The prosecution charged that Powers was the mastermind, having a political opponent killed so that his boss, Governor William S. Taylor , could stay in office. He was sentenced to prison. An appeals court overturned Powers' conviction, though Powers was tried three more times, resulting in two convictions and a hung jury. Governor Augustus E. Willson pardoned Powers in Powers had served eight years in prison. While in prison, Powers authored the book My Own Story Ed Johnson. Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The Central Park Five speak
Ed Johnson, a black man , was convicted for the rape of Nevada Taylor, a white woman, and sentenced to death. Taylor's initial description of the man was very vague. She told police she didn't get a good look at him and was unsure if the assailant was black or white. Johnson was beaten by sheriff Joseph Shipp to extract a confession, but maintained his innocence.
On March 3, , Johnson appealed the conviction, alleging that his constitutional rights had been violated. Specifically, he alleged that all blacks had been excluded from the jury considering his case, and that he should have been granted a change of venue, and a continuance. He was granted a stay of execution and an appeal to the U. Supreme Court. Blount County, Alabama. Wilson was convicted of murdering his wife and their month-old daughter.
Bones presented in court were later discovered to be those of at least four or five people and likely indigenous. He received a formal pardon after his wife and daughter were discovered alive and living in Vincennes, Indiana. Thomas Griffin and Meeks Griffin. Chester County, South Carolina. The brothers were prominent black farmers in Chester County, South Carolina , believed to be the wealthiest blacks in the area.
They were convicted and executed via the electric chair in for the murder in of year-old John Q. The Griffin brothers were convicted based on the accusations of another black man, John "Monk" Stevenson, who was known to be a small-time thief. Stevenson, who was found in possession of the victim's pistol, was sentenced to life in prison in exchange for testifying against the brothers. Some in the community believed that Lewis may have been murdered because of his suspected consensual sexual relationship with year-old Anna Davis.
Davis and her husband were never tried, possibly for fear of a "mixed race relationship" scandal. Frank was a Jewish-American factory superintendent who was convicted in of the murder of a year-old, female employee. He was taken from prison and lynched after his death sentence was commuted by the governor of Georgia to life in prison. In the late 20th century, Frank was posthumously pardoned by the state.
Mooney filed a writ of habeas corpus which was heard by the United States Supreme Court in Even though he presented evidence that his conviction was obtained through the use of perjured testimony and that the prosecution had suppressed favorable evidence, his writ was denied because he had not first filed a writ in state court. His case is important because it helped establish that a conviction based upon false evidence violates due process.
Mooney was pardoned in by Governor Culbert Olson. Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Braintree, Massachusetts. In , as the 50th anniversary of the executions approached, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis asked the Office of the Governor's Legal Counsel to report on "whether there are substantial grounds for believing—at least in the light of the legal standards of today—that Sacco and Vanzetti were unfairly convicted and executed" and to recommend appropriate action.
It found the judge's charge to the jury troubling for the way it emphasized the defendants' behavior at the time of their arrest and highlighted certain physical evidence that was later called into question. Following an altercation with a group of white teens, nine black teenagers were accused of rape by two women. Eventually, one of the women admitted to fabricating the story. The Scottsboro case is considered a landmark case, leading to the prohibition of all-white juries. Joseph Majczek and Theodore Marcinkiewicz. Arridy was convicted and executed for the killing of year-old Dorothy Drain with a hatchet.
In , Gov. Bill Ritter posthumously pardoned Arridy. Ritter said an overwhelming amount of evidence suggests Arridy did not commit the crime and was likely not in Pueblo at the time of the crime. Alcolu, South Carolina. Stinney, was convicted of the first-degree murder of two pre-teen white girls.
No physical evidence existed in the case, and the sole evidence against Stinney was the circumstantial fact that the girls had spoken with Stinney and his sister shortly before their murder.
Three police officers claimed that Stinney had confessed to the murders. At age 14, he was the youngest person to be sentenced to death and executed in the United States. Jack McCullough. Murder of Maria Ridulph. After investigation of a cold case, in Jack McCullogh was exonerated of murder, as it was decided his prosecution had been based on hearsay evidence and exculpatory evidence, FBI files proving he was nowhere near the scene at the time, were excluded by the prosecution from evidence. Clarence Earl Gideon. Gideon had been denied an attorney at the time of his first trial.
At the time, the state of Florida did not have public defenders in all judicial circuits and the law did not require the court to appoint an attorney to the indigent. After conviction, he handwrote a petition for writ of certiorari to the U. The justices considered the matter as Gideon v. Wainwright and ruled unanimously that Gideon's rights had been violated. When he was retried with a defense attorney, it was determined that the primary prosecution witness had committed the crime. The case inspired the book Gideon's Trumpet and a film adaptation by the same name.
Carter was a professional boxer who was twice convicted of this triple murder, along with his friend and fellow defendant John Artis. Carter's second conviction was overturned in Carter inspired the Bob Dylan song " Hurricane ", and the film The Hurricane was based on his case. James Joseph Richardson. James Richardson was convicted of poisoning his children and received the death penalty. After she developed Alzheimer's disease , she confessed more than times to the murders of these children to her caregivers at the nursing home.
She had at first denied going into their apartment. Richard Phillips was years old when he was imprisoned for a fatal shooting in Detroit in a case prosecutors now say was "based entirely" on false testimony from one witness. He was sentenced to life without parole.
He was released in and exonerated in after the University of Michigan 's innocence project took up his case, declaring him the longest-serving innocent man in the USA. Bright was convicted of second-degree murder in at the age of Teenager Cynthia Nadeau was raped and her boyfriend, Terry Milroy, was murdered by a man who picked them up while hitchhiking. Despite an alibi, Tibbs was convicted on the basis of a false eyewitness identification and an alleged confession to a fellow inmate. Michael Lloyd Self. Murders of Rhonda Johnson and Sharon Shaw. Teenagers Rhonda Johnson and Sharon Shaw disappeared while at a beach in Galveston, Texas, on August 4, ; their remains were found in a marsh in January Though Michael Lloyd Self, a local sex offender , wrote a confession, he contended that police officers forced him to do so at gunpoint.
Self was sentenced to life imprisonment in In , two of the officers who took his confession were arrested for numerous bank robberies and sentenced to 30—50 years. In , Edward Howard Bell, a convicted serial killer , admitted to the murders of Johnson and Shaw, though no direct connection could be made. Self died in prison in of cancer. Numerous investigators, a Galveston police officer, and a former Harris County prosecutor all protested Self's conviction. Jackson and both the Bridgeman brothers were convicted and sentenced to death for the killing of Harold Franks, a money order salesman, based on the evidence of a year-old boy, Eddie Vernon, who claimed to have seen them attack Franks.
There were no other witnesses nor evidence linking the accused to the crime. In a signed affidavit in , Vernon recanted, saying he had been coerced by the police. Jackson had escaped the death sentence because of a paperwork error. The sentences of the Bridgemans had been commuted to life. Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman were held in prison longer than any other persons who had been exonerated. Ronnie Bridgeman had been paroled after serving 28 years.
Indiana County, Pennsylvania. Fogle was convicted in of raping and killing year-old Deann Katherine Long, who had died in DNA tests on the semen in the girl's body proved he was not the rapist. In August , a senior judge vacated his conviction. The local district attorney joined in the motion to vacate his conviction, and Fogle was released.
Randall Dale Adams. Adams was convicted of killing Dallas police officer Robert Wood. In , the film The Thin Blue Line , which was based on the case, was released. Public outcry over the film prompted officials to re-examine the case. Adams was released in Poughkeepsie, New York. Bozella was accused of killing year-old Emma Kapser. He was convicted on the basis of testimony from two jailhouse informants.
DNA testing was not available because evidence from the crime had been destroyed post-conviction. He was tried again in December At the second trial, one witness recanted his prior statements, but Bozella was convicted a second time. The other witness later recanted.
In addition, the defense later learned that the prosecution failed to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense, including a fingerprint recovered from the scene that was linked to a felon. In , Bozella's conviction was overturned and all charges were dropped. Naomi Rolin was a white girl of 16 who was raped and murdered.
Ed Horsely confessed to the murder, which he said he alone had committed, and was executed. But the police charged Baldwin with the murder based on his confession, which Baldwin said was extracted under beatings and an electric cattle prod.
Exonerations: Falsely Accused Freed at Highest Rates
No forensic evidence connected Baldwin with the crime. The murder was committed by a left-handed person whereas Baldwin was right-handed. Rape of Cathleen Webb. Sixteen-year-old Cathleen Crowell Webb made up a rape allegation to explain to her foster parents her pregnancy concerns after having had consensual sex with her boyfriend the previous day. After a religious conversion, Webb confessed to her pastor that she had wrongly accused Dotson and began efforts to get him released. The prosecution refused to take any action, so they went to the media.
The resulting public sympathy led the authorities to review the case. Eventually Dotson was cleared via DNA testing and released. Ford Heights, Illinois. The Ford Heights Four were convicted based on false forensic testimony, coercion of a prosecution witness, perjury by another witness who had an incentive to lie, and prosecution and police misconduct. Witness and DNA evidence uncovered in an investigation by three female journalism students at Northwestern University cleared the Ford Heights Four and led to the arrest and conviction of the real killers.
Paula Gray was an additional suspect in the Ford Heights Four case. Gray, an intellectually-disabled teenager, was interrogated for two days before confessing to her involvement in the crime. However, Gray soon recanted her confession, stating that she had been drugged and coached by the police. Upon her recantation, Gray was charged with rape and murder and with perjury. She was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
In , after two of the Ford Heights Four won new trials, prosecutors offered to release Gray in exchange for her testimony against the two men. Gray accepted the offer and was released in Following the exoneration of the Ford Heights Four, Gray's conviction was overturned, and in , the Governor issued her a pardon. Elizabethtown, North Carolina. Sledge escaped from prison during a four-year sentence for misdemeanor larceny and was recaptured days later. During this time, two women were killed in their home in Elizabethtown, North Carolina. Sledge was convicted of murdering the two women based on the testimony of two inmates who claimed that Sledge had admitted to the crime while in prison the next year.
The other informant received similar special treatment. Mitochondrial DNA testing of hairs found at the crime scene believed to be from the killer did not match Sledge, and he was declared innocent in January He had served more than 36 years for the crime. Simi Valley, California. Coley was convicted of the murder of year-old Rhonda Wicht and her 4-year-old son Donald Wicht in DNA tests not available at the time of his trial later showed Coley could not have done the murders, and DNA from others was present.
Police officers testified that the original investigating officer had mishandled the investigation. Coley was pardoned in after serving 39 years. Dupree was convicted on the basis of eyewitness identification. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals set aside her conviction because of prosecutorial misconduct. Her record was expunged in Brown was convicted of robbery in , although the rental car used in the crime had been leased to a different Joyce Ann Brown, who lived in Denver, Colorado.
The defendant had a strong alibi, as she was at work at the time of the crime. The conviction was based on eyewitness identification and on testimony of a cellmate that she had confessed. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals set aside Brown's conviction because of prosecutorial misconduct : they had not revealed that the prosecution witness had been convicted of perjury, and it was not revealed that she received a reduced sentence after testifying.
Titus was convicted of the rape of a hitchhiking teenager. Seattle Times reporter Paul Henderson began investigating the case after a similar rape was committed a few months after Titus's conviction. His investigation of the case led to Titus's conviction being overturned, and the charges dropped. Henderson won the Pulitzer Prize for his articles on the case. Brandley was working as a janitor at Conroe High School  when year-old Fergeson was raped and murdered in the loft above the auditorium. A foreign blood sample was found on Fergeson's shirt that did not match either Fergeson's or Brandley's blood type.
Following conviction, Brandley's defense team discovered that several pieces of exculpatory evidence were not disclosed by the prosecution. Semen had been found at the scene, but was destroyed without being tested. A Caucasian pubic hair was found on the body; Brandley is African American. Also missing were photographs taken of Brandley on the day of the crime showing that he was not wearing the belt that the prosecution claimed had been the murder weapon.
The prosecution received statements implicating two other men in the crime, but failed to disclose them. One of the janitors went to police following Brandley's arrest. He told police he saw another janitor leading the victim up the stairs. He alleged that he was threatened with arrest if he didn't implicate Brandley at trial. Kern County child abuse cases. Kern County, California. The Kern County child abuse cases are a notable example of day-care sex-abuse hysteria of the s. At least 36 people were convicted and most of them spent years imprisoned.
Two convicts died in prison. Von Bulow was convicted of attempted murder on the theory that he injected his wife with insulin , sending her into a coma. She was comatose for 28 years until her death in His conviction was overturned and he was retried. His defense team hired a number of world-class experts who argued that Sunny's coma was caused by a combination of oral medications, alcohol, and chronic health conditions.
Also entered into evidence was a hospital admission only three weeks prior to her irreversible coma where she ingested at least 73 aspirin tablets. The defense argued that this act demonstrated Sunny's mental state was such that she once again ingested an overdose of drugs. They also argued that the presence of insulin on the tip of the needle found near Sunny suggested that it had been dipped in the insulin, but not injected, as injecting it would've wiped the needle clean. He was acquitted. Thomas Martin Thompson. Laguna Beach, California. Thompson was convicted and executed for the rape and murder of Ginger Fleischli, a crime for which he is widely believed to be innocent.
The prosecution did not inform the judge or the defense that they had also charged and later convicted another person of the crime. Grover Thompson. Vernon, Illinois. Serial killer Timothy Krajcir broke into the apartment of Ida White and stabbed her in her shower. Thompson, who was sleeping in a post office across the street from White's apartment building, was arrested for the crime; the victim misidentified Krajcir as a black man, as did a man who witnessed the killer fleeing.
Thompson's possession of a pocket knife with a speck of dried blood was used as evidence against him. In December , Gary Masse and Stephen DeSantis, disguised as telephone repairmen, entered the home of an elderly couple in Rosemont, California, shot both occupants and stole six suitcases of silver. Masse's wife told the police that a woman named Gloria masterminded the robbery, prompting the police to arrest year-old Gloria Killian, a former law student with no criminal record.
After a preliminary hearing, the charges against Killian were dismissed. Masse was sentenced to life in prison without parole. However, after striking a deal with the Sacramento Sheriff's Department to reduce his sentence in exchange for testimony against others involved, Masse implicated Killian. Killian was re-arrested, and based solely on Masse's testimony, a jury convicted her of first-degree murder, attempted murder, burglary, robbery and conspiracy and sentenced her to years-to-life in prison. Masse's sentence was reduced to 25 years. Ten years later, defense investigators discovered the deal struck between Masse and prosecutors, including a letter where Masse wrote to the prosecutors, "I lied my ass off for you people.
The prosecutor, Christopher Cleland, was admonished by the California State Bar for his conduct in the case. In , students in a journalism course taught by Northwestern University professor David Protess investigated the crime as part of a class assignment for the Medill Innocence Project. The students gathered evidence exposing serious flaws in the prosecution. A witness recanted , saying that Chicago police had "threatened, harassed and intimidated" him into accusing Porter. Another student noted that the shot had been fired by a left-handed shooter; Porter was right-handed.
Inez Jackson, the estranged wife of Alstory Simon, came forward and said that she had been with Simon when he killed Hilliard in retaliation for "skimming money from drug deals". Four days later, Simon himself confessed to the crime on videotape. Protess and the students came forward with the information. Porter was released. Simon and his wife later recanted. Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz. Carter was murdered in her apartment following a night out with friends at a local bar.
Evidence against the men included expert testimony in hair analysis, which is now regarded as unreliable. Ada resident Glen Gore testified against both Williamson and Fritz that Carter had complained to a friend that Williamson "made her nervous". Gore was later connected to the murder by DNA testing and convicted. Earl Washington Jr. Washington, a farmworker who is mildly mentally retarded, was exonerated in by DNA tests. He was convicted solely on the basis of coerced confessions during which he seemed to have little knowledge of the crime, the victim's appearance, or the location of the crime.
Briscoe was tried for a rape and robbery. After the rape, the perpetrator smoked a cigarette, leaving the butt behind. While at the crime scene, the victim asked the perpetrator for his name. He told her his name was John Briscoe. Briscoe's photo was shown to the victim. A week later, she picked him out of a lineup in which he was the only one wearing a prison jumpsuit; the other men were wearing civilian clothing. Briscoe was convicted on the basis of a cross-racial eyewitness identification and hair analysis of hairs found at the crime scene, both of which are known to have a high degree of unreliability.
In , the cigarette butt was found from the crime scene matching another man named Larry Smith. Briscoe had heard rumors that Smith was the perpetrator and confronted him about it. Smith denied that he was involved. It is unknown why Smith used Briscoe's name during the crime, although he may have done it in order to frame Briscoe.
Denise Walker was killed during a robbery at the home of her boyfriend, Willie Finley. One burglar struck Finley on the head as he was returning from a store, and then brought him into the house where he ordered Walker to let in a second burglar. Walker's mother told police that Willie Green had robbed Denise a year earlier. Finley identified Green in a lineup and he was convicted. Green sought help from Centurion Ministries, a New Jersey -based wrongful conviction advocacy group.
In , during their reinvestigation, Finley recanted his testimony. He said that he was high on crack at the time of the attack and that his eyesight had been impaired by the blow to the head. He told investigators that he did not identify Green until police suggested Green as the attacker and told him of the earlier robbery. Based on Finley's recantation, his conviction was vacated in March , and prosecutors decided not to retry him. Juan Roberto Melendez-Colon. Melendez had an alibi and was convicted largely on testimony of David Falcon, who had a longstanding grudge against Melendez.
Witnesses said Falcon had threatened to kill Melendez at some point prior to Melendez allegedly confessing to him. His appeal was denied three times when defense lawyers discovered a taped confession made by Vernon James. In light of the new evidence, Justice Barbara Fleischer determined that Melendez was entitled to a new trial. The state of Florida declined to prosecute a second time since the key witness at the original trial, David Falcon, was now dead and another witness for the prosecution had since recanted his testimony.
John Gordon Purvis. Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Police received a tip that a man named Robert Wayne Beckett Sr. Eventually a new set of detectives investigated Beckett, who admitted to the murder for hire of Susan Hamwi on the instruction of Paul Hamwi, her ex-husband. He named Paul Serio as an accomplice. Glenn Ford. An all-white jury delivered a guilty verdict without any physical evidence directly linking Ford to the crime, with the inexperienced public defenders unable to secure any witnesses.
Evidentiary hearings in and found the state failed to disclose exculpatory evidence. The state actively suppressed evidence from before the trial that showed two confidential witnesses corroborating Ford's story that he became involved in the crime after the murders, and that another man was in possession of the murder weapon after the crime.
In , the state notified Ford's counsel that a confidential informant for the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office stated that another man confessed to the murder. Ford was exonerated and released in Capozzi spent 21 years in prison maintaining his innocence when in , a woman was killed along a bike path in a Buffalo suburb. Investigators noticed similarities to a number of other rapes and murders in the area and believed they were committed by one individual.
DNA testing implicated Altemio Sanchez, who would eventually plead guilty to the murder and two others. At least eight crimes were eventually linked to Sanchez via DNA analysis. During the investigation, a detective noticed that one of Capozzi's alleged victims testified that she saw her rapist driving several days later and she copied down his license plate information. When the police initially investigated the tip, they found the owner of the vehicle, but he had an alibi. He was reinterviewed in and admitted that he had lent the car to his nephew, Altemio Sanchez, that day.
Employees of Fells Acres Day Care. Gerald Amirault , a worker at Fells Acres Day Care Center, was charged with molesting more children, and charges were brought against his mother, Violet Amirault, founder of the school and sister, Cheryl Amirault LeFave. In , Gerald Amirault was convicted of assaulting and raping nine children and sentenced to 30 to 40 years in prison. In , at a separate trial, his mother and sister were convicted of similar crimes against four children and sentenced to jail for eight to 20 years.
Much of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' case depended on the information obtained in the interviews of the children who were allegedly sexually abused by the Amiraults. The interviews claimed that the children were raped with knives, sticks, forks, and magic wands; were assaulted by a clown allegedly Gerald in a "secret room" and a "magic room"; were forced to drink urine ; were tied naked to a tree; and many other acts. The main criticism of this case was directed to reliability of the information obtained from the children.
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The bulk of the evidence was developed through videotaped interviews conducted by Susan J. Kelley , a pediatric nurse. The children repeatedly told interviewers, including Kelley, that nothing happened to them. However, the questioning continued and eventually the children claimed all these things happened. Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Baran's conviction is cited as an example of the day-care sex-abuse hysteria of the s and s as well as a case of homophobia. The Baran case is the subject of the documentary film Freeing Bernie Baran.
Leroy Orange was arrested along with his half-brother Leonard Kidd. He was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend, Renee Coleman, and four other people on the basis of a confession allegedly obtained through torture methods such as beating, suffocation, and electroshock. He was pardoned in Kidd's death sentence was commuted to life in prison. He maintains his innocence and contends that his confession was elicited through torture as well. On July 25, , a 9-year-old girl was found dead in a wooded area.
She had been beaten with a rock, sexually assaulted, and strangled. Kirk Bloodsworth was convicted on March 8, , of sexual assault, rape, and first-degree premeditated murder. A Baltimore County judge sentenced Bloodsworth to death. He was exonerated almost nine years later after DNA testing excluded him. Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Hunt was convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony. He was later cleared by DNA testing. Thomas Haynesworth.
Haynesworth was arrested at the age of 18 in after a woman identified him as her attacker. He was convicted of a series of violent rapes in Richmond, Virginia , now believed to have been committed by a neighbor who resembled Haynesworth. In , new state laws and procedures allowed for DNA testing , which was not available in the s, and semen collected from the first attack implicated the neighbor. Smith died in Anthony Ray Hinton. Hinton was sentenced to death in for two murders he did not commit. The US Supreme Court ruled in that his defense lawyer had been deficient.
Prosecutors admitted that the bullets found at the scene did not match Hinton's gun; Hinton's conviction was thrown out by a circuit court judge in April and he was freed.
In April , a nurse taking a rectal temperature from a 4-year-old boy reported to authorities that he said, "That's what my teacher does to me at nap time at school. Michaels was convicted of counts of sexual abuse. Penny Ann Beerntsen was jogging along Lake Michigan when she was grabbed from behind, dragged into a wooded area and raped. Despite having alibis, Avery was convicted on the basis of a visual identification by the victim and visual hair analysis. Avery was exonerated and released. As a result of the case, Wisconsin made changes to their eyewitness protocol.
Cole was convicted of rape on basis of a visual identification by the victim. However, Cole never smoked because of his severe asthma. He died in prison on December 2, , from an asthma attack. Another man, Jerry Wayne Johnson, confessed to the rape in DNA evidence later confirmed that the rape was committed by Johnson.
Johnny Lee Wilson. In , Wilson was pardoned by the governor of Missouri, Mel Carnahan. He had been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of an elderly woman. Wilson confessed to the crime, but Carnahan concluded in his investigation that Wilson, a mentally challenged twenty-year-old, was coerced by the authorities. Carnahan also concluded that there was no evidence linking Wilson to the murder.
Michael Morton. Williamson County, Texas. Norwood was subsequently convicted of Christine's murder. He also is a suspect in the murder of Debra Baker in her Austin home. Both women were beaten to death in their beds. He gave up his law license and served five days in jail as part of a plea bargain. Two-year-old Cynthia Collins perished in an apartment fire while her mother was away. Her mother told police that Richey was babysitting. After partying with Cynthia's mother, Richey agreed to keep an eye on the girl in exchange for a place to sleep for the night.
Richey was able to escape when the fire broke out, but Cynthia died from smoke inhalation. He was convicted on a number of charges related to starting the fire. The scientific evidence presented at trial to prove this was not accidental was highly disputed, and his conviction was eventually overturned. In lieu of taking the case to trial again, prosecutors had offered to accept a "no contest" plea to attempted involuntary manslaughter , child endangerment and breaking and entering in exchange for release.
Although his conviction still stands, the case gained widespread attention across Europe.
Amnesty International described his case as "the most compelling case of innocence we have come across on death row. Barboursville, West Virginia. Two victims in two separate incidents were abducted, raped, and robbed. The assailant wore a ski mask, but both victims noted a few characteristics, such as the perpetrator was uncircumcised. Woodall was convicted on circumstantial evidence, including testimony that he shared the same blood type, similar body and beard hair, voice identification, and a partial visual identification by victim two, and the fact that Woodall was uncircumcised.
Tim Masters. Murder of Peggy Hettrick. Fort Collins, Colorado. Masters was a sophomore in high school at the time of the murder. He was convicted largely on the basis of graphic drawings by Masters portraying violent scenes. He was later eliminated via DNA testing. In , special prosecutors assigned to the case agreed that critical information was not turned over to the original defense team.
Levon "Bo" Jones. Duplin County, North Carolina. Lovely Lorden, the sole witness against Jones, admitted in an affidavit that she "was certain that Bo did not have anything to do with Mr. Grady's murder" and that she did not know what happened the night Grady was murdered.
His conviction was overturned in and he was released. Santiago Ventura Morales. At trial, he was provided a Spanish interpreter, though his native language is Mixtec. He maintained his innocence and several jurors later had second thoughts about the conviction and began advocating that he be released from prison. The lack of an appropriate interpreter and other deficiencies in his trial led to his conviction being overturned as well as evidence that pointed to another person. James Calvin Tillman.
Accused and found guilty of rape, was released after DNA tests proved he was not the culprit. Tankleff's parents were murdered while the year-old Tankleff was sleeping in the home. He was convicted on the basis of a false confession given during an extended interrogation. His convictions were overturned in after his defense attorney presented an alternative scenario involving Seymour's business partner, to whom he owed money, and three former convicts, one of whom confessed to being the getaway driver. Several hours after the murder, a man named Chuck Gullion attempted to cash one of Dulan's checks at a local bank.
Gullion was arrested along with year-old Gayle Potter. Potter admitted to the killing, but implicated two others: Burrows and Ralph Frye, 22, a mildly retarded friend of Burrows. Employees at the Little Rascals day care facility. Edenton, North Carolina. In January, , allegations were made that Bob Kelly had sexually abused a child. A total of 90 children, after many therapy sessions in some cases up to ten months' worth , also made allegations leading to accusations against dozens besides Kelly and charges against seven adults Bob and Betsy Kelly, three workers at the day care, a worker at a local Head Start center and the son of a judge.
The charges ultimately involved rape , sodomy and fellatio , while other bizarre allegations were also made, including the murder of babies, torture and being thrown into a school of sharks. New York, New York. The five boys, who were between the ages of 14 and 16 at the time, were convicted of the assault and rape of Meili, who was jogging in Central Park. They were convicted and their convictions were upheld on appeal, though they asserted that their convictions were based on allegedly coerced confessions and allegedly faulty scientific evidence.
The convictions were vacated in when Matias Reyes, a convicted rapist and murderer serving a life sentence for other crimes, whose DNA evidence confirmed his involvement in the rape, claimed after the statute of limitations had run that he had committed the crimes alone, a claim the Armstrong Report disagreed with. She was convicted of murder and child abuse after her unresponsive son was rushed to the hospital. At retrial, one of Sabrina's neighbors corroborated her account of events and the medical examiner changed his opinion about Walter's cause of death, which he now believed occurred due to a renal condition.
Sabrina was acquitted. Hornoff was a police detective who had an affair with the victim. He was arrested in , and convicted by a jury of first-degree murder in June , despite what seemed a rock-solid alibi and no physical evidence linking him to the crime. Debra Jean Milke. Milke was convicted on the basis of testimony by police officer Armando Saldate that she had freely confessed to him, orally, in private and without a recording. Saldate had a long record of misconduct, including a suspension for taking "liberties" with a female motorist and then lying about it to his supervisors; four court cases where judges tossed out confessions or indictments because Saldate lied under oath; and four cases where judges suppressed confessions or vacated convictions because Saldate had violated the Fifth Amendment or the Fourth Amendment in the course of interrogations.
Loveless and Miller were convicted of murdering Loveless' 4-year-old daughter, April Renee Tucker, who died on the operating table after sustaining multiple lacerations, including a severed femoral artery. Loveless and Miller claimed that April had told them she had been attacked and mauled by dogs, but investigators rejected their theory, in large part because April's wound was a clean cut, lacking the jagged edges one would expect in a dog attack. On November 5, , they were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
While working on their appeal, lawyers for Miller and Loveless found that April's emergency room and autopsy photos, which had not been turned over the defense prior to the trial, strongly supported the theory that April was attacked by dogs. Furthermore, a key piece of prosecution evidence was found to be flawed: while trying to save April's life, doctors had cut away some of the damaged skin with scalpels, causing the clean cuts that had been mistakenly attributed to abuse. Based on the prosecution's failure to disclose potentially exculpatory evidence, Loveless and Miller's convictions were overturned and they were granted a new trial.
Loveless and Miller were released from prison on December 23, ; prosecutors elected not to re-try Loveless and Miller for the crime, and formally dismissed the charges against them on May 2, Arthur Lee Whitfield. Julius Ruffin. Jeffrey Mark Deskovic. Deskovic was convicted on the basis of a coerced confession.
He claims that during a 7-hour intensive interrogation, detectives fed him details and promised him he wouldn't go to prison if he confessed. Hair and semen samples collected did not match Deskovic, but prosecutors argued that they were from earlier consensual sex and were not related to the murder. Francisco "Franky" Carrillo. Carrillo was convicted on the basis of testimony of six teenage boys who witnessed the murder. He was released after five of the six witnesses recanted; the sixth refused to testify. They were between the ages of 14 and 16 at the time. Three of them confessed after high-pressure police interrogations, and all five were arrested and charged with the crime.
Two pleaded guilty and testified against the others in exchange for shorter sentences. Both men have since recanted their testimony. Each received at least 80 years in prison. DNA testing on semen excluded the suspects. A suit filed by the men alleges police withheld exculpatory evidence, including the DNA, from their defense teams. Cameron Todd Willingham. Willingham was convicted and executed for the death of his three children who died in a house fire. The prosecution charged that the fire was caused by arson.
He has not been posthumously exonerated, but the case has gained widespread attention as a possible case of wrongful execution. A number of arson experts have decried the results of the original investigation as faulty. In June , five years after Willingham's execution, the State of Texas ordered a re-examination of the case.
Craig Beyler found "a finding of arson could not be sustained". Beyler said that key testimony from a fire marshal at Willingham's trial was "hardly consistent with a scientific mind-set and is more characteristic of mystics or psychics". The new chair canceled the meeting, sparking accusations that Perry was interfering with the investigation and using it for his own political advantage. Maricopa County, Arizona. Krone was convicted twice largely on the basis of bitemark analysis, a science that would later come into question.
He was eventually cleared via DNA testing. Robert Jones. Jones was convicted largely on eyewitness identification, even though another man was also found guilty of the crimes and the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence. Jones' conviction was eventually overturned by the Louisiana Supreme Court , and all charges against him were subsequently dropped. Juan Rivera. Rivera was wrongfully convicted three times for the murder of Staker, who was babysitting at a neighbor's house when she was raped and murdered by an intruder.
Swabs were taken of a semen sample, but DNA testing was not performed at the time. Rivera was convicted on the basis of a confession that he claims was given under duress and which contained many factual inconsistencies. He was convicted twice before DNA testing was performed on the swabs taken from the crime scene. DNA testing excluded Rivera from being the source of the semen. Prosecutors decided to try him again despite the results of the DNA test, arguing that the semen sample was from consensual sex prior to the murder.
He was convicted a third time. McHenry County, Illinois. Following the murder, police interrogated Gauger for 18 hours. Detectives lied to Gauger, claiming they had found blood-soaked clothes in Gauger's bedroom and that he had failed a polygraph test. Gauger was instructed to discuss a hypothetical situation and describe how he would have killed his parents during a possible alcohol-induced blackout. The interrogation was not tape-recorded and Gauger did not sign a confession.
His hypothetical statements were later used in court in support of a claim that Gauger confessed to the crime. In , he was granted an appeal and his alleged confession was thrown out. Without that evidence they were forced to drop the charges. James Schneider and Randall E. Miller, members of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club , were later convicted of the murders. Gauger was pardoned in Lynn DeJac summoned police to her home on February 13, , after finding her daughter, Crystallyn Girard, dead in her bed.
DeJac told police that she spent the evening out with her boyfriend, Dennis Donohue, with whom she had had an argument that evening. The coroner ruled that she died from strangulation. Donohue became a suspect for a brief time after DeJac told police he may have returned to her house while she was out. He was arrested, but was later granted full immunity in return for testimony regarding DeJac's use of cocaine that evening.
Wayne Hudson, a childhood friend of DeJac, claimed that DeJac confessed to him that she had killed her daughter. She was convicted on the basis of the testimony from the two men. At the time he came forward, Hudson was facing forgery charges and a possible life sentence in prison as a repeat offender.
In , a new autopsy determined that Crystallyn died of a cocaine overdose, not strangulation. Police subjected Maxson to torture and beatings until he made a confession to the murder of Lindsay Murdoch. In spite of withdrawing his confession and lack of physical evidence against him, Maxson was convicted and sentenced to life plus 40 years. Wade confessed to the murder. Wyniemko was convicted on the basis of his resemblance to the composite sketch and identification of Wyniemko in a lineup by the victim.
Cousin was convicted on the basis of an eyewitness identification by Gerardi's date. It was later discovered that she had made statements to police indicating that she wasn't wearing her glasses and didn't get a good look at the assailant. This statement was not disclosed to the defense.
Another witness testified that he was coerced to testify against Cousin in exchange for a reduced sentence on his own charges. Aulander, North Carolina. Two teenage girls testified that they were involved in a conspiracy involving Gell in exchange for a lower sentence. Gell was in prison or otherwise out of town for all but one day in April. Although the date of death is unknown, prosecutors hitched their timeline to that date.
Gell's conviction was overturned after it was later discovered that prosecutors had withheld exculpatory evidence, including the testimony of 17 witnesses who said they had seen Jenkins alive after that date as well as a tape recording of one of the girls saying that she had to make up a story to tell the police. Gell was retried and acquitted of all charges. Decatur County, Indiana. Bunch was convicted of deliberately setting a fire in her mobile home that took the life of her 3-year-old son, Anthony.
The conviction was largely based on the testimonies of Fire Marshall investigators Brian Frank and James Skaggs, who claimed that the fire was caused by the presence of liquid accelerants that had been poured across the floor. Their testimony was corroborated by forensic analyst William Kinard, who found traces of liquid accelerants in wood samples taken from the home. About a year into his year sentence, he knew this was a harbinger of bad news.
Then the chaplain instructed Mills to hang up the phone; his time was up. All kind of things going through your mind. Mills had served about 11 years in prison and then three more on the sex offender registry. This reporter worked at the Innocence Project from to in the intake and evaluation department. But Mills still has one hurdle left to overcome: an exoneration from the governor. Under Tennessee state law , wrongfully convicted people can file for compensation only after the governor has exonerated them. The state parole board evaluates exoneration applications and then makes a nonbinding recommendation to the governor.
But Mills has not given up. According to his attorney, Daniel Horwitz, Mills plans to submit another request, this time directly to the newly elected governor, Bill Lee, who took office in January. McKinney was convicted of rape and burglary in , and sentenced to over years in prison. In , DNA testing results showed he was innocent; his conviction was set aside, the charges were dismissed, and McKinney was released from prison.
But, the parole board twice rejected his request for an exoneration—once in and again in , according to Raybin. McDonald said the board had reasons for its decision. An online petition in support of McKinney garnered more than 12, signatures. In the eyes of the judicial system, Mr. McKinney is innocent. Bill Haslam, Tennessee. Finally, on Dec. Gutman, professor of clinical law at The George Washington University Law School, who researches wrongful convictions and compensation. Yet 21 wrongful convictions have been discovered in Tennessee since , according to the National Registry of Exonerations.
Of those 21, nine people applied for an exoneration; of the nine, five were granted a hearing; and of the five hearings, two were recommended for exoneration, according to McDonald. About 14 percent of those 21 have been compensated, far below the national average of about 37 percent, according to data compiled by Gutman.
Out of the 33 states plus the District of Columbia that have a compensation statute, nearly all mandate a judicial or administrative procedure for establishing eligibility for compensation, which includes an appeals process, he explained. Brown was 16 years old when, fearing for her life, she killed a man who had hired her for sex work. She was convicted of murder and given a life sentence. She is scheduled to be released in August.