The Innocence Project Withdraws Jimmie Duncan’s Clemency Petition in Louisiana

The State has shown it is not taking the process of reviewing death row clemency petitions seriously, and Mr. Duncan has new, compelling evidence of innocence.

Breaking News 12.05.23 By Innocence Staff

The State has shown it is not taking the process of reviewing death row clemency petitions seriously, and Mr. Duncan has new, compelling evidence of innocence.

Breaking News 12.05.23 By Innocence Staff

Jimmie

Jimmie “Chris” Duncan on Louisiana’s death row. (Image courtesy of the Duncan family).

The Innocence Project is withdrawing its clemency petition in the case of Jimmie Duncan in Louisiana. The State has shown it is not taking the process of reviewing death row clemency petitions seriously, and Mr. Duncan has new, compelling evidence of innocence that must be considered. 

When Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards called on the state legislature to abolish executions in April, Mr. Duncan was one of 56 people on death row to petition the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Committee on Parole for clemency. The Board, with guidance from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry — an ardent supporter of the death penalty — summarily denied those petitions. The Board later agreed, at Gov. Edwards’ urging, to hold clemency hearings on at least some of these petitions; but in September, a group of Louisiana district attorneys and Attorney General Landry sued the board to block them. As a result, people on Louisiana’s death row are now left with a sham process: instead of full hearings on the merits of their claims, the Board has given only a few people an administrative review, an abbreviated proceeding in which the person on death row is not even present. 

We are gravely concerned that participating in this process will deny meaningful consideration of the facts of Mr. Duncan’s case, including the compelling evidence of his innocence. Mr. Duncan was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in 1998 for a crime that never occurred. 

Using what is now understood to be fraudulent evidence created by two notorious forensic “experts” —individuals responsible for at least eight wrongful convictions —the State painted what was in fact a tragic accident as a brutal rape and murder. In fact, there is a video showing one of these “experts”—Michael West —pressing a mold of Mr. Duncan’s teeth into the victim’s skin, creating evidence of bite marks where there were none. Neither the jury nor the State’s testifying expert ever saw this evidence and, as a result, Mr. Duncan was convicted and sent to death row, where he has remained for a quarter-century. Despite this forensic fraud and compelling evidence of Mr. Duncan’s innocence, Louisiana’s justice system is not affording Mr. Duncan his day in court.

Louisiana’s death penalty system is profoundly broken. Statistics compiled by the Louisiana Capital Appeals Project show a stark racial disparity in death sentences: 42 of the 57 people on Louisiana’s death row (74%) are people of color; 38 of them (67%) are Black. There are at least 23 people with evidence of intellectual disability on death row, even though executing people who have  intellectual disability is unconstitutional. Furthermore, Louisiana’s death penalty is highly error prone, with an alarming 83% reversal rate in capital cases since 1976. In fact, nine people have been exonerated from death row since 1999. Mr. Duncan’s claims of innocence must be heard lest Louisiana commit a further egregious and irreversible injustice.

Leave a Reply

Thank you for visiting us. You can learn more about how we consider cases here. Please avoid sharing any personal information in the comments below and join us in making this a hate-speech free and safe space for everyone.

This field is required.
This field is required.
This field is required.