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
Johnny Small was 16 years old when he watched his life evaporate. What he must have felt in 1989 when the judge sentenced him to life and an additional 16 years in prison for the murder of 32-year-old Pam Dreher is unfathomable. Small maintains to this day that he was truly innocent.
For the past 28 years, Small sat in prison while the life he could have led slipped slowly away. He cries when he thinks of his mother, who died in February after years of being too ill to make the trek to the prison. He hadn’t seen her in six years. After being repeatedly denied parole, Small had lost hope of ever leading a normal life. So much so, he contemplated suicide. Read more.
A judge on Monday tossed out murder convictions for three men who spent 20 years in prison in a case that started unraveling when attorneys learned a top county prosecutor deliberately hid witness statements casting doubt on their guilt. The men, Laurese Glover, Derrick Wheatt and Eugene Johnson, were convicted as teenagers in January 1996 for the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Clifton Hudson in East Cleveland but denied killing him. Johnson and Wheatt received sentences of 18 year to life, and Glover was sentenced to 15 years to life.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo released the men from prison in March 2015 and, for a second time, ordered a new trial after attorneys for the Ohio Innocence Project found a letter written by first assistant county prosecutor Carmen Marino in 1998 telling East Cleveland police to withhold the investigative file from attorneys filing an appeal of the convictions. Read more.
The Midwest Innocence Project has taken the case of a Columbia man convicted of murder for the 2001 death of a sports editor at the Tribune. The man’s testimony, which he has claimed was a lie for several years, famously implicated Ryan Ferguson, who served nearly 10 years behind bars before he was released in 2013.
Justin Scott, a spokesman for the Midwest Innocence Project, confirmed via email Monday the organization’s legal director, Tricia Bushnell, is now representing Charles Erickson. Bushnell declined to speak about the case.
The Kansas City-based organization was founded through the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2000 and works to exonerate wrongfully convicted people in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa and Nebraska. Read more.
The body of Donna Meagher was discovered on Colorado Gulch two decades ago. She had been beaten to death. On Tuesday, the two men convicted for her murder – Freddie Lawrence and Paul Jenkins – were back in court as part of an effort to challenge their convictions. The victim’s family took up two rows in the courtroom as defense and state attorneys presented evidence from the 1997 case.
Lawrence and Jenkins have requested that the state conduct tests on DNA evidence from the murder. Both men appeared at the hearing by video from prison. Attorneys from the Montana Innocence Project told Judge Kathy Seeley that swabs and hair samples from Meagher’s body could produce a male DNA profile that doesn’t match either of the two convicted men. Read more.
Twenty-one years after they were sentenced to life in prison for a murder that police and prosecutors claimed was Satanically inspired, the convictions of two men have been vacated. A Meade Circuit judge has found there was no “credible evidence” that the murder of Rhonda Sue Warford, a Louisville woman whose body was dumped in a field, was motivated by Satanic worship.
Circuit Judge Bruce T. Butler also said the newly available DNA testing shows that prosecutors and police got it wrong in the 1995 trial of Garr Keith Hardin and Jeffrey Dewayne Clark when they said a hair found on Warford’s sweatpants was a “microscopic match” with Hardin. Read more.