Florida exoneree Delbert Tibbs died Saturday night in his home in Chicago.
In 1974, Tibbs, a black theological student, was convicted by an all white jury of the rape of a 16-year-old white girl and the murder of her 27-year-old male companion. The conviction was based on the testimony and misidentification of the female victim which was uncorroborated and inconsistent with her first description of her assailant, as well as on the testimony of a jailhouse informant who said that Tibbs had confessed to the crime. The informant later admitted that he had fabricated his story.
Tibbs served three years behind bars, two of which were on death row, before the Florida Supreme Court overturned the conviction and threw out the case because the verdict was not supported by the weight of the evidence.
Delbert later moved to Chicago where he wrote poetry and continued his advocacy against the death penalty as the Assistant Director of Membership and Training for Witness to Innocence. His story is one of six featured in the play “The Exonerated,” where actors tell the stories of non-DNA death row exonerees.
The DePaul University College of Law’s Center for Justice in Capital Cases in Chicago, Illinois, will host a public memorial for Tibbs on Monday, December 16 at 25 E. Jackson Boulevard, in the Rare Book Room on the 5th Floor from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
More about Tibbs’ case
You can watch Mr. Tibbs tell his story of being wrongly convicted here: