Criminal Justice

Innocence Roundup

|

A roundup of innocence stories from the last few weeks:

  • Last month, I wrote a column about Michigan law student Nick Cheolas and convicted Michigan murderer Dwayne Provience. Cheolas was inspired by his own family's run-in with the criminal justice system to work on the University of Michigan law school's Innocence Clinic, where he worked on the team that helped winProvience a new trial. This week, prosecutors announced that they plan to proceed with trying Provience again. This, despite the fact that their main evidence against Provience is an eyewitness who has recanted his testimony, and that the same prosecutor's office actually argued in another trial that a different man committed the murder for which Provience was convicted. His trial is in April. There's better (but not exactly great) news in Cheolas' family's case. A judge has ruled against the town of Harper Woods' attempt to stick the Cheolas family with the town's legal expenses for their federal civil rights suit. The Cheolas family lost in district court, but plan to appeal.
  • A D.C. man has been exonerated by DNA testing after serving more than 25 years for the rape and murder of a Georgetown law student in 1981. Donald Gates was convicted on testimony from a now-discredited hair fiber analyst and a paid federal informant.
  • DNA testing has also cleared a Georgia man doing time for car theft. He was also convicted on testimony from an eyewitness.
  • Cedric Willis, the first man in Mississippi to be exonerated of murder due to DNA testing, will get $500,000 from the state to compensate for the 12 years he spent in Parchman Penitentiary. The Jackson Free Press is calling for Willis' prosecutors—who intentionally withheld evidence of Willis' innocence—to be prosecuted.
  • Attorneys for a Florida man who has served 35 years for the rape and murder of a young boy say DNA testing shows their client is innocent.