Harmful Error

Published — June 26, 2003 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Actual innocence

Exonerated defendants whose cases involved prosecutorial misconduct

Introduction

Actual innocence cases in which courts found prosecutorial misconduct

Name Randall Dale Adams
State/County Texas – Dallas County
Case history 1977: convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death
1980: death sentence overturned; sentence commuted to life imprisonment
1988: key witness recanted his trial testimony and attested to Adams’ innocence
1989: conviction overturned; Adams released from prison
Description of misconduct In 1989, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Adams’ conviction, holding that prosecutor Douglas D. Mulder withheld a statement a witness gave to the police that cast doubt on her credibility and allowed her to give perjured testimony. Further, the court found that after Adams’ attorney discovered the statement, Mulder falsely told the court that he did not know the witness’ whereabouts.
Opinions in database 768 S.W.2d 281; 577 S.W.2d 717

Name Kirk Bloodsworth
State/County Maryland – Baltimore County
Case history 1985: convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree rape and first-degree sexual offense; sentenced to death
1986: conviction overturned because of a Brady violation
1987: reconvicted
1993: DNA exoneration; released from prison and pardoned
Description of misconduct In 1986, the Maryland Court of Appeals overturned Bloodsworth’s conviction because prosecutors Robert Lazzaro and Ann Brobst withheld evidence pertaining to another possible suspect.
Opinions in database 512 A.2d 1056

Name Clarence Brandley
State/County Texas – Montgomery County
Case history 1981: convicted of capital murder
1986: a witness tells authorities another man confessed to the crime
1989: conviction overturned
1990: released
Description of misconduct In 1989, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Brandley’s conviction, finding that police and prosecutors, including James Keeshan, failed to investigate leads pertaining to other suspects, suppressed evidence placing other suspects at crime scene at time of crime, failed to call a witness who didn’t support the state’s case, allowed the perjured testimony of a witness to go uncorrected, and failed to notify Brandley that another man later confessed to the crime.
Opinions in database 781 S.W.2d 886; 691 S.W.2d 699

Name Paris Carriger
State/County Arizona – Maricopa County
Case history 1978: convicted of robbery and murder
1987 and 1991: state’s key witness confessed to the crime
1997: conviction overturned
1999: released
Description of misconduct In 1997, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted Carriger a new trial because the prosecutor, Richard Strohm, failed to disclose information that could have undermined the key witness’ credibility.
Opinions in database 692 P.2d 991

Name Kerry Max Cook
State/County Texas – Smith County
Case history 1978: convicted of capital murder
1991: conviction overturned due to the erroneous admission of psychiatric testimony
1994: retried and convicted
1996: conviction overturned
1999: pled to a lesser charge; DNA exoneration
Description of misconduct In 1996, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Cook’s conviction because the prosecutors, including A. D. Clark, Michael Thompson and David Dobbs, withheld and/or lied about evidence on a variety of matters concerning Cook’s guilt and the credibility of state witnesses and attempted to interview Cook without the knowledge or consent of his lawyer. The court’s opinion also notes that a state expert witness admitted that Clark pressured him to present false and misleading testimony.
Opinions in database 940 S.W.2d 623; 741 S.W.2d 928

Name Rolando Cruz and Alejandro Hernandez
State/County Illinois – DuPage County
Case history 1985: convicted of kidnapping, rape and murder; another man confessed
1988: convictions overturned
1990: Cruz reconvicted
1991: Hernandez reconvicted
1994: Cruz conviction overturned
1995: Hernandez conviction overturned; DNA exoneration; Cruz acquitted at third trial; charges against Hernandez dismissed
2000: Cruz, Hernandez and a third defendant prosecuted for the same crime won $3.5 million settlement from county
Description of misconduct Cruz’s first conviction was overturned because of prosecutor Thomas Knight’s improper use of co-defendants’ statements at trial. Cruz’s second conviction was overturned in part because prosecutor Robert Kilander improperly impeached a witness. In 1996, prosecutors Knight, Kilander and Patrick King, along with four sheriff’s detectives, were criminally charged with conspiring to convict Cruz and Hernandez by fabricating evidence and withholding exculpatory evidence. All were acquitted in 1999.
Opinions in database 521 N.E.2d 18; 1992 Ill. Lexis 221; 643 N.E.2d 636

Name Henry Arthur Drake
State/County

Georgia – Madison County

Case history 1976: convicted of murder and armed robbery; sentenced to death on the murder charge
1981: state’s key witness, the co-defendant, admitted he lied at Drake’s trial and that he, not Drake, was responsible for the murder
1985: conviction overturned
1987: reconvicted; paroled later that year
Description of misconduct In separate trials of Drake and the co-defendant, prosecutor Bryant Huff used two different theories as to who was the murderer. In 1985, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed Drake’s death sentence because of Huff’s improper remarks during the sentencing phase of trial.
Opinions in database 247 S.E.2d 57

Name Ella Mae Ellison
State/County Massachusetts – Suffolk County
Case history 1974: convicted of murder and armed robbery
1976: the two key witnesses recanted their trial testimony and claimed Ellison was innocent
1978: convictions overturned; released; all charges dropped
Description of misconduct In 1978, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts overturned Ellison’s convictions because the prosecutor withheld evidence that could have exonerated Ellison
Opinions in database 379 N.E.2d 560

Name Michael Ray Graham and Albert Ronnie Burrell
State/County Louisiana – Union Parish
Case history 1987: convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in separate trials
2000: charges dismissed; released
Description of misconduct In granting a new trial for Graham in March 2000, a judge ruled that prosecutor Dan Grady had failed to disclose several pieces of exculpatory evidence. The judge also noted that Grady later provided an affidavit in which he admitted the case against Graham and Burrell was so weak it should not have been brought to the grand jury.
Opinions in database 561 So.2d 692 (Burrell)

Name Ricky Hammond
State/County Connecticut – Hartford-New Britain
Case history 1987: kidnapping and sexual assault; Hammond became a suspect
1989: DNA and blood test exoneration
1990: convicted
1992: conviction overturned; new trial granted; was subsequently retried and acquitted
Description of misconduct Despite pre-trial biological tests that exonerated Hammond, prosecutor John Malone at trial claimed the evidence had been contaminated, a claim the appellate court deemed highly improbable. However, the state at that time had other evidence that could have been – but was not – tested. The court also ruled that some of Malone comments during closing argument were improper but not prejudicial enough to separately require reversal.
Opinions in database 604 A.2d 793

Name Terry Harrington
State/County Iowa – Pottawattamie County
Case history 1978: convicted of first-degree murder
2000: “Brain Fingerprinting” test exoneration
2003: conviction overturned; released
Description of misconduct In overturning Harrington’s conviction in 2003, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that several police reports pointing to another suspect were not turned over and noted that a witness testified at a post-conviction hearing that he lied at Harrington’s trial because police and prosecutors pressured him. In an earlier appeal, the court dismissed Harrington’s claims that prosecutor Joseph Hrvol intimidated a defense witness, suborned the perjury of a state witness and committed improprieties in his dealings with other witnesses.
Opinions in database 284 N.W.2d 244; 659 N.W.2d 509

Name J. L. Ivey, Jr.
State/County New York – Erie County
Case history 1976: convicted of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery
1981: conviction overturned
1982: retried and acquitted; released
1985: won a judgment against the state for wrongful conviction and imprisonment
Description of misconduct The appellate court overturned Ivey’s conviction because prosecutor Albert Ranni committed “numerous and repeated acts of improper and prejudicial conduct” at Ivey’s trial, including attempting to offer into evidence misleading composite sketches in defiance of the court’s rulings and making improper remarks to jury. In Ivey’s wrongful conviction and imprisonment suit, the court found that Ivey had proven his innocence by clear and convincing evidence.
Opinions in database 443 N.Y.S.2d 452

Name Lesly Jean
State/County North Carolina – Onslow County
Case history 1982: convicted of first-degree sexual offense and first-degree rape
1991: conviction overturned; charges dropped; released
2001: DNA exoneration; pardoned; awarded compensation from state
Description of misconduct In 1991, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned Jean’s conviction because the police and/or prosecutors failed to disclose evidence pertaining to the hypnosis of a key witness and the victim. Two judges dissented from the North Carolina Supreme Court’s affirmance of Jean’s conviction in 1984, finding that prosecutor Walter Vatcher’s cross-examination of Jean was improper.
Opinions in database 311 S.E.2d 266

Name Verneal Jimerson
State/County Illinois – Cook County
Case history 1978: indicted on charges arising from a double murder; the charges were dismissed a month later because the key witness recanted her grand jury testimony
1984: re-indicted on charges of murder
1985: convicted
1995: conviction overturned
1996: DNA exoneration; another man confessed; Jimerson and three others convicted of the same crimes released from prison
1999: The four receive $36 million from the state
Description of misconduct In 1995, the Supreme Court of Illinois overturned Jimerson’s convictions because the prosecutor, Scott Arthur, allowed the perjured testimony of the state’s key witness to stand uncorrected.
Opinions in database 652 N.E.2d 278

Name Ray Krone
State/County Arizona – Maricopa County
Case history 1992: convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping
1995: conviction overturned
1996: retried and convicted
2002: DNA exoneration; released; charges dismissed
Description of misconduct

In 1995, the Arizona Supreme Court ordered a new trial because prosecutor Noel Levy did not turn over a crucial piece of evidence – a videotape an expert witness was preparing to use during his testimony – until the eve of trial.

Opinions in database 897 P.2d 621

Name Steven Paul Linscott
State/County Illinois – Cook County
Case history 1982: convicted of murder; acquitted of rape
1985: conviction overturned due to insufficient evidence
1986: conviction reinstated; case remanded
1987: conviction overturned due to prosecutorial misconduct
1991: case remanded for new trial
1992: DNA exoneration; charges dropped before retrial
2002: pardoned
Description of misconduct The appellate courts overturned Linscott’s conviction because the prosecutor made several misleading and improper statements regarding the forensic evidence.
Opinions in database 566 N.E.2d 1355

Name Ronnie Marshall and Robert Spurlock
State/County Tennessee – Sumner County
Case history 1990: convicted of first-degree murder at separate trials
1992: Marshall’s conviction overturned
1993: Spurlock’s conviction overturned
1995: Spurlock retried and convicted; Marshall plea bargained for a reduced sentence
1995-1996: the real killer confessed
1996: convictions vacated; released
Description of misconduct The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Marshall’s conviction because prosecutors Lawrence Ray Whitley and Jerry Kitchen failed to provide witness statements that pointed to other suspects A year later, the court overturned Spurlock’s conviction because Whitley and Kitchen failed to provide exculpatory witness statements, failed to correct the false testimony given by prosecution witnesses and used false evidence.
Opinions in database 845 S.W.2d 228 (Marshall); 874 S.W.2d 602 (Spurlock)

Name Walter McMillian
State/County Alabama – Monroe County (tried in Baldwin County)
Case history 1988: convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death
1988-1992: all three witnesses recanted
1993: conviction overturned; released; charges dismissed
Description of misconduct The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 1993 ruled prosecutors did not disclose exculpatory evidence and reversed his conviction and death sentence.
Opinions in database

Name Ruben Montalvo and Jose Morales
State/County New York – Bronx County
Case history 1988: convicted of murder
2000: new evidence exoneration
2001: convictions vacated; released
Description of misconduct A federal district court criticized the Bronx District Attorney office’s handling of the case. Leads pointing to other suspects, including repeated confessions by another man, were insufficiently investigated or ignored. Evidence that could have helped both men was either withheld or produced in redacted form. Trial prosecutor Allen Karen did not disclose the key witness’ criminal history or correct her inaccurate testimony about drug use and improperly questioned a defense witness.
Opinions in database

Name Charles Munsey
State/County North Carolina – Wilkes County
Case history 1996: convicted of murder; another man confessed
1999: conviction overturned; new trial granted
Description of misconduct In May 1999, the court ordered a new trial for Munsey because, among other errors, District Attorney Randy Lyon withheld evidence that would have cast doubt on the key witness’ claim that Munsey confessed to him in prison.
Opinions in database

Name Ellen Reasonover
State/County Missouri – St. Louis County
Case history 1983: convicted of capital murder
1996: discovery of exculpatory evidence
1999: conviction overturned; released
Description of misconduct Prosecutor Steven Goldman did not disclose exculpatory tape-recorded jailhouse conversations and other evidence that undercut the credibility of two key witnesses and failed to correct one witness’ false testimony.
Opinions in database 714 S.W.2d 706

Name James Joseph Richardson
State/County Florida – Lee County
Case history 1968: convicted of murder
1988: someone else confessed
1989: released
Description of misconduct In 1989, then-Dade County State’s Attorney Janet Reno, appointed to re-investigate Richardson’s case, concluded that the prosecutors and sheriff framed him by withholding exculpatory evidence, using perjured testimony and ignoring a suspect who later confessed she alone committed the crime.
Opinions in database 247 So.2d 296

Name James E. Richardson, Jr.
State/County West Virginia – Kanawha County
Case history 1989: convicted of rape, murder and arson
1996: conviction overturned
1998: DNA exoneration
1999: charges dropped; released
Description of misconduct In September 1996, a Kanawha circuit judge overturned Richardson’s conviction based on allegations that state police chemist Fred Zain fabricated evidence and that prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence.
Opinions in database

Name Edward Ryder
State/County Pennsylvania – Philadelphia County
Case history 1974: convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy
1991: discovery of new exculpatory evidence
1993: sentence commuted; paroled
1995: discovery of long-withheld exculpatory evidence
1996: conviction overturned
Description of misconduct For more than twenty years, prosecutors withheld several exculpatory statements taken by police. Despite the emergence of evidence in 1991 casting considerable doubt on Ryder’s guilt, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office refused to re-examine his case.
Opinions in database 31 Phila. 112

Name Terry W. Seaton
State/County New Mexico – Lea County
Case history 1973: convicted of first-degree murder
1979: released after new evidence cast strong doubt on his guilt
1981: awarded $150,000 in a wrongful arrest suit
Description of misconduct On appeal, Seaton challenged several comments made by the two prosecutors at his trial. The court held that one comment was an “irresponsible” remark regarding Seaton’s credibility and another misstated the evidence, but neither these nor the other challenged comments constituted prejudicial error. In 1979, a district court judge granted Seaton a new trial because the prosecution had suppressed evidence pointing to another suspect.
Opinions in database 525 P.2d 858

Name Frank Lee Smith
State/County Florida – Broward County
Case history 1985: convicted of first-degree murder, sexual battery and burglary with an assault
2000: died in prison; DNA exoneration later that year
Description of misconduct In 1987, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled that the prosecution’s submitting a new witness list on the day of trial did not constitute a discovery violation. The court also rejected Smith’s claim that the prosecutor coached a witness outside the courtroom during the trial. In 1990, the court rejected Smith’s claim that the prosecutor made inappropriate “victim impact” comments during trial but ordered a hearing to evaluate new evidence that a recanting witness might have been pressured by police and prosecutors to falsely implicate Smith. In 1998, after Smith was denied post-conviction relief, Smith appealed and the state Supreme Court remanded for another hearing because prosecutor Paul Zacks had engaged in improper ex parte communications with the judge presiding over the hearing while the judge was preparing his order. Smith was allowed to re-argue his new evidence claims, but the trial court once again denied relief.
Opinions in database 515 So.2d 182; 565 So.2d 1293; 708 So.2d 253

Name Jerry Watkins
State/County Indiana – Hancock County
Case history 1986: convicted of murder
1993: DNA exoneration
2000: conviction overturned; released
Description of misconduct In 2000, a federal district court found that the prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence.
Opinions in database

Name Robert Wilkinson
State/County Pennsylvania – Philadelphia County
Case history 1976: convicted of murder; released later in year after being exonerated by new evidence
1977: reindicted; indictments dismissed three months later
Description of misconduct A federal court ruled prosecutor David Berman ignored, withheld and/or destroyed exculpatory evidence. In dismissing Wilkinson’s later indictment, the court ruled the prosecution was being maintained in bad faith.
Opinions in database

Actual Innocence Cases in which Courts Rejected or Ruled as “Harmless Error” Allegations of Misconduct

Name Mark Diaz Bravo
State/County California – Los Angeles County
Case history 1990: convicted of rape
1990-93: victim recanted several times and Named another man as her attacker
1993: DNA exoneration
1994: released
Description of misconduct At trial, prosecutor Linda Chilstrom engaged in abrasive, discourteous and insulting conduct and misstated evidence, but the appellate court ruled it harmless error.
Opinions in database 18 Cal. App. 4th 1493

Name Ronnie Bullock
State/County Illinois – Cook County
Case history 1984: convicted of deviate sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping
1994: DNA exoneration; released; charges dropped
Description of misconduct The prosecutor made improper closing arguments and withheld evidence regarding another suspected rapist, but the appellate court ruled both actions harmless error.
Opinions in database 507 N.E.2d 44

Name Joseph Burrows
State/County Illinois – Iroquois County
Case history 1988: murder/armed robbery
1989: convicted
1992-1994: two key witnesses recanted their trial testimony and one admitted she alone committed the crime
1994: won new trial; released
1996: charges dropped
Description of misconduct The Supreme Court of Illinois upheld Burrows’ conviction in 1992, rejecting his claims of pre-trial and trial prosecutorial misconduct. In 1996, the court affirmed the granting of a new trial for Burrows on the ground that two key witnesses recanted their testimony. The court noted that one of the witnesses testified at a post-conviction hearing he recanted a statement that might have helped Burrows because of prosecutor Tony Brasel’s threats.
Opinions in database 592 N.E.2d 997

Name Gary Dotson
State/County Illinois – Cook County
Case history 1979: convicted of rape and aggravated kidnapping
1985: victim admitted she fabricated rape claim; sentence commuted to time served
1987: conviction affirmed
1988: DNA exoneration
1989: conviction overturned
Description of misconduct The appellate court ruled that the prosecutor’s conduct during Dotson’s trial, which the trial judge censured at one point, was harmless error.
Opinions in database 424 N.E.2d 1319

Name Michael Evans and Paul Terry
State/County Illinois – Cook County
Case history 1977: tried jointly; convicted of murder, aggravated kidnapping, rape, deviate sexual assault, and indecent liberties with a child
2001 & 2003: DNA exoneration
Description of misconduct On direct appeal in 1979, the court ruled that some of the prosecutor’s comments during closing argument were improper but harmless error. The court noted that Evans had previously been tried and convicted but was granted a new trial on the basis that the state had improperly withheld exculpatory evidence.
Opinions in database 399 N.E.2d 1333

Name Charles I. Fain
State/County Idaho – Canyon County
Case history 1983: convicted of first-degree murder, lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor and first-degree kidnapping
2001: DNA exoneration; conviction overturned; charges dismissed; released
Description of misconduct In 1989, the Supreme Court of Idaho affirmed his conviction, finding that the state’s failure to preserve swabs of the victim’s bodily fluid did not deprive him of a fair trial.
Opinions in database

Name Anthony Michael Green
State/County Ohio – Cuyahoga County
Case history 1988: convicted of rape and aggravated robbery
2001: DNA exoneration; released
Description of misconduct The appellate court, while recognizing that prosecutor Timothy McGinty made some “intemperate” comments during closing argument, nonetheless ruled them harmless error.
Opinions in database 585 N.E.2d 990

Name Larry Holdren
State/County West Virginia – Kanawha County
Case history 1984: convicted of sexual assault
1999: DNA exoneration; conviction overturned; released
2000: charges dismissed
Description of misconduct In his federal habeas appeal, the court rejected his claim that the prosecutor committed misconduct at trial by eliciting improper testimony and making improper closing arguments.
Opinions in database

Name Joe C. Jones
State/County Kansas – Shawnee County
Case history 1986: convicted of aggravated kidnapping, rape and aggravated assault
1991: DNA exoneration
1992: conviction overturned; charges dismissed; released
Description of misconduct In 1989, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the prosecution’s failure to turn over statements Jones made to the police did not deprive him of a fair trial.
Opinions in database 771 P.2d 73

Name Ronald Jones
State/County Illinois – Cook County
Case history 1989: convicted of murder and aggravated sexual
1997: DNA exoneration
1999: charges dropped
Description of misconduct On appeal, Jones challenged comments the prosecutor made at trial. Although some of the prosecutor’s comments were deemed slightly inaccurate and/or improper,the appellate court ruled them harmless error and affirmed the conviction.
Opinions in database 620 N.E.2d 325

Name Kerry Kotler
State/County New York – Suffolk County
Case history 1981: convicted of rape, robbery and burglary
1990: DNA exoneration
1992: conviction vacated; charges dismissed; released
Description of misconduct Reviewing courts either dismissed or did not directly address Kotler’s various claims of prosecutorial misconduct. In 1996, Kotler was arraigned on charges arising from a 1995 sexual assault. He was subsequently convicted.
Opinions in database

Name Carlos Lavernia
State/County Texas – Travis County
Case history 1985: convicted on charges of aggravated rape
2000: DNA exoneration; conviction overturned
Description of misconduct In his federal habeas appeal, Lavernia alleged that during closing argument, the prosecutor impermissibly commented on his failure to testify. The court did not agree and denied habeas relief.
Opinions in database

Name Larry Mayes
State/County Indiana – Lake County
Case history 1982: convicted of rape, robbery and unlawful deviate conduct
2001: DNA exoneration; released
Description of misconduct On appeal, Mayes unsuccessfully argued that the prosecutor made impermissible comments about his failure to testify.
Opinions in database 467 N.E.2d 1189

Name James Newsome
State/County Illinois – Cook County
Case history 1980: convicted of armed robbery, armed violence and murder
1994: new evidence exoneration; conviction overturned
1995: charges dropped; released; pardoned
1997: awarded $140,000 by state
2001: won $15 million in a civil suit against the Chicago police
Description of misconduct In his 1982 appeal, the court rejected Newsome’s claims that the prosecutor deprived him of a fair trial by excluding blacks from the jury and by misstating the evidence during rebuttal argument.
Opinions in database

Name Marlon Passley
State/County Massachusetts – Suffolk County
Case history 1996: convicted of murder and assault
1999: new evidence exoneration; released
2000: conviction overturned
Description of misconduct The appellate court held that part of prosecutor Leslie O’Brien’s closing argument, while not an entirely accurate recounting of the evidence, was not reversible error. The court also found no error in the way O’Brien examined defense witnesses.
Opinions in database 705 N.E.2d 269

Name Jeffrey Todd Pierce
State/County Oklahoma – Oklahoma County
Case history 1986: convicted of rape, burglary, sodomy and assault with a dangerous weapon
2001: DNA exoneration; released
Description of misconduct On direct appeal in 1990, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that while the prosecutor made “unnecessary” comments at one point during trial, this did not amount to encouraging a state’s witness to give improper testimony. The court also found that the forensic reports the state turned over before trial satisfied their discovery obligations. After he was exonerated, Pierce filed a civil suit claiming Oklahoma District Attorney Robert Macy conspired with police chemist Joyce Gilchrist to use false evidence to convict him.
Opinions in database 786 P.2d 1255

Name Fredric Karl Saecker
State/County Wisconsin – Buffalo County
Case history 1990: convicted of second-degree sexual assault, burglary and kidnapping
1995: new trial granted after DNA testing exonerated him
1996: charges dropped; released
Description of misconduct In 1991, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals rejected Saecker’s claim that the prosecutor failed to turn over exculpatory evidence.
Opinions in database 466 N.W.2d 911

Name Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana and Kharey Wise
State/County New York – New York County
Case history 1989-1990: all were convicted on various counts, including rape, robbery and assault
1997: Salaam paroled
2002: another man confessed; DNA exoneration; all convictions vacated and indictments dismissed
Description of misconduct In 1993, the New York Court of Appeals upheld Salaam’s conviction; however, in a separate dissenting opinion, Judge Vito Titone criticized the way prosecutor Linda Fairstein kept Salaam’s family and friends away while police questioned him. The crime for which the five were convicted is known as the “Central Park jogger attack.”
Opinions in database

Name Walter Smith
State/County Ohio – Franklin County
Case history 1986: convicted of rape, kidnapping, aggravated burglary and robbery
1996: DNA exoneration; released
2001: awarded nearly $250,000 for wrongful imprisonment
Description of misconduct In 1988, the Ohio Court of Appeals rejected Smith’s claims that the prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence, improperly cross-examined him, and made prejudicial comments in closing argument
Opinions in database 1988 Ohio App. Lexis 3032

Name Steven L. Toney
State/County Missouri – St. Louis County
Case history 1982: convicted of forcible rape and sodomy
1996: DNA exoneration; released
Description of misconduct In 1984, the Missouri Court of Appeals rejected Toney’s claims that the prosecutor made an improper statement while examining a witness, impermissibly amended the charging document and did not properly disclose a state rebuttal witness. In 1996, a federal appeals court ruled that the prosecutor’s use of a surprise rebuttal witness was not a violation of Toney’s rights.
Opinions in database

Name Nathaniel Walker
State/County New Jersey – Union County
Case history 1976: convicted of kidnapping, rape and sodomy
1986: new evidence exoneration; charges dismissed; released
Description of misconduct On direct appeal, the New Jersey appellate courts reversed – but later reinstated – his conviction on the issue of whether prosecutor Richard Rodbart made impermissible comments to the jury about Walker’s failure to call an alibi witness.
Opinions in database 403 A.2d 1

Name Terry Lee Wanzer
State/County Georgia – Clayton County
Case history 1973: convicted of rape and aggravated sodomy
1981: paroled
1991: pardoned
1996: awarded $100,000 by the state
Description of misconduct On appeal in 1974, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected Wanzer’s claims that he was deprived of a fair trial when the prosecutor, through the bailiff, made an unauthorized communication with the jury during their deliberations and questioned a defense witness about perjury. The court also ruled the prosecutor did not withhold exculpatory evidence.
Opinions in database 207 S.E.2d 466

Name Collin Warner
State/County New York – Kings County
Case history 1982: convicted of second-degree murder
2001: co-defendant confessed he acted alone; conviction vacated; released
Description of misconduct An appellate court in 1986 found that the prosecutor’s comments during closing argument did not prejudice Warner.
Opinions in database 501 N.Y.S.2d 889

Name Calvin Washington
State/County Texas – McLennan County
Case history 1987: convicted of capital murder
2000-2001: DNA exoneration
2001: released and pardoned
Description of misconduct Although agreeing the prosecutor made improper comments at trial, the Texas Court of Appeals rejected Washington’s claim that these comments deprived him of a fair trial. The court also rejected Washington’s claim that the prosecutor failed to disclose exculpatory evidence.
Opinions in database 822 S.W.2d 110 (Washington)

Name Kenneth Waters
State/County Massachusetts – Middlesex County
Case history 1983: convicted of first-degree murder and armed robbery
2001: DNA exoneration; released
Description of misconduct On direct appeal in 1987, the court rejected Waters’ claim that the state withheld exculpatory evidence.
Opinions in database 506 N.E.2d 859

Name Johnny Lee Wilson
State/County Missouri – Jasper County
Case history 1987: convicted of first-degree murder
1988: another man confessed
1995: released; pardoned
Description of misconduct In 1990, the Missouri Court of Appeals declined to provide post-conviction relief on Wilson’s claim that prosecutor Scott Sifferman withheld evidence that another suspect committed the murder.
Opinions in database 1990 Mo. App. Lexis 1663

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