Anthony Ray Hinton

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Anthony Ray Hinton
Born (1956-06-01) June 1, 1956 (age 62)
Occupation Author, activist

Anthony Ray Hinton (born June 1, 1956) is an African American man from Alabama who was held on the state's death row for 28 years after being wrongly convicted of the murders of two restaurant workers in Birmingham, Alabama in 1985.[1][2][3][4][5]

He was released in 2015 after the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously overturned his conviction, and the state dropped all charges against him.[2]

He is the author of the memoir The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row (2018).[2]



On 25 February and 2 July 1985, two fast food workers, John Davidson and Thomas Wayne Vasona, were killed in separate incidents during armed robberies.[1] A survivor of a third restaurant robbery picked Hinton's photo out of a lineup, and the police investigated him. His defense attorney did not provide adequate counsel, and told him, "All of y'all Blacks always say you didn’t do something.[6]

The prosecution's only evidence at trial was a statement that ballistics tests showed crime scene bullets matched his mother's gun; there were no fingerprints or eyewitness testimony. Hinton was convicted of the two murders and sentenced to death.[1]

Hinton's appeals were handled by the Equal Justice Initiative (a non-profit based in Montgomery, Alabama), which worked on his case for 16 years.[4] During the appeals, they showed that the bullets from the crime scenes did not match Hinton's mother's gun, but the state of Alabama refused to grant a new trial.[1]


In an appeal that reached the US Supreme Court in 2014, the Court ruled that Hinton's original defense lawyer was "constitutionally deficient" and his case should be retried. Hinton's defense lawyer had wrongly thought he had only $1,000 available to hire a ballistics expert to rebut the state’s case on evidence. The only expert willing to testify at that price was a one-eyed civil engineer with little ballistics training, who admitted he had trouble operating the microscope.[3]

The Jefferson County district attorney’s office on April 1, 2015 moved to drop the case after their forensics experts were unable to match crime-scene bullets to Hinton's gun. Prosecutors then admitted that they could not match bullets found at the crime scene with Hinton's gun, the only evidence offered in the original murder trial.[1]

On April 3, 2015, Hinton was released from the prison after Laura Petro, Jefferson County Circuit judge, overturned his conviction and the state dropped all charges against him.[4][5]

Hinton is the 152nd person exonerated from death row in the United States since 1973 and the sixth in the state of Alabama.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Associated Press (4 April 2015). "Alabama man off death row after 28 years to jailers: You will answer to God". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c McGreal, Chris (1 April 2018). "'I went to death row for 28 years through no fault of my own'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  3. ^ a b Abby Phillip, "Alabama inmate free after three decades on death row. How the case against him unraveled", The Washington Post, 3 April 2015 (page visited on 9 April 2015).
  4. ^ a b c Daniella Silva. "Anthony Ray Hinton, Alaabama Man Who Spent 30 Years on Death Row, Has Case Dismissed". NBC News. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Alabama death row inmate freed after 30 years". BBC. 3 April 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  6. ^ Anthony Ray Hinton, "I spent 28 years on death row ", The Guardian, 21 October 2016 (page visited on 1 April 2018).
  7. ^ "Alabama man off death row after 28 years to jailers: You will answer to God". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 

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