News 04.30.10

Sterling Case Show Ripple Effects of Wrongful Convictions

The effects of Frank Sterling’s wrongful conviction and subsequent exoneration—and the 252 before him—stretch far beyond just him. 

When an innocent man is imprisoned, the real perpetrator remains free to commit additional crimes and the public’s safety is at risk.  When there is a wrongful conviction, victims and their families often have to revisit the crime when it is revealed that the real perpetrator is it large or was never arrested in connection to the crime in the first place.  As for the wrongfully convicted, they are often isolated from their families and friends and are sometimes forced to watch close relationships slip away while they remain in prison. Luckily for Sterling, he had the support of his longtime friends, Sharon and Jim Adam, who were in Rochester for his exoneration this week.  Having believed in his innocence for the past 18 years and stood by him steadfastly,

Sharon was overwhelmed and brought to tears when her friend was finally released

.

The victim’s son, Robert Manville, said he and his family are still unable to escape news about his mother’s murder.

He feels badly for Sterling’s terrible ordeal and doesn’t understand how the police investigation went awry with a false confession (after a deeply flawed interrogation)

Evidence now implicates Mark Christie, who is imprisoned for the 1994 murder of 4-year-old Kali Ann Poulton, as the real perpetrator in Manville’s murder, begging the question: “If Christie had been arrested and convicted of Manville’s 1988 murder, would Kali Ann still be alive?” 

Her mother tries not to think about it and feels terribly for Manville’s family

.  She hopes Christie does the right thing and pleads guilty, sparing the family the pain of another trial.

Meanwhile,

two police involved in Sterling’s arrest and conviction also spoke out

. Retired Monroe County Sheriff’s Investigator Tom Vasile and retired Investigator Patrick Crough, who worked on Manville’s murder investigation, said they believed they had the right man and were shocked by Christie’s confession. Vasile helped convict Sterling and claims that Sterling was “compassionate” when he falsely confessed to the crime after a flawed interrogation – and further claims that such compassion often suggests the person is guilty, even if there are major factual discrepancies in a supposed confession.

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