In Wednesday’s edition of his Washington Post column The Watch, Radley Balko rounded up the exonerations from the past week including Josue Ortiz of Buffalo, New York, who was released Tuesday after spending over a decade in the Attica Correctional Facility.
Ortiz was convicted in 2004 after confessing to the murders of brothers Nelson and Miguel Camacho. A decade later, a different perpetrator has confessed to the crime and claims Ortiz was not involved. A FBI task force has reopened the investigation.
District Attorney Frank Sedita dropped his opposition, allowing Ortiz to be released on Tuesday.
“I cannot, in good conscience, permit a man to remain in jail when I have a reasonable doubt concerning his guilt,” Sedita wrote in a statement on Monday.
Kwame Ajamu, the final co-defendant in the murder of Harold Franks, a Cleveland money-order salesman, was exonerated on Tuesday. Along with his brother Wiley Bridgeman and Ricky Jackson, Ajamu was convicted in 1975 based on the witness testimony of Eddie Vernon, who recanted just last month after speaking with his pastor. Bridgeman and Jackson were exonerated and released in November. The trio served more time behind bars than any other exonerated inmates, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.
Balko pointed out that the recent spate of exonerations should inspire state lawmakers to rethink capital punishment and to put scheduled executions on hold. Unfortunately, he wrote, two executions were also carried out this week. Robert Wayne Holsey was put to death in Georgia on Tuesday and Paul Goodwin, who was found by a psychologist to have the “mental understanding of a 13-year-old” was executed in Missouri on Wednesday.