innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Friday, January 27, 2006

Florida Reconsiders Lethal Injection

This story was written by former contributor Nathan Crabbe for the Gainesville Sun.

Convicted cop-killer Clarence Hill was literally strapped to a gurney for an hour with tubes in his arms before recieving a stay of execution from Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Florida will deliberate the cruelty of lethal injection, and other executions will be post-poned until the case is settled.

Thomas Doswell and the Exonerated

Point Park University in cooperation with the REP theater sponsered the Pittsburgh premier of "The Exonerated," which was scored by Thomas Doswell.

To read more about it click here.

Mr. Doswell is also pressing the state for an Innocence Commission. To read more on that, click here.

Finally, to read about the commendation from Leutenant Governor Baker Knoll, click here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Innocence Proven by DNA

After 24 years in prison, DNA evidence and the words of his co-defendent, will set 45-year-old Alan Crotzer free. A Hillsborough State Attorney asked a judge to throw out the 1982 robbery and sexual assault conviction on the Florida native.
If released on Friday Crotzer would be the fifth inmate exonerated by DNA in Florida-the state with the highest number of wrongful convictions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
In 1981 and all-white jury convicted Crotzer of raping, robbing and kidnapping a 38 year-old woman and 12 year-old gir.l After the woman pointed him out as the rapist in court, Crotzer was sentenced was sentenced to 100 years plus in prison.
After Crotzer's mother died years later, his co-defendants came forward saying they knew Crotzer had not committed the crime all along, and that it was actually one of their childhood friends who'd been with them that night.
The New York-based Innocence Project backed Crotzer and had the DNA tested, proving Crotzer's innocence

Bennett Wins Appeal

Christopher Lee Bennett who pled guilty to manslaughter in the death of his friend, Ronald Young, has won an appeal based largely on the work of the Ohio Innocence Project.

Bennett and Young had been driving back from a Robertson area bar, when the driver lost control of the vehicle. Young perished in the accident, while Bennett sustained severe injuries that he says caused amnesia.

Bennett said he could not remember the events of the accident and he felt pressured by his lawyer to accept a plea. Rather than face a 15 year prison sentence, he pled guilty in February 2003 and accepted a 9 year sentence.

The Innocence Institute of Ohio became involved, and had DNA tested from the accident vehicle. The tests revealed Bennett’s blood and hair were on the passenger side. They also found a witness who attested that Bennett was passed out in the passenger side and that Young had been in the driver’s seat.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Wecht indicted

After a yearlong investigation, a federal grand jury yesterday indicted nationally renowned Allegheny County Medical Examiner Dr. Cyril H. Wecht on charges that he misused his public office for private gain, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The 84-count indictment, which outlines charges of mail and wire fraud, also accuses Dr. Wecht of trading unclaimed bodies in exchange for use of lab space at Carlow University.
Dr. Wecht, who gained a national reputation on cases that included the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the still-unsolved slaying of JonBenet Ramsey, said last night he has received calls of support from friends and associates around the country.
With the indictment, Dr. Wecht now also finds himself out of a county job. When he was appointed the first medical examiner in Allegheny County earlier this month, Dr. Wecht agreed to resign immediately if indicted. County Chief Executive Dan Onorato yesterday accepted a letter of resignation that had been written in advance and placed on file.
Read more on this story.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Texas Execution Stayed

This is article was copied in its entitety from Reuters News Site.

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A Texas court stayed the execution of a Texas man 24 hours before he was slated to die by lethal injection on Thursday.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a state district court to review claims by Julius Murphy, 27, that he is mentally retarded and cannot be subject to capital punishment.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that executing a mentally retarded person violated the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Murphy was condemned for the 1997 murder of Jason Erie, 26, during a robbery in the northeast Texas town of Texarkana.
Murphy's attorney Kevin Dunn said the district court can order new IQ tests on Murphy or use other methods to determine his intelligence.
No date has been set for a new hearing.
Murphy was the first person scheduled to be executed in Texas this year. The state leads the nation in capital punishment, having executed 355 people since 1982, when Texas resumed executions following a 1976 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court lifting a death penalty ban.
So far, 12 executions are scheduled for this year. Nineteen prisoners were put to death by lethal injection in 2005.