News 12.16.09

Georgia Man Freed After 2008 Conviction Is Overturned

Yesterday, Michael Marshall was freed in Georgia after spending more than two years behind bars for a crime DNA proves he didn’t commit.

He is the 247th person exonerated through DNA testing in the United States, and his case is a troubling example of the failure of many jurisdictions across the country to address the causes of wrongful conviction. Marshall was convicted based in part in part on an unreliable eyewitness identification procedure, and although DNA testing could have been conducted before his conviction, it was not.

Marshall was homeless in 2007 when a police officer decided he resembled a composite sketch of a perpetrator in a truck theft case. He was identified by a man who saw the perpetrator steal the truck and would eventually plead guilty, receiving a four-year sentence.

 

Yesterday, Michael Marshall was freed in Georgia after spending more than two years behind bars for a crime DNA proves he didn’t commit.

He is the 247th person exonerated through DNA testing in the United States, and his case is a troubling example of the failure of many jurisdictions across the country to address the causes of wrongful conviction. Marshall was convicted based in part in part on an unreliable eyewitness identification procedure, and although DNA testing could have been conducted before his conviction, it was not.

Marshall was homeless in 2007 when a police officer decided he resembled a composite sketch of a perpetrator in a truck theft case. He was identified by a man who saw the perpetrator steal the truck and would eventually plead guilty, receiving a four-year sentence.

Moments after the crime happened, police officers pursued a man driving the stolen truck. The perpetrator escaped capture, but officers noted that he dropped a T-shirt, cell phone and cell phone case during his flight. These items were collected, and testing obtained this year by the Georgia Innocence Project found the DNA profile of another man on all three items, proving that Marshall was not the perpetrator. A check of the national DNA database found a match to another man, whose name has not been revealed.

Lawyers at the Georgia Innocence Project point to two troubling aspects of Marshall’s conviction. First, the identification procedure was deeply flawed. Marshall was identified in a highly suggestive “show-up” procedure ten days after the crime, in which a victim who witnessed the crime was brought to the location of Marshall’s arrest.

The second issue is the lack of DNA testing before Marshall’s conviction. Although DNA testing was available and widely used in 2007, there is no record that the shirt, phone or phone case were subjected to DNA testing before Marshall’s conviction.


Watch video of Marshall’s release here

. (Fox 5 Atlanta)


Read more about Marshall’s case on the Georgia Innocence Project website

.


Above, Marshall enjoys his first moments of freedom with Georgia Innocence Project intern Christina Rupp.

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