The arson and murder convictions of a Georgia man were vacated on Monday by the state supreme court, according to the
. Justice Robert Benham ruled that prosecutors neglected to turn over important evidence which could have aided in the defense of Justin Chapman, who was convicted in 2007 of setting the fire that killed his landlady.
The case hinged upon the testimony of Joseph White, a jailhouse informant who testified that Chapman confessed to intentionally setting the fire. White stated during trial that he was not offered a deal in exchange for his testimony. In Justice Benham’s ruling, however, the judge writes that there is video evidence of White stating the opposite—that he was offered a deal by the prosecution, information withheld from Chapman’s defense team. According to the
, this evidence would have shown inconsistencies in the informant’s version of the story.
If state attorneys do not appeal the ruling, Chapman could soon be released pending a re-trial.
“On behalf of Justin’s family, we are grateful that the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously overturned Justin’s conviction and found that it was obtained in violation of his constitutional rights,” Chapman’s new attorneys, Michael Caplan and John Rains, said in a statement. “We are also thankful to all of those who devoted themselves to the cause of justice in this case. After spending over seven years in prison for a crime he did not commit, justice has finally come.”