Innocent Man Remains on Death Row
Tyrone Noling has been held on death row in Ohio since February 21, 1996. Noling has maintained his innocence since that day.
In the mid-1990s Tyrone Noling was convicted of the murders of Cora and Bearnhardt Hartig, an elderly couple. Noling was convicted in 1995, five years after the murders actually occurred, and was not linked to the crime by anything other than several eyewitnesses; eyewitnesses, mind you, that did not come forward until several years after the crime. Three witnesses placed Tyrone at the scene of the crime and claimed to have heard him confess to the murders. All three witnesses have now claimed that they only gave these statements because they were threatened by prosecutorial investigator Ron Craig.
Tyrone has filed for various appeals and continues fighting to prove his innocence, but the state of Ohio seems, for reasons unknown, to want to keep him on death row. In spite of the fact that there is no physical evidence linking him to the murders and that all witnesses have recanted, Tyrone still has not been granted a new trial. Read more here.
Massachusetts Post-Conviction DNA Testing Bill Approved
A bill that will bring Massachusetts up to speed regarding prisoners’ right to post-conviction DNA testing. Up until this point Massachusetts has been one of four states without measures allowing prisoners access to this testing, thereby limiting the ability for innocent people to prove that they were wrongfully convicted. Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly explains that, “in order to become eligible for post-conviction access to DNA evidence, an individual serving a sentence must win a motion before a judge that shows the evidence could possibly result in an acquittal.” The bill, which the Senate approved last July, was unanimously approved by the House yesterday and is now headed to the governor’s desk.
Virginia Takes Its Time Freeing an Innocent Man
Bennett Barbour was convicted in 1978 of a rape that he did not commit. Barbour only served 4 1/2 years of his 18 year sentence (he was convicted of robbery, as well), as he made parole the first time he came up for consideration. However, he was not proven innocent until several weeks ago when the Virginia Department of Forensic Sciences finally released the information that DNA testing proved Barbour was innocent. The Department of Forensic Sciences has been working on DNA testing many old cases as a part of their post-conviction DNA project. This project seeks to expose wrongful convictions and solve some cold cases.Unfortunately, it would seem that the releasing the information that Mr. Barbour was innocent was not a priority, as the department had the DNA results for 18 months before they informed Mr. Barbour. Read more here.
Retired Connecticut Supreme Court Justice David Borden Pushes for Eyewitness Identification Reform
Connecticut is currently in the process of adopting various measures to reform eyewitness identification. A law was passed last year that mandates that police use a double-blind procedure in conducting lineups. This double-blind procedure refers to conducting a line-up where the administrator does not know who the suspect is and the witness is told that the officer does not know who the suspect is. This decreases the possibility of police officers influencing, accidentally or otherwise, the witnesses selection. The law added a caveat though, stating that law-enforcement should adopt this procedure “where practicable.” The law also set up a task for to investigate eyewitness identifications; the task force is headed by former Connecticut Supreme Court Justice David Borden and has recommended that police start using sequential photo lineups as opposed to side-by-side lineups. Read more here.