Missouri Man, Clayton Price, Exonerated.
Clayton D. Price of Taney County, MO, served seven years for a sexual assault he did not commit until his conviction was overturned last Thursday. Price was wrongfully convicted in March 2004 for sexually abusing his fiancée’s six-year-old daughter. According to the Innocence Project, these allegations stemmed from the little girl’s paternal grandmother, who was seeking full custody of the child. Price’s conviction was overturned by St. Louis Circuit Judge J. Edward Sweeney, leaving Price free. The Midwest Innocence Project assisted Mr.Price in getting his conviction overturned. Read more here.
NY State Senate Passes DNA Database Expansion Bill
We have mentioned the DNA database expansion bill suggested by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo several times in recent weeks (see here and background on the bill here). Governor Cuomo said of the bill, “this critical crime fighting resource embraces technology to help protect the innocent and convict the guilty. I call on the Assembly to [pass the bill] so I can sign this bill into law immediately.”
While the measure is a step in the right direction for justice system reform it is not enough in the eyes of New York State Bar Association President Vincent E. Doyle III. Doyle released a statement January 31 saying, “we agree with the Governor that expanding the DNA database would help exonerate the innocent and convict the guilty. However, a State Bar report found that wrongful convictions are caused by a number of other factors as well.” Doyle went on to suggest that the Legislature consider instituting more reforms. He listed the following as measures he hopes the Legislature will pursue:
- requiring the videotape recording of police interrogations;
- addressing mistaken-identity testimony with changes in how police lineups are conducted; strengthening a prosecutor’s obligation to turn over evidence favorable to the defense;
- allowing a defendant who had pled guilty to a crime he or she did not commit to petition a judge to obtain a DNA test
The Nation’s 140th Death Row Exonoree Goes Free
Joe D’Ambrosia was finally exonerated last week in Ohio. D’Ambrosio was the 140th person to be exonerated from U.S. Death Rows.
While the proof of his innocence is wonderful, the detail of D’Ambrosia’s case isn’t very uplifting. According to Amnesty International, “Mr. D’Ambrosio’s exoneration came about because of a chance meeting with a Catholic priest who was visiting another inmate. The priest, Rev. Neil Kookoothe, happened to have legal training and decided to look into the case himself. As Kevin Werner, executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions, put it: ‘Coincidence is not the standard we should be comfortable with when our justice system is seeking to execute people.'” Amnesty noted that Ohio conducts the second-most executions of any state in the U.S., but because of issues with “botched executions and wrongful convictions” the state has formed a special task force to investigate the way Ohio conducts capitol punishment.