Wednesday, July 06, 2005

2001

96.Idaho...Conviction 1983
Charles Irvin Fain, a Vietnam veteran who spent over 18 years on Idaho's death row, was freed with all charges dismissed in 2001. Although Fain always maintained his innocence, he was convicted and sentenced to death for the February 1982 kidnapping, sexual assault and drowning of 9-year-old Daralyn Johnson. Fain, who was unemployed and living with his parents in Redmond, Oregon at the time of the crime had lived in Idaho until June 1981. He returned to Idaho in March of 1982 to look for work. Fain moved in with a neighbor of the Johnson family, and in September of 1982, police asked that he provide hair samples. Fain agreed, and those samples were the key evidence against him in his trial. Testifying on behalf of Fain were witnesses who placed Fain in Oregon in February of 1982. However, the jury found Fain guilty, primarily on the forensic testimony of an FBI specialist about the hairs, and the testimony of two jailhouse informants who claimed that Fain made "incriminating statements" about the case. With the help of new attorneys, Fain was able to get the physical evidence tested under a new DNA testing process known as Mitochondrial DNA Testing. Results of those tests not only excluded Fain, but also pointed to two other suspects. The US District Court judge who originally would not consider Fain's innocence claims vacated the conviction on July 6, 2001 and ordered prosecutors to either retry or release Fain. Canyon County District Attorney David Young announced that the state would not retry Fain, who was released from the maximum-security facility in Boise, Idaho on August 23, 2001. Young stated that "justice requires the action we have taken today," indicating that the investigation for the killer would be re-opened.

95.
Nebraska...Conviction 1997
Jeremy Sheets was released after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a Nebraska Supreme Court decision overturning his conviction. Prosecutors then dropped the charges against him. In September, 2000, the Nebraska high court unanimously ruled that a tape recording made by an alleged accomplice who committed suicide prior to the trial was the kind of statement deemed "highly suspect," "inherently unreliable," and hence inadmissible without the opportunity for Sheets to cross-examine. The statements (later recanted) were made by Adam Barnett, who was arrested for the 1992 rape and murder of the same victim as in Sheets' case. Barnett confessed to the crime and implicated Sheets. In exchange for the taped statement, Barnett received a plea bargain in which he avoided a charge of first-degree murder, did not have an additional weapons charge filed, and received a commitment for his safety while incarcerated. Barnett's statement was the key evidence used against Sheets at trial.

94.Florida...Convicted 1997
Former death row inmate Joaquin Martinez was acquitted of all charges at his retrial for a 1995 murder in Florida. Martinez's earlier conviction was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court because of improper statements by a police detective at trial. The prosecution did not seek the death penalty in Martinez's second trial after key prosecution witnesses changed their stories and recanted their testimony. An audiotape of alleged incriminating statements by Martinez, which was used at the first trial, was ruled inadmissible at retrial because it was inaudible. The new jury, however, heard evidence that the transcript of the inaudible tape had been prepared by the victim's father, who was the manager of the sheriff's office evidence room at the time of the murder and who had offered a $10,000 reward in the case. Both the Pope and the King of Spain had tried to intervene on behalf of Martinez, who is a Spanish national. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar welcomed the verdict, saying: "I'm very happy that this Spaniard was declared not guilty. I've always been against the death penalty and I always will be."

93.Alabama...Convicted 1995
Drinkard was sentenced to death in 1995, but the Alabama Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 2000. A team of lawyers and investigators from Alabama and the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta spent hundreds of hours preparing for the case and were able to prove that Drinkard was at home at the time the crime was committed.

1 Comments:

Blogger alex said...

Great job on your talk on dna testing. I have a dna testing secrets blog if you wanna swing by my place!

1:44 AM  

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