Philadelphia Daily News
reported that seven months after the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced they would not appeal the decision to dismiss the murder convictions of two men serving life sentences, the office said Wednesday that it would not retry them. Eugene Gilyard and Lance Felder were convicted in 1998 of the robbery and murder of a Philadelphia store owner based on the eyewitness testimony of the victim’s daughter despite her inaccuracies in the age and height of the perpetrators.
“The passage of so many years and inconsistencies between witnesses from the initial investigation and witnesses that came to light more recently has compromised the evidence to the point that we cannot proceed,” read, in part, a brief statement released by the D.A.’s office.
Gilyard and Felder were both released on bond in November after serving 15 years behind bars and have been electronically monitored at home. The
Pennsylvania Innocence Project
took on Gilyard’s case and uncovered new evidence of the men’s innocence, including a confession to the murder by another man. Ricky “Rolex” Welborn confessed that he and another man had tried to rob the victim and shot him and that Gilyard and Felder had nothing to do with it.
The D.A.’s statement claims that Welborn’s confession was called into question based on alleged evidence that he was offered money in exchange for his statement. That notion was dismissed by the Pennsylvania Innocence Project who said the idea that Welborn received anything for his confession was discredited during last year’s hearings.
“We provided the prosecutors with a mountain of evidence demonstrating that Mr. Gilyard and Mr. Felder are in fact innocent, so it is a little disappointing that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office claims only that it cannot proceed against Eugene Gilyard and Lance Felder,” said Marissa Bluestine, legal director of the [Pennsylvania] Innocence Project.