News 10.25.11

Seeking Freedom in Kentucky

Reporting from the Louisville Courier-Journal and work by the Kentucky Innocence Project has uncovered significant evidence that a Kentucky man has spent 14 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Kerry Porter was convicted of the 1996 shooting death of his ex-girlfriend’s husband and sentenced to 60 years. He has always maintained his innocence and new evidence uncovered by the Courier-Journal points toward a wrongful conviction that may have started with an eyewitness misidentification. Much of the newly uncovered evidence was never turned over to Porter’s defense attorneys, and there was no physical evidence linking Porter to the crime.

One witness who saw the suspect flee the scene told police he probably would not be able to identify the shooter and another witness identified Porter a month later after the victim’s brother showed him a picture. Even at trial, the second witness wasn’t sure if Porter was the man he saw. And now, in an interview, that witness says he was never sure of his testimony and that Porter should be freed. In addition, the judge blocked defense attorneys from telling the jury about another potential suspect in the case.

Last year, there seemed to be hope for Porter 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.

The Kentucky Innocence Project is working to overturn Porter’s conviction, and police and prosecutors are reinvestigating the case.



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