Posts Tagged ‘Today in Wrongful Conviction History’


Today in Wrongful Conviction History: February 9th

Alejandra de la Fuente — February 09, 2017 @ 1:53 PM — Comments (0)

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Today is the exoneration anniversary of Tim Atkins from Los Angeles, California.

In 1987, Tim Atkins went to trial for the armed robbery of Vincente and Maria Gonzalez that resulted in the murder of Vincente. He and Ricky Evans were arrested and charged with murder and armed robbery after a woman named Denise Powell told police she heard the two street gang members bragging about the crime.

While Evans was assaulted and killed in jail in 1985, Atkins waited two years for his trial. Once it began, Powell could not be located to testify. Despite this, her testimony from the preliminary hearing was presented to the jury as a confession. Maria also identified Atkins as the man who stole her necklace at the scene of the crime. Due to this, Atkins was sentenced to 32 years to life in prison.

In 2001, Atkins wrote to the California Innocence Project where a law student found Powell at a drug rehabilitation center. When approached, Powell admitted her testimony was false. Not only did she confess to lying about overhearing a confession, Powell said police threatened to charge her with a narcotics offense if she didn’t provide information about the two suspects.

In 2007, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan granted Atkins’ a new trial and on February 9th, he was released. While he was cleared of all charges, the state did not grant Atkin’s compensation as they felt he did not wholly prove his innocence.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: December 14th

Alejandra de la Fuente — December 14, 2016 @ 11:11 AM — Comments (0)

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Today is the exoneration anniversary of Philip Bivens, Larry Ruffin, and Bobby Ray Dixon.

In 1979, all three men were wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of a woman in Forrest County, Mississippi. All three gave confessions to the police under the threat of the death penalty. Despite the inconsistencies in their confessions with each other and with the evidence in the case, they were sentenced to life in prison.

In 2010, the Innocence Project New Orleans and co-counsel Rob McDuff obtained DNA testing that effectively excluded all three of the men convicted and instead pointed towards a different man altogether.

Sadly, Ruffin died in prison in 2002 and Dixon passed away from lung cancer in November of 2010. Neither got to witness their official exoneration on December 14th, 2010 when a Forrest Count Grand Jury declined to indict the three men.

In January of 2013, a federal wrongful conviction lawsuit was filed against the Forrest County law enforcement officials for coercing the three men’s confessions. Although Bivens passed away in 2014, the state agreed to pay $500,000 to the estate of Ruffin and $375,000 each to the estates of Bivens and Dixon in 2015. Earlier this year, Forrest County has settled the federal lawsuit for a total of $16.5 million.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: September 28th

Alejandra de la Fuente — September 28, 2016 @ 12:00 PM — Comments (0)

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Happy exoneration anniversary to Damon Thibodeaux.

Damon was 22 years old when he was wrongfully convicted of the murder of his step-cousin in Lousiana. He spent 15 years on death row, in solitary confinement, before his exoneration through DNA testing on September 28th, 2012 with the help of the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office and the Innocence Project.

Following his release, Damon moved to Minnesota and works for Fredrikson & Byron, the law firm that helped facilitate his exoneration. He remains an active speak for wrongful conviction and criminal justice reform.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: September 8th

Alejandra de la Fuente — September 08, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

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Happy exoneration anniversary to Jamie Lee Peterson!

Peterson was exonerated with the help of the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School and the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago on September 8th, 2014. He served more than 17 years after being wrongfully convicted due to a false confession he gave police in 1998.

For more information about his case: Michigan Law Article 
Bluhm Legal Clinic Profile

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: September 3rd

Alejandra de la Fuente — September 03, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

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Happy exoneration anniversary to Nicolas Yarris!

Yarris was exonerated with the help of the Innocence Project on September 3rd, 2003 after serving 21 years for a crime he did not commit. In 1989, he was one of Pennsylvania’s first death row inmates to ask for post-conviction DNA testing to prove his innocence.

For more information about his case: Innocent Project Profile

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: September 2nd

Alejandra de la Fuente — September 02, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

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Today is the anniversary to Joseph Lamont Abbitt’s exoneration.

Abbitt was exonerated on September 2nd, 2009 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Due to two eyewitness misidentifications and inconclusive DNA evidence, he served 14 years in prison before being released with assistance from the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence. Joseph tragically died in a car accident after experiencing only five and a half years of freedom post-exoneration.

For more information about his case: Joseph Abbitt Case

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