WRONGFUL CONVICTION 8
WrongfulConviction is the punishment of a person for a crime or error he/shedid not commit. In most cases, wrong conviction is cited by deathsentence or life sentence. Justice system has means to overturn awrongful conviction in most of the cases, but this takes a long timeafter execution or release of an innocent man. In the recent past DNAEvidence has been used to exonerate many people who have been wronglyconvicted. Other forensic and credible evidence has been used toclear a person(Gould,2007).
Thefollowing are individual cases that were wrongly convicted and lateroverturned on the basis of DNA or other exonerating evidence.
JonathanFleming case (1989).
Thejury held that the defendant was guilty of murder Darryl Rush inWilliamsburg. He served almost 25 years in prison but was released onApril 2014 after a reviewing documents and re-interviewing witnessesof the case. During Rush Slaying, evidence showed that Fleming was inFlorida with his family. After close examination of the phone bill,the conviction review unit solidified Fleming claim that he was inFlorida at the time of Slaying. One witness in the case was onprobation and was persuaded to vindicate Fleming by police to avoidimprisonment again (Boyette, 2014)
HermanAtkins case 1988.
Hermanserved 12 years in prison after wrongful conviction of robbery andrape in 1988. The victim identified Herman as the perpetrator of thecrime. After DNA testing was allowed by the prosecution, Atkins wasexcluded from the crime and was exonerated in February 2000 after 12years in Prison (Kirk, 2002).
Huntwas convicted for first degree murder of Deborah Sykes. The maincause of hunt wrongful conviction was eyewitness misidentificationwhere the two witnesses identified Hunt as the person who was withSykes at the time of the crime. After DNA testing by Innocenceproject and self confession of the real perpetrator of the crime,Hunt was exonerated and freed in 2005 (Christianson,2006).
Thiswas another case of wrong conviction due to eyewitnessmisidentification and improper forensic science. Bauer was convictedto 30 years jail term of rape and assault. The victim and her husbandidentified Bauer and lab analyst gave improper information on thehair that was found on the bedding of the victim. After acceptance ofDNA testing by the prosecution, Bauer was proved innocent afterserving 8year ofhissentence.
Edwardwas released in April 2008 after spending 15 years of his deathsentence for killing two people (Chapman, 2010). The wrongfulconviction of innocent Chapman was caused by hiding of the evidenceby police detectives. Forensic pathology discovered that one of thevictims called Tenen Conley did not suffer any life threateninginjury and died of Drug overdose.
RonWilliamson and Dennis Fritz (1988)
Denniswas sentenced for life and his friend Williamson was sentencedto death for the murder of Debra Sue Carter (Grisham, 2010).Appeal was made and DNA testing was accepted that revealed none ofthe defendants deposited spermatozoa that were found in the victim,in fact, said DNA matched one of the witnesses called Glenn Galore.Ron and Dennis were cleared and released in April 1999 after 11years.
Thedefendant was charged and convicted for 12 years for sexual assaultin Ulvade County, in the victim`s apartment. The victim identifiedAlejandro on a sketch lineup and in live lineup. The identificationwas backed by conclusion of the DNA testing by Fred Zain that matchedAlejandro. After reexamination of DNA report, it was revealed thatZain had not completed the test before issuing the report. The finalreport excluded Alejandro as spermatozoa depositor on the victim.Based on this report, Alejandro conviction was overturned and wasfreed after serving nearly four years in prison (NorthwesternLaw,2011).
WilliamBilly Dillon (1981)
Thedefendant was a 21 years old man and was found guilty for the murderof 40 years old man. A sniffer dog managed to trace Williams scentfrom the courthouse to the scene of Crime. His girlfriend also framedhim by saying he saw William standing next to the victim`s body withno shirt. Later she retracted her story and said she was forced totestify against William to avoid being jailed. The sniffer dog ownerwas later exposed as a conman and was fed with information by thePolice to frame William. After DNA test was carried out on theincriminating yellow T-shirt it did not match William and wasreleased in 2012.
Clarencewas handed a death sentence for murder of 16 years old CherylFergeson. According to the Interrogator claim one of the workers inthe victim high school was going to hang for the Cheryl Murder.Clarence being the only black was elected and was to face trial. Hefaced all white jury and was sentenced to death row in the secondtrial. Later it was discovered that there was racism in Clarence caseand the FBI intervention led to Clarence new trial and was laterexonerated (Radelet et al, 1992)
JimmyRay Bromgard (1987)
Ayoung girl was attacked and raped by an intruder who broke into herroom and the perpetrator fled. On the line up to identify theperpetrator, the victim, though not very sure identified Jimmy as herassailant and jimmy lawyers did not to the court. The wrong forensicanalysis on Jimmy`s hair and semen and wrong eyewitnessidentification led to Bromgards conviction. After the case wasrevisited in 2000 and a new DNA test was conducted, Jimmy spermatozoawere not found on the victim`s underwear and Jimmy innocence wasproved after spending 14 years of his 40 years sentence in prison(Savino and Turvey, 2005).
Analysisof the ten cases cited shows that the eyewitness misidentificationcontributes to about 75% of all wrongful conviction. The victims inthese cases have failed to identify the correct person hence leadingto wrongful conviction. False Confession has also led to a greatextent the miscarriage of justice. In the above cases, the policeinterference and threatening have led to a false confession by thewitnesses. Another major cause of wrong conviction is the invalidatedor improper forensic sciences. These sciences are mostly incompleteor tampered with and are later proven otherwise by proper test. Badlawyering has also been identified as a cause in wrongful conviction.For example, in Jimmy Ray Bromgard case, bad lawyering contributedgreatly to his conviction. Jury misconduct, for example, in ClarenceBrandley case, led conviction of an innocent man. The racialdiscrimination in this case played a great role that led to anintervention of FBI agents(Katz,2011)
Thestate loses much money in compensation of exonerated peoplewho were wrongfully convicted. The wrongly convicted also suffersocially, economically and politically and perceived as a criminal bythe society. It is the high time the miscarriage of justice should beaddressed properly. Proper and conclusive DNA testing should becarried out before the trials of a person begin. The witnesses to thecase should be closely examined by the lawyers to avoid falseconfession and measures should be introduced to punish the witnesseswho give a false statement to the court. Moreover, the casereviewing unit should be independent and avoid vindicating innocentpeople by intimidating and bribing the witnesses.
Boyette,C. (2014). JonathanFleming, convicted in killing despite vacation alibi, freed after 24years.New York: CNN.
Chapman,G. (2010). LifeAfter Death Row.London: CreateSpace Independent Publishing.
Christianson,S. (2006). Innocent:Inside Cases.New York Univ Press.
Gould,J. (2007). TheInnocence Commission.New York: NYU Press.
Grisham,J. (2010). Theinnocent Man.New York: Random House.
Katz,H. (2011). JusticeMiscarried.Toronto: Dandurn.
Kirk,E. (2002). Wantedposter led to misidentification and conviction.Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
NorthwesternLaw.(2014). GilbertAlejandro. RetrievedFrom:
Radelet,M. L., Hugo, A. B., and Constance, E. P. (1992). InSpite of Innocence: Erroneous Convictions in Capital Cases.Boston: Northeastern University Press.
Savino,J. and Turvey, B. (2005). RapeInvestigation Handbook.Waltham: Academic Press.