innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Friday, August 12, 2005

36 hours later, Kirkwood is released

The Kirkwood family reunites after two years
photograph taken by Cynthia Levy

The Kirkwood family had not seen their son in two years. The family had seen Justin Kirkwood once for an appeals hearing a few months ago because Kirkwood asked his family not to visit him during his two year stay at the State Correctional Institute at Laurel Highlands.

One hour prior to his release, Deborah Kirkwood brought news to veteran Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer, Bill Moushey, that the Lawrence County District Attorney Matthew Mangino hadn't signed a waiver to appeal, further delaying Kirkwood's release.

But, at approximately 12:38 p.m., 36 hours after Motto's order, Kirkwood walked out of the Laurel Highland facility.

Kirkwood, who thought the sheriff would accompany him back to freedom, was elated to be met at the front door of the prison by his father and mother, David and Deborah Kirkwood, as well as his sister and niece, Janiel and Janessa Kirkwood.

Although speechless, the joy of returning to freedom and the ones he loved could be seen in Kirkwood's tear-filled eyes.

Kirkwood's release was heavily based on investigative journalism done by Moushey and the graduate and undergraduate students who participate in the Innocence Institute. Through rigorous investigations students were able to uncover the mistake identification made by an alleged eyewitness, as well as misconduct by Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney, Birgitta Tolvanen.


  • At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank God people believe that the system make mistakes,and they fight for those who are innocent.You do great work.To the Kirkwood family you have lost so much,I am so proud of your family for sticking in there and not giving up on a son who is in my heart,and to Justin,make yourself proud and your family.I can only imagine what you have gone through,don't let this eat at your soul,you go on to do well in anything you set out to do.God Bless You honey and Good Luck in anything you do.

  • At 2:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    God Bless the women who went threw this and has to go threw it again. The reason they didn't see the tattoos on his arms is because he had a towel wrapped around his arms. That, I must add, is in the police report. The color of eyes, what a joke that is, i was robbed at gun point before and when i saw the weapon, I couldn't tell you if the man was black or white, and you want eye color. These women know Justin is guilty and will also fight with all they got to put this man back where he belongs. He is only out because Mrs. Toloven made a stupid mistake, had she not, he would still be in there for the crime he has done. We can only pray he is found guilty again. The thing that sucks is that these women have to be vicitized once again , and if found guilty again,(we can only hope so) he will only have to go back for his time left, not a new sentence. Too bad for that!!!

  • At 9:33 AM, Blogger Bmoushey said…

    If anyone has any evidence regarding the Family Craft Store robbery, I would like to hear it. I can be reached at 412-765-3164 or Sincerely, Bill Moushey, Innocence Institute

  • At 9:34 AM, Blogger Bmoushey said…

    If anyone has any specific information about the Family Craft Store robbery, I would like to hear it. I can be reached at 412-765-3164 or at


    Bill Moushey, Director
    Innocence Institute & Post-Gazette staff writer

  • At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Kirkwood is guilty. He got off on a technicality because the prosecutor Birgitta Tolvanen made a mistake, NOT because she committed misconduct. Anyone who takes the time to read the Court's opinion granting the new trial will see that the Court specifically DID NOT find prosecutorial misconduct, only error. Kirkwood was granted a new trial because his defense attorney failed to object. BUT the case against Kirkwood is still strong. You have 2 eyewitnesses who INDEPENDENTLY picked out Kirkwood's and ONLY Kirkwood's photo from mug books after looking at hundreds of photos. Even the Superior Court stated in its opinion that it is incredible to believe that the eyewitnesses got the wrong guy.

  • At 3:39 AM, Blogger 风骚达哥 said…

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