News 08.30.11

Police and Prosecutors Withheld Evidence in Kentucky Case

Kerry Porter has spent 13 years in Kentucky prisons for a murder he says he did not commit, and the  Louisville Courier-Journal has uncovered evidence of innocence that police and prosecutors failed to turn over the Porter’s attorneys.

Porter was convicted of the 1996 shooting death of his ex-girlfriend’s husband and sentenced to 60 years. The Kentucky Innocence Project has been working on Porter’s case since 2007.

Last year there seemed to be a break in the case when a cooperating government witness, Francois Cunningham, told a detective and two prosecutors that Porter was innocent and another man was the real perpetrator. But despite rules requiring prosecutors to disclose exculpatory evidence that suggests innocence, the testimony was withheld from Porter’s defense attorneys, according to The Courier-Journal.

Defense attorney Melanie Lowe who has worked on Porter’s case for the past four years was made aware of the statement pointing to her client’s innocence when The Courier-Journal called her last week when it was unsealed as part of an unrelated murder case. The detective who questioned Cunningham said police hadn’t turned over the new evidence because it is “part of an ongoing investigation.” Prosecutors refused to comment on the case other than to say the investigation was ongoing.

Porter’s original innocence claim included information about the alleged real perpetrator, the same man

Cunningham implicated. Eyewitness misidentification could have played a role in Porter’s conviction as well. Before Porter was charged, the victim’s brother showed Porter’s picture to a witness right before they were about to go through photographs to make an identification.  Although he previously believed Porter was guilty of his brother’s murder, he is now convinced otherwise.  


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