Top Wrongful Convictions – #4 Anthony Ray Hinton

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Anthony at the 2015 innocence network conference in Orlando, Florida

This is the fourth in a series of short posts, my personal “top” wrongful convictions.

The purpose is to explain that “you may be wrong”.

Remember that in every wrongful conviction, a jury is fooled into believing the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Every wrongful conviction has a cause, sometimes there are multiple causes.

I have chosen the case of Anthony Ray Hinton as #4.

Anthony was (thankfully!) exonerated on April 2nd, 2015.

My view of the causes:

  • It started with a mistaken eyewitness – the victim of a shooting identified Anthony Hinton, even though he was working in a locked warehouse 15 miles from the crime scene. His supervisor and other employees confirmed his innocence.
  • The State then falsely claimed that bullets recovered from this and two other shootings were fired from the same weapon and claimed that they matched a weapon recovered from Mr. Hinton’s mother.
  • The defense failed to effectively challenge these bogus claims. Mr. Hinton was appointed a lawyer who mistakenly thought he could not get enough money to hire a qualified firearms examiner. Instead, he retained a visually-impaired civil engineer with no expertise in firearms identification who admitted he could not operate the machinery necessary to examine the evidence.
  • The prosecutor—who had a documented history of racial bias, said he could tell Mr. Hinton was guilty and “evil” solely from his appearance.

As a result Anthony spent 28 years on death row in Alabama. It took 16 years for EJI attorney Bryan Stephenson to free Anthony after he first  presented the evidence of his innocence.

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