Exoneration of the Day - Innocent man sent to prison for 20 years for a murder he didn't commit!
For those new to this site, nationwide criminal defense law firm Imhoff & Associates likes to post up a weekly "Exoneration of the Day" showcasing innocent people who have been wrongly convicted of a crime and then later proven to have been innocent.
This is why it is critical to retain a quality criminal attorney when accused of a crime!
The freedom of an innocent person should not be left up to luck, but our fallible justice system is often a mere game of chance for those unfortunate few sitting on the wrong side of a courtroom. Five eye-witnesses testified at a trial that they had all seen the defendant shoot and kill a man, so it is unsurprising that the jury found him guilty of murder.
However, the urge to find justice for the victim in this case only led to injustice for another innocent victim. Here, the victim had been shot in his driveway in front of six witnesses. The police had wrongfully suspected one man in another shooting, so they showed his photograph to the witnesses shortly after the shooting and they said he had not been the shooter. At a later point, perhaps remembering his face from the photograph, one of the witnesses picked this unlucky man out of a live lineup. This witness told the other five witnesses the identity of the suspected shooter and each of them then agreed.
Before trial, the witness who made the original identification recanted that statement but the other five went forward to testify at trial. At the defendant’s sentencing, a criminal defense attorney came forward to inform the presiding judge that his client had been at the crime scene and was willing to testify that the defendant had not been the shooter. The judge was not compelled to allow this testimony and ultimately sentenced the defendant to life in prison. Years later, a review of the case turned up notes from an investigator that identified the man who had been prevented from testifying as the actual shooter.
When the five witnesses learned of these notes, they all admitted that they never actually saw the shooter. Eventually, the conviction was vacated and the charges were dismissed, but only after an unlucky man served 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.