Criminal Justice

Innocence Roundup


A roundup of wrongful conviction-related stories from the last several weeks:

• Wisconsin court dismisses charges against rape and murder convict after the prosecutor withheld evidence of innocence. Ralph Armstrong was convicted in 1981. In 1995, a woman told prosecutors Armstrong's brother confessed to the crime, but prosecutors never informed Armstrong's attorneys. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered a new trial when DNA cleared Armstrong in 2005, but prosecutors kept him in prison another four years while they made plans to try him again. Believe it or not, it only gets worse from there. Some startling prosecutoral misconduct in this case.

Florida man released after DNA clears him of a rape for which he served 26 years in prison. Anthony Caravella, who is mentally disabled and was 15 at the time he was convicted, falsely confessed to the crime. His lawyer says he was beaten into a confession. Prosecutors had orginally sought the death penalty.

Oklahoma prosecutors drop charges, release two former death row inmates convicted of a 1993 drive-by shooting. A federal court threw out their conviction after learning that prosecutors failed to disclose that their main witness and only real evidence in the case had struck a deal in exchange for his testimony.

• The University of Michigan Innocence Project is seeking the release of a man they say was wrongly convicted of rape due to prosecutoral misconduct and junk science. Karl Frederick Vinson has been in prison since 1986 for the rape of a 9-year-old girl.

• Indiana Supreme Court orders state policy agencies to adopt the most stringent rules in the country for videotaping police interrogations of felony suspects.