News 10.16.08

New trial ordered in Nebraska case

Joseph White walked out of a Nebraska courtroom yesterday a free man for the first time in nearly two decades, becoming the first defendant in Nebraska history freed due to DNA evidence.

White was serving a life sentence for a murder he has always said he didn’t commit, and new DNA testing on evidence from the crime scene suggests that he and two co-defendants were wrongfully convicted in 1989. A Nebraska judge tossed out his conviction and he was released on his own recognizance while charges are still pending. His co-defendant, Thomas Winslow, is expected to be resentenced Friday. Winslow’s  family members said they also hoped he would be freed.

“It’s been a long, hard road and I’m glad it’s over,” he said, shuffling down the courthouse steps with a sheriff’s deputy at his side.

“I’m going to go home and start trying to rebuild my life,” he  said, explaining that he has family in Cullman, Ala., and that he will voluntarily come back if ordered to do so.

Read the full story here

. (Lincoln Journal-Star, 10/16/08)

White’s release showed the importance of an eight-year-old state law allowing prisoners to seek DNA testing to prove their innocence, said State Sen. Ernie Chambers, who sponsored the legislation.

“This was the purpose to be served by this legislation,” he said.

Read the full story here

. (Lincoln Journal-Star, 10/16/08)

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