Wednesday, July 06, 2005

2002

100.Kentucky...Conviction 1999
Larry Osborne was acquitted of all charges and freed on August 1, 2002 in Kentucky. The Kentucky Supreme Court reversed his conviction because the trial court allowed inadmissible hearsay testimony from a witness, Joe Reid. Reid passed away prior to the original trial and, therefore, could not face cross-examination. Osborne was sentenced to death in 1999 following his conviction for the murder of two elderly victims in Whitley County, Ky. Osborne was only 17 at the time of the crime. He is the fourth exonerated death row inmate in the nation this year

99.
Pennsylvania...Conviction 1998
Kimbell had been sentenced to death in 1998 following his conviction for the murder of four members of a family in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania in 1994. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 2000 because evidence, which might have thrown doubt on his guilt, was barred at trial. The excluded evidence would have placed the husband of one of the victims at home, the scene of the crime, shortly before the murders. Kimbell maintained his innocence throughout his incarceration. With the excluded evidence allowed in, he was acquitted of all charges at his re-trial on May 3.

98.Arizona...Conviction 1992
On April 8, 2002, Ray Krone was released from prison in Arizona after DNA testing showed that he did not commit the murder for which he was convicted 10 years earlier. Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley and Phoenix Police Chief Harold Hurtt announced at a news conference on April 8, 2002 that new DNA tests vindicated Krone and that they would seek his release pending a hearing next month to vacate the murder conviction. Romley stated, "[Krone] deserves an apology from us, that's for sure. A mistake was made here. . . . What do you say to him? An injustice was done and we will try to do better. And we're sorry." Krone was first convicted in 1992, based largely on
circumstantial evidence and testimony that bite marks on the victim matched Krone's teeth. He was sentenced to death. Three years later he received a new trial. But was again found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in 1996. Krone's post-conviction defense attorney, Alan Simpson, obtained a court order for DNA tests. The results not only exculpated Krone, but they pointed to another man, Kenneth Phillips, as the assailant. Prosecutor William Culbertson told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Alfred Fenzel that the chances are 1.3 quadrillion to one that DNA found in saliva on the victim's tank top came from Phillips.

97.Florida...Conviction 1984
Juan Roberto Melendez spent nearly 18 years on Florida's death row before being exonerated of the crime for which he was sentenced to death. Melendez, who was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Puerto Rico, was sentenced to die in 1984 for the murder of Delbert Baker. In December 2001, Florida Circuit Court Judge Barbara Fleischer overturned Melendez's capital murder conviction after determining that prosecutors in his original trial withheld critical evidence, thereby undermining confidence in the original verdict. The judge noted that no physical evidence linked Melendez to the crime. The state had used the testimony of two witnesses whose credibility was later challenged with new evidence. Following the reversal of the conviction, prosecutors announced the state's decision to abandon charges against Melendez.

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