Overturned convictions in the United States

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This is a list of notable overturned convictions in the United States.

Alabama[edit]

Blount County

Bill Wilson was convicted of the 1912 murder of his wife and child and sentenced to life in jail. He was exonerated in 1918 when they were both found living in Indiana.

Jackson County

The Scottsboro Boys were nine black juveniles convicted of an alleged 1931 rape of a white girl, eight of whom were initially sentenced to die by the electric chair. All were later either pardoned or had their convictions overturned.

Arizona[edit]

Maricopa County

Ray Krone was sentenced to death for the 1991 murder of a bar manager. Bite marks found on the victim were said to match Krone's teeth. DNA tests exonerated Krone in 2001.

Arkansas[edit]

Marion County

Charles Hudspeth was convicted of the 1887 murder of his lover's missing husband. Hudspeth was hanged in 1892, but the husband was found alive, living in Kansas in 1893.

California[edit]

Alameda County

Huey Newton was convicted of the 1967 manslaughter of John Frey, an Oakland Patrolman. His conviction was overturned in 1970.

Los Angeles County

  • Francisco "Franky" Carrillo was convicted of the 1991 murder of Donald Sarpy and sentenced to life in jail. His conviction was reversed by the Los Angeles County Superior Court on March 14, 2011, after he had served twenty years in prison.
  • Geronimo Pratt, a Black Panther leader, was convicted in 1972 of the 1968 murder of a white school teacher and sentenced to life in jail. He was exonerated in 1997.

Florida[edit]

Miami-Dade County

  • Joseph Shea was convicted of the 1959 murder of an airline clerk and sentenced to life in jail. He was retried and acquitted in 1966.[1]

DeSoto County

  • James Joseph Richardson was convicted of the 1967 poisoning murder of seven of his children and sentenced to death. He was exonerated in 1989.

Gulf County

  • Wilbert Lee & Freddie Pitts were sentenced to death for the 1963 robbery and murder of two Port St. Joe gas station attendants. They were released and pardoned in 1975.

Leon County

  • Five black men were accused of murdering an off-duty sheriff's deputy in 1970. Two were convicted (David Keaton was given the death sentence) before evidence emerged that exonerated all five.[2]

Georgia[edit]

Chatham County

Douglas Echols was convicted of a 1986 kidnapping, rape, and robbery and sentenced to 31 years in jail. DNA tests exonerated him in 2004.

Cobb County

The Marietta Seven were convicted of the 1971 murder of two physicians in Marietta. The seven were exonerated in 1975.

DeKalb County

Clarence Harrison was convicted of the 1986 kidnapping, robbery, and rape of a 25-year-old woman in Decatur and sentenced to life in jail. DNA tests exonerated him in 2004.

Floyd County

Marcus Dixon was convicted in 2003 of the rape of Kristie Brown, a 15-year-old schoolgirl. These charges were later overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court and dropped to statutory rape.

Fulton County

Leo Frank was convicted of the 1913 murder of a 13-year-old female employee in Atlanta. He was lynched in 1915, and posthumously pardoned in 1986.

Illinois[edit]

Cook County

Majczek and Marcinkiewicz were convicted of the 1932 murder of a Chicago police officer and were each sentenced to 99 years in jail. They were exonerated in 1945 and 1950.

Gary Dotson was convicted of a 1977 rape after he was identified by the victim and sentenced to 25 to 50 years in jail. The victim recanted in 1985 and DNA tests cleared him in 1989.

The Ford Heights Four (two of which were sentenced to death) were convicted of the 1978 murder of an engaged couple. DNA tests exonerated them in 1996.[3]

Anthony Porter was sentenced to death for the 1982 murder of an engaged couple. He was exonerated in 1989.

David Dowaliby was convicted of the 1988 murder of his stepdaughter and sentenced to 45 years in jail. His conviction was reversed in 1991 on the grounds of insufficient evidence.[4]

Lawrence County

Julie Rea Harper was convicted of the 1997 murder of her 10-year-old son and sentenced to 65 years in prison. She was acquitted on retrial in 2006.[5]

Indiana[edit]

Floyd County

David Camm was tried twice and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife and two children. He was acquitted upon retrial in 2013. DNA found at the scene linked Charles Boney to the murders. Boney is serving 225 years in prison for the murders.

St. Joseph County

Richard Alexander was convicted of committing two 1996 rapes. He was exonerated of the crimes in 2001.

Louisiana[edit]

Orleans Parish

Shareef Cousin was sentenced to death for a 1995 murder. He was released in 1998.

Mychal Bell was sentenced to 22 years for assault. Overturned September 14, 2007

Gregory Bright was sentenced to life for a 1973 murder. He was released in 2003.

Curtis Kyles was sentenced to death in 1994 for the murder of a woman. He was released in 1998

Maryland[edit]

Baltimore County

Michael Austin was convicted of the 1974 murder of a grocery store security guard and sentenced to life in prison. After 27 years in jail he was exonerated in 2001.[6]

Kirk Bloodsworth was convicted of the 1985 rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl and sentenced to death. DNA tests exonerated him in 1993.

Massachusetts[edit]

Norfolk County

Sacco and Vanzetti were convicted of a 1920 double homicide and robbery. They were executed in 1927. Massachusetts Governor Dukakis in 1977 issued a proclamation that "...that any stigma and disgrace should be forever removed from the names of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti..." and declared August 23 1977 as Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti memorial day.[7]

Suffolk County

Lawyer Johnson was sentenced to death for a 1971 Roxbury murder. He was exonerated in 1982.[8]

Michigan[edit]

Macomb County

Ken Wyniemko was convicted of a 1984 rape and robbery of a 28-year-old woman and sentenced to 40-60 years in prison. DNA tests exonerated him in 2003.

Missouri[edit]

Boone County

Ryan Ferguson was convicted of the 2001 murder of sports editor Kent Heitholt and sentenced to 40 years in jail. His conviction was overturned in 2013 and he was released after key witnesses recanted their testimony.

St. Louis County

Johnny Briscoe was convicted of a 1982 rape and robbery and sentenced to 45 years in jail. DNA tests exonerated him in 2006.

New Jersey[edit]

Essex County

Bill MacFarland was convicted of the 1911 arsenic murder of his wife and sentenced to death in the electric chair. He was acquitted on retrial.[9]

Mercer County

The Trenton Six were convicted of the 1948 murder of a Trenton shopkeeper and sentenced to death. All six were exonerated by 1952.

Passaic County

Rubin Carter, a middleweight boxer was convicted twice of a 1966 triple murder and sentenced to a double life sentence. His conviction was overturned in 1985 and the indictments withdrawn in 1987.

New York[edit]

New York County

The Central Park Five were five Harlem teens convicted of the 1989 assault and rape of a jogger in New York's Central Park. They served their sentences but afterwards their convictions were set aside in 2002 when DNA evidence cleared them and another man confessed to the crime.

Westchester County

In 1998 Kian Daniel Khatibi was convicted of a double stabbing after detectives from the Village of Pleasantville falsely claimed that the victims had identified Kian as their attacker and then forwarded this false information to the Westchester County District Attorney. In 2008, Kian was released from prison as the truth unraveled and the conviction was overturned.[10][11]

Jeffrey Mark Deskovic was convicted of the 1989 of rape and murder of a high school classmate and sentenced to 15 years-life in jail. He was exonerated in 2006 when the DNA from the crime was matched to another person.

North Carolina[edit]

Forsyth County

Darryl Hunt was convicted of the 1984 rape and murder of a newspaper reporter and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was exonerated in 2004 after DNA evidence and the confession of the true killer.

Ohio[edit]

Cuyahoga County

Dr. Sam Sheppard was convicted of the 1955 murder of his wife and sentenced to life in jail. He was acquitted on retrial in 1966.

Oklahoma[edit]

Cleveland County

Thomas Webb III, sentenced to 60+ years, served 13 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence.[12]

Oklahoma County

David Johns Bryson, sentenced to 85 years in jail, served 16 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence.[13]

Curtis Edward McCarty, sentenced to death, served 11 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence.[14]

Robert Miller, sentenced to death, served 10 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence.[15]

Jeffery Pierce, sentenced to 65 years, served 14.5 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence.[16]

Pontotoc County

Dennis Fritz, sentenced to life, served 11 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence.[17]

Calvin Lee Scott, sentenced to 25 years, served 20 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence.[18]

Ron Williamson, sentenced to death, served 11 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence.[19]

Tulsa County

Timothy Durham, sentenced to 3,220 years, served 3.5 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence.[20]

Arvin McGee, sentenced to 298 years, served 11 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence.[21]

Oregon[edit]

Clackamas County

Santiago Ventura Morales was convicted in 1986 of murdering a farm worker and sentenced to 10 years-life. He was exonerated in 1990.

Pennsylvania[edit]

Dauphin County

Jay C. Smith was convicted of the 1979 murder of a schoolteacher and her two children and sentenced to death. Smith’s conviction was overturned in 1992.

Delaware County

Nicholas Yarris was sentenced to death for a 1981 rape and murder. DNA tests exonerated him in 2004.[22]

Philadelphia County

Fred Thomas was convicted of the 1993 murder of a Federal Express truck driver and sentenced to death. The conviction was overturned in 2002.[23]

South Carolina[edit]

Chester County

Two black brothers Thomas Griffin and Meeks Griffin were convicted of the 1913 murder of John Q. Lewis, a Confederate veteran, and executed in the electric chair. They were pardoned in 2009.[24]

Clarendon County

14 year old black George Stinney was convicted of the 1944 murder of two white girls and executed in the electric chair within three months of his conviction. He was exonerated in 2014.[25]

Texas[edit]

Burleson County

Anthony Charles Graves was convicted of the August 18, 1992 mass murder of six people in Somerville, after being implicated in the crime by Robert Carter - the father of one of the victims. Carter was executed in May 2000 for his part in the crime - and in his final statement took sole responsibility for the crime: "To the Davis family, I am sorry for all of the pain that I caused your family. It was me and me alone. Anthony Graves had nothing to do with it. I lied on him in court. ... Anthony Graves don't even know anything about it".[26]

After spending 12 years on Death Row, Graves' conviction was overturned on March 3, 2006 by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals when, in an a unanimous opinion, a three judge panel held that the state’s case had hinged on Carter’s perjured testimony,[27] and concluded that the Prosecutor, Charles Sebesta, had intentionally withheld evidence that could have helped Graves; most notably that Carter had recanted right before he testified at Grave's August 1992 trial.[28]

Graves was held for an additional four years in solitary confinement[27] in the Burleson County jail awaiting retrial until October 27, 2010, when he was released after all charges were dismissed by Burleson County Special Prosecutor Kelly Siegler, who concluded, "He’s an innocent man. There is nothing that connects Anthony Graves to this crime."[29]

Graves was awarded $1.4 million by the State of Texas in June 2011 for his wrongful conviction.[30]

Dallas County

Randall Dale Adams was sentenced to death for of the 1976 murder of a police officer. He was exonerated in 1989.

Cornelius Dupree was convicted of aggravated robbery, which was alleged to have been committed during a rape in 1979. He was sentenced to 75 years in prison and paroled during the summer of 2010. After DNA evidence cleared him of the crime, he was declared innocent in January 2011. His 30 years of imprisonment is the longest of any exonerated inmate in Texas.[31]

Montgomery County

Clarence Brandley was sentenced to death for the 1980 rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl. He was exonerated in 1990.

Nueces County

Hannah Overton was sentenced to life without parole murdering her child when in fact he accidentally ingested a lethal amount of salt in Sept, 2007. On Sept 17, 2014, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction and remanded it back to the trial court.[32]

Smith County

Kerry Max Cook was sentenced to death for the 1977 murder of a 21-year-old secretary. He was freed in 1997.

Travis County

Richard Danziger and Chris Ochoa were convicted of a 1988 rape and murder of a woman and sentenced to life in jail. DNA tests and the confession of the true murderer exonerated the pair in 2001.

Williamson County

Michael Morton was convicted of the 1986 murder of his wife, sentenced to life and spent 25 years in prison. Morton was exonerated in 2011 after DNA evidence proved another man had committed the murder.

Virginia[edit]

Culpeper County

Earl Washington, Jr. was sentenced to death for a 1982 rape and murder. He was pardoned in 2000.

Wisconsin[edit]

Sherman Booth was convicted in January 1855 of violating the Fugitive Slave Act. The Wisconsin Supreme Court declared the Federal law unconstitutional and ordered Booth freed. In 1859, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Wisconsin court's decision, Ableman v. Booth, ordering Booth arrested and confined.

Milwaukee County

Lawrencia Bembenek was convicted of the 1981 murder of her husband's ex-wife. She won the right to a new trial in 1992. She pleaded no contest and her sentence was commuted to time served.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joseph Shea Victims of the State, Retrieved 20 November 2014
  2. ^ Northern Florida Victims of the State Retrieved 19 November 2014
  3. ^ Verneal Jimerson Northwestern University, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Retrieved 20 November 2014
  4. ^ Warden, Rob (June 2012) David Dwaliby University of Michigan Law School, National Registry of Exonerations, Retrieved 20 November 2014
  5. ^ The Julie Rea Harper Case University of Illinois Springfield, Innocence Project, Retrieved 20 November 2014
  6. ^ Michael Austin Maryland Victims of the State, Retrieved 20 November 2014
  7. ^ Aiuto, Russel (2014) The Legacy of Sacco & Vanzetti Crime Library, Turner Entertainment Network, Retrieved 17 December 2014
  8. ^ Lawyer Johnson Victims of the state, Retrieved 20 November 2014
  9. ^ Bill MacFarland Victims of the State, Retrieved 20 November 2014
  10. ^ Deskovic, Jeff (9 April 2009) The Wrongful Conviction And Exoneration Of Westchester Resident Kian Khatibi The Crime and Arrest The Westchester Guardian, Retrieved 19 November 2014
  11. ^ Deskovic, Jeff (16 April 2009) � The Wrongful Conviction And Exoneration Of Westchester Resident Kian Khatibi, Part2 The Westchester Guardian, Page 20, Retrieved 19 November 2014
  12. ^ "Thomas Webb". The Innocence Project. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  13. ^ "David Johns Bryson". The Innocence Project. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  14. ^ "Curtis McCarty". The Innocence Project. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  15. ^ "Robert Miller". The Innocence Project. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  16. ^ "Jeffrey Pierce". The Innocence Project. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  17. ^ "Dennis Fritz". The Innocence Project. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  18. ^ "Calvin Lee Scott". The Innocence Project. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  19. ^ "Ron Williamson". The Innocence Project. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  20. ^ "Timothy Durham". The Innocence Project. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  21. ^ "Arvin McGee". The Innocence Project. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  22. ^ Rush, James (3 April 2013) American, 51, cleared of rape and murder after spending 20 years on death row.. The Daily Mail Online, Retrieved 20 November 2014
  23. ^ Fred Thomas Victims of the State, Retrieved 20 November 2014
  24. ^ Spillius, Alex (2009-10-18). "South Carolina pardons black brothers convicted of 1913 killing". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-12-17. 
  25. ^ Dahl, Julia (17 December 2014) S.C. boy executed for 1944 murder is exonerated CBS News, Retrieved 17 December 2014
  26. ^ "Death Row Information". Retrieved 7 July 2012. 
  27. ^ a b Colloff, Pamela (Oct 2010). "Innocence Lost". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  28. ^ "Students help free wrongfully convicted man". CBS News: 48 Hours Mystery. March 18, 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  29. ^ Rogers, Brian "Prisoner ordered free from Texas' death row", The Houston Chronicle, Oct. 27, 2010.
  30. ^ "Wrongfully convicted Texas man to get $1.4M". CBS News: 48 hours Mystery. June 22, 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  31. ^ "DNA Clears Texas Man Who Spent 30 Years In Prison". National Public Radio. Associated Press. January 3, 2011. Retrieved January 4, 2011. 
  32. ^ http://www.search.txcourts.gov/SearchMedia.aspx?MediaVersionID=4c1752cd-4f86-4180-a5b8-f78da4bcebbd&coa=coscca&DT=OPINION&MediaID=71d7142e-73dc-4be3-9a4f-fa81a5f1803b