Photo: Witness to Innocence
At least 890 American men and women have been exonerated since 1989 of crimes they didn’t commit.The National Registry of Exonerations, a joint project between the University of Michigan Law School and the centre on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, is putting a face to those names.
Those exonerated included accused sex offenders, murderers, and even a 13-year-old boy who falsely confessed to killing a woman.
Johnny Brisco served 23 years of a 45-year prison sentence for rape before Centurion Ministries took over his case in 2000 and requested the St. Louis Crime Laboratory search for evidence in his case.
Eventually, in 2004, a crime lab found cigarette butts from the scene and tested them for DNA. The DNA matched another man who knew Briscoe and was already serving time in Missouri's prison system.
Briscoe was released from prison in July 2006.
In October 1982, a man reportedly broke into a woman's house, threatened her, and raped her. The man, who identified himself as John Briscoe, then smoked cigarettes with the victim.
The woman identified Johnny Briscoe as her attacker. He was the only man in the line-up wearing an orange jumpsuit.
Glenn Edward Chapman spent nearly 15 years in prison because the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence, according appellate lawyers who worked on Chapman's post-conviction investigation.
Chapman was accused of the 1992 murders of Tenene Yvette Conley and Betty Jean Ramseur, both suspected prostitutes.
Chapman's sperm was found in Conley's body but he claimed he smoked crack with both women and had consensual sex with Conley.
During Chapman's 1994 trial, the prosecutor claimed Chapman was the last person seen with Conley and that he burned down the house where Ramseur's body was found in order to hide the evidence. Two witnesses, who later recanted their testimony, testified that Chapman had confessed to the women's murders.
Chapman was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.
When police eventually reopened the case of Nancy DePriest's death, new evidence led them to release Richard Danziger, who was convicted of murdering her at a Texas Pizza Hut.
When they re-investigated, police found the keys to the Pizza Hut and other evidence at the home of a man who repeatedly confessed to the crime but was ignored.
By the time police found the new evidence, Danziger had already been attacked by another inmate, resulting in severe and permanent brain damage.
He now requires lifelong care due to the injury.
DePriest, 20, was tied up, raped, and murdered in 1988 while working alone in a Texas Pizza Hut. A few days later, an employee saw Christopher Ochoa and Danziger eating pizza and drinking beer in the restaurant, reportedly raising toasts in DePriest's honour.
Danziger was convicted of rape in 1990 and sentenced to life in prison. But in 1998 Achim Josef Marino, a born-again Christian convict, wrote a letter to both local law enforcement and then-governor George W. Bush claiming he murdered DePriest.
Glenn Davis spent 15 years behind bars before his attorneys discovered prosecutors withheld another man's confession.
Lawyers from the Innocence Project New Orleans took up Glenn Davis' case in 2002 and found prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence.
The Innocence Project lawyers found prosecutors withheld statements that another man, Derek 'Blake' Richardson, had confessed to killing alleged crack dealer Samuel George and drove a car that matched the car from the murder.
In February 2008, a judge set aside Davis' conviction and ordered a new trial. In 2010, the state dismissed the charges.
George was shot and killed in August 1992 in a Louisiana town, causing police to narrow in on Glenn Davis, 19; Larry Delmore, 23; and Terrence Meyers, 22.
The trio was convicted using evidence from Norman Jackson, the single eyewitness who was an admitted crack user with an extensive criminal record.
Keith Harris was released after 24 years when a second investigation revealed two other men confessed to the crime.
The same year Keith Harris was convicted of shooting a gas station attendant, two men confessed to the shooting, as well as a string of related crimes.
Richard Holman and Girvies Davis confessed to all the murders related to a string of robberies as well as the attempted murder of attendant Mark Resmann.
But Harris didn't find out about the confessions until nearly 20 years later when former Illinois State Police Investigator Alva Busch brought the case to the Downstate Innocence Project.
The saga began when two armed black men entered a filling station in Caseyville, Ill., in December 1978, demanded all the cash on hand, and shot the attendant seven times.
Resmann, the attendant, survived and later identified Harris as the man who shot him. Harris was arrested in 1979.
The shooting was later proven to be part of a series of crimes that all followed the same pattern and used the same weapon.
The robberies continued even after Harris had been arrested, a detail that had reportedly not been investigated by Harris' attorney.
Harris was convicted in 1979 and sentenced to 50 years in prison. Former Gov. George Ryan granted Harris a pardon in 2003.
Richard Miles languished behind bars for a murder he didn't commit until Centurion Ministries took up his case in 2007 and found two police reports that had never been released to Miles' original attorney.
One report documented an anonymous phone call made to police a year after Deandre Shay Williams and Robert Ray Johnson, Jr. were shot in 1994 -- but before Miles' trial -- in which a woman claimed her ex-boyfriend Keith Richard confessed to the shooting.
Then, in 2010, Marcus Thurman, the prosecution's chief witness, recanted his identification of Miles, claiming he told the trial prosecutor he couldn't identify Miles and the prosecutor showed him where Miles would be sitting to make the identification easier.
When Williams and Johnson stopped at a gas station in Dallas, Texas, in May 1994, they were shot by a black man wearing dark shorts, and white tank top, and a floppy hat.
Williams died at the scene. Johnson survived but was severely injured.
Thurman, the prosecution's star witness, claimed to have seen a black male running with a gun and jump into a white Cadillac, which Thurman proceeded to follow.
After being arrested and photographed, no witnesses other than Thurman, including Johnson, could positively identify Miles.
The prosecution relied on Thurman's testimony, as well as that of a trace evidence analyst who said Miles' hands showed elevated levels of gunshot residue. Miles, who testified in his defence, presented an alibi for the night in question and claimed the residue was caused by handling matches.
On Feb. 15, 12012, the Texas Court of Criminal appeals declared Miles innocent.
A DNA test cleared Jerry Miller of a violent rape nearly 25 years after he was convicted.
When the Innocence Project accepted Miller's case in 2005, it ordered DNA testing of the evidence collected at the crime scene. The DNA excluded Miller in March, 2007, and implicated Robert Weeks as the actual perpetrator.
Miller was then exonerated by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
A white female was walking to her car on the rooftop deck of a Chicago parking garage in September 1981 when a black man pushed her into the car, robbed, and raped her.
The man also forced her into the trunk and tried to drive her car out of the garage but fled when parking attendants wouldn't let him leave.
Miller was arrested and put in a police line-up, where the two parking garage attendants identified him. The woman couldn't identify him in a photo line-up while she was in the hospital but at trial testified he looked like the man who raped her.
James Newsome spent 15 years locked up because the Chicago Police Department reportedly lied about fingerprint matches.
Before James Newsome's murder trial, officials learned that canned goods from the grocery store where Edward 'Mickey' Cohen was murdered bore fingerprints of someone other than Newsome.
The jury reportedly knew this at the time of the trial but still found Newsome guilty.
In 1989, the Chicago Police Department was ordered to run the unidentified finger prints through the new Automated Fingerprint Identification System. But officers reportedly falsely claimed no matches came back.
However, five years later, the department confessed the prints belonged to Dennis Emerson and Newsom was granted a pardon in 1995.
In 2001 Newsome filed a federal civil rights suit and was awarded $15 million -- $1 million for each year he was behind bars.
It all began in October 1979 when a black man reportedly shot and killed Cohen, the owner of a Chicago grocery store.
The next day, two officers stopped Newsome for questioning about an armed robbery on the opposite side of the city.
They cleared Newsome of involvement in the armed robbery but determined he resembled the sketch of the man who shot Cohen.
Two witnesses had identified a different man from a mugbook but when Newsome was put into a lineup, all three witnesses identified him. Years later one witness confessed police had threatened him with jail time if he didn't pick Newsome and told him to 'pick No. 3.'
Newsome was convicted of the crimes in 1980.
After spending 10 years in prison for the murder of Lillian Stevick, which he didn't commit, Jerry Pacek was released in 1968.
However, he wasn't exonerated until the 1990s when former FBI agent Jim Fisher took an interest in the case and began amassing evidence that pointed to Pacek's innocence.
That same year Allegheny County law enforcement re-opened the case and Pacek was ultimately exonerated in 1991.
Walking home from his girlfriend's house in November 1958, then-13-year-old Pacek found an injured woman behind a clump of bushes.
When he found Stevick, 52, Pacek said he saw a man flee the scene. Stevick ultimately died at the hospital.
When police bought Pacek in for questioning he denied committing the crime and passed two polygraph tests.
But after 17 hours he confessed, later claiming he did so because he was worried his girlfriend would be arrested.
His confessions, which he assumed the court would recognise as false, contained inconsistencies about the murder weapon.
Pacek was tried as an adult and convicted in 1959. His attorney ultimately dropped the appeal without telling Pacek, who assumed the appeal had been denied.
DNA testing and an electronic ankle monitor ultimately exonerated Juan Rivera, after he spent 19 years behind bars
Juan Rivera was wrongly convicted three times by three different juries, even though no physical evidence connected him to the rape and murder of Holly Staker.
Plus, after a burglary conviction, Rivera was forced to wear an electronic ankle monitor that recorded him as being more than two miles from the crime scene at the time of the rape.
Even though DNA testing positively eliminated Rivera as the suspect before his 2009 trial, his third, the jury still convicted him a third time by using two uncorroborated confessions police claim Rivera made.
Rivera eventually walked out the Stateville Correctional centre a free man in January 2012.
Rivera's saga began in 1992 when 11-year-old Holly Staker was raped and murdered while babysitting two children in Illinois.
Investigators eventually narrowed in on then-19-year-old Rivera, a former special education student. After four days of interrogation, Rivera eventually broke down and signed a confession.
But the confession police typed up for Rivera to sign was so full of inconsistencies the state's attorney ordered police to re-interview Rivera.
The second confession was accepted, despite a lack of physical evidence and Rivera's mental state at the time.
Rivera underwent three trials, one in 1993, the second in 1998, and the third in 2009. The Illinois Appellate Court reversed his first conviction because of a number of trial errors.
His second conviction was overturned in 2006 when DNA tests eliminated Rivera as a source of semen found in Staker.
Albert Algarin served five years for child rape before the court ruled the charges against him were too vague.
Albert Algarin spent half a decade behind bars after children at a Bronx-area day care centre claimed he raped them.
But the New York Court of Appeals ultimately set aside his and his co-defendants' convictions, claiming the indictments against the three were too vague to prepare a defence.
Algarin's conviction was overturned in 1990.
The case began in August 1984 when the mother of a 4-year-old girl at a Bronx day care centre told authorities her daughter had been raped.
Detectives questioned children at the Praca Day Care centre and found that at least 18 children reported being abused.
Police ultimately arrested Algarin, 21, Herminia Albo, 60, and Jesus Torres, 29. The Bronx County District Attorney Mario Merola indicted Torres, Algarin, and Franklin Beauchamp -- the grand jury declined to indict Albo.
The three were tried separately. Algarin's trial began in Oct. 1985 and the 4-year-old girl to first report abuse testified he raped her.
Algarin was convicted of 23 counts of the rape and sexual abuse of five children and was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in jail.
Curtis Moore spent 30 years in prison for the murder of an 88-year-old and was only exonerated after he died.
Curtis Moore was exonerated in 2008 of killing 88-year-old Eva King Jones when then-Gov. Mark Warner ordered a test of the biological evidence from the crime scene.
The DNA evidence implicated Thomas Pope Jr., who was ultimately convicted of the crime.
Unfortunately Moore died in 2006, two years before his exoneration.
Before his name was eventually cleared, a judge ordered Moore's confession suppressed in 1980 and set aside his original conviction, saying Moore hadn't been read his Miranda warning until at least four hours into the interrogation.
In 1981, Moore, who had been diagnosed as mentally disabled before his trial, was released pending a new trial.
The case began when Jones, who lived about 100 yards from police headquarters in Emporia, Va., was raped, robbed of $40, and choked in January 1975.
Jones died two hours after the attack, but not before claiming she was attacked by a black man. Police had very little evidence and questioned, and released, twelve men before settling on Moore.
Moore had a history of mental disorders and had been diagnosed as schizophrenic and mentally disabled.
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