Wednesday, July 06, 2005


81.South Carolina...Convicted 1989
Manning was convicted in 1989 for the slaying of a South Carolina police officer in 1988. The conviction was overturned in 1991. Manning was retried in 1993, but the case ended in a mistrial. Manning's third trial in 1995 resulted in another conviction, but it was overturned on December 29, 1997, when the South Carolina Supreme Court held that the trial court abused its discretion by granting the State's motion to change venue for the selection of the jury. The Court ordered a new trial. The subsequent trial was declared a mistrial, and prosecutors pursued the case a fifth time. In 1999, at his last trial, expert death penalty attorney, David Bruck, represented Manning. Manning maintained that although the officer for driving under license suspension had arrested him, Manning escaped when the officer stopped another car. The state's case was entirely circumstantial, and the jury acquitted Manning after less than 3 hours of deliberation. 82. Alfred Rivera North Carolina Convicted 1997 Charges Dismissed 1999 Rivera walked out of the Forsyth County Jail into the arms of his 3-year-old son after being acquitted at his re-trial on capital charges. Rivera had been sent to North Carolina's death row in 1997, but the N.C. Supreme Court overturned his conviction because jurors had not been allowed to hear testimony that others may have framed Rivera who pleaded guilty in the murder of two drug dealers.

Dexter was accused in 1990 of the 1991 murdering his wife of 22 years. Police overlooked significant evidence that the murder occurred in the course of a botched robbery and quickly decided that Dexter must have committed the crime. Dexter's trial lawyer was in poor health and under federal investigation for tax fraud and failed to challenge blood evidence presented at trial. The conviction was overturned in 1997 because of prosecutorial misconduct. The defense then had the blood evidence carefully examined and showed that the conclusions presented at trial were completely wrong. The state's blood expert admitted that his previous findings overstated the case against Dexter. On the eve of Dexter's retrial in June 1999, the prosecution dismissed the charges and Dexter was freed.
UPDATE: Mr. Dexter passed away April 10, 2005, after a long battle with cancer. He was a faithful memeber of WMCADP Board of Directors while his health permitted. He had also donated a beautiful quilt adorned with the faces of those death row inmates who were executed.

79.Illinois...Convicted 1989
Jones was a homeless man when he was convicted of the rape and murder of a Chicago woman. After a lengthy interrogation in which Jones says police beat him, he signed a confession. Prosecutors at his conviction described him as a "cold brutal rapist" who "should never see the light of day." Recent DNA testing revealed that Jones was not the rapist and there was no evidence of any accomplice to the murder. The Cook County state's attorney filed a motion asking the Illinois Supreme Court to vacate Jones's conviction in 1997. In May 1999, the state dropped all charges against Jones. He is being temporarily detained pending another matter in a different state.

78.Oklahoma...Convicted 1988
Ronald Williamson had been a major league baseball player before injuries forced him to quit. He was identified by police as a possible suspect, but was never arrested. A few years later he sat in jail awaiting trial on a bad check charge. It was then that a jailhouse informant told prosecuters that Williamson had confessed to murdering Deborah Carter.
Five days before his execution date, his attorney filed a habeus corpus petition on the grounds of inefective assistance of counsel. The petition was granted the following year and Williamson won a new trial. While awaiting trial, DNA test results came back showing conclusively that neither Williamson nor Fritz were the culprits. The DNA matched Glen Gore, the state's star witness at trial.
Williamson and Fritz filed a civil lawsuit against the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and were awarded an undisclosed sum of money.
Update: Williamson died in 2004 at the age of 51.

77.Illinois...Convicted 1985
Smith's conviction was overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court in 1999 because it was based on unreliable evidence. As a result, he is not subject to re-trial. Smith had been convicted of a murder outside of a Chicago tavern in 1985. The man killed was the assistant warden of the Pontiac Correctional Center. The Court said, "When the state cannot meet its burden of proof, the defendant must go free." On August 1, 2002, Illinois Governor George Ryan issued a pardon to Smith based on innocence. Smith is the 11th death row inmate to be freed in Illinois since the death penalty was reinstated and the 9th since 1994.

76.Illinois...Convicted 1983
Porter was released in February, 1999 on the motion of the State's Attorney after another man confessed on videotape to the double 1982 murder that sent Porter to death row. Charges were filed against the other man, who claimed he killed in self-defense. Investigator broke the case Paul Ciolino working with Prof. David Protess and journalism students from Northwestern University. Their investigation also found that another witness had been pressured by police to testify against Porter. Porter came within 2 days of execution in 1998 and was only spared because the Court wanted to look into his mental competency. Porter has an IQ of 51. His conviction was officially reversed on March 11, 1999.

Louisiana...Convicted 1996
All charges were dropped in the death penalty prosecution of Shareef Cousin in Louisiana. Cousin had been convicted and sentenced to death for a murder in New Orleans when Couisin was 16 years old. The Louisiana Supreme Court overturned his conviction because of improperly withheld evidence and the District Attorney decided on January 8, 1999 not to pursue the case further. Cousin had maintained that he was at a city recreation department basketball game at the time of the crime and his coach testified that he dropped him off at home just 20 minutes after the slaying. He remains incarcerated on unrelated charges.


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