Montana IP Client Richard Burkhart’s Murder Charge Dismissed

Montana IP Client Richard Burkhart’s Murder Charge Dismissed

Montana Innocence Project A Great Falls judge exonerated a man who has spent 15 years behind bars for a murder he said he didn’t commit. The murder charge against Richard Burkhart, represented by the Montana Innocence Project, was dismissed last week. Burkhart was accused of killing Wiliam D. Ledeau, who was reportedly bludgeoned with a hammer on Nov. 13, 2001, on 12th Street North, between Central and First Avenue North. The order dismissing the case allows prosecutors to refile the charge against Burkhart in the future if new evidence supports it.  A 12-person jury had found Burkhart, now 38, guilty at trial in 2002. In light of new evidence uncovered in 2015, Judge John Kutzman overturned Burkhart’s original conviction and ordered he receive a second trial.  Attorneys with the Montana Innocence Project, a nonprofit that works to exonerating the wrongfully convicted, filed a motion in December to dismiss the case for violation of Burkhart’s right to a speedy trial. On Dec. 28, district prosecutors filed their own motion to dismiss the case, citing a lack of evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Read...
Exoneration Initiative Client Cory Epps Exonerated

Exoneration Initiative Client Cory Epps Exonerated

Exoneration Initiative As Cory L. Epps was led away 19 years ago after being sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for a murder he swore he did not commit, he told his family: “The Lord’s going to take care of it. Don’t worry about it, you all.” Epps’ assurances came through Friday morning in an Erie County courtroom packed with his family and friends. Now 46, Epps, a married father of three now with four grandchildren, was ordered freed in a courtroom packed with relatives, exonerated in the road rage shooting death of Tameka Means of Cheektowaga early on the morning of May 26, 1997. “The judgment of conviction of Mr. Cory Epps is hereby vacated … in the interest of justice,” said Erie County Court Judge James Barnesi. Applause broke out and one man yelled: “Thank you, judge.” Read...
West Virginia IP Client Joseph Lavigne Granted Parole

West Virginia IP Client Joseph Lavigne Granted Parole

West Virginia Innocence Project Joseph Lavigne, a client of the West Virginia Innocence Project at the WVU College of Law, has been granted parole. He was released from Huttonsville Correctional Center on Nov. 15, after serving 20 years in prison. In 1997, Lavigne was convicted of one count each of sexual abuse in the first degree, child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, and incest. The victim was his 5-year-old daughter. For 20 years, she and her mother have maintained Lavigne’s innocence. No physical DNA evidence was submitted at Lavigne’s trial but witnesses testified that his daughter said she was assaulted by her father. Lavigne argued that his daughter said she was assaulted by a man who looked like her father. Read...
IP New Orleans Client Wilbert Jones Freed

IP New Orleans Client Wilbert Jones Freed

Innocence Project New Orleans Wilbert Jones walked through the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison gate around noon Wednesday and into the arms of his brother, sister-in-law and niece — free for the first time in almost 46 years after his 1974 rape conviction was overturned. “I just want to be free,” the 64-year-old said, with a smile on his face and family embracing him. “I thank God for my family, I thank God for my legal team and I thank God for God.” His brother Plem Jones gave him a long hug, later wiping tears from his eyes. “I never gave up on him, I knew that he didn’t do it,” Plem Jones said Wednesday. “It was nothing but a matter of time, I knew he was going to be free one day.” In the almost 46 years his brother was incarcerated, Plem Jones said he can remember missing only two opportunities to visit him. Jones traveled from his Baton Rouge home two weekends a month to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, and additionally on a month’s rare fifth weekend, to talk, to cry with his brother, he said. In his earlier years, he brought his daughter with him, and more recently, he brought his grandchildren. Read...
CPCS Innocence Program Client Darrell Jones Freed

CPCS Innocence Program Client Darrell Jones Freed

CPCS Innocence Program Darrell Jones, who has been in prison for 32 years for a murder he has always denied committing, was released on bail Thursday evening. Two days after another judge ruled Jones would receive a new trial, Plymouth County Superior Court Associate Judge Robert Cosgrove freed the Boston man on $5,000 bail. In a 39-page ruling Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Thomas McGuire said Jones did not get a fair trial when he was convicted in 1986 of killing a Brockton drug dealer. McGuire cited new evidence that the lead detective gave false testimony and purposefully altered video of an alleged eyewitness that McGuire said “could have affected the jury’s judgment.” “I stayed in prison a long time, not just the fact it’s something I didn’t do, but it was hard to get people to hear you,” Jones said at the courthouse Thursday. “So, I’m trying to get everybody here to understand one point: There’s somebody else back at that jail that nobody’s listening to, that’s probably innocent, and trying to fight like I’ve been trying to fight.” Read...