Today in Wrongful Conviction History: July 27

Kate Mathis — July 27, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Robert Lee Stinson, Reginald Connor, and Everton Wagstaffe!

Robert was exonerated in Wisconsin in 2009 with help from the Wisconsin Innocence Project.

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Reginald and Everton were convicted of the same crime in New York and were exonerated last year with help from the Innocence Project.

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Charges Dropped Against Two Wrongfully Convicted Chicago Men

Kate Mathis — July 26, 2016 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (0)

Last week, prosecutors dropped charges against two men who have spent the past 23 years wrongfully incarcerated. Jose Montanez and Armando Serrano were convicted in 1993 for the murder of Rodrigo Vargas and were sentenced to 55 years in prison. Their convictions were based largely on the testimony of a star witness and the work of a Chicago police officer whose investigative methods have since come under fire.

That witness was Francisco Vicente, a heroin addict who was facing several felony charges at the time of Vargas’ murder. Vicente claimed that Montanez and Serrano had confessed to the killing, which he told Detective Reynaldo Guevara, the officer who has received a number of misconduct allegations over the last several years. Vicente later recanted his testimony to students at the Medill Innocence Project, stating that he lied in order to receive a lighter sentence. He also told them that Guevara bribed and coerced him to falsely testify with cash, cigarettes, threats, intimidation, and physical abuse.

A number of cases involving Guevara, who retired in 2005, have been reviewed by Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office after several allegations were made claiming that the detective framed or beat suspects. In addition to Montanez and Serrano’s cases, two other murder convictions that were linked to Guevara have been overturned. According to a report released last year, reviewing, litigating, and settling misconduct cases involving the detective has cost Chicago more than $20 million.

A state appellate court approved the Cook County State Attorney’s office’s request to have the convictions overturned, ruling that misconduct during the investigation and prosecution resulted in Montanez and Serrano’s convictions. The move by the prosecutor’s office came as a surprise because Alvarez rejected former federal prosecutor Scott Lassar’s recommendation last year that she reopen six cases investigated by Guevara, including Montanez and Serrano’s.

An attorney with the Exoneration Project, which represented the two recent exonerees, commended Alvarez for her actions but lamented that many innocent people that Guevara helped imprison still remain behind bars and vowed that they would not rest until all of them are freed.

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Lawrence McKinney Granted Exoneration Hearing

Kate Mathis — July 25, 2016 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (0)

Last month, an article was posted to our blog about Lawrence McKinney’s request for exoneration and Tennessee State Representative Mark Pody’s frustration with how long that process was taking. Now, some progress has finally been made, as the Tennessee Board of Parole recently granted McKinney an exoneration hearing.

The board is responsible for reviewing applications such as McKinney’s and gives recommendations to the governor, who makes the final decision on exoneration requests. If McKinney is exonerated, it will make him eligible to file for compensation for his wrongful conviction.

David Raybin and Jack Lowery, whom Pody referred to as “good legal representation,” will represent McKinney at the upcoming hearing, which is scheduled for September 27.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: July 25

Kate Mathis — @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Sean Adams, Carlos Ashe, Darcus Henry, and Johnnie Johnson!

All four men were convicted of the same crime in Connecticut and were exonerated in 2013.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: July 24

Kate Mathis — July 24, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Several exonerees celebrate their exoneration anniversaries today.

Alexander Hebrard was exonerated in Texas in 2013.

Tyler Gassman, Robert Larson, and Paul Statler were convicted of the same crime in Washington state and were exonerated in 2013 with help from the Innocence Project Northwest.

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Happy exoneration anniversary Alexander, Tyler, Robert, and Paul!

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: July 23

Kate Mathis — July 23, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Patrick Murray!

Patrick was exonerated of federal charges in New York in 2014.

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Innocence Project Hires Exoneree

Kate Mathis — July 22, 2016 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (0)

Jarrett Adams has not let his wrongful conviction stop him from being successful. Despite insisting that sex he and two others had with a woman in a college dormitory was consensual, he was sentenced to 28 years in prison for rape when he was 17 years old. After spending almost eight years behind bars, Adams was exonerated in January 2007 after the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that he had received ineffective counsel because his trial attorney neglected to call a witness who had seen the woman smoking cigarettes with the three men in a dorm common area after the encounter. Following his release, unlike many individuals who struggle to readjust to life outside of prison, Adams did just the opposite by joining the other side of the criminal justice system.

After the Wisconsin Innocence Project helped exonerate him, Adams attended Loyola University Law School. Following his graduation last year, he worked for 7th Circuit Judge Ann Claire Williams and U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts of the Southern District of New York in a dual clerkship. Now, Adams is formally joining the innocence movement that helped set him free by working for the organization that many would argue initiated the fight for justice for the wrongfully convicted.

Adams’ wife accepted a job in New York City, and after passing the New York Bar exam in February, he too found a job in the Big Apple where he will now serve as a post-conviction litigation fellow for the Innocence Project. Law practice is something he has been passionate about for some time, as Adams said that he was moved from a Wisconsin maximum-security prison to a supermax facility with fewer privileges because he was considered a security threat since he had become such an effective jailhouse lawyer by helping other inmates while he was in prison.

Adams credited his success to his faith and hard work, and hopes that he will be an example for others facing obstacles.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: July 22

Kate Mathis — @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Rodell Sanders!

Rodell was exonerated in Illinois in 2014 with help from the Exoneration Project.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: July 21

Kate Mathis — July 21, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Kevin Martin!

Kevin was exonerated in Washington, D.C. in 2014 with help from the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 21: Kevin Martin, center, exits DC Superior courthouse with his son Kevin Staton, right, after being exhonorated for a crime he didn't commit, on July, 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: July 20

Kate Mathis — July 20, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Perry Mitchell!

Perry was exonerated in South Carolina in 1998.

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