News 12.26.08

Friday Roundup

As 2008 winds to a close, more than 20 people are spending the holidays at home for the first time in years after their wrongful convictions were overturned by DNA testing. Some of them have been officially exonerated while others are still waiting in limbo for pardons, new trials or further hearings.

We want to wish a happy New Year to the Innocence Project's online community – thank you for all of your support this year. The blog will be quiet for a few days; we'll be back a week from today on Friday, January 2. There's plenty of wrongful conviction news to review in the meantime – take a look below for some of the top stories from this week, or

visit our links page

for the personal sites of exonerees and more in-depth coverage of DNA testing, forensic science and the causes of wrongful conviction.


Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to the Innocence Project

– all gifts by midnight on December 31 will be matched dollar for dollar.

Here's the news:

William Dillon, who was freed last month in south Florida after 26 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, is the 226th person exonerated by DNA testing nationwide. He is spending the holidays with his family, who

said they didn't know if this day would ever come

:

"This is something we didn't expect. It's such happiness. It's unbelievable," his father, Joe Dillon, said at his Satellite Beach home. "This is everyone's present. We don't need any other presents."

James Anderson, a client of the Innocence Project Northwest, spent his fifth straight Christmas in prison yesterday, but

he is expected to be released soon

. Investigators from IPNW have shown that he was in California at the time he allegedly committed an armed robbery in Washington. A winter storm delayed his release.

One of the biggest wrongful conviction stories of 2008 was the exoneration of Innocence Project clients Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks. The two men were sent to prison in Mississippi for murders they didn't commit, based in part on false testimony from medical examiner Steven Hayne. After evidence of Hayne's forensic conduct surfaced, Mississippi officials stopped using him to conduct state autopsies. A story in today's Jackson Clarion-Ledger says

state officials are getting closer to hiring a state medical examiner to oversee and standardize autopsies in Mississippi

.

In February,

a documentary about the wrongful drug convictions in Tulia, Texas

, will air on PBS. Expected in March is "American Violet," a ficitonalized film based on the events in Tulia. Take a look at the

Innocence Project's reading list

for Nate Blakeslee's book about Tulia and a dozen other great reads on wrongful convictions.

In other Hollywood news,

filiming is expected to begin next month in Michigan

on a film about Betty Anne Waters, who put herself through college and law school to help exonerate her brother, Kenneth Waters.

Thanks for reading this year – we'll see you in a week.

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