List of exonerated death row inmates

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This list contains names of people who were found guilty of capital crimes and placed on death row, and were later found to be wrongly convicted. Some people were exonerated posthumously.

This list includes individuals who were sentenced to death and had their sentences overturned by acquittal or pardon.[1] The state listed is the state where the individual was convicted, the year listed is the year of release, and the case listed is the case that overturned their conviction.

This list does not include:

  1. posthumous pardons for individuals executed before 1950;
  2. inmates who were given life sentences when their country, province or state abolished the death penalty;
  3. people who were threatened with death and never jailed;
  4. people who were jailed by extralegal groups or courts, for example as often occurs in cases of sentences of stoning.

List by country[edit]




United Kingdom[edit]

In 1965, the UK outlawed the death penalty for murder when evidence of wrongful executions surfaced.[3][4]




  • Death penalty for murder abolished.[9][10]


  • Despite abolition in the UK, the separate legal systems meant death sentences still passed in Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands but with no likelihood of them being carried out. One Provisional Irish Republican Army member sentenced to death for murder before this anomaly was abolished. European Union protocols signed in 1999 on human rights mean no death penalty statute can exist in an EU country.[citation needed]

United States[edit]





  • Joseph Green Brown. He was re-arrested in 2012 and charged with another murder in North Carolina.[12]


  • Randall Dale Adams, Texas (Ex Parte Adams, 768 S.W.2d 281) (Tex. Crim App. 1989). Convicted 1977.[13][14]
  • On April 8, 2010, former death row inmate Timothy B. Hennis, once exonerated in 1989, was reconvicted of a triple murder, thereby dropping him from the list of those exonerated.[15]




  • Robert Charles Cruz. (Cruz disappeared in 1997. His remains were found in 2007.[17])


  • Joseph Burrows. Joseph Burrows was released from death row after his attorney Kathleen Zellner persuaded the real killer to confess at the post-conviction hearing, and Peter Rooney, a reporter for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, obtained a recantation from a key witness.[18] The Burrows case was the subject of a book by Rooney titled Die Free: A True Story of Murder, Betrayal and Miscarried Justice.


  • Shareef Cousin, Louisiana (Louisiana v. Cousin, 710 So. 2d 1065 (1998)). Convicted 1996.[20]
  • Anthony Porter, Illinois. Convicted 1983.[21]
  • Ron Williamson, Oklahoma. Convicted 1988. Along with Gregory R. Wilhoit, Williamson later became the inspiration for and subject of John Grisham's 2006 non-fiction book The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town.[16]





  • Nicholas Yarris, Pennsylvania Convicted 1982.[28]




  • Nathson Fields, Illinois. Convicted 1986.[35]
  • Paul House, Tennessee. Convicted 1986.[36][37]
  • Daniel Wade Moore, Alabama. Convicted 2002.[38]
  • Ronald Kitchen, Illinois. Convicted 1988.[39]
  • Michael Toney, Texas. Convicted 1999. Toney later died in a car accident on October 3, 2009, just one month and a day after his exoneration.[40]



  • Joe D'Ambrosio, Ohio. Convicted 1989. While he was freed in 2010, but not yet exonerated, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the state of Ohio challenging the unconditional writ of habeas corpus and bar to D'Ambrosio's re-prosecution on January 23, 2012, nearly 2 years later, making D'Ambrosio the 140th death row exoneree since 1973.[41][42]
  • Anthony Graves, Texas. Convicted 1994.[43]


  • Gussie Vann, Tennessee. Convicted 1994.[44]


  • Damon Thibodeaux, Louisiana. Convicted 1997.[45]
  • Seth Penalver, Florida. Convicted 1994.[46]


  • Reginald Griffin, Missouri. Convicted 1983.[47]


  • Glenn Ford, Louisiana. Convicted 1984.[48]


  • Previous Canadian government policy was that in all but exceptional cases, Canada will not extradite accused murderers unless the death sentence will not be imposed, or if imposed, not carried out. This diplomatic commutation arrangement stems from the 2001 case of United States v. Burns. In 2008, the incumbent government announced that it would no longer participate in clemency dealings. The decision was met with criticism from human rights activists and Canadian citizens.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Innocence: List of Those Freed from Death Row". Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  2. ^ McNeill, David; Mason, C.M. (August 4, 2007). "One who has lived to tell the tale". The Japan Times.
  3. ^ "Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965". UK Statute Law Database. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  4. ^ "1969: MPs vote to abolish hanging". "On This Day". BBC. 2005. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  5. ^ Mary Westlake v Criminal Cases Review Commission [2004] EWHC 2779 (Admin) (17 November 2004), High Court (England and Wales). It includes a segment from the Hansard transcript of Jenkins's decision to recommend a pardon in the House of Commons.
  6. ^ "Hanged man's pardon 'inadequate'". British Broadcasting Corporation. 16 November 2004. Retrieved 6 September 2010. 
  7. ^ "Open verdict on hanged man's son". BBC News. 22 October 2003. 
  8. ^ Court of Appeal judgment [1998] EWCA Crim 2516 (30 July 1998)
  9. ^ "MURDER (ABOLITION OF DEATH PENALTY)". Hansard, 16 December 1969.
  10. ^ "MURDER (ABOLITION OF DEATH PENALTY) ACT 1965". Hansard, 18 December 1969.
  11. ^ Tibbs, Delbert Lee (2001). "Studs Terkel: Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Center on Wrongful Convictions". Northwestern University School of Law. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  12. ^ "Former death row inmate now charged in wife's killing". Fox News. September 17, 2012
  13. ^ Suro, Roberto (March 2, 1989). "Conviction Voided in Texas Murder". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  14. ^ Suro, Roberto (November 27, 1988). "Death Row Luck: 'I'm Still Alive'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  15. ^ Schwartz, John (April 8, 2010). "In 3rd Trial, Conviction in Murders From 1985". The New York Times.
  16. ^ a b Grisham, John (2006). The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town. Doubleday Books
  17. ^ "Bones linked to jailed hit man". March 29, 2007
  18. ^ Warden, Rob. "Joseph Burrows: Perjured testimony by the actual killer put Joseph Burrows on death row". Center on Wrongful Convictions. Northwestern University School of Law. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  19. ^ "Why Innocent People Confess to Murder". ABC News. 09 Nov. 2010.
  20. ^ Getting Off Death Row, NPR, March 26, 2007 
  21. ^ Cohen, Stanley (2003). The Wrong Men: America's Epidemic of Wrongful Death Row Convictions. Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-7867-1258-8. 
  22. ^ "Know the Cases: Browse Profiles: Earl Washington". The Innocence Project. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  23. ^ Chachere, Vickie: "Florida Death Row Inmate To Be Released After 17 Years", Associated Press, Jan 3, 2002
  24. ^ "Former Death Row Inmate Acquitted in One Court, Now Convicted in Another". Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  25. ^ "Revision to the List of Exonerated Individuals". Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  26. ^ "Know the Cases: Browse Profiles: Ray Krone". The Innocence Project. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  27. ^ Delikat, Stacey (April 27, 2012). "Death row exoneree celebrates 10 years of freedom".
  28. ^ Pennsylvania v. Yarris, No 690-OF1982, Court of Common Pleas, Delaware County, September 3, 2003. Order vacating conviction.
  29. ^ Joseph Neff (2004-12-19). "N.C. Prosecutors Stifled Evidence". The News & Observer. pp. A1. 
  30. ^ "Death Row Inmate Freed After 15 Years". WRAL-TV. April 2, 2008.
  31. ^ Linehan, Julie (September 3, 2013). "In justice system, back to business as usual". News & Observer.
  32. ^ Merchant, Nomaan (November 13, 2012). "Michael Blair, Texas Man Who Admitted Rape, Wrongly Imprisoned For Murder, Seeks Compensation". The Huffington Post.
  33. ^ Jennings, Diane (August 23, 2013). "Texas Supreme Court denies admitted child rapist Michael Blair compensation for wrongful conviction in Ashley Estell murder". The Dallas Morning News.
  34. ^ Cross, Alexandra. "Michael Blair". National Registry of Exonerations. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  35. ^ "Judge won't declare ex-death row inmate innocent". ABC 7 Chicago/Associated Press. March 5, 2014.
  36. ^ Grinberg, Emanuella (May 14, 2009). " Exonerated death row inmate: 'Took 'em long enough'". CNN.
  37. ^ Satterfield, Jamie (May 12, 2009). "Prosecutor drops charges; House's family 'on Cloud Nine'".
  38. ^ McClain, Clarissa; Galloway, Drew (June 17, 2013). "The Top Stories from the Past 50 Years". WHNT 19 News.
  39. ^ Blakley, Derrick (September 5, 2013). "City Poised To Pay Another Police-Torture Settlement". CBS 2 Chicago.
  40. ^ "Michael Toney, Recently Exonerated from Death Row in Texas, Dies in Car Crash". Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  41. ^ Krouse, Peter (March 5, 2010). "Joe D'Ambrosio, once on death row on murder charge, now free after judge dismisses all charges".
  42. ^ "INNOCENCE: Ohio's "Substantial Inequitable Conduct" Leads to Nation's 140th Death Row Exoneration". Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  43. ^ Rogers, Brian (October 27, 2010). "Texas sets man free from death row". Houston Chronicle.
  44. ^ "Recently Cleared Tennessee Inmate Added to List of Exonerations". Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  45. ^ Blackmon, Douglas A. (September 28, 2012). "Louisiana death-row inmate Damon Thibodeaux exonerated with DNA evidence". The Washington Post.
  46. ^ "Former death row inmate acquitted; released from jail". Local Miami. December 22, 2012.
  47. ^ "INNOCENCE: Another Exoneration from Death Row--Reginald Griffin of Missouri". Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  48. ^ Bever, Lindsey (March 12, 2014). "After nearly 30 years on death row, Glenn Ford is exonerated — and free". The Washington Post.
  49. ^ Iacovetta, Franca (2004). "Angelina Napolitano". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2004. Retrieved June 2008

External links[edit]