innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Case updates


Raina Munchinski, with picture of her father David. Posted by Hello

Things are heating up in nearly every one of Innocence Institute's first five investigations. The big news is a judge's decision to throw out David Munchinski's murder convictions. The original prosecutors in the case (two of whom are now Fayette County judges) were given 10 days to cough up a long-missing witness statement or release Munchinski outright.

Munchinski was convicted for a 1977 double murder, but new evidence shows the main witness wasn't even in Pennsylvania on the night of the killings and police ignored other suspects. The investigation, originally published in a three-part series in the Post-Gazette in June 2002, was the first in Moushey's collaboration between the paper and the innocence project. The decision marks the first time that a judge has reversed a conviction in one of our cases.

In other news, a federal court hearing was held this week in the appeal of Terrell Johnson. Next week, the same federal circuit will hear Steven Slutzker's appeal.

And Hosea Davis will ask a Allegheny County judge next week to release him from house arrest as he awaits a new trial, which is scheduled for January.

Finally, Ernest Simmons awaits a decision in the coming months on whether a federal judge will grant him a new trial.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Welcome to the Innocence Blog

Welcome! This blog is a service of the Innocence Institute of Western Pennsylvania, an innocence project based at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Innocence Institute investigates wrongful convictions within 100 miles of Pittsburgh.

A journalism-focused project, the institute reports on cases but doesn't provide legal representation to inmates. Its work is published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and online.

The Innocence Blog will post links to outside news stories about wrongful convictions and act as a clearinghouse for information on related issues. Thanks for checking us out and feel free to post comments and suggestions.

Eyewitness identification

Police and prosecutors across the country are reconsidering the way they conduct lineups, photo arrays and other identification procedures because of false eyewitness identifications. Of the first 138 cases in which wrongfully convicted persons were exonerated through DNA evidence, two-thirds of the original convictions were based on a bad eyewitness ID.

Chicago detectives are among the latest to change the way they conduct identifications.

The state of New Jersey, city of Boston and city of Minneapolis are among other jurisdictions that have made similar changes to the way identification procedures are conducted. All these changes are based on recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1999.