Category Archives: Top Wrongful Convictions

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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Top Wrongful Convictions – #3 Hannah Overton

hannahfreeThis is the third 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 Hannah Overton as #3.

Hannah was (thankfully!) exonerated on April 8th, 2015.

My view of the causes:

  • Medical staff mistook the effects of salt poisoning for neglect
  • The prosecutor was an alcoholic, with a “win at all costs” attitude
  • Exculpatory evidence was suppressed
  • The judge was negligent

For more see here, here and here.

Top Wrongful Convictions – #2 Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito

XX_OG40A001S WEB.pdfThis is the second is 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 Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as #2. If you have never heard of this case, then I think you cannot read the newspapers much! This was the case that got me interested in the whole subject of wrongful convictions.

Amanda and Raffaele were (thankfully!) exonerated on March 27th, 2015.

My view of the causes:

  • Prosecutors often focus on a person or persons who discover the body or who are first at the scene. They can easily be a target for suspicion. Amanda especially, who was living with Meredith Kercher, was quite reasonably a suspect.
  • A coerced confession. In fact Amanda didn’t confess to a crime, but she was persuaded to sign a statement stating that she had been present at the cottage that evening, when in truth she was not. Her “confession” implicated an innocent man, Patrick Lumumba, a clear indication that it was coerced.
  • The police then fabricated DNA forensic evidence to confirm Amanda and Raffaele’s involvement, even though it was far more plausible that the murder was the work of Rudy Guede alone. Understanding why this DNA evidence is invalid is one of the most interesting aspects of the case.
  • The police also concocted a demonstrably false theory that Amanda and Raffaele had staged a break-in, by throwing a rock through a window from the inside. In reality, a careful study of the evidence conclusively shows that the rock was thrown from the outside, forcing the window shutter.

That’s a brief summary of the case. Another reliable consideration is that Amanda and Raffaele did not have the criminal background or motive to carry out such a brutal killing. Where there is no plausible motive, or evidence of past criminal activities, I find almost invariably there is a wrongful conviction. People should in fact be more sceptical, and consider that police may have twisted and fabricated evidence to make a case for guilt.

Further reading:

Top Wrongful Convictions – #1 Debra Milke

Debra YoungThis is a new 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 will start with a very recent exoneration, Debra Milke.

My view of the causes:

(1) Debra was implicated by hearsay. Statements by the true perpetrators of the crime.

(2) A crooked detective decided to “claim the glory” by claiming Debra confessed.

(3) The long record of misconduct by the detective was suppressed.

(4) The prosecution succeeded in turning Debra’s close relatives against her.

(5) The motive of the real killer was hard to comprehend.

For details on the case, see here or Entry at The National Registry of Exonerations.