News 11.09.12

Arizona Man Freed After Nearly 40 Years

Congratulations to the

Arizona Justice Project

and their client, Bill Macumber, an Arizona man who spent nearly four decades in prison for a double-murder he has consistently maintained he did not commit. Macumber, now 77, was released on a no-contest plea Wednesday. He was 40 years old and had no history of violence when his wife told authorities that he had confessed to the murders.

 

In 1962, a young couple was found shot and killed outside of their car in the Scottsdale area. The case was cold for over a decade, until Macumber’s wife—an employee of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office—came forward and told her supervisors that Macumber had confessed to the murders. At the 1975 trial, three pieces of alleged evidence (including a palm print and fingerprints) purportedly confirmed Macumber’s guilt. Macumber was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to two concurrent life terms. Though he successfully appealed his convictions once, he was found guilty again at a 1977 retrial.

 

The Arizona Justice Project discovered new evidence of Macumber’s innocence after taking on the case. Macumber’s wife was an employee of the sheriff’s office and had access to evidence from the cold case murder, and she had recently completed a class on fingerprint lifting. The marriage had been faltering at that time. In addition, another man allegedly confessed to three different people that he had committed the murders; his former defense attorney, Tom O’Toole, came forward with his client’s confession but the judge ruled it unreliable hearsay. ABC News reports:


In 2009, Macumber and his attorneys petitioned the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency, which in a rare move unanimously recommended his sentence be commuted, saying, ‘An injustice has been done in Mr. Macumber’s case” and that his wife had “motive, means and opportunity to falsely pin the murders on Mr. Macumber.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer had previously denied the recommendation for clemency.

 

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