Posts Tagged ‘exoneration anniversary’


Exoneration Anniversary: Jerry Miller!

Taylor Thornton — April 23, 2018 @ 4:47 PM — Comments (0)

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Happy Exoneration Anniversary Jerry Miller!!

On October 1, 1982 Jerry Miller was convicted of rape, robbery, and kidnapping and sentenced to 45 years following the brutal attack of a woman entering her vehicle in a Chicago, Illinois parking garage. Despite his alibi and the victim being unable to accurately identify her attacker, Miller was convicted based primarily on the identification by employees of the parking garage who had seen the true assailant.

In 2005 the Innocence Project took on Miller’s case. A slip worn by the victim at the time containing DNA was tested and Jerry Miller was able to be excluded. At that time, the Cook County State Attorney’s Office joined the Cook County Public Defender’s Office and the Innocence Project in filing a joint motion to vacate Jerry Miller’s conviction. The DNA testing was also able to identify the true attacker when the profile was entered into the FBI offender database. Happy 11 years of freedom Jerry Miller!!

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Exoneration Anniversary: Megan Winfrey and Victor Larue Thomas!

Taylor Thornton — April 17, 2018 @ 10:48 AM — Comments (0)

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Happy Exoneration Anniversary Megan Winfrey!!

In 2008 Megan Winfrey was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the 2004 murder of Murray Burr in Coldspring, Texas. Her conviction was based on circumstantial evidence, primarily scent evidence from bloodhounds employed by the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department who allegedly “alerted” to Megan as well as her brother and father. In February of 2013 Megan Winfrey was acquitted when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the dog scent evidence was insufficient. Megan was released on April 17, 2013 when the state was denied their petition to retry her. Happy 5 years of freedom Megan Winfrey!

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Happy Exoneration Anniversary Victor Larue Thomas!!

Victor Thomas was sentenced to three life terms on June 15, 1986 for the beating and raping of a worker during the robbing of a convenience store in Waxahachie, Texas. Thomas’ conviction rested on his identification by the victim and her testimony in court. After writing numerous letters from behind bars trying to get help, state District Judge Gene Knize took notice of Victor. Judge Knize appointed Victor an attorney, asked the Ellis County District Attorney’s Office to re-investigate the case, and asked for DNA testing. DNA testing excluded Victor from being the attacker and he was released in June of 2001. Finally, Texas Governor Rick Perry pardoned him on April 17, 2002. Happy 16 years of freedom Victor Larue Thomas!!

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Exoneration Anniversary: Derrick Williams

Taylor Thornton — April 04, 2018 @ 11:54 AM — Comments (0)

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Happy 7 year exoneration anniversary Derrick Williams!!

In March of 1993 Derrick Williams was found guilty of kidnapping, sexual battery, robbery, grand theft auto, two counts of battery and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in prison. Williams’ conviction was based strongly on the misidentification of the victim in court.

The victim was attacked inside of her car in her driveway in Palmetto, Florida at 6pm on August 6, 1992. The attacker drove the victim to an orange grove where she was raped, robbed, and beaten before she managed to escape. When the victim worked with police to create a composite sketch, one officer thought that the sketch looked like Derrick Williams. The officer recognized Derrick from his acquittal in a very similar 1981 case of abduction and rape in a Florida orange grove. Williams’ photo was placed in a photo lineup where the victim identified him and she subsequently identified him in a live lineup. Despite his alibi which was corroborated by many witnessed brought by the defense, and the holes in the prosecution’s case, Derrick Williams was convicted on March 19, 1993.

Following his conviction, with the help of the Innocence Project of Florida, Derrick was able to request DNA testing of a shirt that the attacker had worn and later used to cover the victim’s face during the attack. The t-shirt was found in the victim’s backseat after the incident. Despite the negligent destruction of much of the physical evidence in Williams’ case by incineration, they were able to test sweat and skin cells on the collar of the t-shirt. These tests were able to exclude Williams as a possible contributor of this DNA. The Innocence Project of Florida filed a motion for post conviction relief based on the new DNA evidence and the unlawful destruction of exculpatory by the police. Following a two day evidentiary hearing Derrick Williams was granted a new trial on March 29, 2011. On April 4, 2011 the prosecution dismissed the charges and Derrick Williams was released.

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Exoneration Anniversary: Jason Krause

Taylor Thornton — March 01, 2018 @ 12:00 PM — Comments (0)

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Happy One Year Exoneration Anniversary to Jason Krause!

On June 24, 1994 an 18 year old man named Charles Thurman was shot and killed in his Jeep alongside his three friends Terry Eckerman, Amanda Miller, and Stacy Clark in Arizona. His friends testified that he had been causing his Jeep to backfire intentionally at the time when he was fatally shot. The shooting occurred near the home of 39 year old Jason Krause who at the time was out hunting skunks with his .22 caliber rifle. When he heard the car backfire he believed that he heard gunshots so he dropped to the ground at which point he believed that his gun accidentally fired. At least 12 people in the area that were interviewed by police said they heard gunshots that they believed to be coming from the Jeep. But when police told Krause that Thurman’s friends in the car with him reported that there was no guns in the car he told them that he must’ve been the one to shoot Thurman.

Krause was charged with second-degree murder and three counts of attempted second-degree murder. Eckerman, Miller, and Clark all testified in court that there were no guns in the car despite the .22 caliber shell casings found on the floor of Thurman’s Jeep. Another important piece of testimony came from FBI Special Agent Earnest Peele who testified as an expert in comparative bullet lead analysis (CBLA). Peele testified that the bullets found in Thurman’s body and his tires were indistinguishable from those found in Krause’s home.

When it came time for Jason Krause to take the stand he admitted that he had been out hunting skunks with his .22 caliber at the time. He said he heard what he believed were several gunshots and the sounds continued to get closer. Krause testified that he was terrified and he hit the ground, at which time his riffle fired while the Jeep passed by. He admitted that he “must have shot that boy” but he did not recall how it happened.

In May of 1996 Krause was acquitted of second-degree murder but convicted of manslaughter and three counts of attempted manslaughter. He was sentences to 10 years and 6 months in prison and served his entire sentence.

In 2007, one year after Krause’s release, the FBI started a CBLA task force after shredding any validity of CBLA as a credible forensic science. In 2008 they sent a letter to the County Attorney’s office stating that the testimony Peele gave in Krause’s trial could not be supported by the FBI because it was not supported by science. Thus, Jason Krause reached out to the Arizona Innocence Project.

A post-conviction petition was filed by his attorneys in 2012 to overturn his conviction based on the invalid CBLA testimony. At an evidentiary hearing, one expert testified that it would have been impossible for Jason Krause to have been the one to fire the fatal shot that killed Thurman. Another expert testified that the fatal shot came from the back seat. The defense argued at the hearing that it simply was not possible that Jason Krause fired the fatal shot to Thurman’s head from 50 feet away as his Jeep sped by. His trial attorney argued that if he had known the lack of validity for CBLA, he would not have argued for an accidental shooting at trial.

In 2013 the petition was denied by Judge Rick Williams because, in his opinion, this information would not have changed the jury’s opinion. He stated that Krause’s confession led the jury to convict. However, the Arizona Court of Appeals granted Krause a new trial in 2015. The prosecution tried to appeal this decision but they were denied. Finally, on March 1st 2017, the charges against Jason Krause were dismissed when the prosecution denied to retry the case.

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Exoneration Anniversary: Darryl Adams and Ronald Eubanks

Taylor Thornton — February 08, 2018 @ 12:00 PM — Comments (0)

Happy Exoneration Anniversary to Darryl Adams and Ronald Eubanks!

On August 12, 1992, Darryl Adams and Ronald Eubanks were woken from their sleep on the street near a Salvation Army shelter by a police officer around 2 a.m. The officer had been sent over by a citizen who reported seeing a woman being raped nearby. Upon the officer waking the two men and the woman sleeping close by, the woman had initially denied being raped. But, once pulled away from the two men she told officers that Adams had, in fact, raped her and that Eubanks had attempted to as well. The two were arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault.

A month later, both men pled guilty to the charge in Dallas County Criminal District Court. They were each initially sentenced to 10 years of probation. But after being charged with a burglary Adams had his probation revoked and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Eubanks had his probation revoked as well and was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being caught using marijuana.

The co-defendants sought DNA testing over the next 20 years. Finally, with the help of the Innocence Project of Texas, a series of DNA tests were performed. A test of the rape kit done in 2014 uncovered a male DNA profile that did not match Adams nor Eubanks. Adams’ and Eubanks’ lawyers subsequently sought to vacate their convictions by filing similar state law petitions.

Adams’ writ was granted and petition vacated in March of 2016 by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the same occurred for Eubanks in December of 2016. One year ago today, on February 8, 2017 the prosecution dismissed the charges against Adams and Eubanks.

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Exoneration Anniversary of Jules Letemps

Victoria Inzana — October 14, 2017 @ 12:00 PM — Comments (0)

One year ago today, Jules Letemps was exonerated after 27 years in prison.

Although he was exonerated of a crime he did not commit, he is still not free.

On May 29th, 1989, a young woman on her way to work was waiting for a bus in Orlando, Florida. A man had approached her, placed a metal object to her neck, and led her towards some bushes where he forced her to remove her clothing and repeatedly sexually assaulted her. She was able to flee her attacker, obtain help from a nearby resident, and contact the police. Once home, the victim showered and called her cousin. Together, they went back to the location of the crime to search for her assailant. This was when the victim spotted Jules Letemps, then 26, on his way to work. She immediately summoned an officer who arrested Jules. He attempted to tell the officer that he was on his way to the Toyota dealership where he was employed as a maintenance man where he was charged with the task of washing the cars.

Jules was charged with three counts of sexual assault, and one count of kidnapping. His trial was held in Orange County in November of 1989, where the main evidence against him was the victim’s testimony. At trial, a forensic analyst testified that she had examined the robe worn by the victim after the assault, and found a semen stain. She claimed that this stain was so diluted that she could not conclude anything. After a two day trial, where Jules’ defense attorney did not cross-examine any of the police officers who testified for the prosecution, he was sentenced to four consecutive terms of life in prison.

With the help of fellow immigrants, Jules filed numerous post-conviction petitions in the hopes of getting his sentence overturned. All of his attempts were unsuccessful. In 2010, Centurion Ministries began examining his case. His attorney, Paul Casteleiro, found the cassette tapes of various pretrial depositions, one of which was the forensic analyst on the case. In her deposition, she explained to Letempt’s attorney the testing procedures used to analyze the semen stain that was found on the robe the victim had been wearing.

In the deposition, the forensic expert explained that the blood type identified on the robe was O, which matches the blood type of the victim. This should have excluded Jules as the perpetrator because his blood type is B. However, due to the dilution, they could not positively exclude Jules, even though no blood type B was found.

Centurion obtained all notable documents of this forensic expert (lab notes and transcribed deposition) and enlisted a number of experts in serology to review the document. It was concluded that the expert was incorrect in the determination that the semen was too diluted to obtain an exact result, and they also were able to positively exclude Jules as the source of the semen.

Once this information was found, Centurion procured the additional counsel of Seth Miller, Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Florida, and filed a motion for post-conviction relief. The court denied this petition, and the appellate court affirmed. Jules’ lawyer, Castelerio, then filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus, and on July 20th, 2015, Judge Gregory Presnell granted it and ordered a new trial for Jules.

In this new trial, it was ruled that Jules’ trial attorney had provided inadequate defense by failing to investigate the analysis of the forensic expert. The judge determined that the new evidence, combined with Jules’ alibi testimony, raised enough doubt to undermine his conviction and on October 14th, the prosecution dropped their charges.

Usually, when an inmate is exonerated, they are free. However, Jules’ journey is quite different than any other exoneree.

Jules is a Hatian immigrant who came to the United States on “humanitarian parole” in 1981. This is a temporary status granted to those fleeing their country for urgent humanitarian reasons. He had fled Haiti due to political unrest and economic turmoil. Due to a past felony drug charge, immigration officials revoked his parole and planned to try and deport him after he had served his sentence for the wrongful conviction. After 27 years, of wrongful imprisonment, Jules is still waiting to be reunited with his friends and family in Florida. His lawyer, as do many others, believe that permitting his residency here would be proper compensation for the injustice he has suffered.

His next hearing is February 7th; it will likely be months before the court gives a final decision on his deportation.

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Orlando Boquete’s 8th Exoneration Anniversary

Alejandra de la Fuente — May 22, 2014 @ 12:26 PM — Comments (0)

On this day eight years ago, Orlando Boquete regained his rightful status as a free and innocent man after spending 13 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. With the assistance of  the Innocence Project, Orlando was finally able to secure an exoneration for a rape he did not commit and restore the justice which had been denied to him.

It was June 25, 1982 when a Stock Island, Florida woman was sexually assault in her bedroom by a bald, Latino man with no shirt. Within minutes of the incident police had stopped a group of Latino men for questioning at a nearby convenience store. Within that group of Latino men, there was only one who meet the description of being shirtless and bald – Orlando Boquete. He was taken into custody and later “identified” by the victim, while sitting in a patrol car parked 20 feet away. Despite Orlando’s solid alibi of having been at home with his family at the time of the crime, his identification by the victim proved to be enough for a conviction and 50-year sentence.

However, Orlando was quite determined to not have years of his life robbed away for a crime he did not commit. In 1983 he escaped from prison and spent 10 years avoiding the punishment which had been wrongly assigned to him. Unfortunately, his freedom was once again cut short when he was apprehended and re-incarcerated in the early 90s. In 2003 he filed a motion to have DNA from the crime tested for the first time. In 2005 the DNA results proved that the assailant was not Orlando Boquete and he had been wrongfully convicted. He was exonerated on May 23, 2006 and was released from custody on August 22nd of the same year.

1156197608_850215_0000000000_sumario_normalWe spoke to Orlando for the writing this post, and he was happy to report that things have been going well in his post-exoneration life. He is currently living in the Naples area, where he is enjoying his long-deserved freedom. Currently, he is working on obtaining U.S. citizenship, as well as his much-deserved compensation for the years he spent wrongfully imprisoned.

In his free time he enjoys spending time around athletes and being in an environment which supports athletics. At the time of our phone call he was very excited to be supporting a friend and fellow Cuban athlete who was preparing for an upcoming sporting event. On a less happy note (but one that highlights the long-term impact of wrongful convictions), he stated that while he was happy about his upcoming anniversary, he will not be able to truly celebrate until he is once again able to see his family in Cuba. Sadly, due largely to his conviction and issues relating to it, Orlando has not been able to see his family for 35 years. However, he was very excited about the fact that he will be moving to Tallahassee in a month. He stated that he is making the move to be closer to the Innocence Project of Florida, whom he calls “his family”.

We are truly happy for Orlando and we are very excited to celebrate the anniversary of justice being restored in his life.

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