innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Thursday, October 07, 2004

DNA isn't everything

Paul Gregory House Posted by Hello

A new ruling by a federal appeals court shows DNA evidence isn't a magic wand ensuring freedom. A sharply divided 6th circuit rejected a Tennessee death row inmate's bid for a new trial -- despite new evidence showing semen found on the victim didn't match him. The semen actually matched the victim's husband, who was linked to the killing by three witnesses who recently came forward. Still, the court decided the new evidence didn't justify a new trial.

In another case, the U.S. Supreme Court could take from federal judges the power to increase prison sentences for crimes that aren't prove to a jury. The court's decision could have a huge impact on thousands of drug and financial cases in which judges dished out extra time for unproven crimes.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Hosea back behind bars

Hosea Davis Posted by Hello

Yesterday spelled a strange turn of events for Hosea Davis. Davis, you might remember, was convicted of murdering his childhood friend based on the testimony of one supposed witness. That witness later admitted she lied on the stand, an admission that helped secure Davis' freedom on house arrest as he awaits a new trial.

Hosea has been on house arrest since January. He told me that he's lost a couple jobs because of the restrictions on his movement and was upset he couldn't take his kids out this summer. So he returned to court Tuesday to ask to be removed from house arrest until the trial, which is scheduled for January.

But appearing in court opened the door for Judge Donald Machen to reconsider house arrest entirely. And that he did. After finding out Davis has been late returning home on several occasions, the judge sent him back to jail.

It looks like Hosea won't see the light of day until trial. And no word yet on whether the only witness against him -- now a star witness in the jail guard case -- will stick by her story and admit at trial she lied about witnessing the crime.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Exonerated inmate speaking at Duquesne

Kirk Bloodsworth Posted by Hello

Kirk Bloodsworth, who was the first U.S. death row inmate exonerated by DNA evidence, will speak next week at Duquesne University. Bloodsworth was wrongly convicted of killing a nine-year-old Maryland girl and spent nine years in prison. Barry Scheck's Innocence Project at Yeshiva University's Cardozo Law School, which specializes in DNA cases, helped secure his freedom in 1993.

Bloodsworth just released a book on his experiences and will be signing copies. I saw him speak at Yeshiva last month and it was powerful stuff. I recommend checking out this event.

The event is free and open to the public. It will be held Wednesday, Oct. 13 from 5-7 p.m. at Duquesne's Bayer Learning Center.

Monday, October 04, 2004

More on Munchinski

The clock is ticking for prosecutors to turn over a taped statement they claim doesn't exist or free David Munchinski. An article in the Uniontown Herald-Standard reports the Fayette County DA contends her office long ago turned over all evidence.

That means Munchinski, after 17 years in prison, could be free in a matter of days. We'll keep this blog updated with the latest developments.

The story has also attracted coverage in other newspapers, including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and several papers that ran the Associated Press story. You'll notice the AP story mentions the Innocence Institute's work, while the Trib pretends we don't exist.