innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Friday, January 20, 2006

Innocent men forced to prove innocence again

Even after serving a 26 year sentence and being exonerated of a 1976 murder and robbery conviction, Ohio civil courts are asking two men to prove their innocent once more during a compensation trial.
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge, David Casin, told Columbus Dispatch reporters since Tim Howard and Gary James Lamar are filing a civil suit worth $5 million dollars it is their "burden to prove they are innocent of the crime."
Both men were initially on death row, until Ohio declared the death penalty unconstitutional, and their sentences were converted to life without parole. After a group of lawyers from New Jersey-based Centurion Ministiries took interest in their case the convictions were overturned in April 2003.
If awarded compensation, the two men will split a $5 million state payoff-the largest in Ohio history.
Read this story in its entirety.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Reno Speaks Out for DNA Testing

Janet Reno is speaking out in favor of DNA testing.

The former Attorney General will be participating in a panel discussion on the death penalty at the University of Iowa on Sunday, January 22.

Iowa is one of 12 states in the U.S. that does not have a death penalty.

Reno urged lawmakers to embrace DNA testing in order to prevent wrongful convictions.

"Once you carry out the death penalty, you can't take it back." said Reno.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"A Bitter Pill To Swallow"

In a Washington Post article, Jim McClosky of Centurion Ministries, talks about his feelings of betrayal upon learning about Roger Keith Coleman's guilt.

Describing the truth as "a bitter pill to swallow," McClosky said he would use the incident as a learning experience.

The article goes on to describe how the Coleman case has affected perceptions of the death penalty.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Utah legislature presents compensation bill

Utah Rep. David Litvak, D-Salt Lake City, introduced a bill to the Utah legislature Sunday to compensate the wrongfully convicted. The bill would give them $40,000 a year for their time in prison and those falsely accused and serving death sentences up to $70,000 a year, reports the Salt Lake City Tribune.
The first person wrongfully convicted of a crime in Utah was Bruce Goodman who was incarcerated for bearing a 21-year-old woman in 1986, and exonerated after the testing of body fluids left on the victim proved him innocent.
According to University of Utah law students, atleast 20 other states have passed wrongful conviction compensation bills.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Coleman Mea Culpa

In the interest of full disclosure, we are going to post the DNA test that incriminates Roger Keith Coleman in the death of his sister-in-law. We are working on getting the document onto the Innocence Institute Web Site which will be available in PDF format.

After five exonerations through DNA testing in Virginia this year, Mr. Coleman's guilt is a mixed victory for the Virginia judicial system. Governor Mark Warner has ordered the retesting of available DNA evidence in more than 300 cases.

Mr. Coleman's guilt was undoubtably a blow to those who believed in his innocence but were wrong, especially Centurion Ministries which investigated his case and brought it to the national stage.

For more on the Coleman case click here.

"They Railroaded My Brother"

On January 13, Hilsborough State prosecutors said that Alan Crotzer, who has been imprisoned for 24 years for a crime he says he didn't commit, should go free.

Crotzer was convicted of raping a woman and a little girl, but DNA evidence and several eye-witnesses point to another man who has confessed to the crime.

Crotzer is awaiting a January 23 hearing to see if his 100 year sentance will be vacated.

Crotzer's sister, Wanda Faye Sanders, has never waived in believing that he is innocent. "It's not right that just because we didn't have no money that they railroaded my brother." said Sanders.