innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Court Halts Planned Execution

This article appeared on the WashingtonPost.com on November 14, 2006:

Court Halts Planned Execution in Texas

By MICHAEL GRACZYK
The Associated Press
LIVINGSTON, Texas -- A condemned inmate set to die this week for slaying a convenience store owner in 1997 won a reprieve from the state's highest criminal court, which ordered a hearing on his claim of prosecutor misconduct.

Charles Anthony Nealy, 42, had faced lethal injection Thursday evening. Defense lawyers argued the Dallas man was innocent and that a nephew of Nealy testified against him because of pressure from prosecutors.

In this photo released by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, death row inmate Charles Nealy is shown. Nealy has won a reprieve, halting his execution scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006. Nealy, 42, faced lethal injection for the 1997 slaying of a Dallas convenience store owner, one of two men gunned down during a robbery of the store. A state appeals court delayed the execution after a witness from his 1998 capital murder trial recanted his testimony and said a prosecutor had pressured and intimidated him before the trial.

The postponement by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, issued late Monday, leaves the execution tally for 2006 in the nation's busiest capital punishment state at 24, about average for Texas over the past decade. No other executions are scheduled until early next year.

Store owner Jiten Bhakta, 25, was robbed and killed by a shotgun at his Expressway Mart just south of downtown Dallas. Also killed was an employee, Vijay Patel, 25, who was shot by another man.

Bhakta's brother, also at the store, identified the man with the shotgun as Charles Nealy, and his nephew Claude Nealy as the second gunman. Claude Nealy received a life sentence for Patel's slaying.

In its ruling, the Court of Criminal Appeals denied the actual innocence claim but ordered the state district court in Dallas to hold a hearing on the claim of prosecutor misconduct.

The robbery, but not the shootings, was recorded on a poor quality surveillance tape that made it difficult to positively identify the gunmen. Memphis Nealy, Claude's brother, had identified his brother and uncle as the robbers but he later recanted and said prosecutors bullied him.

"That's absurd," George West, a former Dallas County assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, told The Dallas Morning News. "He's trying to help his uncle."

Charles Nealy said recently from death row at a prison outside Livingston that he was in Oklahoma at the time.

The robbers fled with about $4,000 in a briefcase, some other cash from the register, a bottle of wine and some cold beer.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Man Freed After 14 Years Sues NYC

This article appeared in the New York Times on November 14, 2006:

Man Freed After 14 Years Sues NYC

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK (AP) -- A man whose murder conviction was overturned after he spent 14 years in prison has filed a $50 million lawsuit against the city, claiming authorities mishandled dozens of cases and failed to train and supervise prosecutors.

The lawsuit filed Monday in federal court for Olmado Hidalgo seeks damages for false arrest, malicious prosecution and false imprisonment.

Hidalgo was freed last year after a judge threw out his conviction, saying there was ''powerful'' evidence that someone else committed the murder of nightclub bouncer Marcus Peterson in 1990.

The lawsuit claims the lead police investigator and the case prosecutor both ignored evidence that contradicted their theory of the crime, and that prosecutors did not keep records that might have proven Hidalgo's innocence, The New York Times reported in Tuesday's editions.
The lawsuit cites 27 other cases that it says reflect similar misconduct, and it suggests some problems were due to insufficient training, supervision and discipline of prosecutors.

''There seems to be a type of pattern,'' said Irving Cohen, Hidalgo's lawyer.

A spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday, saying prosecutors had not yet seen the court papers. A call to the office early Tuesday was not immediately returned.

Paul J. Browne, deputy commissioner of the Police Department, said he would not comment because of the pending litigation.

Hidalgo, now in his 40s, has returned to his native Dominican Republic.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wrongful conviction amounts to $450,000

This article appeared on the HoustonChronicle.com:

Wrongful conviction amounts to $450,000

By RENÉE C. LEE

Arthur Mumphrey, who spent 18 years in prison on a wrongful conviction, is keeping his day job as steel foreman even though he will soon be nearly a half-million dollars richer.

Mumphrey, released from prison Jan. 26 after new DNA test results cleared his name, has been awarded $452,082 before taxes in restitution from the state.

He recently got his first lump sum of $226,041 and will get another lump sum in the same amount in August 2007, according to the Texas Comptroller's Office.

He will have to report the compensation to the Internal Revenue Service, and tax officials will decide if and how much he will pay in taxes, said a comptroller official.

Mumphrey, who did not respond to a request for an interview, has been mum about his compensation. Not even his wife, Angela, or his attorney, Eric Davis, know what he plans to do with his money.

''That's his business," said Angela Mumphrey, who described her husband as a quiet ''homebody" since his release nine months ago.

A jury convicted Mumphrey of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in a wooded area of Conroe on Feb. 28, 1986, partly based on blood tests that could not rule him out as one of the two attackers.

A Montgomery County judge later ordered Mumphrey released from prison based on new test results using technology not available in the 1980s.
The tests proved he was not responsible for the attack.

Gov. Rick Perry signed a pardon based on innocence for Mumphrey on March 17, expunging the conviction from his record and making him eligible for compensation.


Busy on the job

Mumphrey received his first payment in August, but the windfall hasn't changed his priorities.

The Conroe native still spends most of his time working. His first job after his release was at a Houston glass company. The past seven months he has worked at a Houston steel company, where he was promoted to foreman last month, his wife said.

When he's not working 14 to 16 hours, six days a week, Mumphrey relaxes at his Houston home, watching football and basketball.

"On Sundays, he plays dominoes with my dad, and he talks on the phone with his sisters every weekend," Angela Mumphrey said.

Davis, who reopened the case in 2005, described Mumphrey as ''hardworking and industrious."

"He's a good success story in making the transition" from prison to the real world, Davis said.

Mumphrey gained his freedom thanks to the persistence of Davis, who spent months tracking down the original DNA in the case.

Davis found the evidence at the Texas Department of Public Safety's Houston crime lab, but when prosecutors inquired about the DNA, lab officials said they did not have it.

Stunned by the reversal, Davis kept digging until he reached a lab supervisor who found the samples stored in a refrigerator.

Prosecutors now think Mumphrey's younger brother, Charles, might be one of the attackers in the case.


Statute of limitations is up

Just days before Arthur Mumphrey was released, Charles Mumphrey, 35, confessed to an investigator for the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office during a jail interview, said Assistant District Attorney Marc Brumburger, who handles post-conviction and appeal cases.

No criminal charges will be filed against Charles Mumphrey because the statute of limitations has expired.

But his DNA has been submitted to the state crime lab to be compared with evidence from the case.

Brumburger said he has not received any information about the evidence since submitting it about nine months ago.

Charles Mumphrey, like his brother, is now free. He completed his one-year sentence for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and was released April 21, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records.

He could not be reached for comment.

renee.lee@chron.com

Texas Man Wins Wrongful Conviction Suit

Wrongful conviction amounts to $450,000
By RENÉE C. LEE

Arthur Mumphrey, who spent 18 years in prison on a wrongful conviction, is keeping his day job as steel foreman even though he will soon be nearly a half-million dollars richer.

Mumphrey, released from prison Jan. 26 after new DNA test results cleared his name, has been awarded $452,082 before taxes in restitution from the state.

He recently got his first lump sum of $226,041 and will get another lump sum in the same amount in August 2007, according to the Texas Comptroller's Office.

He will have to report the compensation to the Internal Revenue Service, and tax officials will decide if and how much he will pay in taxes, said a comptroller official.

Mumphrey, who did not respond to a request for an interview, has been mum about his compensation. Not even his wife, Angela, or his attorney, Eric Davis, know what he plans to do with his money.

''That's his business," said Angela Mumphrey, who described her husband as a quiet ''homebody" since his release nine months ago.

A jury convicted Mumphrey of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in a wooded area of Conroe on Feb. 28, 1986, partly based on blood tests that could not rule him out as one of the two attackers.

A Montgomery County judge later ordered Mumphrey released from prison based on new test results using technology not available in the 1980s.
The tests proved he was not responsible for the attack.

Gov. Rick Perry signed a pardon based on innocence for Mumphrey on March 17, expunging the conviction from his record and making him eligible for compensation.


Busy on the job

Mumphrey received his first payment in August, but the windfall hasn't changed his priorities.

The Conroe native still spends most of his time working. His first job after his release was at a Houston glass company. The past seven months he has worked at a Houston steel company, where he was promoted to foreman last month, his wife said.

When he's not working 14 to 16 hours, six days a week, Mumphrey relaxes at his Houston home, watching football and basketball.

"On Sundays, he plays dominoes with my dad, and he talks on the phone with his sisters every weekend," Angela Mumphrey said.

Davis, who reopened the case in 2005, described Mumphrey as ''hardworking and industrious."

"He's a good success story in making the transition" from prison to the real world, Davis said.

Mumphrey gained his freedom thanks to the persistence of Davis, who spent months tracking down the original DNA in the case.

Davis found the evidence at the Texas Department of Public Safety's Houston crime lab, but when prosecutors inquired about the DNA, lab officials said they did not have it.

Stunned by the reversal, Davis kept digging until he reached a lab supervisor who found the samples stored in a refrigerator.

Prosecutors now think Mumphrey's younger brother, Charles, might be one of the attackers in the case.


Statute of limitations is up

Just days before Arthur Mumphrey was released, Charles Mumphrey, 35, confessed to an investigator for the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office during a jail interview, said Assistant District Attorney Marc Brumburger, who handles post-conviction and appeal cases.

No criminal charges will be filed against Charles Mumphrey because the statute of limitations has expired.

But his DNA has been submitted to the state crime lab to be compared with evidence from the case.

Brumburger said he has not received any information about the evidence since submitting it about nine months ago.

Charles Mumphrey, like his brother, is now free. He completed his one-year sentence for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and was released April 21, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records.

He could not be reached for comment.

renee.lee@chron.com