Two Mississippi men are cleared after 15 years
At hearings this morning in a packed Mississippi courthouse, two Innocence Project clients convicted of separate child murders in the same small Mississippi town were cleared based on new evidence proving their innocence. This day comes after nearly 15 years behind bars for Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer, who were joined in court this morning by more than 100 of their relatives.
Brewer, who served much of his time on death row, was fully exonerated today after all pending charges against him were dropped. He is the first person exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing in Mississippi and the 213th nationwide.
Brooks was released this morning after his conviction was vacated, and he will be fully exonerated when charges against him are dismissed, which we expect in the next few weeks.
Due to the gaps in forensic oversight revealed by these two cases, the Innocence Project has called for a top-to-bottom review of forensics in Mississippi. We have also called for an examination of the role of Steven Hayne, the widely discredited medical examiner who performed the autopsies in these two cases.
Read the Innocence Project’s letter seeking the appointment of a State Medical Examiner
Media coverage of Hayne’s role in the convictions of Brewer and Brooks:
Innocence Project letter blasts Steven Hayne's work
Reason Magazine Blog:
President of Mississippi State Medical Association Denounces Dr. Hayne
Media Coverage of today’s releases:
Brewer goes free on 1992 child murder, rape charges
Brewer cleared of charges in child slaying
Jackson Free Press:
Free at last
DA’s having trouble keeping up with DNA
More Mississippi news:
Meanwhile, Mississippi legislators are considering a bill that would create a statewide task force on the handling of DNA evidence. A State Senate committee passed the bill earlier this week, citing Brwer and Brooks’ cases.
Read more about that issue here
. (Clarion-Ledger, 02/13/08)
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