In light of new forensic evidence which points to a different perpetrator, the Innocence Project and the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project are asking a Maryland judge to reverse the murder convictions of David Ronald Faulkner and Jonathan David Smith, Sr. and declare them innocent.
Faulkner and Smith Sr. were convicted of the 1987 murder of 64-year-old Adeline Wilford and given life sentences. A third co-defendant, Ray Earl Andrews, Sr., who was 16 at the time, was sentenced to 10 years for burglary in exchange for testifying against the two older men. There was no physical evidence linking the three men to the crime, which had gone cold for 13 years, until Andrews agreed to cooperate after a witness claimed to have seen the three men fleeing from the crime.
In 2013, lawyers with the Innocence Project and the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project filed a motion for previously unidentified palm prints on the sill of an open window and inside Wilford’s home to be compared to the Maryland fingerprint database. In March of 2014, the state’s attorney acknowledged that the prints matched an offender in the database but refused to disclose the identity for a year. When the identity was finally revealed a few months ago, the lawyers discovered that the prints matched to a Maryland inmate, Ty Anthony Brooks, who is currently incarcerated and has previously served prison time for a similar burglary in which he was alleged to have assaulted an elderly woman within months of Wilford’s murder.
In addition to there being no physical evidence linking the three defendants to the crime, a police recording of an informant that was not disclosed to the defendants reveals that the informant, now deceased, made an undisclosed deal with prosecutors to dismiss charges against her grandson in exchange for her testimony. Pending charges against against the grandson
were later dismissed. Although before Smith’s trial, an assistant state’s attorney claimed in writing that a partial DNA profile from Wilford’s fingernails belonged only to the victim, after the trial, prosecutors acknowledged that DNA evidence from Wilford’s fingernails did not belong to her or the three defendants. A full DNA profile could not be developed to implicate any suspect.
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This article was corrected on January 8, 2016.