News 03.13.09

Friday Roundup: Cases from Florida to Ontario

We wrote this week about the exoneration of Joseph Fears, Jr., in Ohio. Fears, a client of the Ohio Innocence Project, was reunited with his family after a quarter-century and became the 234th person exonerated by DNA testing in the United States. Meanwhile, other wrongful convictions and arrests were being overturned from Florida to Ontario.

In Tampa, bank robbery

charges were dropped against Kenneth Robinson

after he spent four months in jail awaiting a trial for a crime spree that DNA now proves he wasn’t involved in. Defense attorneys said his case shows how easily the wrong person can be accused – and the danger of wrongful conviction, especially since experts say only 5-10% of criminal cases involve DNA evidence.

Tammy Marquardt

was freed from a Canadian prison

after serving 14 years for the murder of her child, a crime she has always said she didn’t commit. Marquardt was convicted based in part on the testimony of Dr. Charles Smith, a pediatric forensic pathologist whose testimony contributed to several convictions that were later overturned based on evidence of innocence.

A federal court threw out the Alabama murder conviction of Earl Jerome McGahee because of an “

astonishing pattern” of discrimination

that led to an all-white jury at the 1986 trial of McGahee, who is black. Of 66 possible jurors, 24 were black. All 24 were eliminated during jury selection.

Lawyers are seeking

a new trial for Davontae Sanford

, a developmentally disabled 16-year-old boy who lawyers say was coerced into confessing to four murders he didn’t commit. Another man has taken responsibility for the murders.

Harris County (Texas) District Attorney Pat Lykos released a report this week on the wrongful conviction and exoneration of Ricardo Rachell, which she said was caused by a “

cascading, system-wide breakdown

.”

Exonerated individuals continued speaking around the country this week in support of reforms to prevent the injustice they suffered from happening to anyone else.

New York exoneree Jeffrey Deskovic spoke to students at Fulton-Montgomery Community College about

his case and his advocacy efforts

. Deskovic will speak at

a free public event in Brooklyn, New York

, on March 23.

Two people exonerated from Illinois death row

spoke at a rally

yesterday gainst capital punishment inside the state capitol. The rally marked 10 years since the last time a person was executed in Illinois. Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions in Illinois in 2000.

Florida exoneree William Dillon, who served 26 years for a murder he didn’t commit,

gave his first public speech since being released and exonerated in November

.

 

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