Wednesday, July 06, 2005

1989

39. Florida...Convicted 1968
Mr. Richardson was convicted and sentenced to death for the poisoning of one of his children. The prosecution used the theory that Richardson’s' motive was insurance money, despite the fact that there was no insurance policy.The primary witnesses against Richardson were two jailhouse snitches that claimed that Richardson had confessed to them.Post-conviction investigation uncovered the fact that the neighbor who was caring for Richardson's children had a prior homicide conviction. The defense provided affidavits from people to whom he had confessed.Richardson's conviction was overturned after further investigation by then Dade County State Attorney General Janet Reno, which resulted in a new hearing and acquittal.

38.
North Carolina...Convicted 1986
Hennis, a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army was convicted of three counts of murder and sentenced to death. His conviction was based primarily on the testimony of witnesses that the North Carolina State Supreme Court described as "tenuous" and "extremely tentative." Hennis was granted a retrial because of the inappropriate use of inflammatory evidence by the prosecution. Hennis was acquitted at his retrial when the defense discredited the witnesses and demonstrated that a neighbor who resembled Hennis could have been the murderer.

37.
Florida...Convicted 1988
Cox was convicted and sentenced to death despite the fact that he did not know the victim and no one testified that they had ever been seen together. Cox was released by a unanimous decision of the Florida Supreme Court that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.

36.
Texas...Convicted 1977
Sentenced to death for killing a Dallas police officer. David Harris was initially arrested for the murder when police learned that he was bragging about it. Once arrested, Harris claimed that Adams was the real killer. A lawyer whose specialty was real estate law represented Adams and the key government witnesses against Adams at trial, were Harris and others that the defense never got the chance to cross-examine because they disappeared the next day.The U.S. Supreme Court reversed Adams' death sentence on these issues and the fact that potential juror's who were not favorable to death penalty were excluded. Rather than conducting a complete retrial, the then Governor of Texas commuted Adams' sentence to life in prison.The Texas Court of Appeals again granted Adam’s a new trial. The prosecutors did not seek a new trial due to the substantial
evidence of Adam's innocence. Adam's case is the subject of the movie The Thin Blue Line .

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