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
A judge has ordered a new trial for a Wisconsin Rapids man serving a virtual life sentence for a 1987 sexual assault he has always denied. Richard Beranek, 58, raised new issues with the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, and gained extra attention because one of his lawyers, Jarrett Adams, went to law school after he himself was freed from a wrongful conviction with help from the same program. Adams now works for the Innocence Project in New York.
Reserve Judge Daniel Moeser presided at Beranek’s original trial, and heard defense arguments earlier this year about why an FBI agent likely overstated the scientific probability that hair recovered from the scene matched Beranek’s. Furthermore, new DNA testing has shown that the hair “match” is conclusively not Beranek’s. Read more.
A Kansas City man who spent nearly 17 years in prison for purse snatching was released Wednesday after a judge overturned his conviction. The 10th Judicial District Court in Johnson County vacated Richard Jones’ 1999 aggravated robbery conviction. He had been sentenced to more than 19 years in prison. But according to officials with the Midwest Innocence Project, Jones was convicted based solely on eyewitness identification, despite presenting a verified alibi. The Innocence Project and the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence at the University of Kansas worked for Jones’ release. Alice Craig, Jones’ attorney and professor at KU’s Project for Innocence, said the case highlights the flaws in eyewitness identification. Read more.
US prosecutors have dropped all charges against a man who spent 25 years in prison for murder, amid allegations police had falsified evidence. Desmond Ricks’ lawyers say homicide detectives switched bullets in his mother’s gun to pin a shooting on him. He was convicted of gunning down a friend outside a restaurant in Detroit, Michigan, in March 1992, and sentenced to at least 32 years in prison. Mr Ricks, 51, was released from prison last Friday.
On Thursday, Wayne County prosecutor’s office said Mr Ricks would not face a second trial. “I hope you enjoy your newfound freedom,” Judge Richard Skutt told the exonerated man, who heaved a sigh of relief. Mr Ricks’ case was championed by lawyers and students from the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan’s law school. Read more.
While he’s still not a free man, William Amor was as close to it Tuesday as he has been in more than two decades. Amor, 62, walked out of the DuPage County Jail late Tuesday after posting bond on a decades-old murder charge. It marked the first time since 1995 that Amor was not incarcerated in either the county jail or an Illinois prison.
“It’s overwhelming,” he told a small group of reporters. “I’m taking it hour by hour.” Amor is scheduled to be retried in September on charges that he set a fire that killed his mother-in-law, Marianne Miceli, 40, in 1995 in her Naperville condominium. Amor’s 1997 conviction was vacated this spring by Judge Liam Brennan, who ruled it was scientifically impossible for the fire to have started in the manner in which Amor confessed. Read more.
A 46-year-old Chicago man was released from prison on Tuesday after being acquitted of a murder charge from 1991. After spending 26 years behind bars, Patrick Prince was embraced by friends and family, including his daughter, outside of the Cook County prison. Prince was 19 years old when he was charged. “It’s going to take some getting used to again. But at the moment, I’m holding. I’m sleep-deprived. Just trying to get back re-acclimated to society,” Prince told Chicago TV station Fox32.
According to a court order, a man named Edward Porter was shot and killed on a sidewalk on August 28, 1991. Police received an anonymous tip just a few weeks later which pointed the finger at Prince. Read more.
“His family believes his claim of innocence. We believe that he has a meritorious claim of innocence. We’re hoping that the DNA test shows that as well,” said Eric Haught with the West Virginia Innocence Project. Haught is talking about a DNA test that could come any day for Charles “Manny” Kilmer and lead to his re-sentencing or release.
Kilmer has been serving a life sentence without mercy for first-degree murder at the Mount Oliver Correctional Complex since the early 1990s. Kilmer is a veteran, and his health is failing, making the results of the test all the more critical. “He’s extremely elderly,” Haught explained. “He suffers from a variety of medical conditions. He suffers from a neurological disease that was brought on by his exposure to Agent Orange while he was fighting in Vietnam. We’re really hoping that these test results do not point to him.” Read more.