Innocence Project

Law
8:04 am
Thu May 29, 2014

NC Appeals Judge's Order For A New Trial Two Decades Into Darryl Howard's Prison Sentence

A Durham Superior Court Judge has ordered a new trial for a man who has been locked up for two decades.
Credit Joe Gratz / Creative Commons

The state of North Carolina is appealing a judge's order for a new trial for Darryl Howard. Howard has been in prison for 19 years for the 1995 murder of Doris Washington and her daughter, Nishonda.

Judge Orlando Hudson cited new evidence and misconduct by former Durham prosecutor Mike Nifong. Nifong failed to provide Howard's attorney with a memo from a tipster who said members of a New York drug gang raped and killed Washington and her daughter. DNA evidence found on Washington's body matched another felon’s, not Howard's.

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After Innocence: Exoneration in America
1:00 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

After Innocence: Wrongfully Convicted Inmate Escaped Prison, Finally Exonerated

Exoneree Orlando Boquete
Credit David Persoff

In 1982, a woman notified the police that two men had broken into her home, and one of them had sexually assaulted her. She described the sexual offender as a Latino man wearing no shirt and with no hair.  After the police responded to the call, they found a group of Cuban-Americans in the parking lot of a convenience store. A man named Orlando Boquete was among them, the only one who wore no shirt and had little hair, although he did have a large, black mustache. 

The police arrested Boquete right there and took him to the victim’s home, where she identified him, from 20 feet away in a police cruiser at night, as the perpetrator. After she identified him that night, she added to her testimony that the perpetrator had a mustache.

Boquete testified at the trial that he was with his family watching TV at the time of the crime. Afterwards, he went to the convenience store with his cousins, where the police picked him up.  The jury didn’t buy it. Another piece of evidence ignored at the trial was blood type. The fluids found on the victim’s clothing revealed that the perpetrator had Type A blood. Boquete and the victim are both Type O, but the forensic analyst who testified at the trial did not mention this crucial fact.

Boquete was charged and convicted of sexual battery and burglary in 1983 and sent to prison.

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After Innocence: Exoneration in America
6:00 am
Thu June 13, 2013

After Innocence: James Waller Speaks About What Exoneration Feels Like

Exoneree James Waller
Credit David Persoff

“The worst thing you can be is a sex offender because it’s dirt that you can’t wash off.”

Those words were spoken by James Waller in an interview with WUNC at the Innocence Network Conference in Charlotte in April. Waller spent decades in prison and on parole after being wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy. When he went to jail, he was 23. When he was exonerated in 2007, he was 50.

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The State of Things
12:15 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Exonerees Share Stories Of Wrongful Conviction At Innocence Network Conference

Vanessa Potkin, senior staff attorney with the Innocence Project, helped to exonerate Bennie Starks earlier this year.
Sameer Abdel-Khalek

Frank Stasio talks with Keith Findley, president of the Innocence Network; Vanessa Potkin, Innocence Project senior staff attorney; and exonerees Bennie Starks and Audrey Edmunds.

Across the country, 306 wrongfully convicted inmates have been exonerated because of DNA evidence. The number of people exonerated through other means is hard to calculate, since not all states keep records of exonerees.  It might be close to 1,000. But that could be a gross undercount. Over 100 exonerees and many others gathered in Charlotte this past weekend for the 2013 Innocence Network Conference.  There, The State of Things host Frank Stasio sat down with two exonerees and two legal professionals to learn more about their stories.

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After Innocence: Exoneration in America
6:00 am
Wed June 12, 2013

After Innocence: The 99th Person Exonerated Due To DNA Evidence

Exoneree Marvin Anderson
Credit David Persoff

Marvin Anderson was exonerated in 2001 after spending 15 years in a Virginia prison and four years on parole for crimes he did not commit. His exoneration was granted after DNA evidence excluded him from the crimes, and he was the 99th person in the country to be exonerated due to DNA evidence gathered post-conviction. But had some evidence been taken more seriously at his original trial, Anderson never would have had to serve prison time for someone else’s crimes in the first place.

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After Innocence: Exoneration in America
4:24 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

After Innocence: Jeffrey Deskovic Was Incarcerated At 17, Exonerated At 33

Exoneree Jeffrey Deskovic
Credit David Persoff

Jeffrey Deskovic was 16 when one of his female classmates, Angela Correa, was found murdered in the woods in their hometown in upstate New York.  He says didn’t know her well, but she was always friendly to him in the school hallways.  At the girl’s funeral, Jeffrey broke down in heavy sobs and visited her wake multiple times.  It was there that some people started to suspect that he might have had something to do with the murder.

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After Innocence: Exoneration in America
12:30 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

After Innocence: What It's Like To Spend 26 Years Behind Bars, Innocent

Johnnie Lindsey was exonerated after 26 years in prison.
Credit David Persoff

In 1981, a 27-year-old white woman was riding her bike when she was attacked and raped by a shirtless African American man. A rape kit was collected, and a line-up of potential perpetrators was assembled for the victim to review, but she did not identify anyone. A year later, the police mailed her six photos from a new line-up. There were two men without shirts. The victim picked out Johnnie Lindsey, one of the shirtless men, as the perpetrator, and in 1983 he was charged with the crime.

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After Innocence: Exoneration in America
5:00 am
Tue June 11, 2013

After Innocence: Julie Baumer Wrongly Convicted Of Child Abuse

Exoneree Julie Baumer
Credit David Persoff

When Julie Baumer rushed her new-born nephew Philipp to the hospital on October 3, 2003, she had no idea what was wrong. He couldn’t keep his formula down for more than a few hours and wouldn’t take a bottle. Philipp was 6 weeks old and has spent the first week of his life in the neonatal intensive-care-unit after a difficult delivery. His mother, Julie’s sister, struggled with drug addiction and had already given up one child for adoption. Not wanting to see another child leave the family, Julie had offered to help care for her sister’s infant.

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After Innocence: Exoneration in America
4:30 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

After Innocence: 27 Years In Prison, Exoneree Now Works To Free Others

Charles Chatman spent 27 years in prison an innocent person.
Credit David Persoff

One of the longest prison sentences ever served by an innocent person was done by Charles Chatman of Dallas County Texas. Chatman, a black man, was wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman in 1981 and sentenced to 99 years in prison. He served nearly 27 years before he was exonerated in 2008. Although he went before the parole board multiple times during his sentence, he was never granted parole because he never admitted guilt.

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The State of Things
11:12 am
Tue April 23, 2013

Exonerees Share Stories Of Wrongful Conviction At Innocence Network Conference

Vanessa Potkin, senior staff attorney with the Innocence Project, helped to exonerate Bennie Starks earlier this year.
Sameer Abdel-Khalek

Frank Stasio talks with Keith Findley, president of the Innocence Network; Vanessa Potkin, Innocence Project senior staff attorney; and exonerees Bennie Starks and Audrey Edmunds.

Across the country, 306 wrongfully convicted inmates have been exonerated because of DNA evidence. The number of people exonerated through other means is hard to calculate, since not all states keep records of exonerees.  It might be close to 1,000. But that could be a gross undercount. Over 100 exonerees and many others gathered in Charlotte this past weekend for the 2013 Innocence Network Conference.  There, The State of Things host Frank Stasio sat down with two exonerees and two legal professionals to learn more about their stories.

Read more