List of exonerated death row inmates

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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]






  • The case of Su Chien-ho: Su Chien-ho (蘇建和), Liu Bing-lang (劉秉郎), and Chuang Lin-hsun (莊林勳) were sentenced to death for the 1991 murder of Wu Ming-han and his wife Yeh Ying-lan in Hsichih, Taipei county, Taiwan. They were acquitted in 2012.[3]


  • The case of Cheng Hsing-tse: Cheng Hsing-tse (鄭性澤) was sentenced to death for the 2002 murder of a police officer in Fengyuan, Taichung, Taiwan. He was acquitted in May 2016.[4]

United Kingdom[edit]




  • 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 was 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.[11]

United States[edit]

In October 2015, the Death Penalty Information Center said that there had been 156 exonerations of prisoners on death row in the United States since 1973.[12]





  • Joseph Green Brown. Although the prosecution dropped all charges after a new trial was ordered, his conviction was not expunged causing difficulty with employment, and no compensation was given. He was re-arrested in 2012 and charged with the murder of his wife in North Carolina, for which he was convicted on September 12, 2013.[14][15]
  • Perry Cobb. Illinois. Convicted October 15, 1979.[16]
  • Darby J. Tillis. Illinois. Convicted October 15, 1979. Perry Cobb and Darby Tillis, two African American men were convicted of First Degree Murder after a third trial by an all-white jury. The primary witness in the case, Phyllis Santini, was determined to be an accomplice of the actual killer by the Illinois Supreme Court. The Judge in the case, Thomas J. Maloney was later convicted of accepting bribes.[17]


  • Randall Dale Adams, Texas (Ex Parte Adams, 768 S.W.2d 281) (Tex. Crim App. 1989). Convicted 1977.[18][19] The Adams case was the subject of The Thin Blue Line.
  • US Army Master Sergeant Timothy B. Hennis, was exonerated in 1989 in North Carolina of a triple murder. In 2006 he was recalled to active service, court-martialed and reconvicted by the US Army in 2010 of the same murders, thereby dropping him from the list of those exonerated.[20]




  • Robert Charles Cruz, Illinois. Convicted 1966. (Cruz disappeared in 1997. His remains were found in 2007.[23])


  • Joseph Burrows, Illinois. Convicted 1989. 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.[24] The Burrows case was the subject of a book by Rooney titled Die Free: A True Story of Murder, Betrayal and Miscarried Justice.
  • Gary Gauger Illinois. Convicted 1995.[25]


  • Shareef Cousin, Louisiana (Louisiana v. Cousin, 710 So. 2d 1065 (1998)). Convicted 1996.[26]
  • Anthony Porter, Illinois. Convicted 1983.[27]
  • 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.[22]








  • Nathson Fields, Illinois. Convicted 1986.[44]
  • Paul House, Tennessee. Convicted 1986.[45][46]
  • Daniel Wade Moore, Alabama. Convicted 2002.[47]
  • Ronald Kitchen, Illinois. Convicted 1988.[48]
  • 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.[49]



  • 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 two years later, making D'Ambrosio the 140th death row exoneree since 1973.[50][51]
  • Anthony Graves, Texas. Convicted 1994.[52]


  • Gussie Vann, Tennessee. Convicted 1984




  • Reginald Griffin, Missouri. Convicted 1983.[56]




  • Isaiah McCoy, Delaware. Convicted 2010.[68]


  • Steven Truscott was convicted of a schoolmate's murder in 1959 and sentenced at age 14 to death by hanging. His sentence was commuted to life in prison four months later, and he was paroled in 1969. His conviction was overturned in 2007 for "miscarriage of justice".[69]

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. ^ "Hsichih Trio acquitted as 20-year murder case finally closed". Want Chinese Times. 31 August 2012.
  4. ^ "Cheng Hsing-tse freed from death row". Taipei Times. 4 May 2016.
  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'". BBC News. 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)". Retrieved 2017-06-28.
  9. ^ "MURDER (ABOLITION OF DEATH PENALTY)". Hansard, 16 December 1969.
  10. ^ "MURDER (ABOLITION OF DEATH PENALTY) ACT 1965". Hansard, 18 December 1969.
  11. ^ (10 October 2016) International Day against Death penalty European Commission, Memo 06/390, Press release, Retrieved 22 March 2015
  12. ^ Blinder, Alan (3 April 2015) Alabama Man Freed After Decades on Death Row New York Times, Retrieved 5 April 2015
  13. ^ Tibbs, Delbert Lee (2001). "Studs Terkel: Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Center on Wrongful Convictions". Northwestern University School of Law. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  14. ^ "Former death row inmate now charged in wife's killing". Fox News. September 17, 2012
  15. ^ "Joseph "Shabaka" Green Brown". National Registry of Exonerations, University of California-Irvine.
  16. ^ [1].Northwestern Law Center. January 15th, 2001
  17. ^ [2].Chicago Tribune. November 13th, 2014
  18. ^ Suro, Roberto (March 2, 1989). "Conviction Voided in Texas Murder". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  19. ^ Suro, Roberto (November 27, 1988). "Death Row Luck: 'I'm Still Alive'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  20. ^ Schwartz, John (April 8, 2010). "In 3rd Trial, Conviction in Murders From 1985". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Walter McMillian National Registry of Exonerations.
  22. ^ a b Grisham, John (2006). The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town. Doubleday Books
  23. ^ "Bones linked to jailed hit man". March 29, 2007
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ "Why Innocent People Confess to Murder". ABC News. 09 Nov. 2010.
  26. ^ Getting Off Death Row, NPR, March 26, 2007
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ "Know the Cases: Browse Profiles: Earl Washington" Archived 2010-06-27 at the Wayback Machine. The Innocence Project. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  29. ^ Chachere, Vickie: "Florida Death Row Inmate To Be Released After 17 Years", Associated Press, Jan 3, 2002
  30. ^ "Former Death Row Inmate Acquitted in One Court, Now Convicted in Another". Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  31. ^ "Revision to the List of Exonerated Individuals". Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  32. ^ "Know the Cases: Browse Profiles: Ray Krone". The Innocence Project. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  33. ^ Delikat, Stacey (April 27, 2012). "Death row exoneree celebrates 10 years of freedom".
  34. ^ Pennsylvania v. Yarris, No 690-OF1982, Court of Common Pleas, Delaware County, September 3, 2003. Order vacating conviction.
  35. ^ Gross, Alexandra (10 July 2014). "JOHN THOMPSON". The National Registry of Exonerations. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  36. ^ Joseph Neff (2004-12-19). "N.C. Prosecutors Stifled Evidence". The News & Observer. pp. A1.
  37. ^ Balleza, Maureen (October 8, 2004). "After 17 years on death row, Texas inmate walks free". The New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  38. ^ "OneLife LA". Retrieved 2018-12-31.
  39. ^ "Death Row Inmate Freed After 15 Years". WRAL-TV. April 2, 2008.
  40. ^ Linehan, Julie (September 3, 2013). "In justice system, back to business as usual" Archived 2014-03-13 at the Wayback Machine. News & Observer.
  41. ^ Merchant, Nomaan (November 13, 2012). "Michael Blair, Texas Man Who Admitted Rape, Wrongly Imprisoned For Murder, Seeks Compensation". The Huffington Post.
  42. ^ 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.
  43. ^ Cross, Alexandra. "Michael Blair". National Registry of Exonerations. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  44. ^ "Judge won't declare ex-death row inmate innocent". ABC 7 Chicago/Associated Press. March 5, 2014.
  45. ^ Grinberg, Emanuella (May 14, 2009). " Exonerated death row inmate: 'Took 'em long enough'". CNN.
  46. ^ Satterfield, Jamie (May 12, 2009). "Prosecutor drops charges; House's family 'on Cloud Nine'".
  47. ^ McClain, Clarissa; Galloway, Drew (June 17, 2013). "The Top Stories from the Past 50 Years". WHNT 19 News.
  48. ^ Blakley, Derrick (September 5, 2013). "City Poised To Pay Another Police-Torture Settlement". CBS 2 Chicago.
  49. ^ "Michael Toney, Recently Exonerated from Death Row in Texas, Dies in Car Crash". Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  50. ^ Krouse, Peter (March 5, 2010). "Joe D'Ambrosio, once on death row on murder charge, now free after judge dismisses all charges".
  51. ^ "INNOCENCE: Ohio's "Substantial Inequitable Conduct" Leads to Nation's 140th Death Row Exoneration". Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  52. ^ Rogers, Brian (October 27, 2010). "Texas sets man free from death row". Houston Chronicle.
  53. ^ "Recently Cleared Tennessee Inmate Added to List of Exonerations". Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  54. ^ Blackmon, Douglas A. (September 28, 2012). "Louisiana death-row inmate Damon Thibodeaux exonerated with DNA evidence". The Washington Post.
  55. ^ "Former death row inmate acquitted; released from jail". Local Miami. December 22, 2012.
  56. ^ "INNOCENCE: Another Exoneration from Death Row--Reginald Griffin of Missouri". Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  57. ^ Bever, Lindsey (March 12, 2014). "After nearly 30 years on death row, Glenn Ford is exonerated — and free". The Washington Post.
  58. ^ "State Supreme Court throws out death row inmate's conviction for 1987 killing". Tampa Bay Times. June 13, 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  59. ^ "Half-brothers to go free after convictions overturned in 1983 murder". WRAL. September 2, 2014.
  60. ^ "Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman: Exonerated friends leave prison after 39 years behind bars". November 21, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  61. ^ Hastings, Deborah (2014-12-17). "Black teen executed in S.C. has conviction overturned". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2017-06-28.
  62. ^ "Debra Milke, Who Spent 22 Years On Death Row, Has Murder Case Thrown Out". The Huffington Post. March 23, 2015. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  63. ^ "Alabama exonerates man who spent 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit" (PDF). Death Penalty Information Center. April 3, 2015. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  64. ^ Nave, R. L. (2015-04-22). "DA Dropping Charges Against Willie Jerome Manning in One Set of Murders". Jackson Free Press. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  65. ^ Balko, Radley (2015-06-10). "Texas death row inmate Alfred Dewayne Brown is released from prison". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  66. ^ "William Lee". National Registry of Exonerations. Michigan State University College of Law. 2016-01-18. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  67. ^ "Supreme Court vacates death sentence of Pasco man convicted in Land O'Lakes murder". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  68. ^ "Innocence and the Death Penalty", Death Penalty Information Center; accessed 29 March 2017
  69. ^ "Canada's wrongful convictions". Canadian Broadcasting Company. 6 August 2009.

External links[edit]