innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Thursday, October 14, 2004

More from the Big Easy

The Innocence Project New Orleans is working overtime. After helping free Dennis Brown through DNA evidence, the project is turning up the pressure to free Travis Hayes. A Times-Picayune story explains that Hayes' alleged accomplice in a 1997 murder has been exonerated through DNA testing, yet prosecutors are fighting Hayes' release.

Munchinski in the media

As we await word on whether a judge will grant David Munchinski bond, here's a few more stories on the case from the past two weeks:

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports on Munchinski's latest efforts to gain freedom, which covers the same ground as Bill Moushey's latest. A Sunday story looks through the 102 pounds of transcripts from the case. The paper also explores whether Munchinski's case will lead to other cases Fayette County cases being re-opened.

In all the stories, the Trib continues its delightful tradition of pretending the Innocence Institute had nothing to do with the case.

And Munchinski's hometown paper, the Herald Standard, runs an editorial blasting prosecutors for their conduct on the case. The editorial marks the strongest (only?) criticism by the paper of the three prosecutors on the case, two of whom are now Fayette County judges.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The day after


Kirk Bloodsworth Posted by Hello

USA Today fronts a story on wrongful convictions, leading the piece with Kirk Bloodsworth's story. Bloodsworth, who is speaking at Duquesne University tonight, was the country's first death row inmate exonerated by DNA.

The article looks at what happens after someone is exonerated. It's not a surprise that most folks have problems finding jobs and are still followed by accusations. The story includes a graphic on 18 states that have laws about compensating the wrongly convicted. Many states limit the amount, with caps ranging from $15,000 to $500,000. Montana gives free tuition. Pennsylvania has no law.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Munchinski requests bond

A judge reversed David Munchinski's murder conviction on the basis of evidence he didn't do it, but a state appeal kept him behind bars. Now Munchinski is asking to be released on bond as he awaits a new trial.

But state prosecutors won't let him out without a fight. They're appealing the request for bond, meaning Munchinski will be caught in loads of legal wrangling in order to win his freedom.

The case is more proof that once you're tangled in the legal system, it's a heck of a fight to pull yourself out.

The trouble with eyewitness IDs

Dennis Brown is free after 19 years in a Louisiana prison, released as a result of DNA evidence and the help of the New Orleans Innocence Project. Brown was serving a life sentence for rape. The DNA evidence showed blood, semen and clothing found at the scene excluded him as the rapist.

Brown was convicted as a result of an eyewitness identification. The victim picked Brown out of a lineup and insisted he was the rapist, which was enough to convince a jury to convict him. The case is another example of how bad lineups and faulty memories can lead to false identifications.

Now 36, he was 17 at the time of his arrest. Upon release, the first thing he did was to get himself a shrimp po-boy.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Munchinski still imprisoned

Ten days after a judge overturned David Munchinski's conviction, Munchinski still sits in a prison cell in Fayette County . That's because the state attorney appealed the decision last week, delaying any potential release. Munchinski's attorneys can now ask for bail, though there's no word yet on when that might happen and whether the judge would agree.

It's been 17 years and counting for Munchinski, who was convicted of a double murder he says he didn't commit. Prosecutors hid evidence that the key witness against him lied and other evidence suggested he didn't do it, leading to the conviction being overturned. Now we'll see how far state prosecutors will take the case in spite of those issues.