockius, the Movie. Yes,
it's true: lawyers from one of the US's finest firms will soon be played by
actors up on the silver screen.

Boardroom rows, late-night drafting and photocopying galore, all featuring
Morgan Lewis lawyers, will soon compete for punters' attention with the
latest Die Hard, Rambo and Indiana Jones instalments.

Tulkinghorn kids you not. The film will tell the story of two Morgan Lewis
lawyers, J Gordon Cooney Jr and Michael L Banks, who waged a 15-year battle
representing longtime death row inmate John Thompson on a pro bono basis.

The pair eventually overturned his conviction for the 1984 murder of a New
Orleans businessman and successfully cleared him of all charges, although
not until after nine stays of execution.

Now the story of the epic battle, which is thought to have racked up more
than £1m in unpaid legal work and involved up to 90 lawyers and staff, is to
be filmed. And the actors in the lead roles? Oscar-winning Boston boys Ben
Affleck and Matt Damon. Who apparently look exactly like Cooney and Banks.


Source :

Sunday, 1 April 2007

The Nobel Prize . . .


The Nobel Prize . . .

April 1, 2007

Sneed hears the Nobel Prize nomination of former Gov. George Ryan for his opposition to the death penalty has been accepted by the Nobel committee -- which has narrowed its list of thousands of nominees to 181.

It is the fifth time Ryan, who is still awaiting the outcome of his appeal for a mistrial, has been nominated by University of Illinois law Professor Francis Boyle.

Word is fedejral indictments against two top Illinois political players are this/close to hitting the headlines.

Pennsylvania panel to study wrongful convictions

March 31, 2007


Pennsylvania panel to study wrongful convictions

By Gabrielle Banks, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Forensic errors, mistaken eyewitness identifications and false confessions
have led to wrongful convictions for serious crimes like rape, murder and
kidnapping in the United States. Since 1989, 198 convicted felons have been
cleared based on DNA evidence, nine in Pennsylvania.

The state's exonerated inmates served more than 140 years in prison, an
average of more than 15 years each, for crimes they did not commit.

Prompted by these exceptional cases, the state this week convened a
commission of judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, law enforcement officers
and victims' advocates to study the causes of erroneous convictions and make
recommendations for preventing them.

The advisory committee includes Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen
A. Zappala Jr., public defender Michael J. Machen, police Commissioner
Charles W. Moffat, Common Pleas Senior Judge Robert E. Colville as well as
an exonerated death row inmate, a Johnstown priest, a representative from
the state attorney general's office and Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne
M. Abraham.

The project is chaired by John T. Rago, a Duquesne University law professor
and director of the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law,
who proposed the extensive study to its sponsor, Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf,

Mr. Greenleaf said he was moved to re-examine the criminal process when he
learned that a Pennsylvania death row inmate, Nicholas Yarris, had spent 21
years in prison and two others had been serving life terms when DNA evidence
excluded them as possible culprits and judges wiped out their convictions.
He said it may not be possible "to change the process so that never again
will an innocent person be found guilty in our courts," but said he hoped to
"make it as best as human beings can."

"Justice is served when a guilty person is convicted, but justice is also
served when an innocent person is exonerated. And certainly justice is not
served by convicting an innocent person," he said.

With this study, Pennsylvania joins a handful of states that have set up
advisory groups to review wrongful convictions.

Mr. Rago sees it as an opportunity to improve due process and fortify
investigators' and prosecutors' capacity to present judges and juries with
reliable evidence of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is
guilty. The committee will recommend policy changes after examining a broad
range of factors that might influence wrongful convictions.

Advances in social science -- such as improved procedures for witness
identification -- and lab science have made it easier to exonerate
wrongfully convicted prisoners. Other defendants are mistakenly found guilty
because of police or prosecutorial misconduct or simply poor lawyering.

There are lessons to be learned in cases where a single eyewitness put an
innocent defendant in prison or in older cases where crime labs did not have
the benefit of modern technology to test blood, hair, saliva or other
biological evidence.

"With 2.5 million people incarcerated in the U.S., can anybody with a
straight face say that they're all guilty? No more than you could say that
they're all innocent," Mr. Rago said.

The commission of 40 members will review the cases of the 198 exonerees. Its
goal is to identify the most common causes of wrongful convictions and
develop policy recommendations. One critical issue will be protecting the
rights of victims in the process and making sure they are not revictimized
when their cases are reopened.

Given the diversity of the group, Mr. Machen, of the county public
defender's office, said he was impressed with the level of dialogue among
members at their first all-day meeting Thursday in Harrisburg.

"People were listening to each other and trying not to draw lines in the
sand," he said.

Some prosecutors, victims rights groups and law enforcement officials have
criticized such commissions for overemphasizing the rights of defendants and
neglecting the impact of crime on victims and communities. But proponents
say the objective of a wrongful conviction commission is not to go back and
assign blame in old cases but to improve the system to everyone's benefit.

"Nobody wants the police or prosecution or the court system to be misled
into pursuing an innocent person when trying to solve a very serious crime.
The idea behind an innocence commission is that nobody benefits from a
wrongful conviction. Not the victim, not the public, not the judge, jury,
prosecutor, police, nor certainly the person who was wrongfully convicted,"
said Stephen Saloom, policy director at the Innocence Project in New York.

The Innocence Project, founded in 1992, is a legal and policy organization
dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted inmates through DNA evidence.
It has helped clients in the majority of the 198 exonerations nationwide and
receives thousands of letters each year from inmates who say DNA testing
will prove their innocence. But there is a massive backlog for forensic DNA
testing on old cases.

"The concept of an innocence claim after a conviction is incongruous to most
people," Mr. Rago said. But if the number of DNA exonerations continues to
rise, he said, prisons and judicial systems must prepare for that reality
and develop guidelines to accommodate the needs of people who have spent
five, 10 or 20 years in penitentiaries, Mr. Rago said.

Currently, the federal government, 21 states and the District of Columbia
offer compensation to a prisoner who has been exonerated. Pennsylvania
provides nothing.


Source : Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Antonio Beaver Exonerated in St. Louis

Antonio Beaver Exonerated in St. Louis

This morning, Innocence Project client Antonio Beaver walked out of a St. Louis jail a free man after DNA testing proved he could not have committed the carjacking for which he served more than a decade in prison. Beaver is the 198th person nationwide exonerated by DNA evidence, and the seventh in Missouri.

He was convicted of attacking a 26-year-old white woman in a parking lot near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and stealing her car. The victim described the perpetrator as a 21-year-old, 5’10” African-American man wearing a baseball cap. A detective saw Beaver on the street and decided he matched the description, despite the fact that Beaver was 31 and 6’2”. There were other major differences between Beaver and victim’s description of the perpetrator – she created a composite sketch of a man with no facial hair, yet Beaver had a moustache; she said her attacker had a pronounced gap between his teeth, which Beaver did not.

The victim identified Beaver in a four-person lineup in which two men were police officers. Only two of the men in the lineup – Beaver and the other man who was not a police officer – wore baseball caps, as the perpetrator did. The jury heard that fingerprints from the victim’s car didn’t match Beaver, but convicted him based on the victim’s identification. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

The victim told police that her attacker was bleeding as he drove away in her car. She saw him bleed on inside of the door. When police recovered the car the next day, the interior of the driver’s side door was stained with blood. Those bloodstains were collected as evidence. Representing himself, Beaver filed a motion in in 2001 to test the stains for DNA. The state opposed his motion. The Innocence Project took Beaver’s case in 2006 and filed another brief on his behalf. In October 2006, prosecutors agreed to DNA testing. The results proved Beaver’s innocence. Read more about Antonio Beaver's case on the Innocence Project website.

Eyewitness misidentification was a factor is every one of the seven wrongful convictions in Missouri that were later overturned by DNA, and a factor in more than 75 percent of the 198 DNA exoneration cases nationwide.

Beaver was working in a laboratory when he was arrested in 1996. He is now 41 years old and has lost 10 years of his life; he will move in with his aunt and uncle as he attempts to rebuild his life. With the help of our dedicated and generous supporters, the Innocence Project has been able to help several recent exonerees with necessities like food, clothing, housing and jobs as they get back on their feet. Our Exoneree Fund is devoted specifically to moments like this. Please help us assist exonerees as they pick up the pieces after years or decades stolen. Click here to donate to the Innocence Project Exoneree Fund.