Freeing the innocent and preventing wrongful convictions worldwide
The Innocence Network is an affiliation of organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted, working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions, and supporting the exonerated after they are freed.
69 organizations from around the world working to exonerate unjustly convicted men and women, including independent nonprofits as well as organizations affiliated with law schools or other educational institutions, units of public defender offices, and pro bono sections of law firms.
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Recent news articles and media mentions from around the Innocence Network
Lorinda Swain, a Calhoun County woman convicted in a sex-abuse case in 2002, will get a new trial, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. Swain was convicted in 2002 for sexually abusing her adopted son. She served seven years in prison. Her conviction was thrown out by a Battle Creek judge in 2009 after new witnesses raised doubts about her guilt.
Swain has maintained her innocence. The boy, Ronald Swain, has recanted his testimony, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer. In 2009 and again in 2012, now-retired Calhoun County Judge Conrad Sindt ordered a new trial for Swain, but the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned that ruling in 2015. Wednesday’s ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court reverses the Court of Appeals decision, saying it “erred in failing to give proper deference to the specific findings of the trial court that the defendant was entitled to a new trial.” Read more.
Jeremiah David Mongold could have gotten out of jail a year ago, one of his lawyers said Tuesday. “He became eligible for parole last year and actually forwent a parole hearing because he wanted to have his habeas hearing instead,” said Valena Beety, the director of the Innocence Project at West Virginia University’s College of Law, and one of Mongold’s lawyers. “‘I want to prove my innocence,’ he said.”
After a hearing last month, Mongold’s conviction was thrown out. After serving 11 years of the 40-year prison sentence he was handed in 2005, a Hampshire County judge threw out Mongold’s conviction in connection with the death of his 2-year-old stepdaughter.
Hampshire Circuit Judge Charles Parsons ruled that Mongold, 32, should get a new trial. The judge found that Mongold’s lawyer was ineffective during his original trial. Mongold was released on $75,000 bond to await the new trial, which is tentatively set for Nov. 28, according to Beety. Read more.
A former Naperville resident, imprisoned almost two decades for the arson murder of his mother-in-law, has been granted a court hearing to dispute the fire investigation evidence that helped to secure his conviction.
William Amor will return in June to the DuPage County courthouse where he was convicted of murder and arson in the death of Marianne Miceli, who died in a Sept. 10, 1995, fire at the Naperville condominium she shared with her daughter and Amor.
Attorneys for Amor say he is innocent and advances in arson investigation techniques and science undermine the conclusions investigators reached in the mid-1990s, including that Amor started the fire using a cigarette and a vodka-soaked newspaper. Read more.
DNA evidence has exonerated a man convicted years ago in a teenager’s killing. Malcolm Jabbar Bryant, who was found guilty of the November 1998 murder of 16-year-old Toni Bullock, had charges dropped Wednesday because of DNA evidence. Bullock was stabbed repeatedly in the stomach as she and a friend walked along Harford Road in northeast Baltimore. Her friend was able to get away. Prosecutors said at the time that the motive was robbery.
Bryant was convicted in August 1999 and sentenced in September 1999 to life in prison. Bullock’s case is not closed and police said they are actively searching for her killer. Prosecutors said Bryant always maintained his innocence over the years and exhausted all his appeals. With the help of the , he got a court-appointed DNA test of fingernail clippings from the victim. Read more.
Office of the Ohio Public Defender, Wrongful Conviction Unit Client Angela Garcia’s Murder Conviction Vacated
Prosecutors dropped four aggravated murder charges Monday against a mother serving consecutive life sentences in a 1999 house fire that killed her two daughters. Angela Garcia pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of arson. In place of her consecutive life sentences, Judge Michael Astrab sentenced her to 22 years in prison, 17 of which she’s already served.
Prosecutors and attorneys from the Ohio Public Defender’s Wrongful Conviction Unit struck a deal before a hearing Monday where the judge was set to consider whether he would grant Garcia a new trial. In 2002, it took then-Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William D. Mason three trials to convict Garcia. Read more.
Two men traded their prison uniforms for suits and emerged from the Tulsa Jail as free men Monday evening, 20 years into their life sentences. Malcolm Scott and De’Marchoe Carpenter were released hours after a Tulsa County judge declared them innocent of a 1994 fatal drive-by shooting for which they were convicted at age 18.
“It’s been a long journey, but we’re here. We made it,” said Scott, who was released first. “I’m just thankful for a second chance at life.” “I waited a long time for this day,” Carpenter told reporters when he was released. “It’s just — it’s a wonderful day.” Scott and Carpenter, now 39, were each sentenced to life plus 170 years after they were convicted of first-degree murder and related charges in a shooting that killed 19-year-old Karen Summers. Read more.